What Are Its Beliefs?
C. Peter Wagner
Over the past few months, I have been gratified that, after 18 years of having recognized this notable movement of God, the media are now analyzing and critiquing the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). I greatly appreciate the discussions in vehicles running from the “NAR Watch” website to Time magazine and the Associated Press. For the most part, the research being done is thorough and accurate. Yes, there are some flaws and serious omissions, but generally speaking the facts are there. The differences come in the interpretation of the facts. The NAR paradigm for the church pulls many observers out of their theological comfort zones, and some of them are not reluctant to express their concerns in the strongest language possible. A number of them actually consider me a heretic!
Some readers will have seen the previous paper I did on this subject, “The New Apostolic Reformation: An Update,” If you haven’t seen it and you are interested, your search engine will quickly turn it up for you. In that paper, I attempted to respond briefly to several of the criticisms that were being verbalized. Here I intend to go into a bit more depth on just one of them, namely the beliefs of the NAR.
A number of the observers pointed out that, in their research, they could not discover a formal NAR statement of faith. The reason for this is that none exists. We must keep in mind that the NAR is a movement; it is not an organization that one could join. There is substantial tacit unity among participants in NAR on the fundamental doctrines of the faith, but there is enormous diversity as to the various interpretations and applications of those doctrines, as well as how they would be prioritized in each individual case.
What has fascinated me as much as anything about the NAR is the widespread tolerance of differences in belief and practice. My background is in the older denominational wineskin in which theological legalism tended to accentuate certain of these secondary issues. Some, for example, who believed in baptism of adults by immersion could not tolerate those who baptized infants by sprinkling. Some who believed in dispensational eschatology could not tolerate those who were amilennialists (spelling???) . Some who did not speak in tongues could not tolerate those who did. Some who believed in progressive sanctification could not tolerate those who believed in entire sanctification. Some who did not ordain women could not tolerate those who ordained women. And I could go on, but my point is that in the current NAR wineskin there is less and less of this kind of theological baggage.
The doctrinal unity of the NAR, frequently unexpressed, comes through the classical Christian creeds and through the theology of the Protestant Reformation. All would adhere to the Apostles’ Creed and affirm that God is the Creator, Jesus is His Son who was born of a virgin, crucified, dead and buried and that He rose on the third day. They would