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August 17, 2022

Dominionist Dr. Michael Brown Continues to Whitewash the NAR

By Anthony Wade

Dr. Brown recently sat down with Holly Pivec to try and sound reasonable while dismissing the NAR


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And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. - Ephesians 4: 11-14 (ESV)

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There is perhaps no modern-day teaching more insidious and misunderstood than the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). The founding thoughts on the NAR can be traced back to the late 1990's and C. Peter Wagner. It seems that Wagner fancied himself and his false teaching friends to be "apostles." So, he created out of whole cloth this nonsense that God was putting the band back together by reinstituting the apostles and wouldn't ya know it - it was them! Gotta love when your theology is so personally rewarding. In his writings over the years on the NAR there were two major themes with the first being this new apostolic order. The second was an over fascination with the carnal politics of this world, also known as dominionism. One of Wagner's books was actually entitled, "Dominion!" In it we find the early butchering of the verse about God's kingdom coming to earth as in heaven, which Bethel and Bill Johnson still teach to this day. Wagner taught that the church must be actively involved in transforming society on earth and many of the early NAR forerunners believed that Christ could not actually come back until the church dominated society by conquering the seven cultural mountains.

Wagner would pass away in 2016 but lived long enough to see a multitude of false teachers run away with his early thoughts and thus the NAR has morphed a bit over the decades. It is not a formal organization with bylaws and conferences as much as it is a collection of false teachings that many churches espouse. The underpinnings actually continue to lead people astray to this very day. Despite the changes, the two dominant false teachings that still make up modern day NAR is a false apostolic authority paradigm and a rabid dominionism. When someone considers a church to be a NAR church it may just mean they ascribe to dominionist teachings, the apostolic paradigm, or perhaps both. Unfortunately, the term NAR has been used as a catchall and that has led people with ulterior motives to be able to try and marginalize the importance and threat. One such person is Dr. Michael Brown. Now do I believe that Brown is NAR? Absolutely because he is a clear dominionist as much as he pretends he is not. Brown is also a NAR gatekeeper in that he protects some of the most egregious NAR false teachers, such as Bill Johnson. The above linked article is Brown's latest attempt to sound reasonable while dismissing the NAR. Let us reason together once more beloved.

"This past Saturday, Aug. 13, I had the pleasure of spending four hours in face-to-face dialogue with Doug Geivett and Holly Pivec, best known for their jointly authored books A New Apostolic Reformation? A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement and God's Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement. Our purpose was not to debate but rather to have a constructive discussion about what they would classify as "NAR." Where did we agree and where did we differ? (For the rest of the article, I'll drop the quotation marks around NAR so as not to be redundant. But whenever I say NAR, I mean, "What Geivett and Pivec describe as NAR.")" - Dr. Michael Brown

Just to state the obvious, Geivett and Pivec do not speak for the entire church. Note however that Brown's language and posture is one of aggressiveness. He does not believe the NAR exists or only does in the minds of critics of his friends.

"In my view, they have painted with too broad a brush, wrongly grouping together related but different movements, churches and individuals, labeling all of them NAR while using extreme examples to negatively color the whole. In their view, they have been careful, judicious and fair in their citations, using the very language that NAR proponents would use and rightly describing a global movement that does, in fact, have a number of key unifying factors. In my view, having worked on some level with a number of the leaders they critique, Geivett and Pivec are putting the worst construction on the words and ministry philosophies of these leaders. In Geivett's and Pivec's view, they are quoting these leaders accurately and in context, and they can point to many examples of people who have been hurt by NAR leaders and churches. Having said this, I believe in Geivett and Pivec's sincerity. I believe they want to be fair. I believe they truly desire to dialogue with those they are critiquing. And, most importantly, I agree with many of their critiques." - Dr. Michael Brown

This is a widely known tactic of Dr. Brown. In order to sound reasonable and be able to point back on this offer of reasonableness, Brown starts with some whitewashing. The old, "they are sincere but sincerely wrong" argument is being set up so Brown can sound like he is only attacking the doctrine but not the people. It is smart but transparent. Let me do it right back to him. Dr. Brown is right that many do paint with too broad a brush and dump churches into the NAR category that probably do not belong. For example, Joel Osteen's church would be more properly labeled as word faith or prosperity gospel and Joseph Prince should be called antinominalist not NAR. They are still voracious wolves, just not necessarily NAR. Brown gives an early tell into his most popular defense - I know these wolves! Like Obi-Wan trying to assuage me that these aren't the droids I am looking for, Brown always returns to his personal relationship with wolves to defend that they are not wolves. To that absurd defense I raise Ravi Zacharias. I am sure Brown would have always defended Ravi as just such a man of God that everyone else did. Right up until it was revealed that he had sexual massage employees from here to Bangkok at his disposal. I remember one time I was on Brown's radio show he defended the ridiculously heretical supernatural school at Bethel by saying he taught there. As if that changed that what was taught was heresy.

"When you say NAR, what do you mean? How do you define it, and what are your areas of concern (or agreement)? If you say, "That's an NAR church," or, "He's a major leader in NAR," my response is, "Please tell me exactly what you mean by NAR." This is not to be argumentative but to gain understanding. Perhaps we're talking about two different things? For example, all NAR churches are charismatic, but not all charismatics are NAR, meaning NAR here as defined by Geivett and Pivec in their writings. Conversely, all NAR churches believe in present day apostolic and prophetic ministry, but not all churches which believe in present day apostolic and prophetic ministry are NAR." - Dr. Michael Brown

What Dr. Brown desires is to toss this conversation into the weeds where it can be parsed to death to the point that no one really cares anymore. I am not even sure that the notion that all NAR churches are Charismatic is even accurate anymore. As more and more mainstream churches bow to the alter of carnal politics, we see them more and more embracing dominionism. Do not lose sight of the ball here as Brown plays his shell game. NAR churches teach FALSELY when it comes to an apostolic leadership paradigm or regarding the worshiping of this country. So, it is not about ministry but what is being taught about that ministry.

"Based on my understanding of the Word and of different ministry functions and giftings, I strongly believe in the continuance of apostolic and prophetic ministry. I also believe it's important for the overall health of the church to recognize these ministry functions, just as it's important to recognize the functions and giftings of evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Each calling complements the other. Each calling plays a different role in equipping and edifying the body. And each calling presents a different aspect of the ministry of Jesus to His church. At the same time, I reject "the governing offices of apostle and prophet" (this is how Doug and Holly described what, in their mind, is the most fundamental pillar of NAR)." - Dr. Michael Brown

Brown seems to be setting up the difference between cessationism and continuism but that is not what we are discussing. The false apostolic teaching is that the apostles are now in charge and supplant the role of pastor within the local church. This paradigm takes the purpose driven and seeker friendly models of church growth and puts them on steroids. This melds right in with dominionism as now the focus is solely on those outside the church, lost in the darkness of this world. This is a false teaching if one would just read the end of Acts Chapter Two and the initial formation of the church. The believers focused on the word and growing in Christ. God added to their number. The church was designed for them, not the lost. The Great Commission does not wipe out the rest of the New Testament.

"But what, exactly, does this mean? Do I believe that apostles (or prophets) can govern? Absolutely, just as evangelists, pastors and teachers can govern. All of them can potentially lead churches or birth movements or serve as spiritual fathers in a region. Do I believe in the office of apostle or prophet? No I don't, just as I don't believe in the office of evangelist, pastor or teacher. But, to ask again, what exactly is the difference between ministry function and office? For some believers, this is quibbling over words and splitting hairs. To others, these distinctions are important. Either way, if we don't talk to each other and make efforts to understand each other, how can we help each other grow in the Lord? How can we pursue unity? How can we sharpen each other? How can we learn from each other? How can we correct each other?" - Dr. Michael Brown

Note the sleight of hand employed by Brown. He has now made this entire issue not to be about false doctrine but about splitting hairs between believing in offices versus functions. I wish that was all we were disagreeing about, but it is not. The unity Brown seeks is misinformed. We do not unify with teachings contrary to the bible. The only way to grow in the Lord is through correct teaching. Brown seems to assert here that this is a matter of my saying tomayto and he says tomahto, so can't we all just get along? No, we cannot.

"During the course of our dialogue, Pivec read numerous quotes to me from different NAR leaders, many of whom I knew personally and some of whom I have worked with. To my knowledge, those I have worked with are fine Christians, true servant leaders, not authoritarian or heavy-handed, lovers of the Lord and lovers of the Word, sound in their fundamental theology. At the same time, when asked if I agreed with the quotes Holly read, I responded consistently, "No, I don't agree with that position," or, "I would not put it like that," or, "Yes, I agree with your concerns." Welcome to life in the church!" - Dr. Michael Brown

This is where Dr. Brown always goes off the rails. I will give you a perfect example. Joseph Prince is the king of greasy grace preaching, otherwise known as antinomianism. Of this there is zero doubt. It is the entirety of his teaching, which is wildly unbiblical and false. Brown agrees that antinomianism is wildly heretical and false. So much so, he even wrote a book about it that is pretty good in explaining why. Yet when I asked him on his radio show to denounce Joseph Prince for heretic he is, Brown demurred, claiming Prince was a "good brother in the Lord with some holes in his theology." Huh? Benny Hinn? Another "good brother in the Lord." Bill Johnson is absolutely unassailable because Brown "knows him personally." Remember how many people thought they knew Ravi. Quite frankly, I have yet to hear Michael Brown call out any false teacher! Not one, by name. Jennifer LeClaire once taught that she was being stalked by a "sneaky squid spirit" making her a mockery online. Did Brown denounce such nonsense? No. He invited her on his radio show so she could defend herself. Brown's assertion here is that life in the church is one of doctrinal disagreement but where is that in scripture? Didn't Paul say that if someone brings you a different gospel to treat them as anathema! Accursed! You want to see life in the church Dr. Brown? You have to believe in the correct gospel of Jesus Christ and everything else is to be accursed!

"I have worked with hundreds of leaders over the years, some of whom I agree with on virtually every point, some of whom I agree with on many points and some of whom I agree with only on the most fundamental matters of the faith. (One leader said to me jokingly, "Sometimes I don't even agree with myself!") Personally, I don't have the slightest problem when a colleague says to me, "Mike, I think you're wrong on this issue." And it wouldn't offend me in the least if, when questioned publicly about our differences, they said, "I disagree with Dr. Brown on this point for the following reasons." Wonderful! Let's put the issues on the table and have a constructive conversation about them." - Dr. Michael Brown

There is nothing constructive if the end result is no one moves from their position. Realize we are talking about fundamental matters of faith, not pre-trib versus post. Mario Murillo teaches that based on how you vote will determine if you go to heaven. Lunatic pastor Greg Locke teaches that you are demonic if you do not vote his way. NAR dominionism takes the focus off of feeding the sheep and puts it instead on luring the goats with a gospel that cannot save them. The only way our conversation about this is constructive is if you realize that you are supporting false teaching and stop doing so. He spoke four hours with Pivec and I sincerely doubt he changed his mind about anything. That is because he seeks Kumbaya, not accurate doctrine.

"Who said we had to agree on every point to have unity? To the contrary, we are more likely to find true unity in the midst of our diversity. And I can say to you as a fellow leader, "I have the utmost respect for you and I honor you in the Lord, but I don't agree with this statement you made." These disagreements may provide fodder for the destructive critics, but for the rest of the body of Christ, this is a sign of being healthy and mature." - Dr. Michael Brown

Who said we must be unified on doctrine? Seriously? How about God! Read the key verses, which ironically explain about the five-fold ministries. We are to seek the unity in the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of Man. This is not a joke Michael. Only the enemy wants the church to think that diversity is the key to unity. A diversity of doctrine means most people will be placing their faith a false gospel and a false Christ. For example, Dr. Brown loves Bill Johnson and defends him at every turn. Johnson teaches nearly every form of false doctrine but let's focus on his healing on demand heresy that robs the sovereignty of God and shipwrecks faith. It is not a good thing to have diverse views on this. There is what God says and what man says. God says He can heal you - not that He must heal you. Bill Johnson is dead wrong and leads people to question themselves and God when they do not get their "guaranteed" healing. This is a teaching that needs to be rebuked not debated.

"That being said, the big question in the context of this article is: What, exactly, are the distinctive beliefs and practices of what Geivett and Pivec refer to as NAR, and are these beliefs and practices biblical and helpful or unbiblical and harmful? To say it again, I believe in the importance of recognizing apostolic and prophetic ministry today while also sharing many of Geivett's and Pivec's concerns. (I hate to disappoint some of the critics, but based on Geivett's and PIvec's criteria, I am decidedly not NAR.) And it is my hope that, in the days ahead, while helping to cultivate solid, mature, biblically based, Spirit-empowered fivefold ministry, I can help amplify areas of concern when it comes to contemporary apostles and prophets. Let us talk, let us understand and let us grow!" - Dr. Michael Brown

Alas, this denial was sadly predictable. Dr. Brown is decidedly NAR in that 85% of his writing is now dominionist in nature. Originally, he was rabidly pro-Trump but recently he has backed off that a bit. Matters not because he still teaches NAR dominionist theology regularly. His goal here was to talk and talk and sound reasonable while accomplishing nothing. Just another four hours while "good brothers in the Lord" such as Joseph Prince, Benny Hinn, and Bill Johnson go on unchecked deceiving the church and slaughtering sheep wherever they go. They are free to do so because men like Brown, who ultimately know better, are busily cleaning up the blood behind them.

Reverend Anthony Wade - August 17, 2022

Authors Bio:
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.