Debunking the misuse of Ekklesia and other NAR talking points...
So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. -- Acts 11:26 (ESV)
The assault by New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) teaching on the church today is becoming more brazen and mainstream. While several facets of it, such as false signs and lying wonders, still stays on the fringe, the seven mountains mandate of dominionism is becoming more and more popular as many abandon the Gospel in pursuit of carnal political dreams of the church taking over the world. The above link is to an article from John Burton for a couple months ago and highlights some troubling and growing teachings that must be rebuked lest they take hold any further. This article outlines seven reasons Burton thinks pastors stay silent on politics. I will be focusing a few of the more important false reasons and summarize the others for the sake of time. Let us reason once more beloved.
"Pastors are refusing to confront culture, sound alarms or to address today's political crisis--and it may be time for them to step down.
When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, "Are you he that troubles Israel?" And he answered, "I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and you have followed the Baals" (1 Kings 18:17-18).
God is raising up a new generation of bold, prophetic messengers who are fearless, broken and undone by the weight of what's happening in our world. They couldn't care less if people leave churches they minister in. They aren't looking for accolades or book deals. They are criers in the wilderness, a new breed of burning ones who aren't into building churches, but they are very much into confronting culture and shocking the nations with prophetic unction. We need bold, confrontational leaders formed after the spirit of Elijah, people who are commissioned and unafraid to expose the wickedness in the land. Sadly, it's rare to find men and women of God like this today." -- John Burton
Yeah, no John. The glaring disconnect in this opening is that Elijah confronted Israel, not the world. What Burton and his NAR adherents espouse is confronting a fallen world that are not part of the church with the boldness Elijah saved for a man who was supposed to be leading the people of God. We see this error often in the NAR supporters. It is also a tell beloved. They inadvertently reveal that what they truly seek is a theocracy. It takes no boldness to confront a lost world with politics. It takes real boldness however to proclaim the Gospel regardless of the political landscape.
"Though I'm going to share seven reasons pastors are refusing to confront culture or to dive into politics from the pulpit, the honest truth is that I am so disturbed that I even have to write about this. How can supposed men and women of God just go on teaching generic Sunday school- style messages every Sunday morning when the escalating crisis in the world demands an immediate and Spirit-led response? Pastors, it's time to repent for your silence--or step aside! Repent from your tired, unimpressive and self-centered attempts to grow your church. Repent from being a wordsmith instead of a prophet. Repent from being careful when you are called to risk everything. Repent from keeping people happy and controversy at bay. You have lost your voice! Pastors, if you don't have a prophetic voice, you don't have a ministry." -- John Burton
Yeah how can people just go every Sunday and preach the Gospel? How horrible! Realize that is what Burton is complaining about here. That he does not believe the pulpit is designed for the preaching of the Word! He thinks it should be like a bully pulpit from which to speak the carnal politics of man. He is sorely mistaken and egregiously wrong. John Burton needs to repent of his false theology of dominionism and get back to the eternal matters of the kingdom. Listen, I am with him if all a church is focused on is growth through the purpose driven growth models. He acts however as if there are only two choices -- the NAR and Rick Warren but the bible says they are both heresy! All you need to see to realize how whackadoodle his theology is we see in the notion that pastors must have a prophetic voice or they do not have a ministry. This is supported by ZERO scriptures and in fact that bible teaches these are separate gifts. Can someone in a pastoral ministry also have a gift of prophecy? Of course but the notion that they must is absurdly unbiblical and pure NAR code-speak. Now for the seven reasons he thinks pastors stay silent in our wicked culture. I am going to summarize some because there is much overlap:
"1. Fear of man."
It's embarrassing that there is so much fear of man, that pastors today are working overtime to keep the peace instead of calling people into a place of urgent response to a threatening, deadly spirit of the age. The sword will divide, and those who are bound by fear of man will keep that sword in their sheath, if they possess one at all.
"2. Fear of loss."
Today we have pastors who are wordsmiths instead of prophets, people who are experts at framing their words in such a way that no possibility of offense or disagreement is there. They are keenly focused on being balanced, avoiding controversy and developing a happy, encouraging atmosphere in the church that helps ensure there is no loss. People remain in their seats, money keeps coming in and everybody is happy.
"3. They have no prayer life/prophetic unction." -- John Burton
Sigh. The sword divides because the Gospel message is divisive. Many do not want to hear they are a sinner in need of a Savior. Many would prefer to continue being their own god. That is why the sword divides. Not this mumbo jumbo political nonsense. Now I agree that many would prefer to tow the politically correct line and not offend anyone in their church by taking political sides but those are apostate churches to begin with who will not bring the Gospel for the exact same reason. Fear of man or loss are essentially the same fear and while I agree they do not belong in the pulpit the answer is not to turn it over to the ways of the world. The third reason is just arrogant. To assume that people who disagree with you must somehow not pray as much as you is staggeringly prideful.
"4. They misunderstand the governmental purpose of the church. "Ekklesia: A governmental gathering under apostolic leadership." I have long been frustrated at the misunderstanding of the purpose of the church that is epidemic today. The key, foundational purpose of the church is to be a house of prayer for all nations. Further, the ekklesia is a governmental gathering. Under apostolic leadership, the church is called to be a governing force in a city. Sadly, many pastors and people presume the church to be little else than a place to meet together, to sing and learn and to involve themselves in various ministries, programs and projects. Of course, there are many supplemental ministries and projects that are absolutely appropriate and valuable, but they can never supersede the primary call--to pray and govern. Pastors should absolutely be responding to the crisis in the land, as they are the ones who have been commissioned to do so! They have been authorized, ordained, anointed and given a mandate to invade the darkness and command in the Spirit!" -- John Burton
Ekklesia is perhaps one of the most abused words by NAR dominionists. It most certainly does not mean a governmental gathering under apostolic leadership. That is obviously an NAR talking point; to believe that the apostolic is being reformed by God in today's church. The key foundation of the church is not to be a house of prayer for all nations. It is to be the place where the saints glorify God and are raised up in Christlikeness. Ekklesia is also not a governmental gathering. There is one place in the bible, Acts 19:39, where Ekklesia is used to represent a gathering of citizens to discuss legal matters. The rest of the usage is meant to represent the church, such in the key verse today. Ekklesia means "called out congregation." The church is called out of the world, despite Burton's NAR dreams of plunging it right back into it.
Burton's NAR silliness goes nuclear however with the notion that the church is meant to be a governing force in a city under apostolic leadership. Where in the world did he get this from because it sure is not biblical. Think about the implications of what Burton is saying here though. He is teaching that the church should be governing the world! This is the seven mountain mandate! The NAR poison could not be any clearer. Then he mocks those that think the church should be what the bible actually says it should be. A place for believers to worship God and learn through the preaching of the Word. How profoundly carnal and sad that John Burton believes the primary call of the church is to govern. No John; that is just your wickedly deceitful heart trying to revive Babylon. Pastors have been ordained to bring the light of the Gospel into the darkness, not persuade people politically or take over imaginary mountains.
"5. They want to stay out of politics. Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? Yet now you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring on us this Man's blood." Peter and the other apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:28-29). Many pastors reveal they intentionally stay out of politics. Often they communicate this as if they are operating in some form of wisdom or caution, when in reality they are abdicating their responsibilities. We are called to legislate. We are called to govern. If the church is a governmental agency, as I shared in the previous point, it makes absolutely no sense that pastors would not address political issues in the nation. Often a desire to avoid politics has to do with fear of man and fear of loss. They understand the moment they get political is the moment they draw a line in the sand. We need leaders, not managers. We need people who will boldly draw that line and make it very clear that they won't be stopped as they deal with the crisis at hand. We wouldn't be as concerned about finding the right candidate for office, whether mayor of the city or president of the United States, if our church leaders had some guts and gave political leadership themselves. Peter responded to politics just as we must. We must obey God rather than men." -- John Burton
No John. We are not called to legislate. We are not called to govern. That is beyond ridiculous and unbiblical. Your previous unbiblical point about the church being a governmental agency has already been debunked. I love debunking such obviously unbiblical nonsense because once they try to leverage the bible, God exposes them. Peter did not respond to politics beloved he responded to the religious leaders of the time. If he had said these words before a Roman tribunal perhaps Burton would have had a point but here he does not. When Paul stood before Rome he did not take a stand against their politics and oppression. He actually preached the Gospel! That is what gets lost in NAR dominionism. They convince themselves they are doing this for Jesus but end up scattering people away from Christ in the process.
"6. They just want to preach the Bible. Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves (James 1:22). It sure sounds spiritual to say they just want to focus on the Bible, but it's not possible to only do that. You can't simply preach the Bible and ignore what's going on in culture. What do you do with all the accounts of the apostles and others who confronted culture, wickedness and the spirit of the age? If they are preaching and teaching the Bible, they must model their lives and ministries after the people they are studying. We need pastors with the spirit of Elijah. Where are those who lead like Gideon and tear down ungodly cultural altars? We must, without question, not only be hearers but also doers. If these heroes of the faith confronted culture, than we must as well." -- John Burton
You can't simply preach the Gospel? Seriously John? Are you sure you are a pastor? There are zero examples of apostles and others who confronted culture as you are espousing. There are plenty of examples of them going head to head with the false leaders of their faith but that is obviously something totally different. Jesus was apolitical at best. His followers wanted Him to be more political and deliver them from the oppression of Rome but He came to deliver them from the oppression of the devil. That is still the primary focus today of the Gospel. It can still deliver people from the oppression of sin but people keep being led astray by the likes of John Burton to pursue the removal of perceived oppression in this world. Elijah confronted the King of Israel. Gideon tore down Baal altars which the people of God had erected. They did not confront culture beloved. They confronted believers.
His last point was not especially coherent. The overall point has been made. The New Apostolic Reformation believes in apostolic leadership ruling not only the church but the world through the church. It is a distraction from the Gospel and the cause of Jesus Christ. It is solely focused on this world instead of the eternal. When asked point blank, Jesus said His kingdom was not of this world. Anything that distracts from the preaching of the Gospel cannot be of God. Burton reveals here more than most NAR adherents are willing to admit. That he firmly believes that apostles should rule cities through the church. That the Ekklesia is meant to be a governing body over unbelievers. These notions are wildly unbiblical and should frighten anyone with an ounce of discernment. If Burton truly wanted to be a doer of the Word than he would stop these carnal dreams of world domination and get back to preaching the true Gospel. Until then he is to be marked and avoided and we need to learn from his teaching what the plans of the growing NAR are so that we might be wary of the schemes of the enemy.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- May 12, 2019
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.