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April 2, 2020

Should Churches Meet -- An Infection of NAR Victimization

By Anthony Wade

It is time for the church to stop playing the victim of imaginary persecution...


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For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them." -- Matthew 18:20 (ESV)

The influence of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) within the modern church is like an infection coursing through the blood stream of the bride of Christ. It is a malignant, cancerous infection that has not only gone relatively unchecked but has been embraced by people who do not even know they are dying spiritually. Along with this comes a level of carnal entitlement through an enforcement of a victimization model of thinking. NAR hucksters take a biblical concept, such as persecution, and apply it to the American church where it does not belong. Being forced to hold church services underground lest you be arrested is persecution. Being given a choice of renouncing Christ or face beheading is persecution. Look at our brothers and sisters in China, Iraq or the Sudan if you want to see the face of persecution. Not having baby Jesus in the town square for Christmas is not persecution. Having the government say that you cannot force children who may not be of your faith to say your prayers every morning is not persecution. Insisting that corporate gatherings, such as church services, must cease during a world-wide pandemic is not persecution. It is simply common sense and the church is sorely lacking it in these end days.

Let us first deal with the reality of the pandemic. As the global numbers careen towards a million infected and 50,000 dead, there are some who still insist this is all a hoax or some kind of grand political conspiracy. Unfortunately, this moronic and demonic point of view is held by many in the Christian community. I know people who have died from this virus. It is very much real. If you honestly think this was cooked up as a political attack at an event hosted by Bill Gates, which was preached at a sermon this past Sunday in Florida, then you are beyond help.

Then there is also history to examine. J. Lee Grady has a new article that explains the history of the Spanish flu, which killed 50 million people worldwide, or 4% of the world's population. Public gatherings, including church services, closed for several weeks and guess what? The church survived. The leader of the Church of God said at the time:

"The government closed all churches and public gatherings of every kind. We missed four Sundays, but commenced again last Sunday. ... During the last few weeks, many people have died of influenza. It is remarkable, however, how few of our people have died with it."

And from the Assemblies of God:

AG leaders wrote: "All churches, missions, etc., including the Assembly of God, are closed because of the scourge of Spanish Influenza that is raging in the town. ... We are finding it a splendid opportunity to devote additional time to prayer for our missionaries, and for the soldier boys [who were fighting in World War I], and for rain all over the world in this time of the Latter Rain. Where assemblies are closed, let the saints devote the time they would spend at meeting to the Word and to prayer."

Fast forward a hundred years and it seems the church has lost its collective mind. The NAR loves clinging to Romans 13 to defend anything done by this president but seemingly ignore it when it comes to laws banning gatherings during an epidemic. And please, do not hand me the constitution. It has already been litigated and decided that as long as the laws/edicts are applied evenly to all denominations, then gatherings can be put on hold during times of national crisis.

Which brings us to the subject of "essential services." We have seen recently the push back from many in church leadership offended by the church being labeled a non-essential service. The machismo and bravado usually taken by these leaders indicates the level of carnality in their response. Now, take a seat because what I am about to say may hurt. Church services are not essential. Relax relax. The church is essential. The body of Christ is essential. Having an official gathering in a steepled building however, is not essential. I believe in the value of corporate assembly but no one is prohibiting church indefinitely. Consider the key verse for today. Where two or three are gathered in His name? He is there with them. We are the church beloved. Not some building. Gathering in His name means a whole bunch of things today that it did not during the Spanish Flu. Now churches can live stream services. Worship can use track music instead of live bands. Sermons can go forth unfettered as can prayer. What is essential is that the body convenes, not where they convene. I had a powerful prayer service with only six people last Friday through Skype. Three friends and three people I had not met. Yet corporately we had communion and prayed for two hours. The best part? No one got sick and died because of it.

Think that is hyperbole? Consider Lifeview Church of Glenview Illinois. They held a church gathering with a guest speaker back on March 15. This was before there was any prohibition on such gatherings. Nonetheless, 43 of the 80 attendees are now sick with flu-like symptoms and ten have tested positively for coronavirus so far. Consider the Virginia pastor who said that COVID was an anti-Trump hoax and went to New Orleans to "cleanse it from their sin and debauchery." He instead caught COVID and died on the way back to Virginia. We are starting to look a lot like those fringe cult churches that handle snakes during services because they do not know how to exegete Mark 16. Like Pastor Tony Spell, also from Louisiana, who has refused to disband services and had this to say:

'"We're free people. We're not going to be intimidated. We're not going to cower. We're not breaking any laws."' -- Tony Spell

The tough guy nonsense is simply reprehensible. He is breaking the law because it was ordered that gatherings of 50+ were not to occur. It is not about intimidation! That is the NAR victimization card being played. Spell spat in the face of the law, violating Romans 13, and not only held service for over 1200 people but was seem running through the crowd and laying hands on all. Here are some other nuggets of idiocy from Spell:

"I'd rather die than kill the church. If you can't stand up to COVID, don't expect to stand up to a man called the Antichrist."

"What's going to happen when they come for your guns?"

"This is the America we're living in now, where people are being persecuted for their faith,"

This insane mindset is the infection of NAR thinking in the bloodstream of the church. Being asked to suspend services temporarily is not "killing the church"; although Spell may have intimated accidentally what this is really about. Mega churches rely on mega money to stay open and giving is difficult as it is, let alone if those sheep are not there each week. As a person in authority, Spell has a responsibility to the people he leads, and he is failing miserably at that. Riling people up with nonsensical challenges about the antichrist is not Christian. Showing up in defiance of the law to publicly mingle with a thousand people is not "standing up to coronavirus." It is in fact playing right into the virus. Mixing in guns continues to reveal the NAR dominionist mindset in what Spell is doing. Lastly when it comes to Spell, people of faith are not being persecuted by being asked to not spread the pandemic. Stop playing the silly victim. Perhaps the worst thing about this is the way the Pastor Spell and those of his ilk are framing this as a matter of faith. Beloved faith is not the absence of reason. It does not take faith to disobey the law, expose yourself to potential death, and compromised the health of everyone in your family. That just takes myopic stupidity and a pastoral leader more concerned about his mega church than his flock. The NAR influence frames this all within the faux culture war paradigm they buy into. This was never more evident than this past weekend in Central Florida and the church pastored by Rodney Howard-Browne.

Now I do not know anything about the theology of Tony Spell but I can guess that it is heavy NAR dominionist based upon his comments and poor biblical understanding. With Howard-Browne there is no doubt. He is one of the forerunners of the Holy Laughter debacle and creator of the holy ghost bartender heresy along with being drunk in the spirit. Browne knew that he was not allowed to hold service and was warned by local officials. He not only defied the law, but he bussed people in from the neighborhoods they lived in. The Liberty Counsel, a legal arm of the NAR, is claiming that Browne followed all sorts of social distancing but it is reported that he encouraged all to shake hands during the welcome. His sermon was an angry screed of anti-government propaganda and loony-tunes, tinfoil hat conspiracy theories. Browne is the one who preached that COVID was cooked up at a Bill Gate Foundation event and then released after the decision was made at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year.

Howard-Browne was rightly arrested for his lawbreaking and the NAR church is apoplectic because of it. Make no mistake beloved. Rodney Howard-Browne is not your brethren. He is a voracious wolf who has devoured the sheep of the Lord for decades with some of the worst and most egregious false teachings that have ever been. For the record, Pastor Spell was also arrested and charged -- as he should have. The District Attorney reminded us at the press conference of the most important commandment of loving thy neighbor as thyself and he is right. This attitude and actions will undoubtedly lead to someone's death. Now there is a statement from a Pennsylvania pastor who wants to organize a massive outdoor Easter service to protest these arrests. The stupidity knows no end.

Yet, this has to end. The real church must arise and take back control from these false pastors and hirelings. Listen, I loved my church which I attended for over ten years. I served in seven ministries, led three of them, was the primary Berean School instructor and occasionally preached. On Sundays I served from 6:30 am through all three services ending around 3 pm, plus Friday Prayer service. I loved my church, my pastor and my brethren. While the building was very nice it was just a building. We were the church collectively. If this crisis was occurring back then I could not imagine my pastor throwing all common sense out the window to defy the law and endanger the very people God put under his charge.

Do the NAR Dominionist leaders realize that? The people have been placed under their care as a shepherd. While we correctly think of these responsibilities in eternal terms such as correct doctrine, it also means we should do no harm as a bare minimum. It does not take faith to endanger the lives of your sheep. It only takes the unbridled arrogance to think you know better. It only takes the uncontrolled stupidity to think it is all a secret plot cooked up by the illuminati. What it takes is a spiritual dementia caused by an infection of NAR thinking. The church is not persecuted in America. Our liberties are not under attack. There is a virus. It is real and it is killing people. In order to best fight this virus we have to stay home for now and not gather in groups. The same thing happened in 1918 and the church survived. They devoted themselves to other godly endeavors and they did not even have the benefit of the technology that we have today. One for the congregants who attended Pastor Spell's service was seen on television by her employer. She was asked to not return to work. There are far more extreme and painful consequences she still might face if she contracted COVID. Just ask the family of the dead Virginia pastor. I believe in God. I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe God can do whatever God wants to do. I believe tomorrow God can totally eradicate COVID from the face of the earth with a single spoken word.

I am just not getting the vibe that is what will happen. We have to have the faith that God can do anything along with the wisdom to realize when He may not. I pray every day that He protects me and my family from this scourge. I pray He uses it to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, people like Tony Spell and Rodney Howard-Browne are not helping in that cause. They make Christianity seem reckless, careless, and moronic. Their attitude is arrogant, thoughtless, and unloving -- the exact opposite of the humble, considerate and wise portrait the bible paints a Christian as being. This NAR cancer must be excised from the body. Connect with your brothers and sister remotely and virtually. Pray for the church. Pray for the world. Remember the key verse -- wherever we gather, just two or three, He is there with us. WE are the church.

Reverend Anthony Wade -- April 2, 2020

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.