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July 26, 2018

The Church in the Mirror - When the NAR Tries to Sound Mainstream

By Anthony Wade

A recent article tried to make pro NAR arguments seem mainstream. It is a dangerous step towards establishing the apostate church over the body of Christ.


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Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world." -- John 18: 36 (ESV) ==

As discussed numerous times, the New Apostolic Reformation is an insidious cancer eating away at the church in this country for decades now. It has turned once solid doctrine into a mish mosh of nationalism, experiential Christianity and false signs and lying wonders. One of the more positive elements was that the teachers were usually so loony tunes that it was at least easy to spot when someone was espousing pure NAR. This is why a new article appearing on Charisma gave me pause. It was long and sounded well-reasoned. None of the typical overt nuttiness appeared. It started being shared on Facebook and far too many people were not digging in deep enough to realize that behind the prose was still pure NAR theology. I have linked the article above for us to reference. It is too long to go line by line but rather I will try to highlight the touchpoints and let us reason together biblically once more beloved:

"Peek behind the curtain of some "progressive" or "hip" evangelical churches, past the savvy technology and secular music, and you will find more than just a contemporary worship service. You'll find faith leaders encouraging young evangelicals to trade in their Christian convictions for a gospel filled with compromise. They're slowly attempting to give evangelicalism an "update"--and the change is not for the good. It's painful for me to admit, but we can no longer rest carefree in our evangelical identity--because it is changing." -- Chelsen Vicari

This is the first disconnect and it is repeated throughout the article. Now I do not know Vicari or her leanings but she is writing on a website that is the online home of the NAR and the very churches she complains about are widely supported and promoted by Charisma. It seems that Vicari tries to present a boogeyman that she cannot tell is a reflection. Those hip relevant churches are IHOP, Bethel and Hillsong. Churches that targeted youth with watered down messages about carnal relevance instead of preaching the Gospel. Here is where Vicari goes wrong though. The apostate church might be redefining evangelicalism but that has no effect on a child of God. We continue to present the real Gospel and rebuke those who do not as instructed by Titus.

"No doubt you have seen the headlines declaring that evangelicalism is doomed because evangelical kids are leaving the faith. It is no secret that there is an expanding gulf between traditional Christian teachings and contemporary moral values. But the sad truth is that the ideological gulf between America's evangelical grown-ups and their kids, aka the millennials, seems to be widening too." -- Chelsen Vicari

Yes she is right but she does not bother to connect the dots. The answer is once again in the mirror. The evangelical church has embraced a purpose driven walk away from the Gospel. That is why. The seeker friendly industrial complex reinforces relevance with the world instead of being a shining city on a hill. Kids are smart beloved. They understand that the church they go to is not more set apart, holy or different than the school they go to. This was the dilemma Andy Stanley recently tried to deal with. He saw his youth go off to college and come back atheists. He concluded that we needed to stop telling them the bible was infallible and start trying to convince them through carnal reasoning why the resurrection was true. What he could not face in the mirror is he stopped preaching the gospel years ago so his youth were probably not saved to begin with. Instead of returning to the Gospel he abandoned it further and called the entire canon of scripture into doubt.

"Desperate for acceptance in a fallen world, many young evangelicals (and some older ones) choose not to take Christ out of the chapel, and so they are unwittingly killing the church's public witness. In this uphill cultural battle, mired by scare tactics and fear, three types of evangelical Christians are emerging:

Couch-potato Christians: These Christians adapt to the culture by staying silent on the tough culture-and-faith discussions. Typically, this group will downplay God's absolute truths by promoting the illusion that neutrality was Jesus' preferred method of evangelism.

Cafeteria-style Christians: This group picks and chooses which Scripture passages to live by, opting for the ones that best seem to jive with culture. Typically, they focus solely on the "nice" parts of the gospel while simultaneously and intentionally minimizing sin, hell, repentance and transformation.

Convictional Christians: In the face of the culture's harsh admonitions, these evangelicals refuse to be silent. Mimicking Jesus, they compassionately talk about love and grace while also sharing with their neighbors the need to recognize and turn from sin." -- Chelsen Vicari

We start to see the development of the NAR logic here. The notion that "keeping Christ in the chapel" will kill His witness is ridiculous. The bible says we must always be ready to give reason for our hope. We always represent Christ in how we behave towards others and when the world sees the peace and love we live under they will want it to. What Vicari is actually advocating for here is the seven mountains heresy of taking over the government for Christ and forcing unbelievers to adopt Christian values. Notice the hero Vicari presents is the NAR Christian. The one who confronts culture although the way she is representing it is dishonest. We are not dealing with a group of people just trying to compassionately talk about love and grace. We are talking about people who want to legislate the morality of Christianity upon a world that still thinks the things of God are foolishness. They do not wish to preach the Gospel as much as they want to make it law, which is unbelievably ironic if you really think about it. Furthering the irony is that the cafeteria Christians mentioned here are created by the very NAR churches Vicari supports. You will not hear a peep about sin, hell, or repentance at most NAR churches. I would be curious what Vicari views as "absolute truths" when he references the couch potato Christians, who ironically sound like the only group presented actually doing the right thing biblically. There are no "faith and culture" discussions beloved. There is faith and there is culture. They do not mix. The Gospel draws people out from the culture that is sending them to hell. The NAR worship this country because they like living in Sodom and want to see it revived. They worship their carnal citizenship even though the bible says they are now citizens of heaven. I hate to break it to Vicari but neutrality WAS how Jesus dealt with the culture of His time. You want my tax? Go catch a fish. Beloved we must understand that while the disciples wanted deliverance from the culture of their day and the oppression of Rome, Jesus came for a much loftier deliverance. Look at the key verse! When facing the cross and Pilate who was just looking for a reason to release Him, Jesus calmly tells Pilate what the NAR keeps forgetting -- our kingdom is not of this world! Stop trying to save it! Preach the Gospel and let it save some out from among the culture while there is still time.

"Being countercultural for Christ isn't easy. What does the Great Commission say? Jesus commanded us to go, "teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:20a)." -- Chelsen Vicari

Wow. That is perhaps the worst use for the Great Commission that I have ever seen. There is a vast difference between teaching and forcing. There is a vast difference between discipling and indoctrinating. The Great Commission is about representing Christ through the Gospel, not trying to change carnal laws that we have deemed a Christian cause.

"Our churches have rarely--if ever--faced the exodus we are seeing today. This will have a direct effect on the spiritual and moral values that will shape the nation in the coming years. That is why it is urgent that concerned Christians start acting now before the situation gets worse." -- Chelsen Vicari

No longer hiding in plain sight, Vicari goes full NAR. Look at what she is most concerned about. Is it the church? The cause of Christ? No. It is the shape of the nation. Once again though she refuses to look in the mirror. The church has spent the last 20 years running away from the Gospel and embracing the culture. THAT is why people are leaving the church. It has nothing different to offer them. I do not need some 50 year old man in skinny jeans and a faux hawk lecturing me about improving my marriage when I can by a DVD on the same subject and not have to pay 10% of my income. I do not need well trained voices and smoke machines when I can get the same thing at the club the night before and sleep in on Sunday. The church is no longer salt and light. It has become pepper and glitter. That is why people are leaving. It is not a cultural dilemma but a spiritual one.

"The culture wars, the growth of family, the success of missions, the prosperity of our great nation--the future rests on millennial evangelicals' worldview. And that is cause for concern, because something has gone wrong with young evangelicals' theology. The millennial generation's susceptibility to "feel-good" doctrine is playing a big part in America's moral decline. Millennials' religious practices depend largely on how the actions make us and others feel, whether the activities are biblical or not. For example, we only attend churches that leave us feeling good about our lifestyle choices, even if those choices conflict with God's clear commandments. We dismiss old hymns that focus on God's transforming salvation, love and mercy and opt for "Jesus is your boyfriend" songs." -- Chelsen Vicari

The disconnect is becoming frightening. The thing that has gone wrong with millennial's theology is the theology they have been taught by the very churches Vicari supports. When Carl Lentz, pastor of Hillsong NY, was asked on national television about hot button cultural issues he said that his church has a position on love and everything else is a conversation. The top producers of Jesus is my boyfriend music are Bethel, IHOP and Hillsong. Vicari continues to foster the notion of some liberal boogeyman that is luring our once proud Christian kids into moral decline instead of admitting that we taught it to them through our rejection of the Gospel and refusal to discuss sin.

"In his book The Cost of Discipleship Bonhoeffer wrote: "Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate." Right now, cheap grace theology is proliferating around evangelical Bible colleges, seminaries and Christian ministries." -- Chelsen Vicari

This is the crucial point for understanding beloved. She is correct that cheap grace has infiltrated the church but the solution offered up is to conquer the mountain of government, pass laws enforcing Christianity, and essentially embrace NAR theology when it is that theology that is the culprit. If you want to see cheap grace expunged from the church then the church needs to repent -- not the world. The church needs to disavow purpose driven theology and throw out any book, study, or teaching from Rick Warren. The church needs to stop implementing seeker friendly paradigms of church growth and get back to preaching the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ. The church needs to be an alternative to culture -- not the enemy of it or in bed with it.

""young evangelicals had been listening to their Sunday school teachers and their parents, but they had also been listening to their public school teachers, TV celebrities and rock stars. Youth ministers, volunteer leaders and pastors also have to start preparing these kids to deal with the very real hostility that faces young evangelicals." -- Chelsen Vicari

This is once again the culture warrior NAR mindset. That the very people who need the Gospel the most are our sworn enemies. What a scheme of Satan. The problem all goes back to abandoning the Gospel. Christian youth today is nothing but an endless array of pizza parties and six flags trips with some Christianese peppered in. If you asked most young Christian adults they would admit to losing their virginity to a member from their youth group. That is because while the Chelsen Vicari's of the world want to teach them to focus of the sins of the world no one bothered to make them focus on their own sins. The bible is not described as a blunt instrument for us to smack over the heads of the lost beloved. It is a two edged sword that is meant to cut back at us. At our own sins. It is not our job to convict the world of their sins. That is the job of Holy Spirit.

"If we never talk about abortion in church, how can we expect the rising evangelical girl to calmly explain the option of adoption to her frightened best friend who just admitted she is pregnant? If America's evangelicals disengage from the public square and fail to engage the rising generation of Christian leaders, then we risk losing our public voice, then our religious liberty, then liberty altogether." -- Chelsen Vicari

Vicari, like most church leaders today simply have no faith in the Gospel. The truly saved evangelical girl does not need a political primer in the history of abortion. America's evangelicals being involved in the public square is the problem not the solution. Christianity is not a forced concept. We tried that in the Crusades. If we lose our public voice so be it as long as our church voice stays true to the Gospel. If we lose our religious liberty then I guess what was prophesied in the bible about Christian persecution will finally come to pass. If we lose our liberty for the sake of the Gospel then we will have fulfilled the scripture beloved. Vicari and the church value the wrong life. Everything is about saving Sodom and nothing about promoting heaven.

"The last several decades witnessed tremendous evangelical influence in the United States. Leaders such as Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Tim and Beverly LaHaye, Paige and Dorothy Patterson, James Dobson and James and Betty Robison made a bold impact on America's families, churches and government. Now that those few leaders are aging or retiring, or have died, there are very few traditional evangelical leaders left holding the torch, and even fewer candidates to whom they can pass it." -- Chelsen Vicari

Really? This is who Vicari holds up as our beacon to when things were better? Perhaps no greater false teachers in the past few decades were there than Falwell and Robertson. LaHaye gave us the horrifically unbiblical left behind series. Dobson is more of a political operative than a Christian leader. Robison has endorsed the ecumenical path that leads to the one world church. These were not great Christian leaders beloved. These were people however that shared Vicari's NAR worldview. Mercifully, he concludes:

"Evangelicals and culture warriors in the U.S. do not have to look far to discover what happens when Christian denominations give up on their traditional convictions and teachings. All we have to do is look at the dwindling memberships of mainline Protestant denominations. In order to safeguard the trajectory of young evangelicals, we must uphold the authoritative Word of God. It is imperative that those in a position to influence millennials have transparent and honest discussions about the culture wars in which evangelical youth are already engaging. Otherwise they will be silent and accepting in the face of persecution and false doctrine. The importance of arming the next generation of evangelicals cannot be overstated. If we continue to follow the example of mainline Protestants, evangelicalism will have a gloomy future. We must offer sorely needed leadership, but before we can do that, we need to know exactly whom and what we are up against." -- Chelsen Vicari

It is not surprising that we end with the same disconnect we began with. Yes it is imperative that we hold firm to the authoritative word of God - within our churches! Not within the culture. If you want to know why Christian youth are "losing the culture war" it is because you sent them out unarmed into the conflict! Giving them talking points about hot button political issues is not arming them. Give them the only weapon the bible says we need. The only offensive portion of the armor of God -- the sword of the Spirit. The problem is not that we sent the youth out without talking to them about abortion. It's that we sent them out without the Gospel. This article may have had some points where you were tempted to say amen but peel back the layers and this could have been written by Bill Johnson or C. Peter Wagner himself. This is pure NAR. Vicari is right. Leadership needs to understand better what it is up against. To accomplish this it need not look to pending legislation, 2018 elections, or even the next Supreme Court nominee. To find out what we are up against the church need only look into the mirror.

Reverend Anthony Wade -- July 25, 2018

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.