April 16, 2012, rev. May 11
The following paragraph is taken from C. Peter Wagner’s Aug.18, 2011 update on what he calls “The New Apostolic Reformation.” As of April 10, 2012 it was posted at: http://www.globalspheres.org/.
I have a hard time understanding why some include this in their list of “heresies.” Whenever Jesus sent out His disciples he told them to heal the sick and cast out demons. Why we should expect that He has anything else in mind for us today is puzzling. True, this still pulls some traditionalists out of their comfort zones, but that just goes with the territory. One critic claimed that the NAR has excessive fixation on Satan and demonic spirits. This is purely a judgment call, and it may only mean that we cast out more demons than they do. So what?
Wager comes across here as flippant and defensive instead of giving us a Biblical basis for his position.
The Truth is - -
No place in scripture are we instructed to do signs and wonders as a means of attracting people to Jesus. We are instructed to “go and tell” and to make disciples as we go, and sometimes, as God wills, He does very special things to make Himself known by meeting needs in a spectacular way.
Miraculous events followed the ministry of Jesus and the Apostles. In Dominionism and the NAR they are to lead our witness. The difference is significant because it indicates what we are really about.
Our deepest human needs are for a sense of identity, purpose and significance in our years on earth, and for answers to the fear of death and the question of eternity - - needs which are only met in an encounter with Jesus as Savior and Lord through confession and repentance. That message doesn’t lead, in the NAR/Dominionism model. Nor does the power of the testimony of a transformed life.
It is incredibly risky to impart to Christians a sense of identity, purpose and significance by teaching them how to do miracles. And it gives unbelievers a dangerously distorted definition of what it means to follow Christ. The issue is not whether God can do or actually does great signs and wonders today. Certainly He can - - He is God! And certainly He does, because we hear authentic testimonies. The question is the primacy of miracles and various works of power in the life and ministry of Christians.
In Luke 10 the disciples came to Jesus and excitedly told them about how the demons submitted to them in His Name. In v20 then, Jesus brought things into perspective when He said, “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Another way to have said it would have been, “Hey guys, first things first.” Dominionism does not put first things first. Jesus brought much the same correction and clarity to Nicodemus, in John 3:2-3.
There is a fascination in our society with the supernatural. With spirits and spiritual power. Harry Potter, and our horror movies and various media make paranormal phenomena seem more everydayish and less threatening than previously. Christians can easily drop their guard and be deceived, especially by powers that seem to have a positive end of some kind.
Supernatural Signs and Wonders in Wayne County
Elaine and I began attending church in Wooster in 2000. I soon learned that there was some interest in what God might be doing in places like Toronto (the “Toronto Blessing”), Pensacola, I believe, and possibly other places where revival was supposedly taking place. While I had personal reservations about some of the fascination with spiritual phenomena in those places, I took it as honest inquiry. It was motivated by the pastor’s sincere heart and his desire to be part of what God is doing, even if it stretched him a bit, and it was done in a fairly low-profile way.
An associate pastor headed up those efforts. From the start, he and I had extended discussions on the meaning of “revival.” I felt that he defined it significantly as an encounter with God that led to supernatural manifestations and signs and wonders, and I defined it more as an encounter with God that led to further surrender of one’s’ heart and a greater measure of God’s rule, which would then be expressed by a more godly and fruitful life. One was more external, the other internal.
His definition became widespread in the church. There is an assumption among many today that supernatural phenomena is evidence of God’s presence. However, many scriptures warn us against false miracles, and signs and wonders. They are in Satan’s arsenal as well as God’s tool box and are only valid in an appropriate setting. Ten years ago a local pastor frequently spoke of the miraculous and said that he has seen the dead raised. I’m not questioning if that is so, but am pointing out that for many years now folks have been influenced toward the concept that such supernatural events are to be the norm.
One of the marks of modern “revivals” is the phenomena of the trembling of hands, head and more as a supposed sign of God’s presence. I first saw that at a John Wimber type meeting in Mansfield in the 1990’s. I have watched as some of these expressions moved across the church like wind across a wheat field. It was in 2006-07 that we started to see trembling as one person was praying for another at the altar and even out in the foyer. It became sort of a “thing” and was seen in both young people and those more mature. The pastor addressed that in a special after-service meeting and the practice soon ceased. To our shame, it seemed that our openly and spontaneously praying for each other was also greatly diminished. Why do we need such phenomena to make us feel spiritual enough to pray for each other?
We have had frequent examples of people being “slain in the spirit,” although not as much recently. The local Modern Day Mystics effort with their pursuit of trances, portals, open visions, dream interpreting and more, and IHOP type Prayer Rooms, Healing Rooms and related ministries are the direct result of the local influence of Dominionism and signs and wonders teaching.
There are those among us who sincerely believe that Christians can expect healing for every sickness and release from other earthly struggles, and they freely share that with others. The paradox is that they themselves experience physical and emotional struggles at least as much as others, and those they pray and prophesy over with confident declarations don’t always get well and sometimes even die from the sickness. This leads to many questions which are hard to answer without casting judgment on others, and produce strained explanations (at best) in trying to address the questions. This should not be surprising given the unbiblical nature of their belief.
It is true that God always meets us in our troubles; it is not true that he always delivers us out of them. The Kingdom of God is within us and its first, most God-honoring, and only “eternal” work, is there.
Other Study Resources
- Physical Healing and the Atonement, Critical Issues Commentary, Bob DeWaay
- Antichrists and the Antichrist, Critical Issues Commentary, Bob DeWaay
- Zenos Bible Study on Restorationism (another name for Dominionism)
- Zenos Bible Study, including slaying in the spirit, prophecy, healing, good stuff!
- See Links Page for more
Ken Stoltzfus, P.O. Box 228, Kidron, OH 44636 USA
Tel. 330-857-6312 firstname.lastname@example.org