SAVED TO SAVE SOULS
This book that I’m currently reading talks about a seismic shift in the way we do Church. Titled “The Rise of Network Christianity,” it explores the decline of mainline protestant Christian denominations and the rapid rise of what the authors describe as a “fast-growing, closely connected movement of religious entrepreneurs” for which they’ve coined the term “Independent Network Charismatic” (INC) Christianity.
What distinguishes INC Christianity from other traditional Christian institutions is the fact that they:
(1) do not seek to build a movement or to create affiliated franchise congregations using a particular name.
(2) are not primarily focused on building congregations in the traditional sense, but rather seek to influence the beliefs and practices of believers regardless of congregations or affiliation.
(3) seek to transform society as a whole rather than saving individual souls and building the church.
Here’s how C. Peter Wagner, one of the influential leaders of this new strain of Christianity, which calls itself the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), describes the group:
“Protestant denominationalism over the past 500 years has been, for the most part, governed by teachers and administrators rather than by apostles and prophets. In the New Apostolic Reformation, however, trust has shifted from groups to individuals. The apostle has earned the trust of the pastors and other leaders; and trust inevitably imparts authority” (Magner 2006).
What Wagner is saying here is that the traditional church structure which provides checks and balances, and accountable governance is being replaced by the sole rulership of self-styled apostles who are accountable to no one and answer to no one. Whatever the apostle says – or rather, what he claims God says – is law. The apostle is the final authority on all things. To question his authority is to question God Himself.
These apostles often claim to have power to perform extraordinary feats. Many of them make routine trips to heaven to receive instructions from God. Some have even travelled to hell where they go to spy on Satan’s operations. When they are not on one of these trans-dimensional voyages, courier angels often show up in their bedrooms while they are sleeping or in their toilets while taking a dump to relay important messages.
Wackadoodle chaos is a regular feature of their assembling. You find people staggering about drunk and hysterically laughing in the “spirit,” and others on the floor rolling and jerking like someone having seizures. By the time the apostle takes the stage to give his prophetic utterance-laden sermon, the manipulated crowd has been psyched and prepped for supposedly powerful manifestations.
Tragically, this is the fastest growing strain of Christianity in the world today. This aberrant religion – that emphasizes supernatural manifestations, personal revelations, prophetic utterances, and dominion over secular mountains – is what draws the largest crowd.
You can’t be a Christian Church and minimize the importance of the office of the teaching pastor. A Church built on pseudo prophecies and faux miracles is a moribund Church.
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4).
To even call these people, who have replaced the teaching of the Word of God with myths and esoteric manifestation, Christians is a misnomer. There’s nothing Christian about the NAR. No true Christian will join a religious organization with no interest in saving individual souls or building the church.
“Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Christians are not sent to transform societies. They are sent to save lost souls by proclaiming the Gospel message. It’s only when disciples are made of nations that societies are transformed. Any violation of this order is a great distraction from the Great Commission.