Book Review of A New Apostolic Reformation

R. Douglas Geivett and Holly Pivec. A New Apostolic Reformation: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press. 2014. 254 pp. Introduction This book surveys the rise of the so-called New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). The NAR movement’s roots can be traced to the 1980s in North America but is now a world-wide phenomenon. The central figure in this movement is the late C. Peter Wagner. Wagner was still living when Geivett and Pivec researched and wrote this book. Wagner passed away on 21 October 2016. Lexham Press published New Apostolic Reformation? in 2014. There are nineteen chapters, a preface, a conclusion, and three appendices. The book is endorsed by a number of Evangelical pastors and scholars. This list of endorsements includes Daniel Wallace, Craig Evans, Amos Yong, and Paul Copan. Both Geivett and Pivec are connected to Biola University in La Miranda, California in the United States. Geivett is a professor of philosophy at Talbot School and Theology at Biola, and Pivec holds an MA from Biola. Geivett holds a PhD from the University of Southern California. Pivec mentions that her church family is Bethel Church in Fairbanks, Alaska (xvii). The two of them also collaborated on a book entitled God’s Super Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement. This second book was published in 2018. The authors refer to NAR as a worldwide movement. The also demonstrate that NAR has had international impact. However, the focus of the book is the impact, influence, and response to the NAR movement in North America. Book Summary The nineteen chapters in this book are all relatively short. The longest one, chapter 15, is sixteen pages long. The shortest chapter, chapter 16, is only seven pages long. Meanwhile, the conclusion is just one page. Each chapter contains an introductory paragraph which presents the topic to be covered and also gives outline of how the authors will address the topic. Each chapter also contains a brief summary of the chapter at its conclusion. All of these features make this book very accessible and easy-to-read. The cover is cleverly designed by Frank Gutbrod featuring art by Mark Dobratz. The book is dedicated to “the Church, the Bride of Christ.”  Preface The authors’ preface lists two major goals: to give the readers “an idea of the sheer size and reach of NAR” and “to systematize NAR’s key teachings and practices and evaluate them on the basis of Scripture and careful reasoning” (xiv). The authors are able to achieve both of these goals — though I would say that they are really three goals, since the systematization of NAR teaching and practice is often separate from the authors’ evaluation of that system. For me, one of the most confusing statements in the entire book is in the preface. The authors write that they believe that the NAR proponents are “genuine disciples of Jesus.” This evaluation is confusing, because the authors will go on to write about the dangers, problems, mistakes, and heterodoxy of the entire NAR movement. In a spirit of humility, they conclude their preface by inviting dialogue with members or defenders of the […]

Book Review of God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel

Costi Hinn. God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel.  Grand Rapids, MI, USA: Zondervan, 2019, 223 pp. Introduction “The prosperity gospel is a disease” (178) Costi Hinn ends a chapter entitled “A Dangerously Abusive Theology” in his 2019 autobiographical salvo against the Prosperity Gospel with that statement. Throughout this book, Hinn weaves together stories, theology, biblical exposition, and exhortation. In doing so, Hinn answers the question, “So why did you walk away from that life?” (18)  Zondervan published Hinn’s book, and they released it in 2019. It comes with endorsements from a number of evangelical pastors, leaders, and scholars — from Steven Lawson to Conrad Mbewe. The book contains eleven chapters along with a preface and two appendices. Below is a brief summary of each chapter. Summary The preface answers the question “why.” Why did Hinn feel compelled to write the book. Hinn also addresses this question in an FAQ in Appendix 1. In sum, Hinn wants to address the “gospel injustice” that Prosperity Gospel (PG) teaching brings (18). Chapter One Chapter one is a brief biography of the Hinn family. Hinn traces their roots to a mix of Middle Eastern culture and Greek Orthodox religion. He comments that the language of his grandfather’s home was Arabic. He also mentions that while being “staunchly” Greek Orthodox, the religion played more of cultural role than a spiritual one. His family emigrated to North America (Toronto, Canada) in 1968. Hinn’s father’s and uncle’s classmates often bullied them because of their lack of English language skills. The Hnn family adopted the teachings of Kathryn Kuhlman whose mantra, “Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit.” (27). Hinn’s uncle, Benny Hinn, began a teaching and healing ministry. He modeled his ministry on the ministries of Kuhlman, Oral Roberts, and other prosperity teachers (29). Chapter Two Chapter two addresses the topic of bullying in Hinn’s pre-teen and teenage years. At times, other students bullied Hinn. At other times, Hinn bullied others. Hinn concludes the chapter with a story of a time when the family of the boy whom he assaulted with a skateboard Hinn loved and embraced him. Hinn recalls how, as a teenager, this love and grace is the face of rage and anger shocked and surprised him (44). Chapter Three In chapter three, Hinn recounts his attempts to try to make sense out of life (and death) according to the so-called “laws of prosperity.” When one of his uncles dies of cancer, Hinn’s only conclusion is that the uncle (or one of family members) must have been guilty of committing one of the “Big Four” (49). The “Big Four” is a list of actions that one must have committed if you are not healed. They include “making a negative confession,” “hanging around negative people,” “not having enough faith,” and “touching the Lord’s anointed.” These “sinful” actions will show up in other parts of Hinn’s story as he wrestles with the “gospel” that he was presented as a child with the biblical gospel that he came to discover.  Chapter Four In chapter four, Hinn recalls his life of luxury during his time as a staff member with his uncle’s ministry. […]

Preachers of a Different Gospel by Femi Adeleye

Preachers of a Different Gospel is a deep reflection by an evangelical on contemporary trends in Christianity in Africa. Femi Adeleye writes convincingly with facts and biblical justification on contemporary issues that have surfaced within contemporary Pentecostal Christianity, and which are undermining the evangelical faith in Africa. From a deep understanding of the Scripture and leadership in the evangelical students’ movements in the colleges and universities, Adeleye sounds a note of warning to the Church in Africa to remain faithful to the Scriptures.

Recognizing Neo-Pentecostal Influence in Your Sermon Preparation

One of the most challenging things for all of us called to teach and preach God’s Word is to learn to silence our biases and cultural expectations sufficiently to see what the Word actually says rather than what we expect it or want it to say. Here are three common hermeneutical and homiletical traits of the charismatic/pentecostalized tradition to recognize in order to move toward a more biblically-grounded homiletic.