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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Discerning Heidi Baker: C. Peter Wagner and the Public Record


My own life would be a lot simpler right now if I could come to a clear conclusion about Heidi Baker--either she is a Pentecostal Mother Teresa or a complete fraud. I am in a process of discernment that has me seeing a foggier picture than either of those conclusions. What I am certain of is that I see major factual errors in the Bakers' account of their ministry in relationship to the New Apostolic Reformation. In the days since my first post on Heidi Baker I have received considerable feedback from people urging me to explore a variety of different stories about the Bakers and their global ministry. Some argue that I am missing the sublime, Christian purity that they see as the core of Heidi’s life work and they urge me to embrace the whole of her ministry. Others raise urgent questions about the nature of her accounts of healing and want me to focus on what they see as abuse of dignity in her accounts of healings. What I see my task as now is to focus on the range of public evidence that I think quite clearly refutes the Bakers’ description of the meaning they attach to the miraculous ministry of which they are a part. What I want to do, in other words, is raise questions about the discernment that is to be central to classical Christian reflection on the miraculous—a discernment that is in traditional Christianity every bit as important as the questions of whether miracles are happening or not. I hope many more will join with me in this process of discernment and go much deeper into their ministry's story than just one article or blog post.

In the Christian tradition Christians are not seen as the only people for whom miracles are done or the only people who have the power to perform miracles. Whether we are talking about Jewish Scripture, Christian Scripture or Christian reflection through the centuries into the present, we see that what makes a miracle a “Christian” miracle is the meaning that it points to—a distinctly Christian meaning, a “sign” as the Gospel of John calls it. The controversy surrounding Heidi Baker and the extraordinary accounts of her ministry is at this point, for me, not one of “are they happening” but rather “what meaning is being attached to them?” What is the narrative that is attached to the apparently amazing “signs and wonders” that accompany her? A reader who only looked at Christianity Today’s articles on Baker—the lengthy piece by Tim Stafford and the shorter one by Tim Morgan—would assume that the meaning attached by the Bakers is the traditional meaning that Christians have given to “signs and wonders”—namely, as pointing to Christ and ushering in the Kingdom’s presence. But for the Bakers there is more, much more, that they claim to discern in the presence of these miracles. This broader meaning is not merely ignored by Stafford, it is by my reading of reams of public evidence actively distorted by the Bakers in the one paragraph in the article in which the decades old controversy is even mentioned. I want to look closely at this paragraph because I am well aware that the charges I am going to make are serious and speak to the Bakers’ integrity and to Tim Stafford’s reporting. Here is the account:

Though they have lost financial support due to their association with the Toronto movement, the Bakers are loyal to its leaders and attend their Catch the Fire conferences in North America every year. Several leaders involved are active in the so-called New Apostolic Reformation, a controversial charismatic movement. But the Bakers do not promote the New Apostolic Reformation or consider themselves to be modern-day apostles.

From reading this paragraph—the only paragraph that even touches on the controversy over the alternative meanings the Bakers attach to their miracles—the reader would assume that the only real controversy is that the Bakers are “loyal” to leaders of the Toronto movement, some of whom are “active in the so-called New Apostolic Reformation.” This one controversial activity of theirs is considered by Stafford to be not a problem for three reasons: 1) It is a virtuous loyalty in light of the fact that “they have lost financial support” because of it. 2) Outside of their visit to this yearly conference nothing is happening in their ministry that would make anyone think they “promote” NAR. 3) They do not “consider themselves to be modern-day apostles.”

I will start with the last reason because I have nothing to say with reference to the first reason, and lots to say with reference to the second. As I wrote in a different post, the fact that someone does or does not “consider themselves to be modern-day apostles” is not at all a factor in a person’s participation in NAR. By anybody’s definition, NAR is not a movement that is just for apostles and its main leaders are by no means just apostles. One of the things that distinguishes NAR from other movements—and this is absolutely vital to understand—is the belief that we are in a new era of Church History in which God is restoring to the Church some of the so-called “five-fold gifts” of Ephesians 4:11, namely Apostle and Prophet. Crucial to this understanding is the belief that miracles are accompanying this “restoration” of apostolic and prophetic gifts as signs of their authenticity. This is why the term that is often used as a label in place of New Apostolic Reformation is the term “apostolic and prophetic movement”. In many of the groups that participate in this movement the leadership is made up in part by Prophetic Elders that often meet with apostles in what one of the major groups calls an Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders. One need look no further than the prophetess Cindy Jacobs, a person who is virtually synonymous with NAR and C. Peter Wagner, to see that active leadership in apostolic and prophetic movements associated with NAR is in no way limited to people who “consider themselves to be modern-day apostles.”

And as should be obvious, one does not need to be either a prophet or an apostle to be active in NAR and committed to its new vision for government of the church. NAR sees itself as a place for all Christians to bring all of their gifts. So the key questions are whether or not the Bakers and their ministry are a part of prophetic and apostolic movements and whether or not they actively promote those movements. What the publicly available evidence shows overwhelmingly is that the Bakers are in these prophetic and apostolic movements, they are said to be leaders of these movements and their work to expand the impact of these movements is very much linked with the work of C. Peter Wagner. Not a few evangelicals would be troubled if they were aware of the theology and practice that this all carries with it.

The easiest place to start with the evidence is a look at the Bakers’ own ministries referred to in the CT article, Iris Ministries and Partners in Harvest. At Iris’ global base in Nashville it is quite clear that the Bakers view their ministry as part of an apostolic network. The website says, under the question “Who is your pastoral covering?”, that “As an Iris Global missions base, our direct apostolic covering are our founders, Heidi and Rolland Baker.” This is consistent with the fact that the Bakers themselves view their Partners in Harvest churches as being, as they put it, under the “Apostolic Leadership" (see page 25 of link) of John and Carol Arnott, the Founding Pastors of the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, now known as Catch the Fire. The Arnott’s are also the leaders of Spread the Fire ministries, which hosts the conferences that the Bakers attend every year. In addition to the fact that the Bakers’ hundreds of churches are under the apostolic leadership of the Arnotts and they regularly speak at major Arnott led functions, the Bakers and Arnotts are in another very significant grouping called the Revival Alliance. In the promotional material for all of these groups, reference to “signs and wonders” is constant.

At this point in the story it is commonplace for people who are devoted to the Bakers to insist on a point that they sincerely believe:  The Bakers are completely separate from C. Peter Wagner. This is said in part because Wagner has become somewhat notorious in informed circles, be they religious or political. People are beginning to understand the full dimensions of his radical spirituality and revolutionary ecclesiology and this makes some people who have been in public ministry with him understandably nervous about their reputations. I do not know what the Bakers think and I do not know what the Bakers say to reporters or scholars, but I do know what the Bakers have done for years with C. Peter Wagner and with his key leaders. An examination of this record shows that the Bakers--their ministries, their alliances, their writing, their speaking---are in fact actively participating in ministry with C. Peter Wagner and his broad range of ministries.  It is impossible to sustain a narrative of their life's ministry consistent with what they claim in the paragraph above. This reality makes it incumbent upon the Bakers to make dramatic changes if they really do feel about Wagner what some of their supporters seem convinced they feel. Here is the evidence I refer to.

CHE ANH, REVIVAL ALLIANCE and the WAGNER LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE

Che Anh is a long-time member of and leader in C. Peter Wagner’s groups of apostles, Global Spheres and International Coalition of Apostles (ICA). Che Anh is also the International Chancellor of C. Peter Wagner’s very own Wagner Leadership Institute which has its one sentence vision statement the development of apostolic leaders in line with their understanding of the five-fold gifts of Ephesians 4:11-12. Anh and his wife are, together with the Bakers and Arnotts and three other couples, the leaders of the Revival Alliance that I referred to earlier. Randy and DeAnne Clark are one of the other couples in this Revival Alliance. Randy teaches a class at the Wagner Institute available online, with C. Peter Wagner and Che Anh, titled “Developing Structure for Apostolic Ministry” which bills itself as teaching “the ‘New Apostolic Reformation’ that we see transpiring in the Body of Christ Today”. Bill and Beni Johnson are another couple in the alliance. Bill is on the faculty of the Wagner Leadership Institute where you can take his course “Walking in the Supernatural”. Che Anh is refreshingly blunt about his view of what the Church is to discern in the miracles and revivals he believes are happening through the works of so-called prophets and apostles today. He made his five-fold convictions abundantly clear in his book When Heaven Comes Down, a book with a foreword by the Bakers. Here is his explanation of current religious revivals:

As I look back through the history of revival, I see that every wave of God’s outpouring is important because, in each revival, He restores something.  In fact, over the past half-century, we see that in each movement God restored an office within the five-fold ministry, including apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. 

...In the “Third Wave” of the 1980s, God brought forth prophets, as John Wimber introduced the “Kansas City prophets” Paul Cain, Mike Bickle, Bob Jones, James Goll, and Jill Austin.  Other prophets emerged during that period, including my friend and covenant brother Lou Engle, my sister in the Lord Cindy Jacobs, Jane Hamon and Chuck Pierce.  The 1994 revival in Toronto restored the office of the apostle with the birth of many apostolic networks, including John and Carol Arnott’s Partners in Harvest, Rick Joyner’s MorningStar, Bill Johnson’s Global Legacy, Heidi and Rolland Baker’s Iris Ministries and or church’s own Harvest International Ministry.

Now, in 2009, we see the convergence of all five of these restored offices coming together and being expressed through the Body of Christ in His followers the saints.  


When you know how the Revival Alliance was formed, all of these interconnections and shared purposes between the Bakers, the Revival Alliance and Wagner’s ministries are not a surprise. Che Anh tells the story often of how Heidi Baker received a prophetic word from the prophet Bob Jones calling for an alliance of major apostolic networks. The coming together of these various networks was widely heralded in 2008 in mainstream charismatic media, one of which emphasized the global significance of the alliance under the headline “Revivalists Aim to Spark Worldwide Revival”.  

TODD BENTLEY AND THE REVIVAL ALLIANCE

One of the immediate “fruits” of this worldwide revival was in Lakeland, Florida. It is here that the prophetic certainty of the Revival Alliance and its narrative of a new day for Christianity took on the appearance of profound scandal. In a speech that must be seen to be fully appreciated, Che Anh spoke in Lakeland with Todd Bentley. With great conviction the two of them explained that the prophetic word from Heidi Baker via Bob Jones was part of a tremendous, supernatural confirmation that both fulfilled the work of the Toronto Blessing and helped launch a so-called “third wave” of the Holy Spirit. The timing of this proud pronouncement could not have been any worse for Anh and the Revival Alliance. Anyone who knows what comes next can understand why the Bakers would be particularly ashamed to admit and would actively hide from their participation in apostolic ideology and practice. Under all of the “prophetic” power and “apostolic” zeal that the Revival Alliance could muster they engaged in an elaborate, “sacred” commissioning service of Todd Bentley as an apostle. In this dramatic service, prophets and apostles from around the world gathered around Todd in a sign of unity and power in this new apostolic age. C. Peter Wagner, together with other representatives of the most extreme forms of New Apostolic Reformation fervor, spoke words of prophecy and anointing over this man with the certainty that the miracles of Lakeland were part of the confirmation that Bentley was to be commissioned as an extraordinary apostle. Given the deep connection between Baker’s Revival Alliance and the Todd Bentley scandal it is not surprising that Bentley felt compelled to single out the Revival Alliance for apology when the true scope of his problems became evident. But the damage was done. The questions were being asked. The accountability was being demanded. Even within those elements of the charismatic movement that have most welcomed the notion that apostles and prophets are being restored in a direct act of God, there was pause for reflection and concern. A man whose miracles were seen as a vital part of the evidence of his anointing into this new, fast-growing reordering of the church around apostolic leadership was quickly seen as a seriously immature Christian in spite of the rush to anoint him an apostle.

C. Peter Wagner was shaken by this incident. By his own telling he had been involved in the Lakeland Outpouring, as he and others call it, from the earliest stages. It is clear from the narrative that the working relationship between Wagner’s group of apostles, at that time just the ICA, and Baker’s Revival Alliance was as strong as critics have suggested. Given Che Anh’s participation in both groups, this should not be a surprise, but it must be emphasized because some continue to hold to an illusion that an invisible wall exists between Wagner’s extremism and Baker. Wagner’s account speaks matter-of-factly of how his ICA worked with the Revival Alliance throughout the outpouring and into the immediate aftermath from Bentley’s scandal. Writing on the day that the scandal hit the news, Wagner recounted the history of the Outpouring before and in the immediate wake of Bentley’s fall.

Lakeland Outpouring I, in which Todd Bentley was the main figure, is now history. Lakeland Outpouring II, in which Stephen Strader of Ignited Church is the main figure, has begun. The Outpouring started in a local church, went to a tent, and now is back in the local church. My suggestion is that we no longer use the term “Lakeland Outpouring” but rather distinguish between Lakeland I and Lakeland II because they are very different… In the Lakeland I case, I am elated at the way things are turning out. The Revival Alliance with whom Todd was aligned on June 23 has kicked into action with a vengeance. Ché Ahn and Bill Johnson, like me, were overseas when things broke, but John Arnott stepped up to the plate and moved in apostolically. It has since become clear that Todd’s Fresh Fire Board could not have handled the situation, Stephen Strader and Ignited Church could not, nor could any of his other close friends. Only the Revival Alliance could.

Wagner’s explanation of his and the Revival Alliance’s participation in the commissioning service is equally candid and equally clear about his active role in it.

Previous to around the middle of June, my interest in Lakeland was about a 2 on a scale of 1-10. Then I got a call from Stephen Strader, the host pastor who was a member of ICA, which I lead, with a passionate appeal for apostolic intervention because chaos and confusion had begin to invade the Outpouring I. Toward the end of the hour we were talking, I received one of my infrequent direct words from God: “Alignment!” Just one word, but I knew I had a divine command and responsibility.
Once I knew that God had assigned me to initiate some sort of apostolic intervention at Stephen’s side, I began praying and consulting with close colleagues. In less than two days I discovered that Todd Bentley had no formal, established apostolic alignment. I asked God how I should proceed, especially since I had no inclination to attempt an apostle-evangelist approach and expect that Bentley would submit to or even listen to what I had to say if I made an appointment with him in Lakeland. I felt that proper apostolic protocol would be for me to deal with one or more peer-level apostles to whom Todd had aligned apostolically. Since as yet he had no such alignment, I began asking God how such an alignment might come about. He directed me to my close friend, Ché Ahn, who himself is apostolically aligned with me and who also had been close to Bentley for years. Ché agreed that the best apostolic protocol would be for Todd to align with the Revival Alliance if he were willing. Ché called him and Bentley agreed to submit publicly to the Revival Alliance.
This scandal afforded the Bakers an opportunity, a very public opportunity, to make clear whatever differences they had with C. Peter Wagner and his conception of the New Apostolic Reformation. It would have been perfectly understandable for them to have done so. But in the years since this scandal highlighted for anyone interested the connections between Wagner’s work and Baker’s, not much has changed institutionally to warrant anything like the assessment the Bakers provided Stafford. Everything I have written above about the membership of the Revival Alliance, Wagner’s ICA and the Wagner Leadership Institute is based on up to the date material. Che Anh remains a bridge figure between the two groups, the Revival Alliance remains a uniting group between the various factions and the Wagner Leadership Institute is available for those who want to be trained by figures from both groups. The Arnott’s ministry continues to advertise its television ministry with C. Peter Wagner’s picture on the web page and its conference page continues to feature Heidi Baker as an upcoming speaker. Videos of Heidi Baker advertising the next big event on the movement’s calendar are available for anyone to see. While the symbiotic relationship between these major individuals and institutions in the New Apostolic Reformation has not changed, what has changed, remarkably, is that a central figure in this movement is being lauded in a cover story in the most significant Christian magazine in America. Its sanitized history of Mama Heidi’s active participation in a movement that most would consider outside the mainstream of evangelical conviction is a sad day in the proud history of Christianity Today. That magazine has been a part of my journey for 25 years. I am proud to be published in the pages of its sister publication, Books & Culture. But I am troubled and disappointed. I understand those who call for this story to be corrected and I hope those with access to the Bakers will share my determination to set the record straight. 

25 comments:

  1. Greg, I really think that the whole NAR conspiracy is mostly contrived (I'm not saying there isn't a loose network of Charismatics in North America that are somewhat influential, I'm saying that it's not a wacko-theocratic, anti-intellectual movement. This whole "NAR" deal is massively overblown). I work at a large ecumenically-minded evangelical ministry and I'm headed to Africa this summer to observe what is happening for myself. I recently got an email from someone asking if our ministry is also part of the "NAR" and they basically see it as this massive movement that is raping orthodoxy or something (and which pretty much every known leader in modern Christianity is a part of). It's a really bizarre and conspiratorial way to try to group a series of disparate ministries, organizations,etc. There is no reason for me to believe, objectively, that what the Baker's are doing isn't real. I've read several of their books and they simply evidence profoundly ardent Christian service and love for Christ.

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    1. To both Nate and Rafiki, I am not sure what you are referring to when you talk about a NAR conspiracy. I asserted no such thing in what I have written. I also wrote nothing questioning the reality of what they are doing in terms of the miracles or the compassion. I welcome responses to what I actually wrote. In terms of the significance of this movement I will respond in a lengthier post, but suffice it to say that C. Peter Wagner is not a minor figure in the history of global Christianity.

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    3. Nate,

      I assume you are referring to the way some people blogg or post or write articles that seem to say the NAR is a takeover of the believing Christian church. But the fact is it has said that itself. with statements that there will be a civil war in the church, and if you are not with them you are against them etc etc. But if you think it's just a loose ragtag organisation with no solid plan to influence the church worldwide you couldn't be more wrong. I live in Ireland which is an ocean away from the headquaters of all the people mentioned i the article. But lo and behold, a group of people in my church went to Bill Johnson church and now they are showing a video series called "The Father Of Lights" which promotes all the mentioned characters in such force. Indeed there is a saying going around that if the phenomenon allegedly occurring in Bethel church comes to your church your church is "Bethelised". But as I have been warning people in my church for some time now.."The NAR, coming to a church near you" You should do some research Nate. Incidentally..the word Ecumenical frightens me, for good and honourable reasons I believe Nate. So can I ask what is the context of your usage of the word, because I already have an idea in my mind what it is about but hope I am wrong.

      Greg(not Metzger)

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    4. I see Roland Baker is a follower of William Branham. Take a look at the video, where he states that next to Jesus, Branham is most admired. He says he has all his sermons and teachings. Branham denied the Trinity among other things, but that is what I think is where I believe he is not a brother even, according to scripture. I have my thoughts on the leaders of the NAR, and I. Know a lot of sincere Christians who are wrapped up in NAR without even being aware of what they really teach. They are in error, big time. Run from this movement.

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  2. Agreed Nate. I think getting so caught up with the NAR conspiracy is contrived. Bottom line is the Bakers have had a profound impact on Mozambique, more than any other ministry in that region. The heart of their message is the love of Christ and many are saved and healed. I don't see any self interest in her ministry, rather totally and utterly selfless. I have no doubt you will be impacted with the fruit of their ministry and hope you have an amazing trip into Mozambique.

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    1. To both Nate and Rafiki, I am not sure what you are referring to when you talk about a NAR conspiracy. I asserted no such thing in what I have written. I also wrote nothing questioning the reality of what they are doing in terms of the miracles or the compassion. I welcome responses to what I actually wrote. In terms of the significance of this movement I will respond in a lengthier post, but suffice it to say that C. Peter Wagner is not a minor figure in the history of global Christianity.

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  3. The thing that is most dismaying about all this is the lack of going back to Scripture. Women are not to be in authority, 1 Tim 2. Yet we have all kinds of women claiming to "love Jesus" and yet disobey Him as they claim the office of apostle, pastor, etc. God has something to say about women with short hair, 1 Cor 11. Mrs Baker disobeys. All the extraordinary events at Toronto, Lakeland, etc, etc. are nothing of themselves: the question is, does it result in lives of obedience and holiness? Funny, that in these "ultra-orthodox" assemblies, no women wear headcoverings, 1 Cor 11. True Pharaseeism! Just like the "corban", they go to great lengths to display their devotion to God, but disobey express commands through their fancy explanations. But wait! Let us look another direction, at the many who scorn this movement, yet who forbid to speak with tongues--which is in direct disobedience to the command in 1 Cor 14, "forbid not to speak with tongues". But lo! Step back and look at both sides together--how many of the congregants who sing either traditional hymns, or shout in tongues to driving rock improvisations "in the spirit"--yes how many in BOTH sections of the Church are divorced and remarried, living in aduultery, completely disobeying commands of the Lord Jesus repeated in 4 places! (Mt 5, Mt 19, Mk 10, Lk 16). Could it be that we compass land and sea , and make a proselyte a twofold child of hell as ourselves? And lo, those who DO wear headcoverings are hardly salt, for they have made themselves into an isolated culture and committed the other Pharaseeic practice, of stacking up specific rules until the Holy Spirit is choked out. I don't care about Heidi Baker, or Billy Graham, or C. Peter Wagner, or R. C. Sproul, or John Piper, or Che Ahn...its about obedience to the simple commands in the New Testament. "He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." "Why do ye call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say"? "Depart from me, ye who work lawlessness" Its good to give to the poor and preach the gospel to the weak. But that does not justify disobedience in other areas. Just as it is good to wear headcovering, but that does not justify disobedience in other areas. It is good to speak in tongues, but that does not justify disobedience in other areas. THE GREAT COMMISSION: TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THINGS, WHATSOEVER I HAVE COMMANDED YOU". ALL. ALL. ALL! No picking and choosing. I don't care if there is an "apostolic conspiracy" or not. The question is, is the Word of God being taught AND obeyed in its entirety? Are people, whether they fall down and howl like dogs, or sit quietly and sing hymns, rising up to OBSERVE ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER JESUS COMMANDED? If not, I don't care how many miracles there are, it is a barren tree. And I don't care how sedate and respectable you are, its a barren tree. And I don't care how "apostolic" your ministry or association or spiritual pedigree, or what war-ravaged country you dare to travel through--if the result isn't a life of holiness, the teaching AND obedience to all that Jesus commanded, then the Great Commission has not been fulfilled.

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    1. Tom, I am going to leave your comment up for others to see and respond to, but I want to make sure that you know that I don't agree with what you have written here. I am in no place to judge the totality of her ministry or the particular errors you see in her ministry. What concerns me most is that what they say about their participation in the NAR movement is not sustained by a simple look at the facts of their ministry's history.

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    2. And I saith, lo, I hope all the short-haired women in the world who go to church, and men with, say a couple of tatoos, an earring or two, or the addict, or someone caught in the act of adultery (always wondered where the man was, had to be two of them), or, say, those who are infested with aids, malaria, and abject poverty have a chance to make it into the Kingdom? It is my guess they have a better chance, and in most cases get there lot faster than one who, may believe that Jesus used the King James edition of the Bible to proclaim the gospel.

      Love at all costs. Jesus did.

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  4. Very insightful and revealing. The research and background is good information to have. Christians need to connect the dots and understand what ministry (or ministries) they're getting involved with. The CT feature obviously had a "defend and promote" type agenda, but "the miracles" claimed including raising the dead seemed unsubstantiated, except for the writer's description of one boy who did seem to hear better. I had an uncomfortable spirit while reading about the ministry and even the author alluded to "questionable elements" and seemed to want say more but held back. It prompted me to watch for myself video of the Toronto Blessing and Heidi Baker's sermon at Catch the Fire of the Toronto Airport Fellowship, and there's concerns. The methods of the leaders and appearance of those being filled with "the Holy Spirit" go beyond unorthodox into a mystical, and I fear pagan realm. It certainly doesn't hold up scripturally or resemble biblical precedence. It's up to each Christian to discern the Spirit for themselves and we Christians should be wary of undo criticism and hindering a Spirit filled ministry by bickering over petty differences in doctrine or practice. However, Revelations warns of false prophets and teachers in the last days and we must careful not to stay quiet or legitimize what may be "ravenous wolves" lurking among the faithful. Their insider Todd Bentley seemed to be exposed as self appointed false teacher. We must trust the Lord's will be done and pray for guidance and direction from the one Source and His truth be revealed. I blog at menofmind.com and may write on this as well, and would like to use this as one source, as it pertains to the background and ministry connections, if so.

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  5. Greg as an observer it appears from your article (and I may be wrong on this) that you question the Christan supernatual and christian miracles all together. Is this accurate? I've been there, believe me however in the last several few years God has used a few "supernatural" events to heal my broken "heart". Why this is not a physical healing but emotional, the events surrounding my healing were profound and pointed me towards jesus. I'm stronger now in the Lord then I've ever been. That being said there seems t be two sides to the miracle discussion; those that believe and skeptics. In that you may be a skeptic, I would caution against a critic of someone wom you've never met because you never know what God is up to. In that same logic, those who believe would be we'll served to be a tad more skeptical

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  6. Geoff, sorry if I have left that impression. Nothing could be further from the truth. I rejoice in your healing and I deeply pray for more in our world. My struggle is with the broader ministry that she has been publicly a leader of--what is often called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). What I see in the public record leads me to conclude she mislead the reporter who did the story in Christianity Today. I am curious what in what I have written would make you think I doubt the miraculous? As I note in a later post, one of the leading Pentecostals in the world--a man involved for decades in healing ministry--is deeply concerned about the NAR. Also, remember that John Wimber himself broke publicly from the TOronto Blessing Church over his concerns about their leadership. So these kinds of questions and debates are necessary and healthy among Christians, including those with an active involvement in miraculous signs.

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  7. Greg I appreciate what you have written as well as the time and research you put into it. Do not be dismayed by those who criticize you or who try to devalue your work. I was once caught up in the whole Heidi Baker, IHOP, Rick Joiner, NAR thing, but I took a look at what they were saying, what scripture says and I read what discernment ministries had to say. Praise God there are those like you who do what you do.

    It may seem as if there is no "NAR conspiracy", but when we see that what they teach is creeping into the teachings of orthodox Christianity we should all be concerned, conspiracy or not.

    I recently went to a Baptist seminar on youth ministries and the teachers were teaching the same nonsense that the the NAR/Charismatic teachers teach. They were teaching that Christians can be plagued by generational curses and demons and things like that which come straight from NAR "prophets." They taught that the sinner is not responsible for sin, demons are. I was disturbed to see that most of the small audience just soaked it up with no questions, no scripture and no response.

    @Geoff There are more than only two ways to look at miracles. I believe God performs mighty works, He used me and healed a woman of stage 3 breast cancer. But not all miracles come from God. We must be skeptical given the multitude of warnings in the Bible about false miracle workers/teachers/and prophets.

    @Nate there is reason for you to NOT "believe, objectively, that what the Baker's are doing isn't real." There is plenty of evidence out there from sources other than Heidi Baker that casts doubt on what she says and does. I was once a Heidi Baker fan, till I saw her writhing on the ground like a dying animal, laughing uncontrollably as if she were insane, on drugs or drunk. The longer I watch the more sickened I became and I left after it went on for over 30 minutes. I eventually disassociated myself from the entire Charismatic movement because of that and other similar stuff. I hope you'll use some discernment and look at both sides of the Baker's story.

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    1. @stevepage, thanks for your thoughtful perspective. I think often people are not hearing the inside story that you share about what you see and experience. There is a certain illusion being presented about this movement and the minute you challenge it, people act as if the movement does not even exist. Straight talk and careful analysis is needed.

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  8. There are those who if Jesus showed up on their street and gave to everyone who showed up and needed, or simply wanted, a bowl of rice and beans, told them to come as often as they needed, that it was free and limitless and He gave it simply because He knew they were hungry, and that He wanted to do, would write it off as poor missionary techniques.

    When dreams of changing a nation begin to become reality, that very ugly head of jealously strikes (makes one wonder if making it to the cover of Christianity Today causes that to flare up.)

    It seems it is our "brothers" who are some of the first to try and destroy the dream and at the same time throw those who dream the dreams of God into the first pit they can find

    I suppose those with true concerns might want to volunteer in Mozambique for, say a minimum of 6 months or so, and find out first hand.

    Love at all costs even at the risks of going past "careful" and methodological "analysis."

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  9. What amazes me is God revealed before the world these were not of Him filled with pride and eager to be at the forefront God exposed them. Todd never used to be a man of weirdness He was a real man of God and God filled the house which I was part of many times. it wasn't until these people came around him things started going off.going to people's graves and many other bad things. encouraged mind you by the people around him.

    Now hear this and hear it clearly. God is not a God of show or whackiness He is a God of order and great power. What He does is sure and true and without repentance. The enemy comes in like a flood people are deceived and in turn are deceiving I am not convinced it is purposeful but when you are in the middle of something clarity is not there.

    God has not restored things because they never left but the word of the Lord is precious. There is a lot of mystical practice mixed with christian doctrine. There is much emphasis on past anointings the latter will be greater than the former those who are anointed of God are done so for that time and for the specific purpose they are created for.

    God is not mocked and the actions of the people are not un noticed by God. However. God also is revealing the hearts of people. for God alone knows the heart and in the light of David the king of Israel the highest authority in the land a man who was after God's own heart. lied. committed adultery and took it further and had uriah killed. Yet David turned to the Lord after the prophet was sent to him and though he was forgiven the sword never left his house and his family was taken from him by it.

    God is not a God of injustice He is the God and Father of all but when people arise pointing at the people they are not operating in scripture which says to go to the person and take heed yourself lest you also fall. Listen and be wise children for the Lord is at work in more ways then you can see.

    Your own hearts are revealed as well as the actions of people operating in strange doctrines. Be careful to keep yourselves before the Lord and seek Him and read the word of God daily commune with Him and Hear His thoughts for all of this happening is to cause dissension were are told to avoid isms and schisms and to love one another the word love is agape meaning selfless.

    please listen and be wise for in these words is truth and life. Be careful to do what is right and if a brother is in err go to him and restore him these people may or may not be of God what we can do is check with God's word of which He never goes against or speaks contrary to but in all things test and adhere to that which is good and solid and toss out that which is not good.

    God is raising up those who will stand before these people with His word and in His authority He is not mocked but be careful not to cut the head off of people but rather the chains that bind.
    love your little brother,
    -William

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  10. WD,

    When you say Todd was not a man of weirdness and a real man of God...was that before he joined up with the Toronto Airport Fellowship? because I saw footage of him on Youtube preaching there and he was praying over a woman in tongues and was clearly saying the actual words "blah blah blah..blah blah..blah blah blah" and he sounded like he had a mocking spirit. And he was also talking about having visions of angels and he was put on an operating desk and his insides were taken out and boxes with scriptures were put into him. It sounded like alien invasion stuff to be honest. And that was well before his tattoos and progression to Lakeland. So can I ask just when or at what point do you think Todd became weird? And to me anything or anyone that ends up associated with Toronto Airport fellowship either looks or sounds weird eventually.

    Greg(not Metzger)

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  12. Phew. All those comments show me is that we Chrisians are far too divided and judgemental. Two things I use to guide me in assessing people/churches/ movements (and yes these are from the bible):
    1. 'I want to know nothing save Christ, and him crucified' - instead of getting into murky areas of theology, doctrine and endless arguments over different interpretations and points of view... Does the person or church believe in, acknowledge and point to Christ and His salvation? Yes? Well then, humbly and graciously accept them, despite any personal or cultural or intellectual differences... No? Well, then we aren't talking about Christians at all, but people we need to pray for, to be saved!! (And as apostles did in New Testament, they could be approached and introduced to Jesus)
    2. 'You will know them by their fruits' - is the fruit of their lives and ministry more followers of Jesus, more changed lives? Yes? Then again, as above we should accept them and leave the details of their lives and beliefs up to God to sort out in their journey with Him.
    If no, then again we are dealing with something more sinister, and should approach the people to deal with this.
    In the case of Heidi Baker and Bill Johnson and some others mentioned here, I feel it's obviously a yes on both questions. I found a lot I am not always comfortable with, but they are mostly issues of style or culture - I don't see any conflict with the bible at all either, so why are we publicly picking apart the lives and ministries of fellow Christians?
    The main article seemed to be respectfully attempting a discussion of sorts, and I am all for that. But the main point seems unimportant to me- who cares who they are aligned with? Alignment with Christ is the key thing.
    And the comments that have followed...well, lets just say disappointing. I blog too, and I always want comments so it can be interactive. But it seems most people are just out to shove their 'fire and brimstone' down people's throats. What a tragic misrepresentation of Christ to any potential non believers reading our blogs!

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  15. Roland Baker is a follower of William Branham. Look for yourself on YouTube. He admires him greatly ,and says next to Jesus, branham's the. Man. Branham denied the Trinity among other things and according to scripture, he is not a brother.

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  16. First off let me apologize right up front, I am not bound to orthodox Christianity. I owe no allegiance to any particular church, or group of friends...

    The disciples said Lord we saw people casting out demons in your name, and they weren't one of us...

    At a you age I learned YOU can find scripture to prove and say anything you want it to say, and create a following, for good or for not so good or worse. Don't tell me it isn't true I see it all the time.

    I have studied the "moves of God" throughout the ages and found the leaders of these movements were like me, less than perfect, but got blessed ANYWAY. Aimee McPherson, had long hair, but GOD moved anyway. Heidi Baker, will be the FIRST to tell anyone, she is not perfect, but I know she loves God and wants to build HIS kingdom and invite His kingdom to come. God loves us he made our personalities. He works through our different personalities. Not in spite of but because he loved, 12 different disciples.

    All Jesus had were 12 imperfect men, some had personal ambition, the sons of thunder they were called. But He used them anyway.

    And as far a Heidi twitch on the floor?? I am a sensitive person, it freaks me out to watch anyone twitch on the floor!

    But when I TWITCHED on the floor and the power of God came over me, andI saw in the spirit and was healed ( who was healing my heart the devil!!!!) NO in all my twitching it was GODS awesome never ending love healing me of past hurts. It never ceases to amaze me how people who wont let God heal there heart, will try and tell you that is not of God. It's not orderly, My bible tells me a kingdom divided against itself can not stand...

    So you got your orthodoxy and you got your people, and you have your special scriptures, fine do you have the healer of your soul?

    Can you get so close to the Holy Spirit you feel what he feels...

    I say set people free, don't expect them to be like you, set them free to love God and love people, on their Journey. And if they twitch and it bothers your sensibilities, bless them with all your and trust God, but look the other way.

    But don't build up or elevate yourself and your friends and with your knowledge knowledge may puff up love builds up or blesses out of humility.
    Amen?
    Oh me?

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  17. I find your background with Intervarsity interesting, because teaching from NAR gurus -- especially from Bill Johnson and the Bethel Church -- has recently been brought into our church by a current IV staffer in our area. In addition to this teaching, he has led a group of our people on "Spiritual Treasure Hunts" that involve listening to, and writing down, "clues from the Holy Spirit" before hitting the street. I have read accounts of this practice in other IV chapters. My question for you: what is the current status of NAR influence and practice within Intervarsity?

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