The Cure for the Old, Dead, Denominational Church

In “Churchquake: How the New Apostolic Reformation Is Shaking Up the Church As We Know It”,   C. Peter Wagner presents a case that the church is either dead or dying in the West.   He presents some ways of avoiding these “Tombstones” of the church :

Churchquake: How the New Apostolic Reformation Is Shaking Up the Church As We Know It


  1. NO ACADEMIA.  New apostolic churches do not allow degrees to become prerequisites for ordination.  In most apostolic networks, having a degree or desiring one is not a qualification for ministry.  Degrees are clearly optional.  Exceptions are networks such as Morningstar International whose target audience is undergraduate and graduate college students.
  • Historians are replaced by visionaries.
  • Biblical exegetes are replaced by cultural exegetes.
  • Theologians are replaced by entrepreneurs.
  • Critics are replaced by cheerleaders.
  • Distinguished scholars are replaced by dynamic pastors.


Professors are favored who have the ability to impart life and vision and anointing to the students.  When I am invited to teach in a new apostolic school, I ask the dean what they want me to teach.  They often reply, “You can teach anything you want!”  The message behind that statement is, obviously, that they are asking me to come to provide impartation, not information.  The information will be there, of course, but it is not primary.

  • History of dogma is now history of revivals
  • Greek is now Bible software including Strong’s Concordance
  • Homiletics is now preaching
  • Exegesis of certain books is now English New Testament survey
  • Epistemology is now prophetic intercession.

  I recently perused catalogs of new apostolic training institutions and found many course titles I would never expect to see listed in traditional seminary catalogs.  Most established faculty members would have no idea what might be the possible content of such courses.  Some examples:

  • Demonology Exposed; Destiny and Leadership; Perils of Pastoring (Eagles Nest Training Institue, Gary Greenwald).
  • Nurture of Prophetic Ministry;  Missions and Church Planting Vision;  Intercession for Revival (Grace Training Centre; Mike Bickle)
  • Roots of Character;  Understanding the Anointing I and II;  Building a Strong Spirit; Diplomacy, Protocol and Tact (Spirit Life Bible College, Roberts Liardon).
  • Vision; City-Taking Strategies;  Apostles and Apostolic Ministry;  Communion with God (Impact School of Ministry, David Cannistraci)

Next week on Signposts02 a Doctor with a strong flash-light shows us where all this amazing new knowledge comes from.

  — Wazza2

27 thoughts on “The Cure for the Old, Dead, Denominational Church

  1. “Roots of Character; Understanding the Anointing I and II; Building a Strong Spirit; Diplomacy, Protocol and Tact (Spirit Life Bible College, Roberts Liardon).”

    So Roberts Liardon has been restored to ministry after being disclosed as homosexual?

  2. Well this book “Churchquake” was published in 1999 whereas Liardon stepped down from ministry in 2001.

    It does make one wonder if Wagner has been noticing this amazing change in new apostolic churches at least since the nineties, and there is so much power and blessing flowing into these new churches, why havent they taken over whole cities yet as they were supposed to? Why arent they getting into government in a big way?

  3. I think we are definitely seeing the outworking of this approach, and the disparaging attitudes towards academic study go a bit further than not allowing degrees to becoming pre-requisites for ordination.

    We have all heard of seminary training referred to as ‘cemetary training’ for instance. What new Christian would then consider further tertiary study in an environment where they will be put down for it, rather than encouraged if that is where their interests lie?

    Its not just that academic study has been disparaged. There’s a hypocrisy visible. In the same places that ‘cemetary training’ has been discouraged by ridicule or put-downs, doctorates from less rigorous courses of study seem to be admired and the titles used when referring to people, adding to their status and credibility. There are a plethora of new courses set up to teach theology that suits the new institutions – just as Wagner points out in his book. Effectively, we have new religion being taught. How convenient that the more rigorous study has been laid aside so that the new things can’t be properly tested and challenged by people within the new systems.

  4. There are exceptions to this laying aside of course. Not nearly enough though. A blinkered attitude that results in theological poverty.

    I am only now, after 20 years of ignorance, becoming far more aware of the depth of what is out there, and how it can inform our walks. It is a wonderful process of discovery.

  5. I have been fortunate enough to have had some excellent pastors, who were well educated theologically. When I came into their environment, it was like the end of a long drought. However, I used to depend more upon my church to feed me. Now that I am more active in the process, I am learning a great deal more.

  6. I was amazed to read that Wagner himself has several theological degrees. This text reads like something from an enthusiastic but very ignorant and uneducated person.

    “Biblical exegetes are replaced by Cultural exegetes” – this worries me the most, because it seems to imply that we no longer need to extract and study the meaning of the Bible, instead replacing it with the study of the current culture.

  7. Perhaps when all this started, it was a reaction against a distant academia that many Christians could not relate to.

  8. Yes, also a reaction against the modern school of bible scholarship which was seen as too liberal.

    But this seems to be almost a turning away from the Bible towards a faith built on Apostles. The original Reformation rejected the Apostolic succession and turned towards the Bible. I’d call the NAR a counter-reformation movement.

    A good point RP about these movements disparaging traditional degrees, but every one of these churches seems now to have replaced it with their own custom-designed qualification from their own shiny-new schools. Most of these churches would not consider anyone for ministry unless they had been through their own school.

  9. “Greek is now Bible Software…”

    So you dont have to study Greek any more, just plug a few keywords into your PC?

    “Exegesis of certain books is now English New Testament survey”

    The New Testament surveys are just quick thumbnail sketches of the Bible, very broad-brush treatments. This from a Professor at a Seminary with several degrees from different Theological colleges. He should – and must – know better than this, but he still promotes ignorance. Why?

  10. No one is credited with either this post or the information contained in it.

    Where did the information in the post come from? Who wrote it? Is it a direct quote from Wagner’s book? A critique of it?

    There are inverted commas before and after one passage. What do they represent? Someone’s view, or a quote from the book?

    More info please!

  11. It’s my post, I will add my name at the bottom.

    The passage in quotes is a direct quote from pages 235-236 of the book. You may be able to verify by clicking on the picture and going to Amazon’s book reader pages. Search for “Avoid Tombstone”

  12. A counter-reformation! Too true Wazza!
    We are indeed seeing counter-reformations and counter-revivals from the COUNTERfeit!

  13. Great blog! I love penguins! They make a lot of people very happy. One of God’s great creatures!

  14. I read ‘Churchquake’ some time ago, and found it wanting in some areas, but interesting in others. As I have said, I’m not a huge fan of Wagner, but he sometimes makes a useful contribution by documenting interesting moves of God and men. I don’t think he’s either the antichrist, or as sinister as people make out.

    (I am still able to use FaceLift on many sites, which is my main blog pseudonym. Most blogs don’t mind my contributions. That name is blocked here, although the community has be generous to allow some contribution, and also blocked forever at groupsects. So I am compelled to have other names, since, as long as there is moderation available, I don’t believe in shutting out opinion on opinionated sites. I usually give a clue for those who know me. It’s my activist protest against Lance’s anger towards Pentecostal pastors.)

  15. I dont think he’s as sinister as all that either, but he is a leader and a focal point for a movement that appears to be having an increasing influence on Charismatic and Pentecostal churches all over the world, but also and perhaps particularly in Australia.

    From page 150 of the book he devotes some pages to the “Apostolic Revolution” that has/is taking place within the AOG in Australia. He quotes papers that have been privately circulated within the AOG that discuss the merits of Apostolic leadership – ie. the “Great Man” theory. It is evident that Wagner has been involved in these coversations with the Australian AOG since at least the 90’s.

    And he lays out his agenda quite clearly in this book and others. He values “impartation” rather than information, a mystical transferrence of some holy-power from an “annointed” leader, not the learning of every believer who is able to come to the Word for themselves.

    A “New Apostolic Reformation” is a contradiction in terms. The Reformation denied the legitimacy of leaders who claimed Apostolic succession and therefore the right to determine doctrine. The NAR is reestablishing new “Apostles” and there is no reason to think they will be any better.

  16. Well, I would agree that ‘A New Apostolic Reformation’ is a contradiction in terms. I think I wrote that somewhere, not sure if it was on SP02.

    And, look, there are some disturbing aspects of what is happening. It could tend to glorification of man, and has attracted people, I think, who see themselves as Apostles, but aren’t really. A kind of ladder climbing exercise at worse, and a quest for recognition at best. But some in the leadership group are genuinely Apostolic, and have a heart for the Church, and for furthering the interests of God’s Kingdom. This we know.

    It will be influential, and will draw key people into its vision, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t replace Biblical principles.

    I think it’s slightly faddish in some ways, but there is also a form of truth to the idea of God bringing the Church together. We see in in the mirror dimly at this stage, but I wouldn’t dismiss it completely.

    But there are some things which beckon caution, because how can you have a list of Australian Apostles which doesn’t have the recognised key movers in the nation at this time? That’s a bit of a give away!

    And I don’t agree with the starting premise, which is their definition of an Apostle

    However, I’ll avoid making rash judgements, and, meanwhile, I’ll watch and pray, and get on with what God has called me to do. After all, the Chief Apostle is Christ, that we know.

  17. Well, in the interests of everyone in the church knowing who their local Apostles are, here is a list from Wagner’s International Coalition of Apostles :

    Michael B. Fewson
    Apostolic Horizon International
    Riverton, W A

    Ben F. Gray
    City Harvest International Brisbane, QLD Australia

    Graham Vernon Harris
    Hoppers Crossing, Victoria, Australia

    Paul Hatten
    ANUE Environmental
    Headquarters in Australia
    Carlsbad CA

    Royree Jensen
    Royree Jensen Ministries River of Life City Church
    Springwood Australia

    Lynne Klomp
    Parliamentary Prayer Network Deakin, ACT Australia

    Peter Klomp
    Parliamentary Prayer Network Deakin, ACT Australia

    John Macknamara
    Parkway Apostolic Network Weston, ACT Australia

    Mark Mudri
    Adelaide, South Australia

    Chris J. Peterson
    ApostleNet International
    Adelaide, SA

    Warren David Sinclair
    Markets Unlocked International
    Bundall, QLD


    Certainly an auspicious list of Apostles. The presiding Apostle is C. Peter Wagner, and he runs the biggest professional society of Apostles in the world, with over 500 fully-paid up apostles.

    I didn’t actually recognise any names in the list, there were no Houstons or Pringles, but at least it is a regularly updated list that we can refer to.

  18. I notice there are no NAR apostles in NSW – perhaps due to the dominance of C3 and Hillsong. Perhaps NAR is regarded as largely irrelevant here, except that a lot of people do seem to read Rick Joyner’s books, and look at NAR churches (the few around) when they feel things are lacking in some way at their own Pente church.

  19. The lack of NAR apostles in NSW is worth noting, as NSW has the biggest population in Australia, I think, especially Sydney. Though I hear Melbourne will be bigger by 2027!

  20. Yes, very interesting that there are no NSW apostles. To be recognised as an apostle you have to be nominated by two other apostles in the organisation, and they both have to be currently financial. So maybe it just hasnt worked out until now.

    Wagner wrote very approvingly of Frank and Brian Houston in the book Churchquake, saying that they were apostolic leaders, so its interesting that Brian is missing from the list.

  21. He leaves it until Chapter 5, and even then he is imprecise :

    “Here is the definition I have been using for the spiritual gift of apostle: The gift of apostle is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to assume and exercise general leadership over a number of churches with an extraordinary authority in spiritual matters that is spontaneously recognized and appreciated by those churches.

    As I have continued to study the New Apostolic Reformation, however it has become clear that this definition applies to many, perhaps the majority of apostles, but not to all. I was hoping that by the time I finished this book I would have satisfactory terminology to name and define however many other kinds of apostles there may be. This has not happened as I wished, so we will simply leave the matter pending for further research.”

    He writes in the style of a man with a far smaller brain.

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