Leaving the NAR Church: Carter’s Story

“After their prophecies, visions, and declarations were all proven false, not a single one of them apologized to the grieving father or repented of their vain and powerless deeds.

Carter has watched his dear friends fall hard for the counterfeit promises of a most dangerous deception. He has allowed me to share his story as part of a series on the practices and beliefs of the New Apostolic Reformation, or NAR.

In this series, I want to take readers beyond the textbook What is the New Apostolic Reformation Movement explanation, into the personal experiences from those who have been there, and what happened when God opened their eyes to the truth.

This is Carter’s story in his own words:

By the grace of God, I only dipped my toes in the fetid NAR waters, but the NAR has devastated churches I used to attend and friends I still hold dear.

When I first got saved as a teenager, I attended a small non-denominational church in my hometown in Northern California. It didn’t take me too long to notice that many of the kids in my youth group had only a veneer of Christianity, behind which they lived much as they always had.

Sometime during my senior year at high school, I started attending the meetings of the Christian club on campus. This group was led by a few students who seemed to have a genuine affection for God, and their zeal was contagious. I found out where they went to church and started visiting there. It was a Pentecostal church, part of one of the older Pentecostal denominations.

The church services had the usual Pentecostal flavor – lively worship, tongues-speaking, and “words of knowledge”. Looking back, I now realize that attending that church was an unwise decision, not because the people were bad or the theology was off, but because I had judged between my old church and my new church based solely on appearances. The worshippers at the new church sang loud, raised their hands, prayed for healing, spoke in tongues – their faith just seemed more genuine. I had chosen religious experience over doctrine, and, sadly, that would be the way I evaluated churches for many years to come. Not long after I switched churches, my whole family started attending the new church as well. I would be part of one Pentecostal church or another for the next 24 years.

Now, much of the doctrine at my church wasn’t all bad. Pentecostal trappings aside, the doctrinal statements of the denomination were actually very conservative. I even attended the denominational bible college, where I learned proper hermeneutics and how to exegete a passage of Scripture. But I hadn’t learned how to be a practical Berean.

Fast-forward a few years. After completing my bible college education, I moved back to my hometown and went back to my old church. A few years later, I got my first taste of Latter Rain heresy and hyper-charismania. Our pastor invited a guest speaker to our annual family camp. I don’t remember his name. What we didn’t know was that he was coming as an ambassador of the Toronto “blessing”, complete with people being slain in the spirit, experiencing “holy laughter”, and being encouraged to “go deeper”, goaded by campers fanning their hands toward one another and repeating “more, Lord” over and over. I even experienced “holy laughter” once myself. But shortly thereafter, our family moved back to Southern California. And even though we attended a church in the same denomination, it hadn’t experienced the “blessing”. That was my last personal experience with the NAR/Latter Rain movement.

Eight years later, we moved to a different part of California, a very rural and sparsely populated part. After a few years, we ended up at a community church of the non-Pentecostal variety. Had there been a viable Pentecostal church in the area, I’m sure we would have attended there, but there wasn’t one. I now thank God for our time at that non-denominational church, because while we were there, we were spared from the increasing error that crept into the Pentecostal churches during that time. Safe in our isolated, cessationist church, we remained ignorant of developments elsewhere.

Somewhere along the way I discovered Facebook. I reconnected with many of my old and dear friends from my years in Pentecostalism. I began noticing these friends consistently liking posts made by certain ministries and teachers. One that came up regularly was Kris Vallotton. So about two years ago, intrigued by something Vallotton said that didn’t seem quite right, I started doing a little research (which research eventually led me to Pirate Christian Radio), and discovered that Vallotton is a demonstrable false teacher.

There was a domino effect – Vallotton lead to Bethel Redding, Bethel to Bill Johnson, and Johnson to the NAR. Even in my most ardent Pentecostal years, I understood God’s standard for prophecy: 100% accuracy, and for me the implications of that standard were clear. The NAR prophets had been wrong – many times – and as far as I was concerned, that invalidated their entire ministry (contrary to what Dr. Michael Brown says about “true prophets” prophesying falsely).

As I dug deeper into the NAR movement, which I had never heard of until then, I saw that the NAR’s reach was far and its grasp was powerful. The church I had attended while in bible college had become a full-blown NAR outpost, complete with a vision-casting pastor and pastrix. I was mortified to learn of the extent of the NAR’s corruption of the charismatic/Pentecostal movement. But what really broke my heart is what the NAR, specifically Bethel Redding, had done to my home church in Northern California.

From the Facebook posts, I gathered that many people in my home church had left to join an Assemblies of God church in the same town, only the church had been rebranded with a seeker-friendly name and Bethel-style worship, theology, and emphasis on the supernatural. They even had their own “school of supernatural ministry”. Most of the staff was formerly at Bethel or at its BSSM. At least two other churches in the area were similarly assimilated into Bethel’s sphere of influence. Several months later, I got to see the rotten fruit of Bethel’s influence on full display on social media.

A dear friend of mine, now firmly in the Bethelite camp, experienced a terrible tragedy. His son suffered an accident and lay in a coma for a week, with no brain activity, until he was taken off life support. During that week, the father’s Facebook feed was flooded with hundreds of posts, many of which included “prophetic words” and declarations that the son would live. One post even included a video clip of a worship leader at one of the Bethel-esque churches “praying” after announcing that it was “kind of fun to do the impossible,” he prayed for the young man in a coma, saying, “you will live and not die says the Lord” (emphasis mine).

But the young man died, so that worship leader was a false prophet, as were all the other people who had prophesied that the man would live. Their visions were self-delusions, and their declarations were vain imaginations. After their prophecies, visions, and declarations were all proven false, not a single one of them apologized to the grieving father or repented of their vain and powerless deeds.

Since that ugly event, I have observed other family members and friends sharing content on Facebook from other NAR and Elijah List false prophets, Word of Faith megachurch false teachers, and seeker-friendly narcigetes. I have tried reasoning with some of them, but their replies usually run along the lines of “but they have been a blessing to me.” Once again, religious experience trumps doctrine.

So my experience has been different from some that have been shared so far; I wasn’t really saved out of the NAR movement, but rather spared from it thanks to my isolation in rural America. But I have nonetheless been affected by the NAR, thanks to their shipwrecking of the faiths of those whom I love. The NAR is unspeakably twisted and evil, and those in the Pentecostal and charismatic movements, already inclined to put stock in miracles, healings, and extra-biblical revelation, are particularly susceptible to its wiles. I pray for those reading this that you will remain firm in the faith once delivered to the saints and contend for it, as we have been instructed in Jude’s epistle. If you are a member of one of these NAR-type churches, I pray you will get out now while you still can.

God bless you!


Author’s Note:  You can read the entire series of NAR testimonies here.  If you would like to send me your story about your NAR church experience and what happened when your eyes were opened, you can email me here. I will be changing your first name to keep you anonymous.

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15 Responses to Leaving the NAR Church: Carter’s Story

  1. jwskud says:

    I’ve not read all of these stories, but the ones I have read are quite depressing. Fortunately, they have happy endings, with these folks removing themselves from fellowship with heretical churches.

    I’m currently reading a good book which speaks to all of the issues discussed in the testimony above. I wish it was mandatory reading for all fresh converts:

    https://www.cph.org/p-29630-has-american-christianity-failed.aspx (also available from Amazon)

    Whenever experience trumps the Word, whenever emotions take the place of the firm foundation we have in the external Word and promises of God, whenever someone claims direct revelation, whenever the Holy Spirit acts apart from the Word, the church has problems.

    Like

  2. ian williamson says:

    thanks for the warning .I’m aware of this error anyway.many are running head first after these false teachers.

    Like

  3. Maggie says:

    Something is terribly wrong when it is considered “fun” to do signs and wonders.

    Like

  4. I appreciate the emphasis on the fact that a prophet must be 100% accurate to be from God. Deuteronomy 18: 20-22 is clear:

    20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.
    21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken?
    22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

    Bill Johnson says his prophecies are wrong around 40-50% of the time, while Mike Bickle (Ihop) says his can be wrong 80% of the time! I can guess better than that. This scripture seems as true today as it was then:

    Jeremiah 14:14
    Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.

    Prophesy cannot be taught either per 2 Peter 1:20-21. It is not something we can learn or force…it comes only from the will of God:

    20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
    21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

    Like

  5. Manny1962 says:

    It’s obvious these so-called religious “leaders” play fast and loose with the definition of “prophet.” 100% accuracy is the litmus test, 99% is failure. These men are false prophets, teachers or whatever title they go by. Wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    Like

  6. SusanJ says:

    Absolutely tragic to promise a parent that a child will live like that. And ‘words’ that are given to people about who they should marry and other major life decisions.

    Having seen the deception of animistic shamans much of this is actually not much different.

    One of the many problems today is that well known, respected, and widely read so called ‘New Calvinists’ are making ‘fallible prophets’ acceptable. People across denominations are falling for this sadly. My husband recommends a book by Michael Beasley on The Fallible Prophets.

    Like

  7. Darlene says:

    I have family involved with Noel Woodroffe. They are also NAR. It us hard to find information on this group. I would love some help!

    Like

  8. Darlene says:

    Thank you Manny. I have read this too. I want specifics on this man and he seems to be able to fly under the radar 😦

    Like

  9. Manny1962 says:

    “Cults tend to build their movements on personalities rather than on the person of Jesus Christ. Like Wagner from NAR, Noel Woodroffe, from WBN also claims to have a higher authority over others in the
    church. He says that he is closer to God than others–like the Apostle Paul and maybe even greater.”

    http://congresswbn.org/about

    Like

  10. Darlene says:

    Yes it is crazy! I have researched him but I don’t find anything new on him. He seems to fly under the radar!

    Like

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