NAR tries to build a big tent

The Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network released an email newsletter yesterday with a piece by C. Peter Wagner on the doctrinal beliefs – or lack thereof – of the New Apostolic Reformation. Wagner wrote:

A couple of weeks ago I released a paper on NAR beliefs. My main point was that the movement as a whole has no official doctrinal statement, but many of the groups affiliated with NAR have developed their own. … One positive advance of the NAR is that we no longer call church councils in order to determine what our doctrinal positions should be. … theological statements are human in origin, and thereby subject to flaw. This includes statements written by different members of NAR.

He illustrates his position with descriptions of internecine strife in early Christianity over the divinity of Jesus and the negative effects it had on the church, as well as the fact that present-day leaders can change their minds, implying that arguing over differences in belief is pointless and ultimately harmful. He goes on to argue that most present-day Christians agree with him:

Please allow me to summarize my thoughts here with a quote from my book, Changing Church. In it, I have a chapter, “From a Heavy Doctrinal Load to a Lighter Load,” and here is my conclusion:

“A whole new generation of believers in the Second Apostolic Age is not nearly as interested in the fine points and details of theology as past generations have been. Few people choose their church these days because of what it believes about open theology or Calvinism or modes of baptism or church government or the pretribulation rapture or sanctification or predestination or the forensic theory of justification. If God is our Father and if we are saved through Jesus’ blood shed on the cross and if we are daily filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit, I am convinced we can find a way to work together despite our theological differences” (p. 161).

To me, this looks like an attempt by the NAR – now that they admit their existence – to defuse the concerns of potential opponents by sidestepping the issue of specific beliefs (of which they have quite a few, although they don’t all agree on all of them). This looks to me like an attempt to present the NAR as a form of “big-tent” Christianity, much as the Republican party at one point tried to build big-tent conservatism as its base.

I’ll have more reflections later on what this strategy might win them in the near term even if it ultimately founders when they are confronted with their own words about their specific beliefs and the importance of orthodoxy.

(Dear all: It’s been one thing after another – illness, family emergency, more illness – since Samhain. I’ll be getting HC’s blog back on track over the next few weeks. Thank you for your patience.)

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Literata is a Wiccan who studies theaology and enjoys developing poetry and rituals. Her work has appeared in several anthologies, including Mandragora and Anointed as well as multiple periodicals. She also blogs at Forging Futures and writes for her own site, Works of Literata, . When she's not leading Rose Coven, reading Tarot or communing with nature, she works on her Ph.D. dissertation in history and enjoys travel and spending time with her husband and four cats. Please note that everything Literata writes here is solely her own personal opinion. It does not represent the position of any organization with which she is affiliated.

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