USA - News reports and rumors have been circulating since Rick Perry's Aug. 6 prayer gathering called "The Response," that evangelical members of a radical Christian sect called the "New Apostolic Reformation" (NAR) are seeking to take "dominion" over the earth through politics, media and other sectors. Church leaders, however, say the New Apostolic Reformation is not about dominating society or forcing Christian morals on America, but rather actively living out the Christian faith.
Forrest Wilder, a Texas Observer columnist who has been following the NAR and its influence on political figures, told The Christian Post that it is not a specific church, denomination or organization, but is a movement of an "interlocking array of churches, ministries, councils, personal friendships and alliances" that are connected for a common cause.
That common cause, Wilder argued, is to promote Christian dominion over society, culture and government through the influence of its ministries.
International Communion of Evangelical Churches founder Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. agrees that there are many relationships, alliances and connections among post-denominational groups. However, he asserts that while many ministries hold common goals, there is not enough organization within the NAR to be considered a movement.
He also refutes the notion that there is hierarchy of NAR leaders organizing events as a springboard to conduct a social takeover. He said many of the people and groups considered to be under the NAR umbrella are simply seeking to be "light and salt" in their communities and to fulfill Jesus' command to go into all the world, spreading the Gospel.
Jackson says of the NAR's mission, "It has to do with church planting, overseeing a number of these emerging, some would call, post-denominational churches. There really isn't a headquarters; there really isn't a movement."
C. Peter Wagner, founder of Global Harvest Ministries, also notes on his website that the NAR is "loosely structured."
Wagner coined the phrase "New Apostolic Reformation" and wrote a book by that name to describe a new spiritual focus sweeping through various denominations.
However, he asserts that he is not the founder of the group. Rather, he notes on his website the NAR's roots date "back for almost a century; new forms and operational procedures began to emerge in areas such as local church government, interchurch relationships, financing, evangelism, missions, prayer, leadership selection and training, the role of supernatural power, worship and other important aspects of church life."
Wilder asserts that Wagner is also part of the NAR and kept a list of apostles previously posted on its website, but now concealed in its member's only section. The CP did not find this list on the website. Attempts to contact Wagner were not returned in time for this report.
However, a letter sent to CP under the promise of anonymity states, "The NAR is not an organization. No one can join or carry a card. It has no leader."
Rachel Tabachnick, a researcher and co-founder of the NAR Watch blog, has a different view on the NAR.
She described the NAR in a National Public Radio interview as group in which self-appointed "apostles" and "prophets" teach that Christians are engaged in a "strategic level spiritual warfare" brought on by an earth controlled by a hierarchy of demonic, satanic leaders. Additionally, they blame these leaders with sin, corruption and poverty currently reigning on the earth.
Tabachnick depicts the NAR as a radical departure of the faith, bent on dominating the present day culture.
Tabachnick points to Day Star Church Pastor Johnny Enlow's book, The Seven Mountain Prophecy, to argue that NAR members are bent on dominating the present day culture.
According to The7mountains.com, the mountains consist of seven industries: media, government, education, economy, celebration (the arts), religion, and the family.
The NAR, Tabachnick said, "teach[s] quite literally that these 'mountains' have fallen under the control of demonic influences in society and therefore, they must reclaim them for God in order to bring about the kingdom of God on Earth."
Yet the letter CP obtained states, "The NAR is definitely not a cult. Those who affiliate with it believe the Apostles' Creed and all the standard classic statements of Christian doctrine."
The Apostles' Creed affirms Christian beliefs in God the father, the son and the Holy Spirit as well as the virgin birth and Jesus Christ's crucifixion and resurrection.
Jackson explained the reality of Enlow's seven mountain teachings is to urge Evangelicals to act on their faith and impact the culture for Christ as the Bible instructs.
"You got to win people, not only for Christ, you also have to try to make the argument in the public square," he described.
Wilder agrees that not all believers being associated with the NAR are exercising mainstream Christian beliefs.
"They may not even recognize the term 'New Apostolic Reformation,' he said. "They may not share every little belief with every single member or even the leadership."
However, Wilder maintains that higher-ups such as Texas Pastors Tom Schlueter and Bob Long, who he reports proclaimed Texas the "prophet state," are cozying up to political figures such former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and GOP presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Gov. Rick Perry, the initiator of The Response, to establish Christian dominionism in America.
According to Tabachnick, "Dominionism is simply that Christians of this belief system must take control over the various institutions of society and government."
Craig Vincent Mitchell, associate professor of ethics for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, says the dominionism is a post-millennium view rooted in the rise of social conservatism.
"They had this view," he explained, "that with the rising tide of evangelicalism in the '80s [and] since we had Ronald Reagan in office and more and more conservatives, then basically we (Evangelicals) would be able to move everything so that ... the law of God would be the law of the land, so to speak."
Mitchell agrees with Wilder that the belief may still be held by some small Pentecostal groups, but says it has largely disappeared from consciousness of many Christians.
"We're long out of the '80s and I don't think there's anybody that takes that seriously," Mitchell said
He blamed the media's ignorance and bias for circulating dominion rumors.
"Ninety percent of the people in the media are not believers, are not church-goers; 90 percent of them vote from the left, are hard-core Democrats. So anything not in line with their thinking must be nuts," he said.
Tabachnick told NPR that she grew up as a Southern Baptist but converted to Judaism as an adult. Wilder says he grew up as an Evangelical. He made no mention as to his current faith, saying he believe it does not apply to his coverage of the issue.
Jackson insists those who are most vocal about the NAR are simply afraid of what could happen if more Christians began to live out their faith in the public square.
"If these people hearing this message [of actively engaging the public sphere through the Christian faith] really start to believe it, eventually it will impact their stance on many issues of public policy and it would shake up, I think, both Republicans and Democrats," said Jackson.
Wilder admits that leaders affiliated to the NAR are staunchly pro-life and pro-traditional marriage.