Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Wizard of Theology says "Goodbye Theologians"

Recently C. Peter Wagner, chief "apostle" of the New Apostolic Reformation, wrote a "Guest Commentary" for Ministry Today entitled "Goodbye, Theologians."

In this column he claims that the church today no longer needs theologians because they are part of the "old wineskin." The new wineskin is, of course, his New Apostolic Reformation. The trouble with theologians, he says, is that they are considered the "elite guardians of the truth." In such role, "Their assignment was to make sure that the doctrines espoused by the seminary remained pure and uncontaminated."

In Wagner's mind theologians are a big, bad holdover of the previous church eras. He then explains that:

"Such is not true, however, among the churches moving in the stream of the New Apostolic Reformation. We do not have an ecclesiastical office of theologian nor do we have recognized functional equivalents. We do not agree that an elite group of individuals who happen to have advanced academic degrees in theology should be recognized as our doctrinal police force. Take the typical vertical apostolic network for an example. In an apostolic network the person in charge of maintaining the DNA of the network is the lead apostle, who consults with those he or she chooses, and no one else."

Wagner doesn't want a "doctrinal police force." Obviously, not! This is the man who has single-handedly concocted more doctrines in the past 30 years than any other leading "theologian"!This is the man who has embraced a gospel of pure pragmatism (See, e.g., the chapter entitled "The Means and the End" in his latest book The Church in the Workplace). Obviously, theologians -- who may have actually been standing firm on the Word of God -- didn't appreciate Wagner's wild and woolly experimental sensitivity classes with John Wimber. Wagner explains:

"When I was teaching in seminary, I was coerced by the institution to refer certain matters to the theologians, which I of course did, but much to my personal grief. I began teaching signs and wonders and students began getting healed and delivered right in class. The theologians declared that it was inappropriate to heal the sick and cast out demons in a seminary classroom. They forced me to cancel the class for a time. Then I began teaching about territorial spirits and strategic-level spiritual warfare. This time I was called before the Faculty Senate to undergo a heresy trial. Fortunately for me I had been granted academic tenure years ago, and the theologians finally had to back down on the grounds of violating my academic freedom."

So, who are the new guardians of theology to be under Wagner's new paradigm? You guessed it! The self-anointed, self-appointed hierarchical Amway-style order of prophets and apostles!

"If we go back to Ephesians 4:11, the two offices that will most likely be God’s choice in resolving complex theological issues will be teachers and apostles. The teachers have the ability to research, study, analyze, and systematize the issues. The apostles have the ability to weigh the matters, to judge, to refine, and to sense the proper timing for speaking out. God has given some individuals both the gift of teacher and the gift of apostle, and in many cases the body of Christ has recognized the gifts and has awarded them the dual office of apostle-teacher. I am familiar with this gift mix because for years I have functioned both as a teacher and as an apostle."

It seems obvious that Wagner's real problem isn't with theologians per se. The real problem is that godly "theologians" -- even if they are humble laity and not seminary-trained -- might just hold to the Word of God. And, by holding to the real and genuine faith, it might just reveal how counterfeit Wagner's theologies are.

The ironic thing about all of this is that C. Peter Wagner is the premier "theologian" at the turn of the millennium, paving the road for a new church structure for a new world/church order.

And the response to all of his aberrant theologies is -- to our knowledge -- almost nil. Very few seminarians or theologians have ever countered or questioned C. Peter Wagner's bizarre doctrines aggressively, systematically and/or publicly. No one is challenging the convoluted ethics of his global church reorganization schemes. In fact, most evangelical organizations and leaders highly esteem this man, even venerating him to his exalted position as head apostolic chieftain over layers of vertical and horizontal apostles worldwide. The silence is deafening!

The Truth:

"O how I love Your Law! it is my meditation all the day. You through Your Commandments have made me wiser than my enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your Precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep Your Word. I have not departed from Your Judgments: for You have taught me. How sweet are Your Words unto my taste? yea, sweeter than honey to mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way." (Psalm 119:97-104)