The New Apostolic Reformation Movement

by VorJack

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around a conservative Christian movement called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). It’s an outgrowth of the Pentecostal movement, and like the other Charismatics its focus on spiritualism and experience over creed and tradition make it seem very odd to mainstream Christians. And like the rest of American Pentecostalism, NAR seems a very diverse and loosely organized movement that has its own communities but also crops up in the thinking of existing communities.

In America, NAR’s most famous member is Sarah Palin, and you may remember the famous youtube clip where Palin is blessed by the Kenyan preacher Rev. Thomas Muthee. Muthee asked God to “keep her safe from every form of witchcraft.” While this was just considered wacky by most of us, it’s important to realize that Muthee is an international star in the NAR movement. He has preached before large audiences in Sweden, England and Australia, and he’s starred in a series of movies that are shown in churches around the world.

Round the World

Pullquote: “Imagine a religious movement that makes geographic maps of where demons reside and claims among its adherents the Republican Party’s most recent vice presidential nominee and whose leaders have presided over prayer sessions (one aimed at putting the kibosh on health-care reform) with a host of leading GOP figures.”
Bill Berkowitz

Muthee and Palin’s roles point to something else; the NAR movement is international, pan-ethic and surprisingly egalitarian for women. In this it’s like the early Pentecostal movement in America, which was able to cross racial lines even at the turn on the 19th century. Time will tell if NAR will be able to maintain this, or if it will fracture the way Pentecostalism did.

NAR also plays a large role in providing charity and social services to those in need. But the flip side of NAR is that it is usually dominionist; that is, its members usually believe that Christians should be in control of society and that societies should be run along Christian lines. It’s not surprising that the Ugandan wing of the NAR movement was involved in that country’s draconian law against homosexuals. In America, NAR shows up in odd places of the conservative movement. One of the most prominent members is C. Peter Wagner, the man who seems to have named the movement. Wagner served as a mentor to Rick Warren and worked with Ted Haggard.

NAR members are encouraged to take over more than government. One of the goals of the movement is to take control of the “Seven Mountains of Culture,” which includes education, media and business. The “7 Mountains” or “7-M” is a catchphrase for the movement, and Muthee was speaking about the “7-M campaign” at Palin’s church before the famous anointing. Some members are asked to be “market apostles” and merge evangelism with their business, a process that involves going to their places of employment and connecting with other movement members, evangelism and prayer.

Spirit Mapping

Pullquote: “I think we can expect to see more of this type of vigilante behavior now that spiritual mapping and spiritual warfare are spreading throughout our communities.”
Rachael Tabachnick

This is prayer of an odd sort, even for modern Christians. Charismatic movements believe that the Holy Spirit is still active and dispensing spiritual gifts, and so they’re inclined to place more emphasis on the supernatural than most mainstream Christians. One of the resulting practices in NAR is called “spirit mapping,” where believers literally map out a community and decide where demons and other evil powers are located. Members then enter into prayer to force out the demons (making them “prayer warriors,” another catch phrase.)

Once the demons have been cast out, the area is supposedly claimed for God. Most believe that this will lead to the conversion of the people in the area. Some claim that the areas become mini-utopias, where poverty, corruption and disease are reduced. There are even claims that AIDS has been cured in some of these area.

“Spirit mapping” takes different forms. The organization Repent Amarillo, which we wrote about before, is affiliated with the movement. “Repent” seems to tie “spirit mapping” with vigilantism, targeting sex businesses, other religious centers and liberal churches as places of evil that must be cleansed through prayer and pressure. This is the NAR movement when it turns ugly.

Under our Noses

Pullquote: The leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation are not interested in democracy. They view themselves as spiritual royalty, and believe they have a mandate from God to rule. I’ve heard this preached from the pulpit, taught in conferences. I trust this article because, well, none of it sounds weird or over the top to me.
Woeful Budgie

For a variety of reasons, the NAR movement runs under the radar for most of the mainstream media. One of the few journalists watching it is Rachel Tabachnick. She suggests that the lack of a central leadership hampers the ability of journalists to get access or information. NAR can also unintentionally hide in plain sight; the Wasilla Assemblies of God Church, where Palin was raised, has strayed from the AOG denomination and embraced NAR ideas, a fact which most journalists reporting on Palin missed.

Right now, Tabachnick and her colleague Bill Berkowitz have an article up at Alternet, Head’s Up: Prayer Warriors and Sarah Palin Are Organizing Spiritual Warfare To Take Over America, in what Berkowitz suggests is “probably the most extensive article/interview yet published on this movement.”

Former NAR member turned atheist blogger The Woeful Budgie gives it a thumbs-up: “This article sums up pretty much everything I’ve wanted to explain about the NAR: the ubiquity, the subtlety, the militaristic structure, the aim to infiltrate and manipulate society from within as “rulers”…and the way it disguises itself in more innocuous forms to garner support from more moderate Christians (and even non-Christians).”

But the article seems over the top to me. That may be just my ignorance – in fact, that’s surely part of it. But the authors seem to be making up for the lack of media attention by hitting the notes hard:

It’s a movement whose followers played a significant role in the battle over Proposition 8, California’s anti-same-sex marriage initiative, and Uganda’s infamous proposed Anti-Homosexuality Law, more commonly associated with the Family, a religious network of elites drawn from the ranks of business and government throughout the world. But the movement we’re imagining encompasses the humble and the elite alike, supporting a network of “prayer warriors” in all 50 states, within the ranks of the U.S. military, and at the far reaches of the globe — all guided by an entire genre of books, texts, videos and other media.

Still, the basic point is sound: the NAR movement is a powerful and connected conservative movement that has grown while under the radar of the media. So let’s let Tabachnick have the last word:

I believe this movement’s threat to separation of church and state is greater than some of the more overtly theocratic movements of the religious right. The inclusion of women and all races in leadership roles, and their enthusiastic sponsorship of social services conflicts with a popular notion about religious fundamentalism. Despite their radical strategies, leaders in the movement have been labeled in the press as moderate, including Apostle Samuel Rodriguez — president of the Sacramento, Calif.-based National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference — who has been described as a “new evangelical.”

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  • Yoav

    Sarah Palin was blessed by a Kenyan? She’s a Kenyan!!! I demand she show us her birth certificate!!! Oh, she already have. She’s a Kenyan. We will not rest until she release her original birth certificate.

    • brgulker

      Ha! Good one :)

  • Custador

    NAR seems to me to be quite a sinister movement, but as for Palin? I wrote her off as an attention seeking hoe-bag who will say anything to get attention the second she joined in with the tea-baggers.

    • Peter Cross

      I particularly like the way Palin wants to get the guvmint off the back of private enterprise by increasing regulation and oversight. I write her off as a serious contributor to policy debate, but the support she receives from certain quarters scares me.

      • Custador

        Like a clock, Palin is entirely predictable – and like a clock, she regularly goes cuckoo.

        • sk1951

          I will follow her anywhere…specally on a bear hunt

  • Relles Natas

    Here’s an interesting site I was looking at several weeks ago which critiques the NAR from withing more a more traditional Evangelical framework:

    There’s a lot of first-hand, eye-witness testimony from what most of us would consider nut-job Christians at this site, including a delightful description from someone who attended “services” by one of these “New Apostles” at none other than Ted Haggard’s church (pre-meth/gay call boy) who came away convinced it was all pretty much “of the Devil”:

    ‘The Apostles Are Coming To Your City, Ready or Not’

    ‘Dominionism and the Rise of Christian Imperialism’

    ‘Transformations II, Political Christianity and False African Revivals’

    Also, look for the piece on 9-11, which details why the New Apostolic Age began in 2001, when the “apostles” received “thousands” of corroborating “words” via e-mail in the days following from “prophets” most of whom have names straight out of The Beverly Hillbillies and come from places like Waco, Texas.

    Scary stuff, if you’ve been ignoring what’s been going on in Evangelical Christianity for 20 years or so like I had been.

    • sk1951

      Thats weird…I just book marked that site.

  • Peter Cross

    Republican poll: 24% say Obama may be the antiChrist

    • Mike

      76% say he IS the anti-Christ

      • sk1951

        It is pelosi

        • Skippy

          Got proof, sk1951?

          • sk1951

            proof of god or the anti christ or of christ? I don’t have that kind of power.

            • Yoav

              So, by your own admission, you’re full of crap.

  • LRA

    These are exactly the people who want to take over public education or at least raise an army of “spirit warriors” via homeschooling. I could care less what they do in isolation, but I have no interest in living in a theocracy.

    • JohnMWhite

      This is where such groups become a danger – they see it as their duty to infiltrate and take control of society and reshape it in the image of their faith… and if you try to stop them, you are persecuting them and being intolerant.

  • nazani14

    Yet another group of people who need demons to make them special. I say any candidate for public office who endorses this movement should be called upon to supply evidence for the existence of demons.
    BTW, what are they trying to reform- the Pentacostal church? Christianity as a whole? Or are they evoking the historical era called the Reformation?

    • sk1951

      Demons are a part of all Christian religiouns. You can’t have good without evil. You have to sin to be saved!!! *s*

    • Juda

      Demons are in the Bible theres your proof. Matthew 17:18-21. I belive thes demons are really. look around you see what we do to each other. if you dont belive in them they have already won.

      • Paul

        You see people doing stuff to other people because people can be nasty creatures themselves. That’s it, nothing else, and no demons in sight– only people and actions. You don’t need demons to explain that. If you can’t see that for yourself you’ve already lost.

      • Nzo


        It’s convenient for the intellectually incapable masses, to demonize those that disagree with you, or hurt you, or look different. It’s convenient because it allows people like King Louis VII to easily convince people like you to kill people that do not look or believe the way you do.

        Look around you and see how many people you think of as a lesser species, or as something that you would have no regrets harming, and you’ll see that the real bad guys are idiots like you.

        • Juda

          @nzo what are u talking about. I would never look down on a person for any reason. Lord knows i have fallen short the glory. I dont care if people dont agree with me. i never said that i would kill. anyone who walks with Jesus would never think that it is right in any way. They will know us by are Love . Jesus Loves YOU!

      • blotonthelandscape

        Djinns are in the Q’uran, there’s your proof.

        If you don’t care if people agree with you, why waste your time offering “proof”?

        You are projecting the supernatural onto what is fundamentally human nature. Stop doing that, my forehead can’t take the facepalmage…


      They’ll just double talk you to death.

  • Fentwin

    Scary to think of these folks and “Repent Amarillo” hooking up.

  • Scott Bailey

    Here’s the important thing for understanding the NAR: they have a dualistic worldview, and they think of God as more of a force than a person. These two beliefs then are acted out in a middle-ages type magic mentality. It’s really quite scary… so if you yell “Jesus” loud enough you can “pull down the stronghold.”

    There is no limit to what they will attempt to manipulate the force, so for instance, the Holy Ghost Hokey Pokey is from Rick Joyner’s church who is a big player in the NAR movement. I think there may be no better example of Christians engaging in magic rituals than that video. If you listen to their prayers they go on ad nauseum trying to come up with the right combination of words to get the force to do what they want. It’s really nothing more than trying to find the right incantation.

    The last pre-critical ancient belief they have is that the God-force is not always nice. This sucks because you already have these super powerful demon forces trying to “get you” but then if you slip up angry God-force might have to give you cancer to teach you a lesson. As you can guess there is no end to their leaders using this fear to manipulate their followers.

    • sk1951

      You think you can apply human logic to what God is? Forget it….He is not your next door neighbor. And you can’t set your eyes on Him.

      • Skippy

        Well, “he” sure does like playing hide-and-go-seek and popping up in people’s frying pans or in moldy fruit.

  • Mark D

    A little off subject:
    Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol is in show business. Bristol Palin will appear on the ABC Family Channel program “Secret Life of the American Teenage”. Normally the only show business job most single mothers with big jugs can get is at a strip club. Come on Bristol, I need a lap dance

    • Mike

      Bristol? Are you kidding? Does her mother have ANY idea what a Bristol is in Cockney rhyming slang? OMFSM!

      • JohnMWhite

        Does her mother have any idea what the Bush Doctrine is? I think we can let her not knowing a dialect centred in a region of one city about 6000 miles from her home slide.

    • JohnMWhite

      That’s more than a little off subject and unnecessary.

  • sk1951

    Let me guess.Muslim Islam makes more sense to you?

    • Skippy

      Well, what you wrote certainly didn’t make any sense.

    • blotonthelandscape

      Nope. No, it doesn’t.

  • sk1951

    In this video we hear in Osamas own words that he is Muslim. Exclaims that we ARE NOT a Christian nation and that Islam is a part of America.
    Barack Obama stars as himself in: I am a Muslim

    • Yoav

      An extensively edited clips with sentences cut in the middle and pasted to half sentences from other occasions even by fundie standards this is a weak case for Obama’s musliminess. He quote the Koran, really, I occasionally quote the buyull and I’m by no mean a christian. He visited the blue mosque, one of Istanbul biggest tourist attractions, common, you’re not even trying.

    • blotonthelandscape

      I love the fact that people like you actually exist.

      By “love”, I mean “disappointed that I’m forced to acknowledge…”

  • Claire

    I’m deeply disappointed that Palin may be involved with the NAR. While they talk about getting rid of demons, they themselves have embraced various aspects of Eastern/occultic mysticism, it’s beliefs and practices. They are just as deceived as the progressive/liberals. At the core of all occultism is the lie Satan used to deceive Eve–You will be like God. Charismatic/Pentecostal streams are uniting with the progressive Emergent movement (Brian McLaren-one leader of the EM who works with Jim Wallis for Sojourners). Emergent is just a new name for the New Age movement. While it may not adhere to all the same ideas (the power of crystals, UFO’s, etc.), it carries the same lie. Wake up America!

    • Custador

      Um…. I think you stepped through the wrong looking glass, Alice…

      • Kodie

        Sometimes it sounds like they imagine like it’s a video game they are inside of. Cannot tell if your ally is really your foe, all the weapons they may use against you. I mean, if someone in influence tells their people to watch out for satan everywhere, they will see satan in everything as if we are inside a big apocalypse game. This is also true of academics, in my experience. If your professor brings something to your attention, your outlook on the world will change and notice whatever he or she said, everywhere, but not really as “signs,” more like details your untrained eye never really noticed before, can be math or physics or it can be things like systemic racism or sexism/all/any isms, or any other subject. Critical thinking is so important because you can be told to look for anything, then you will just start to see it.

  • http://Yahoo ed

    Well lets see, I tuned in to all these preachers sounding off, if you all want to believe this, then, this country is paying for the mortal sin of George Bush destorying a county and killing people for no good reason whatsoever, and is not he a born again christen ?

  • Len

    New Apostolic Reformation Now In America.

    Oh dear (but at least they have a catchy acronym).

  • Elias V.

    It’s the Christian faith that has blessed this beautiful nation, the Christian faith from the Bible that gave us our Constitution and many if not most of our foundational laws. If is Christianity that gave us our American culture that still makes this country different than any other in the World. Because you really don’t know your history is what make you believe Christianity is an enemy, we will pray that the God of our lord Jesus Christ open your eyes.

    • Sunny Day

      LOL this must be why god is praised all over the constitution.

      Elias, because you don’t know your history allows, you to believe such stupid shit.

      • John C

        He’s correct. The founding of the United States of America was heavily influenced by Christian thought. Its undeniable and the only *reasonable* conclusion one can arrive at after researching the vast archives, books of the era, monuments, scriptural references and troves of personal letters from the founding cast to their family members (which is possibly the most telling evidence of all). And yes, the downstream benefits of their collective and uniform persuasion, ie ‘the blessing’ is also owed to those first Seeds.

        Continuing to deny the facts here is akin to sticking one’s head in the proverbial sands of agenda-biased buffoonery and wondering why nobody can hear you. Can you hear Sunny now?. Silly Sunny.

        • Sunny Day

          Babbling nincompoop says what?

  • Elias V.

    LOL??? You really need to put the joint down so you can think more clearly! This Country’s founding fathers were not writing a constitution of praise to God, they, “the leaders of that time period,” were writing “the Constitution of the United States of America” which is a principle of Law! It was not something they were putting to together for church service! You really need some help there!

    • Sunny Day

      Thank you for backing off from your original statement.

    • Juda

      i agree alias. but not with putting the joint down. Because The Herb is great eye opener and can ease the pain of many cancer patient. Its the tree of life.

  • Alanna Bellflower

    These “Christians” scare me. My ancestors came to America on the 2nd landing after the Mayflower for religious freedom. I see no need to battle this issue again. I’m not a ‘traditional’ Christian, but feel I have had a personal relationship with Jesus since I was a child. I am 67.
    Because I don’t literally believe the Bible (in fact would rather study A Course In Miracles) I would be one they would want to cast demons out of. Leave me and my beliefs alone. God loves me now and always, and what you think about that is not my business. Bush’s administration wanted to undo the safteynet for society of all help, and use “faith based” methods instead. Proselytize them, then if they agree, feed them, clothe them, give them shelter. Jesus never asked about ones faith before healing. TV evangelicals beg the last dime from those that are the most needy (elderly often) as “seed money”- I ask- when they have nothing and are losing their home or apts do they pay their bills, or do they put it towards their coffers? When and if America is overtaken it will be by those wrapped in our flag and carrying a cross. Fundamentalism is the root of most evil. And Christianity is not immune from it’s effects.