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NAR Recovery Roadmap

Through online communication channels like email and social media, I receive a large amount of questions and loathe the fact that I can’t keep up with them. While God doesn’t “need” anyone, and He is absolutely faithful in saving souls and guiding them to solid spiritual food, I often think back to how He used the kindness of Christians to point me to helpful resources when I needed them the most. Like many pastors, I want to be a faithful steward of opportunities and point people to truth as well — especially when they’re coming out of destructively confusing belief systems like the prosperity gospel and the New Apostolic Reformation.

To help field the continuous stream of requests in both the local church on online, this resource is a “New Apostolic Reformation Recovery Roadmap.” You could probably put “Prosperity Gospel” or “Word of Faith” movement in there too. If you or someone you know has questions pertaining to these movements and is seeking biblical truth, it’s more than likely that many questions will be answered once this roadmap is complete.

I’ve broken these resources down into categories to help you navigate through them and included two “church finder” links. When combined with regular daily prayer & reading, journaling thoughts and biblical reflections, pastoral counseling (as needed), and small group discussion, a healthy approximated timeline for completing the roadmap could be anywhere from 60-90 days depending on how much content you devour in one sitting. Depending on your situation, it could be better to take a much longer and slower approach as needed. For most people recovering from the NAR or prosperity theology, “breathers” may be necessary as you process the painful abuses and false doctrines you’ve endured.

Sermons and Conference Sessions (Watch All)

The Protestant Reformation vs. The New Apostolic Reformation

This sermon from a conference at our church helps quantify what exactly is so dangerous about the NAR and why it differs greatly from the faithful and biblical teachings triggered by the Protestant Reformation.

Spirit-Led Worship in a Self-Centered Culture 

This message from G3 addresses what Spirit-filled worship looks like and cautions against both excessive emotionalism and rigid rationalism. 

Defining Deception

This audio sermon from “Sundays in July” at Grace Community Church is a full summary of what the NAR teaches and the dangerous historical lineage it stems from. 

Rescuing Those Caught in Deception (Jude 17-23)

One of the most common questions I get is: “How do I reach friends, family, and love ones caught in these dangerous movements?” This sermon message from a conference at our church will equip you to understand people and reach them.

Truth & Transformation Series (w/ Justin Peters and Costi Hinn)

In this 7-part series Justin Peters and Costi Hinn unpack and explain the dangerous of prosperity theology, charismatic extremism, the Word of Faith movement, and more. They also answer key questions regarding healing, tongues, and how to study the Bible in context. 

Books & DVD (Choose at least 2)

Defining Deception by Costi W. Hinn and Anthony G. Wood

This book is a full handbook for understanding NAR theology and how to recover from it. In the newly revised and expanded version (Feb 2021), Anthony and I offer wisdom for how to find the right church, how to protect your own church, and much more. He and I have spent more than 5 years counseling churches and leaders through NAR recovery. 

God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel by Costi W. Hinn

This book provides the entire backstory of my conversion and has chapters breaking down prosperity theology and the dangers of it. It also explains how to reach people caught in these movements. Finally, the book explains the details regarding the lifestyle of prosperity preachers and how the gospel is twisted for monetary gain.  

Strange Fire by John MacArthur

If you’re looking for a bold and strong take on the extremes of the Charismatic Movement, this book holds little back. You may not agree with everything in it, but it is a healthy challenge to anyone coming out of the NAR and will bring clarity regarding numerous false teachings in the church today.

Clouds Without Water 

In my personal opinion, this DVD is the most needed resource for anyone questioning the NAR or coming out of false teaching. Justin Peters is loving, truthful, and downright surgical in his breakdown of this subject matter. Best of all, he proclaims the true gospel and uses actual video clips of false teachers so you can hear their outrageous claims directly, then he teaches from the Bible.

American Gospel: Christ Alone

In one of the most powerful Christian documentaries ever made, the gospel is put front and center for all to see. Pastors, theologians, and Christian leaders from all walks of life and denominations come together to stand boldly for Jesus, and refute dangerous teachings. (Watch on Amazon, Netflix, or order the DVD)

Podcast Q & A (Watch All)

What Does it Mean to Pray in Jesus’ Name? (John 14:14)

What Did Jesus Mean in Matthew 18:19? 

What Did Jesus Mean By “Greater Works” in John 14:12? 

What Did Jesus “Pay” For and When Do We Get It? (A Biblical View of the Atonement)

Is Tithing 10% Commanded for Believers Today? 

A Pastoral Response to Bethel’s Dead-Raising Charade

Convictions of a Biblical Church (Listen to episodes 31-38)

Articles (Read All)

7 Threats From a False Teacher

How to Heal from Theological Abuse

New Apostolic Reformation Kryptonite

How to View Claims About Dreams and Visions

Mythbuster: “Slain in the Spirit”

Did a False Teacher Heal You?

Is it Always God’s Will to Heal Now?

How Do I Know If I Am Really Saved?

Should Your Church Sing Jesus Culture & Bethel Music?

Will a Man Rob God? 5 Key Questions About Tithing 10%

A Biblical View of Signs, Wonders, & Miracles

Why Contend for the Faith?

Church Finder Resources

Disclaimer: Churches will vary in their music choice, style, methods, leadership structures, and ministry programs. However, a faithful church will be marked by things like expository preaching, prayer in submission to the will of God, discipleship ministry, evangelism (both locally, regionally, and globally), boldness to proclaim truth and refute error, biblical views on marriage, gender roles, and parenting as well as an emphasis on love, unity, and care between pastors and staff. No church is perfect, but a faithful church is progressing in truth and love together. For more, be sure to listen to our podcast episodes on the conviction of a biblical church.

TMS Church Finder (Insert your zip code to find a church led by a Master’s Seminary Graduate)

Michelle Lesley’s Blog has a page dedicated to helping people find faithful churches.

Shocking Videos (Watch All)

Bethel Children’s Pastor claims that he had a vision during which Jesus apologized to him and asked him for forgiveness. Yes, you read that correctly. “Jesus” apologized and asked the Bethel leader for forgiveness.

Todd White flips the gospel upside down and confuses what the cross was all about.

NAR hero, Kenneth Hagin, was about to preach but then began to act out in demonic manifestations including slithering his tongue like a snake. He was the mentor to Kenneth Copeland.

In one of the most disturbing “impartation” videos online, NAR teacher Heidi Baker lays hands on a young boy who begins to convulse and “roar” with animal (or demonic) sounds.

This excerpt from “American Gospel: Christ Alone” explains how false teachers like Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn are passing the torch to men like Todd White.

12 False Teachings from Bethel is a 15-minute illustrated video with helpful explanations of the dangerous teachings and practices of the well-known, Bethel Church in Redding, CA. When churches purchase their music, they are directly supporting this poison.

A former Bethel Supernatural School of Ministry (BSSM) student explains why she “defected” from Bethel and the cult-like atmosphere they create.

If you have found this roadmap to be helpful, feel free to share it with others in your church or online. Should you find helpful resources that can be added, send a link and a brief description to info@forthegospel.org. 

 

How to Heal from Theological Abuse

It’s not uncommon for me to receive communication from people who God has graciously saved out from extreme charismatic abuses, prosperity gospel exploiters, and cultish movements like the New Apostolic Reformation. I find myself both overjoyed and heart-broken at the same time because on one hand it’s the beginning of the rest of their new life in Christ. Sadly, on the other hand, it’s often the beginning of a very painful journey through loneliness, despair, and confusion.

People saved out of deception don’t know where to start. Imagine being in their shoes and having everything you ever believed and most everyone you ever trusted turn out to be predominantly false. Now, go even further. Your friends, social circles, and even family members ostracize you when you try to explain the truth to them. You get labeled as “rebellious” or “hateful,” are threatened with divine judgment, and anyone associating with you is warned not to join you in “touching the Lord’s anointed.” Few people understand what many theologically abused exiles say feels a lot like PTSD.

One of most common series of questions looks something like this: What can I do to heal and move on from the abusive theology and actions I have been a part of? What do you think my next step is? How to I get over this? How do I get stable after being so confused?

Before any of those questions can be answered effectively, it’s important we echo the words of Martin Luther when he was asked how the Reformation happened. He said, “The Word did it all.” Friend, whenever “reformation” happens in our lives it is a “word-centered” process. That is what the Holy Spirit uses to illuminate our dark souls.

I’ve put this list in emails to people time and time again so I thought it best to compile a blog in case this may help more people get answers. Think of this list as a “plagiarize and customize” kind of thing. Use what you think is helpful and toss out what you don’t.

If you have some helpful tips, add them in the comments here or on social media. My guess is that over time, we’ll continue to see people share their stories and provide practical steps towards recovery from their own experiences as well.

Here are several next steps:

1. Cling to a (BIBLICAL) church, your pastors, and wise mentors — In my case, I was fortunate to be saved at the same time that our church was shedding shallow methods (and some bad theology) and embracing sound doctrine. We received a lot of help from seminary professors, selfless pastor-theologians, and retired pastors. Our pastors and elders (thankfully) were open to learning and growing! They wanted truth. Had they not, my wife and I were ready to pack our bags. God was gracious — we didn’t need to leave and so we all grew together. Older, wiser, and spiritual balanced mentors will always be used by God to play a key role in helping abused and confused sheep recover. Overall, run from error and abuse, find a biblically minded church with leaders who shepherd people, then stick to it like velcro! That’s the takeaway here. Don’t go rogue. Don’t do “online church” because you refuse to trust anyone. Don’t wander aimlessly. Find a Biblical church and plant yourself there.

2. Get into counseling — Depending on your church size and pastor’s schedule, you may need to seek counseling outside your church. In order to keep progressing, I recommend seeing a biblical counselor. I remember a very fruitful season of growth because at various points over a period of three years I met with biblical counselors. I poured my heart out, told them everything I’d been through, asked questions, received wisdom from the word, and put truth into practice as soon as possible after each session. Counseling is huge for recovering. Don’t hold back. Get your trust issues out on the table.

3. Saturated your life with sound teaching — For all the time our society spends binging on Netflix, wounded sheep do well to put that energy into soaking up sound doctrine. I’ve heard story after story of people who were saved out of deception and subsequently spent Sundays under their pastor’s teaching, then spent 5 nights a week reading solid blog articles, devouring theological books, and watching John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Steven Lawson, and Paul Washer sermons — taking notes as though they were in the front row at church until their eyes couldn’t stay open. Get serious about sound doctrine. God will use it to strengthen you.

4. Journal what you’re learning —This may not be your first thought, but writing can be very useful for processing thoughts, emotions, and the wisdom you’re learning. Make T-charts of “true teachings vs. false ones,” write out verses that debunk your old beliefs, write your testimony in 500 words, 250 words, and a 50-word elevator speech. Consider making prayer lists and spending substantial amounts of time on your knees with the Lord. In short, putting things on paper helps bring clarity to otherwise sporadic thoughts and emotions.

5. Continue your education – Seminary education may not be your thing but continuing education should be. This could be an online learning program, or a Bible Certificate from a seminary or Christian University, or starting some classes at your local church’s bible institute. Doctrinal training puts “meat” on the bones of your new beliefs. Many churches have excellent (free) resources for training lay people (find one of those kind of churches). If you’re church isn’t there yet, consider an online learning tool like Ligonier Connect.

6. Wash, Rinse, Repeat – Never stop doing the steps listed above. Even if school ends, or you’re counseling is complete, continue saturating your life with the Word. Stay plugged into the local church, keep accountability close by, seek out wise counsel, and prioritize your devotion to Christ. What you’re experiencing now is the Christian life. We get saved, and then the fun begins — even if the “fun” takes hard work. Remember, God is the one working in you and through you, but your hands need to stay on the plow. The road to recovery is more like running a marathon, not using a microwave. Salvation is instant, sanctification is a process. Trust the Lord and stay the course.