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Strange Fire? Not in a Global Pentecostal Context of Ministry

Hanny Setiawan of the Bethany Church of Solo Baru, Indonesia states:

I personally know NARs and follow Wagner’s thought but, I am not sure that Indonesian charismatic churches are aware of Wagner’s thought. Indonesian charismatic churches are not strategically structured and concepted like Wagner’s way of thinking. I recognize myself has an apostolic function even though I don’t call myself an apostle (neither my community). Wagner’s book and other related books have helped me to know my calling deeper. And because I understand what my calling is, I can perform my apostolic function more efficiently.

Lifetime missionary to China, Dennis Balcombe also responds:

This New Apostolic Reformation is simply an American invention and organization by Peter Wagner and some who follow him. It has absolutely no relevance to the church in China, and I suspect in most other parts of the world. I live in the Hong Kong SAR and have not heard of anyone who is actually a part of this or calls himself an apostle. It is almost unheard of in mainland China where the church situation is much different. [Even] In the past in mainland China the church seldom used any type of titles for ministers other than ‘Servant of the Lord” or “Handmaiden of the Lord.” One reason was that for much of the past 65 years in Communist China, the house church (which constitutes the majority of Protestant Christians in China) has been illegal and persecuted to various degrees. Anyone having religious titles would possibly be marked by authorities.

Several years Peter Wagner and Chuck Pierce came to Hong Kong, and at the invitation of a local pastor, Rev. David Wang, invited many mainland house church leaders to attend an ‘apostolic ordination meeting’. They ordained several as apostles of various areas. However none of them were main leaders, and when they went back to their cities and told other pastors of the meeting, almost without exception the others totally rejected this.

Coming from my own background as a minister in post-Communist Bulgaria, I can confirm much similar experience with NAR in Eastern Europe. That there are true Pentecostal apostles is an undisputable fact; especially, when we speak of men and women who have started multiple churches and sometimes whole movements. At the same time, questioning the authenticity of “apostles who never do anything” (terminology by C.Buettel/J.Johnson) has been an open praxis in modern day Pentecostalism ever since its conception at the Azusa Street Revival.

Prosperity and Poverty in the Context of Global Pentecostalism

Next to apostles and “rock star” ministers, Strange Fire addresses the prosperity movement. Yet, the global Pentecostal church is hardly a materially prosperous one. On the contrary, overwhelming evidence from around the world repeatedly proves that poverty is an ever present factor in global Pentecostalism. So, exactly how important is the prosperity teaching in Pentecostal churches around the world?

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2014

About the Author: Rev. Dony K. Donev, D.Min. is a graduate of the Pentecostal Theological Seminary and cofounder of the Institute of Bulgarian Protestant History. He is the author of scholarly articles in textual criticism, protestant history, Christian media and contemporary church movements. In 1999 with his wife Kathryn, they established Cup and Cross Ministries International with a vision for restoration of New Testament theology and praxis. They are currently serving as missionaries and leadership developers in his native Bulgaria.

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