Pentecostal vs New Apostolic Reformation: What’s the Difference?

Pentecostalism and the New Apostolic Reformation movement have a lot of beliefs and practices in common, including the core tenets of Protestant Christianity. However, certain theological disagreements, and their applications, render the groups divided.

Pentecostalism and the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) each affirm that baptism in the Holy Spirit is subsequent to conversion, that speaking in tongues is the initial evidence of it, and that miraculous gifts are for today. The NAR also affirms the offices of prophets and apostles, which classic Pentecostalism denies.

What are the origins of Pentecostalism and the New Apostolic Reformation? What exactly do their names mean? Who founded them? How do their beliefs about the Bible, God, and salvation compare? What does each group believe about prophets and apostles? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

Also see Pentecostal vs Charismatic: What’s the Difference? to learn more.

New Apostolic Reformation worship
What does the name “New Apostolic Reformation” mean? See below

Pentecostalism and the New Apostolic Reformation Compared

The founder of NAR, C. Peter Wagner (1930-2016), originally called the movement “Post Denominational Christianity.” He writes, “For a couple of years, I experimented with ‘Post denominationalism.’ The name I have settled on for the movement is the New Apostolic Reformation.” [1] (Also see Pentecostal vs. Evangelical: What’s the Difference?)

What is the five-fold ministry? To Wagner and the NAR, the five-fold ministry is the crux of the issue. Wagner argued that Christian churches need to return to the so-called “five-fold” ministry described in Ephesians 4:11, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers.” (NIV)

In Wagner’s view, apostles and prophets must preside over pastors and elders. When this model of church government is restored in the present day, the Church will experience an explosion of growth and influence in the world.

FoundedThe NAR is Protestant and affirms the core tenets of Pentecostal theology.The NAR traces its roots to early 20th-century Pentecostalism and the mid-20th-century charismatic movement. The NAR itself dates to the mid to late 1990s.
Meaning of the nameHistorians conventionally date the origin of the modern Pentecostal movement to the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, California, in 1906. Many Pentecostals, including the Church of God, date their origin to the second chapter of Acts in the New Testament.“New” refers to a fresh movement of the Holy Spirit in the late 20th century. “Apostolic” refers to the ministry and miracles of the New Testament apostles. “Reformation” refers to transforming the Church.
FounderPentecostalism doesn’t have a single founder. All of the early influencers (see below) contributed to the establishment of the modern movement.C. Peter Wagner
Branch of ChristianityPentecostalism is Protestant. Many of the ideas it embraces are rooted in the Protestant Reformation, led by Martin Luther of Germany, Ulrich Zwingli of Switzerland, and John Calvin of France.The NAR is Protestant and affirms the core tenents of Pentecostal theology.
Early influencer(s)William J. Seymour (1870-1922), Agnes Ozman (1870-1937), Charles Parham (1873-1939)Wagner; Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel Church; Rick Joiner of Morningstar Ministries; Kenneth Copeland
Significant writing outside the BiblePentecostalism doesn’t have any literature that is unique to its tradition that is of great significance to the establishment and definition of the movement. It generally values the classic literary works of Protestantism.C. Peter Wagner’s works: The New Apostolic Churches, Dominion: How Kingdom Action Can Change the World, others
OrganizationHistorically, Pentecostalism isn’t a denomination per se but a belief system that certain denominations hold.The NAR isn’t a denomination or a church but a set of convictions that adherents want Christians to adopt.
DivisionsDisagreements between Pentecostals often include the doctrine of perfectionism. For example, the Assemblies of God disagrees with the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee) about perfectionism.*There are no significant divisions within the NAR.
Theological and Social worldviewPentecostal denominations and churches tend to be conservative theologically and in relation to social issues.Like other Pentecostal Christians, the NAR is generally conservative in its theology and worldview.

What is the second apostolic age? Wagner also argued that the second apostolic age began in 2001. In his own words: “The second apostolic age began in the year 2001, okay? And in this whole first chapter in this book I argue my point, I think rather… I hope it’s convincingly that 2001 marks, is the year that marks the second apostolic age.”

This statement means that “for years, the government of the church had not been in place since about, you know, the first century or so. It doesn’t mean weren’t apostles and prophets, because… the foundation of the church according to Ephesians 2:20 is apostles and prophets, Jesus being the chief cornerstone.”

He continues, “It doesn’t mean there weren’t apostles and prophets; it means the body of Christ hadn’t recognized them and released them for the office that they had so that they’d function as apostles and prophets in the foundation of the church. But we now have that; I believe we’ve reached our critical mass in the year 2001.” [2]

Also, see Pentecostal vs. Catholicism: What’s the Difference? to learn more.

Pentecostal Christian church
What does the NAR believe about apostles and prophets? See below

Pentecostalism and New Apostolic Reformation Beliefs Compared

TheologyPentecostals are Protestant Christians. They believe that the Bible is authoritative for belief and practice and that sinners are saved by grace through faith and in Christ alone.NAR is Protestant.
GodNAR is Arminian.NAR is unwaveringly Trinitarian.
The BiblePentecostals believe God inspired the biblical authors. Many conservatives use the term “inerrancy” to describe the nature of the text.NAR believes in the authority and inspiration of Scripture.
Christ and atonementPentecostals believe that Jesus is the second person of the Trinity; they hold to “penal-substitutionary atonement,” which means Jesus’ death paid the price for sin, and on the cross, he took the place of sinners.NAR believes in the person and work of Christ, like other Pentecostals and Protestants.
SalvationPentecostals are mostly Arminian, although there are some Calvinist or Reformed Christians who believe in the miraculous gifts of the Spirit.NAR are Arminian.
SanctificationSome Pentecostals reject the doctrine of perfectionism; others affirm it.NAR doesn’t directly address the doctrine of perfectionism.
Spiritual giftsPentecostals believe that all the spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament are operational and available for Christians today. This includes speaking in tongues, divine healing, and other miraculous gifts.NAR, like traditional Pentecostalism, affirms the operation of all spiritual gifts mentioned in the New Testament for use today.
Supernatural signs and wondersAffirmsAffirms
Water BaptismPentecostals practice “Believer’s Baptism” as opposed to infant baptism. Baptism isn’t necessary for salvation.NAR doesn’t directly address the doctrine, but most adherents come from traditions that practice Believer’s Baptism.
CommunionPentecostals believe the bread and the cup are memorials of Christ’s death. They don’t believe Christ is present in the elements in any way.NAR doesn’t directly address the doctrine, but most adherents come from traditions that believe in the memorial view of the elements.
EschatologyPentecostalism is premillennial, meaning it interprets the 1,000-year period described in Revelation 20:1-6 literally. The millennium occurs after the rapture, the seven-year tribulation, and the Second Coming.NAR is devoutly premillennial.

What is dominion theology? Wagner and others in the NAR advocate for dominion theology, which states that the world is under Satan’s influence. Therefore, it’s the Church and Christians’ responsibility to take back the world for God. (Also see What Is An Ex-Pentecostal: What’s the Difference?)

Matthew 6:10 is a key verse: “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (NIV) Critics have charged the NAR with attempting to establish a theocratic government.

ApostlesTraditionally doesn’t affirm the present-day operation of the officeAdvocates for the present-day function of the office
ProphetsTraditionally doesn’t affirm the present-day operation of the office Advocates for the present-day function of the office
Dominion theologyGenerally rejected in Pentecostal denominations and churchesAdvocates for dominion theology
Christian church
The Pentecostal Church

[1] The New Apostolic Churches by C. Peter Wagner, p.18.
[2] C. Peter Wagner, Arise Prophetic Conference, Gateway Church, San Jose, CA, 10/10/2004
[3] Source
[4] Source
[5] Source

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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