(Photo by Alexandra Seinet on Unsplash)
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and
more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may
approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere
and blameless until the day of Christ;
I want to talk about something most of you have probably never heard of. I know I hadn't until a few weeks ago. It's the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). And it's huge! NAR is an apostolic-prophetic movement that started gaining influence in the 1990's. Many say it took off at the Toronto Blessing in 1994, where there was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit like never before. Its influence today has spread wide and far as we will see over the next several posts.
The Toronto Blessing started on Jan.20, 1994 when Randy Clark was invited to speak at John and Carol Arnott's church in Toronto. As a result of his testimony, something they didn't expect happened. John says "God was faithful! He showed up alright! But the outpouring didn't look like we thought it would. We had been praying for God to move, and had assumed that we would see people saved and healed, but when ministry time came, everything exploded. God's power and anointing were ramped up from anything we had ever seen. We weren't doing anything different, but the Father's blessing fell on the 120 people attending that Thursday night meeting, January 20, 1994. It hadn't occurred to us that God would throw a massive party where people would laugh, roll, cry and become so empowered that emotional hurts from childhood would just lift off. Some people were so overcome physically by God's power, they had to be carried out." (The Toronto Blessing: What is It? by John Arnott.) In John's book, The Father's Blessing, he says, In short order “almost 80 percent of the people were on the floor. It was like an explosion. We saw people literally being knocked off their feet by the Spirit of God….others shook and jerked. Some danced, some laughed. Some lay on the floor as if dead for hours. People cried and shouted."
Where in Scripture would one get the idea that the things that happened at the Toronto Blessing are the Holy Spirit? Let's look at two Scriptures:
In Mark 9:14-29, we read the story of the demon-possessed boy that was healed by Jesus. The boy's father told Jesus that the evil spirit wouldn't let the boy talk. He said, "Whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid (v.17-18 NLT). After Jesus rebuked the demon, the boy appeared to be dead. But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet. He stood up and apparently was okay.
Acts 2:1-13 records the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The NLT says, "Suddenly there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them, and everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. When the people heard the loud noise, they came running and were amazed at what they heard. "These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages (v.7-8)!" There were Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem and what they heard was the disciples speaking about the wonderful things God has done, yet they heard it in their language. Others in the crowd thought they must be drunk.
Why am I talking about any of this? What does this have to do with you? I intend to present you with teaching and leaders that attribute The Toronto Blessing for their ministry today and how this teaching is NAR. Then weigh it against what Scripture says so you can decide for yourself if this is a new move of God. My intent is also to show you that the some of the doctrines of NAR are in evangelical churches today. Just because you haven't seen a "massive party" atmosphere doesn't mean their teaching isn't making inroads. I will continue to write more on this in future posts.
The Toronto Blessing began at the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church and later changed their name to Catch the Fire (TACF), and the meetings continued for six days each week for the next 12 1/2 years. I believe they still are holding regular meetings to this day. Many leaders who have visited, claim they received the anointing and took it back to their church or ministry. Heidi Baker went in 1996 and is one who makes this claim. You can hear her testimony here.