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Monday, 28 July 2008 23:01

Are Wagner's Apostles Leaving??

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Andrew Strom

Last week we published a number of strong statements against Lakeland by one of Peter Wagner's 'apostles' named Robert Ricciardelli. For those who are not aware, Peter Wagner heads up an organization devoted to setting in place "apostles" over the church. This is known as the 'New Apostolic Reformation' (NAR), and it has been very controversial. I myself have never seen it as any kind of true "Reformation" - because all it seems to do is set up another level of hierarchy over the existing ones. I also question whether many of the "apostles" are true apostles - but that is another story. Suffice it to say, that Wagner runs one of  the most powerful and far-reaching global networks in the Charismatic world.

I don't know if Peter Wagner fully realized what he was doing when he went down to Lakeland and publicly endorsed Todd Bentley and the 'revival' there. But clearly he started a rift in his own movement that may very well almost tear it apart.

However, before we discuss this further, it is also important to note that even some "pro-Lakeland" churches are beginning to have second thoughts about supporting that movement - as more factual information begins to emerge about what is really going on.

The following was written by the leader of a "pro-Lakeland" church - and forwarded to me this week. (I have removed the identity of both the leader and the church). This really is an amazing admission for such a "pro-Lakeland" leader to make:

"Hi staff,
We need to talk, probably as a staff, and go through what I've found out. I had a long talk with Robert Ricciardelli. He's no revival critic... He loves revival, believes in healing, prophecy and all the rest and is delighted to hear about the healings we've had here.

He's a close friend of Stephen Strader... He's in an accountability relationship with Lee Grady (editor of Charisma Magazine) and is a writer for Charisma on occasion. He's part of C. Peter Wagner's apostolic network, recognized by Peter as an apostle. I've seen the man's website and he's legit, not a heresy hunter.

"The reports he has given me are firsthand, not hearsay. I am deeply troubled, grieved and tormented at what I'm hearing. He attributes most of the anointing at Lakeland to Roy Fields (worship leader). I agree. Roy is nothing but clean and God shows up hugely when he leads worship. I can go into detail later about what is surfacing, but there are huge lapses of integrity going on... Much embellishment. Many claims have been made that simply are not true. The Charisma crew has researched it. I want to weep. My heart is breaking. For now, to be safe and for the sake of integrity, we need to stop speaking about the claimed resurrections. Three of them have been checked out with the doctors and EMTs involved and found never to have happened at all. Todd has been confronted with this and has not adjusted the numbers in his claims. Not a single one of the other claimed resurrections can be substantiated despite diligent effort to do so. Even after Stephen Strader brought it down to 13 (and even those couldn't be substantiated) Todd ran it back up to 27 and more. Misrepresentation and embellishment!

"On the financial front, Todd recently told the crowd that God had told him that there were 1,000 people who would give $1,000 and that they would be blessed 1,000-fold. Robert called Stephen Strader to confront the unbiblical nature of that appeal. It came out that Todd admitted he hadn't heard that from God, that it was just an idea he had so that they could raise money to build a big stadium. Robert challenged them to issue an apology the following night based on that false claim of being told by God and they refused to do it on the excuse that it's a different crowd every night.

That's the flavor of what I'm finding. There's a lot more. I'm so grieved I can hardly think. I'm not saying the Lakeland Outpouring is not of God (God is bigger than the men involved), although good men whom I have respected all my life are saying just that (that it's not of God), based on what they know and have seen...

"What I am saying is that we need to back up and not identify ourselves closely with Lakeland and that we need to stop repeating claims being made on the air lest we end up getting splattered with the collateral damage when certain issues of false claims, embellishments and lapses of integrity begin to come out more publicly. By the way, no one is saying that some healings have not happened - only that many false, embellished or unsubstantiated claims have been made. A number of really good men, champions of revival through the years, are actually saying that the whole thing is of the devil and that even the healings are demonically inspired. I want to be clear that I'm not going there..." [-end quote].

So here we have a 'pro-Lakeland' church checking out these facts for the first time and now deciding that they "need to back up and not identify ourselves closely with Lakeland." Pretty amazing!

Meanwhile - back to the topic of "apostles" and what is nowhappening in Peter Wagner's main 'ICA' organization:

One of Wagner's apostles, Robert Ricciardelli, put out an emailthis week saying that he has received a great deal of support forhis stand against Lakeland - the majority of it from pastors. Andhe also made the following very significant statement:

"As a member of ICA, Peter Wagner actually caused many questions to come my way because of my membership there. I will no longer be involved with that organization and actually have not tracked well with them and some of their agendas since I have been involved with them. However, I have enjoyed the many relationships I have developed from going to the annual meetings. Most all of those relationships are also disengaging from their affiliation with ICA, because of many issues beyond Lakeland."

So clearly Robert is now leaving the ICA - as are other 'apostles' that he knows of also. I asked him to clarify this last point.

Robert wrote to me:
"The ICA leadership continues to adopt belief systems without seeking the advice and counsel of members. Many of the members do not, and will not support these beliefs, including the support of anti-biblical behavior and doctrine currently being expressed through Todd Bentley and Freshfire Ministries. In fact as ICA embraces this, they now have taken a stance that will indirectly have toembrace many of the same ministries, including "New Mystic" John Crowder and others. This escalating focus on angels, experiences, trances, etc is far from the focus of Jesus, His Kingdom, and His righteousness... Many of us who really enjoyed the ICA annual conferences are now forced to make a decision as to whether to continue our involvement with them."

Robert has also stated that he personally was never into "Dominionist" beliefs or the "hierarchical NAR agenda." His last statement to me was: "I think that there is a chance that many may disassociate with the ICA depending on Todd continuing to reveal his deceptive doctrine and Peter continuing to support such doctrine."

I wonder if Peter Wagner ever imagined that by endorsing ToddBentley he may be sowing huge seeds of destruction in his ownmovement? -Perhaps only time will tell.

Read 4039 times Last modified on Sunday, 01 February 2009 06:04

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