From Formspring: The New Apostolic Church
I received this question over at Formspring and wanted to share the answer with you.
Love what you are doing mate. I was Bombarded by someone from the New Apostolic Church… They sort of believe the same thing only they think they are the only way, my insides turned as if rejecting an organ… What is right? Who are they?
I was unaware of the New Apostolic Church until this question was posted. There’s a New Apostolic Church not far from where I live, but I haven’t had any interaction with them. So I did some research. The following is based on my understanding of their beliefs published on their website (specifically in the document Faith in Life – A Life of Faith: Portrait of a Living Denomination ) with a little bit of Wikipedia to fill in the gaps. If I’ve misrepresented their beliefs, I would encourage correction and discussion.
The New Apostolic Church are focussed on the triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) who is revealed in God’s Word, the Bible. That’s a pretty good start. Though even here some uncertainty creeps in for me, as the Holy Spirit appears to be less a person of the trinity and more an abstract power from God. Therefore as Christians, if we follow this view, we have not God living inside us but merely his power. That makes me a fair bit uneasy.
The document goes on to talk about the three sacraments: baptism, holy communion and holy sealing. I’m fine with the first two but I have significant problems with the third. Holy sealing is the practice of having one of their “apostles” give you the Holy Spirit. This is a form of second blessing. Not only are they saying that you receive the Holy Spirit separate from your conversion (whereas the Bible tells us that you can’t become a Christian without the Holy Spirit working within you) but that you have to receive it from a human agent, called an apostle. As this is a salvation issue, this is a significant difference to evangelical Christianity.
The New Apostolic Church reserves the office of apostle for a limited number of people. Only the chief apostle can appoint other apostles and at this point in time only around 360 apostles world-wide have been appointed. They see these apostles as essential for salvation because they alone can forgive sin (this claim seems a bit far out. I really hope I have misunderstood and someone can correct me. If not, big problem).
The apostles also have a role in giving holy communion to the dead. The opportunities for the dead seem to be welcomed into the kingdom are very much in play here. The New Apostolic Church believes that post-rapture (a concept that I don’t believe in, but that’s another matter) everyone in the world who has ever died will have an opportunity to turn to Christ for forgiveness and be forgiven. The Bible emphasizes the need to commit to Christ in this life and that there are no second chances after death (see the story of Lazarus in Hell in Luke 16:19-31).
While there may appear to be some similarities between the New Apostolic Church and evangelical beliefs, the differences are significant and noteworthy. I would be cautious of their teaching and their practices as they are dangerous and wrong.
one of my mates encountered them a while back, and i did some research myself (i used their website too), i too was troubled brother, Glad you confirmed my thoughts. we are not playing for the same team as these fellas.
What about Apostolic Churches..? In my country, they are quite large in number, growing Sunday after Sunday.
What do you mean by Apostolic Churches, Jeremy?
As far as I know, it’s the term used by the churches that I mentioned earlier. They are part of the Equippers Church network, which originated from New Zealand. I am curious to know if they are in line with the Protestant doctrines or not, and if they have anything to do with the New Apostolic Church featured in your post.
Which country are you in? A helpful way to find out would be to check out their statement of belief on their website. If they talk about things such as receiving the Holy Spirit separately to conversion, then there’s a good chance that they are not in line with traditional Protestantism.
You can visit the nearest New Apostolic congregation in your place if you have some doubts and questions. It is highly recognized.