Coming Out of the Box with the Last Reformation?
Torben Søndergaard is a guy who firmly believes Christians are missing out today. He wants us to get back to living the book of Acts. He has an on-line (free) school that is not designed to be “a lot of theology to your head.” His emphasis is on what he calls the “Last Reformation.”
The Last Reformation is a new movement, started in 2011, that is now spreading all over the world. It is about coming back to what we read in the book of Acts. We believe that what we read in the book of Acts is also for today and that we need to come back to the simple disciple life the first Christians had. We believe that The Last Reformation is a reformation about the true gospel and the simple disciple life, but also a reformation of the church.
Actually, the Last Reformation – so-called – was called something else in the 1970’s within the Charismatic Movement that I was involved in back then. We didn’t call it the “Last Reformation,” but the emphasis was most certainly on living the book of Acts today. That is the entire goal of the Charismatic Movement in its many forms (with other goals like “Dominionism” attached to it).
While watching the nearly hour and a half video, at just under 8 minutes, Sondergaard finally mentions “leading someone to Christ.” Prior to this, he speaks a great deal about healing and “making disciples.” He doesn’t explain what making disciples means at that point though, so the viewer is left to wonder.
He tends to de-emphasize the Old Testament (OT) because he says those times were before being a Christian today. Many Christians and churches today still live in that “old” mindset (or in the “gospels,”) he states. He says the OT is not where we find out about being a disciple of Jesus (not really true; it’s indirect as opposed to direct). He says Christians should focus more on the book of Acts because this is when the Holy Spirit was poured out onto believers. Sondergaard equates being a Christian with signs and wonders. Yet, the Bible equates being a Christian or believer with someone who exercises faith in God (Hebrews 11).
In his first video (there are 20 total), Sondergaard talks about people visiting him and going with him to the city. There, they prayed for other people and those strangers allegedly received healing.
Sondergaard is admittedly not a theologian. His focus is on how the Holy Spirit led people, how they dreamed dreams, saw visions, and healed others as well as cast out demons in the book of acts. He is emphatic in believing that this is what God wants for the Church today.
Torben Sondergaard firmly believes that the book of Acts is meant to be the “normal Christian life” and that includes Christians who are alive today. Those who are not seeing people healed, casting out demons, dreaming dreams, seeing visions, etc., are – according to Sondergaard – not living the normal Christian life.
Sondergaard asks the question, if Jesus has not changed, why aren’t more Christians living as the first century Christians lived? He turns our attention to church history and essentially points the finger at the Roman Catholic Church. Admittedly, Catholicism was the only game in town from the 3rd century to roughly the 14th. He tries to show how much of authentic Christianity was squelched by the Roman Catholic Church and this is the actual reason the signs, wonders, and other miracles died out. This doesn’t really hold up because toward the end of the first century and into the second (before Roman Catholicism), signs and wonders had already died out in large measure, according to those who came after the original apostles.
Sondergaard states since Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, why have the miracles stopped? Maybe a better question is if Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, why are not the miracles (tongues, healings, resurrections from the dead, etc.), as plentiful in the Old Testament as they are in the book of Acts? In fact, why did we not see any example of Jesus praying in “tongues” during His life? What was the reason Jesus performed miracles at all during His earthly life and ministry? Why did Paul or Peter. Are miracles necessary for people to see the truth about salvation in Christ?
But Sondergaard states, “If [Jesus] has not changed, then what we read about in the book of Acts is the same today.” He then adds, “The Holy Spirit has not changed and because of that, our lives today should look like the book of Acts.” This is a repetitive theme throughout the first video. As stated, in support of this thesis, he references church history, but I believe he comes up lacking there.
Sondergaard then talks about how he broke out of his previous mindset and took one step at a time until God was leading him through “dreams and has been speaking to [him] by the Holy Spirit; guiding” him. He then talks about how he prayed for people and how they got saved, spoke in tongues, became freed from demonic power, etc. I could not find on this first video his definition of what it means to actually become saved. Maybe he gets into it in other videos? In essence, he’s referencing what the Charismatic Movement is all about, even if he’s not directly involved in that movement.
The overarching concern I have with Sondergaard’s video series, his teachings, and his belief system is the same problem I have with the Charismatic Movement that I left decades ago. It seems clear to me that the sign gifts died out with the death of the last apostle and did so because they were primarily gifts that authenticated their ministries and authority over Israel and then Gentile converts to Christianity (Revelation 21:14). If you believe something else, that’s certainly up to you and entering a debate with you will accomplish nothing. You must be convinced in your own mind that what you believe is the right thing to believe.
The largest problem I have with the Charismatic Movement and other like-minded groups is the way they tend to relegate the Bible to a secondary role – more or less as a backdrop – and spend their daily lives trying to “hear” from God in visions, dreams, and even audible communications. These often well-meaning folks reason that if God is God (all-knowing, all-powerful, supernatural, etc.), then why wouldn’t He reveal Himself through dreams, visions, etc., all the time? Simply because He has not chosen to do so now since He has provided His written Word.
I want to be unequivocal here. The miracles in the Old Testament, including the numerous pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus (called a theophany), the way that God chose to speak to individuals either through prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Daniel, etc., or directly, as God did with Moses, were done because there was very little to nothing of God’s Word written during that time. This is extremely important to understand.
Most conservative scholars believe that Moses wrote the Pentateuch (Genesis – Deuteronomy). Many also believe he may have written the book of Job during this same time. How did Moses do that? Clearly, God took the time to explain to Moses those things. After all, Moses had not been there during the Creation or even during the time that Adam and Eve lived. Moses never actually saw the Garden of Eden. It is likely that God dictated to Moses the events that had occurred. Moses wrote them down. This is similar to what John the apostle did in the book of Revelation, even though most have not yet occurred. He recorded what God revealed to him.
Much/most of the Bible had not yet been recorded during OT or even NT times, but was written over long periods of time (1,600 to 2,000 years total, with God using roughly 40 human authors). As we go through the Old Testament, there are plenty of miraculous events that occur, none of which were repeated in the New Testament. We also see where certain individuals were raised up to be prophets, priests, judges, or kings. Because of that and their exploits, they (or others close to them), were directed by God to write down things that would later be gathered into what we now call the Old Testament (2 Peter 1:21). As time progressed, the written books of the New Testament came into being. How? The same way. God directed people – literally moving them – to write things down. Guided by God, these books became the New Testament. Together, we have the Bible, made up of 66 individual books. I repudiate the notion that God had no control over the books that became the Bible.
People living during New Testament times had only the Old Testament to rely on even while the book of Acts was being lived out. When Paul came along, the Bereans (Acts 17), listened to his teachings and compared them to the Scriptures. What Scriptures? The Old Testament because that’s what they had. They found when they compared what Paul was teaching – about Jesus – to the Old Testament, things agreed. Paul was pointing out Jesus in the Old Testament. Did you see that? The Bereans had only the Old Testament and found that the teachings from it actually agreed with what Paul was then teaching about Jesus!
This is extremely important: Notice the Bereans did not seek a “voice,” sign, wonder, or other miracle, to authenticate Paul’s teachings. They went back directly to the Scriptures they had at the time. We are to do the same thing today and we have the greater responsibility because we have the entire Canon of Scripture, yet today we are too often told or expected to simply believe a person when they say God has revealed something to them or spoken to them directly. No thank you. I’ll stick with God’s written Word. If it was good enough for the Bereans, it’s most definitely good enough for me.
The Bereans readily received what Paul had to say after they were able to verify it from the Scriptures. They did so not based on how they felt, but on what they read. They didn’t have to wait for anything. Truth was already in the Scriptures, right there in front of them. It benefited them for their day then even though it had been written hundreds of years before their day.
I know this article will not, with finality, satisfy the question as to whether or not the sign gifts died out with the last apostle. Hundreds, if not, thousands of books and articles have been written on the subject and each person will have to decide for themselves whether or not that’s the case. I’m hoping that people won’t decide based on how they “feel” about things, but will actually research it.
Nonetheless, it is my confirmed understanding that the sign gifts were given by God both in the Old and New Testament times to verify His authority in and through specific individuals He chose to use during specific periods of time, whether they were prophets, kings, priests, or apostles, or His Son while the Bible was being written. Jesus healed the sick. He raised the dead. He did many things that amazed people, but He did them all to showcase the fact that He was and remains God. The apostles of the first century (and in few cases, other disciples at that same time due to their direct association with the apostles), healed the sick and even raised the dead because it proved that God was working through them. It authenticated their ministry and gave glory to God.
Today, we have people who claim to be “apostles” and “prophets.” I have yet to see any of them raise anyone from the dead as both Jesus and Peter did, or Elijah before them (1 Kings 17). In fact, I know of only one person who has claimed to have done so today, but has offered no proof of it. His name is Benny Hinn. If Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (which He is), why have none of these so-called apostles or prophets of today been able to raise anyone from the dead? Jesus did. Peter did. Why can’t they?
While I fully appreciate Sondergaard’s fervor, he is an individual whom I believe to be going way beyond the Scriptures and into treacherous waters. What he teaches is nothing new. It’s simply new to many of this current generation. Sondergaard’s emphasis is primarily on renewal of the “signs and wonders” that are peppered throughout the book of Acts. This belief system was actually part of the Charismatic Movement when I was involved with in, back in the 1970s and it remains so today.
This idea that God “speaks to me” audibly often leads people to go way beyond God’s Word. They justify that because they say that God “spoke” to them. Their reliance on God’s “voice” reduces the validity and authority of God’s Word in their life whether they think so or not. It becomes very easy to set God’s Word aside and wait for that “voice” to guide and lead. After a while, the Bible takes a back seat with that “voice” becoming the authority. Eventually, they barely open the Bible anymore. They have no need because God “speaks” to them.
Today, we have all sorts of people with this new theology or that one. There is a growing list of so-called prophets who claim God has spoken to them. There are others over there who claim to have apostolic authority and everyone should fall in behind them.
Sondergaard is pushing nothing new. It was around under a different name in the 1970’s. Decades before that, it was called something else, but the emphasis was the same. These have all led to very short-lived “revivals” with no permanent change in society at all. In fact, they have often caused confusion and division. The reason? Because emotions and feelings fade and offer very poor direction. Once the signs, the miracles, and the voices fade or stop altogether, people have to deal with the mundane and no one really likes that, do they?
Being a Christian is not easy. It takes commitment, an unwavering faith in God, and a willingness to be part of the evangelistic mundane. If Jesus had performed no miracles during His lifetime, the apostles would still have followed Him. People still would have been saved. The miracles He performed were designed to be His credentials to the naysaying Pharisees, religious leaders, and scribes. In spite of all those miracles, including raising Lazarus from the dead, they remained unconvinced.
Paul’s life had some miracles in it, yes. But Paul also suffered tremendously just doing normal, routine evangelism. In fact, notice Demas, who started out great with Paul, working right alongside him in the ministry. He ended up deserting Paul. Was it because there were not enough miracles, the persecution got to be so heated, or that things just became so mundane for him?
For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica… (2 Timothy 4:10a)
It’s not miracles that save people. It’s the love and concern we show for others in our willingness to evangelize them in spite of our own circumstances that we must rise above. Often those circumstances are of the very mundane.
Entry filed under: christianity, Cultural Marxism, Emotional virtue, israel, Judaism, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming. Tags: charismatic movement, charismatic renewal, dominionism, last reformation, torben sondergaard.