The Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century Church
368 pp., $24.95
A New Apostolic Movement?
The ecclesiological challenges facing the church in the West are the subject of intense debate across confessional and denominational lines. In what sense is there a crisis of church identity and leadership? What are the roots of the crisis? How do categories like "postmodern" and "post-Christian" affect Christian mission in the West? These are the kinds of questions being addressed in a steady stream of books and conferences. The missional church movement has made a major contribution to this discussion through leaders like Timothy Keller and scholars like Christopher Wright. In one of his reflections on the missional movement, Keller identified five key elements of the missional movement. One of these elements is to "practice Christian unity as much as possible on the local level." This instinct for what John H. Armstrong has called "missional-ecumenism" is part of what has made the missional movement such a strong influence on the church catholic—to be "missional" has meant, in part, to "not spend our time bashing and criticizing other kinds of churches," as Keller puts it. To put it another way, the missional movement has seen itself working within a number of ecclesiological contexts and helping to transform, not overturn, denominational structures. That is why missional organizations such as the Gospel and Our Culture Network draw on membership from a wide range of Christian traditions—Catholic, Orthodox, Anabaptist, Mainline Protestant, Pentecostal, emergent, independent evangelical, and so on.
The humble ecclesiology of the missional movement is fitting given the ecclesial career of the man widely considered the father of the movement, Lesslie Newbigin. Newbigin served in a leadership capacity in a number of Protestant denominations and was a key figure in ecumenical organizations, including the World Council of Churches, which he served for a time as Associate General Secretary. Of course, Newbigin was not a "progressive" churchman in the sense evangelicals typically associate with the World Council of Churches, but he was a man steeped in the Great Tradition of the church, deeply conversant with it and profoundly respectful of those church bodies that were birthed by classical orthodox Christianity. Newbigin's profound critique of what are often called "Christendom models of ministry" was tempered by his respect for the ecclesial offices and structures of the historic Christian bodies.
Given the historically ecumenical character of the missional movement and the humble ecclesiological claims of its leading thinkers, it is surprising to see a number of missional leaders being drawn to the radical ecclesiology of Alan Hirsch. The center point of his proposal is the notion, increasingly popular in "third wave" charismatic circles, that the five roles mentioned by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4—"apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers (APEST)"—are all meant for the church in all places and times.
While Hirsch has been urging adoption of this "APEST five-fold ministry" model for years, he has been ambiguous about what he means by "apostolic movements" and whether or not he believes that actual apostles should be active in the church today. In his newest book, The Permanent Revolution, coauthored with Tim Catchim, he makes his most comprehensive case for turning the missional movement into an apostolic movement. Hirsch leaves no doubt that, for him, this shift calls for the restoration of apostles acting decisively as the "primary custodian of the DNA of the church." This suggestion is so radical that the noted missional thinker Darrell Guder says in his surprising foreword that Hirsch's is a "revolutionary missional ecclesiology." Armed with the support of a range of leading Christian thinkers like Guder, and plugged into a burgeoning network of church consultants and media savvy organizations, Hirsch speaks with some justification of being "on the verge" of penetrating the American evangelical consciousness with the notion of five-fold ministry in general and apostolic leadership in particular.
The ramifications of such a shift in theological language and ecclesial practice are profound. For virtually the entire history of the Christian church in all its startling diversity, there has been unity around the parameters of "apostle" and its various grammatical derivations like "apostolic" and "apostolate." One could even go so far as to see this unity as representing the catholicity of doctrine. At the center of this unity is the notion that there is a sharp distinction between the apostles of the New Testament and any leaders thereafter. Even Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican communions that hold to a doctrine of apostolic succession claiming a certain continuity between present-day bishops and New Testament Apostles acknowledge a significant difference between bishops (even the Bishop of Rome) and the original apostles. Catholics do not, as general practice, refer to any of their leaders as Apostles. The 1997 Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church contains within its robust assertion of Petrine succession through the papacy and general apostolic succession through bishops a significant acknowledgment that the New Testament apostles alone are "the chosen witnesses of the Lord's Resurrection and so the foundation stones of the Church." This statement echoes the language of Ephesians 2:20, which says the Church is "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets," and makes clear that even in official Roman Catholic doctrine the "successors to the apostles" read Paul as limiting the successors' authority in a way that clearly distinguishes it from that of the New Testament apostles. At the risk of stating the obvious, the Protestant Reformers and their heirs over the centuries have never criticized the Roman Catholic Church for too narrow a reading of Eph. 2:20, but rather have rebuked Rome for asserting too great a power for bishops and have rejected what they see as Rome's exaggerated assertions of authority. But for Hirsch even the Roman Catholic limitation of present-day apostles is wrong. He explicitly "reject[s] the traditionalist, procrustean interpretation that this [Eph. 2:20] applies only to the original apostles and prophets." The only distinction Hirsch has made, in the book and in other settings, is to say that present-day apostles cannot write new Scripture. Hirsch's jarring assertion that the apostles he wants to see restored today should be viewed as having the same ability to set the church's doctrinal foundation as the apostles who Paul is speaking of in Ephesians 2:20 explains why thinkers like Guder believe that this view calls for a reordering of the Nicene Creed's wording about the church.
But is Hirsch's ecclesiology grounded in the biblical, historical, and contemporary wisdom that Guder claims for it? Does a faithful mission-centered Church require apostolic movements responding to the "apostolic imagination" of present day apostles? How should Hirsch's intended audience—"the key leaders in the churches and other organizations that make up the heartland of biblical Christianity—from Conservative evangelical to Pentecostal, from missional to traditional, and anything in between"—respond to his argument?
I hope that these leaders will not simply ignore Hirsch's proposal because it seems so outlandish to them. As surprising as it will be to some, the notion of a restored apostolic ministry is increasingly popular within the global Pentecostal/Renewal movement. Because the phenomenon is so new, it is hard to speak with certainty of the numbers of people worldwide that attend churches that are said to be under the leadership of apostles; the World Christian Database (WCD) estimated in their 2001 encyclopedia that of the approximately 524 million Christians that fell into the Pentecostal/Charismatic/Neocharismatic orbit, anywhere from a quarter to two-thirds were a part of churches utilizing five-fold ministry. Whatever the exact figures, it is beyond debate that the numbers are growing each year, particularly in Asia and Africa. Though by no means a household word among American evangelicals, this "Neo Apostolic Reformation," as the WCD has labeled it, is growing in popularity within the mainstream of evangelicalism to a degree that many are unaware of. For instance, it is an underappreciated fact that well before a sex and drug scandal engulfed Ted Haggard, former president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), he was known as a leading proponent of apostolic ministry who had rewritten the bylaws of his New Life Church to reflect apostolic governance. In fact, the preeminent proponent of apostolic government of the church, C. Peter Wagner, moved to Denver, Colorado, in 1999 to co-found with Haggard the World Prayer Center. Haggard described his partnership with Wagner in his 1998 book, The Life Giving Church:
When I arrived, I met … Peter and Doris Wagner and several other recognized leaders. From that meeting, New Life Church formed its mission for the 1990s—to support … Peter and Doris Wagner specifically … a calling that led to the creation of the World Prayer Center and much more. We as a team coordinated the Prayer Through the Window series that had 22,500,000 participants in 1993; 36,700,000 participants in 1995; over 40,000,000 in 1997.
In that same book, Haggard says that Wagner has "accurately recognized the [apostolic] changes as so dramatic that they are creating an actual reformation within the body of Christ." Haggard's enthusiasm for five-fold ministry extended to his time as president of the NAE. While serving in that capacity Haggard contributed a chapter to the 2005 book Understanding the Five Fold Ministry.
I mention Wagner and Haggard's shared enthusiasm for apostolic leadership because it is all too easy to assume that radical ecclesiologies such as that proposed by Hirsch will have no appeal within mainstream American evangelicalism. In my research for this article, I was amazed at how many evangelical leaders either were not aware of the growing trend toward apostolic restoration or were so convinced it was, as one put it, a "kooky idea" that they had not given it serious thought. The Permanent Revolution should change that stereotype. While it will become clear that I find Hirsch's core arguments for apostles fundamentally flawed, I believe Hirsch is an important thinker with a deep desire for genuine renewal of the church. Hirsch frames his argument for apostolic ministry much differently than Wagner does, and he engages in a much wider conversation than Wagner ever has. More than a few evangelicals will give Hirsch a serious hearing because on subjects less controversial than his five-fold plan, his writing and speaking offer compelling insights. In The Permanent Revolution, I found his exposition of the differences between Peter's and Paul's apostolic ministries quite suggestive, as was his rich explanation of "sodalities" and "modalities." I am in Hirsch's debt for making me aware of Markus Barth's commentary on Ephesians, and I agree with Hirsch that Barth's work deserves a wider reading. I am sure that all thoughtful readers of Hirsch will find themselves moved, as I was on numerous occasions, to prayer for the church and repentance for their own narrow vision of her mission. But while I commend The Permanent Revolution for these strengths, I strongly disagree with the agenda that drives the book. While few evangelicals would disagree with Hirsch's cry for what has in the past been called "apostolic zeal," fewer still should agree that this renewal of missionary vision requires contemporary apostles leading an overthrow of "the iron cages of oligarchy" that currently obstruct the "holy chaos" Hirsch envisions from his revolution. I believe his analysis of the Western church and his argument for apostles today is based on a narrow reading of Scripture and contemporary biblical scholarship, a shallow reading of church history, and a mistaken interpretation of Pentecostalism's growth.
I disagree with four interconnected claims about Scripture stated explicitly and implicitly by Hirsch throughout the book. First, that "there is nothing in the New Testament itself to suggest that" apostles were to be limited to the early church; second, that because of the absence of arguments against ongoing apostolic ministry it is obvious that the five-fold APEST ministry of Ephesians 2 and 4 is the definitive teaching on ecclesiological ministry; third, that Hirsch's understanding of apostles as people who "individuals" and "churches" relate to "only because it is meaningful for them to do so" is consistent with the New Testament's description of apostolic authority; and four, that the only reason these three claims are not obvious to biblical scholars and church leaders is because they have a vested interest in maintaining the power of the "STs" (Shepherds and Teachers) at the expense of the "APEs" (Apostles, Prophets and Evangelists).
What is so frustrating for the reader is that his final claim about the bias of New Testament scholars gives Hirsch a rationale for his failure to engage in a substantive way with even the most elementary New Testament texts that challenge his first three claims. So, for instance, this crucial passage from 1 Corinthians Chapter 15, which seems to suggest if not demand the conclusion that Paul saw himself as the final apostle, receives no comment:
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received … that Christ was raised on the third day … and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time … then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles." [Emphasis added]
The Letter to the Galatians, where Paul responds to a direct assault on his apostleship, is another key text that Hirsch gives scant attention to. This letter, so crucial to any understanding of Pauline conceptions of apostles, seems to emphasize an understanding of apostolic authority at odds with Hirsch's, while also affirming the Corinthian sense that apostles are those who have personally encountered Christ. You will recall that the critics Paul responded to in Galatians claimed that Paul could not be a true apostle because he had not seen either the pre- or post-Resurrection Christ. If Paul held the view of apostles that Hirsch holds, namely that such an encounter is not necessary to being an apostle and apostolic authority is not central to Pauline conceptions of apostles, this would seem like the place for Paul to say so. Instead we have Paul saying in the very first verse that he is "an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man but by Jesus Christ and God the Father," and later saying, "I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ."
I am not here claiming that these passages, taken alone, prove conclusively that Paul was the last apostle, nor is it self-evident that these readings cannot be squared with Hirsch's understanding of Ephesians apostles as ongoing and non-authoritative. However, at the very least these texts challenge Hirsch's assertion that only those who have a vested interest in silencing apostles would ever say that apostles and their unique authority ended with Paul.
When we move beyond this cursory reading of Corinthians and Galatians and engage with the kind of rigorous biblical scholarship that the missional movement has traditionally valued, we have even more cause to question Hirsch's simplistic assertion that there is one, clear, apostle-centered ecclesiology taught in the New Testament. But Hirsch fails to engage this scholarship because of his conviction that biblical scholars are part of an entrenched bureaucracy tilted towards preserving power for shepherds and teachers. Because he assumes that disagreement with his interpretation of Ephesians 4 is due to institutionalized bias at best, and demonic activity at worst, he does not avail himself of the vital work done in recent decades by evangelical New Testament scholars, some of whom are leaders in the missional movement. If he had done so, he would have discovered a lively debate around early Christian ecclesiology and the nature of the New Testament's uses of the term apostle.
To the extent that Hirsch does engage this scholarship, he makes judgments that raise more questions than answers. For instance, he acknowledges in a footnote the research demonstrating that two of the earliest Christian leaders, Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch, set up ecclesiological governance that was not five-fold. But instead of rethinking his assertion that five-fold ministry was the singular vision of the first apostles, he makes the audacious claim that by their decision Clement and Ignatius had planted the "seeds of shepherd-teacher hegemony." Although Hirsch usually blames institutionalization on post-Constantinian Catholics, it is clear that he dates the start of the problem to Clement and Ignatius, making them among those who "effectively rejected their apostolic heritage" and "rewrote the ministry codes," instituting "an often oppressive ecclesial system that was to become known as Roman Catholicism."
It is worth emphasizing that Hirsch is here claiming that two men who led Christian communities clearly founded by New Testament apostles—and who may well have known these apostles (Tertullian has Peter consecrating Clement)—were already undermining a key element of the apostles' teachings. For the church to so quickly have abandoned a principle that Hirsch believes is so central to her health raises far more questions about the coherence and integrity of the overall message of the early church than he seems willing to acknowledge. A more charitable reading of Clement and Ignatius, and one that does not cede their teachings and practices to the post-Constantine Roman Catholic Church, suggests they were acting on the basis of teachings and practices of at least some of the original group of apostles referred to in the New Testament. But as will become clear below, charitable readings of anyone Hirsch deems in collusion with the "Christendom model" of ecclesiology are few and far between in The Permanent Revolution.
Hirsch's treatment of Clement and Ignatius leads us to his broader narrative of church history, summed up as "movement-to-museum." As Hirsch tells the story, the "foundational, pioneering, translocal, and custodial leadership of the apostolic ministry was eventually eclipsed by the leadership roles of bishops, elders, and deacons." This "process of institutionalization," he argues, weakened genuine apostolic movements and led to a silencing of Ephesians 4's call to five-fold ministry. For Hirsch, this distortion is a major way that Satan has weakened the church. He considers the doctrine of "apostolic succession" that developed in Catholic and Orthodox teachings as nothing less than an intentional, "direct way to try to supplant apostolic ministry." Although he never claims a demonic origin for it, he does make the stunning comparison of the Catholic/Eastern Orthodox teaching on apostolic succession to "the sin of Simon Magus to seek to procure and control the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit," an act Hirsch warns "we do well to remember" caused Simon to be "cursed."
What goes unexplained is how his opinion of a direct effort by the Catholic Church to supplant apostolic ministry can coexist with his steady invocation of Catholics, including numerous bishops, as outstanding examples of the apostolic ministry he wants to see unleashed in the world today. At various points in the book Hirsch identifies St. Patrick, St. Francis, St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of Western monasticism St. Martin of Tours, St. Columbanus, and Saints Cyril and Methodius as embodying the apostolic mindset. Hirsch's one attempt to explain the incongruity between wholesale condemnation of apostolic succession and embrace of the best fruits of that doctrine is to say "institutions, although they can delegitimize, cannot snuff out callings because they are ultimately derived from God."
One need not be a papist to suggest a better explanation: an ecclesiology need not embrace Hirsch's conception of "apostles" in order to produce apostolic virtues. At the very least, Hirsch's embrace of these staunch Catholics raises two questions: 1) If these church bodies were able, in spite of their lack of five-fold configuration, to produce leaders and movements that embody missional virtues, then why should we consider these same bodies incapable of producing missional leaders and movements like these now? 2) Is it fair to the memory of these leaders to align them with an argument that derides apostolic succession when they believed that the success of their ministry was caught up in the grace of their priesthood that is in their view intrinsically linked to apostolic succession?
While Hirsch's determination to cast traditional Catholic and Orthodox conceptions of apostolic succession in the worst possible light has precedent in Protestant theology, it is more surprising to see his strong condemnations of Protestant bodies that reject apostolic succession but fail to embrace five-fold ecclesiology. For Hirsch, the failure of Reformed thinkers to rethink Ephesians 4 is clear evidence that "the Reformation, while rescripting our theology of salvation, failed to deconstruct the embedded Christendom paradigm of the church." Thus the Protestant churches are as guilty of maintaining an "anachronistic, procrustean reading" of Ephesians 4 as Catholic and Orthodox churches were, because they followed the pattern of narrowing the five-fold gifts to the two-fold gifts of shepherd and teacher.
Here again, Hirsch fails to appreciate, much less appropriate, significant developments in evangelical scholarship, developments that attest to multiple understandings of ecclesiology among the Reformers, including multiple interpretations of Ephesians 4. It is true, as Hirsch highlights, that Calvin (along with other Reformers like Jean Diodati) completely ruled out the offices of apostle, prophet, and evangelist and thus only saw an ongoing role for shepherds and teachers; but it is also true, as Gerald Bray demonstrates in his volume on Galatians and Ephesians in the Reformation Commentary on Scripture series, that other reformers allowed for the ongoing role of prophet and evangelist while specifically ruling out apostles because they "are those who were sent by Christ himself," as the Lutheran Reformer Erasmus Sarcerius put it. To cite just one other example of a Reformer who did not teach the two-fold ecclesiology Hirsch finds so troubling, there is the German Reformer Martin Bucer, whom Bray translates as saying evangelists "still exist … God makes them wonderfully effective." Bray's scholarship also makes clear that even in the case of Calvin, where as we have seen there is at least a superficial congruence between him and the Roman Catholic hierarchy on Ephesians 4, his understanding of apostles and apostolic succession was so different from Catholic teaching that equating the two as examples of a single, oppressive "Christendom model" obscures more than it illuminates. Bray translates this gem from Calvin's reflections on Galatians 2, where Paul describes his confrontation with Peter: "Paul did not simply reprove Peter, as one Christian would another, but he did it officially, by right of his apostolic office. Here the Roman papacy is struck down because this one man reproves Peter in the presence of the whole church, and Peter obediently submits to correction." It seems hard to make the case that an understanding of "apostle" that claims to discredit the Roman papacy should be described as being in significant continuity with Roman ecclessiology simply because Calvin agrees that the offices of apostle, prophet, and evangelist ended with the New Testament era.
I began this essay with a nod to the contemporary situation of the church in the West and to a growing sense of crisis that one can perceive among church leaders in a variety of denominations. This perception of crisis in the West dovetails with a growing perception of Christian triumph in the global South. Given that much of the extraordinary growth of the church globally has been in Pentecostal churches, it comes as no surprise to see earnest attempts to duplicate in the West the seeming success of Pentecostalism elsewhere. In that vein Hirsch offers, in addition to his biblical and historical arguments, a pragmatic case for five-fold ministry. Hirsch's explanation for why "the institutional church in the West" is dying and the church in the global South is rising could not be any clearer: The West's "inherited forms of church are not equipped for the missional challenges because they refuse to recalibrate their ministry along the lines suggested in Ephesians 4," whereas the non-Western world has "literally hundreds of millions of believers, hundreds of thousands of churches, and thousands of movements … that do believe in and appropriate the teaching of this text."
But while Hirsch's endorsement of contemporary apostolic ministry allows him to claim the kind of numeric success that evangelicals crave, it creates a problem he cannot solve. Simply put, Hirsch can only arrive at the staggering number of believers, churches, and networks practicing five-fold ministry by counting a vast sector of Christians identified with the Neo Apostolic Reformation (NAR) by the late David Barrett. Barrett's World Christian Encyclopedia and its companion volume, World Christian Trends, describe the NAR as a grouping of third-wave charismatics having "no interest in and no use for historic denominationalist Christianity" and "emphasizing a break with denominationalism." The post-denominational ideology of NAR churches is so strong that the historically Pentecostal denomination the Assemblies of God, hardly an example of a dying Western church, issued a sternly worded response in 2000. "Structure set up to avoid a previous structure," the AOG leadership warned in their missive, "can soon become dictatorial, presumptuous, and carnal while claiming to be more biblical than the old one outside the new order or organization." Given this sober judgment by a Pentecostal denomination, it will come as no surprise that the Christian Reformed Church saw fit to "strongly warn" its members of the "distinctive tenets of the NAR," particularly C. Peter Wagner's contention that denominations are an "old wineskin" to be replaced by the "new wineskin" of apostolic governance.
But the decidedly anti-denominational ideology of contemporary apostolic movements is not the only point of concern for Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal observers. Just as troublesome is the authority and power claimed by large numbers of these "apostles" of the global South and their North American allies, including C. Peter Wagner and Cindy Jacobs. Though silent about the NAR's anti-denominational ideology, Hirsch does comment on the authoritarian style characteristic of this movement, because it is so starkly at odds with how he envisions modern-day apostles acting. However, his attempt to distance the "hundreds of millions of Christians" that he wants Western Christians to emulate from the deplorable apostolic models he rightly characterizes as "hierarchical and elitist" forms of leadership is an exercise in sophistry. It leads Hirsch to the nonsensical argument that these authoritarian views are somehow irrelevant because they come "from the twentieth-century charismatic and Pentecostal wings of the church" when that is the very wing of the church that his "hundreds of millions" comes from. It defies all that we know about the NAR for Hirsch to claim that there is a vast group of non-charismatics in the NAR's midst practicing some sort of distinct, non-authoritarian five-fold ministry. At some level Hirsch himself clearly understands that his vision of apostles is not at all the reality of apostolic ministry among the masses; in his entire book, he never cites a single contemporary example of five-fold ministry in the global South embodying his particular vision of apostles.
Hirsch is free to imagine a Church functioning with apostles empowered to shape the doctrinal foundation of the church while not acting in authoritarian ways, but his attempt to suggest that hundreds of millions of Christians are happily living under such apostles should likewise be seen as imagination not fact. Unfortunately, rather than acknowledging the distinctiveness of his proposal within the larger apostolic movement, Hirsch chooses to blame critics of five-fold ministry for putting these authoritarian leaders forward as "straw men."
The uncomfortable truth is that some of these very "straw men" stand at the height of leadership within global Pentecostal bodies. It is, after all, not a critic of five-fold ministry but one of its most important champions, the well-respected Jack Hayford, acting in his capacity as co-chair of Empowered21, who has elevated Cindy Jacobs to a key position on Empowered21's Global Council. Empowered21 is a major new alliance of charismatic groups attempting to unite both apostolic and non-apostolic groups. The fact that Hayford sees Jacobs as representative of the apostolic movement and worthy of a place at the table within Empowered21 should be enough to demonstrate that critics of the apostolic trend are justified in seeing her as a legitimate leader.
I have no doubt that Jacobs' writings and practices represent to Hirsch the worst of apostolic leadership, and I see nothing in Hirsch's writing to suggest that he would do anything but condemn her style of leadership. But in making figures like Jacobs out to be obscure outliers within the apostolic phenomenon that he holds up as worthy of Western emulation, he does a disservice to his readers.
Clearly Hirsch desires to see non-authoritarian apostles exercising apostolic leadership in the church today. Alas, I see precious little in The Permanent Revolution's biblical exegesis, historical reflections, and understanding of the contemporary church to suggest that such would be the result of Western evangelicals following his lead and embracing five-fold ministry.
1. Tim Keller, "The Missional Church," redeemer2.com/resources/papers/missional.pdf
2. Armstrong's most comprehensive explanation of missional-ecumenism is found in his 2010 book Your Church Is Too Small (Zondervan).
3. A succinct summary of the history and purpose of this group is found at their website, gocn.org/
4. A charitable overview and thoughtful analysis of the "third wave" is found in the Majority and Minority Reports of the Christian Reformed Church's Committee to Study Third Wave Pentecostalism II, available at crcna.org/site_uploads/uploads/resources/ThirdWavePentecostalism Report.pdf
5. See, for instance, Hirsch's 2010 book On the Verge: A Journey into the Apostolic Future of the Church (Zondervan), which he wrote with Dave Ferguson, and his 2006 book The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church (Brazos).
6. Hirsch is a major presence in North American missional groups. He is a cofounder of Wheaton College's Masters in Missional Movements program, as well as a leading voice in Shapevine.com, Forge Mission Training Network, and Future Travelers.
7. In his foreword to Haggard's 1998 book The Life Giving Church (Regal Books), Wagner draws special attention to the change in bylaws. "I hope you don't miss the last chapter on bylaws. I know that very few will read it from beginning to end, but keep in mind that these are new apostolic bylaws and therefore quite different from traditional church bylaws" (emphasis in original).
8. Ibid, p. 35.
9. Ibid, p. 44.
10. Understanding the Five Fold Ministry, edited by Matthew D. Green (Charisma House, 2005). Haggard contributed the chapter "The Pastor and the Fivefold Ministry." I am indebted to the work of Bruce Wilson for seeing the significance of Haggard's work with Wagner. See, for instance, Wilson's "Fighting Demons, Raising the Dead, Taking Over the World" at Religion Dispatches, religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/1273/
11. For instance, Wagner is quite explicit in seeing an eschatological meaning to the contemporary restoration of apostles. He views the phenomenon as a final stage in history preparing the way for Christ's return. Hirsch never grounds his belief in apostolic restoration in eschatology.
12. Barth's commentary was published in two volumes in 1974 as part of the Anchor Bible Commentary. Although Hirsch considers Barth's commentary a rare example of "open-minded and focused thinking on Ephesians 4," Barth explicitly rejects interpretations that Hirsch holds dear. Under Barth's reading, for instance, there would only be a 4-fold ministry, since he interprets "Shepherds and Teachers" as shepherd teachers. Barth also presents a much more nuanced reading of Ephesians 2:20 than Hirsch allows.
13. In a section titled "The Devil Made Me Do It," Hirsch asks how Ephesians 4 came "to be such a pro-foundly unexamined teaching" and answers that "the only conclusion we can reach is that this must ultimately be the work of the Devil …. It is a classic divide-and-conquer strategy: divide the foundational ministry of the church, completely delegitimize some of the players and overlegitimize the others by institutionalizing them."
14. I think in particular of the work of Scot McKnight. The landmark Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (InterVarsity Press, 1992), which McKnight edited with Joel Green, contains a lengthy article, "Apostle," by C. G. Kruse, that highlights the profound complexity around the term within the four Gospels and the broader New Testament. Later volumes in this series, such as the Dictionary of Paul and His Letters and the Dictionary of the Later New Testament and its Developments, have numerous essays that provide a window into current evangelical understandings of issues related to apostles and church governance.
15. Reformation Commentary on Scripture: Galatians, Ephesians, edited by Gerald Bray (InterVarsity Press, 2011).
16. World Christian Encyclopedia, edited by David Barrett, George T. Kurian, and Todd M. Johnson (Oxford Univ. Press, 2001).
17. David Barrett and Todd M. Johnson, World Christian Trends (William Carey Library, 2003), p. 5.
18. "End Time Revival—Spirit-Led and Spirit-Controlled," ag.org/top/beliefs/position_papers/pp_downloads/pp_endtime_revival.pdf.
19. Anyone familiar with the literature surrounding C. Peter Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation will notice that the leadership of Empowered21 includes not only Wagner's close colleague Cindy Jacobs, but other pro-ponents of Wagner's ecclesiology. For a helpful introduction to the views of Wagner and Jacobs and their vision of the New Apostolic Reformation, see National Public Radio's interviews with both Wagner and his leading critic, Rachel Tabachnick. The Wagner interview is here: npr.org/2011/10/03/140946482/apostolic-leader-weighs-religions-role-in-politics. Tabachnick's interview is here: npr.org/2011/08/24/139781021/the-evangelicals-engaged-in-spiritual-warfare
20. Hirsch is well aware of Empowered21 having spoken at its most recent North American conference: converge21.org/c21-schedule.pdf.
Gregory Metzger is a writer now living in Rockville, Maryland. He is at work on a book for Cascade on C. Peter Wagner.
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