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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: New Frontiers new apostolic spheres
Drewthealexander
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I understand that a number of men have been 'recognised' as apostles in Newfrontiers to their new apostolic spheres. I was wondering if anyone knew who these gentlemen are.

I was also wondering how they were 'recognised'. I'm assuming no lots were drawn, and if their names appeared after prayer and fasting, I wonder who was praying.

And what now is the position of other gentlemen in the movement who have planted and overseen churches and were performing the function of 'apostolic oversight.' Do we have some men in Newfrontiers who were once regarded as apostles and are now no longer so regarded?

Can anyone throw some light (as opposed to heat) on all this?

[ 01. December 2012, 10:50: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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Gamaliel
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Interesting.

Eutychus will follow this with interest, I think.

I'd be interested too.

Although, without wanting to generate heat, I'd suggest that whoever these gentlemen are, they are simply 'bishops' just like those found anywhere else.

Ok, depending on one's view of Apostolic Succession one may or may not regard them as 'Bishops' with a Big B.

But whatever they are I suspect they are 'bishops' rather than 'apostles'. The 'apostles' thing is a red-herring.

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Polly

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When NF began Terry Virgo had a team of 12 men around him who assumed the role and responsibility if Apostolic oversight of churches.

'Re-capturing' these roles and responsibilities was a key part of NF ecclesiology and I know Gamaliel has suggested that these men were Bishops but this could never have been so.


Originally the 12 men were good friends of TV who he saw having the correct 'gift mix' in order to take on these roles.

Most of these men are still working within these roles today but I guess some have taken a backseat and/or retired.

Of the next generation who have now taken up the baton and serve in these ways I believe Dave Stroud is one of the more well known individuals. He has been responsible for overseeing UK NF churches and the church plant in central London.

I guess some people here will level an 'old boys club' mentality to how NF appoint and anoint their leaders.

Without going into further issues ( e.g.; of not having women in governmental leadership and why leadership is very white) I would suggest as someone with 20 years in NF it is much less sinister. This is because in the early days when tensions concerning the movement wanting to gain legitimacy in the eyes of other church streams TV needed those around him who he could trust and rely on.

I would suggest NF have got stuck with the system they developed. There's no intentionality in wanting to broaden their understanding of leadership.

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Gamaliel
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Why couldn't these men have been 'bishops' (small 'b') Polly. They exercised oversight over a number of churches. Isn't that what bishops are supposed to do?

They might want to call them 'apostles' because they think it's more biblical or because they don't like the term 'bishop' because it brings baggage with it, but that's effectively what these guys are and have been doing. They've been 'bishop-ing'. Ok, so they don't have pointy hats and a curly stick but they've been functioning in that role within their own particular sphere.

I really can't see what's contentious about that.

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Polly

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Why couldn't these men have been 'bishops' (small 'b') Polly. They exercised oversight over a number of churches. Isn't that what bishops are supposed to do?

They might want to call them 'apostles' because they think it's more biblical or because they don't like the term 'bishop' because it brings baggage with it, but that's effectively what these guys are and have been doing. They've been 'bishop-ing'. Ok, so they don't have pointy hats and a curly stick but they've been functioning in that role within their own particular sphere.

I really can't see what's contentious about that.

I can easily agree with you. Both 'Apostle' and 'bishop' are valid Biblical roles.

NF wanted to re-capture what they thought (back in the 60/s and 70's) had been a neglected ministry in the form of Apostolic oversight. That was part of their ecclesiology and what was required with the new wine skins.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Polly:
I can easily agree with you. Both 'Apostle' and 'bishop' are valid Biblical roles.

Except that the use of 'apostle' confers a certain spiritual imprimatur that allows the NF to believe that its system is superior to one overseen by bishops ("we don't believe in unregenerate infants being baptised by unregenerate bishops").
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Polly

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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
quote:
Originally posted by Polly:
I can easily agree with you. Both 'Apostle' and 'bishop' are valid Biblical roles.

Except that the use of 'apostle' confers a certain spiritual imprimatur that allows the NF to believe that its system is superior to one overseen by bishops ("we don't believe in unregenerate infants being baptised by unregenerate bishops").
The quote you used was my personal thoughts.

Your suggestion about NF can only be answered by NF. I admit it is possible they likely thought that in the early days, whether they do so now is another question. Change has happened in NF over the last 40 years.

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Drewthealexander
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I am somewhat less concerned about what titles people are given, and more interested in what they *do*. In particular, in the current context, how the current 'apostles' have been distinguished from a wider group given the same appellation.
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Mark Betts

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I am glad we have a new NewFrontiers thread, because I am interested in how they work. I know someone who is an "apostle" (or at least involved in the "apostolic sphere"). In fairness he doesn't claim that Terry Virgo's "apostles" have the same significance as Jesus' chosen Apostles.

I have problems with this concept, because I believe in Apostolic Succession - through the Bishops. I cannot see how someone (ie. Terry Virgo) can usurp Authority and appoint his own apostles, as Jesus did.

@Polly - It is good to have someone adding input here, who actually knows what they are talking about (which is more than can be said for me). I hope you, at least, still have some sympathies with them, as I do. When I heard the witnesses on Brighton Praise a week ago, I couldn't anathematize them completely, because they were so familiar, and true, delving into what it really means to be human, including their need of God for fulfillment.

"We don't believe in unregenerate infants being baptised by unregenerate bishops". Yes I know this mentality well, but I don't accept it, because Baptism IS the only sure sign we have of regeneration (to my mind).

[ 04. June 2012, 15:25: Message edited by: Mark Betts ]

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Drewthealexander
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@Mark Betts. Would your friend possibly be so kind as to reply to my questions - or at least as many of them as he is comfortable with?
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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Polly:
quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
quote:
Originally posted by Polly:
I can easily agree with you. Both 'Apostle' and 'bishop' are valid Biblical roles.

Except that the use of 'apostle' confers a certain spiritual imprimatur that allows the NF to believe that its system is superior to one overseen by bishops ("we don't believe in unregenerate infants being baptised by unregenerate bishops").
The quote you used was my personal thoughts.

Yes, though the quote in brackets was from one of their recent magazines.

quote:

Your suggestion about NF can only be answered by NF. I admit it is possible they likely thought that in the early days, whether they do so now is another question. Change has happened in NF over the last 40 years.

I think the fact that they tend to stand apart from other churches in the area - even when they have similar beliefs - tends to speak for itself.
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Mark Betts

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quote:
Originally posted by Drewthealexander:
@Mark Betts. Would your friend possibly be so kind as to reply to my questions - or at least as many of them as he is comfortable with?

Somehow I don't think he'd appreciate it. He'd welcome you to his church, with the intention of converting you, but these type of questions wouldn't be appropriate from someone who hasn't even set foot in the "true" church.

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Gamaliel
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I don't think that NFI would claim to be the 'true' Church in the way that the Orthodox or the RCs would. Neither, as Mark has rightly reflected, would they claim that their 'apostles' were on a par with the original 12 'Big A' Apostles ...

I don't particularly have a problem with the use of the term 'apostle' to refer to living people - but I'd be very wary how I applied it.

As for what they do, well, I suspect some of these guys do actually 'bishop' (or even 'apostle') a lot better or more effectively than their counterparts in the historic Churches ...

But that's getting beyond the point of the OP, which is about how they operate in NFI terms.

I've been in a similar outfit to NFI and know that to all intents and purposes there was rather more weight put on the 'apostolic' role than was healthy. I can't compare them in that sense to Anglican Bishops nor RC Bishops or Orthodox ones as I've had less experience of those - although the ones I've met tend to be pretty decent sorts from what I've seen - although I have met a retired Anglican one I'd tend to give a wide berth ...

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rhflan
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But doesn't the word 'apostle' just mean 'sent one'? Like, isn't that the actual definition of it? And if so, then couldn't really *anyone* be an apostle?

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Gamaliel
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Yes, of course. But provided you understand what you mean by it and aren't making extravagant claims - such as restoring the Church above and beyond its apparent original 'purity and power' as we used to say back in my restorationist days ...

[Roll Eyes]

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LutheranChik
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I think the fantasy of there once having been a "pristine" early Christianity that we must return to falls into Bonhoeffer's category of dangerous wish-dreams that actively hurt the Church.

There was never, ever, EVER a "pure" Christianity. Ever. Read the Book of Acts and Paul's epistles, fer cripe's sake. These are, IMHO, less guidebooks for the church than histories of how earliest Christianity attempted to work out its self-identity and the various theological and social problems that "The Way" created for them in terms of belief and practice and engagement with the dominant culture. Other than a couple of Luke's rather rose-colored descriptions of community spirit (which he later contradicts as he records things like friction between Jewish and Gentile converts, who does what within the Christian community and so on), I don't see a lot of "pristine" anything. People are people.

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Gamaliel
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Well yes ... which is why I am no longer a restorationist ...

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irish_lord99
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quote:
Originally posted by rhflan:
But doesn't the word 'apostle' just mean 'sent one'? Like, isn't that the actual definition of it? And if so, then couldn't really *anyone* be an apostle?

New Frontiers have their own version of apostolic succession, where the only people that can be 'apostles' are appointed by current apostles. Of course, this is separate from historic apostolic succession. (Am I the only one who finds the numeric parallel between Christ and the 12 disciples, and TV and his 12 apostles to be a bit ominous?)

Also, the NF church I was a part of said that the apostle was more than a 'sent one' and was in fact the plumb-line mentioned in Amos 7:7 by which all of Israel would be measured. [Roll Eyes]

I don't know how wide-spread that belief is, but I'm pretty sure they learned it from one Dave Devinish, who is their apostolic over-watch.

Also, NF (at least the local branch) don't let just anyone into a position of leadership.

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Mark Betts

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quote:
(Am I the only one who finds the numeric parallel between Christ and the 12 disciples, and TV and his 12 apostles to be a bit ominous?)[/QB]
I don't know if I'd use the word "ominous", but it makes me wonder just who Terry Virgo thinks he is.

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Fr Raphael
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I live in a little world which until I read this knew nothing of Newfrontiers.

I looked them up on Wikipedia and also looked up Mr Virgo there too.

Is there much really to be worried about? They seem to be reaching out to where some other churches are not having success.

They are also larger than I expected.

I understand the comment about 12 apostles, however could it not be that Mr Virgo is following closely his Lord's model of having twelve chosen men.

I've not come across 'apostle' as a ministry name in a church, is it common in churches of this type. As a term it has a little more Biblical foundation than Bishop,, doesn't it?

Looking at one of the new frontiers congregations I was surprised at the venue they met in, which I happened to know. That venue could not really accommodate more than 60. Somehow I had the image in my mind of 100+ in their congregations.

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Sioni Sais
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Well yes ... which is why I am no longer a restorationist ...

There's always the danger that you end up restoring the church at Corinth, Ephesus, or many of the other places to which Paul wrote epistles. They started well, then they got institutionalised, argued about footnotes etc and oh dearie me, you know the rest. Nothing much changes.

TV could have appointed just eleven, to avoid outsiders (and maybe insiders) wondering who plays Judas. To appoint twelve also smacks of numerology.

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Mark Betts

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quote:
Originally posted by Fr Raphael:
I live in a little world which until I read this knew nothing of Newfrontiers.

I looked them up on Wikipedia and also looked up Mr Virgo there too.

Is there much really to be worried about? They seem to be reaching out to where some other churches are not having success.

Don't worry, Terry Virgo isn't the Antichrist!

quote:
They are also larger than I expected.

I understand the comment about 12 apostles, however could it not be that Mr Virgo is following closely his Lord's model of having twelve chosen men.

I've not come across 'apostle' as a ministry name in a church, is it common in churches of this type. As a term it has a little more Biblical foundation than Bishop, doesn't it?

I was about to post that Apostles are sent forth by Christ himself, not Terry Virgo. However, I happened to look up "Apostle" in Wiki, and it said this:
quote:
Wiki article on "Apostle"
The word "apostle" has two meanings, the broader meaning of a messenger and the narrow meaning of an early apostle directly linked to Jesus Christ. The more general meaning of the word is translated into Latin as 'missio', and from this word we get 'missionary.'


So I guess, in this sense, maybe it isn't such blasphemy as we may think. I agree the number of 12 still raises eyebrows though.
quote:
Looking at one of the new frontiers congregations I was surprised at the venue they met in, which I happened to know. That venue could not really accommodate more than 60. Somehow I had the image in my mind of 100+ in their congregations.
The one I know is just a concrete unit in the middle of an industrial estate - it doesn't even look like a church! I understand it seems to have quite a large turnover - that is to say many people join (mostly young), but they often don't stay very long or are sometimes told to leave, to avoid any scandals. We're talking of things like divorce, adultery or fornication among the congregation. They also might be asked to leave if they are judged to be a "jezebel spirit" - that is, they talk in ways not in accordance with NewFrontiers orthodoxy (whatever that is).

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Gamaliel
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The picture is mixed, of course, in many respects New Frontiers is more balanced than independent churches of that ilk. It's a mix of the good, the bad and the indifferent just like anything else ...

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Mark Betts

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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
The picture is mixed, of course, in many respects New Frontiers is more balanced than independent churches of that ilk. It's a mix of the good, the bad and the indifferent just like anything else ...

I'd like to see them have a place for penance (or the evangelical equivalent if there is one) rather than just throwing people out for bad behaviour. I think that's a real problem for churches like this - not only NewFrontiers, of course.

There seems to be this mentality that if you are "born again", then sin grievously, there is no way back.

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Waterchaser
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Rhflan said
quote:
But doesn't the word 'apostle' just mean 'sent one'? Like, isn't that the actual definition of it? And if so, then couldn't really *anyone* be an apostle?
I've certainly heard teaching along this lines by people like Alan Hirsch who argue that the church needs to restore "apostles and prophets" to ministry rather than relying on just "teachers and pastors". However the apostles being talked about are definately small "a" ones - with the idea communicated that rather than designating authority apostleship is about ministy style - pioneer, missionary starting up new ministries/church planting etc.
The suggestion is that this ministry style/gifting might be quite common rather than something very rare.

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Ramarius
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On the o/p - I understand the UK apostolic 'sphere' leaders are David Devenish,, Dave Holden, Guy Miller, Mike Betts and Jeremy Simpkins. You can presumably find out more about them from the NF website.

How were they recognised? No idea. There may be some other people recognised as apostles - hopefully some other people can shed some light on this.

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Mark Betts

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quote:
Originally posted by Ramarius:
On the o/p - I understand the UK apostolic 'sphere' leaders are David Devenish,, Dave Holden, Guy Miller, Mike Betts and Jeremy Simpkins. You can presumably find out more about them from the NF website.

How were they recognised? No idea. There may be some other people recognised as apostles - hopefully some other people can shed some light on this.

I think we may have nailed what "apostle" means in the NewFrontiers sense, but what is the "sphere" all about?

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pete173
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Spheres are balls...

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Pete

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Mark Betts

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*sigh* If you want anything done do it yourself..

I've found something from our Terence:
quote:
from "Apostolic foundations"
The Philippians plainly felt they were in partnership with Paul. They sent finance to him. He brought them to birth, and he continued having a link with them. Paul developed this kind of relationship, even with some churches, like the Colossians, which he had never actually visited. Epaphras, who worked with Paul, had planted the Colossian church but it was evidently in ‘Paul’s sphere’.

While Paul was based in Ephesus, ‘All Asia’ heard the word (Acts 19:10) and some churches were planted which Paul didn’t actually visit because those working with him did the work. He was stabilising, bringing apostolic teaching, daily pumping out revelation at the school of Tyrannus in Ephesus (Acts 19:9), and his partners were going out starting churches within his apostolic sphere. So a sphere for Paul was an ongoing relationship with a number of churches, what the theologians call ‘the Pauline churches’.

So that’s a Bible concept. Paul was an apostle and churches that he related to were in fellowship with him in his ministry.

It is important we see that he said, ‘I have the care of all these churches.’ He often wrote that he was praying for them. So it’s an ongoing, affectionate link, not a ‘headquarters’ mentality. It’s not impersonal or static; it’s something very dynamic and life-imparting.

In 2 Corinthians 10:13, Paul argues about his sphere and says, ‘We will not boast beyond our measure but within the measure of the sphere which God appointed to us as a measure to reach even as far as you.’ Paul says that God has given him a sphere which did have some geographical aspect to it. ’You are within my God-given sphere. I have measured as far as you. I am not over-extending,’ he says (2 Cor. 10:14).



So there you go. [Smile]

I also found out that Paul was not one of the 12 Apostles, but the first of the "apostles" (broader sense) which NewFrontiers claim to be a continuation of.

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Drewthealexander:
I understand that a number of men have been 'recognised' as apostles in Newfrontiers to their new apostolic spheres.

I'm away from home right now and not really in a position to take part in this thread at present, but I would simply like some clear evidence of this from a reliable source.

I'm not so much calling into question the idea that something like this has happened (for one thing, I've heard that from other well-placed sources too) as asking for evidence of anything clearer than a verbal announcement (if that).

If there isn't some sort of verifiable source, then I think this will mean whatever it needs to mean at the time, depending on who is concerned.

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irish_lord99
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quote:
Originally posted by Mark Betts:
I also found out that Paul was not one of the 12 Apostles, but the first of the "apostles" (broader sense) which NewFrontiers claim to be a continuation of.

[Roll Eyes] [Roll Eyes]

Where's the continuous link? "Patterned after" might be a better term than "continuation of." Even that's being pretty generous IMO.

The rest of the material that you quoted resembles NF's SOP: decide what you want to see or do then try and proof-text it.

[ 05. June 2012, 19:45: Message edited by: irish_lord99 ]

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Ramarius
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quote:
Originally posted by irish_lord99:
quote:
Originally posted by Mark Betts:
I also found out that Paul was not one of the 12 Apostles, but the first of the "apostles" (broader sense) which NewFrontiers claim to be a continuation of.

[Roll Eyes] [Roll Eyes]

Where's the continuous link? "Patterned after" might be a better term than "continuation of." Even that's being pretty generous IMO.

The rest of the material that you quoted resembles NF's SOP: decide what you want to see or do then try and proof-text it.

...SOP...? In my world that stands for 'state of play' [Biased]
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Auntie Doris

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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

If there isn't some sort of verifiable source, then I think this will mean whatever it needs to mean at the time, depending on who is concerned.

I am not even sure what that sentence means!

Auntie Doris x

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irish_lord99
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quote:
Originally posted by Ramarius:
]...SOP...? In my world that stands for 'state of play' [Biased]

Standard Operating Procedure [Smile]

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"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." - Mark Twain

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Ramarius
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quote:
Originally posted by irish_lord99:
quote:
Originally posted by Ramarius:
]...SOP...? In my world that stands for 'state of play' [Biased]

Standard Operating Procedure [Smile]
Cheers (!)
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Mark Betts

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quote:
Originally posted by irish_lord99:
quote:
Originally posted by Mark Betts:
I also found out that Paul was not one of the 12 Apostles, but the first of the "apostles" (broader sense) which NewFrontiers claim to be a continuation of.

[Roll Eyes] [Roll Eyes]

Where's the continuous link? "Patterned after" might be a better term than "continuation of." Even that's being pretty generous IMO.

The rest of the material that you quoted resembles NF's SOP: decide what you want to see or do then try and proof-text it.

"Our Terence" is Terry Virgo, and it's all from his site. Here are some links:

What was the Apostolic task? (continued) - Here Terry tells us something about Apostolic Spheres.
Who is an apostle? - Here Terry defines the two types of Apostle.

Click around and you will find more.

I should have said "restoration of" rather than "continuation of", which sounds more catholic.

I don't know, Terry seems to be able to back up his claims...

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Auntie Doris

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Are these guys those who have been appointed as 'Apostles'?

I have a feeling they are - can't find much out about how it all happened though.

Auntie Doris x

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Ramarius
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@Mark Betts. Thanks for the quote about apostolic spheres. NF have played a lot on the relationship v organisation idea as a way of distinguishing themselves from more established churches. But I think what they're starting to discover is that 'relational organisarion' gets more more difficult when you grow. So developing apostolic spheres keeps the relational angle, but creates problems around the corporate activities of the movement - the youth conference Newday, and its church planting and social action activity, which has been resourced from central funds. Common activities need a common infrastructure to support them.

So when you have a total UK membership of the size of a West Bromich Albion home gate (c 30,000) and are held together by a dominant personality (the blessed Terry) a 'relational approach' to your set up is reasonably straightforward.

On the other hand, having an efficient bureaucracy doesn't mean your leadership thereby ceases to be relational, as I'm sure our resident Ship's bishop will confirm. Whether NF can make this transition is one of the questions it will have to address.

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'

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:
I'm away from home right now and not really in a position to take part in this thread at present, but I would simply like some clear evidence of this from a reliable source.

It was summarised as such in one of the most recent NFI magazines.
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chris stiles
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Take a look here:

http://newfrontierstogether.org/Groups/152963/Newfrontiers/Magazine/Current_Issue/Firstline/Firstline.aspx

"Other non-Biblical alternatives such as hierarchical ecclesiastical structures or church leadership by democratic process have been tried and found wanting."

"In this magazine I tell something of our story, introducing a number of friends who are already exercising apostolic responsibility within Newfrontiers."

"Although these brothers will gradually develop their own spheres of service we will maintain our common values and trust God to fulfil His promises to us as a family of churches that will have world-wide impact."

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Eutychus
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quote:
Originally posted by Auntie Doris:
quote:
Originally posted by Eutychus:

If there isn't some sort of verifiable source, then I think this will mean whatever it needs to mean at the time, depending on who is concerned.

I am not even sure what that sentence means!
I think the links you and chris stiles have pointed to are the perfect example.

It's clear that these people are being announced as leaders (or at least "friends exercising apostolic responsibility" but it doesn't say how they were apopointed and equally significantly, they are only apostles by implication. Terry's article is a masterwork of how to imply things without actually being able to be held to account as having said them.

He writes
quote:
Who dare carelessly to claim to be an apostle knowing that one day he will face Jesus and give an account of his life? The thought has scared me for a long time.
He doesn't claim apostleship for himself but the implication is clearly there.

Of the new appointes, he writes
quote:
Some would be more comfortable than others to regard themselves as apostles.
thus leaving plenty of room for anybody to deny it or use the term to enforce their authority as they see fit.

He goes on to say
quote:
I commend them to you as men worthy of being followed. Paul did not nominate Timothy as an apostle but was happy to commend him and encourage the saints to receive him as they would Paul himself.
So he is simultaneously not recongising anybody as an apostle, comparing himself to the apostle Paul and suggesting that people should follow the new appointees as they follow him.

I also note that despite all that talk of stepping down, Terry signs the article
quote:
leader of Newfrontiers
In short, I find that all this supports what I've argued here before. Newfrontiers cultivates a culture that is modelled on an authoritarian view of apostleship that it enforces when it suits, but shrouds this in plausible deniability. Nobody can point to where Terry, or anyone else, has said they are an apostle, even if they are "moving" in these mysterious "apostolic spheres".

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Auntie Doris

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Ah OK, I get what you mean by that sentence and it makes perfect sense. For what it's worth I agree wit you. As ever, Newfrontiers has given itself lots of wriggle room!

Auntie Doris x

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Ramarius
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
Take a look here:

http://newfrontierstogether.org/Groups/152963/Newfrontiers/Magazine/Current_Issue/Firstline/Firstline.aspx

"Other non-Biblical alternatives such as hierarchical ecclesiastical structures or church leadership by democratic process have been tried and found wanting."

"In this magazine I tell something of our story, introducing a number of friends who are already exercising apostolic responsibility within Newfrontiers."

"Although these brothers will gradually develop their own spheres of service we will maintain our common values and trust God to fulfil His promises to us as a family of churches that will have world-wide impact."

New Frontiers not 'hierarchical'?

Sorry Terry, but you are having a laugh.......

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Mark Betts

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NewFrontiers do sound an awful lot like the original Reformers of the 16th C - eg. Luther. I often wonder how one disagreement turned into 96 theses - which amounts to rewriting the book completely from scratch. That's quite a leap don't you think?

What Authority did he have? About as much as the said Terry Virgo.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Mark Betts:
NewFrontiers do sound an awful lot like the original Reformers of the 16th C - eg. Luther. I often wonder how one disagreement turned into 96 theses

Urm, have you actually ever read the 95 theses? They make sense in the context of Luther's argument even if you don't agree with them.
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Mark Betts

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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
...Urm, have you actually ever read the 95 theses? They make sense in the context of Luther's argument even if you don't agree with them.

That wasn't my question though - I asked how just one disagreement turned into 96 (or 95)?

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Mark Betts

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OK - I just read them - but there is still that giant leap between seeking to reform this one problem from within and founding your own rival church.

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Ramarius
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quote:
Originally posted by Mark Betts:
OK - I just read them - but there is still that giant leap between seeking to reform this one problem from within and founding your own rival church.

I think there were a lot of small steps in between.
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Mark Betts

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quote:
Originally posted by Ramarius:
I think there were a lot of small steps in between.

Does this mean that any Tom, Dick or Harry (Terry Virgo for example) can decide the churches have got it all wrong, and found their own "church"?

Obviously they can, but where is their Authority?

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"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."

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Arminian
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The acid test for NF structure is 'would I like these guys with this structure to run the country'. I would answer 'no' after 3 years at a NF church.

At no time was I given any say in the running of the church. Leaders were authoritarian and their decisions absolute. Our 'apostle' was 5,000 miles away. How many elders get appointed who disagree with tithing or their views on women in leadership ? None I would suggest. They seem to pick young males who are easily molded into their way of thinking. They also only sold their approved literature on the bookstall. This I find cult like and controlling.

On the surface its all friendly and best mates. When something goes wrong they pull rank.

To keep this going requires spiritual abuse. They use a lot of questionable theology to justify absolute control and dress it up in religion to get their own way. God said it, so you must submit. This means you should be giving 10% of your income to the church (kiss goodbye to leadership if you point out that tithing is complete legalistic rubbish and that no Christian practiced until the 9th century....). You need to be accountable to them, but they are only accountable to someone above them in the hierarchy who you have little or no access to. This is a structure ripe for abuse IMO.

Their fundamental mistake is not culturally contexting what is written in the Bible. The texts they use to try to justify this authoritarian structure were written about HOUSE churches of under 25 people. They were never a guide for running large organizations in this authoritarian way. If they want to bring back tithing how about bringing back the bit in the Mosaic law about priests not owning property - or paying themselves big salaries ? I suspect a resounding silence on that being discussed.

This spiritual abuse of Biblical texts allows NF to engage in a whole lot of double speak. 'We aren't real apostles but we are when it suits us to say so. We don't lord it over others, but do as we say. Pay your tithes to us, but we don't enforce tithing. We welcome all, but don't live up to our narrow remit of what is sin and fail to repent and we'll kick you out.

Its like the communist party for Christians. A whole lot of contradictory statements to get the theology to fit the warped reality of a structural hierarchy that can and does lord it over the flock. The morality is almost always based around sexual sin, the responsibilities of wider society and the rich are largely ignored. This narrow definition of sin is used as a means of control.

I'm glad I left. Intellectually it feels as if someone has their foot on your head the whole time you are there. Its abusive and dangerous particularly as you won't find the shortcomings until you've been there a while. Its a potential trap for younger Christians who don't know the theological flaws in the double speak.

I would not recommend them as a church to anyone.

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