Is criticism of legitimate in the New Apostolic Church? This is the question we will explore in this article, and we will do it from a biblical point of view. Does the word criticism appear in the scriptures?
Does criticism of the New Apostolic Church make sense and is it legitimate from a biblical point of view? [no_toc]
Dear readers of this website, with this article I would like to take up the subject of criticism in the New Apostolic Church and whether it is legitimate. Most New Apostolics are still of the opinion that criticism of the church, the organization or the teaching is not good and necessary. The chief apostle and the apostle also seek to address this issue and provide appropriate advice to believers. In the following, I would like to present a biblical view of criticism. But before I start, I would like to briefly introduce myself again, for those who do not know me yet.
To nip any criticism in the bud
I was a member of the New Apostolic Church for 32 years and was born into this fellowship. So I participated intensively in the teaching and practice of this belief. I was taught by the New Apostolic Church not to ask questions and to nip any criticism in the bud. God intervened in my life and so I began to ask about God’s will and the truth. I began to read the Bible and found that the teachings of the New Apostolic Church often do not match the message of the Word of God. One day I made up my mind to follow the Lord Jesus completely, and as a consequence, I had to make up my mind to do the apostles the New Apostolic Church and its teachings to no longer follow.
This website was created out of the care and love for the people in this church and not least out of concern for my relatives, who are mostly also in this church. On this website I would now like to show why I no longer believe in the apostles of the New Apostolic Church, their teachings and the chief apostle, as well as why it is important to examine this teaching, to question it and to draw consequences, and last but not least, what alternative exists. It is not about the reformation and renewal of an entire church, but rather personally about every single soul.
May the LORD add and correct the human imperfection of this website in the hearts of readers, may he richly bless each and every one of them as they read this website.
Now I would like to show why it is necessary and permitted to check every doctrine – including that of the New Apostolic Church – for its truthfulness and its relation to the Bible. From the New Apostolic point of view, someone who was born as a Jehovah’s Witness, a Mormon or a member of another denomination would be lost if he did not question the doctrine of his community. From a New Apostolic perspective, he finally had to convert to New Apostolic teaching. For only in the New Apostolic Church is there forgiveness of sins by apostles, the bestowal of the Holy Spirit by apostles, and thus the fundamental prerequisites for participation in the first resurrection, the goal of faith in New Apostolic doctrine.
So why shouldn’t a New Apostolic act exactly as one recommends to non-New Apostolic? Yes, but the New Apostolic Church is the right church, one might answer. But this is exactly what the others believe of themselves. If the New Apostolic doctrine of faith is biblical and true, then it need not fear a review under the written word of God. Faith would only become stronger, joy greater, and devotion more intense.
What is criticism?
Some time ago, when the New Apostolic Church came under fire in the media from outside and by examining members from inside, the chief apostle Richard Fehr made a statement. He preached on March 17th, 1991 in a service in Aarau: “The word criticism is nowhere in the Bible. So it has no place with us in God’s work”. The New Apostolic Church therefore denied through its head that criticism of the teaching of the NAK was legitimate! Unfortunately the chief apostle as he mentioned in the devine service, he only consulted his word concordance, otherwise he would have found that the word criticism does appear in the Holy Scriptures.
The word criticism comes from the Greek (“kritikos”) and is therefore a foreign word in German am English. Since the Bible was translated from the original Greek text into German, the Greek word “kritikos” and the words belonging to the same root were not rendered “foreign-literally”, but in their meaning in German with judge, evaluate, differentiate, etc The word criticism is used in its different forms (kritikos, krinate, krinein etc.) For instance in the following verses literally in the original Greek text, translated into German with evaluate, judge, direct and rate: Acts 4.19; 1 Cor. 2, 13-15; 1 Cor. 10, 15 u. 11, 13 u. 14, 29 etc..
The word criticism occurs literally in the Bible!
Accordingly, the word criticism appears not only in a figurative sense, but even literally in Scripture. In addition, we find several incidents in Scripture that have criticism as their content. To give just one example, the apostle Paul criticizes Peter’s hypocritical behavior when it comes to the issue of dining with Gentile Christians (Gal. 2, 11) . Peter, however, does not get the idea of not recognizing Paul as an apostle because of this, but a dialogue – quite a bitter one – is conducted. With statements such as “We will not be put in the dock” in the divine service of 10 December 1996 in Nürtingen, however, chief apostle Richard Fehr prevented such a dialogue.
Contrary to what the New Apostolic Church teaches, criticism in the Bible is presented to us as necessary and legitimate for keeping doctrine and behavior clean and correct. Criticism in the sense of rate and evaluation is recommended to every believer to protect himself from false doctrines and spiritual attacks of false prophet. For example, the apostle John wrote:
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. ”1 John 4, 1
In the book of Acts, Luke describes:
“These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”Acts 17, 11
Research the scriptures daily
And they examined the scriptures daily to see if this was so! The term criticism is not used here, but we know that criticism is a evaluating, and how should we evaluate something if we do not examine it? The apostle Paul also wrote to the Thessalonians:
“Test all things; hold fast what is good.”1 Thes. 5, 21
Another passage that clearly encourages examination of the doctrines of those who teach the doctrines is:
“that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,”Phil. 1, 10
Criticism in the sense of evaluate is not naturally negative, because a criticism can be positive, as often happens in many reviews in the feature pages of the newspapers with regard to events and publications, e.g. theater performances, concerts or reviews..
In summary, we can say: The term criticism does not only appear in the Holy Scriptures, but it is an elementary component of the teaching of the apostles and the teaching of Jesus. We are called upon to examine everything that is brought towards us by people, be it by philosophers, by preachers or byapostles of the New Apostolic Church. With “everything” in 1 Thes. 5, 21 Paul also means his own preaching. He was aware that he himself was not immune to human weakness in preaching, and therefore he asks the congregation to form a control authority for him to ensure that he himself follows Jesus’ teaching without any deviation. Therefore, this testing is absolutely necessary when it comes to evaluate teachings and finding out whether one is following the right path, the narrow path, or the broad one that misses the mark.
Testing is exhausting and uncomfortable
However, this testing is inconvenient, like the narrow path that is rocky and unpopular. It is convenient to just go on like this and let everything fall into place, as convenient as the broad way, but we will not reach our goal on this broad way. The New Apostolic Church must therefore accept criticism, because it is legitimate and necessary!
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”Mt. 7, 13-15
What should we check against? At the Holy Scripture as it is in Acts 17, 11 the Christians in Berea did. The Bible is the word of God, true, reliable and authoritative in all areas of faith and life.
© Lutz Jusko