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The Apostolic-Prophetic Movement in Charismatic Christianity is seen by its participants as a restoration of the neglected elements of the Five-Fold Ministry described in the New Testament book of Ephesians: "some apostles, and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the equipping of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ." This movement is rooted in the Third Wave Charismatic or Pentecostal experience.
This movement defers more to their own interpretations of the Bible and doctrines than to the later authority and elaborations transmitted by the Catholic and Orthodox churches; however, they hold to the dogmas and traditions of the Greek Orthodox and Latin Church Fathers including the Nicene Creed as authoritative and part of what they call "historical Christianity." Prophecy has been a part of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christian practice, especially during times of revival in the Body of Christ. For example, the Kimbanguist Church in Belgian Congo began with vigor in the 1920s and flourished through 40 years of rigorous and sometimes violent suppression.
Kansas City Prophets
Some of those who shaped the current Apostolic-Prophetic Movement in the United States were based in Kansas City, Missouri and became known as the "Kansas City Prophets". Members of this group were Bill Hamon, Rick Joyner, Larry Randolph, Paul Cain, Mike Bickle, James Goll, John Paul Jackson, and Lou Engle. Cain had participated in the Healing Revival initiated by William Branham during the 1950s. The Kansas City Prophets continue to be active in ministry throughout North America and are often seen and heard as speakers at charismatic Christian conferences and meetings.
Spiritual Birthing and other manifestations
The movement has become known for physical, mental and emotional manifestations of behaviors that place it well outside of mainstream Christian expression. One of the most controversial has been the practice of 'spiritual birthing', a phenomenon whereby women, and at times men, claim to be having contractions of the womb brought on by the anointing of the holy spirit, while they retch and moan as though experiencing childbirth. Some critics consider this practice to be demonic. Notable examples have included The Range Christian Fellowship in the conservative Australian city of Toowoomba.
Other bizarre behaviours include claims made by adherents during and after experiencing moments of religious ecstasy, that 'gold dust', precious gems, 'heaven clouds' and 'angel feathers' have spontaneously appeared. This has been widely documented in the religious commentary, analysis and critical press. Some people involved in this claim to have received spontaneous gold tooth fillings.
Followers in this movement were highly prone to end-times conspiracy theories associated with Y2K, when many engaged in frenetic activity to prepare for an anticipated total breakdown of society. This was viewed as something to be welcomed as it was believed and at times predicted through so-called prophecies, that it would be the catalyst for a hoped-for worldwide Christian revival. Leaders in the movement at the time used fears of apocalyptic outcomes to generate huge personal and corporate profits through sales of books, survivalist materials and other merchandise.
The Prayer of Jabez was also popular in this movement. Followers were drawn to the prayer in cult-like devotion, using it in a repetitive manner as a mantra. It was particularly evident in those churches associated with the New Apostolic Reformation, Kingdom Now theology, Dominion theology, Five-fold ministry thinking and other more extreme or fringe elements within the spirit-filled Christianity movement. Some within the movement used the prayer in an almost superstitious way, believing it to be a harbinger of prosperity, good fortune, wealth, health and happiness. It was overtly promoted by some leaders within these churches, who benefited personally and/or corporately through their religious organizations by on-selling the vast range of commercial merchandise associated with the prayer. Such leaders convinced some followers that these items of merchandise carried with them special powers attributed to the anointing of the holy spirit, and were said to be even more effective when combined with repetitive chanting of the prayer. This attracted strong criticism from some conservative Christian leaders on the grounds it encouraged a shallow, self-centred spiritual mindset, while other critics claimed that used in this way it was more reminiscent of mysticism and demonic influence.
The Apostolic-Prophetic movement has displayed an almost obsessive focus on the concept of revival. This has been predicated on a belief in the power of a practice known as strategic level spiritual warfare. They claim that through this action Christians are able to take control of the demonic Territorial Spirits (evil spirits) that make cities or geographical areas both sinful and resistant to the gospel message. Following this action, it is expected and predicted (at times through prophecies) that a great revival of Christian faith including thousands of new conversions will follow, in addition to a reduced crime rate, phenomenal church growth, improved morality, general prosperity among the population and the installation of men and women of God into government. It is often accompanied by further claims that this action will make the area of focus a strategic hub of the anticipated great revival. This expectation of social transformation following strategic level spiritual warfare has failed to materialize and was based on the teaching of George Otis Jr., whose claims of great transformations in several South American locations are now regarded by many as false, as they have been unable to be verified when investigated by his critics.
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