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Brief Book Review of "The Last Apostles on Earth"
(with note of C. Peter Wagner's endorsement)
by Teri Lee Earl
In the Fall, 1999 edition of Roger Sapp's Sent Forth newsletter (Vol. 1, issue 2), Roger Sapp features his book for purchase. Among these books is one entitled, "The Last Apostles on Earth," and in the newsletter Dr. C. Peter Wagner is quoted as saying, "The Last Apostles on Earth" is very timely. It provides us with valuable biblical information for building a theological framework to understand this work of the Holy Spirit in our day."
Since this is one of the many books that C.Peter Wagner endorses on various 'apostolic' subjects, it would be wise to find out what this book teaches concerning apostles. I have read the book in full, and assure you that I am not misrepresenting the book in the following quotes or comments.
After the first several chapters in which Roger Sapp addresses the definition
of apostles in general, by chapters 9 and 10, we come to a 'crescendo'
of the point he is making about these last days apostles which we the Church
should anticipate. Mr. Sapp makes it easy by providing his own summary
at the end of each chapt, which I am quoting now (boldened sentence, my
|Summary of Chapt. 9, pg. 120, quote:
"The end-time purpose of God cannot be fulfilled without the unity of the Church. The evangelism of the lost and the defeat of the evil prince spirits are dependent upon the practical unity of local churches. Functioning apostles are essential for the practical unity of the Church. Each apostle must be submitted and accountable to the individual local church that sent him. Each apostle must also be submitted and accountable to other apostles. As we near the end of the age, each true servant of the Lord will find God establishing him in loving relationship, fellowship, and submission to an apostle and the other members of the apostle's team. Each apostle will also find himself moved by the Holy Spirit to seek out submission and accountability with other apostles. Proper submission to compassionate authority produces unity, protection, and blessing that never violates the Scriptures or an individual's conscience before God."
Summary of Chapt. 10 (pg 134-135), quote:
"Adam, a man, gave up authority over the earth to a fallen angel, Lucifer. As a man, Christ suffered, died as the ultimate Sacrifice, and was resurrected to regain the authority over the earth for men. Christ gave His blood to bring dominion over the earth back to men. Christ's victory is not automatic, but it must be applied in spiritual warfare against presently reigning prince spirits.
"This warfare against the enemy is threefold. Level One of this conflict is the individual believer's warfare against his own personal spiritual enemies. Level Two of this warfare is every believer's responsibility (particularly those of the fivefold ministry) to help all believers becme victorious over their spiritual enemies. Level Three of this warfare is an apostolic function requiring the mustering of local churches in unity against the evil prince spirits dominating localities. These defeated evil prince spirits submit to and represent Satan in these localities. These evil prince spirits will be defeated little by little, and they will be eventually dethroned by the warfare of the Church. In contrast, a man who is an apostle and submitted to Christ will now reign spiritually over that locality in place of the displaced evil prince spirit. The apostle achieves this through the work of the local churches submitted to him."
There's no mistaking what is said and nothing in the book contradicts
these conclusions. On page 131 of the same chapt., the subtitles (in order)
|"No Victory Without Obedience"||"Apostles Replace Evil Spirits"|
There is not any indication that the author could possibly mean that this end-time 'dominion' occurs after Christ's return, but before:
|page 143, quote:
"Since authority over the earth has been won by Christ and given to the Church, these godly angels await the proper exercise of this authority by the Church. These godly warrior angels will defeat Satan's prince spirits in regions where the Church is unified under apostolic authority. As these evil prince angels are defeated one by one, Satan's control over the world is seriously weakened. Finally, in unified global spiritual warfare, the last apostles and the Church will confront Satan himself."
These are full quotes from my copy of the book, The Last Apostles on Earth, by Roger Sapp. Although there were many scriptures shown in previous chapters about other subjects that have to do with apostles, these chapters quoted above were either completely absent or virtually absent of any scriptural support.
In Roger Sapp's favor, he carefully did not claim to be an apostle in his book, and made sure we understood that. And in spite of the numerous references to submission, toward the end of his book he did devote a paragraph to the fact that a true apostle would never co-erce or manipulate anyone into submission.
However, basing total victory over Satan while stating that the unity which is proven or accomplished because of submission to the apostle, and basing all of this on the ushering the end-times in, for the return of Christ,-- Well that is quite a psychologically charged edict to place on the shoulder of a man or set of men or those who have to decide on whether to either follow them (toward victory over Satan) or refuse them (which would presumably cause the opposite of victory for the Church: spiritual defeat).
I read the entire book to be sure I was not misunderstanding. My quotes from the book are not taken out of context, and my statements about what is taught are not amiss. There are "Kingdom Dominion" thoughts in this book, although taken to an entirely esoterical, spiritual realm rather than times past when the claim was more of an earthly kingdom established before the return of Christ. (See Kingdom Theology, by Albert James Dager for a comprehensive overview of some of the various 'dominion' teachings of the past) Indeed, Sapp's book says that the end-times 'apostles' we should look forward to (who, all need our unity in submission to them to accomplish the task), actually replace the demonic/Satanic principalities over regions. An amazing claim, since regional principalities are pretty clearly referred to as 'princes' or 'gods' in the O.T. who desire worship and obedience and exaltation.
As far as I know, Roger Sapp's book is not being actively promoted as a 'manual' for the core belief system about apostles, the end times, and spiritual warfare by C. Peter Wagner. However, my point is that we need to pay attention to what is endorsed as providing us with "valuable biblical information for building a theological framework" by someone who feels he has the important task of gathering apostles and establishing proper Church gov't. toward the promise of a world wide revival. (See GI Newsletter Jan/Feb 2000).
Roger Sapp has written a book called, "Apostolic Fathers and Spiritual Bastards" in which he takes to task (although without naming them) some shockingly cult-like teachings and practices by another group who has set themselves up as apostles. Also, in the very same newsletter in which I found C.Peter Wagner's endorsement of his book, Roger Sapp laments against the absence of courage in American churches. He even teaches we should stand against heresies and boldly tell the truth against them, publicly too-- even if it offends people!
However, in my opinion his own book about apostles could easily fuel the meglomania of someone who thinks of themselves as an apostle. All they need to do is assure their congregations that they are out to take the 'throne' (for Christ, of course) of an unseen demonic principality over a regional section of a city, state, or country, just like Mr. Sapp's book says. In his book, Roger Sapp's one caution against co-erced authority is too weak and ineffective to offset the danger of his own extra-Biblical ideas of an apostle's role and ability, which are mixed with an almost constant emphasis on submission to these leaders as necessary to accomplish the greater goal of 'victory' for Christ. His emphasis on submission to authority in this book and another one I have read by him, may be culturally inspired by his military background (he served in the Army as Artillery Officer and Chaplain). However, this emphasis toward submission coupled with the end-times doctrine in "The Last Apostles on Earth," is a deadly combination. Doctrines such as these about apostles can only lead to an end-times apostolic dictatorship, and not to an end-times victory in Christ that such apostles would promise.
I responded and agreed to put any comments he would like to write on our website on this page. However, I have not heard back from him yet. As of at this time (Feb, 2002) he is still selling his book quoted above at: http://www.allnationsmin.org/details.cfm?product=5
*Important Oct. 2006 update:Please see the amazon description of this published book: Authority, Accountability, and the Apostolic Movement by Stephen Crosby This is the only printed book on this subject that I recommend. It is useful for all groups. See my amazon review of it!
-Teri Lee Earl
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