C. Peter Wagner, the ‘Horizontal Apostle’

Apologetics Index sent out an update pointing to their newest article this evening: Its concerning Peter Wagner. There are some interesting links included, which may help someone in their own research.

C. Peter Wagner is the former professor of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary School of World Mission. He coined the term Third Wave.

Wagner is the founder of Global Harvest Ministries, and co-founder of the World Prayer Center.

He promotes Kingdom Now theology, as well as countless other extra-Biblical and un-Biblical teachings on, for instance, faith healing, prayer, and spiritual warfare.


New Apostolic Reformation

Wagners latest excursion into aberrant and heretical expressions of Christianity is the promotion of apostles and the so-called New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) — a movement which asserts that God is restoring the lost offices of church governance, namely the offices of Prophet and Apostle.

Leading figures in NAR suggest that these prophets and apostles alone have the power and authority to execute God’s plans and purposes on earth. They believe they are laying the foundation for a global church, governed by them….


Horizontal Apostle

According to his Global Harvest Ministries website, Wagner “functions as a horizontal apostle within a sphere of recognized apostles.”

If the term “horizontal apostle” doesn’t ring a bell, it’s because Wagner made up the term.

In an article titled, Understanding How Apostles Minister in Different Spheres, Wagner writes:

Toward a useful terminology. The current apostolic movement is so new, and it is developing at such a dizzying speed, that a considerable amount of confusion has arisen. Who is an apostle? Are all apostles the same? How do bona fide apostles minister? I believe that the answers to these and other similar questions will emerge through a phenomenological approach. This is the methodology that I have used to arrive at a continually-developing set of conclusions. Terminology that accurately describes current apostolic phenomena will greatly help dispel the confusion. Here is a terminology that seems to me to be helpful, at least at this moment:

Vertical Apostles

  • Ecclesiastical apostles. Apostles who are given authority over a sphere which includes a number of churches, presumably in an apostolic network headed up by the apostle.
  • Functional apostles. Apostles who are given authority over those who have an ongoing ministry in a certain specific sphere of service which has defined boundaries of participation.
  • Apostolic Team Members. Apostles whose apostolic ministry functions in conjunction with an apostle who is seen as the leader of a team of one or more other peer-level vertical apostles. They may be assigned specific spheres by the leading apostle. These are more than administrators or assistants or armor-bearers.
  • Congregational apostles. Apostles functioning as senior pastors of dynamic, growing churches of more than 700-800.

Horizontal Apostles

  • Convening apostles. Apostles who have authority to call together on a regular basis peer-level leaders who minister in a defined field.
  • Ambassadorial apostles. Apostles who have itinerant, frequently international, ministries of catalyzing and nurturing apostolic movements on a broad scale.
  • Mobilizing apostles. Apostles who have the authority to take leadership in bringing together qualified leaders in the body of Christ for a specific cause or project.
  • Territorial apostles. Apostles who have been given authority for leading a certain segment of the body of Christ in a given territorial sphere such as a city or state.
  • Marketplace Apostles.It seems clear that some marketplace apostles would be vertical (perhaps within a large company) while others would be horizontal (bringing together peer-level marketplace apostles). The more we work with marketplace apostles, the more clarity will come in due time.

Please note: Dr.Wagner functions as a horizontal apostle within a sphere of recognized apostles. As such, Dr.Wagner does not provide apostolic ‘covering’ or accountability as a vertical apostle. – Source: (Understanding How Apostles Minister in Different Spheres, Global Harvest Ministries. Last accessed Jan. 22, 2009)

Again, you won’t find this is your Bible. It was simply made up…


C. Peter Wagner and Todd Bentley

Whether he calls himself a ‘horizontal apostle’ or a ‘presiding apostle’ — as he does at the website of his International Coalition of Apostles, Wagner’s assumed spiritual authority got dented after his recent commissioning of Todd Bentley as an evangelist:

California pastors Ché Ahn and Bill Johnson, along with Canadian pastor John Arnott, laid hands on the 32-year-old Bentley while Peter Wagner, leader of the International Coalition of Apostles, read a statement about the need for apostolic alignment.  […]

Wagner said to Bentley on the platform: “This commissioning represents a powerful spiritual transaction taking place in the invisible world. With this in mind, I take the apostolic authority that God has given me and I decree to Todd Bentley, your power will increase, your authority will increase, your favor will increase, your influence will increase, your revelation will increase.

“I also decree that a new supernatural strength will flow through this ministry. A new life force will penetrate this move of God. Government will be established to set things in their proper order. God will pour out a higher level of discernment to distinguish truth from error. New relationships will surface to open the gates to the future.” – Source: Leaders Commission Todd Bentley at ‘Lakeland Outpouring’, Charisma, June 24, 2008

8 comments on “C. Peter Wagner, the ‘Horizontal Apostle’

  1. PJ

    “….It was later revealed that Bentley was romantically involved with him, and that during the ‘revival’ Bentley had been drunk a few times….”


    Want to redact that one?

  2. My prayer is that the true body of Christ will continue to see the difference between these false Apostles and Prophets and the meek, loving and tender heart of our Savior.

  3. Wow – this guy is slick – and his ‘theology’ seductive…who WOULDN’T want to to see miracles, to be a part of something new and exciting, to be in the ‘River’, the new and improved perfected Manchild?
    The dark side of supplanting churches and co-opting their flocks for financial gain isn’t so obvious – at first…

  4. bn: Well spoken my friend. “Who wouldn’t want to be a part of ..”miracles, the new and exciting….and to be in the river…”

    Their salesman, aren’t they? Their selling healing of the Body, the virtual “Balm of Gilead.” It is very appealing, especially in this present famine of the Presence of God, and times of confusion. They possess a parallel gospel that elevates themselves as head over the meek, and you nailed it…..”The dark side of supplanting churches and co-opting their flocks for financial gain isn’t so obvious….at first.”

    They offer refuge to the weak, but let us not forget that most Pastors relinquish their churches to these corporate kings for their own ambition, and lust for more fame, power and privilege.”Strike the shepherd, and the flock will be scattered.” These “Pastors” sell out their congregations willingly, and in the end, BN, it’s for a little more Bling……30 pieces of silver. This is why the one man Pastor as head over the local body is a grievous heresy, and must be abolished, in favor of a plural Pastorate that is unpaid and unprofessional.

    In the end, the “Balm of Gilead” is but snake oil, and their bite is just as deadly as any Rattler.

  5. Thomas,

    I have two questions concerning your comment. I am only slightly confused about two particulars:

    Question: When you wrote the phrase “especially in this present famine of the Presence of God” I was confused at what you meant. If you are saying that God has recended His precence from His children, I couldn’t agree with you. In my personal walk with Him I have times when I feel an overwhelming abundance of His presence and love…and at times of doubt He feels farther away. Yet, He is always present. Psalm 139 (a particularlly lovely psalm) begins, “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me…” and continues in verse 7 with, ” Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
    8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.
    9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
    10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast. ”

    Anyway, I really think I may be mistaken with what you meant by the phrase.

    Another Question: You wrote, “This is why the one man Pastor as head over the local body is a grievous heresy, and must be abolished, in favor of a plural Pastorate that is unpaid and unprofessional.” I found myself wondering why you referred to your desire for more than one leader of a church as a “Pastorate” rather than an eldership/bishopric?
    You are, indeed, correct in your dissatisfaction with the sole leadership of the Pastor. In the first century church the Apostles went out to preach the word and set up congregations. The Apostles would then appoint elders/bishops (plural) to oversee the flock. Paul chose Timothy and counciled him on how he and the elders were to be good shepherds over the Church at Ephesus. Titus was also counciled as one of the elders at Crete. The New (and Old) Testament gives a pattern of plurality of elders in each church. And when reading 1 & 2 Timothy we see the necessity of elders especially when herecy and other problems infiltrate the church they lead. We’ve seen that without an eldership a church can be lead astray very easily. I have never been able to fully comprehend why so many churches have ignored the Biblical example of how to lead a church. Pastors (ministers,reverands, et al) were not meant to be sole head of their congregation. I think the reasons are obvious when considering churches under NAR influence.

    So when you said Pastorate, did you mean an eldership? When I think of Pastor I think of a salaried preacher over one church. When I think of an eldership I think of those who are called to oversee and shepherd said church. Unpaid, of course.

  6. Several years ago I heard C. Peter Wagner at an intercessor’s conference in Portland. Each time Mr. Wagner got up to introduce someone, or speak himself, he started with a joke. Each service, the jokes became more and more suggesting of sexual content. The pastor of this church was greatly offended and confronted him, It showed all of us the true heart of Mr. Wagner. Out of the heart the mouth speaks. As a man thinks, so he is. I wouldn’t personally trust anything that came out of his mouth, if his mouth is moving, consider it lies and deception, with a bit of filth thrown in.

    • Sounds like it was a disturbing experience for you Lillian…im really sorry you had to experience it. I know how things like that can stick with you.

      Praise the Lord though, you saw through it–God taught you something important during the conference.

      No, i wouldn’t trust anything he says either…

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