I realize that title of this post is a little misleading as it is a question that cannot be answered in a single post. In fact, books have been written on this subject and I would propose that there are still books that need to be written on this subject. Up front I have to say that, as always, I highly recommend Art Katz’s classic Apostolic Foundations when seeking illumination on the apostolic church. So, while I cannot examine the subject in one post, I want to add a few thoughts to the discussion and perhaps even re-direct our common considerations of the apostolic and the prophetic.
I have to admit that recently I have become a little weary of the phrase “Apostolic and Prophetic.” It is probably because the phrase seems to have become yet another buzzword. At the moment it seems like everyone is posturing their ministries to make sure they are “Apostolic” or “Apostolically aligned,” and, while I am not criticizing for that, I have to wonder if we have lost something in the mix.
Most definitions of what is “apostolic” seem to revolve around leadership structures or functions and I believe this is where we go astray. For example, if someone leads a large enough group then they are apostolic or if they can plant another fellowship and send out individuals then they are considered apostolic. I believe it is fair to say that if we examined most of our present teaching and our actions around the words “apostolic and prophetic” it would revolve around authority structures or functions. The question I think we need to ask is what if that is not the essence of the apostolic and the prophetic? What if they are defined by something entirely difficult than a leadership role or a function? What if there is something entirely different to be demonstrated in these gifts that we are missing but is very necessary? Could it be that the very progress of the church is impaired for want of a correct understanding of these terms?
For those of you, like me, that get confused or wearisome of some of the apostolic and prophetic rhetoric, for a moment let’s lay aside all that we have previously known and examine this for a moment and see if God does not open up something entirely different.