Is the so-called “Last Reformation” biblical? What about the teachings of Torben Sondergaard?
The Great Reformation
Today, there is the New Reformation, the New Apostolic Reformation, and now, the Last Reformation. Which, if any of these, are correct? How can we know if they are true or not? History has shown us that the Protestant Reformation was from God because it restored the “sola scriptura” or “Scripture alone” as the guide for the church and the individual members of the Body of Christ, the church. The Protestant Reformation was a response to the church deviating from the Word being the final authority, to the church being equal to the Bible in authority, but that left the traditions of men steep in hundreds of years of ritual, ceremonies, and services that were not even understood by the member (unless one knew Latin). Torben Sondergaard is a Danish Christian evangelist, author, public speaker, and faith healer who has claimed that God communicated with him directly and told him to write a book and that God would give him a chapter a day. This was the beginning of what would be called, the Last Reformation, as he designated it (or supposedly, God did). The Protestant Reformation was necessary as it restored the church to biblical teaching and preaching, and in a language they could understand, but what about this “Last Reformation.” How does he know this will be the last one? Did God tell Torben Sondergaard something He didn’t tell the rest of us?
Focused on Healing
What is troubling about this movement is that it focuses on the gift and not the Giftgiver. One YouTube headline says “Youth Believer’s Heal the Sick,” when the truth is, only God can heal whomever He wills and not man. I have seen several of Sondergaard’s trainings on healings and pictures of him sitting near someone’s bedside, but Jesus was not like that. He healed people and said, “Tell no man” (Matt 8:4, Mark 7:36), and I doubt He’d have taken a selfie of him and the patient or posted His healings on YouTube. That is to be seen by men, and it is not how God wants us to do our works. They are to be done in secret so God will reward openly, or they can do it openly and they already have their reward (37,000 Likes, 4,329,000 page views). Sondergaard mistakenly calls these healings “fruit” when the fruit God is interested in (and names) is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,” and “self-control” (Gal 5:22-23), so I don’t see healing someone as being a fruit, but this is only one of several doctrinal issues. They also train young believers how to heal, but isn’t healing initiated by God and not something you “learn?” What chapter and verse in the Bible teaches how to heal?
The Last Reformation?
The Last Reformation Movie is basically a slam on the church of the last 2,000 years, as they say, “if we go back to the gospel, as it was presented in the Book of Acts, we will see the same things happening as in the time of the first disciples,” however, does that mean we’ll see more stoning’s? Will we see more Damascus Road’s? Will we see another “Mar’s Hill?” I know some churches have watered down the gospel and not done what Jesus has commanded them to do, but churches do study the apostles’ doctrine, they do share things in common, and they do fellowship and break bread together, while distributing among members who have little (Acts 2:42-46). That’s the church then and the church now and God gave the increase (Acts 2:27). When I read that Sondergaard believes that salvation is evidenced by the baptism of the Spirit and speaking in tongues, it was enough to know that something was wrong. That is not the evidence of a person’s salvation. As the late Dr. J. Vernon McGee once said, “We can’t see the root, but we can inspect the fruit,” and “Faith is the root of salvation, and works are the fruit of salvation.” Nowhere in the Bible does it say or even insinuate that the evidence of a person’s salvation is speaking in tongues or the baptism of the Spirit. If there’s no fruit of the Spirit, then there’s no root of salvation.
The New Apostolic Reformation
I had someone who believed in Torben Sondergaard’s teaching come to our church and ask if he could be trained to heal someone. I told him we have a nursing home ministry and you could come with us as we bring worship services to them. You could pray for them afterward, but we are not to lay hands on someone and try to seek to cure someone. For one thing, it’d be very hard to cure old age. Some of the problems these people have are not illnesses or disease, but old age. This man’s focus was on being trained to heal someone. He wanted to see the same things done that the apostles did in the early church, but I reminded him about Jesus’ warning: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed” (Matt 6:14). We are told to seek after His righteousness first and foremost. The focus is always on Christ, not on healing, or speaking in tongues, or trying to raise the dead.
I would be very cautious in listening to this “new revelation” about the so-called “Last Reformation.” It just has too many teachings that do not square with Scripture, and so even if there is some truth in it, half the truth is still a whole lie. Jesus said the Holy Spirit came to point us to Christ and testify of Him. He will put the focus on Christ and His Word the Bible. Nothing else even comes close. He must be glorified and not men on YouTube (Psalm 115:1). Becoming more Christ-like and doing what Christ commands seems far more important than healing or tongues. Even the claim to have raised the dead means nothing if that person has not yet been born again, because a healed person will eventually die again, but whomever believes in Christ, even if they die, shall yet live again (John 11:25-26). The more important question when these new believer’s try to heal someone isn’t, “Can we lay hands on you to heal you of (fill in the blank).” The real question is, “Has God ever brought you to repentance after seeing the awfulness of sin? Have you put your trust in Christ?” I doubt very much if they’re waiting for the sick person in the hospital to speak in tongues to show they’re saved (according to them), but to see someone healed or at least believe they are healed, and if they can’t make another movie out of if, at least they can post it on YouTube. Sadly, people come to this group for the wrong reason. They would rather see signs and wonders and “be taught that gift,” than do what Jesus actually commands us to do (Matt 25:34-40, 28:18-20).
More reading on a related topic here: How Can We Recognize False Doctrines?
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible : English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.