Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 | Author:

[cont'd from The End of the Age 3.17.10]

When I finished last week’s WFW, I thought I was done talking about Jesus’ warning to avoid being misled by false prophets and false teachers.  I was wrong.

Since then, I’ve been having discussions with someone I know very well who has just left a charismatic/pentecostal-type church.  As a result, this week I’m going to look at one particularly-damaging doctrine that is perpetuated  in some of those circles.

Who’s Your Covering?

This is the question that is asked of individuals and ministries, but it would more accurately be stated, “Who are you submitted to?”  Among these churches, there are several networks where one church or ministry is in submission to another.  Members of a given church are submitted to their pastor, who is in turn submitted to another pastor (or bishop or prophet or apostle) and so on.

Some of the more well-known names in these circles, although there are many others, include C. Peter Wagner and the New Apostolic Reformation; Rick Joyner at MorningStar Ministries; and Dr. Bill Hamon of Christian International Ministries.

What people are told – what my friend was told upon leaving his church – is that he needed to be submitted to the pastor of a Bible-believing church structure or he would be “out of God’s will” and God “cannot” bless him.

This is a doctrine resurrected from the shepherding movement of the ’70′s and early 80′s led by Bob Mumford, Derek Prince, Charles SimpsonDon Basham, and Ern Baxter.  As stated in wikipedia, the emphasis is on control.

The movement gained a reputation for controlling and abusive behaviour, with a great deal of emphasis placed upon the importance of obedience to one’s own shepherd. In many cases, disobeying one’s shepherd was tantamount to disobeying God.

The Shepherding Movement, in turn, has its roots in the origins of the Catholic church, which usurped the authority of Jesus Christ by creating a hierarchy of priests and bishops and popes, who stand between Jesus and the people.

When Paul speaks of the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12, he speaks of many members attached to The Head. He does not speak of a neck that stands between Jesus and the rest of this body, but that is what this “covering” doctrine promotes.

In short, it denies the authority of Jesus Christ, it denies the concept of servant leadership, and it obliterates the freedom found in Christ.

I have seen and experienced the damage done by this “covering” doctrine.  It teaches Christians to take their problems to their “cover” instead of to Christ.  It teaches Christians to trust their “cover” instead of the Bible.  And it teaches Christians to doubt the leading of the Holy Spirit and the love of God.

If you are in a church that promotes this lie from the pits of hell, I encourage you to run.  Run as fast as you can  into the arms of the Great Shepherd who loves you more than you can know.

But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. (Galatians 2:4-5)

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:12-15)

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”  (John 8:31-32)

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:1-12)

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20:25-28)

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8 Responses
  1. Lisa says:

    I have never been one to rag on another Christian’s form of worship, but I never understood the whole priest thing.

  2. Jim Wetzel says:

    Sadly, some of us are persistent slaves, and others of us seem to be would-be slavemasters by nature. And just as we see this in the worldly order, with tyrants preying on sheep who bleat for a “leader,” we also see it in the (nominal) church. Why do so many seem to hate and fear freedom as much as they do?

    My liberty was bought by my Redeemer with an unspeakable price. He made me free because he prefers me that way. Why would I allow anyone to undo His work? If I don’t squander my liberty by allowing sinful men to use it as a doormat, then I can carry it to Him and — freely! — lay it at His feet. That’s what I hope to do.

  3. akagaga says:

    @Lisa I never used to rag, either, until I got deceived by a church. The damage these false doctrines do is unbelievable. Maybe that’s why the N.T. has over 25 warnings not to be deceived by them.

    @Jim Your slave/slavemaster comments are especially interesting to me. The reason I haven’t been running around the blogosphere very much lately is that I’m (finally) writing a book that I started many years ago. While it’s a spiritual memoir, it evolves (just as my walk has) into an examination of the church in America. The title comes from 1 Samuel chapter 8: “They Wanted a King: when America rejected God.” That’s the only explanation I’ve found for the slave/slavemaster conundrum.

  4. jon-paul says:

    Again another truly inspiring post; furthermore, the ‘ugly truth’ about some of those who profess to be Christians. As much as I’d love to believe that this situation doesn’t exist, I am all too aware that it does. The sad and worse nature behind this phenomenon is that no matter what we try or how many times we try we will always see this type of abusive relationship between any organizational hierarchies.

    Although I hasten to add that within the Christian community we should see far less of it; the simple fact remains we are dealing with humankind here. In a different perspective it seems to me that if there is anything that is ‘human nature’ the relationships that exist between Sheppard’s and their alleged Flock is definitely one – and as you clearly point out – run!

    On a different topic I have just for you…a compliment: I have always loathed how much of this started within and by the Catholic “Church.” The part that makes my skin crawl is of course the arrogance of this institution they refer to as the “Church” meaning ostensibly that when someone mentions going to church, singing in church and loving church this somehow must mean the Catholic Church. And this is why I appreciated your words, in particular, the reference made by Paul of the church being Christ’s body. Therefore, having read how you explained exactly how I feel, you are the only person that I’ve ever communicated with that understands the meaning of ‘church’ from a Christian and/or Biblical perspective. Thank you!!


  5. Jay says:

    Good post, Jean. Because you’re talking about the Shepherding movement, it reminds me of Jeremiah 23:

    “Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD. And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.”

    We’ve been studying the topic of how the Lord is our Shepherd, the one who leads us. We should follow the Lord, and He will show us where we should go next and bring leaders into our lives that are the ones He has planned for us.

  6. akagaga says:

    @Jon-Paul we will always see this type of abusive relationship between any organizational hierarchies. You’ve hit on something here that I grappled with a couple years ago. I’ve come to believe that the hierarchy is a large part of the problem, and I don’t think the Bible supports having one in the church. I talked about this in a sermon at my old church, complete with charts! You can read it here:

    when someone mentions going to church, singing in church and loving church this somehow must mean the Catholic Church I’m with you on this one, JP, but I have to add that I’ve heard the same kind of arrogance from just about every church I’ve been involved in. “We have the truth” is a common attitude. It reminds me of the boasting Paul rebuked in 1 Cor 1:10-17. And I’m glad to have a fellow Christian who understands. :)

    @Jay Thanks for the scripture! Here’s the one that God wrote on my heart when we were leaving a church that held to the covering doctrine (although they were not part of the shepherding movement):

    “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)

    I reminded Him of that promise through a lot of dark times, and My Father was with me through them all.

  7. It is just sad when the people who are supposed to be God’s representatives take His name in vain this way.

    Of course, the congregation is to be submitted to their pastor and elders who are in the will of God and who are only promoting His Word, not man’s doctrines. God puts people in our lives, elders in the faith, who have known God longer than we have, who genuinely love Him and are guided by His Spirit, for our good. There are lots of places in the Bible that say “submit to those over you” inferring the church leadership; why? Well, because we, God’s pasture, cannot always say that we know better than those shepherds God has placed above us. Some people do not submit to their churches because the church tells them to obey the Word of God!

    But this stupid trash (that, as you said, comes from the Catholic church) that you better not look in the word of God, just do whatever the elders tell you! Christians, whether the shepherds or the flock, must not be arrogant against God or against their brethren.

    There are so many “denominations” at war with one another, when God is calling us to the unity of His Spirit! If two or three are gathered together in His name, He is there. Imagine what it must be like to have three thousand, thirty thousand, three million, gathered together in the name of Jesus! Not to correct one another’s doctrine, but to allow the Lord to judge the heart! We would actually be free! We could actually concentrate on ourselves and the things between us and God, the only things that will matter in the end! Then He may tell some people, “This church is dead. Leave and go to this other one.”

    Fact is, the church is not a building. It is people. People (sheep) following the voice of the Good Shepherd. How will we know His voice? By constantly listening for it! The end of the age is near, even at hand!

    Hee. Sorry, Jean, I REALLY went on! This was a great post; and another instigator for me!

  8. akagaga says:

    Ah, don’t apologize, Alice. I love it when somebody else rants like I do! :)