[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 Simpson, Don 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)