Apostolic and Prophetic Insanity: 'Apostolic and Prophetic Communities Decline into Error and Abuse'

Apostolic and Prophetic

Apostolic and Prophetic Insanity

If people you loved dearly were engaged in behavior that was destructive to themselves, and others around them, your love would compel you to do an intervention, even if they didn’t like it.

I’ve been a life-long charismatic believer. I am thankful for my heritage, my tribe, if you will. However, as the years have rolled by, my heart has broken as I have watched that heritage drift further and further into self-destructive thinking and practices: intoxicating Gnosticism.

Even the term “charismatic” has been so polluted in popular understanding, that I wish there was an alternative to use.

In my tribe of the family of God, it has reached the point that if anyone shows any passion for a disciplined commitment to the hard work of exegesis and an accurate handling of scripture, with Jesus as the ultimate hermeneutic, that person will be called a legalist, a dogmatist, narrow, judgmental, too doctrinal, opinionated, inflexible, hopelessly left-brained, not open to the Spirit, too “Word-focused,”  “a spiritual sheriff,” “old-order,” and other charming labels.

The attitude saturates popular-level social media. I deal with it frequently in interactions with individuals. Theology is considered a problem, a nuisance to be gotten rid of—a “limiting restraint” on the Spirit of God and His “anointing,” man-made chains to be broken in order to free us into the liberty of God’s Spirit (I have actually had “leaders” tell me that–news flash: the Word and the Spirit are not in competition for primacy!)

I believe in a broad bandwidth of “orthodoxy” and fraternity. I have titles in my library by Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Syrian/Coptic authors. I have been blessed by them. I have very close friends, with whom I have deep communion who are Roman catholic and Greek Orthodox. I am not looking for conformity of thought to my way of thinking on every blessed point of biblical minutiae. God forbid! What a boring world that would be! I don’t even believe everything I believe! I certainly don’t expect others must! Having differences in interpretation and application is not the same as disdain, disregard, and diminishing of the scriptures. These interpretive differences need not divide us in our union with Christ and one another. Adults can bang on each other in theological debates and still maintain love and union. Children take their ball and run home.

I understand that doctrine/teaching is not the beginning and end-all of life in Christ. I understand that “theology” is not the river of life. I understand that being a dead, dry, “theologian” is not a compliment and that worshiping the “Bible”–bibliolatry–is cultic (and something I hate). God is bigger than my mind. I get it. However, I also understand how one person’s devotion to scripture can be perceived by another as worship of the letter. We will always have to deal with that.

However, the other extreme is just as bad! Having little or no biblical discipline is not a compliment! If the river of our spirituality has no banks, if the highway of our journey has no guardrails, we should not be surprised if we end up drowned or in the ditch. My apostolic and prophetic tribe is drowning in the ditch.

Lest you think I am fussing about minor points of doctrine, here are some true-story examples of the scale of this problem in my apostolic and prophetic tribe. These are samples from my little corner of the world. You do the extrapolation. Consider the tens of thousands affected by what I share here:

  • I once saw a very well known “apostle,” a leader of a world-wide “network,” a member of the International Coalition of Apostles (ICA), get up in front of an adoring throng of gullible young people and say: “I know that what I am about to say is not what the scriptures mean from the passage I will be using, but the Spirit has told me to teach it this way . . .” He proceeded to mock disciplined exegesis, scholarship, and theologians and went on to fill the notebooks and minds of those impressionable young people with pure fantasy mush from his supposed “apostolic and prophetic” revelation.” This man heads a world-wide network/association.
  •  Another person from the ICA that I knew personally taught that theology gets in the way of the anointing and we need to get rid of it. (I was in the meeting where he shared that). He said that what we needed was more anointing, not more scholars. I have since come to realize that it was his deep insecurity talking.
  • Another member of the ICA, the head of a large apostolic and prophetic international organization, with a strong emphasis on “father-son” teaching, spiritual covering, submission to the set-man, etc., was on the platform at a conference when one of his young “sons/acolytes” got up in the meeting, began extolling this man’s lofty virtues, and “exceptional anointing. ” The young man suggested that the spiritual father was so anointed that the folks should be baptized into the name of this “apostle.” Nothing was done or said in the meeting about this. Whether something was said or done behind the scenes I do not know. I sure hope so. But since it was a public incident, it should have been corrected in public, for the benefit of the public in attendance at the time.
  • I had another so-called apostle tell me that he never studies the scripture prior to preaching. He said that too much study gets in the way of the “flow of the anointing and revelation.” Then, semi-chagrined, he said that he just hopes after he is done that he can find something in the scripture to back up what he just taught. He was not trying to be funny. He was serious. This man also oversaw a worldwide network/association.
  • I once had a conversation with another apostle, going over the scriptures with him. He didn’t like what I was bringing, but admitted it was correct and said: “When you have a large and successful ministry like I do, then I will consider changing what I teach, until then I am going to keep on doing what I am doing.”
  • I had a conversation with an apostolic and prophetic evangelist  who was bashing theology and said that too much emphasis on “doctrine” gets in the way of the revelation of the cosmic-Christ in each of us.
  • I was in a meeting where a “prophet” worked the crowd and preached for 90 minutes without ever mentioning Jesus or the scripture. what he presented was full-on, new age, astral projection, portals, frequencies, and vibrations. He openly and publicly mocked those who would question him. Here’s the kicker: He was invited to stay for weeks as a headliner for “revival meetings” because he was so “anointed.” It was doubly sad as the crowd was made up largely of young and impressionable new converts who were swallowing everything this “prophet” had to say. I was so grieved in this meeting I got up and left and cried and prayed in the parking lot, where I met two others doing the same. But three out of 300+ in attendance is not very encouraging.
  • I was in another meeting at a church overseen by a young apostolic-pastor where the youth in this church were being instructed by their youth-leader in techniques of astral projection. He was teaching them how, as a group, to leave their bodies (en masse), go into astral planes, talk to the dead, and come back and give “testimonies” of their conversation with dead people. This church thought they were having “revival” among their young people. These young people were paraded on Sunday morning with their testimony of talking to Martin Luther, Abraham Lincoln, and more. Of course the leadership could pull up some obscure Old Testament proof text, poorly exegeted, to “justify” what they were doing. Necromancy for Jesus. There’s a winner for you.
  • I once had a conversation with an elder’s wife, pointing to something Jesus said in the scripture–red-letter stuff–that she didn’t want to face.  Her stunning response was: “I don’t believe that, my Jesus is not like that.” The essence of idolatry is to make up one’s own god in the “chambers of our imagery” as Ezekiel calls it.

Friends,  I wish I could say these are are all the examples I have. They are not. I could go on and on. I accrue more every week. Apostolic and prophetic insanity abounds.

It would be easy to over look this matter if spiritual novices were the source of the problem–babes who didn’t know any better. That’s not the case. I hear and see these sorts of things on a regular basis coming from so-called apostles, prophets, and other leaders and influencers with high profile media and multinational ministries.

It has reached the point that being thought or considered “apostolic” or “prophetic” and having a “successful ministry” apparently means teaching or believing anything you want, with utter disregard for a disciplined posture before the scriptures.

Cook up your own fantasy typology? Doesn’t matter.

Teach “doctrine” from your dreams and visions? Doesn’t matter.

Misrepresent God with a twisted scripture? Doesn’t matter.

Disregard context? Doesn’t matter.

Disregard language disciplines? Doesn’t matter.

Disregard original culture or intent? Doesn’t matter.

Normalize an unusual isolated text into spiritual technique and practice? Doesn’t matter.

Proof-text rubbish? Doesn’t matter.

We are in deep trouble. The whole family is sick. The family I love is diseased. The womb that birthed me is defiled.

“Steve, this so negative, there are lots of wonderful people (apostles and prophets) who are not like this. Why don’t you focus on that?”

Thinking that way is like watching a pedophile violate a young girl in the bushes and doing nothing because “lots of married people have God-sanctioned sex, there is good sex too, you know, why don’t you focus on that?” I don’t focus on that because tens of thousands of innocents are being violated in the spiritual bushes of the kingdom!

The fact that the good exists is IRRELEVANT to the dysfunction that damages precious human beings.

Genuinely well people don’t need a physician. Unfortunately, everyone of these instances I have recounted above was with someone who was considered “wonderful,” “sincere,” “humble,” “Spirit-filled,” “doing a great work,” overall decent chap, with adoring followers who thought they were well! Wonderful people believe, say, do, and teach stupid things all the time. No one is immune! Including me!

What is the remedy?

Stop the nonsense in apostolic and prophetic communities.  Develop some courage. Stand up to these authority figures. Say something. Stop supporting these folks with your time, talents, and treasure. Don’t be complicit in their ways. Quit making excuses for them. Stop being blinded by financial and numeric success. Abandon Christian celebrity-ism. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied or intimidated into silence by them. Ask embarrassing questions. Tell the emperor he has no clothes.

Return . . . home . . . to Christ and Him crucified. We will always find a safe welcome there.



Copyright 2014,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.stevecrosby.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephrcrosby@gmail.com.
Would you like to partner with us in distributing our materials and perhaps generate some income for yourself?  Please go to www.stevecrosby.com for details of our Affiliate program. This ministry is sustained by the freewill offerings of those believe in the message of a radical grace in a new covenant understanding. If this article has been a blessing to you, would you prayerfully consider making a tax-deductible contribution through our Paypal button to help? Thank you and God bless you.

39 comments on “Apostolic and Prophetic Insanity: 'Apostolic and Prophetic Communities Decline into Error and Abuse'

  1. Reblogged this on Forerunner Perspective and commented:
    Strong word of wisdom and insight from Crosby. I’ve had similar experiences as described in his post……and I have a similar disdain for the apostolic/prophetic idiotism perpetrated on the Body of Christ. Its time to mature and try the spirits. Peace!

    P.S. that picture is priceless…..

  2. The importance of what you have dealt with here can not be understated. Thank you for your courage and God’s wisdom and I hope and pray that it will be imparted to many to be spread as much needed restoration of the TRUTH for our healing.

  3. I could not agree with you more. I see as they don’t want to offend anyone. They tell whatever to get them back to what they see as “Their church”. Give me the truth of the Word. Often it is painful to hear because we are so fallible and fall short. I thank God for his Grace.

  4. Like you, I saw lots of this in the Charismatic movement. Fortunately, my BS meter was good at protecting me from getting caught up in it – or becoming tied in with some of the folks you talk about.

    Lately, I have seen more of it in the “organic/simple” church movement than I ever did in the Charismatic movement – although it’s more sophisticated and also tied in with a more tight-knit mutual promotion network of self-designated “apostles”, “workers” and whatever.

    Among them, there is a wholesale embrace of Barthian existentialism and its belief that a subjective experience of Jesus trumps His written Word – as though they are ever at odds! They promote a supposed personal relationship with the Living Word, but without the discipline and authority of His written Word. When you get past the public books, you encounter lots of very weird and disturbing practices, doctrines and personal histories.

    As a result, the movement is top heavy with national “leaders” who have covered up each others’ abusive histories, lack of success at actually planting healthy local fellowships, and lack of local church experience and accountability.

    Concurrently, there is a de-emphasis on local leaders (i.e., elders) who actually protect and nurture God’s flock by teaching and mentoring from a place of mature experience and respect for scripture.

    I hope you are keeping your eyes wide open here, too, as you dabble in this other movement.

    Like me and our fellowships, I suspect you are trying to hold firm to what is Biblically valid within the organic/simple movement, while steering clear of the uncritical guruism and associated rejection of sound doctrine on other issues – and its disdain for the plenary authority of scripture.

    If so, welcome aboard!

    • Yes, it is epidemic in organic circles, but I just limited this article to the charismatic side, as I was dealing with my tribe. Organic church is not my tribe. You mentioned dabbling in the organic church. I think you have misread me there. I am not a fan of organic church. Just because I do not agree with the theology and expression of Western, Protestant, ecclesiology, or personally don’t attend a “traditional” church, doesn’t mean I am pro-organic church. I am pro loving and serving anyone regardless of the structure of their meetings and where their behinds are once a week. I am unwelcome in many organic church environments . . . check out this post http://wp.me/pPFqI-n3. Organic folks tend to accept me only if I am mindlessly in lock-step with them in their ecclesiology. Same problem they think they left in the institution . . . many have just down-sized carnality to a living room instead of a sanctuary.

  5. i don’t think “it” is ever weeded out. too much of anything is too much. living within moderation and can be the devil’s work as well. “it” is not meant to be weeded out. jesus did not weed out judas. we need a measurement and be accountable. the word is a good place to begin with. good read.

  6. Stephen, another label that has been ascribed to this way of thinking is anti-spirit. I grew up in the institutional church, but I saw something wrong as a young man with where we were. I was looking for the relationship with Father as I knew as a young boy, growing up without an earthly dad. When the charismatic movement came along for me in the early 70’s, At that time – I was moved by its pure love. I began to see the drift, and we started gathering around other things that we worshipped: worship itself, gifts of the Holy Spirit, discipleship, prophetic/apostolic ministry, and the list goes on. We started preaching another gospel other than “Christ in you (His Body), the hope of glory.” Thanks for the word.

    • Hi Jerry, yes, it is heart rending to see something you loved and were benefited by (charismatic renewal of the 70’s) drift to such unhealthy places. Indeed, the list goes on and on, and if you say anything, you will be branded as a troublemaker.

  7. It seems to me like every Christian has their own “weakness” in regards to theology. It’s like people want to take what God has written, and say, “No God, this is not acceptable, let me re-write it for you.”

  8. Thanks for the article Brother Stephen.
    As a charismatic believer of 50 plus years, I too see so much abuse in the name of “gifts” and “ministries”. I’ve seen groups ascribe to the criteria of “spirituality” being a large following or monetary success. Typically these groups also diminish or even deny the existence and role of local inspired people in favor of a hierarchy of “approved” leadership who are usually people who have completed the organization’s own schooling. They then deny that any one “lower than themselves”, could possibly have any legitmate claim to being led by the spirit.

    What I do know is that no true manifestation of holy spirit runs contrary to any other, be it the ancient Hebrew prophets, Yeshua (Jesus) or his Hebrew apostles. I do know that the spirit can inspire any believer and any time, be they a “leader” or no. But all run parallel to the former true inspirations of the spirit. That makes the inspired writings (scripture) the gold standard for experience and so-called leading of the spirit. Being believers far removed from the original culture, language and experience of the Hebrew prophets, Yeshua and his apostles, it behooves us to study their situations for accurate insight into their thoughts, heart and intent.

    That does not mean that the nature of one’s relationship with Jehovah was not improved by Jesus Christ. It Was! But, we bow to the same God as all our progenitors, Jehovah is the same in all His character and attributes then and now. He still loves a humble heart and abhors a haughty spirit

    No ego, monetary success or hordes of followers substitutes for a concerted effort into gaining accurate insight into the original thoughts and heart of the founders of our faith. We still must judge ourselves and others by that gold standard. Success and followers’ adoration in this world do not translate into a lofty position in the Kingdom!

  9. I have had this happen to me too. Here is a direct quote from a supposed Dr. of theology to me. “Everyone I’ve asked thinks your statements are purely out of the tyrannical age of the Neanderthals of religion. Catch up, Brother. You’re way behind on these things.”

  10. Stephen, thank you so much for this article. There are sadly, too many who are not heeding your excellent word. The tickle feels too good and a narcissistic spirit has entered the church. Sadder still, this is not just in the “tribe” from which we hail. It is most prevalent in most every denomination I have spent time with. It is the common sin of man, it runs thru almost every Government position, from the local to National, and in most churches. May God have mercy on us as His body.

    Our culture screams daily from the high towers and the church has looked to the lie of being served over serving. Of pride and privilege instead of humility.

    Sadder still, many are now taking these ungodly practices to other continents. The itching ears are just as universal as pride and privilege.

    I have learned to set my sights on eternal issues, ideas and rewards.

    I thank you again for your excellent exposure of this, the most recent example of corruption, which is running thru the church.

  11. Thank you for bringing this up! We are all equally prone to these thoughts and ways. We must pray to be lead by the Word and the Spirit and pray for protection against false teachers. An entire generation is vulnerable to false teaching! An entire generation of souls is at stake. We must fight and win this battle. Thank you for writing all of this down Brother!

  12. hello my brother from a different mother.I would like to speak HOPE.This will not remain.It shall not be so.He is coming for HIS glorious church.I say to you,keep on keeping on.As one who sees very much as you do,take hope.He is going to start with the leadership.(judgement starts in the house FIRST)Steve,I see your heart,and HEAR the LORD`s grief in your words.Be strong and FULL of courage.Keep on BEING the TRUMPET that you are.You ARE being HEARD by those that have an ear to hear.I ask you to count ALL of this joy.YOUR LORD and saviour is cheering you on.

  13. Dear Steve,

    You will know a tree by the fruit it bears, I read somewhere. I came to the conclusion based on fruit inspection, that my family was illegitimate. Did God use them in my life? did He bless me with people I will love till I die, etc., Yes! But, can I use that as justification to remain illegitmate, No! The tree is the problem, the fruit is just the symptoms.

    Keep it up,


  14. So what would you recommend to someone wanting to improve their study of scripture; how do we learn healthy exegesis, context, language, etc. etc; where to start?

    • Hi MC, very good question. Short of getting a good formal education which would costs tens of thousands of dollars, here are some suggestions:

      1. Be an avid reader. Read books from people your group, association, or denomination DO NOT AGREE WITH. Why? It provides breadth of perspective and you might discover some things your group would rather not be completely honest about. You will develop skills to think for yourself when fully informed with all points of view on an issue.
      2. Develop your own language skills. There are many Hebrew and Greek study courses available.
      3. Invest in a good study library. Start small and every year invest in another resources (these resources can be pricey).
      4. Get a good interlinear, a good lexicon, and never trust just a concordance definition alone for anything. There are some good “all in one” sort of Bibles available.
      5. Understand that most resources will all have a bias or grid that flavors their particular slant of things. You will have to develop skill, a filter, to realize when you are being propagandized and when you are being educated. It is rare to find resources that admit when they don;t know for sure on a point. Those are the ones I respect the most . . . honesty, even when it goes against the consensus accepted position.
      6. Invest in good social science commentaries. Discover the world Jesus and the apostles lived in. Discover how they thought and viewed themselves in the cosmos, and the cosmos itself.
      7. Obviously, a vital relationship with the Lord by and through the Spirit is irreplaceable. No amount of educational information can supplant that.
      8. Never proof text. Always look for culture and context: who was speaking to whom, about what, why, what was going on, old or new creation, pre or post resurrection, what circumstances wre making the passage necessary, what kind of literature is it . . . and so forth.

      I hope these help.

      • Amazing examples!…and scary. I have been developing my eBook series entitled Revisiting Scripture from the perspective of someone who all their life was taught the Scriptures were the final authority for life and practice. My assumption was that the folks who taught me might have been a little off in a few places, and I should revisit passages to see if, in the context and culture, they meant what I was told. But here you flood me with many examples where the leader has no respect for or use for Scripture (and the resulting doctrine). THEY GET INTO THE DITCH AND DON’T EVEN KNOW IT!

  15. Good article on one tribe. How many other tribes/denominations out there that are equally distorted? God created us in His image and then we recreate Him in our image. Religion puts man in a new suit but only Jesus can puts a new man in a suit! Religion is mans way of reaching God but Jesus is Gods way of reaching man. Staying in focus and balance along with doctrinal purity and simplicity keeps us “in” for the long run till we see Jess face to face.- hupo-monay! grk….steadfast… keep it up!

  16. Thx Steve – this is outstanding, what a mess, I was called a “biblicist” by a FB group leader for advocating the Bible as a guide to pleasing God in obedience, they said that following the Bible in any way would “ruin” a Christian’s life – no kidding – then blocked by the group and several leaders with no warning as I was defending the Word…I might add our piece on doctrine: yes or no? http://www.walkworthy.org/doctrine

  17. as George Hunter, I am wondering for trouble of various sort in all the tribes; the people of the Almighty One who were to be of one Family, One Lord, One Faith… Divison, along with its mnay institutions, latently holds a door open to what becomes popular error and abuses.

  18. I loved your blog. I agreed with everything you said. But after I read your article, I felt rather discouraged and unhopeful for the future of the Apostolic movement. I would really appreciate an article from you pointing to some of the positive things the Apostolic movement is doing, with perhaps your top ten recommendations on what books we should be reading, by those you feel are Apostles who are properly and effectively modeling truth apostolic ministry.

    • Hi David, thanks for posting. In 40 years of charismatic Christian life, I have met hundreds who claim to be apostles. I would say I have met 5-6 who actually are. Since flawed humanity is all God has to work with, very broken people can be used very effectively by a very great God, to accomplish kingdom things. But that does not mean we validate the brokenness. It just means God is very good. In terms of books, all kidding aside, I would suggest starting with the scriptures, honestly handled and applied. If we would do that, the number either calling themselves apostles, or considered apostles would drop dramatically, especially in regard to suffering . . . something we have neither capacity for, nor a theology of . . . in the West. Jesus said we will know them by their fruit. While condemning judgement is forbidden, fruit inspection is not. The whole matter is like looking for treasure. By definition, treasure is rare, not easy to find and takes a lot of effort to find it. In the matter of things apostolic/apostles, there will be a lot of worthless sand we will have to shovel to find the real thing, but when we do, the aroma of Christ, it will make the labor and futility seem as nothing. The handful of real ones that I know, hidden, unrecognized, unvalidated by their peers, are kingdom treasure. I have written about the difference between the true and the false primarily in two titles: Father-Son Ministry: Reassessing Apostolic and Prophetic Perspectives, and Authority, Accountability, and the Apostolic Movement. There is more that I could say but I would rather not do it publicly. Privately some time if you are interested.

  19. With all that being said I can only think that a true disciple of Jesus Christ can only worship God in Spirit and in truth- There is no other way. There is no worship ONLY with truth and there is no worship ONLY with Spirit. May God have mercy upon those who call themselves Christians and are not. Thanks for the post. Cynthia Palmer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *