Spiritual covering is a biblically illegitimate, bad idea, that just won’t go away.
The expression of pastoral ministry in the church can tend to aggregate at extremes in the Body of Christ. On the one hand you can have pastors who are oppressed by domineering and controlling board members and elders, whose mission in life seems to be to be to break pastors down and keep them in poverty. On the other hand, you can have pastors who think themselves as demi-gods at the top of a pyramid hierarchy who think people are little more than resources given by God to them to fulfill carnal ambition rooted in insecurity and thinly veiled as “corporate vision.” In Part One here, by my friend, Nick Vasiliades, explains why fundamental values and ideas in most western churches of how pastors are expected to function are the underlying reasons for so many misconceptions and malpractice of one of the necessary, precious, and legitimate gifts of the resurrected and ascended Lord to His church. Is it possible to be a supernaturally gifted “carer of souls” and avoid reactionary expressions? Yes, but not as long as we cling to biblically baseless definitions, values, and expressions of pastoral ministry.
Dr. Bruce Alexander of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC reconsidered a famous lab experiment done in the 1970s involving addiction. He pondered that the presumptions behind the science could be flawed and incomplete. The scientific experiment in the 1970s involved a lone rat in a rat cage with two water bottles. One was laced with cocaine and the other just water. In this well-known experiment, it was allegedly proven that nine out of ten rats in the rat cage will go back, again and again, to the cocaine bottle until they killed themselves. The conclusion taken from this experiment was that the rats were hopelessly chemically addicted to the point of suicide. Not so fast.
Is there a better way to express a culture of giving and receiving than blindly throwing ten percent into the mouth of a voracious, impersonal, non-relational, religious machine that consumes resources like the Borg assimilating the universe?[i] I think there is.
But there as many opinions on this topic as there are believers!
2 Chr 7:14 is used by many as the pillar verse for virtually every revival ministry. The problem is, our definition and expectations of revival are often strongly influenced by our non-New Covenant thinking and theology, our religious culture, our political and social culture, and unresolved ego issues. This second installment in this series examines the difference between old and new covenant promises as it relates to our understanding and application of 2 Chr. 7:14 and our expectations of revival.
Understanding Psalm 2 and Psalm 110 is critical to understanding all of the new testament and the genuine spiritual authority of a new covenant priesthood. These two Psalms are the scriptural base the apostles used to “justify” the existence of a new order of priesthood based on resurrection life! It is not an exaggeration to say, that the apostle’s interpretation and application of these two Psalms is the doctrinal foundation of the entire new testament, as they tried to explain the “Christ-event” to their generation.
I am thankful for forty years of charismatic heritage. I have experienced the best and the worst that universe can offer. If, like Paul, I had to show off my “supernatural credentials,” or my resume of “supernatural experiences,” I could hold my own. I choose to boast of something, er, Someone else. Today, the lust for manifestations, and self-centered, insecurity driven, need for a “touch” from His presence, etc., are leading more and more believers (especially naïve younger believers) into New Age, Gnostic, occult, and other pagan practices and “spiritual techniques” in the name of “being open to the Spirit.”
I have found that many Christians, especially those who come from a broadly defined charismatic background (like myself), can easily fall into a very unhealthy view of God. It is almost like He becomes a heavenly magician who exists to work for lazy and undisciplined believers, rather than a loving Father who empowers and trains us. We expect God to do things for us supernaturally and “cathartically.” What He often intends, and designs, is a process of development in which He awakens and trains us to recognize the life-potential of the gift of the indwelling Spirit of Christ.
In some authoritarian climates, Matthew 18:15-17 is unfortunately used as biblical license to enforce the “can’t talk” rule. The “can’t talk” rule silences people by labeling them as the problem if they notice a problem! If they speak out loud about a problem, they are the problem!
I like to joke that I would view my life worthwhile if my tombstone read:
“He got them to pay attention to context and culture!”
Working a crowd into an “amen-ing” frenzy with a proof–text having no biblically legitimate application is a widely practiced and learnable skill. A shoe salesman’s persuasion, with Tony Robbins’ charm, and a breathy evangelist’s passion can entrench a good bit of doctrinal and methodological nonsense into the Body of Christ. Accuracy sometimes suffers in direct proportion to heart rate and goose bumps: an adrenaline rush being equivalent to “the anointing” or “the Spirit moving!” Mmmmmm . . . maybe . . . maybe not . . .