Within Charismatic circles, there is a widely influential subset group called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). One of their strongly held beliefs is the necessity of submitting to an alleged “apostolic covering” or maintaining what is called “governmental alignment” to a “covering apostle.” It is alleged that failure to do so, cuts off heavenly blessing and opens the individual to spiritual dangers and demonic attacks. The Protestant forefathers must be rolling over in their graves. They gave their life’s blood to do away with the belief system that required a class of religious professionals to broker or mediate the blessings of heaven to the believer. It is beyond painful to see the resurrected form of this doctrine being espoused in so-called apostolic churches and foisted under the banner of “new revelation,” “restoring apostolic covering,” and “restoring apostolic authority.” It is not new revelation. It is old heresy in a new dress.
Spiritual covering is a biblically illegitimate, bad idea, that just won’t go away.
I am often asked: When is it appropriate to challenge or confront my church leadership? There is a full spectrum of opinions about the definition and expression of leadership in the church. There is also a broad spectrum of opinion on if, when, and how to confront church leadership. Jesus is our example in this matter, whether we like His example or not. Take my little “Leadership Legitimacy” survey and discover what Jesus would have you do.
Like sequels to a lousy B-grade horror movie, bad ideas often get recycled in the Body of Christ. It happened again for me this week in a painful phone conversation with a dear, damaged, soul. The bad-penny doctrine I am referring to is the concept of absolute submission to an alleged “spiritual covering” as a necessity for your spiritual welfare and advance. The spiritual covering is allegedly embodied in your pastor/leader, etc. This issue has been hit hundreds if not thousands of times over the years by myself and other authors and bloggers. As confirmed by my phone conversation this week, like a zombie, it just won’t die. For Jesus’ sake, and for the well being of His church, I am going to briefly hit it again here.
Abusive spiritual authority is epidemic. Reactionary responses to abusive authority are also epidemic. My friends Don Atkin, Greg Austin, and myself address what genuine kingdom authority looks like: a serving nation of priests, patterned after the Head, the High Priest of our faith, the resurrected God-man, Jesus, the Messiah. That requires, as Desi used to say to Lucy, “some ‘splainin’.”
Abusive spiritual authority is epidemic. Reactionary responses to abusive authority are also epidemic. My friends Don Atkin, Greg Austin, and myself address what genuine kingdom authority looks like: a serving nation of priests, not chief executives and “visionaries” of an organization. In this installment, Greg Austin talks about the “descending priesthood” as a necessity for genuine NT kingdom authority.
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 . . .
In this blog series I want to examine the topic of “spiritual fathers/mothers and spiritual sons and daughters.” The higher the potential for good inherent in something, makes the corruption of that thing, proportionately wicked. Think of humanity: made a little lower the Elohim! That is potential for good! But enter sin, and the depths of depravity exceed imagination. The concept of spiritual fathers (mothers) and spiritual sons and daughters is like this. When it is good, it is very, very good. When it is not, it is horrid.
And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach.” – Isa. 4:1, ESV
This is one of those obscure verses with lots of different opinions about what it might mean. I think it has application to the dynamics of spiritual abuse. Sometimes, we can be so broken in our soul, and struggling for identity and acceptance in the wrong places, that we allow those who promise those things for our compliance to their wishes, to spiritually abuse us.
I recently had the privilege of doing a podcast with my friends, SJ Hill and Stevie Bremner, on the topic of “The New Jezebel” and the need for spiritual abuse recovery for many people. Here’s the link if you would like to listen.
The New Jezebel is nothing more than a newly packaged old lie, which basically discourages anybody from asking questions or challenging things that are said or done. It’s a subtle form of manipulation that some leaders use in order to insulate themselves from being challenged. It’s a form of manipulation, plain and simple.
We discuss how this works, and spend the second half of the conversation discussing practical ways we can change this in our own personal lives and in our fellowship with one another. If you believe you might be a candidate for ministry related to spiritual abuse recovery, give it a listen as it’s definitely the most insightful conversation the three of us have had together on the podcast so far.
Copyright 2012, Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.swordofthekingdom.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.