Apostolic Bullshit II

From Chuck Pierce concerning Todd Bentley:

“What he needs to do now is submit to apostolic authority over the next nine months.  Ministry should not to be his goal.  Instead, the restoration of covenant alignments must occur in his life.   He and his wife might not be able to withstand the pressure of ministry together in the future, but during these nine months Todd’s choice would be to submit to the authority structure that God has established in his life publicly.  Now, hopefully, Todd will enter in the phase of being disciplined and establish his life in a new way so he can be qualified for use in the future.”

This brand of apostolic teaching has strong elements of covering, alignment, and accountability that are taken directly from previous discipleship and shepherding movements that failed and were proven to be abusive.

Rob McAlpine addresses the history of past charismatic movements and mistakes in his book Post-Charismatic? It is high time for charismatics to learn their history.

The following excerpt is from Frank Viola’s Who Is Your Covering? He also covers this topic in his latest book Reimagining Church.  The entire last half of the book addresses attitudes and beliefs concerning leadership in the church today.  It is refreshing in comparison to the political maneuvering and manipulation of those building apostolic networks and empires.

Of course, people rarely recognize that this is what is at the bottom of the issue. For it is typically well clothed with Biblical garments. In the minds of many Christians, “covering” is merely a protective mechanism.

But if we dissect the “covering” teaching, we will discover that it is rooted in a one-up/one-down, chain-of-command style of leadership. Within this leadership style, those in higher ecclesiastical positions have a tenacious hold on those under them. Oddly, it is through such top-down control that believers are said to be “protected” from error.

Of course, the real problem with the “God-denomination-clergy-laity” model goes far beyond the incoherent, pretzel logic to which it leads. The chief problem is that it violates the spirit of the NT! For behind the pious rhetoric of “providing accountability” and “having a covering,” there looms a system that is bereft of Biblical support and driven by a spirit of control.

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17 thoughts on “Apostolic Bullshit II

  1. It’s time for us to say to these control-freak, discernmentless pseudo-apostles, ENOUGH! Sit down and shut up!

    Pierce, Wagner et al don’t even have the natural discerning abilities of gnats. They need to be called to account – and then ignored. Completely.

    There’s more Bentley sadness here.

  2. honestly, i can’t take it. i just don’t have the stomach for any of it. i have tuned the whole thing out completely although i couldn’t resist apostolic bullshit I and II!!! so sad, so messed up & so contrary to absolutely everything i believe about leadership, the kingdom, you name it. i am just sad & tired of the damage that continues to get done in the name of Jesus. ugh, argh, ick.

  3. “When he had finished washing their feet, He put on His clothes and returned to His place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” -Jesus (John 13:12-17)

    It just doesn’t get any more plain than that!

  4. I’ve been reluctant to enter into and intrepret this entire series of episodes, knowing how much work it would take. No time/energy to do this for myself. Still, it’s been important to try to review the big picture of the situation.

    Reading credible observations, analysis, and interpretations like yours are proving instructive on an entirely new level. I do not come from a theological/denominational background of the shepherding or apostolic movements. Instead, the spiritual abuse I have endured has usually been in a one-off toxic-church mini-system created by the equivalent of a freelancer, and in relevant instances a related denomination might or might not take steps to correct the situation (usually not).

    I can hardly imagine attempting to cope with an system where the entire denominational structures and strategies demonstrate problems with undiscerning, overcontrolling, and abusive processes and behaviors! It gives me a sadder understanding into the depth of despair possible from Christian-on-Christian soul violence …

    If my previous CLBs and the current Florida situation of the apostlic “overseers” were films, it’d be the equivalent of shifting the intensity of genre from extreme melodrama to extreme horror – undergoing psychological torture while being stuck in some Kafka-esque prison. It’s sad we have to see this in our times …

    In wrapping up my blog series on spiritual abuse, I’d planned eventually to suggest ways we everyday Christians could stand in resistance to superstructures of abuse, like some of what we’re witnessing now. I watched the film *Gandhi* to consider that topic, and will probably refer to it. Meanwhile, besides straight-up reporting and analyzing the before/after issues, do you have any other suggestions on what we who are bloggers could do to resist the abuses and abusers in such situations?

  5. bill,
    Yes, I hope that many of these same guys are as willing to step in behind the scenes as they were on the stage, and not as an apostolic authority, but as a brother willing to walk with another through the difficult times of life.

    kathy,
    I often turn away from this sort of controversy, and I’m not really interested in the gossipy issues surrounding Todd’s marriage. However, I am very interested in the exposure of the error in the style of apostolic leadership that has been widely adopted by charismatics.

    ken,
    Yes, it seems so simple, doesn’t it? However, things get much more complicated when you build an empire.

  6. brad,
    I regret that I haven’t had more time to delve into your latest material on spiritual abuse and missional paradigms. Your insight on both of these topics is of interest to me, but I’ve been hindered in my ability to interact with your ideas.

    We are personally familiar with this flavor of the apostolic movement. My husband has said for years that it will eventually be known as the “abuse movement.” I may contribute more of my personal views about this particular style of church leadership, however, I know that speaking “against” these things is not viewed favorably in Christian circles.

    Spiritual abuse, in whatever realm it occurs, is always based on a person’s presumption of authority over another person. The horror of this particular situation is that the superstructures are guilded with investment and profitability. Were the money aspect to be removed, the entire picture of alignment and accountability would shift.

    My personal cure for not being victimized by abuse is a healthy understanding of the priesthood of all believers and a bibilical understanding of authority, submission, and the lack of spiritual hierarchy and power structures. That is at the root of my insistence that inaccurate power structures be exposed and that all believers have an understanding of the spiritual reality of power and authority that reflects the king and the kingdom rather than the empires of men.

  7. “Ministry should not be his goal” – ha!!! Ministry is inate – the question is – is his ministry good, bad or ineffective, we can not choose not to minister, those of us in Christ can not help but minister.

    What does the restoration of covenant alignments mean?

    Another challenging post and political spin at it’s finest in “The Days Of Lakeland.” I prefer the discipline of God rather than that of man, it’s pretty hard to deal with sin when the voice of God is being compromised with the voice of man.

  8. Just an observation…maybe others can add perspective;

    Doesn’t it appear obvious that these “Apostolic” charismatic ejits have reproduced a dumbed-down version of what the RC’s and EO have already “perfected”? Dang, if I wanted “covering” I’d go for chrismation in EO…and they have the history to boot!

    Tom

  9. hi grace – thanks for the input. well stated – a shot of espresso on The Critical Issues. thanks …

    it’s possible several “situations” i’m helping other people work through may end up at a higher level of confrontation that bring in denominational issues, where their superstructures appear to have enabled illness rather than sparked health. not looking forward to that possibility, but on the other hand, i suspect these upper-level management kinds of confrontations may start happening more and more, especially when the presence of next generation leaders becomes less and less. hmmm … could it be that things change could be sparked at a systemic level when it becomes more evident that the emperors have not clones?

  10. What I find incredulous is the implication that there would not have been any sin issues had Todd been rightly “aligned” under these “apostles”. As if abdicating, oops, I mean submitting to a “covering” would magically protect him from temptation and sin? Wasn’t he “aligned” with them already prior to the fallout? Maybe I’m missing something…

    Yes, at the heart of all of it is empire-building. I have a beautiful prophetic British friend who was in a position of relationship to speak into this issue of empire to the Pierce clan. But, it seems her voice went unheard. Too bad. Will keep praying… :(

  11. One thing that I “heard” when I read the statement from Chuck Pierce is all of the blame for the situation and the responsibility for being “qualified” rest upon Todd’s shoulders.

    Just what does it mean to bear one another’s burdens? Will these leaders only help him if Todd comes back with his tail between his legs? Where is the patience and kindness in the responses of these “apostolic” leaders? What about believing and hoping all things?

    Sigh…I just don’t get it.

  12. Hey this authority, abuse, control stuff is huge in the Charismatic movement. It’s not just small pockets – it’s permeated the whole structure. John Bevere’s “Under Cover” is very popular. Probably the most damaging false doctrine in the last 2000 years.

    “Under Cover” is really “Under a Wet Blanket” – it’ll put out a fire quicker than CO2.

    The question in my mind all along was – Is Bentley going to become the Charismatic poster boy – the way Wimber did? When they come to make you the king – look out! I guess circumstances have changed all of that – I wasn’t sure Todd could say no to the kingy thingy.

    My prediction – Todd will snub the “apostolic authority” – which seemingly right now is being “Uncovered” – they (the apostolic authority) will get a huge backlash from their recent indescent exposure – and

    Todd’ll remove himself off stage for a few weeks – and then he’ll go back to the streets where he was before all of this happened.

    Oh – yeah – and he and his wife will have a wonderful reunion and work out their problems.

    Oh yeah – and we’ll be able to take all of this in next season in the reruns of Days of Our Wives – the new soap about Christian ministries.

  13. mark,
    Sadly, these men believe their authority will be the source of Todd’s restoration. I would much prefer to hear the language of repentance, healing, deliverance, and restoration (to wholeness, not to public ministry).

    tom,
    Yes, just another man-made authority structure.
    More about that in Part III.

    brad,
    That appears to be an all-too-common malady.

    Hi dan,
    I recognize you from your blog. I’m afraid that I am overly familiar with this leadership style.

    sarah,
    One of the flaws with these alignments is that they are more political than relational and authoritarian rather than mutually submissive.

    mary,
    I don’t get it either, and so little talk of repentance or taking responsibility for anyone’s involvement in creating this charade.

    jerry,
    So true. This style of “covering” teaching does permeate charismatic churches. I have not seen any indication of brokenness (yet) from the many people involved in this – Todd, GodTV, the apostles, or the other ministries that aligned themselves with this. I expect damage control and business as usual. However, I also hope that perhaps this is the beginning of a major change of heart among charismatics concerning revival and celebrity ministers.

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