Spiritual Abuse is Alive and Well
Spiritual abusers produce tainted fruit poisonous to the cause of Christ
By Jim Allen
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Not too long ago a young lady wrote to Got Questions describing a spiritual lashing from a church leader that left her shaken. Already a devoted follower, she was severely reprimanded for declining to help finance a special project, even though she was already a faithful tither. Left crying and babbling for thinking she was fallen from grace, the apostle* continued the verbal lashing by reminding her she also needed to apologize for challenging apostolic authority.
This lady (I will name Faith) wrote, "I went home completely devastated. I got up...that morning and sent an email telling her that what she did was callous, hurtful, and totally ungodly and that I would never place myself in this type of situation again." She went on to say, "I am done with church!"
So sad, and yet this is what genuine believers encounter all too often in abusive churches. Abusive leaders, like this self-proclaimed apostle, are like a diseased vine that draws up a full measure of abhorrence from the pit of hell (2 Peter 2:1). Their often double-dealing oratory produces tainted fruit that is poisonous to the soul and damaging to the cause of Christ (Matthew 7:17-20). I have witnessed these abusive church leaders firsthand and know the damage they do. I am no longer surprised by the lives they destroy. They and their kind do not know the peace of God (Romans 14:17). They are wholly unaware of what they are doing because they are blind guides walking in darkness (Matthew 23:24).
For some time now a growing number of evangelical churches have been promoting the five-fold ministry described in Ephesians 4:11. They reason if we still need evangelists, pastors, and teachers then we also still need apostles and prophets. While the ministry gifts are for building up of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12), it is important to remember these gifts have always been in effect and are so today. But as we have seen, the five-fold ministry has been hijacked by charlatans to build up new movements by ensnaring and mishandling the innocent.
May I assure you, there is no need for a new movement by prophets and apostles to speak afresh what the Holy Scriptures have already spoken? Everything God had to say was said and recorded in the New Testament (Hebrews 1:1-2). There is no "new thing" God is saying to the church today.
Faith went on to say her former church embraces Myles Munroe's "Kingdom Now" message.** While Munroe is a prosperity preacher, his beliefs parallel the New Apostolic Reformation movement.*** Munroe believes there is great need for spiritual leaders (apostles and prophets) to help lead people, and herein the need for these special anointings to guide the church. Of course, they are wrong because the Bible disagrees (John 16:13). As a result, Munroe endorses extra-biblical revelation by way of apostolic and prophetic utterance. The problem with the Kingdom Now message is its doctrine is tainted by false teachings and self-promoting leaders.
The author of Acts writes, "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock" (Acts 20:29). While there are Bible-based churches, many others have devolved into deep fountains of heresy. These religious institutions excel at displaying pretense, promoting greed, and spinning webs of unending confusion while trying to rid themselves of doctrine they view irrelevant.
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* From the GotQuestions article "What is an apostle?":
There are some today who are seeking to restore the position of apostle. This is a dangerous movement. Frequently, those claiming the office of apostle seek authority equal to, or at least rivaling, the authority of the original twelve apostles. There is absolutely no biblical evidence to support such an understanding of the role of apostle today. This would fit with the New Testament's warning against false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13).** From the GotQuestions article "What is Kingdom Now teaching?":
Kingdom Now proponents believe that God lost control over the world to Satan when Adam and Eve sinned. Since then, the theology goes, God has been trying to reestablish control over the world by seeking a special group of believers — known variously as "covenant people," "overcomers," or "Joel's army" — and that through these people, social institutions (including governments and laws) would be brought under God's authority.*** From the Youth Apologetics Training article "What is the New Apostolic Reformation?":
The NAR is a vast global network of self-appointed "apostles and prophets". This group has no official leader although many see C. Peter Wagner as the most influential and authoritative voice in the movement. One of the key beliefs in the New Apostolic Reformation is that apostles and prophets are for today. These apostles and prophets are believed to receive revelations from God and then pass them down to their congregations. According to the NAR, apostles hold the highest authority, then prophets and then finally pastors, teachers and evangelists. This top down hierarchy makes the typical NAR church a perfect environment for oppressive and controlling Covering Theology.
Image Credit: Stuart Richards; "It Could be You;" Creative Commons
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