Archive for the ‘Spiritual Abuse’ Category

Spiritual Adultery

[Note: This article is an adaptation from Chapter Five of the book, Charismatic Captivation.]

It is absolutely vital for every minister to understand that the context and sphere of his shepherding is limited primarily to the spiritual. While Fivefold ministers may occasionally be able to proffer some inspired or experiential counsel and advice even regarding natural matters, their foremost calling and enablement is to feed, care for, lead, and guide the sheep of God’s Flock spiritually and in relation to spiritual matters, not so much natural affairs.

We (ministers) are charged by God with the responsibility to feed His sheep spiritual food, to care for them with the spiritual wherewithal of the Holy Spirit, to lead them unto the one and only true Rock of their Salvation and Provider, Jesus, and after the pattern given us by the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4;  Ps. 23) we are to guide them "in the paths of righteousness," which is, the Way, Truth, and Life of Jesus.

When a minister routinely goes beyond the God set, albeit, invisible, boundaries of his calling and purview of authority, which is the limitation of the spiritual realm primarily, and habitually interlopes into the natural, physical realm, interposing his own will in the ordinary private matters of his followers’ lives, he is engaging in unsanctioned usurpation and illegitimate authority. In the process, he also leaves behind his legitimate duties, responsibilities, and sanctioning from God as an under shepherd, as well as his effectuality.

To take it a step further, a minister who engages in this sort of imposition and usurpation has essentially taken on the role, totally illegitimately, of the husband/father/head of those households and families over which he has imposed his authority; for, as the Scripture delineating true "spiritual covering" (1 Cor. 11:3-16) indicates, the role of headship (i.e., government or leadership) of a household or family in the natural, has been assigned by God to the husband/father of that house.

Another term for this illegitimate interloping and usurpation into another man’s domain of authority is—spiritual adultery.

Now to some this attribution will seem to be overkill and a bit melodramatic. Yet, in light of Scripture, it is neither. This is precisely what leaders who engage in these practices are engaging in—spiritual adultery. Allow me to explain.

God said the head of every woman is her husband, and every woman, at least every Born Again woman, has a husband, even those who are widowed, divorced, or never‑married. Born Again women who for whatever reason do not have a human husband with whom they are living, are joined to and one with the Ultimate Husband, Jesus Himself (1 Cor. 6:17), the effectuality and efficacy of which fact is determined by the degree of each unmarried woman’s acceptance of and faith in that fact.

When a person other than the legitimate husband/head of a house invades the sanctity of that household by illegitimately interposing his own will and authority upon the woman of that house, that constitutes spiritual adultery. No person, man or woman, including ministers, is authorized to intrude into a household in this fashion.

It is with regard to this very sort of illegitimate authoritarian "home‑invasion" that one particular New Testament passage alludes and admonishes with especial attribution to the "last days" in which we are now living:

But realize this, that in the last days there will set in perilous times of great stress and trouble—hard to deal with and hard to bear. For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self‑centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate (greedy) desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffers), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane. [They will be] treacherous (betrayers), rash [and] inflated with self‑conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God. For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it—their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession. AVOID [ALL] SUCH PEOPLE— TURN AWAY FROM THEM. FOR AMONG THEM ARE THOSE WHO WORM THEIR WAY INTO HOMES AND CAPTIVATE SILLY AND WEAK‑NATURED AND SPIRITUALLY DWARFED WOMEN, LOADED DOWN WITH [THE BURDEN OF THEIR] SINS, [AND EASILY] SWAYED AND LED AWAY BY VARIOUS EVIL DESIRES AND SEDUCTIVE IMPULSES. [These weak women will listen to anybody who will teach them]; they are forever inquiring and getting information, but are never able to arrive at a recognition and knowledge of the Truth. Now just as Jannes and Jambres were hostile to and resisted Moses, so THESE MEN ALSO ARE HOSTILE TO AND OPPOSE THE TRUTH. THEY HAVE DEPRAVED AND DISTORTED MINDS, AND ARE REPROBATE AND COUNTER­FEIT AND TO BE REJECTED AS FAR AS THE FAITH IS CONCERNED....BUT THEY WILL NOT GET VERY FAR, FOR THEIR RASH FOLLY WILL BECOME OBVIOUS TO EVERYBODY, as was that of those [magicians mentioned]. (2 Tim. 3:1‑9, A.B.)

I have alluded already to the fact that these false concepts of "spiritual covering" mixed with the "absolute submission" concept makes for an extremely poisonous and potentially lethal rue, which almost invariable eventuates into various forms of authoritarian abuse that frequently entails some kind of illicit sexual exploitation. This, of course, by Bible‑defini­tion, is physical fornication and sexual adultery, which obviously is utterly sinful and damning, not to mention the horrendous natural and spiritual consequences such abominable abuse and exploitation engender.

Nevertheless, though it may be hard to imagine, the fact is that in these situations where leaders illegitimately interlope into the private affairs of their followers, usurping the role of the husband, even in those cases in which no physical fornication and sexual adultery have yet occurred, the "spiritual adultery" that has been committed is even more heinous and abominable and will produce even graver consequences, both spiritually and in the natural.

The reason spiritual adultery of this nature is such a grievous offense to God is that it is His authority, albeit, intermediated in the case of the married woman by a human husband, that is being usurped.

The true spiritual Husband is Christ, and it is His betrothed that is being assailed when one of His sheep is abused and exploited. Thus, spiritual adultery carries with it an even greater judgment than sexual adultery for the unrepentant offender.

Abhorrent as it is, that these Discipleship/Shepherding doctrines and practices constitute spiritual adultery, there is yet another offense they abet that in terms of gravity may even surpass spiritual adultery. In addition to spiritual adultery, adherents and practitioners of this false theosophy are also fostering and participating in "spiritual idolatry" as well.

To read an explanation of the spiritual idolatry aspect, click here.

The 15 "Rs" of Recovery From Authoritarian Abuse

Charismatic Captivation -- Authoritarian Abuse & Psychological Enslavement in Neo-Pentecostal Churches, by Dr. Steven Lambert -- Available at: www.charismatic-captivation.com

Everything written in this book prior to this last chapter has been dedicated to the purpose of identifying erroneous hyper-authoritarian doctrines and practices being espoused and implemented within Charismatic and other Neo Pentecostal churches and groups. But, certainly, a work such as this would be wholly incomplete and deficient if it did not include instruction regarding how those caught up in the throes of such "charismatic captivation" can be set free and recover from it. This final chapter is devoted to that end.

Over nearly the entire course of my ministry, I have been studying this matter of hyper-authoritarianism, weighing it against Scripture, and ministering in various ways to many victims of authoritarian exploitation and abuse. Based on my experience and the understanding attained during that time, I have concluded there are fifteen primary actions that victims must take in order to break the fetters of predomination binding them and effect a full recovery from all the spiritual and psychological effects they have experienced. Though it is generally prudent to avoid improper dogmatism, there are some matters that require definitive actions in order to achieve a designated result. This, I believe, is one of those matters. Though I believe the steps I proffer here are critical and imperative, I would certainly allow that there could be other actions required to recover from authoritarian exploitation that I have not delineated. However, the ones I have enumerated here, I believe are absolutely necessary if effectual and comprehensive recovery is to be realized.

Although the effects of authoritarian abuse are profound, the actions necessary to break its bondage and to bring recovery are comparatively simple; not simplistic, perhaps, but simple. Thus, I have presented them in as simple and straightforward terms as I know how to present them, not only because of their simplicity, but also in order to make them as understandable as possible. (more…)

Examining Biblical Authority

There is no matter more central and critical to spiritual knowledge and understanding than the matter of authority. That fact becomes even more apparent when one considers that the very term “Kingdom of God” actually connotes the Domain, Authority, or Government of God (cf., Rev. 12:10). The word, “kingdom,” in fact, is a compound word composed of two derivatives, king and domain, thus it connotes the domain of a king—in this case, the Kingdom of God or Christ. One cannot even begin to have a proper understanding of the realm of the Kingdom of God as well as the genuine Gospel of the Kingdom, which the Gospel writers expressly indicated Jesus preached during His fleshly ministry, without having an understanding of the matter of authority. (more…)

The False Doctrine of Absolute Submission

Dr. Steven Lambert, author of Charismatic Captivation

At the zenith of the Charismatic Movement in the 1970s, a pseudo-movement that came to be known as the Discipleship or Shepherding Movement emerged. That purely humanly-devised campaign was led by an alliance of five ministers who employed their influence to rapidly proliferate in the emerging Charismatic Church a collection of doctrines related to authority that were patently hyper-authoritarian. In sum, the unscriptural teachings posited and promoted a multi-tiered, pyramid-shaped system of governance that conveniently positioned these five ministers at the apex of the pyramid. Coincidentally or not, the multi-level paradigm these teachers proposed mirrored the multi-level marketing models that were exploding upon the scene across the nation at the time in the business world. (more…)

Spiritual Idolatry

Though the term is a fairly familiar one within the context of the church and Christianity, few people really understand what spiritual idolatry is, meaning its true nature. In this article we are going to consider the matter of spiritual idolatry and what it is from a Biblical standpoint.

To merely call idolatry "sin," though it certainly is, somehow seems an extreme understatement, for it is the ultimate affront unto God. Yet, arguably, it is the most pervasive sin of all today among professing believers. Contributing to the prevalence of idolatry within Christendom, no doubt, is the common perception by many that idolatry is something that occurs only in underdeveloped, far-away, foreign lands, or that it is something relegated mostly to ancient civilizations of past ages, while nothing could be further from the truth. (more…)

The Thin Line of Leadership (Part 2)

The main focus of the initial installment of our discussion was the matter of hyper-authoritarianism in general and how easy it is for the most principled spiritual leaders to cross over the "thin line of leadership" between leading and lording, discipling and dominating, coaching and coercing, to operate in "foul ground" without even realizing it. In this part, we begin turning our attention to some of the whys and wherefors of ecclesiastical predominance.

Of course, as was pointed out in Part 1, there is nothing new about authoritarian abuse by spiritual leaders. In any age, there is no shortage of unscrupulous religious dictators bent on self-aggrandizement facilitated through personal kingdom-building purportedly "in the name of the Lord." Nevertheless, while it is not indigenous exclusively to our time, due perhaps to the move toward organizational ecumenicism commonly referred to today as "networking," there is little doubt that it is more widespread than ever before, to the point that sadly the term, "ubiquitous," now applies. Unfortunately, today there is little difference between the ecclesiastical and the secular realm with respect to corruption. And, after no small number of years of studying this phenomenon, I have concluded that the primary cause is nothing more sophisticated than base greed fueled by the oldest and most powerful human propensity which God Himself testifies is the ROOT of ALL evil — "the love of money." (more…)

The Thin Line of Leadership (Part 1)

There is a very thin line between leading and lording, discipling and dominating, coaching and coercing. So thin is the line, it is at times and in certain scenarios nearly indistinguishable.

Indeed, church leaders commonly cross the divide without even realizing it, and are much chagrined upon discovery of their transgression. Moreover, many find themselves alternately on one side or the other of the line at different times. For the majority of sincere, upstanding, and ethical ministers, transversing — or transgressing, as it may be — the line is altogether unintentional, and when they suddenly find themselves on the wrong side, they cannot remember when, how, or even why the misstep occurred. Unfortunately there are also ministers not of this upright ilk, who intentionally and indeed unabashedly leap over the boundary line to operate in "foul territory" as their habitual modus operandi. (more…)

The Fallacy of Personal Pastors (Part 2)

The adulterated concept of "spiritual covering" itself is problematic enough. Yet, its negative effect is increased by the fact that it is the predicate for several other, related elements of error comprising the heretical Discipleship/Shepherding doctrines and practices, one of which is the matter of "personal pastors." Indeed, this element has been the basis for at least as much excess, errancy, and authoritarian abuse as the others discussed in this series of articles concerning those doctrines and practices. To those who employ these practices for sordid purposes or with less than pure motives, the perverted concept of "spiritual covering" is sanction for a most insidious kind of unauthorized personal domination and control of their subjects under the auspices of this very delusive and destructive version of "personal shepherding." (more…)

The Fallacy of Personal Pastors (Part 1)

The adulterated concept of "spiritual covering" itself is problematic enough (for more on that subject, read the previous two posts). Yet, its negative effect is increased by the fact that it is the predicate for several other, related elements of error comprising the heretical Discipleship/Shepherding doctrines and practices, one of which is the matter of "personal pastors." Indeed, this element has been the basis for at least as much excess, errancy, and authoritarian abuse as the others discussed in this series of articles concerning those doctrines and practices. To those who employ these practices for sordid purposes or with less than pure motives, the perverted concept of "spiritual covering" is license for a most insidious kind of unauthorized personal domination and control of their subjects under the auspices of this very delusive and destructive version of "personal shepherding." (more…)

The Myth of Spiritual Covering (Part 1)

"Spiritual covering" as theorized by the Discipleship theosophy is an absolute MYTH. No semblance of the Shepherding teaching version of "spiritual covering" exists anywhere within the pages of Scripture. "Spiritual covering," in the vein it is presented by proponents and propagators of these hyper-authoritarian teachings, is an outright deception! It is a complete fabrication concocted by the originators of these fallacious doctrines as a supposed pretext for facilitation of entirely self-aggrandizing objectives of subjugation, domination, and control. (more…)

The Signs of Spiritual Abuse

Charismatic Captivation -- Authoritarian Abuse & Psychological Enslavement in Neo-Pentecostal Churches, by Dr. Steven Lambert -- Available at: www.charismatic-captivation.com

Wholesale abuse and misuse of authority is an integral part of the very foundation, fabric, and functions of an ever increasing number of church groups today who are engaging in the most insidious form of hyper-authoritarianism by which they are dominating, controlling, and manipulating their followers for personal gain and private kingdom-building. Being able to readily identify the signs and symptoms of authoritarian abuse and psychological enslavement is absolutely essential for every believer in their quest to know and be personally related to the Great Shepherd, who is the Prince of Peace and the true "Guardian of our souls," rather than the thousands of counterfeit  shepherds claiming to be the proxies of Christ. (more…)

Identifying Hyper-authoritarian Doctrines and Practices

Hyper-authoritarian doctrines and practices have become cemented into the foundation, fabric, and functions of many churches and even whole denominations or networks of churches. The problem has become so widespread that it is almost pandemic in Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal churches. But, the reason these scripturally-condemned doctrines and practices have been able to proliferate and endure is that they have been going on so long that the present generations of church-goers in these ecclesiastical groupings have been reared in these cultures where domination and control by church leaders is the norm and are accepted as being normal. The purpose of this article is to define hyper-authoritarianism and identify the practices that are hyper-authoritarian in nature.

Hyper-authoritarianism is predominance or psychological control imposed by spiritual leaders upon their followers or congregants with respect to not only their involvements within the church or ministry, but also regarding the personal and private matters of their lives. Ministries and church-groups practicing this illegitimate domination employ various means and degrees of psychological indoctrination and coercion to compel congregants to subject and conform their personal activities, behavior, and affairs of their lives with the leadership-prescribed standards, rules, expectations, and corporate goals of the church or ministry. The purported pretext for the imposition of this scripturally-prohibited religious governance is an adulterated concept of ecclesiastical authority. Promulgators and practitioners adamantly claim that the mechanisms of manipulation they employ are a perfectly Scriptural system of "discipleship" in fulfillment of the role and responsibility of spiritual leaders to "make disciples." (more…)

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