Spiritual abuse in today’s church – Pt 2

Prophets too were raised by God and their words usually carried a lot of power. They were revered by the people as the very oracles of God and were in a different class to the rest of the children of Israel. Younger prophets always served older prophets; the Levites were servants to the priests while the rest of Israel was subject in a sense to the Levites, the priests and the prophets. All the Pentecostal churches I have been to adapt this model.

The head pastor and his wife were always in a different class to the rest of the church. They were followed by their assistants who were next in line and finally the rest of the congregation. Just as the Old Testament prophets had so much power amongst those of the Old Testament, so also these New Testament pastors believe that of themselves as well. Quite a lot of them believe they cannot be corrected when they are wrong. They believe they have so much authority that any pronouncements they make over people good or bad will definitely come to pass.

Just like the prophets did in the Old Testament, these pastors believe that anyone who wants to go out to start his own church has to first serve a pastor who had been in ministry longer than himself. The most popular scriptural example used to buttress this belief is the relationship between Elijah and Elisha and this has led to a lot of spiritual abuse. These pastors request unquestionable loyalty from their congregation as they believe God has bestowed upon them the highest authority ever known to man. ‘At their word’ things happen; the dead is raised, the blind see, those who have been blessed by them will truly be blessed while those who’ve been cursed by them will definitely be cursed.

This is undoubtedly very old wine in new wine skins and it will not hold for long!

The New Testament is definitely not like this. No one believer has authority over another believer and no man except Jesus is the go-between between man and God. His death and resurrection paved the way for us all to have unhindered access to God. The older and more mature believers are actually supposed to encourage the younger immature ones not lord over them. They are supposed to help the younger ones understand more about God and His word not take God’s place in their lives.

This gives rise to abuse of power and the prevalence of very faulty doctrines because of the mistaken belief that their authority should never be questioned. I once read how a pastor made members of his congregation eat grass and a lot of them fell ill afterwards. Another made his congregation drink petrol. Others have been known to take advantage of ladies within their congregation sexually and the list goes on. Some are not as extreme as this as their methods are a bit more subtle. It is abuse nonetheless. Anyone bold enough to raise any objections is usually silenced with the ‘touch not the Lord’s anointed’ gag order, another misapplication of scripture. That verse of scripture was never used in favour of a class division; it was used in a completely different context by David to describe the entire children of Israel in his Psalm of praise when the ark of covenant was being brought into Jerusalem

20 And when they (the children of Israel) went from nation to nation, and from one kingdom to another people; 21 He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes, 22 Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm. 1 Chronicles 16 (The words in brackets are mine)

This is ‘touch not the Lord’s anointed’ in proper context.

Having gained this understanding, I no longer allow myself to be bullied into anything by any preacher who believes he is God’s representative. If I cannot find what he’s said in the bible, I completely disregard it. I am not in any way calling for disrespect or rebellion within our ranks but only pointing out how far some things that no longer belong in the New Testament have been taken.

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