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Category Archives: Authority

This article is part 1 of 1 in the series Spiritual Covering
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This multipart article is excerpted from my book, Uncovering the Myth of Spiritual Covering, which is adapted from my book, Charismatic Captivation—Authoritarian Abuse & Psychological Enslavement in Neo-Pentecostal Churches, first published in 1996. That book exposes the widespread problem of authoritarian abuse that has been flourishing virtually unabated for decades since it was first infused into the very fabric, foundation, and functions of the Charismatic/Neo-Pentecostal church during the false movement known as the Discipleship/Shepherding Movement (1970-77). The frequently quoted and alluded to volume spotlights the salient signs and symptoms of authoritarian abuse, dissects the fallacious doctrines behind it, and offers victims clear, concise steps for recovery from the psychological trauma and restoration from the spiritual damage they’ve experienced.

In the two decades since it was first released at the time of the publishing of this extract of it, Charismatic Captivation has been appraised and praised by Bible scholars and commentators, ministers, and laymen as the most comprehensive and convincing volume written to date on the particulars of the prevalent problem of Neo-Pentecostal authoritarian abuse, or what is also referred to as “spiritual abuse.” Many readers and analysts over the twenty years since it was first published have come to concur with the somewhat audacious claim emblazoned on the back-cover blurb that despite being “disdained by defiantly unrepentant perpetrators of Pentecostal predomination, Charismatic Captivation is undeniably a genuine prophetic word ordained by God to which He is now demanding obedience.”

If you have not read that book, I strongly recommend that you do for a better understanding of the context of the subject matter of this book and the larger issue of the widespread problem of authoritarian abuse transpiring particularly in the Charismatic/Neo-Pentecostal stream. Continue reading “Uncovering the Myth of Spiritual Covering” »

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7 CONTRASTS BETWEEN TITULAR AND FUNCTIONAL LEADERSHIP
By Joseph Mattera

Through the years, I have observed various types of leadership styles as well as how people operate within the flow of leadership titles. In this article, I use the word titular, to refer to a person who tries to lead primarily on the merit of their title and or official position. When I use the term functional, I am referring to a person who earns the respect of their peers and subordinates through their effectiveness and relational capital. Continue reading “Functional Vs. Titular Church Leadership” »

Recently I heard a great prophetic teacher (Thamo Naidoo from South Africa) mention in his message that there is a difference between apostles of churches and apostles of Christ. He said that while there were many apostles of churches, there were only very few true apostles of Christ on the earth today. That one statement exploded on the inside of me and gave me much illumination.  I had never heard anyone make this delineation before, but it makes a lot of sense to me. The following is what I have unpacked in the scriptures since Thamo made this statement.

Essentially, the word apostle means a person who is sent to represent another, whether a king, kingdom, or entity like a church. 1 Corinthians 12:28 teaches that God places first in the church apostles, since they are sent by God to represent Him in a city to pioneer a beachhead (a church or ekklesia as shown in Matthew 16:18-19) for city transformation.

Apostles are the “sent ones” who represent the essence of what the church vision or mission is all about. In John 17, Jesus constantly referred to the fact that He was sent by the Father to the world, which is one reason why Hebrews 3:1 refers to Jesus as our Apostle. Jesus was God’s Apostle sent into the world to redeem it. In Revelation 22:14 we see the term “the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” There will never be another apostle added to that list since there were only twelve. However, it seems evident (at least to me) that Paul was also an apostle of Christ, which means this general category was not limited to merely 12 in total. Paul qualified his apostleship not only by planting churches but also by seeing Jesus (1 Cor. 9:1), which means that apostles at this level must have experienced a dynamic encounter and intimate walk with the Lord.

In the New Testament there were dozens of people identified as apostles. It is my view that since Paul was an apostle of Christ his apostleship transcended the churches he founded. Although Paul did not found the church in Rome, he was respected enough by the general body of Christ that he was able to write the letter to the Romans with apostolic weight and authority as if he was the one who planted it. Hence, apostles of Christ garner a high level of respect beyond the borders of their own church networks, even though they would never attempt to supplant the authority of an apostolic leader who is the founder and/or leader of another network (unless there was heresy or a gross violation of biblical ethics).

Also, Paul warned that there were some who were masquerading as apostles of Christ (2 Cor. 11:13), which probably means that this term (apostle of Christ) was used to identify some significant apostles who were not one of the original twelve. Furthermore, in 2 Cor. 8:23 Paul identified some as “apostles of the churches” (not “apostles of Christ”) which I believe refers to the fact that these leaders only had limited recognized apostolic authority related to representing a particular constellation of churches. Since apostles of Christ directly represent the Lord Jesus, they have a burden and calling for the whole body of Christ and/or a large expression of the global body of Christ. Apostles of Christ are also trans-cultural, trans-generational, and are more loyal to the Kingdom of God than to a specific geopolitical affinity.

The following are ten characteristics of apostles of Christ:

1. Apostles of Christ Build the Kingdom.
Oftentimes, church apostles are just focused on their local church and/or their network or denomination. One of the reasons is because their assignment is limited to those works they personally oversee or have founded. They do not have the grace or leadership capacity to go beyond their particular church system, doctrine and/or culture. On the other hand, apostles of Christ have an ambassadorial call that transcends any one church, movement or denomination. Hence, even if they try to focus on one group or movement, God will constantly pull them into other church communities and/or nations to build apostolic foundations related to doctrine or Kingdom life.

2. Apostles of Christ Are Not Hierarchical.
Generally speaking, church apostles can be caught up in titles, measures of influence within their movement, and/or church politics. Apostles of Christ do not personally crave titles (they will use them when appropriate) and do not need institutional church structures to validate their ministry or calling.

3. Apostles of Christ Don’t Strive For Recognition.
Philippians 2 teaches us that Jesus made Himself of no reputation. Apostles of Christ are often hidden and do not seek public attention, since they are already rooted strongly in their identity as sons of God and have no innate need for public acclaim.

4. Apostles of Christ Are Not Driven by Money.
Apostles of Christ have so much faith in their assignment from God, they trust God will provide all their needs as long as they are in His will. They do not go to a place to minister only because the offerings are good but will go only where the Lord is leading. Paul said he did not peddle the word of God for money (2 Cor. 2:17) and the apostle Peter warns shepherds not to minister for dishonest gain (1 Peter 5:2). Although I believe those who labor in the word full-time are worthy of double honor and should make a living from the gospel (1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Cor. 9:14), the bottom line for apostles of Christ is the will of God, not material gain.

5. Apostles of Christ Lay Down their Lives for the Gospel.
All of the original 12 Apostles (except John) as well as the apostle Paul were martyred for the gospel. As Jesus laid down His life for the sheep (John 10) those who represent Him are willing to die daily (Revelation 12:11; Acts 20:24; Galatians 2:19-20) whether it is to their own will or to literally lose their lives.

6. Apostles of Christ Have a Servant’s Heart.
Apostles of Christ are unassuming, do not have an entitlement mentality, have a servant’s heart, and do not lead with a top-down autocratic approach like the rulers of the Gentiles (Mark 10:42). They mimic Jesus’ words when He said that the greatest in the Kingdom is the one who serves (Mark 10:43-45).

7. Apostles of Christ Have Divine Influence and Calling Beyond their Network of Churches.
Although the apostle Paul strove not to preach where Christ was already named (Romans 15:20) his greatest epistle was to the church at Rome, where he endeavored to go in spite of the fact he was not their founding apostle. Paul had vast influence way beyond the primary sphere of activity he was focusing on (Read 2 Corinthians 10:10-14). His influence has even reached to us 2,000 years later through his inspired New Testament writings.

Since apostles of Christ represent the Lord Himself, by nature they have to be trans-national, trans-cultural, and multi-generational and have a desire for Kingdom advancement, not just the enlargement of their church networks.

8. Apostles of Christ Have an Intimate Walk with God.
Since apostles of Christ have to represent Jesus and not merely a church or denomination (of course all believers are called to represent Christ but apostolic callings have a greater measure of responsibility), they are obligated to know God intimately and walk in His presence and power.  All of the original 12 apostles walked with Jesus personally for more than three years before they were launched into their ministry, and Paul the apostle had a personal encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). All true apostles of Christ will have a driving passion to know God and to make Him known.

9. Apostles of Christ Endure Great Hardship.
Paul validated his apostleship by the immense hardships he endured, not just by signs and wonders and church planting (2 Corinthians 11:17-12:8). Paul said (1 Cor. 4:9) that apostles live like those condemned dying in the arena (or have the sentence of death upon themselves). This kind of apostolic leader must have the capacity for high-stress leadership combined with the kind of emotional maturity to deal with all kinds of difficulties that the average person could never endure.

10. Apostles of Christ Live in Simplicity.
Apostles of Christ do not need or desire to live a life of extreme luxury and opulence. Their spiritual and psychological needs have already been met through their deep and abiding relationship with Christ. They have been so satisfied with living with the person and presence of God that they count all things as dung compared to knowing Him (Philippians 3:8-14)! Their greatest desire in life is to fellowship with Him, meditate on the scriptures, and serve God’s people and Kingdom. Consequently they do not need to drive the most expensive cars, live in the largest houses or make a huge salary in order to be satisfied in this life. Consequently, they live in simplicity, are content with little and are not driven to pursue material possessions and pleasure.

After seeing these 10 traits, we can see how there are only very few apostles of Christ in this world. May the Lord raise more up in these days so the body of Christ can fully advance!

Master Manipulator

For nearly forty years now, I have been doing all I possibly can to teach, preach, and warn believers about the prevalent problem of authoritarian abuse in the church-realm at large and in Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal streams in particular. I’ve preached sermons, published audios of sermons, written scores and scores of articles, authored and published books, conducted teaching seminars, counseled hundreds of victims, and basically talked to everyone about this dastardly device of the devil who would listen (or pretend to) for five minutes about it over the span of four decades. I wish I could report (if for no one else’s edification than my own) that there is evidence that my efforts have had a powerful impact or made strong inroads into combating this insidious and spiritually decimating activity of the kingdom of darkness in the collective church as well as in individual believer’s lives. I really do. But, sadly, I cannot.

Oh, hundreds of the thousands who have obtained (can’t say “read,” because the publishing industry’s own research indicates that less than 20% of all books purchased are read by their purchasers and less than half of that number read entirely) the two books I authored on the subject so far in their various published formats (print, ebook [PDF], epub, Kindle, Nook) — Charismatic Captivation and Charismatic Control — have corresponded via some medium to tell me how the books helped to them, and some that it most literally “saved” them from the destructive effects of victimization of authoritarian abuse upon their life. How could that not be extremely encouraging and edifying? After all, that was the primary motivation for spending three and half years writing the book (I guess I’m a slow writer).

Certainly, I’m grateful and exceedingly humbled that God would chose to use me and my paltry efforts to actually help someone with regard to their spiritual life, psychological being, and relationship with the Lord. Though the negative “cost” upon my own life and ministry for my has been extreme, in some aspects excruciating, and at times, from an earthly perspective, seemingly excessive, yet such temporal and transient afflictions are superseded by the real assurance that beyond the fleeting vapor of this mortal segment of life rewards — substantial and significant rewards — await. It is for those “joys of the master” that we toil, enduring the hardships inuring from our labors of evangelism and fulfilling our ministry callings (2 Tim. 4:5). Continue reading “Identifying Hyper-authoritarian Doctrines and Practices” »

17 Signs You’re an “Empire Builder,” Not a “Kingdom Builder”
By Joseph Mattera

Ever since the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity divided in the 11th century, some of the greatest fears of the once united Christendom has been realized—fragmentation and division.

Even in the 16th century when Martin Luther led the Protestant Reformation, there was the hope that there would only be a few major expressions of the body of Christ—never in their wildest dreams did the reformers envision all the denominations and now various branches and networks of Christianity that have evolved—which has given opportunity for a spirit of lawlessness, independence and empire building among some insecure but gifted leaders. Whether all these expressions are of God or not is not the purpose of this article. Continue reading “17 Signs Distinguishing Kingdom Builders From Empire Builders” »

This article is part 1 of 1 in the series God's Theocracy

Moses & Israelites Exodus

The Church is the quintessential Theocracy. Its government is not a political government wherein the governed themselves constitute, devise, and effect their own government, such as that of this nation, the United States, which is a form of democracy (a republic), supposedly “of the people, for the people, and by the people.” Rather, the Church is literally governed by a singular Supreme Potentate—the Lord Jesus Christ—who God has appointed as its Sole and Sovereign Head. Thus, the ultimate Theocracy. The absolute necessity of understanding this one concept is emphasized and re‑emphasized repeatedly in the volume from which this article is extracted, and indeed is the ultimate and salient point of that book, Charismatic Captivation.

But, once it is understood that Christ Jesus Himself is the ultimate Head and Cornerstone of the Church, it is just as vital to understand that the government Jesus presides over is an intermediated or proxy government in its physical application. In other words, He does not govern alone, nor directly, nor even in person. Rather, His government is a “representative” or “delegate” form of government, if you will. This is to say that as God set apart and specially consecrated the Levites under the Old Covenant to represent Himself unto the people, so also Jesus appoints, anoints, and sends special envoys, ambassadors, to represent Him and His government unto the Church. These envoys are His personal proxies, His delegates, His stand‑ins, whom He sends to convey and effect His purposes, plans, pleasures, and passions. Continue reading “How God’s Theocracy Manifests on Earth” »

angry-controlling-preacherThe Kingdom of Heaven Does NOT Forcibly Advance
By Steve (S.J.) Hill

Matthew 11:12:
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force.[1]

…the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing and forceful men lay hold of it.[2]

…the kingdom of heaven is forcibly entered and violent men seize it.[3]

All my Christian life I have found the idea that Jesus somehow endorses violent human effort (even if metaphorical or spiritual) for His cause as very odd. It contradicts the rest of His teaching, the life He lived, the example He set, and the rest of the New Testament.[4] Typical translations of Matt. 11:12 fit like a gorilla in a tuxedo. You don’t have to be a scholar to know: “something just ain’t right!” The fact that there’s some divergence among translators provides us with its own warning: difficulty ahead. It’s always a mistake to be dogmatic, or to make much of a little, on a point based on an obscure and difficult passage. Continue reading “Solved: Conundrum of Violence, Violent men vs. Meekness!” »

In the previous post, The Outrageous Claims of Mars Hill Church “Investigators”, I indicated my strong disagreement with the conclusions of the group of elders and an overseer who identified themselves as the “investigators” who conducted an investigation into the long train of abuses, misdeeds, and other allegations against the founding senior leader of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Mark Driscoll. Those men concluded that “While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.”

I ended that post by saying that abuse of spiritual authority is one of the most, possibly the most, egregious affronts in existence to the One who is the Source of all legitimate authority, and that in a follow-up post I would offer 25 reasons why that is so that immediately come to my mind. This post consists of those 25 reasons. Continue reading “25 Reasons Hyper-Authoritarian Church Leadership IS Disqualifying” »

Former Mars Hill Pastor, Mark Driscoll
In a statement on the website of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, the Board of Overseers, as they referred to themselves, stated: “On Tuesday, October 14, Pastor Mark Driscoll submitted his resignation as an elder and lead pastor of Mars Hill Church. The Board of Overseers has accepted that resignation and is moving forward with planning for pastoral transition….” The statement also stated that “for nearly two months…a group of elders investigated a series of formal charges brought against him (Driscoll)” and that the “investigation” conducted by “a group of seven elders plus one member of the Board of Overseers” consisted of “some 1,000 hours of research, interviewing more than 50 people and preparing 200 pages of information.” Their conclusion was:

“…that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.”

“Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.

Now let me see if I got this right. Driscoll, who they continue to honor by calling him “Pastor Mark,” “has at times been guilty of arrogance….” First of all, being “guilty of arrogance” is not an “at times” kind of thing. A person is either arrogant – which is a condition deriving from an attitude, not an act or action that one only does “at times” or from time to time – or they are not arrogant. Arrogance does not come and go; it’s a condition of the mind and heart that when present is constant and consistent. In speaking of the supreme humility of the Son of God, Jesus, which he manifested in humbling Himself, first to come to earth as a Human, and then to the point of death on a cross, Paul said, “Let this MIND (KJV) [‘attitude,’ NASB] be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Php. 2:5-8). Humility – the diametrical opposite of arrogance – is a state of mind, as well as heart. It’s an attitude. Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, directed believers with unambiguous and clear language: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Php. 2:3-4). Continue reading “The Outrageous Claims of Mars Hill Church “Investigators”” »

[Note: With the matter of authoritarian abuse by ministers surfacing in the news more than ever before, it is vital that the church and church leaders begin to look seriously (though such is not a popular or prevalent thing among the vast majority of ministers today) at the root causes underlying the above-the-surface produce of such sinful activities by those who assume the place of authority in churches today. It is also vital for the Body of Christ to know that God has been issuing prophetic warnings about this prevalent problem of hyper-authoritarianism, particularly in the Neo-Pentecostal movement, for decades, but mostly, as is typical of prophetic warnings, to little avail. Instead of heeding those warnings by the prophets God sends to each generation, the church by-and-large still ignores them, the message, and the Source of the message…until, that is, it affects them personally, and then they want to know why God didn’t warn them or keep the destructive consequences from happening to them. Unfortunately, the church still kills the prophets God sends to them, though today they “kill” them by ignoring, refusing to recognize and support, or in various ways marginalizing them and their ministries; this is particularly true of the ecclesio-politically-powerful elite, the de facto ecclesiastical aristocracies, and the Charismatic “La Cosa Nostra,” meaning those who by various means have seized the human thrones of power of the various streams of the earthly institutional church. The following is an excerpt from my book, Charismatic Captivation—Authoritarian Abuse & Psychological Enslavement in the Neo-Pentecostal Church, originally published in 1996. The sub-premise of the book is that the heretical hyper-authoritarian doctrines, dogmas, and practices proliferated during the Discipleship/Shepherding Movement were surreptitiously infused into the fabric, foundation and functions of the Neo-Pentecostal church, in particular, producing a plethora of problems that inhibits it from fully apprehending the purposes and plans that Jesus, the exclusive functional Head of the Church He is building, intended for it to apprehend.]

One of the common denominators of false cults, false religions, and the occult is that their doctrines and practices are predicated upon the “isms” of vain, humanly invented philosophies. The same is true of the heretical hyper-authoritarian Discipleship/Shepherding doctrines, dogmas, and practices that were infused into the fabric, foundation, and functions of the Neo-Pentecostal church, which fact is further corroboration that they are all of the aforementioned characterization: cultic, false, and occult. One of the most significant “isms” of the Discipleship heresy is one that is specifically mentioned and condemned in the Bible—Nicolaitanism. Continue reading “Nicolaitanism in the Church Today” »

[Note: The sole source of spiritual Truth is the Word of God (“sola scriptura”), i.e., the 66 Books of the Bible, rightly divided, which means entirely separate from human culture, and any other extrabiblical influence. The first requirement to understand the Bible and extract from it pure and unadulterated spiritual Truth from it is to know that every Word is “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16), inspired by the Holy Spirit. While God chose to communicate His Word through human agents, nevertheless, the Source of the substance of the message conveyed is God Himself, not those human agents. The words Paul the apostle penned, for example, were not the words of Paul, but rather were the Words of the Holy Spirit, conveyed through Paul. The substance of the Word of God is founded solely on one, single, solitary “culture,” — the culture of the Kingdom of God, which is entirely separate and separated from any and all human culture. No part or portion of the Word of God is in any way associated with or affected by human culture of any kind or time. The Word of God is forever settled in Heaven , and is eternal and timeless (Psa. 119:89; Is. 40:8; 1 Pet. 1:25). The Word of God is a Person — the Son of God — and He changes not (Mal. 3:6) but is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8), and thus neither does the Word of God change, it is immutable for all times and is always the same in all times and all ages, and does not change with the cultures of men. To in any way apply human culture to the Word of God ostensibly to “interpret” it, is twisting, perverting, adulterating, and corrupting the Word of God! The Word of God cannot be interpreted by human culture; human culture is to be interpreted by the Word of God!]

14 SCRIPTURAL REASONS/PROOFS WOMEN ARE PRECLUDED FROM OFFICES AND POSITIONS OF GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH

1. God’s Word prohibits women from being in positions of authority or government over men, and even to teach men (1 Tim. 2:11-15). Therefore, any group, assemblage, assembly, organization, collection of people comprised of both genders that has a gynocratic leadership, i.e., ruled or governed by women or a woman, is spiritually illegitimate and does not bear or reflect the genuine authority of the Kingdom of God.

2. God has ordained that the Church be governed (1 Tim. 5:17) and managed (1 Tim. 3:1-7) by elders/overseers. The church is the family expanded and the family is the church in miniscule. Families are “cells” of the church. The order/government for the church is the same as government for family, i.e., Christ (who is male, genderally; the SON of God and God the Son, not the daughter of God and God the daughter) is the head of the husband/man and the husband/man, is the head of the woman/wife (1 Cor. 11:3). [See #5 below for more on this aspect.] Elders “rule” or govern the local church, and administrate or manage all its affairs. Governmental authority in the Church is a matter and outflow of Divine Order, not gifting or ability, and without respect to same. In other words, ecclesiastical authority, like the matter of governmental authority in the Kingdom of God, is not determined based on gifting or capability, but on the principles intrinsic to Divine Order. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all male; no member of the God-head is female. God is a He, not a she, and so identifies Himself thousands of times in His Word. Jesus is/was “the Word made flesh (Jn. 1:14),” and He was manifested in the incarnation as a Male Human. And, the Triune God is Himself ultimate authority (God Almighty) [Rom. 13:1], and thus the Source, or Fountain-head, of all authority. All genuine and legitimate authority emanates or flows from God Himself. “For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (Rom. 13:1).

3. “Elders,” “Overseers,” “Shepherds,” are all synonymous terms in the Bible referring to the role of Fivefold ministers (Ac. 20:17,28; 1 Pet. 5:1-2), which women are prohibited from functioning in (1 Tim. 2:11-12; 1 Cor. 14:34-35). Continue reading “14 Scriptural Proofs Women are Precluded from Governmental Authority in the Church” »

Editor’s Note: For more than 35 years I’ve been doing all I can to alert the Body of Christ to the prevalent problem of ungodly, unChrist-like hyper-authoritarian church leaders. They are the bane of the church in that they pervert and distort the whole concept of human under-shepherds who are supposed to be mirroring and representing the Great Shepherd, the literal and functional Head of the Church that He is building. Human leaders shape the earthly church in many ways — some of which are tangible and obvious, others intangible and subtle. For many years, the author of the following article has worked closely with, coached and counseled, and observed church leaders. Primarily, his work and associations have not been with the Pentecostal/Charismatic branch of the church; nevertheless, his observations about church leaders and leadership often have application to that realm as well. My book, Charismatic Captivation, remains, 18 years after its release, to be one of the leading books dealing head-on with the matter of hyper-authoritarianism in the Neo-Pentecostal church, in particular, and continues to be found by hundreds of new readers and scores of booksellers every year around the world. One of the reasons for the continued demand for the book, I believe, is that it is a prophetic book, written from a prophet’s perspective, scribed through a prophetic pen. One significant hallmark of genuine prophets is that they disdain and eschew ecclesiastical politics, to their self-detriment and deterrence of their ministry in many ways. Certainly, this book’s contents reflects all of that. It is direct and straightforward. It spares not. In writing it, I made no attempt to be politically-correct, but every attempt to put to paper exactly what I heard the Lord speaking in my Spirit, without sugar-coating it. For these reasons, the self-appointed, de facto Pentecostal/Charismatic aristocracy has by no means accepted or received the message of this book, even to the present. The backcover copy captured and prophesied the essence of why the book’s message has been so disdained by many Charismatic ministers: “Charismatic Captivation exposes the widespread authoritarian abuse that has been flourishing virtually unabated for decades since it was first infused into the very fabric, foundation, and functions of the Charismatic/Neo-Pentecostal church during the ‘Discipleship/Shepherding Movement.'” The symptoms of toxic church leaders the author of the following article identifies are essentially identical to the signs and symptoms of abusive church leadership identified in my books and other writings. The only comment I would make about the article regards the first sentence. While I would agree with it when applied to the entire institutional church as a whole, unfortunately, the percentages of toxic church leaders within the Pentecostal/Charismatic is higher than the church-at-large. There’s a number of significant reasons for that, albeit that matter is beyond the scope of this post. The recent spate of church leaders being exposed as being dominating and controlling abusers of authority and the far-reaching effects of their antichrist leadership methodologies demonstrates the extensiveness and expansiveness of this spiritually destructive cancer that a large portion of the church has stubbornly refused to recognize and thus allowed to metastasize virtually unabated for decades, despite the warnings and admonitions of some of its prophets. Espousal and practice of these symptoms of spiritual toxicity in leadership are by no means limited to the ecclesiastical realm, but are also increasingly found in the Christian business arena as well, particularly among the ranks of business enterprises that spiritually identify with Neo-Pentecostal streams and associate their business endeavors with the more spiritual-sounding realm of “marketplace ministries,” where the cult-like tactics of domination and control are the same, despite the claim to a more sophisticated and spiritual stratosphere than that of the normal business realm.[End Editor’s Note]

Fourteen Symptoms of Toxic Church Leaders
By Thom Ranier

Most church leaders are godly and healthy. A toxic church leader, one that is figuratively poisonous to the organization, is rare. But it is that church leader who brings great harm to churches and other Christian organizations. And it is that leader that hurts the entire cause of Christ when word travels about such toxicity. Continue reading “Fourteen Common Traits of Toxic Church Leaders” »

“By faith Abraham, WHEN HE WAS CALLED, OBEYED by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Heb 11:8-10)

“Now these things happened to them as an EXAMPLE, and they were written for OUR INSTRUCTION, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (1 Cor. 10:11)

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for OUR INSTRUCTION, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4)

Men craftily design and disseminate their humanly-invented doctrines and dogmas, founded in strife, envy, self-aggrandizement, and selfish-ambition, and aimed at controlling and corralling others, like crabs in a bucket, to preclude them from fulfilling their callings and dreams. Like Joseph’s family, they surmise their calling is to be “dream killers.”

One such concept posits that you may have a “calling” from God, but you dare not “go out” to pursue it, until you’ve received your “commissioning,” for “calling” and “commissioning” are not the same thing. And, very often according to them, THEY are the ones who will determine and decide when you are “ready” for your commissioning, which must come from them, when they lay THEIR hands upon you. In the meantime, you must “sit at their feet” and “serve” them to “prepare” you for your “commissioning.” Continue reading “A Lesson From Abraham” »

charismatic faux worshipAre you one of the many loyal and sincere church members who faithfully and cheerfully attend, support and participate in a local church, but have a nagging, persistent inward “thought” that “something is just not right here?”

Then, you begin realizing, somehow, somewhere along the line you began losing your joy, your zeal for the Lord. It used to be you could hardly wait for the services and to be involved; now it is drudgery to go at all. You used to have such a light and blissful feeling as you worshiped the Lord in the services; now you just go through the motions, feeling heavy, staring placidly toward the platform, sometimes wishing you were somewhere else. You used to be able to “look past” the leaders, and focus only on the Lord; now, all you see during the service is people, people behind the pulpit, people on the platform, and people in the pews. You used to feel God’s love and pleasure with you; now it seems all you feel is unworthiness, guilt, and that nothing you do is ever enough or pleasing to Him.

“What on earth has happened to me? What’s wrong with me?” you ask yourself. “Is it just me?” Then, you begin to look around the room and study other long-time members. You compare how they are now to how they were when they first came. Is their life, as it should be, appreciably better, or have they and their family experienced an inordinate share of tragedies, seemingly inexplicable difficulties, and reversals? By and by, you begin to realize that many of the other members have lost their “first love” too, their zeal, their enthusiasm, their joy in serving the Lord, and that, though Christians, like everyone else, certainly experience adversity, many of these members’ lives have been on a gradual, downward spiral, instead of advancement and blessing. Continue reading “33 Signs of Spiritual Abuse” »

Dr. Steven LambertThe JEZEBEL SPIRIT, is an evil spirit obsessed with domination and obtaining control in realms of authority, that operates through witchcraft/sorcery to achieve its goal. The covert operations of the Jezebel Spirit remains to be one of the most prevalent and dastardly problems in all of Christendom—in families and businesses of believers, churches/ministries, and every other arena of interrelations of believers—as well as in every segment of secular society where human relationships exist. In psychology, the effects produced by this demonic spirit are known as “narcissism,” or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) in clinical cases (see, DSM-IV). While as a deliverance counselor with Doctoral Diplomate Christian Counseling Board Certification, I personally believe effective therapeutic relief from the effects of NPD requires deliverance (casting out of demons), the Mayo Clinic has published an information-rich and enlightening article on NPD, which, due to unusual copyright restrictions I am constrained from citing, that you can read by CLICKING HERE. [See also “How To Identify A Female Narcissist” below this article.] The references in the Bible to two different women with the name “Jezebel” are portrayed by the Spirit as being classic narcissists. Continue reading “Exposing the Jezebel Spirit!” »

“Covenant Relationships” is a very familiar term bespeaking a commonly accepted concept in Pentecostal/Neo-Pentecostal circles, despite the irrefutable fact that neither the term nor the concepts it represents are found in Scripture and in fact are decidedly unscriptural. Moreover, the concept of human spiritual covenants was resoundingly debunked and denounced by one of the most highly regarded theologians and teachers the Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal streams ever had, who emphatically warned that besides the sacred covenant between the Lord and His disciples “the ONLY other valid covenant is that of marriage between a husband and wife,” and that the effect of entering into any other kind of spiritual covenant with humans “will be a CURSE!”

For more than three and a half decades, I’ve been doing all the Lord has allowed, anointed, and enabled me to do to set captives of spiritual authoritarian abuse free from the bonds of witchcraft, or the “yoke of slavery,” in which they are ensnared. I’ve spoken and written extensively in books and articles about the many profound spiritual and psychological effects hyper-authoritarianism inflicts upon its multitudinous victims. Continue reading “The Curse of Unauthorized Covenants” »

At a juncture in American history when the sitting president has revealed himself in obvious and undeniable ways to be an avowed Marxist with a belly filled with fiery ambitions of a would-be world-dictator, hell-bent on transforming the republican form of government that for nearly 240 years has well-served this, the greatest nation on Earth, into a totalitarian socialistic nanny state, the matter of legitimate versus illegitimate authority is being speedily forced to the top of public discourse. A plethora of political as well as social science experts and pundits agree that the United States of America at this hour stands at the threshold of collapse and utter ruin. It can hardly be mere coincidence that every segment of American society, from political to economical to ecclesiastical, is inundated with people driven by what Augustine called libido dominandi—lust for rule or dominion.

The scope of this two-part article series is primarily leadership in the ecclesiastical realm. However, much, if not all, of the principles regarding legitimate and illegitimate authority—i.e., abuse of authority—addressed herein can also with some adaptation be applied to authority in any realm of society and human interaction.

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 wherefores of ecclesiastical predominance. Continue reading “The Thin Line of Leadership (Part 2)” »

At a juncture in American history when the sitting president has revealed himself in obvious and undeniable ways to be an avowed Marxist with a belly filled with fiery ambitions of a would-be world-dictator, hell-bent on transforming the republican form of government that for nearly 240 years has well-served this, the greatest nation on Earth, into a totalitarian socialistic nanny state, the matter of legitimate versus illegitimate authority is being speedily forced to the top of public discourse. A plethora of political as well as social science experts and pundits agree that the United States of America at this hour stands at the threshold of collapse and utter ruin. It can hardly be mere coincidence that every segment of American society, from political to economical to ecclesiastical, is inundated with people driven by what Augustine called libido dominandi—lust for rule or dominion.

The scope of this article and the series it inaugurates is primarily leadership in the ecclesiastical realm. However, much, if not all, of the principles regarding legitimate and illegitimate authority—i.e., abuse of authority—addressed herein can also with some adaptation be applied to authority in any realm of society and human interaction.

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. Continue reading “The Thin Line of Leadership (Part 1)” »

By Charles Carrin
All church failure is directly related to congregations detaching themselves theologically and experientially from the Kingdom of God. Apart from the Kingdom and the Holy Spirit’s empowering, churches, pastors, ministries, have no power. None. They may have great organizational skill, great advertising programs, and possess the best technological aid, but in New Testament terms these are not power. They are deceptive counterfeits.

The next failure most churches make is to re-organize themselves into competitive, denominational groups that treat each other with suspicion and fear. Personal ministries frequently do the same thing. Jesus loved the church and gave Himself for it. So must we! But Jesus spoke of the church (ekklesia, Gr.) only three times in the gospels. In contrast, He spoke of His Kingdom some 130 times. Unlike modern Christianity, His focus was on the Kingdom. If we are to be like Him, ours must be also! Continue reading “Why Do Pastors, Churches, Ministries, Fail When The Holy Spirit Has All-Power?” »

The following are the expanded notes from a speech Bishop Mattera made on August 7, 2011 to 150 political, business, and military leaders in the African nation of Rwanda, including the Speaker of Parliament.

First of all, I want to say that I am pleased to address you, the political and community leaders of Rwanda for the magnificent job you have been doing in rebuilding this great nation! Most in the United States have no idea how much progress you have made, the great attitude of your people and the motivation to move forward in spite of all the global challenges! I will be sure to pass the word around when I go back home to New York City! Continue reading “How to Frame a Nation with the Law of God” »

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