Only too often, I come across this kind of sad story of spiritual control:
“I committed some “offense” (usually not a sin but something that went against the church’s “rules”), and the pastor /church excommunicated me. No one else in the church is allowed to talk to me. My old friends avoid me in the grocery store. The ones it hurts most are my kids, who just don’t understand….”
As far as I’m concerned this is control and abuse. It’s an application of the “heresy” of covering.
Control takes other forms too. Like baptism. Only someone who is ordained can baptize. Show me that in the Bible! Or communion. It takes a special sacred person to give communion.
Often it’s applied specifically to women. Women can’t baptize. Where’s that in the Great Commission?
Give me a break!
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8 replies on “Covering and control”
Yea I hear you..that’s why a lot of people have pulled out of the institutional church.
Too true, as the other commenters on this post verify.
True; I was removed from membership of my (Baptist) church for showing the pastor and the elders that Scripture, both OT and NT declare that when we die we remain in the grave until the return of Christ and do not immediately go off to heaver (or hell). They refused to accept the witness of scores of verses from Genesis to Revelation and said that if I don’t recant them I must give up my membership. I did.
Mike Guest B.Th.
P.S. I am not an ordained minister, but I regularly hold communion with my family and we take turns to lead – and I wouldn’t hesitate to baptise a convert.
I am so sorry that the body of Christ treated you this way! It’s exactly the kind of thing I was writing about. Surely there’s room for differing opinions on things in a fellowship of believers. How sad…
I have an (internet) friend who, along with his wife, decided he could no longer believe, and they quit attending his church. Most of his wider family including parents were part of the church, but they were ordered to separate from him and not see him except over essential family matters. As you can imagine, this was not conducive to his reconsidering his decision!
I think modern evangelical christianity is so often a victim of fear and control – fear that anything different will happen, and control to ensure that it doesn’t. This means the Holy Spirit is stifled too. The clergy-laity divisions, which includes rules about baptism, communion, teaching, etc, is part of this. Yet, as Frank Viola writes, most heresies are launched not by lay people but christian theologians, clergy and leaders.
A high point of the home group cum house church we have shared with for about 8 years was the baptism of 5 teens/young adults in the creek behind the home where we met. It happened that there were three clergy present (an ex addict Salvation Army guy covered in tatts, a very gifted regular Congregational minister who was later sacked by his church for doing things differently, and the pastor of a rather individual (some may say strange) charismatic church), but they were there as friends, not clergy, and all of us participated in the baptisms depending on who the baptisee felt were the most significant christians in their lives. It was a great evening!
The first story is a tragedy! The second a triumph! And I agree with you about fear being the reason for control. Often it comes down to money, which is even sadder.
Been there and been the one condemned. On one occasion the elders called me to a meeting to condemn me for making the statement “the Churches of Christ/Christian Churches ….” which was heard as “the Churches of Christ is a Christian church”. They told me it was not and that I had implemented one of the elders saying he agreed with me. It was ridiculous. I tried to tell what I said, and that the elder knew what I meant because he at one time was associated with one of their churches. took a while to get past that and then it took me a couple of hours to deal with their condemning a whole denomination (non-denomination). they felt that because they required baptism, they therefore added to the gospel, making it another gospel, thus they were not saved. Nuts!! A year later the elder who initiated the whole thing was wearing hearing aids.
I have had to catch myself to be careful not to think in like manner on things that I hold dear. It is so easy to be a judge on what another believes. We want to protect ‘the brothers and sisters’ but is that my job? I find that those who have responsibility take the things that belong to God and try to lay their hands on it for fear that it will fall over. Much in the same way as Uzza had done.
The idea of covering is so often misunderstood. Why do we take something that is holy and liberating, only to make it a tool to enslave??
I think God is far more interested in our hearts than in our correct doctrine. I cannot picture Jesus, when a person finally meets him face to face, saying, “I have this against you. Your doctrine was faulty!” But I can picture him saying, “You separated from your brothers and sisters because you didn’t love them enough to overlook their faulty doctrine.”