A while back when I posted on Facebook a question about authority teachers, one person told me that John Bevere’s book Under Cover had taught “church authority” in such a way that that it had nearly destroyed her and her family.
So I bought the book and started reading it.
I saw that the presentation of authority in the book was indeed dangerous and . . . I might even say craftily presented.
First of all, Bevere spends the first 25-30% of the book establishing that God is the ultimate authority.
Then throughout the book he keeps coming back to examples of God as the ultimate authority, weaving those examples in and through the rest of the book.
But that’s a bit of a non-issue for me, because I already believe wholeheartedly in God’s authority. I want to follow Him wherever He leads and do whatever He says.
The question comes when talking about any people who have or claim to have spiritual authority. Do they actually have authority over the people of God? If so, what does that look like?
Bevere presents the answer to the first question as an unequivocal and resounding yes. You are to be “under the cover” of those in “spiritual authority” in your church. And by the term “spiritual authority,” I mean—and he means—“What I’m telling you to do is what God wants you to do.”
And by “under cover,” of course that means you are to give them unequivocal obedience.
In true Gothardesque umbrella-style theology, Bevere says, (page 165), “[O]ur judgment will be relative to our submission, for authority is of God. To resist delegated authority is to resist God’s authority.”
Of course his point all through the book is that God’s authority is delegated to the church leader, and as you obey the church leader, you are obeying God.
Here are a few of Bevere’s arguments to drive his point home, and my responses.
Bevere compares the man in the position of “church leader” to Moses
Bevere spends several pages (pages 159-163) describing accounts of the failures of the Israelites to follow Moses’ divinely-appointed leadership, and what happened to them as a result.
He then seamlessly moves into discussion of your pastor. Seamlessly, that is, because he never says, “Your pastor is in the place of Moses.” No, what he says is,
“You may consider yourself wiser than the children of Israel. . . . You would have discerned Moses was right . . . you would have been right there with Joshua.”
See what he did there?
He put you in the place of the Israelites. Then it’s a seamless assumption to put your pastor in the position of Moses.
Then he says (page 163), “What separated Joshua from the rest of his peers was not his discernment, but his ability to recognize and submit to true authority. Out of that came true discernment.”
The implication, of course, is that when and only when you submit to your pastor, you’ll be able to have true discernment.
Then he moves into the full-blown presentation of your “spiritual leader” as if he is in the place of Moses.
But no matter who your pastor is, he doesn’t fill the role of Moses.
No, in fact Moses himself said (Deuteronomy 18:15-19),
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.”
So . . . who was that prophet?
It most certainly was not your pastor.
It was Jesus.
In the days of the Old Covenant, Moses was chosen directly by God to lead the Israelites, and that choice was solidified again and again to the Israelites through one miracle after another.
Moses heard directly from God. There were no Scriptures in those days; Moses went up on the mountain and received the words from God. If the Israelites were going to hear anything from God, they had to get it from Moses. He was the intercessor of that day.
But the intercessor of our day is Jesus.
We, the New Covenant church, do not need another leader like Moses, because we have Jesus.
Moses was faithful in God’s house as a servant, and he spoke of the things that God would say in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son in charge of God’s house. We are his house if we keep up our courage and our confidence in what we hope for. (Hebrews 3:5-6)
Bevere compares the man in the position of “church leader” to a king
In the same chapter, Bevere uses Esther’s approach to the Persian king to show you how you should approach your pastor when you disagree with him.
Obviously when you disagree with someone you want to be as polite and respectful as possible. But no, Bevere’s advice goes way beyond this.
You should approach your pastor as if he is a king.
He then backs it up with the story of David’s respect toward Saul and Abigail’s respect toward David.
You should approach your pastor as if he is a king.
Where does this come from? Certainly not from the Word of God. Jesus said, in Matthew 23:8-12,
You must not be called ‘Teacher,’ because you are all equal and have only one Teacher. And you must not call anyone here on earth ‘Father,’ because you have only the one Father in heaven. Nor should you be called ‘Leader,’ because your one and only leader is the Messiah. The greatest one among you must be your servant. Whoever makes himself great will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be made great.
Bevere’s teaching, while using Scripture to buttress it, goes completely counter to Scripture.
Bevere compares the man in the position of “church leader” to the apostle Paul
During our family’s church pilgrimage, for a year we were in a denomination that we discovered leaned so far toward pastor worship that it could perhaps have been called cultic. A friend gave me some sermons from the “chief among equals” pastor of a “sister church.”
As I listened to him talk about the pastor’s authority, I heard him pivot to talk about Paul. I remember thinking, “Oh, he’s not going to go there, is he? He’s not going to go there?”
But he did. He went there. He said that you are to treat your pastor as the New Testament believers treated the apostle Paul.
I was truly appalled, but my friend said, “That’s the kind of teaching we were fed on all the time. That was normal.”
But there’s quite a difference, you know.
Paul was the primary one to communicate God’s Word to His New Covenant people. He actually received the direct word of God. If your pastor argues that he also does, well, you could argue the same. Nowhere does the Bible say that being in a position of church leadership gives a person an inside track to the mind of God.
But not only does Bevere say your pastor is to be honored like the apostle Paul, he takes it a step further, perhaps even further than I’ve ever heard anyone take this “submission to church authority” thing.
Some back story:
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul had told his readers to put a certain man out of the church, a man who was flagrantly living in sin. Then in his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul told them that because the man had repented, they should forgive him, love him, and bring him back into the congregation.
But here is how Bevere presents it:
The apostle Paul told the Corinthian church to do something in his first letter that he altered in his second one. Once he changed his order to the church, he made this remarkable statement: “For this was my purpose in writing you, to test your attitude and see if you would stand the test, whether you are obedient and altogether agreeable [to follow my orders] in everything.” (2 Cor. 2:9 AMP).
Then, contrary to the truth that Paul wanted the Corinthians to follow truth and do the right thing, Bevere says, “Paul gave them orders for one purpose: to see whether they would submit to his authority.” (page 175)
That was a jaw-dropping statement to me. But because Bevere doesn’t give any context for Paul’s “order reversal,” he is able to make Paul’s orders sound completely capricious.
And yes, that’s how he follows this up. Keep reading.
I have a very wise friend who has been a pastor for years. He told me the way he finds insubordination among his workers is to give a directive that makes no sense. He said, “John, I’ll soon hear the gripes and complaints of the rebellious. I deal with it, then change the directive back to normal operations.”
A few sentences later: “The purpose: if they followed this directive, they would follow anything else.”
Indeed. All the staff members who were actually thinking, who realized that to spend time doing a senseless job was a waste of the Lord’s time and money, could be kicked out. Only the ones who mindlessly obeyed were kept on.
Is this the way the church of Jesus Christ is supposed to operate?
And no, that wasn’t like Paul at all. Not even a tiny bit. Besides the fact that Paul’s directives in 2 Corinthians did indeed make complete sense, if you’ll recall, Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians (11:1), “Follow me as I follow Christ.”
And as if that weren’t enough . . .
Bevere compares the man in the position of “church leader” to God
Yes, he certainly does.
Bevere tells the story of Moses pleading with the Lord regarding God’s decision. “First, Moses spoke in complete submission and with fear and trembling. Second, Moses pleaded passionately or petitioned God; he never commanded.” (page 173)
He then goes on to draw the comparison that you know is coming: this is our guideline for petitioning a church leader. The way Moses petitioned God is the way we are to petition church leaders.
Does this seem perilously close to idolatry to you?
Do you see why CEOs of abusive churches would love this book and order copies by the dozens and make it required reading for their members?
Who is your pastor, really?
Your pastor is supposed to be a leader, but not like a general. If we’re an army and there’s a general, that’s Jesus only.
As I described in detail here, your pastor is to be a leader like a guide on an expedition. He is to be one who is farther down the path of life—a little or a lot—and can say, along with others who are elder in the church, “Look! There’s Jesus! Let’s follow Him!”
That’s who your pastor is supposed to be.
But how are pastors often chosen? Well, in many churches, church “pulpit committees” will ask God to help them and will then put out a request for resumes to fill the job.
They’ll often look for graduates of certain seminaries, according to their denomination, and perhaps they’ll add other qualifiers and administrative strengths, as would an organization looking for a CEO.
After interviews with several prospective leaders, and praying, the committee will then ask one or two of the men to preach at their church. The Sunday the man “candidates” (verb) will often be the first time the church members have met him. There might be a dinner after church so they can talk with him more.
Then the congregation will vote according to how they liked the man, and if they vote yes, the man is invited to come be the leader of the church.
In another common scenario, a man starts a church on his own, perhaps commissioned by others from somewhere far away. Because something about him is very attractive, usually his speaking ability, and sometimes because he has secret investors behind him, he becomes very popular and draws crowds to his church. (Mark Driscoll is only one of many who have fit this pattern).
The people who flock to the church to hear the popular preacher don’t really know what he’s like behind closed doors, where he could be living a very different life.
What a far cry from either Moses or Paul this is.
The new pastor the church has gone to so much trouble to find, or the man who has started a church “on his own,” may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
After all, it’s not that hard for a sociopath to present well for a while, and under certain circumstances.
And I’m telling you, wolves love to be in charge of the sheep. That’s why “pastor” is one of the most attractive jobs for sociopaths.
These men also love to preach “spiritual authority” like what John Bevere teaches. In fact, I heard from more than one person that Under Cover was required reading in their church, and it’s no wonder.
That “when I hear from my pastor I’m hearing from God” and “I dare not question my pastor except with fear and trembling like going before a king” attitude is exactly what cult leaders love.
True spiritual Christian leaders, on the other hand, will want to faithfully present the Word of God, will faithfully walk with those who are on the road of following Jesus, and will never, ever consider themselves on a different spiritual plane than the ones they serve.
In a healthy church, the “members,” those of us who are “parts of the body,” will view the pastor the same way.
John Bevere’s Under Cover “spiritual authority” sets up a situation perfect for a cult to thrive.
That is not what God wants for His people.
An edited version of this blog post has now become chapter 13 of the book Untwisting Scriptures that were used to tie you up, gag you, and tangle your mind: Book 2 Patriarchy and Authority.
It’s so much easier for a regular church goer to go to a church where a pastor like this holds sway. I know I remember living like this myself for a long time. It’s easier because we think, “Well, he speaks for God. I’ll just listen to what he has to say. I’ll get a word from God. That’s religion done for the week.”
Even when I heard things that didn’t sound quite right, I assumed it was me getting things wrong again. When I felt burdened and heavy-ladened by his words, I would hear the “good” church people (the in-crowd) say how much they love this guy — how much they felt the presence of God when this guy spoke. And… they threw buckets of money at what ever project he rolled out, ostensibly to “reach the lost.” He was so successful! And so “blessed!” It seemed to work.
You don’t have to think, analyze, search the scriptures, compare to other sermons. You just swallow what he’s dishing. If he says to hold him up as THE spiritual authority, then… bam! You’ve got someone to tell you what to do and how things are going to work. No more searching, no more doubting, no more baby steps. He’ll yank you along. Easy!
This is such an excellent and succinct analysis of why such a cult mentality can be so attractive. Thank you, Julie.
Well written article. No man is the head of the church, only Jesus.
I started out in college going to a church like that. Set me up for a great deal of heartache. It’s dangerous!
I’m so sorry, Maria.
Oh thank you for exposing this. I desire to love God with all my heart & follow Him, but have found that I must currently abandon the “American church” in order to grow or thrive at all in my personal relationship with God. Having grown up in this described environment as a “Preacher’s Kid”, I received a doubly harmful dose of this, as authoritarian parental authority & pastoral authority were blurred together into total domination & control. I am now so glad to only be under the control of the Holy Spirit, what freedom God gives us and truly His yoke is easy & His burden is light. ❤️
Thank you for these sad but encouraging words, Lana. I’m finishing up my next “Untwisting Scriptures” book, which will focus on parental authority and pastoral authority. I hope it will be helpful as you continue to untwist Scriptures in your own life and walk in the Light.
I wrote this on your website, but I chose to write it here, too. I deeply appreciate your books and I’m on my way through them for the second time.
the 70s and 80s something similar to this happened in the Charismatic circles. It was the “DISCIPLESHIP” controversy. Thankfully, I was raised in a devout Christian family where I was also encouraged to do my own thinking. I left the group I’d been meeting with, never to return.
Interestingly enough, shortly thereafter I started attending the Gothard seminars (from the frying pan into the fire; right? I loved it the first time,had some reservations the second time, and the third time, I saw it for the legalism that it was, and quit attending. Later, I asked to be removed from the mailing list – as I had cancelled my subscription to the NEW WINE magazine of the Discipleship charismatics.
I think that legalism is a constant temptation, but thankfully, the Lord can help us to be vigilant. I John 4:4.
Thank you, Linda, and I’m blessed to hear that the books have been helpful to you.
Yes, I do remember the “discipleship” controversy–I think it was the same movement as the “shepherding” movement. Yes, Gothard’s teachings did have some similarities, especially about authority. That’s always the biggest one, I suppose, in any cult.
The choosing of pastors seems to be a problem area. It is just too common and too easy for the trusting, the unwary or naive (any category of person who does not yet have strong discernment) to fall into a “bad” pastor situation and the leavening and damaging effect that has on a congregation and on one’s faith walk.
It would be nice if the leadership role philosophy was spelled out on a church website, but can that even be trusted?
Charisma and even basic mind control methods can be blinding.
And how can a new Christian know what to look for? They are really at the mercy of those who have come before them, the elders and long term members, who by their presence and fruit should convey the legitimacy and identity of the spirit who leads their pastor.
Why does finding a proper church seem so dangerous and difficult?
I agree with you, GFW, that it does seem dangerous and difficult, because of the infiltration of evil into our churches and the BLINDNESS of God’s true children to this evil. Especially for new believers who very naturally assume that these are all God’s faithful ones.
How much we need discernment! But Bevere is so very insidious when he says that the only way to have discernment is to be “under authority” as he describes it, that is, in total obedience. If one didn’t know better, one might think he was doing it on purpose . . .
With regards to Deuteronomy 18:15-19, Moses is referring in general to all the true prophets who were to succeed him. Jesus recognized the legitimacy of the teaching authority of the Scribes and the Pharisees even as he blasted them for their hypocrisy and corruption (Matt. 23:2-3).
Jesus gifted this authority to a selected few (his apostles). The apostles likewise handed down this authority to those they selected – men like Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Silas, Barnabas, etc.
The church authority today are the successors of the apostles (the bishops led by the head bishop or the pope), otherwise referred to as the magisterium. The magisterium is the church’s authority or office that gives authentic interpretation of the word of God whether in its written form or in the form of tradition. Matthew 18:15-18 (cf. Deut. 19:17) points to a team of selected individuals as the church’s earthly authority who bear the divine mandate of shepherding Christ’s flock (John 21:15-17).
So, when you read 1 Timothy 3:15 saying that the church is the pillar and foundation of truth, you have to understand it as saying that the church authority has the divine mandate to teach true doctrine to all Christians. This authority was sealed by Christ in Matthew 16:19, Matthew 18:18, and of course in John 20:23. This teaching authority does not rest on the moral rectitude or failing of the apostles, and neither does it rest on any human powers the possess like intelligence, strength, or what have you… It rests solely on the power of the one from whom the authority proceeds – Christ Jesus. So, we are guaranteed correct teaching from the magisterium even when it seems like corruption is overwhelming the church.
“we are guaranteed correct teaching from the magisterium even when it seems like corruption is overwhelming the church.” ??
This statement contradicts itself. How can there be correct teaching from a corrupt leadership? Let’s not be afraid of applying Christ’s searching Light to the institutions we have put our trust in.
I have heard the scripture passage ‘touch not mine anointed’ used multiple times to ‘protect’ religious ‘leaders’ from questioning.
As if questioning a religious leader constitutes an attack…?!
In fact, questioning a religious leader has often been treated as a more serious offense than the serious offenses committed by that religious ‘leader’
What’s up with that?!
We all are ‘Lord’s anointed’ as His people, and the One who’s the head Anointed One sits in the Heavens.
In the New Covenant we are all equal and expected to question and test everything. Including sermons preached by famous leaders.. thank God for that freedom!
Huh. I looked around and see that I haven’t ever done a refutation of the ridiculous assertion that “touch not mine anointed” means that the people of God can’t challenge their pastors. Here is that Scripture, from 1 Chronicles 19:
19When you were few in number,
of little account, and sojourners in it,
20wandering from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to another people,
21he allowed no one to oppress them;
he rebuked kings on their account,
22saying, “Touch not my anointed ones,
do my prophets no harm!”
The “you” of course is the Israelites. All of them. If there’s an application–and I’m not convinced that there is–it is to ALL believers, not just those in “spiritual authority.”
It is really sad, indeed.
Someone should address him – although, I doubt it would bear any fruit.
In his other book, ‘Thus Said the Lord?’, he did very aptly question, and disagree with, the false authority used by many modern ‘prophets’… and the submission they often demand.
That is why I am so bewildered at the obvious contradiction and his failure the recognise that demands for excessive submission are dangerous in any context, not only when presented by ‘prophetic voices’…
John’s wife Lisa has often had good sermons and insights about being a daughter loved by God etc.. and she’s openly shared her own struggles as a woman. That is why it is so sad that John is propagating such a twisted doctrine about church authority and submission.
Though I’ve heard of both of the Beveres for years, and have been told that I should read Girls with Swords, this is the first book of either of theirs that I’ve read. I can hardly imagine that he would have written something else that teaches differently from what this book teaches so very clearly–complete submission to the “man of God.”
In the book ‘Thus Saith The Lord?’, he writes about the misuse of authority often demanded by those who claim to speak as God’s direct mouthpiece, and how personal ‘words from the Lord’ should not be blindly received or allowed to replace our personal relationship with God. So it’s very contradictory that in this other book ‘Under Cover’ he is suggesting that those in leadership suddenly *should* be followed blindly.
Excellent — thank you so much for addressing this topic & book. We attended a Calvary Chapel for 7 years, and one of their ‘distinctives’ is that they follow the ‘Moses Model’ of leadership. They kept this well-hidden until they figured we were ‘loyal’ enough to be told.
The local elders, we discovered (my husband was one), had NO say in how things were done or dealt with; they were only for ‘show’… the pastor’s true ‘board’ lived in other cities/states, and they were the ‘officers’ in his corporation (our congregation — & he was the ‘president’ of the corporation.) They rubber-stamped whatever the pastor wanted to do. Sigh.
Calvary Chapels do not have ‘membership’, and they say it’s so people will be ‘free’ — but in reality, if a corporation has no ‘members’, then the president holds/owns everything. The pastor even laughingly referred to the setup as a ‘benign dictatorship’, in private meetings, and people thought he was joking. The deception surrounding it all was astounding, once we began to ‘see’ it, the cognitive dissonance played havoc with our minds & our families’ minds. It made for a very dysfunctional congregation that just got more oppressive the longer you attended.
“They kept this well-hidden until they figured we were ‘loyal’ enough to be told.”
Well, what do you know. That’s the same way the Freemasons operate.
“The pastor’s true ‘board’ lived in other cities/states, and they were the ‘officers’ in his corporation (our congregation — & he was the ‘president’ of the corporation.)”
This is horrific.
I’m sure every dictator thinks his dictatorship is benign, because of course he knows best.
“once we began to ‘see’ it, the cognitive dissonance played havoc with our minds & our families’ minds.”
Yes, this is why people coming out of cults need cult-exit counseling.
Lisa, I am so so sorry for what you endured. This is so very much not the heart of God for His people.
Thank you, Rebecca. And amen. <3
Lisa… Thank you for what you wrote! It gave me chills, remembering my time at a Calvary Chapel. I too attended a Calvary Chapel for 7 years and was in ministry there for all of that time. I was a new Christian at the time, but I still had the Spirit and knew the word. There were so many things that I heard and saw that just didn’t “sit right” but at the time, I kept thinking that it was me… after all, I was just a new Christian.
When I finally left, I went to another church, that seemed very different from Calvary, but in reality the same coercive control was present there, just in a different form. At that church, since I was active in ministry there as well, I also became “ ‘loyal’ enough to be told”… to enter into the “inner circle” of leadership… and it was chilling. And after trying to talk about the issues with the Pastor and his wife, to no effect, I finally left.
To be honest I still have apprehension and a level of distrust with formal “church.” I do attend a church that is very different than the others, and “seems genuine,” but; I do still hold back trust, and do do question some of the things taught from the pulpit. But, perhaps that’s a good thing.
What you shared here is so important for us to understand as believers. I attended several churches where many things sounded almost right, but I had to quell the Spirit within me to accommodate those twisted truths. Needless to say, I ultimately had to shake the dust off my feet as a testimony against them and walked away.
Untruths such as those you expose here will always lead us to some form of bondage. Always.
Yes, so true, and so thankful that you got out.
That’s the thing–when they use examples from Scripture that actually DO NOT FIT but seem so Scriptural, it can be very, very confusing.
And the goal of this teaching, the ultimate goal, is bondage. The “spiritual authority” CEO wants all the congregation to be in bondage under his tight grip.
So unScriptural, and yet so popular.
I was in a church where this book was compulsory reading for leaders. The senoir leaders utilised this teaching to cover up all sorts of horrific things, and they weren’t to be questioned or accountable as they saw themselves as only accountable to God. it is a pervasive teaching in the Australian Christian Church network which is connected to Hillsong, who have now have churches around the world. These teachings from John Bevere are also prominently followed in theses churches and utilised to cover up all manner of horrible and unlawful things such as chronic paedophilia of leaders. I am a Psychologist and clinical counsellor with 20+ years experience. Both from a spiritual and psychological perspective this teaching is very concerning and seems more cultlike than biblical.
“These teachings from John Bevere are also prominently followed in theses churches and utilised to cover up all manner of horrible and unlawful things such as chronic paedophilia of leaders.”
As horrible as this is, Robyn, I know it to be true.
A number of women who survived child pedophile rings–even in churches–have spoken to me about their experiences.
Yes, I definitely agree that it is more cultlike than Biblical.
Challenging as it is, over the last 20 years I have counselled numbers of people, men as well as women, who have had similar experiences in church circles. It has been a real eye opener and a shock at first. For many years now I have been part of an international professional group of specialist complex trauma therapists, many with doctorate degrees, so not fly by nighters with next to no qualifications, and they can testify similarly.
Horrible. I’m so sorry. I had a similar experience in my ex-church. The pastoral couple were seen as ‘king and queen’…
Mind you, this is very much against our egalitarian culture, and it did not sit well with people…
Wow. That’s scary. I used to idolize the Beveres, but that is crafty and evil. So over control. Don’t they like the fact that Jesus was humble and did the slave jobs? Maybe we should bring back foot washing ceremonies. Pastors acting like Jesus. Lol.
Thank you for your intelligence and insight . Bless you
Actually, we were in a Mennonite church for a few years, and one of my best memories from there (of many) was the foot-washing ceremony that they still practiced because Jesus said to. It was deeply meaningful and made me nearly bawl the first time I participated, and brought tears to my eyes pretty much every other time.
Of course, it’s only a ceremony, and sociopaths can do things like that too. But I’m sad that most churches don’t do it.
I so agree with churches being abusive where the pastor is the one who hears from God and everyone else just follows all he says. Yes, the Israelites had Moses be their intermediary, but it was because they had rejected the honor of going before God on their own. They shuddered in fear at the presence of the Lord. This fear caused them to turn to Moses who already had a relationship with Him. I see it as spiritual laziness. Our last church had this abusive ministry style that ended up causing great hurt to members of my family. We had to leave. Our new church has a pastor who wants to know what our ministry is and then backs us up and encourages us to go after what God has put each of us here on earth to do. He is our cheerleader, prayer warrior, advisor and friend. He points everyone to Jesus. I am very thankful for him and his walk before God and his congregation. Unfortunately, this is not the norm in the church as a whole. Thank you for courageously taking this on.
Wow. How blessed you and your family are to have met such a pastor. Thankfully such leaders exist. How I pray there would be many more, genuine shepherds after God’s heart.
That quote you provided from page 165 of the book: “[O]ur judgment will be relative to our submission, for authority is of God. To resist delegated authority is to resist God’s authority.” offers the opportunity to examine how the train runs off the track. Properly stated this should read: “[O]ur judgment will be relative to our understanding of and submission to the revealed Word of God as He has presented it. To resist properly delegated authority LAWFULLY APPLIED is to resist the proper application of God’s established order.”
Of course, such a proposition requires, in fact, demands, a Berean approach. What if your “church leader” is named Diotrephes (3 John 9-10) and conducts himself in that fashion (a very common disposition in families, congregations, business, civil government)? What if your church leader is one of those carriers found in I Cor. 11:9 “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” What if your “church leader” is one of those described in Jude 4: “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” What if your “church leadership” is one of those that Isaiah talked about because they “teach for doctrines the commandments of men.” Mark 7:7b. What if your “church leadership is like James and John, the sons of Zebedee and seek to be like the Gentiles and lord it over God’s heritage (Mark 10:35-45).
No one should be trusted because of their position. In the Scripture, the only grounds for depositing trust with a fellow human being, including “church leadership”, is because they are found by life and conduct to be trustworthy – not because of their self-authentication.
Excellent, excellent Biblical examples of leadership gone astray. Thank you so much, Tim.
Amen! Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you.
Of course, there is one more book by Bevere called ‘Bait of Satan’, where he blasts those of us who have left abusive churches and calls wounded sheep rebellious and deceived.
Ah well, I guess David was rebellious then, since he didn’t stay under Sauls’ authority, but fled for his life. It’s funny how David is often used as a prime example for someone who submits to their God-given authority… but less often as a reminder that we need to flee from harmful situations and people.
Exactly, its amazing how they use this example in this way, when actually David fled, and it wasn’t rebellion, rather fleeing for his safety from someone who was jealous of him. And yes I am my colleagues have seen the book “Bait of Satan”, so many times utilised unfortunately in this manner
I read your post about John Bevere and it was excellent and I thank you for writing it.
I also was wondering if you are aware that he is also a “recovering” porn addict? And that he and his wife have a Ministry called “Porn Free.”
She also says in one of her articles that his struggle with pornography was not just his problem, but it was their problem.
I’m not in total agreement with that…..
You can google them.
I just thought it was interesting, since now he wrote the book “Under Cover.” It’s creepy to me…..because with addictions, there usually is a life that is literally covered up….
Just a thought…..
I am also concerned with the authority issue. Jesus to be our ultimate authority. “Imitate Paul as he imitate Christ“. The church IS the Body of Christ. There is though some other Bible verses to take in mind of which one is: Luke 6v40-The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
I admire Lisa and John for being so upfront with the porn addiction issue. It shows that they are free and are healed. Lets not judge them for their openness. Obviously God did a great thing in their lives and what God heals, He heals 100%. It is not for me to wonder about other peoples sins, but rather for me to make sure my life is in order. Al people have weaknesses or sins in one way or another. Have grace to people that is that open about their previous sins.
I talk a bit about my experience with Under Cover here: https://www.fathommag.com/stories/break-the-teeth-in-their-mouths-o-god
Wow, what a story! Thank you so much, Russ. Yes, it does indeed make me angry that teachings like that of John Bevere (and MANY others) are used to keep the oppressed in their places of oppression. This is not the heart of God.
Thank you for sharing your raw wrestling–there are so many who need to know that same kind of raw wrestling with God.
Thanks so much, Rebecca. I’m grateful for what you’re doing to lay bare this nonsense!
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This reminds me of the teaching that wives must submit to husbands, while ignoring the call for husbands to love their wives the same way Jesus loved the Church by giving himself up for it. They completely miss the point of the Gospel. Jesus said in Luke 22:27 “I am here as one who serves.” And “whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.” (Matthew 20:26)
Yes, so true!
A Church I was with pushed & pedaled this book & it’s teachings for a long time…..I think they still do. I left. It’s dangerous, harmful & creates mindless sheep. I even heard a well known Pastor at a conference say that he asked his volunteers b4 the conference weekend to set-up 2000+ chairs a completely different way than usual…..& so they did, but then the Pastor said “I’ve changed my mind, set them back”….& they did, but it was noted that a few grumbled & the Pastor said, “I wanted to test their hearts & see who was really with me”
Wrong, wrong wrong! (& I’m guilty too) Like life doesn’t present enough challenges that you treat your congregants this way to “test them”? They left work early, devoting their time to their Church, usually because they passionately want to follow Christ & then get treated like a worldly boss would treat a lackey?! Sick & a gross & damaging misuse of authority. Not Jesus heart at all…but then again these same “Godly leaders” were teaching that “Godly Churches have a big front door but a much larger back door & I heard the Pastor say, if you’re leaving…”don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split you”…..sound like Jesus?
Just my (thinking for myself) 2 cents.
I find a lot of Christians pushing this teaching more than ever now with Gov’t crackdowns, masks etc…
This sort of thing with the chairs is exactly like what military commanders do. Dig the hole. Fill it in. Dig it again. Absolutely senseless work with the goal of creating non-thinking fully obedient slaves. No, this sounds about as far from Jesus as you can get.
I was attending an assemblies of God church and decided to take their discipleship course. Under Cover was the Book they used. I was not familiar with Bevere, but, a check developed in my spirit. So I dropped the course and now I am told that any leadership position will not work out ? Is the AG affiliated that strongly with John Bevere?
I’m guessing they’re not directly affiliated with Bevere so much as they are enamored of anyone who helps them get people in a subservient position.
I was just studying Jay Adams (another notorious teacher) and read about how he mocked the concept of having a “check in your spirit.” Apparently we’re not allowed to hear from the Holy Spirit either.
[…] in response to this link https://heresthejoy.com/2020/11/your-pastor-isnt-moses-a-response-to-john-beveres-under-cover/?fbcli… […]
I read the book (under Cover) way back, and at first believed the message, but i also had concerns. One of those to be in Ex1v15-21 where the midwives disobeyed the king and God saw it as righteousness and blessed the midwives afterwards.
Then there is also the issue of “who is the church”, and the Bible says the church IS the Body of Christ. We are the temple of God, and as such all believers are on even footing and carry Jesus’s authority and anointing inside of us.
On the other side I have to deal with 1Pet2v18: 18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. Now i know this is talking about the “workplace” and “employers”…. but still, why be subject to any evil form??
Can you please explain this to me?
My understanding is that one is to be subject to them, but get out from under them when it becomes possible. This is the same line of thinking applied to those who are prisoners–don’t fight back, but it’s not wrong to escape. Brother Yun, the “Heavenly Man” of China, is an example of this.
I don’t believe in woman interpreting the Bible, first its woman who were deceived not man, same thing here, if you think he is out of context (which you highlight some not the whole) what made you think you are good in interpreting the Bible?
Eve was deceived by the serpent, but this doesn’t mean that every redeemed child of God, who is born again by the blood of Jesus Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit, who is a female, is likewise deceived. On the contrary, Priscilla took part in teaching Apollos to help him understand the way of God more accurately, so we can assume that she was adept at interpreting the Bible.
I acknowledge that I’m subject to error, just as anyone can be, and I’m willing to have my errors pointed out to me. But my grounds for interpreting the Bible with confidence would be based at least in part on my personal statement of faith developed over 40+ years of Bible study and living life, which you can see here: https://heresthejoy.com/the-beliefs-behind-the-blog/
During the majority of the 40+ years that I’ve been studying the Bible, I was doing it simply because I wanted to know God. It was in this quiet place that I (together with my husband) worked out my understanding of Biblical interpretation, so that I could better know God. It was only about 12 years ago that I began to write this blog, as a place to spill out what the Lord was pouring into me through His Word and His Spirit.
There is more I could say here, and maybe I’ll gather my thoughts into a blog post eventually. But just as you are free to speak your belief that women should not interpret the Bible, I am also free to speak my interpretation of it. If readers believe I’m speaking falsehoods, I’m very willing to hear thoughtful arguments against what I’ve said. That would perhaps be more useful that simply letting me know that I should leave all Biblical interpretation to the men.
If Charles diamzon’s thinking is correct, then why did Jesus Himself make WOMEN to be His first missionaries? His first proclaimers of the Gospel? His first preachers?
Jesus told the women there at the tomb, especially Mary, to go tell the male disciples that He was risen. Seems to me, that if Jesus were concerned about keeping “sharing the gospel” in the boys’ club, (no girls allowed!) then Jesus would have just popped in where the boys were all hiding out. He was fully capable of just transporting Himself into their midst, as He clearly demonstrated later. But He didn’t. He gave His first, direct, divine revelation of His conquering of death and His resurrection to women. And He them appointed the women to go tell the men the good news of the gospel. He is risen!
Hmmm. Charles, can you explain to me how Adam ended up also disobeying God, yet you say “it was the women who was deceived not man…”? Just wanted to be educated by a man on that point, since you feel women weren’t created capable of interpreting scripture.
…anyone can become adept at biblical interpretation if they follow the rules and principles of biblical interpretation. There are even women who are the BEST at translating the Bible into languages which till now have been unwritten (my friend is one of them.) :o)
Anyone who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit can interpret the Bible, 1 John 2:27, because Truth is revealed by God. God is no respecter of persons, Acts 10:34. Some passages are difficult to understand, but not impossible, 2 Pet 3:16. Those are typically in Paul’s epistles, the passages about women that men who interpret the Bible twist. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, 2 Tim 2:15.
As for deception, there are way too many verses to list, but both men and women are vulnerable, Rom 16:18, 2 Cor 11:3, Col 2:4, 18, 2 Thess 2:3, 2 Tim 3:13, etc. Even Paul admitted being deceived in his past, Rom 7:11, Tit 3:3. Did you know that the majority of false teachers in the Bible are males who deceive both men and women?
So, your conclusion that women cannot interpret the Bible because Eve was deceived is simply a “tradition” taught by men. More importantly, the trouble in the Garden began with Adam, not the woman, which Bible interpreters conveniently overlook. Neither do they tell you the difference between sin, transgression, offense, and disobedience, all the things that Adam was guilty of, Romans 5, the one man who brought sin and death into this world.
So a woman has to depend on a man to interpret and study scripture? She wants to know God and have a relationship with Him like anyone else. God desires and wants a relationship with her. Saying that she can’t study and interpret scripture is going down the legalistic road and nonsense. A man can sin and be deceived as much as a woman. God also forgives both. So there is a big problem with this interpretation all on its own….
If, as Mr. Diamzon implies, men are less likely to be deceived on doctrine, why do so many Christian men disagree on interpretation? If men are less prone to doctrinal error, shouldn’t we expect to see all Christian men more or less united on matters of doctrine?
“Of course his point all through the book is that God’s authority is delegated to the church leader, and as you obey the church leader, you are obeying God.”
“He put you in the place of the Israelites. Then it’s a seamless assumption to put your pastor in the position of Moses.”
I haven’t read his book, but I agree with your assessment. He’s completely wrong, obviously. And not only is it a seamless assumption to put the pastor in the position of Moses/God, but also to put the husband/man in the position of God over the wife/woman. I don’t know if Bevere subscribes to that view or not, and would be surprised if he didn’t. I believe this is just part of the unscriptural, false authority structure set up in most of our churches today. For example, this past Mother’s Day, this is what the pastor in my local church literally said in his sermon:
“But when you trust your husband you’re trusting God.”
I find this extremely troubling.
It is so troubling, and it is in essence idolatry. The husband is not God, but he can become a god.
Trust comes because a person is trustworthy. When we marry, we assume the person we marry is trustworthy, but over time things can happen that erode our confidence in their trustworthiness. Then the trust needs to be regained. Blind trust is childish.
How we do church today is so messed up! This is not how Christ’s bride was meant to be. Why do we pay someone to study the bible and tell us what it says? We are to be in community, accountable, learning and teaching from God’s word and His Spirit living in us; submitting one to another in love (because I know this person so well as a sister or brother) not to one person. We have big buildings, big programs, all which need to be upheld by big money–Lord have mercy on us.
Oh! Does John Bevere’s book then make Jesus a sinner? Jesus clearly did not revere the spiritual authorities in the temple, the church of His time.
The priestly line had been instituted directly by God. The priests could not only claim Divine selection, but that they had all of temple/church history since Moses and Aaron to back up their claim that they deserved unquestioning loyalty and reverence.
But Jesus questioned everything they did. Jesus did not agree with them. Jesus did not “go along to get along.” Jesus called them out. Jesus called them snakes, graves, fit only for destruction — not mumbling under His breath, or behind their backs — but to their faces, loudly, and in front of all the assembled Israelites (church-goers of the time).
If Jesus had come to join the Bevere’s church, clearly they would have church-disciplined Him for insubordination, for lack of submission to Bevere’s authority, and for creating a “lack of unity” by upsetting the Bevere apple-cart.
The Bevere’s, and other church leaders like them, would throw Jesus out of their church. As a sinner.
It’s so, so obvious why Jesus, in Revelation 3, the letter to the church at Laodecia, is standing OUTSIDE the church, saying “Behold I stand at the door and knock…”
Church leaders like the Bevere’s are all about jealously-guarded authority and authority structures. Even to the point of excluding the freedom and liberty and the priesthood of the individual Christian congregation member, all granted by Jesus.
But I remember Jesus dealing with His church leaders who were all about jealously-guarded authority and authority structures. They valued authority (for them) and submission (from everyone else). Even to the point of excluding the One God Who came to give freedom and liberty and a priesthood to each individual who became a member of Christ’s true body.
And the name of the church-leader group Jesus called out? Pharisees.
Great thoughts. Thank you, Julie.
Nice work exposing, reproving, this… errr…
Unfruitful work of darkness…
“craftily presented,” tradition of men…
Do ALL those who promote the
“Moses Model of leadership?”
Wind-up like Moses?
If I remember correctly…
Moses never made it into The Promised Land.
When His children are abused?
There is good and bad in all. Generally if it’s a good church this makes sense. To differ to leadership unless their is clear and obvious reason not to. In the Bible there is the concept of the “seat of Moses”. I’m not sure that would actually apply to individual church leaders it’s meant to be the leader of all of Israel. In say a denomination like Catholicism that’s the pope – not the local priest. They are able to set direction for the entire denomination. But ideally there is still a hierarchy of authority. But leadership in Christianity is meant to be linked to servanthood and in Jesus case he lead by example.amd then called others to “follow him”. He didn’t force you but he wanted people to because it was in their best interests. If the leader has that mindset then it’s not an issue.
The concept of “the seat of Moses” is an Old Covenant concept. Jesus referred to the scribes and Pharisees as “sitting in the seat of Moses.”
Once Jesus was risen and ascended, the Old Covenant was finished and the New Covenant was come to fulfillment in His blood. Then the leadership within the church took on more of a perspective of “We see that you walk with the Lord, so we want to follow you.” I explain that in much greater detail in this blog post: https://heresthejoy.com/2020/08/that-obey-your-leaders-and-submit-to-their-authority-scripture-examining-hebrews-1317/
Not sure I agree. Jesus still appointed human leaders which started with the 12 apostles lead by Peter. They were given authority and power in the spirit and commissioned by him for a specific purpose. They became his messengers. (The word the Bible usually uses for this role is “malak” or “angel”. ) Those who had been appointed by God to carry a message are usually referred to as an angel/messenger. Be they human or spirts. Recognising an authentic messenger of Christ and helping and obeying them comes with huge rewards. Matthew 10:40 “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me.” Luke 10:16 “Anyone who listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me”
If you reject and authentic message and messenger of God it’s said to be the same as rejecting God himself. Thats important to understand.
An example. The 7 churches of revelation all had appointed leaders referred to as “angels” in the book of revelation. “To the angel of the church of Ephesus”. That’s the leader of the church – the Bishop of Ephesus. Depending on the timing of the letter this may have been the apostle Timothy who worked with Paul. He became the first Bishop of Ephesus. John writes the letter to the leaders of the 7 churches with clear and explicit instructions from christ. It is the leaders responsibility then to receive this instruction and pass this to the wider congregation to encourage their good behaviour and correct what they are doing wrong.
Now clearly there can be quote “bad” churches that do not follow the Gospel or Christ. We need to have discernment and ask for Christs help in choosing a good authentic Christian church with leaders who are spiritually lead by Christ. But if we have done this – if we have selected a church with the aid of Christ’s guidance then we should submit to and respect the leaders authority over that church. The position Christ has moved them into. The purpose of their role is to receive revelation and guidance about how the larger group should act. To co-ordinate them towards God’s will and what he is currently doing on the earth. So we move together as a larger flock to accomplish his goals and aims.
If you have an authentic Christian leader then submitting to their authority and following their direction should be something you actually WANT to do.
We do want to have Christian leaders, of course. It’s Biblical and right and good. But they are not to be like Moses–and not even, I would argue, like the apostles, because the apostles were one of a kind, since they actually wrote the New Testament, which is pretty doggone authoritative.
Rather, the leaders we want are the ones who point us to Jesus, as I wrote about in my “Hebrews 13:17” blog post I linked to in the comment above. It is not about “submitting to their authority.” It is about following them as they lead us to Jesus.
Hmm personally I don’t think there is anything scriptural about not having Christian leaders like the apostles or Moses. I actually think the opposite. We want “annointed” leaders filled with the holy spirit and power just like they were. I think what it really comes down to is about being able to discern the true annointed leader from the “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. The false prophet. Because God teaches us to submit to and follow one – and flee from the other. The really hard part is – the wolf is usually the one who is easier and more attractive to follow. Thats how the wolf attracts people. Tickling their ears. The real annointed leader – they are going to challenge you ask more difficult things from you. It’s why most of Jesus disciples stopped following him. It was too hard. So for me what you speak about entirely depends on your church pastor. If they are an authentic disciple it makes sense. If they aren’t then it doesn’t and you should be doing the opposite. Probably why wolves are so attracted to the role of the pastor and also why God said especially harsh judgement is reserved for these.
One of the ways we can tell if a leader walks in truth is if he refuses to be put on a pedestal.
Integrity does not dominate others.
Sincere leaders refuse adoration.
Yes, all glory be to the Lamb who was slain, who is worthy to receive all power and glory.
An antichrist in the Greek means of someone who opposes Christ or puts himself in place of Christ. This is what you will find in many cults, they want you to listen to them as the one who speaks for God instead of Jesus as the head of the church. As John the apostal said, many anti christs have appeared, and there continues to be many out there yet! That is why Jesus said to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves, because there are wolves among us. Jesus said to beware of men (religeous men) who will deliver you up to council and beat you in their synagogues.(that can mean verbally as well since we have laws in place now to prevent physical beatings, which they probably would if they could)
Yes, so true.
Since John Bevere indicates that a man is due our unconditional obedience by virtue of his position only, we can assume that a woman is also due the same unconditional obedience, if she holds the same position — right, John?
This is a very good rebuttal to the pastor authority teaching in John’s book. In our marriage ministry, we mention the “Under Cover” book as one of the more severely wrong current examples of marriage teaching. (older examples we refer to are ones like “Love and Respect”, “His Needs/Her Needs” “Total Woman” “Created to be his Helpmeet” and some others).
Like he does with Pastors, John tells wives that her husband is in the “position of authority” of “husband”.. GOD put HIS authority into the POSITION of husband.. and so.. yes, in true Gothard like, umbrella style, if a wife is in rebellion to her husband, she is in rebellion to God.
We spend all of our time (26 hours) on teaching marriage; and only marriage, in our 5-Day Weekend Marriage Intensives.. so we don’t comment at all on what John teaches about the pastor authority. As a compliment to you, we are going to print your article out and make it available to those who attend our marriage intensives. (GodSaveMyMarriage.com)
I’m glad you find it helpful, Joel and Kathy. When you print it out, please mention that the copyright belongs to me, and also I would appreciate it if you would mention that this is one chapter in Untwisting Scriptures #2: Patriarchy and Authority.
Sounds like a plan. We just ordered a copy of #2 through Amazon.
Our books are “The Man of Her Dreams/The Woman of His!” and “Volume 2: Livin’ it and Lovin’ it!” Blessings! Joel and Kathy
[…] Your Pastor Isn’t Moses: A Response to John Bevere’s “Under Cover” John Bevere’s book has been purchased by the case, to help church members get “under” the “cover” of their pastor as unquestionable boss. What does it really say? This blog post eventually became a chapter in Untwisting Scriptures #2. […]