The more I think about Covering Theology the more I believe the real issue isn’t about authority but the gospel itself. Covering Theology takes several free benefits of salvation like divine protection from evil and ads a condition to keep them or acquire them. That condition is submission to church leaders. Covering and Authority is not so different from the issue of circumcision in scripture. On the surface seems biblical but it lacks power. We gain the following benefits of salvation by grace through faith in Christ:
- in the eternal plan of God
- removed form condemnation
- under grace instead of judgement
- dead to sinful nature
- free from the law
- adopted as sons and daughters
- made acceptable to God
- delivered from the kingdom of Satan
- transferred to God’s kingdom
- given access to God
- objects of his power
- objects of his faithfulness
- objects of his peace
- recipients of the Holy Spirit
- complete in Him
The only way to lose these benefits are to pursue something other than faith in Christ (and some believe you can never lose at least some of them). In Covering Theology many of the items listed above are presented as conditional benefits that hinge upon whether you are submitted to authority. Submission to human authority isn’t necessary for that which we receive freely through faith in Christ. The only path to Christlikeness is the path of faith in Christ leading to a new creation. We submit to those who have the right to speak in to our lives in our desire to come to more faith in Christ. The role of leadership to point to Jesus, not to put barriers between people and Jesus and influence people to funnel their relationship to God through them.
The following passage of scripture is about idolatry but it very much applies to Covering Theology.
Rom 1:15 Thus I am eager also to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome.
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Rom 1:17 For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, "The righteous by faith will live."
Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness,
Rom 1:19 because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.
Rom 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened.
Rom 1:22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools
Rom 1:25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
The people who accept Covering Theology have made a shift from honouring God as a God and honouring their pastor as God just as Paul describes in v21. It often isn’t intentional. It is subtle. It might come to a choice. Do I do what I know is right or do I maintain the unity of the body? If I read “CoveringAndAuthority.com” am I rebelling against authority? Slowly, subtly everything starts to be filtered through the “is this contributing to the unity of the body” lens not the “does this honour God lens.”
The people who honour men as God are no different than the idolaters that Paul speaks of. Because they do not glorify God they become futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts are darkened. Claiming to be wise they become fools.
The irony is thick because in Covering Theology people are more open to deception when they leave their church covering. In reality it is the opposite. Once they accept any person other than Jesus as their cover the deception sets in.