"God has an authority structure. He always works through authority. It is for our what…our protection" Ed Young.
Protection from what you might ask. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find out it is about the Devil, sin, finances, ministry success, your ability to provide for your family. There are any number of untold horrors that lurk for those who step outside God’s authority structure. The sad reality is there isn’t much scriptural support for the concept. Bevere attempts to use Numbers 23:23 for support for this teaching (Bevere 72).
Num 23:23 For there is no spell against Jacob,
nor is there any divination against Israel.
At this time it must be said of Jacob
and of Israel, ‘Look at what God has done!’
Here we see that God had decided to bless Hebrews in their journey and in this particular instance God wouldn’t let Balaam curse these people at this time. God had an agenda with His people at that time and he wanted to be remembered for how he brought them through to the Promised Land. Taking this incident and applying to every church in all time is a huge stretch.
Jesus, nor the apostles ever mention such a doctrine
- Jesus granted the disciples over the spiritual powers of darkness (Mat 10:1)
- Christ defeated the powers of darkness on the cross
- Our freedom comes from being united with Christ in his death and resurrection through faith
- The Old Testament is filled with references to curses in Israel (Psalm 109:19, Pro 3:33, Jer 11:3)
- The church and Israel are two different things
Consider these scriptures:
2Ti 1:12 Because of this, in fact, I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, because I know the one in whom my faith is set and I am convinced that he is able to protect what has been entrusted to me until that day.
2Ti 1:13 Hold to the standard of sound words that you heard from me and do so with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
2Ti 1:14 Protect that good thing entrusted to you, through the Holy Spirit who lives within us.
2Th 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.
Jas 4:7 So submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you.
1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1Pe 1:4 that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you,
1Pe 1:5 who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
One of the great things I discovered I came to when researching for this website was that our salvation begins in this life and it is entirely accessible through faith in Christ. In verse 3 Peter says we have been given a new birth and living hope through the resurrection. A living hope is a hope that continues and is available to us through what Christ has done.
It is Christ that protects us. We are protected by the Holy Spirit through faith. There is no mention anywhere in scripture that submission to authority is required for spiritual protection.
Another issue with this teaching surrounds the definition of church. Is it an official religious non-profit organization? Does it have to be in a denomination? What qualifies? If I stop attending one church but start a new house church up with 5 friends do I go from being protected, to unprotected back to be being protected again? The whole notion gets really silly.
What isn’t silly is the impact this teaching has on people in the realm of the spirit, heart and mind. It is a spiritualized protection racket. A protection racket is an extortion scheme. The mafia approaches legitimate businesses and offers their "protection" services. If they don’t get their dues then they designate the uncooperative business as free game for freelance criminals or the organization itself. In a church people are given a similar choice of options. Either you stay in church and do as you are told or the devil will get you, God’s provision will decrease and so will God’s presence in your life.
Even when people are mistreated and abused they will stay and endure because they are afraid of what doom lies for them outside the covering of their church. This fear driven manipulation does horrible things to people spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
This particular aspect of covering theology can be difficult to disprove. If someone leaves the church and something bad happens to them then it is cited has proof. If nothing bad happens then people expect it is coming just around the bend or they expect things would have been even better if they hadn’t left. If something bad happens to someone in church then they must have sinned or lacked faith.
The truth is that we experience more of the richness of God family and the benefits of fellowship in a church. There is incredible strength and a greater diversity of ministry in a local body. However one needs something far deeper than a church membership to tap in to these benefits. People need healthy relationships built on trust and held together by sacrificial love. This is the way God designed his body to work. People in authoritarian churches rarely experience this.
Christ’s blood is what sanctifies us. It is what makes us more like Him. It isn’t a stretch to believe that what makes us more like Christ will protect us. We enter in to that relationship through the blood of the cross by our faith in Christ. That doesn’t change whether you are in church or not.
Bevere, John. Under Cover. Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 2001.