Covering theology is wrong on several levels.  First and foremost it distorts the gospel of Jesus Christ. It redefines sin, grace and faith through an authoritarian lens.  It takes the precious things the bible tells us are available to us solely through faith like God’s protection and provision and makes them conditional upon submission to a church leader.   This is no different than the false teachers of Paul’s day who tried to teach that circumcision was necessary to have a complete relationship with God.  Paul’s response?  Gal 3:3  “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

Covering theology teaches that the kingdom of God operates like the Roman Empire with a clearly defined hierarchical order.   The one verse that is used to support this notion is Romans 13:1-7  but the original context of the passage has to be ignored to make this fit.    In this passage Paul wasn’t talking about the church, he was talking about the Roman Christians should relate to the Roman empire.  Jesus makes it very clear in Mat 20:25-26 that the church should not operate like the Roman Empire.

Covering theology is coercive and inevitably leads to spiritual abuse.  It compels people to submit through the threat of spiritual disaster.   It is manipulative because the threat is not real.  There is no scripture that indicates people put themselves at peril if they aren’t completely submitted to authority.

Most of the Christian church doesn’t believe in covering theology. It appeared on the scene in North America about 40 years ago through something called the shepherding movement.  That movement was completely discredited and some of the leaders have publicly repented of their involvement.

Covering Theology focuses on a couple of scriptures but ignores several others.  It just doesn’t fit with Jesus’ words about leadership.  It doesn’t fit with Pauls concept of the church as a body.  It doesn’t fit with how Paul conducted himself with Peter and what he thought of Christian leaders in Jerusalem.

Several questions have to be answered before Covering Theology can fit with the greater biblical story.  If submission to church leaders is based on their position is so important why isn’t it clearly laid out in scripture and reinforced by example?  Why would Paul go to such great lengths to the convince the Corinthians that they should listen to him because of his life and ministry and not the people who had “letters of recommendation” and judge things according to the flesh?  How could prophets like Jeremiah and John the Baptist say such negative things about their leaders if we are called to be unconditionally submitted to authority?  Why aren’t we warned in the New Testament that we open ourselves up to demonic deception and spiritual disaster if we don’t submit to the authority of church leaders?  This would be a really big deal if it were true and  yet the entire New Testament is silent on it?  This just so much in the bible that doesn’t fit with Covering Theology.

We must also consider the fruit of this teaching.  Jesus tells us that a good tree will bear good fruit.  Have the churches that implemented this teaching ever experienced the revival that is promised will accompany this so called alignment? Why are there continual reports of abuse and spiritual shipwreck in the lives of the people?  Why do so many sincere Christians have such a problem reading “Under Cover” because there is such a check in their spirit?

I have no doubt there are sincere Christians that have accepted covering theology and a great many others that could rightly be considered wolves in sheep’s clothing.  To those who are sincere I ask you:

  • Do you really want to reject hundreds of years of protestant/evangelical biblical interpretation?
  • Do you really think that you’ve discovered some hidden structural change to bring about revival?  Has it worked so far?
  • Do you really want to accept a theology that redefines the central concepts in our understanding of salvation such as faith, sin and grace?
  • Have you ever winced inside when you observed the application of this theology and watched people go in to great distress?

Being a leader isn’t easy.  Watching people make their own choices and their own mistakes is difficult.  However we cannot fix that by scaring them in to listening to us.  It doesn’t work, it doesn’t help, it is isn’t leadership and it certainly isn’t biblical.

(NRSV)  Gal 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

16 comments on “Why it is false

  1. Thank God for me discovering your page its a blessing to me at this time of my christian walk,it will be of great help to me. Thank you, of a truth only what we do for Christ will last or will we be able to stand in these testing times. My heart aches for truth in how to walk in understanding of God’s word,i pray everyday to God for it, to better my understanding for i don’t want to be yoked up, but to walk in humility of honoring those set over me but not to be taken advantage of by those in authority for it seem to be the in thing and my heart break and i am before God in tears over this. It was a relief to stumble across your page God bless you i believe you are a answer to my prayer.

    I encourage you to keep,keeping on in the task of placing some of what God has place in you for seekers such as I. Thank you again and may God richly blesses you ministry.

  2. Regards servant of God;

    Thanks for the material herein presented. But I think it is very important to submit under some spiritual authority. It must not be particular or specific. If your problem is with just one of the reasons for which submitting is taught, it could be expedient to so present the matter in a way that does not completely rule out submission to authority. The truth is that there has been abuse; but that does not make the whole teaching of submission false. A man’s walk with the Lord depends so much on maturity. When someone starts taking some decisions and sealing them in one way or the other, it portrays growth. Believe me, the person to whom I submit as father in the Lord entered a covenant with God that he can never die by motor accident; and as I submit to him, I know I am covered by this covenant. Please let’s teach that some people in authority have abused those who submit to them but I am convicted and convinced that there is less evil if at all in covering theology than is presented by those who teach against it.

    May the Lord bless us all to be able to understand His word and His teachings both on issues that are Biblical and on issues that are Scriptural

  3. Chaneth

    I’m only going to teach what I see in scripture. I don’t put forth an alternative model of leadership because I think there are several approaches to church leadership that I find acceptable. I don’t want a debate over acceptable approaches to distract from the issue I’m attempting to address.

    I believe that all authority has been given to Jesus, and our most reliable way of understanding what His will is, is found in scripture. We can be convinced and convicted all we want about this teaching or that, but it if doesn’t square with scripture it is very likely we are in rebellion to our ultimate authority: God.

  4. “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘ These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. “Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. ‘Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. Revelation 2:13-16

    “Nicolaitans” means “Victorious over the people; a follower of Nicolaus, a heretic.” Anyone who uses their leadership position to manipulate others is bumping up against the thing Jesus hates. The Lord wants us to be under His control, no one else’s. But even He doesn’t use such tactics of manipulation. He wants willing obedience, not contrived. Our acceptance was paid for on the cross, therefore we need not be man- pleasers. Jesus rules by example and through serving but Nicolaitans rules through manipulation and control.

    Nicolaitan authority is false authority. Therefore a believer is not required to submit to it. In fact he should take dominion over it. Nicolaitan authorities may try to label us as rebels, but Christ must reign supreme, regardless of what others say.

    The root of the word Nicolaitans comes from Greek nikao, to conquer or overcome, and laos, which means people and which the word laity comes from. The two words together especially means the destruction of the people and refers to the earliest form of what we call a priestly order or clergy which later on in church history divided people and allowed for leadership other than those led by the spirit of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. A good translation of Nicolaitan would be “those who prevail over the people.” This clerical system later developed into the papal hierarchy of priests and clergy lording over the flock. The Council of Trent stated, “If anyone shall say that there is not in the Catholic Church a hierarchy established by the divine ordination, consisting of bishops, presbyters and ministers, let him be anathema.” This very idea was taken over by the Protestants with their own corruption of church leadership. The Church of Ephesus was commended for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans. The wrong separation of the clergy from the laity is a great evil in God’s sight and He hates the lust for religious power. There is an ungodly spiritual authority in the Church today, which is nothing more than the prideful spirit of control, manipulation, domination and intimidation and a rebellion of the rightful authority of God.

  5. Excellent points, LT. I have experienced some ‘authoritarian arrogance’ recently. I was a small group leader in my non-denom church. A busy-body, ambitious member reported to the pastors that I had ‘a glass of wine’ at a restaurant bar….so the pastor ‘called me in’ and tried to chastise me. I defended my character appropriately. Later, they wouldn’t let me be a small group leader anymore, nor serve communion as I had been scheduled.
    Yes…I was ‘in rebellion’ they had decided. So I s’pose they were punishing me.
    I met with them again, and they denied they were an ‘authoritarian’ church structure….then proceeded to talk harshly to me, tell me I had lied to them that I would never ‘drink’ in a bar, and when I acted like I was amazed at what was happening, they told me I ‘did not respect them as pastors’! I wish I had it all on video. Behind closed doors with them was totally different than what is presented by the Sr Pastor on stage!
    Fortunately, I am mature in Christ and can see it for what it is.
    Thanks so much for your time spent in keeping this website current…..I’ll bet we see more of this type behavior.

  6. Biblical submission, other than to Christ, is mutual, to each other. Thus a pastor is to submit to each and every member of the congregation as each is to submit to the pastor. And Jesus taught that to be a leader meant to be the servant of those being led, not the dictator over them. So the spirit of submission is humbleness and a servant heart, not handing out sanctions to the flock by some self-appointed leader.

  7. Hello all,
    I love this page, I think it is allowing others to learn to be more cautious when joining a church and that is good. However, I do believe that you can really tell when a church is trying to control you or just help you grow by holding you accountable! I love my church in Rockford IL, it is a church over just over 2,000 and it has done nothing but grow, they are relational, they love people and it is amazing to be a part of something like this. I submit to my Spiritual Authority in a sense of confession, getting light into darkness, remaining focused, they really hold me accountable and its like bouncing things off of them to get wisdom…if they are all saying the same thing and in my heart I know what God is telling me then I know its probably right. So in that sense I think some churches enter this with good intentions but go estray with power, some on the other hand take the leadership and use it for good and really do have pure hearts. Thanks for posting!

  8. Jesus commanded his disciples when he left to baptize people in his name and to teach others what he (Jesus) commanded. Jesus commanded that his government was not like the hierarchy of the world governments. It is being a servant. End of debate about this subject.

  9. well well well… what an excellent piece!
    So many are suffering under the hand of abusive heavy handed leadership. No longer is it called the shepherding movement, no, now it has many other names…Word of Faith… Appostolic Renewal, ICA and more. Charismania at its worst is in epedemic proportions and so many committed, devoted and loyal Chistians are being duped out of a living relationship with the living God in exchange for a relationship with the rules… law… legalism and it is played out by authoritarian ministers who play a pope like part in the life of the cult… oh sorry, church they lead.

    I am so glad to see that this posted here. I was convinced for a long time that spiritual covering was right and when i read “Under Cover” i fell hook line and sinker for it. I sumitted and yielded to leadership considering it necessary tio be in right standing with God, if we did not we bore the label Rebelliour or Jezabel! Fear of stepping out of line was not restricted to what they would say or do, but to what wrath would the lord God pour out on us? All grace was erroded and assurance of salvation was always teatering on the edge of this fear filled OTHER gospel.

    Very well presented and very well put. thank you for posting this for the world to be able to read.
    May God lead those cvaught up in this to this page and others of its kind. Very well said blerss you.

  10. This is a great teaching on “Covering Theology” and is related to “Touch Not God’s Anointed”
    teaching. But pastors and denominations don’t necessarily use those terms to abuse, lord it over, and simply hijack local churches, and defrock pastors. They use this language which boils down to the same bondage and principality: “You are in rebellion to constituted authority”.
    Here is a perfect and recent example of how the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination took this predatory action to seize a local church (they do it often…and sue if they don’t get their way):

  11. I want to take the time to say thank you. i googled scriptures that support covering and this page came up. you have confirmed what I have been telling people. I have had people tell me I need a covering, My response is always, God is my covering. man cannot cover a whole heep of people. God can only do that. They are manipulating people to bring them under their control and use scriptures to justify it. Once again, Thank you for this. may God continue to keep blessing you and using you to speak the truth.

  12. Thank you for this information. alot of apostles and prophets have come to me and told me that I need a covering. I always responded with God is my Covering. Covering is used to manipulate and control the the people of God. as you sad, Man cannot cover all. Thank you again. May God continue to bless you and continue to speak forth the truth.

  13. An explosion of good information on the doctrine of the covering. Thanks friend. I am putting a podcast series together on this topic and I will be sure to name your site as an excellent source of information on the covering doctrine. Thanks.
    Michael Boehm

  14. Dear Bro, I can truly say amen to what you have searched, researched and written ! I myself am a Pastor and have taught the Lord’s people that the ‘True Covering’ of the Church is the Lord God himself, HE is the ‘KANAPH’ – the Canopy for his people, and may no man seek to take God’s place. There was one who tried to take Gods place and that was Satan ! I have noticed that it is those pastors/ministers who Compromise, Plagiarize and live in sin, afraid that their sins will be exposed some day and that’s why they wield the ‘Rod of Judgment’ saying “I am your covering, you are exposed & naked without me, so do not disobey me, do not expose me”. Such preachers must be thoroughly exposed, that their kingdoms be brought down. God will destroy such man centered kingdoms. Do keep up your good work.

  15. Thanks I the thought I was the only one. I have taught on the Tallit which talks about the cover of Christ. If Christ is my covering how could a man possible give me covering? I already have the covering of the most high.



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