Here is a re-upload of tortilla_chip’s articles.
There is a book making rounds among many churches by John Bevere called “Under Cover: The Promise of Protection Under His Authority.” It’s been some time since I left UBF, but I certainly do have heart for the many individuals that remain in this ministry, not to mention the many new believers whose first Bible study takes place in UBF. In this series I am simply going to present several short articles going through Allan Clare’s review of the “Shepherding Movement” from the 1970’s and its connection with John Bevere’s 2001 book “Under Cover.”
I hope this will help those who see this series understand some of the structural flaws that lead to spiritual abuse, and other issues in UBF.
In this first installment I will just highlight main points from Allan Clare’s review of the book, in particular the first two chapters. The full review John Bevere called “Under Cover: The Promise of Protection Under His Authority.” is relatively short: Allan Clare Review (pdf)
I. A Little History: The Shepherding Movement
Anyone who has been in UBF for any time at all should feel there ears tingle when they hear something like “The Shepherding Movement.” It is a movement very similar to what is found in UBF. So similar that I’m amazed I haven’t seen UBF mentioned as a group that continues its practices. Hopefully we can learn from their mistakes. Here is some of the history that Clare provides:
The Shepherding Movement emerged as a nondenominational movement in 1974. Four Charismatic Bible teachers formed the movement, which spread and was taught by thousands all over the country.
The teachings of the Shepherding Movement emphasized: authority, submission, discipleship, commitment to covenant relationships, loyalty, pastoral care, and spiritual covering. One David Moore puts it, “…the need for discipleship through personal care or, as they termed it, ‘shepherding’ care… a believer was to submit to a ‘personal pastor’ [i.e. a shepherd] who would help the individual develop Christian maturity.”
The rise of the Shepherding Movement alarmed many, particularly because it produced stories of abusive authority, hyper-submission, and controlled lives.
The founders realized that their teaching produced problems and cases of spiritual abuse, and they openly repented and asked forgiveness from those harmed. Bob Mumford, one of the founders publically repented saying, “some families were split up and lives turned upside down. Some of these families are still not back together.” They admitted that the movement causes, “an unhealthy submission resulting in perverse and unbiblical obedience to human leaders.”
Moore again says the Shepherding Movement, “…created a propensity toward an abuse of spiritual authority, especially among young immature leaders, or leaders who lacked character and integrity… the emphasis on hierarchically oriented submission to God’s delegated authorities led to many cases of improper control and abusive authority throughout the movement.”
II. From Shepherding to “Under Cover”
[Still from Clare’s review]
Bob Mumford, one of the four Shepherding Movement founders, distributed his teachings through issues of New Wine magazine, which focused on the need for practical obedience to God and submission to his delegated authority in all spheres of life.
Despite the near history of the Shepherding Movement and all the issues it caused, in 2001 Thomas Nelson published John Bevere’s “Under Cover” a book which promotes Bevere’s own teaching on authority, submission, discipleship, commitment in covenant relationships, loyalty, pastoral care, and spiritual covering.
The book has spread through Charismatic churches and other church accustomed to top-down, hierarchical models of church leadership [i.e. UBF].
Mary Alice Chrnalogar writes: “…since many leaders in the Shepherding Movement admitted doing wrong, various people who continue to use the same methods have begun to give different labels for the same actions… The errors are covered in many different terms like delegated authority, covering, unquestioned submission, covenant, commitment to a fellowship, etc. Terms change from time to time. Submission may be called ‘commitment,’ ‘covenant relationship’ or ‘divine order’ [or ‘spiritual order’] in church government. Many times terms aren’t used at all; it is the actions that tell you what is going on.”
Although Bevere doesn’t use the term “Shepherding” in the book “Under Cover,” the main focus is obedience to delegated authority [i.e. church leadership].
These are the main points in the first two chapters of Clare’s short essay. Hopefully some interest was sparked about the Shepherding Movement and this book “Under Cover,” and how it relates to the methods practiced in UBF. We can learn much from other people’s mistakes. Sometimes our own errors are most obvious when someone else, like Bevere, promotes near identical teachings in a more direct way. This way we can see them as they are instead of in the hidden / subliminal forms they most often take. What do you think? Does the Shepherding Movement sound similar to church UBF style? Are you already familiar with Bevere’s book? If so, what can you share?
In my last article, I shared how Allen Clare introduced the Shepherding Movement of the 1970s and connected it to John Bevere’s 2001 book “Under Cover.” The foundational teaching in both the Shepherding Movement and Bevere’s book “Under Cover,” is the idea of delegated authority. As I introduce some main points presented in chapter three of Clare’s essay, I would ask you to ponder whether this style of ministry is common in UBF, and try to give your perspective in the comments section.
For reference, again, the Allen Clare review is available here:
(Please see my previous article for the first two sections.)
III. Delegated Authority
Shepherding Movement teaching, along with Bevere’s presentation in his book “Under Cover”, is deeply connected to the concept of delegated authority. Romans 13 is used to establish their doctrine of delegated authority.
In the first chapter of Bevere’s book he recounts a time in his life when he was a youth pastor. Long story short, Bevere’s ministry was doing well, but without warning or conversation the lead pastor decided to stop the youth ministry’s practices. Bevere was upset about this and had a hard time coping with the lead pastor’s seemingly unwise decision. The lead pastor deflected John Bevere’s question about the decision by repeating 4 times, “John, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and told me the direction of this church…” (pp 14-15)
Bevere then continues to share his thoughts, and then shares about a conversation he had with the Holy Spirit. This is the conversation:
The Holy Spirit says, “John whose ministry are you building? Mine or yours?”
John blurts out, “Yours, Lord!”
The Holy Spirit responds, “No, you’re not! You’re building your own.”
John says, “Lord, we can’t get most unsaved students to our church but we can get them to parties…” (use of parties was the strategy the lead pastor was discontinuing).
After he says the Lord allowed him to vent, Bevere claims the Holy Spirit told him the following:
“John, when I brought you to this church to serve this man, I made you an extension of the ministry I entrusted to him. I called you to be his arms and legs; I put only one man in charge of a ministry… John, when you stand before Me in judgment for the time period that I have had you serve this pastor, you will not first give an account of how many youth you led to salvation in Orlando, Florida. You will first be judged on how faithful you were to the pastor I’ve put you under.”
What are we to make of these conversations Bevere supposedly had with the Holy Spirit? I have a couple of issues to point out. First, it should be a red flag when the foundations for a new doctrine come from a conversation someone had with the Holy Spirit. Second, since when are we called to serve the pastor at a church and be his arms and legs? Can anyone say, “idolatry?” Third, the New Testament clearly teaches a multiplicity of elders is the apostolic model for the New Testament church.
Bevere uses this conversation to move into his understanding of Romans 13:1-2: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist bring judgment on themselves.”
Then Bevere comments: “Some may say, ‘I submit to God, but not to man, unless I agree with him.’ This is where our upbringing and incorrect church thinking can hinder us. We cannot separate out submission to God’s inherent authority from our submission to His delegated authority [i.e. civil, church, family leaders] … When we oppose God’s delegated authority, we oppose God Himself!”
In this Bevere is teaching the infamous Shepherding Movement doctrine of delegated authority, as Derek Prince (one of the four founders of the Shepherding Movement) says: “…the New Testament requires submission to the following specific relationships… all Christians to secular governments on all levels… all Christians to those who rule over them in church… we do not obey those in authority because they are right; we obey them because they are in authority, and all authority ultimately stems from God himself (See Rom 13:1-5).”
Does Romans 13 really teach Bevere’s view of delegated authority?
My claim: The passage is very clearly referring to state officials, and civil government and cannot be used to refer to God’s delegated authorities in the church.
Proof: Look at the context and how Paul describes the authorities that are his subject.
- Romans 13:4, “For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing.”
Observe that “bearing the sword” for punishment is not a role for authorities in the church.
- Rom 13:4-5: “He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.”
Observe that executing wrath upon wrongdoers is not a function of the New Testament church.
- Rom 13:6-7: “This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time governing…”
Observe that paying taxes is not a function of the New Testament church.
Conclusion: The governing authorities in Romans 13 are not church leaders because none of the named services carried out by these authorities are functions of the New Testament church. Bevere is wrong to apply Romans 13 in the way he does.
What is your perspecive on this delegated authority teaching?
What do you think about the Shepherding Movement’s and John Bevere’s teaching on delegated authority? Do you see any resemblance to UBF’s authority structure? Have you ever heard Romans 13 used in UBF in the way that Bevere and others use it? What do you think about this?
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