Google+ Followers

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Why Can’t I Touch God’s Anointed?

I used to be on the staff of a Pentecostal mega-church where, at the time, they had a very popular deliverance ministry. One of the greatest components of their ministry was based on Generational Curse. Without getting too far into it, (I am planning to write about it later on) they believed that much of our problems in life were related to some kind of a curse that was brought upon us through a sin committed by someone in our lineage. It didn’t matter if the proverbial sin was committed two days ago by your father or two hundred years ago by your great, great, great cousin who was the stepson of your great, great, great, great aunt.

Since I considered the teaching to be false, I wrote a paper showing its fallacy and presented it to the pastor of the church hoping for a dialog between the leader of the ministry and the pastoral staff.

As is common for the church leaders who are still caught up in Modernity, instead of getting a dialogue, I got a lecture. These leaders do not allow a conversation or an exchange of ideas. As far as they are concerned, it is a privilege for you and me to be on the receiving end of what they dictate to us. And God forbid if you question what they have to offer.

On top of that, one false teaching was defended by another. “Look at how God is blessing this ministry! Don’t you know you are not supposed to touch God’s anointed?” I was told.

The above statement brought up several questions:

1. Who is God’s anointed?
2. Where did this teaching originate?
3. What does touching God’s anointed mean?
4. Why can’t I touch him/her?

In the Bible, the word anointed is usually related to pouring oil on someone or something. The first time the Bible refers to this act is when Jacob pours oil on a heap of rocks.

Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz. Gen. 28:19-19

This tradition was a sign of consecration and, in the case of Aaron and his sons, a sign of ordination.

After you put these clothes on your brother Aaron and his sons, anoint and ordain them. Consecrate them so they may serve me as priest. Ex. 28:41
The prophets of Israel followed the tradition of pouring oil on men as a sign affirming that God had ordained a particular man to be the king over the people of Israel.

Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul's head and kissed him, saying, "Has not the LORD anointed you leader over his inheritance? 1 Sam 10:1

Hence, the kings of Israel were called God’s anointed. And it was within this context that David called Saul, The Lord’s or God’s anointed.

He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. The men said, "This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said to you, 'I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.' " Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul's robe. Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. He said to his men, "The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD's anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD." With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way. I Sam 24:3-7
This is what is happening. David finally has a chance to KILL Saul who had every intention of killing David. But David refuses to “lift his hand against or touch God’s anointed”. Any honest person should be able to see that the issue here is not criticizing Saul, but doing him in. Touching God’s anointed, as the above pastor tried to convey to me, has nothing to do with telling someone, “sir/madam, I don’t agree with you.” But, it has everything to do with saying, “sir/madam, I am going to KILL you.”
Today, with no kings around and all the Old Testament prophets gone, how can we tell who is God’s anointed is?

Well, according to everything I was ever taught by my Pentecostal mentors, God’s anointed are the Christian leaders with great accomplishments. So, if one is the pastor of a mega-church, a great preacher, a successful televangelist, a popular faith healer (usually with a bad comb-over), or the president of a denomination, you are God’s anointed. So, the anointing is directly related to your status within the church. And because you are God’s anointed no one should criticize anything you do. For to do so is to touch God’s anointed which, after all, even David wouldn’t do.

If the above is true then our Lord, Jesus Christ, was guilty of a grievous sin of criticizing some of the most anointed people of his time, the Jewish teachers and leaders. Yet, you and I both know that this was not so in Christ’s case.

Then, why such a blatantly erroneous teaching, you might ask?

To control the people who dare to ask questions.

If a Christian leader can convince his followers that his accomplishment is related to him being God’s anointed, then by questioning him you have committed the sin of touching God’s anointed. Yet, one of the mandates of Jesus to his followers is to ask questions and to knock on doors for answers. As Rob Bell says in Velvet Elvis, “A Christian does not avoid questions; a Christian embraces them. In fact, to truly pursue the living God, we have to see the need for questions.”

The aforementioned teaching is the brainchild of a group of insecure and control-freak Christian leaders whom, out of the fear of losing control, could not tolerate anyone questioning their motive or behaviors and believe me, after almost 30 years of being in the ministry, I have seen many of these so-called anointed people of God.

For the five years I thought at a Bible College, one thing I demanded of my students was to challenge and question what I was teaching them. I was there to learn from their questions just as much as they were there to learn from me. I would always finish a semester by telling me students, “Be a rebel. Not just to be different, but to make a difference for the Kingdom of God.”

Monday, January 15, 2007

Spiritual Warfare and the Desert Fathers

As a Pentecostal, I was taught that spiritual warfare was directly related to the binding and loosing of Matthew 16:19 where Jesus said:

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

As a Christian, I was told, in Christ’s name we have the power to come against Satan and bind him and all his demons preventing them from operating in some particular circumstances. And by the same token, we had the power to loose the power of the Holy Spirit to operate in the said circumstances. So, you put on the full armor of Ephesians Chapter Six and off you went to bind Satan and his cohorts.

Like many, for years I followed this formula. However after a while I came to the conclusion that, like the many other formulas my mentors had taught me, this one didn’t work either. I was perplexed by the fact that if indeed this verse is referring to binding Satan, then why is it that as much as we have bound him, he is still running around freely and creating so much misery in this world? And if this is not the way to do spiritual warfare, then how does a follower of Christ conduct such warfare?

The answer came to me over ten years ago while sitting in my Early Church History class at Fuller Seminary. Quite in passing, my professor, Mel Robeck, mentioned something about the Desert Fathers, “who went out to do spiritual warfare, but not the way we do it today.” That certainly caught my attention and I began to study the so-called Desert Fathers and Mothers.

Around the end of the third century, when Rome was becoming Christianized and the Church was becoming more and more Hellenized, a group of godly men and women said, “now that the world is no longer persecuting and waging war against us, WE are going out to wage war against the world or the spiritual darkness”. Having believed that Jesus faced Satan in the desert, they also went to the desert to face the enemy, thus the title, Desert Fathers.

If I was to ask a room full of Christians, “how did Jesus over come Satan?” the majority would say, “by the word of God”. Yet, we all know that we can quote the scriptures till the cows come home and still give into whatever temptations we face. Which brings me to the conclusion that the word was only a tool and not the means by which Jesus defeated Satan. Jesus defeated Satan by defeating temptation.

But where do temptations originate? Our thoughts. No man wakes up one morning and says to himself, “today I am going to commit adultery.” No, the act was the end result of something that had started with a simple thought long before the action took place.

So, these men and women of God came to the conclusion that in order to defeat Satan, one has to overcome temptation in himself. And in order to overcome temptation one has to control his thoughts or as Paul says, “bringing them into captivity”. For the Desert Fathers, the spiritual warfare was an ongoing inward discipline and not something that is accomplished by yelling at Satan and attempting to bind him.