The Covering Heresy

   by Rayola Kelley

Over the past ten years we have been asked three main questions concerning our spiritual lives and ministry. They are:

1) What church are you affiliated with?

2) Who is your covering?

3) Do you have credentials?

It seems that a persons credibility hinges upon these three questions but sadly these questions have nothing to do with a persons eternal destination. These questions have not only shown us over the years that the church has become more worldly in its evaluation, but also as to why she is possibly failing to carry out her real commission; to preach the Gospel and make disciples of Christ.

To put these questions in perspective, you can be affiliated with an acceptable denomination, have a man’s covering plus hold degrees and still go to hell. On the other hand, you may not meet any of the three qualifications mentioned above and still make it to heaven.

It is important to remember that the real issue of salvation has nothing to do with worldly affiliations such as churches or degrees but rather with the type of relationship an individual has with God.

This brings me to the subject of this article, a subject which sometimes serves as the inspiration behind the three questions commonly asked that of the covering heresy. Let me give you a brief history and summary of this erroneous fallacy.

The covering heresy found a foothold in the church during the Shepherding Movement. Although the main leaders of this movement later denounced the initial movement as unscriptural, this particular heresy remained as a dormant seed. It was the Manifest Sons of God (mainly the teaching of the Five-Fold Ministry) that gave this doctrine the life it now has. However, this fallacy can be traced back to the establishment of the Catholic Church, which exalted the priest into this type of position in the lives of its followers. Of course, this blatant lie can ultimately be traced further back to its originator, Satan.

The reasoning behind the covering fallacy is to make people accountable to someone. Therefore, a person had to have a covering to whom he/she would answer. The person who served as the covering would be a person’s guide and conscience. This leader would also serve as the persons protection and was responsible to disciple the individual.

Looking at the brief summary of this doctrine, it seems innocent and logical enough but in reality it is unscriptural and dangerous.

Promotes A Form Of Pagan Leadership

First of all the covering fallacy promotes a hierarchy. Nowhere in scripture is this type of leadership ever promoted or condoned by Jesus. Here are Jesus very words, “Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:25-27).

The idea of this type of leadership was pagan in nature. The Jews understood there was to be only one true leader, God. Naturally, His leadership was of a higher quality and more distinct than man’s leadership.

Man Is Untrustworthy

The second scriptural truth the covering fallacy violates is that it subtly exalts mere man as lord and Holy Spirit over another person’s life. The idea that man would serve as my covering in this fashion not only frightens me but also causes me to run the opposite direction. The reason for my adverse reaction is because I know what is in man and could never trust my soul to such a creature (See John 2:24-25).

Isaiah 64:6 states that man’s best is as filthy rags and Romans 3:23 declares that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it? As you can see, the idea of allowing man to serve as any covering is not only dangerous to your soul but also absurd. Isaiah 30:1 gives this perspective, Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin.

It is obvious that we must take counsel that is only from God and be covered with His Spirit, not by man and his pagan, rebellious form of leadership.

You might be saying to me that you know a humble, godly leader to whom you could entrust your soul. This may be true but a godly leader would never take responsibility for your soul.Ê They would simply point you back to the Lordship of Jesus Christ (by the way, this is the test of any real leader in the kingdom of God: do they always point you back to Jesus as the only authority?).

Exalts Man As Lord And Mediator

This brings us to another unscriptural basis for this destructive belief. It demeans the Lordship of Christ and subtly exalts man as both lord and mediator in someones life.

A study of scripture clearly shows us Jesus must be our only Lord. I have come to the conclusion that our salvation actually hinges on Jesus being our personal Lord. Therefore, if man becomes a person’s lord, that soul will be in danger of eternal damnation (is any man worth the price of our souls?).

A man who allows himself to be exalted as a covering will either be lifted above Jesus, who is the only head of the church, or he will end up standing between Jesus and the person. Exaltation in this way will make the leader a god while someone who stands between Jesus and the enthusiastic devotee becomes a mediator. Genesis 3 reveals the truth that all idolatry is founded on a lie of Satan and 1 Timothy 2:5 tells us that there is only one acceptable mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

Undermines the Church

Another way the covering fallacy is unbiblical is because it subtly undermines the church’s responsibility to the believer.

As a whole, the church is responsible to edify believers or bring them to maturity (see Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12; 14 and Ephesians 4:11-17). There is no place in scripture where one person is to have a total say over the spiritual life or growth of a believer.

The reason that the church was given this sacred responsibility was to protect believers from falling victim to tyrannical abuse of leadership that we are now witnessing.

Sadly, a large percentage of the church is embracing this concept because it alleviates her from doing her job. But on the other hand, this does not give Christians the right to allow this blatant substitution in their personal lives.

Replaces Godly Submission

Finally, the covering heresy with its call to accountability replaces godly submission.

Accountability makes one answerable to someone or something. This concept sounds good but it finds its basis in the covering fallacy and not in scripture.

To have to answer to someone does not necessarily make an individual responsible for his or her heart condition, attitude or actions. In fact, if a person is good enough he or she can play the game, act the part and be accountable while at the same time holding on to personal rights, harboring sins, unacceptable attitudes and a hard heart. In other words, accountability only requires an outward surface response.

For this reason, God never commands us to be accountable; rather, we are told to submit: “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:21).

Godly submission can only take place when a persons heart is full of Gods love; his or her attitude is that of humility and the actions of the individual come from Christ-like servitude.

Submission actually makes an individual accountable to the one who serves as his or her lord in obedience and dedication. Concerning Ephesians 5:21, we are told to submit to one another out of fear of God. This not only tells us that self-proclaimed leaders need to submit but it puts boundaries on our submission because everything we do must be in line with God’s will and character.

The Bottom Line

The covering fallacy is not about godly practices, but about control. Control is a form of witchcraft. Not only do the advocates hide their own rebellion behind their pious terms, but they encourage rebellion and idolatry in others as well.

Isaiah 30;1 tells us we should be covered by Gods spirit. Psalm 140:7 and Ephesians 6:11-17 gives us another insight into our covering in regards to our true protection.

I pray this will bring clarity to this issue for our readers. We also want to thank our faithful supporters who have sacrificially given so that these vital subjects are made available to others. God bless each and every one of you.