Shepherding/Discipleship Movement Survivor's Blog

The present-day impact of the Shepherding/Discipleship movement from the perspective of a former member of Morning Star International (now Every Nation Churches and Ministries).

Monday, January 02, 2006

Spiritual Family, Dominion & Babel

A former Maranatha member posting this morning on the FACTNet discussion threads I also participate in had this to say about the notion of "spiritual family" and its relationship to dominion theology:

If God takes dominion through the family and EN [Every Nation] is your spiritual family then the leaders must be your Father and Mother and like the good book says 5.) Honor your father and mother.

This was in response to these Every Nation Leadership Institute teaching notes:

5. Honor Your father and mother: The fifth commandment (w/7th/8th/10th) establishes the family as the fundamental authority in the earth. God's original commission to man was take dominion. (Gen. 1;26:28). This is to be primarily carried out through the family. The state has taken away much of the authority of the family today, including taking dominion or ruling over the earth.

This is classic Christian Reconstructionist, theonomic thought, which is based on Calvinistic "covenant theology." Basically, in this mindset there are three spheres of authority - family, church, civil.

Every Nation's Purple Book of Biblical Foundations (2004) has this to say about "spiritual family:"

Just as God sovereignly determines our parents and other family members, he also sovereignly chooses which spiritual family we are born into. The church is God's instrument for advancing his kingdom. He has no "plan B." The church is the only legitimate setting for walking out the Christian faith. No long-term "lone ranger" can be a true disciple of Christ. All who truly desire to follow Christ must find their place in a church family. (51)

From Maranatha's old magazine, the Forerunner:

The family is one of God's governmental units. Rebellion against the government is commensurate to treason. Today, we have no problem with seeing treason against the civil government as a capital crime. The problem is that we have a low view of the family today. The family is actually a higher form of government than the state and deserves greater protection. Rebellion against the family is an expression of rebellion against God's first established form of government and therefore against God himself.

Wow, so is rebellion against family a capital crime (otherwise known as something requiring the death penalty)? What about rebellion against "spiritual family?"

Rice Broocks expands on the notion of "spiritual family" in Every Nation in Our Generation: Recovering the Apostolic Mandate:

There are two primary ways God joins people to a spiritual family: He births you into one or He grafts you in or joins you after you’ve been saved. Obviously, we are “baptized into one Body” when we become Christians. So, we are a part of the universal family of God when we are born again. However, the concept of spiritual family is a matter of discerning what part of that body you are specifically joined to. It’s not enough to say, “I am a part of the universal Body of Christ” without a connection to a specific local church, which God has designed as a practical commitment for every member of the larger Body.

Many face the emotional challenge of having been separated from their natural family before they were old enough to remember anything about them. They may spend a good part of their lives searching, trying to find out where they belong and, in a sense, who they are. That is even more common among Christians who go from one church to another, searching for their spiritual family. [. . .]

There are many benefits we gain when we find our place in spiritual family. One is protection from spiritual enemies. Not only are the forces of darkness less likely to have an opportunity to attack when Christians are in real unity, but negative emotions like discouragement, loneliness and fear – among many others – are held back as well. Perhaps even more important than these defensive benefits, however, is the manner in which being joined together helps us to advance the Apostolic Mandate
[note: this is Broocks' deconstructed/reconstructed term for the "Great Commission," but with additional meanings since it is "Apostolic"]. [. . .]

Secular management books use the term “synergy” to describe what happens when every part and every joint supplies according to it proper function. Synergy suggests that the effect of the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The Apostolic Mandate is never going to be accomplished by a church or group of churches unless there is a synergistic coordination of the gifts and talents that the Holy Spirit has placed in the Body of Christ. Without this unity and proper placement, your gifts will never function according to their proper working order. In that case, everyone loses: the Kingdom of God, the world and you.

So, does this mean that if I don't submit to a "spiritual family," I will hold back the "Apostolic Mandate?" God depends on me rather than the other way around? I will lose out on my destiny? I won't be protected by God (see my entries on the covering doctrine)? Even though the Body of Christ is in unity through the Holy Spirit, we're not REALLY in unity unless we enter into some kind of synergistic relationship in a "spiritual family" and get imparted with its "spiritual DNA?"

Later in the chapter, Broocks identifies a weakness with this position, comparing it to Babel... however, he doesn't seem to see how it might apply to his own church:

The greater the mandate a spiritual family attempts, the greater the unity that is required. That was true in the ancient city of Babel. Their vision was to make a name for themselves and to keep their people from being scattered across the earth. God commented on them and their purpose: “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.”

Two things are evident from this story. First, just because you’re really committed to something doesn’t mean you’re doing the right thing. These “Babelites” had a purpose and a plan: to build a tower and keep their people unified. The problem was that they were seeking their own glory and not God’s.

There are all kinds of organizations, including some churches, which require a high level of commitment. It’s not right to demand commitment only for the sake of maintaining your own organization – i.e., to keep people from scattering. If self-perpetuation turns out to be the primary goal, the leaders need to rethink what they’re doing and measure it against the purposes of God. Whenever we talk about commitment to a local church and the vision of Every Nation, it is always in the context of fulfilling God’s purposes. For us, that means fulfilling the Apostolic Mandate by planting churches and making disciples of nations.

The second thing that is evident from the Tower of Babel story is that great things can be accomplished if people are united and committed to a common purpose. A house divided cannot stand, but when a people are united “nothing will be impossible for them.”

Hmm, if in this mindset the fulfillment of the "Apostolic Mandate" is dependent upon me and my submission and commitment to spiritual family, rather than upon God, yet God is sovereign, then isn't this type of unity - one dependent upon man rather than upon God - like rebuilding Babel? God confused the common language of Babel so they could not communicate and scattered its people so that they would stop building the city (Genesis 11:1-9). He had nothing good to say about Babel. I would be very cautious about using Babel as an exemplar of true Christian unity poised to take dominion.

Interestingly, a Google search for "spiritual family" comes up with some startling New Age parallels. "Synergy" is a term used by Dutch Sheets which apparently includes agreeing in prayer with and "redigging the wells" of the dead, otherwise known as NECROMANCY:

God said to me, ‘I need you to agree in prayer with Gordon Lindsay.’ I knew we weren’t supposed to communicate with the dead, and he’s been dead for 30 years. He said, ‘He’s dead, but his prayers are not. I can’t do what he asked me to do until this generation comes into agreement with him. I need the synergy of the ages.’ When I re-dug that well at the Wesleys’ I laid hold of something. I said, Where is the Lord God of John and Charles Wesley? I stretched out on the grave of David Brainerd, and I said, where is the Lord God of David Brainerd? If the dead bones of Elisha could raise the dead, there’s still anointing in those wells of the past. (from

What some spirit is apparently telling both Rice Broocks and Dutch Sheets is that God is blocked from doing something unless they/we do something to make it happen. And in both cases, this "something" they are to do is that which God has condemned elsewhere in Scripture, whether it's rebuilding Babel under the premise of "spiritual family" or engaging in necromancy. This does not sound like the Holy Spirit to me but another spirit entirely, since God is not limited by what we do or do not do. However, as the Apostle Paul warned, "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons" (1 Timothy 4:1, NIV).


Blogger Eimi Mitchell - Motivational Speaker said...

Who have we placed as Lord? Or rather, what leaders have placed themselves on the throne and taken Christ off!? Are we to believe that Christ's death did not rent the vail in two and that we are still in need of a Middle Man? Is it Christ and a Discipler who makes intersessions for us? No, It is Christ alone. The subleness of having someone walk with you in making right choices sounds so secure! But in reality they have deemed themselves the anchor by which you make wise and unwise decisions. Who is Christ? Certainly not the head anymore.

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