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An Examination of Kingdom-, Dominion-,
and Latter Rain Theology
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An Examination of Kingdom Theology - Part 2/3

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Shepherding-Discipleship

The Shepherding-Discipleship Movement which attained its greatest impetus during the 1960s and 70s exemplifies the extreme authoritarianism which would probably be necessary to implement and sustain any attempted theocracy. In spite of extreme abuses against personal freedom in Christ, the thought control that characterized that movement continues to rear its ugly head among Kingdom Now groups. Former leaders of that movement have gained new respectability among other leaders within charismatism. They have much to offer in the way of instruction on how to bend the wills of others to their own - a talent vital to any human attempt to set up the Kingdom of God.

There is no doubt that a great need exists within the Church for 'scripturally-based' discipleship and authority. Such must be founded on the concept of authority as servanthood, ministered in love and humility by those mature in the faith.

Shepherding-Discipleship as the movement it became, however, is nothing less than spiritual child-abuse. Through intimidation by the instilling of fear and unfounded guilt, it bludgeons babes in Christ into obedience to the wills of the "shepherds" in authority. And not only babes, but many "mature" Christians have fallen prey to this evil due to the misuse of Scripture to establish "coverings" over every member. Ephesians 5:11-14 is used to convince the unwary that in order to be perfected they must submit to those in authority, regardless of what that authority requires of them. Thus, abuses are rampant in Shepherding-Discipleship.

In extreme Shepherding-Discipleship many are compelled to live a communal lifestyle in total obedience to their "shepherds." They may not marry, work, minister, buy or sell, or exercise their own wills in any matter without their shepherd's approval. They live in strict conformity to religious and temporal duties within their communal society. Disobedience, and even weariness common to such a stringent lifestyle, meet with strong disciplinary action. There have even been reports of physical abuse to keep the "sheep" in line.

In such a scenario the individual's personal relationship to God is subordinated to the corporate structure of their religious society. One is not allowed to hear from God directly, because God only speaks to them through their shepherd. Should a person leave the "covering" of his shepherd to pursue his freedom in Christ, he is threatened with reprisals from the hand of God: loss of salvation, sickness, divorce, financial ruin. He is shunned by the community of which he was a part, and spoken of as a servant of Satan or in some other derogatory way.

Even the marriage relationship is subordinate to the relationship of the shepherd with his disciple. Broken homes and divorces are not uncommon among those marriages where one spouse develops a stronger bond to the shepherd than to his or her mate.

All these abuses exceed the parameters of discipleship intended by Jesus, and establish the babes in Christ as disciples of men rather than disciples of Christ. The Shepherding-Discipleship mentality is such that self-prideful humanity finds it appealing. Those disciples who obey are rewarded by being made shepherds over others. Thus is propagated a brutal and demeaning society governed by fear and guilt.

Though these are the extreme abuses of Shepherding-Discipleship, the mentality is the same throughout the movement. Such a mentality is critical to Kingdom Now Theology. For how can a significant portion of mankind be made to conform to the dictates of the apostles and prophets except through the instilling of fear and guilt? No one wants to miss out on what appears to be a move of God. Ignorance on the part of those who are unsure of their relationship to God breeds indecision which, in turn, results in acquiescence to authority at the expense of their personal relationship to Christ.

Continued



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