Thursday, June 15, 2017

Could We Accuse God’s Anointed?

          Pastor Benny Hinn, during a Pastors conference in Lagos, Nigeria on February 10th 2017, cautioned that God’s anointed should not be criticized.1 He’s not alone in making such statements. Quite a few servants of God pummel their audience to submission with such threats.

            “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm” (Psalm 105:15 & 1 Chronicles 16:22) is an oft resorted verse by fulltime Christian workers (Pastors, Evangelists etc.). This is to protect them against criticism.

            The Bible narrates instances of people being cursed for accusing God’s anointed. In Numbers 12, Miriam was cursed with leprosy for criticizing Moses. 2 Kings 2: 23-25 shares the narrative of the boys mauled by two bears because they cursed Elisha.

            Many Christian leaders are accused of immorality, false teaching, lack of financial accountability etc. So could we accuse these anointed servants of God who serve in HIS vineyard around the clock?

            Anointing is a prerequisite for God’s workers. However, our innate propensity to sin ensures that accusing God's anointed is indeed a complicated predicament.

            There are two broad categories of God’s servants – the true and the false servants of God. The true servant of God is called and anointed by God to employ his/her gift to serve God’s people in HIS Kingdom. Then there are false workers in God’s Kingdom, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matthew 7:15, NIV).

            These false workers need not be anointed by God, since they are not called by God, yet they serve God full time. These false workers undertake God’s work as their permanent vocation for selfish gains.

            If there are false workers in God’s Kingdom, would not our criticism of them be appropriate? Yes and no; this is not as easy as it seems. This is another complicated predicament.

            Consider this complication. How do we absolutely identify a false worker? Confessions and other investigative mechanisms do prove people’s duplicity. However, when confessions are missing and when there are no solid evidences to prove a person’s hypocrisy, we tread dangerously. We do not possess perfect knowledge. So with what certainty or authority do we accuse a servant of God as a false prophet? There is always room for error in our judgment.

            Some Christians argue that God’s workers could be criticized irrespective of Psalm 105:15 & 1 Chronicles 16:22 because these verses do not refer to criticizing God’s servants, “Christians are to hold one another accountable for one another's behavior (1 Jn. 3:17; Gal. 6:2; Tit. 1:9; 1 Tim. 1:3,4; 4:16; II Tim. 4:2; Matt. 18:15-16). … Christians are to be accurate and balanced when giving criticism. When a person or group that claims to be Christian and yet seriously departs from the historical biblical doctrines of orthodox Christianity, one cannot stand idly by in silence. (Matt. 18:15-16). To not speak out would be dishonoring to God and unloving, not only to Christians, but also to the propagators of the error.

            …They point to biblical proof texts such as Psalm 105:15, "Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm" (KJV). But if one looks at the passage, it will reveal that it has nothing to do with questioning the teachings of church leaders.

            In the Old Testament the phrase, "the Lord's anointed", is used to refer to the kings of Israel (I Samuel 12:35; 24:6, 10, 16, 23; II Samuel 1:14, 16; 19:21; Psalms 10:6), and not to prophets. In the context of Psalms 105 the reference is to patriarchs in general (vv. 8-15; ef, I Chronicles 16:15-22).

            Psalms 105:15 has nothing to do with the issue of questioning the teachings of any of God's "anointed". In the context of this passage, the words "touch" and "do harm" have to do with inflicting physical harm upon someone.

            Specifically, in I Sam. 24:6, the phrase "touch not the Lord's anointed" refers to David's refraining from killing King Saul when he had the opportunity. It means in that context, "not to kill".

            The fact is that David did rebuke Saul publicly more than once and called him to account for his actions before God.”2

            You may be inclined to criticize the teaching of the person or the very character of that person. However, there is a word of caution associated with criticizing God’s servants when there are no confessions and/or no solid evidences against the said person.

            If you are inclined to slay the character of a God’s servant, then ensure that you “Try everything in your power to contact the person and have them or a representative explain themselves.”3 Do not blindly trust the media or ride the gossip bandwagon. We would be better off to err on the side of grace/caution. We should do our due diligence before attacking the character of God’s anointed.

            Whatever the case may be, if you are to criticize God’s anointed, do know that “…there is scrutiny and there is malicious intent—two very separate ideals. When you scrutinize someone, please make sure it's with 1) Godly intent about his or her teaching,  and 2) not against the person themselves. I've read many examples—especially on message boards—where a preacher's character is maligned because of something he or she taught or is NOT teaching…That's where people fail to take care when they "touch God's anointed." Their words are simply malicious.

            And, malicious intent against anyone, much less God's anointed, isn't without its consequences.

            We know from 2 Kings 2:23-24 what happened to 42 youth from Bethel who maliciously mocked Elisha, certainly one of God's anointed. "He went up from there to Bethel, and going up on the way, little boys came out of the city and made fun of him and said to him, "Go up, you bald head! Go up, you bald head!" He turned around, saw them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and ripped open forty-two of the boys."

             This type of mockery implied malicious intent, perhaps to maim or kill Elisha. At that time, the epithet "baldy" signified contempt in the East and showed severe disrespect for Elisha's message and God's power. God sent the bears as a judgment for their callous unbelief.

            God may not be so blatant these days. But again, there are consequences.

            So what should Christ followers do when they find themselves in disagreement with someone in the ministry? At least these three things:

            Make sure that what you are disagreeing with is something that person actually said. I've seen a lot of people comment on things they don't even investigate and simply assume it's true because they read something somewhere or heard it from someone else.

            Most importantly, check it against Scripture. This is the ultimate test.

            Don't go off half-cocked and rebuke anybody at time in any place—most specifically on the Internet—when you disagree with someone. Try everything in your power to contact the person and have them or a representative explain themselves. Matthew 18:15-16 says, "Now if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, then take with you one or two others, that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every word may be established" (MEV).

            There certainly isn't a lack of public rebuke on the Internet. A great deal of it is mean-spirited and not meant for godly correction, but as it appears, for some people to simply make themselves feel better…Pastor Kenny Luck calls it "spiritual nitpicking."

            It is important—nay, crucial—for Christ followers, as Hux says, "not (to) render a condemning judgment upon anyone (that alone is for God), but to render a discerning judgment upon all teachings. It is important for Christians to test all things by Scripture" as the Bereans did with Paul in Acts 17:11. "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with all eagerness, daily examining the Scriptures, to find out if these things were so" (MEV).”4


1  (Go to the 1:36:38 mark to listen to this caution)




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