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Covering Theology

The “Covering” Heresy

Steve Wetzel


If you are reading this article, you should be aware of the Flip Benham, Troy Newman, Randall Terry controversy. I have had difficulty identifying the root cause of the Benham attacks on Newman. Even finding the right grouping of words to identify it was hard to do. Is it spiritual authority or servant leadership or spiritual abuse – or even a cult? Finally, I searched the words “Covering Theology” – and found it.

John Bevere released a book called, Under Cover stressing the importance ofcovering in the life of an individual believer. This is not a biblical teaching. We are to submit to authorities, both inside the Church and in the world, as long as what they ask us to do is not in conflict with God’s commands (1 John 2:1, 5:2). We are to obey the laws of the land (1 Pet. 2:13-16) “but as the servants of God” (1 Peter. 2:16). We are to submit to the authorities in the Church (Heb. 13:17), but they are also not to lord it over people (Mark 10:42-45), and we are to be Bereans (Acts. 17:11) and test what they teach (1 Thess. 5:21, 1 John 4:1, 1 Cor. 10:15), and reject them if they are heretics (Titus 3:10).

Here are three reviews/ warnings of the book Under Cover (the reviewers are not named, so credit cannot be given):

Again, Bevere is brainwashing Christians into not testing leadership in the churches so that false apostles, prophets and teachers may gain control of people and their money. This is a hallmark teaching of Third Wave heretics.

The message of this book is a very dangerous message for Christians. It promotes a very unhealthy view of how a believer is to submit to authority in the church. Very little actual Biblical support is used to support this message. Instead, John Bevere uses many personal experiences to build his support for the message of Under Cover. These examples have an emotional pull to them and can be very convincing to individuals. However, there is a great danger in this message. As believers, our covering is the Lord Jesus Christ. In his book, Mr. Bevere points people to look at their pastor as their covering. This is serious error and has the potential to shipwreck people’s faith. My recommendation would be to not read this book, or, if you are compelled to read it, be sure to balance the message of the book with what the scripture says.

This Undercover book is nothing but heresy. I read the Bait of Satan, it was a good book. Where did this come from? Page 147 shows without a doubt this false teaching. Bevere says that God “told him” that He (God) never intended for His people to get all they needed from His Word. And that we must have pastors tell us what to do. The veil was torn in two when Christ died on the cross, and we are not in the Old Testament where we have to have a priest go into the temple for us. We can all come boldly to the throne of Christ. Nowhere in the New Testament do pastors have any more authority than anyone else. … But in Americanized Christianity, the “pastor” has been put on a throne that the Word does not establish. Pastor means shepherd, and maybe John Bevere and others who hold pastors as little gods should read in Jeremiah and Isaiah what God said about shepherds who lead His people in to false teachings. Sadly, the people who followed the false shepherds were themselves destroyed. God did not spare them from their ignorance. We are all responsible for our own salvation, with fear and trembling. As a Pentecostal person, I am very disappointed with this book. It is heresy.

As with anything, a kernel of truth can be taken and reshaped and twisted so that it does not resemble the original truth it was supposed to convey. Instead of the man being the head the woman, and Christ being the head of the man – the pastor has been injected between the man and Christ.  Access to Christ is denied, and His role as Mediator now falls to a man – this case – his pastor. It is the bastardization of what acovering is supposed to be in God’s Word.

Flip Benham is a follower of this “covering” theology. Mr. Newman (and others) ran afoul of Benham because they rejected his supposed  “covering” authority over them. If one rejects this supposed covering, you become anathema and an unbeliever. (This will vary depending on the ego and angst of the coverer.) You are viewed as worse than a heathen, and subjected to attacks. This is at the root of the Benham attacks on Troy Newman.

There is nothing new about Covering Theology. It is simply pride, power grabbing, and personal kingdom building – all rolled into one. The only thing that changes is the flavor. It just morphs into different shades so the Christian gullible will say, “Wow – that is new and exciting!”

Saints – nothing ever changes. Everything remains the same except the skin it wears. Child sacrifice became pro-choice. Personal kingdom building has become our modern day “covering.” Sin is sin, regardless of its title or the skin that it wears.

Beware of this heresy. Bad theology begets bad behavior.

Being forewarned, is being fore-armed.


Dealing with the Sin of Operation Save America

A companion piece to the “Dealing with the Sin of Operation Rescue” written by Flip Benham

June 7, 2008
Steve Wetzel, MTTU News

(Please read the linked article above or below by Flip Benham before reading this article for context.)

In Mr. Benham’s article,  “Dealing with the Sin of Operation Rescue,” Mr. Benham throws a number of stalwart Rescue leaders under the bus. Among them – Pat Mahoney, Jeff White, Ken Reed, Joe Slovenec, and Joe Foreman. Keith Tucci does not do a complete flip-flop for Benham, rather a side step. Each of these individuals can defend themselves, and thus will leave that to them. Flip Benham – OperationSaveAmerica

The point of this article will be to focus on what is the root cause of the Benham – Newman controversy. That takes some explaining.

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Bad Theology

Bad theology begets bad behavior. Every instance of bad Christian theology begins with a grain of truth. The trouble begins when that grain of truth is expanded upon, until it is no longer recognizable as truth. Enter the world of Spiritual Authority and Pastoral Abuse.

“The pastor is to rule under the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ, not by his own mind or will. The church is not a pastor’s personal empire. The church is God’s property; the people are God’s people; the work is God’s work. The pastor is merely a steward or caretaker. Contrast this with the ministry of proud, willful Diotrephes (3 Jn. 9-10) who lorded it over the flock and quenched the spiritual ministry of men of whom he did not approve.”

Troy Newman
Troy Newman ran afoul of Flip Benham because he rejected Benham’s supposed “authority” over him. This has nothing to do with Benham having an interest in seeing repentance and restoration – rather the personal destruction of the individual (Newman) who would not bow before him. This type of behavior is found in cults.

“One of the marks of a cult is the way people are treated when they refuse to follow the leadership unquestioningly or when they leave. When D.M. Canright left Adventism after 28 years, he was treated like a fool and an evil man. All friendship and kindness was withdrawn by the Adventist (7th Day Adventist) leaders. They even lied about him mercilessly for many years afterwards. This is one of the marks of a cult. People are only treated kindly and lovingly if they submit to the doctrines and “authority” of the cult’s leaders; if they question the leadership or if they leave the church, they are fair game to be treated without mercy …  As long as people unquestionably submit to the pastor, they are treated kindly. As soon as they question his leadership and leave, the kindness is removed and they are treated viciously”.

– David W. Cloud, Editor, Wayoflife.org
(both quotes in blue)

These are the kind of tactics we find Flip Benham employing. Troy Newman left the fold, and is now the enemy.  He must now be crushed.


Benham writes:

“I conclude with our attempts to bring discipline, reconciliation, and restoration into the life of Troy Newman.  Our work with the pastor and elders of Heartland Community Church in Wichita, Kansas, has never ceased since Troy was removed from the leadership of “Operation Rescue” in the summer of 2002.”

This is only partially true. It is one of those grains I spoke of earlier. Benham ordered Troy Newman to leave Wichita, KS, and to go elsewhere. Newman moved his entire family from California to Kansas, the year before,  in order to combat the most notorious abortionist in our land, George Tiller. Newman refused to give up the battle against Tiller,  pack up and leave Wichita. Thus he incurred the wrath of Flip Benham which continues to this day.

Benham continues:

“Troy’s whole identity is so wrapped up in a silly name, “Operation Rescue.”  He believes it to be his source of income, identity, and value.” 

To coin a Glenn Beck phrase, “Not so much.”

When Benham decided to dump the “Operation Rescue” name and web site (ORN.org) to get out from under pro-abortion lawsuits, I asked him by phone to please pass the name on to another. I said, Pass the name on as it was passed onto you by Keith, as he received from Randall Terry. Too much sacrifice went into that name to simply let it die.” Benham’s response was, “Oh no, no, no, no, no.”  It was at this point I contacted Troy Newman. His group’s name was close with his “Operation Rescue West,” and had heard of the great work they were doing in California. I asked Newman if he would pick up the banner  “Operation Rescue” that Benham foolishly discarded.  Newman was reluctant to do so. In fact it took two years of asking Troy, before he finally resurrected the name “Operation Rescue” so our legacy would not die.

The moment  Newman resurrected the name Operation Rescue, Benham came at him like a three year old child who threw away a toy he no longer wanted. Newman simply saw the toy laying in the trash, and picked it up. Benham saw Newman pick up his discarded toy, and threw a temper tantrum screaming, “Mine, mine, mine!” And that’s where we are today.

Recently, Randall Terry threw himself into the mix by suing Troy Newman for the Operation Rescue trademark. Terry had not been involved in rescue/anti-abortion work since 1992, when he gave the leadership of O.R. to Keith Tucci. Now, 16 years later, he wants the Operation Rescue name back.

The wild card in this was Flip Benham. Where would he land in this debate? Benham has no love for either Newman or Terry – in fact he threw Terry under the bus on Feb. 1, 2000  – and here found on the OSA web site. My question was,  “Who does Flip dislike more … Randall Terry or Troy Newman?”  Logically, one would suppose he would lay low, and wait for the dust to settle – as he also lays claim to the title Operation Rescue.

Surprisingly, Benham has gone out of his way supporting Randall Terry – the same man he tossed under the bus 8 years prior. I guess this is a case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” With the level of participation displayed by Benham  – one can only conclude that Flip doesn’t just dislike Troy Newman, he HATES Troy Newman.

Newman rejected Flip’s position – as Benham lived in Dallas, TX,  and was far from the battle. Thus Newman is anathema, as is anyone who sides with him. This kind of behavior and application of punishment found in cults.Sadly, what Benham fails to realize is that if Randall Terry succeeds in wresting the name Operation Rescue from Troy Newman, Terry will then turn his legal hired-guns 180 degrees, and attack him.

They say ambition is blind. It must be. I would  just suggest Benham not sip his own Kool-aid as he wanders about in the dark.

Steve Wetzel