Few books have come into my hands in the last few years that have made me want to get other people to read it. When I read a few reviews online about this book by Dr. Stephen Crosby stating it would cause ‘uproar‘ and ‘explosion‘ in the modern charismatic and apostolic movements, I thought it was just melodramatic hype trying to sell the book. I was wrong, this book is very solid Scripturally, very powerful, very relevant in many circles I’m acquainted with, and just plain liberating to hear someone say what many people like me are thinking, but yet not writing off the ‘apostolic’ and throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
I got my hands on it from a woman in my church fellowship who was searching for Biblical answers in the aftermath of our horrific church split this past August. She had stumbled across a chapter of this book online, it made an impact on her, and so she bought it. She and her husband bought boxes of it, in the hopes of being able to give a copy to every person, couple or family on both sides of our church split, since the very issues that precipitated that falling out were over apostleship, church structure, and church government. I had little desire to read it since I had to read a good half dozen like it in Bible school, but since it was being offered for free, and I appreciated that this couple wanted to sow this into all of us, I decided to give it a read.
Boy am I glad I did. It was refreshing.
Wherever you’re at in your local fellowship, or even opinions on the subject, this book will be a valuable study on what the Scriptures say, and the roles of the modern day ‘apostle’, ‘prophet’, and ‘elder’ within the modern Body of Christ, in contrast to what their intended roles are as stated in Scripture.
One thing I knew before going into this book is that despite what we’d all like to think about our own ideals of how we do should do church, and what our own denominational stances are–the Scriptures still don’t give a blueprint in the Bible on how church structure and government should be handled. We merely have principles to glean from. Yet, there seems to be no bigger cause of church splits than this very issue. I have to admit, that after the last 6 months I’ve grown sick of hearing the word apostle, but now I’ve been forced to admit–I’m just sick of the abuse of the concept, not the actual concept of apostles in the modern and local sense. I’m really just sick of controlling and manipulative false apostles passing themselves off as the real thing. Of course I see in Scripture the idea of modern apostles and prophets! I just don’t see much of what passes as those things in the contemporary church as actually genuinely being Biblical or what is demonstrated in the book of Acts or New Testament epistles.
It’s like in the Body of Christ, not just charismatics, we latch onto a concept, and it may actually be Biblical. In fact, we get an understanding restored that we’d been previously lacking or overlooking, and in the midst of seeking to restore something to Christianity, we fill the void with whatever comes along purporting to be that lost doctrine or idea. Such is what I think of modern day apostles and prophets. I’m not against them being for today, I’m just against most of the ones that call themselves those titles when they’re really not. We’ve filled the vacuum with substitutes in a desperate attempt to get those things back in their place in our church structure, and it’s caused untold damage in the process.
That being said, Crosby seems to have a lot of the same concerns as I do, but speaks with more authority, experience and insight than I have a right to speak from which makes me refer his book to you. I personally have heard for much my saved life, especially since being attached to charismatic circles, talk of making sure we have the correct form and then the blessings will fall and we’ll see revival break out–so long as we’re aligned properly to some ‘apostolic covering’. Of this, Crosby says early on in his book:
Inherent in the contingent blessing and recovered order mindset is a legal spirit of perfectionism and qualified grace: “If we just get things right enough, God will come through in greater measure than we have known.” In this premise, humanity’s obedience conditions God’s initiation. A dubious proposition, if true, that begs this question: How much obedience must we produce in order to release the blessing? How much has to be “in order” and aligned governmentally to qualify for the supposed release of the Spirit? If the blessing follows the alleged alignment, then we have merited it by our correctness of form. This thinking is idealism and perfectionism contrary to the spirit of Gospel grace. The truth is, none of us will ever be “right enough” in motive, spirit, expression, or form to merit God’s blessing. Our obedience is the fruit of God’s blessing, not the root of His blessing. Of course we need to pursue order and bring our churches in to order. We need His blessing in order to do so. We do not earn His blessing because we have accomplished it. (page 39)
Other things Crosby states and explains with extensive use of Scripture, is many of the concepts and examples used in the Bible for such forms of so-called apostolic leadership, are usually taken out of the Old Testament, of which we now have a BETTER covenant through Jesus Christ–one where all believers are a kingdom of priests, and not only some special anointed believers.
I particularly appreciated in the later chapters of the book, how the author empowers the reader to understand they don’t need special permission from their leader to step out in obedience to their calling. I’ve never had such extreme examples happen to me personally, but I’ve been in situations where people wouldn’t let me pray for a person needing deliverance because I wasn’t a pastor. I’ve had certain leadership in my life in the past who wanted me to seek their permission to make mundane daily decisions where I never understood why they felt the right to impose such authority over me. I’ve had someone suggest to me I have no business writing a blog or publishing a podcast because I’m laity (an unqualified nobody) and “who would listen to what I have to say if I had no clout or specific covering overseeing what I teach on it?” This opinion is oblivious to the fact I’m operating in my gifts, calling and skills, and that ‘audience’ doesn’t matter–obedience to Christ does.
So in closing so this isn’t so long you don’t bother to read the book, I was amazed to read a quote like the following in the latter portion of Authority, Accountability, and the Apostolic Movement:
Shocking as it may be to some, there is not a single New Testament verse that says the blood of Jesus covers us. Blood covering is a thoroughly Old Covenant concept; one that is temporary, not permanent. One of the most significant changes from the Old to New Covenant is what was only covered in the Old is washed, purged, cleansed and utterly removed in the New. Sin that is covered is sin that is still present. Jeopardy exists if the covering is removed. Sin that is washed has been removed. There is no jeopardy, no danger. The pitiable psychological and practical reality is that most Christians live like their sin is covered, not gone. They live their lives in the constant dread of being discovered as not being up to date on their sin, as if some of it was going to leak through the blood covering like ice cream on a dip-top cone on a summer day. They live in perpetual fear of sin leakage and the risk of the punishment it entails. (p. 136)
There is no greater jeopardy than to be confronted with ones sins before a holy God. If Christ has taken care of this dread, not by covering, but by washing, from what do believers need protection, and who on earth is going to provide it more than Christ has already done? Apostles? Hardly. (p.136)
I have no idea what to anticipate this book will do if read by certain people. It’s been out since 2006, but I can’t imagine very many so-called apostles are very happy about it. The best thing you could do with this book if you want to put it into the hands of some leaders, pastors and apostles, is to do so in a humble spirit and politely ingratiate yourself towards them. Crosby didn’t write this in a mean spirited or bitter attitude based on something in his past, so it would be a shame if people were turned off of this book by misunderstanding what it’s about or why you’re sharing it with them in the first place. But I think anyone in some form of leadership, or anybody who’s ever been burned by a church split, or by abusive leadership should read this book and pass it on.
Consider www.stevecrosby.org/ if you’d like to purchase a copy from the author’s site. If you’d like to read a sample chapter of the book, click here.