Dan Juster

Tikkun Ministries International
"... let us be done with this devastating, unbiblical doctrine. It is inspired by pride and insecurity. May God provide strong leaders who are secure enough to be accountable."
Read this article in French

In I Samuel 26:9-11 we read about David's refusal to take the life of King Saul even though Saul was pursuing David and seeking his death. David had Saul trapped, and Abishai, David's soldier, asked permission to kill Saul. David responds:

"Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord's anointed, and be guiltless? ... the Lord shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the Lord's anointed ..."

A Dangerous Doctrine

From this text, some have derived a very dangerous doctrine of the spiritual leader. According to this doctrine:

The pastoral leader, or apostle leader over a network of congregations, is understood as having a position like the ancient King of Israel. He is God's anointed. Therefore he is not to be removed by any process of men, no matter what he does. He is not subject to congregational or even network discipline. He is the decision maker. While he may have elders or a board, they are advisors only, and all decisions are his to make. Within his sphere he is the final authority or dictator. If he abuses people or they do not like his decisions, they have two choices. They can remain under his leadership and trust the situation to God or they can quietly leave the community. In any case, they are to make no waves or protest in their leaving. The authority of the pastor or apostle is taught in very absolute terms. Once you know whom God has chosen, it is taught, this is the proper response to leadership. Such a person may be over a local congregation or a movement. When anyone questions his leadership or decisions, they are told, "Touch not God's anointed." It is shocking that this is taught in many places around the globe and has even influenced the Messianic Jewish world. I believe it is a destructive and erroneous doctrine, and that believers should guard against this teaching.

Here are several of the reasons this doctrine is unbiblical and wrong:

New Covenant Congregational Government

While anointed leadership is important, the model of government in the New Testament is not the model of a pastor king or an apostle king. There is not one text that supports this. I do believe in the role of a senior pastor or apostle (or "rabbi" in Messianic Jewish congregations). However, that role is to be the leader of a team of elders who together have strategic and decision making responsibility. This is very clear in the book of Acts, where elders are appointed in plurality to lead the congregations planted by Paul. We never see a reference to the head leader. Even Yeshua raised His leaders to have a peer relationship with him and then called them friends.

The Truth about the Authority of the King in the Hebrew Bible

This model ignores other evidence from the Hebrew Bible. The King is not as absolute as the Samuel passage would lead some to believe. Note that in the Hebrew Bible there is a division of powers among the priests, the prophets and the civil rulers. All are accountable to God. By sacrificial conviction that came through divine revelation, David knew that he was not to take Saul's life. This does not hold in all cases. The prophet Elisha anoints Jehu specifically to take the lives of the wicked kings of Israel and Judah. He does so with God's blessing (II Kings 9:6-10). In addition, the prophets of Israel challenged various kings in ways that really undercut what the kings wanted to do. So threatening were the prophets, that at times they were killed, jailed and put in a pit as was Jeremiah.

Later in his life, even King David was reproved by the prophet Nathan for sin. However, the "Touch not God's anointed" teaching asserts that the pastor or apostle is not to be challenged. So even if such a pastor sins, lies, abuses people, or commits sexual immorality - there is no recourse. Some of these leaders can be harsh, and people shy away from even attempting to give a righteous challenge.

The Failure of the "Touch Not" Model to Understand Healthy Community

One of the most troubling aspects of this teaching is its failure to understand the nature of New Covenant community-building. It is our call as leaders to build the people together into a close-knit community. I know that this goes against the grain of today's "churchianity" where the essence of church is the religious event. But the central idea of the New Covenant Scriptures is a discipling covenant community that builds lasting relationships (I John 1:7). If a leader falls and even needs to be removed, the community should be able to survive his fall since the people have been built together. Any person should be able to initiate a process of correction for any person including a leader. Matthew 18 says, "If your brother sins ..." The leader is first of all a brother and should have a humble, servant heart.

This central value of community ownership motivates members of Tikkun's American network of congregations to participate in approving annual budgets, approving the appointing of elders, and affirming major directional decisions from elders. The false, dictatorial doctrine makes the leader the owner of the community instead of the people, and thus people are required to quietly leave and lose community for the sake of the untouchable leader.

The Lessons of Church History

After the Protestant Church was birthed in the Reformation, new patterns of leadership developed in the Protestant denominations. They knew the corruption of the "royal" leadership style in the Catholic Church and sought to establish checks and balances as foundational in church government.

We can learn from their experience. We encourage congregations and their leaders to incorporate checks and balances in their structure, both at the local and network levels. At the same time, genuinely anointed leaders should be allowed to lead and to flourish without undue restriction, as can be seen in some forms of government. We endeavor to combine the wisdom of church history with the five-fold ministry of Ephesians 4:11, especially the role of apostles and prophets. However, our approach still focuses on elder-led congregations whose leadership is subject to checks and balances, with accountability to the congregation and to the network leaders at the network level.

Sadly, most believers seek to simply attend where they have a good experience and a good program. The issue of governmental/leadership structure should be one of the central elements in choosing a congregation. Some in the New Apostolic movement are teaching the royal model of the dictator apostle as if it were the Biblical model. There are also patterns in ultra-Orthodox Judaism that teach a Jewish parallel to this where all submit to their head rabbi in the dynastic style. This is cultic in any case and a terrible mistake. It has destroyed many, leading to financial abuse, sexual abuse, personal abuse in how people are treated and other types of injustice.

So let us be done with this devastating, unbiblical doctrine. It is inspired by pride and insecurity. May God provide strong leaders who are secure enough to be accountable. I have a lifetime commitment to this principle and have made every effort to set a personal example of accountability in every leadership position in which I've been privileged to serve. If I am not ready to be corrected, disciplined and even removed if in sin, I am not qualified to lead God's people.

By Daniel Juster
Dan Juster leads the overall ministry Tikkun International Donate to Tikkun International.
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13:32 31Oct13 Jay Axtell -
Excellent, Dr. Juster! Would that all our churches and congregations heed this advice.

13:40 31Oct13 Gilbert Sommerfeld -
For years this false teaching has irritated me. Where is the judgement? Where is the accountability? As if that anointing superseded every moral responsibility! Wasnt Solomon the one who observed that a good name was better than precious ointment (anointing)? Dead flies cause the the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour. These "untouchables" because of their anointing stink! Thank you for your excellent admonition on this subject!'

  -- Dr Juster replies: I share your concerns so very much.

14:43 31Oct13 Paul -
Refreshing to see in print and reinforced publicly ... Yes, from early on Yah says to Abraham and Moshe ... One Law for all ... Stranger and Hebrew ... We see Yah asks Abraham shall He not reveal what He is going to do in Sodom and Amora. Im encouraged to pass this article along to anyone who wants to hear from Yeshua The Messiah'

  -- Dr Juster replies: Yes. Leaders are not above the law.

16:29 31Oct13 SC -
Hallelujah! Some truth boldly stated in the midst of the nonsense many in church leadership have purported over the years. It is my understanding that all who have Christ have the Anointing abiding within and we should not touch that in a wrong way, leadership should all the more be like Jesus, a servant.

16:31 31Oct13 MM -
What you are describing does not sound unfamiliar. If you are suspecting the leader of your congregation to be the dictator you are describing above with a leadership that is not functioning independently (their selection has been strongly influenced by the leader, people are normally flattered by his persona and being favoured - he is a charismatic personality), then what does one do other than to quietly leave the community? As with a cult, most people are blind to the fact (the ones that have realized something is wrong, have all left or are in the process of doing so). People that stand up are normally made out to be the villains and the true facts and what happens behind the scenes remains unrevealed, only when you land up in the situation yourself do you actually see things for what they are but then find yourself standing alone.

  -- Dr Juster replies: This is so, so true. I would not join a congregation without real ckecks and balances and accountability for leaders with an appeal process.

16:35 31Oct13 Rittie -
Very good! I agree entirely. Absolute power does indeed corrupt and damage, absolutely.

17:32 31Oct13 Pelham -
Encouraging truth so critical to kingdom community building.

19:44 31Oct13 Henry -
I Samuel 26:9-11 is talking about taking someone's life. This is murder since the intent to kill is embedded in the Scripture. No one is justified to take another's life. One of the cardinal principle of God's 10 commandments is that life is sacred.
I agree that this scripture has nothing to do with allowing a dominant leader to have his way with the congregation. I believe that 1 Peter 3 says that a good shepherd is to lay down his life for the flock. That means that he must be a humble and accountable servant. Yeshua said that the leadership should not rule over the flock like proud and arrogant gentile kings do.
Thanks for your article. I have seen this behavior in a cult that I was associated with in the past. This congregation has split into many subgoups and the unity between brothers has been shattered.

02:14 01Nov13 Suzanne Bell -
Amen! Thank you for having the courage to speak out on this issue - this doctrine has always troubled me as it is so open to abuse by fallen humanity, in other words all of us!

04:21 01Nov13 Eliette Heritier -
At last! Thank you so much! It is so liberating! "Judge not" we are told and yet we will judge angels???!!! Thank you again! Be blessed for such good teachings!

08:06 01Nov13 Jill Allerton -
This was really eye opening and confirmed what I really know to be true. We all need to come under authority, but it can be misused and people can really be controlled. I think people can come to believe they are offending G-d if they don't submit and can bring up the wrong kind of fear. Thank you for these words of wisdom.

09:25 01Nov13 Matthew -
Thank you for your wise and humble leadership. May the body of Messiah have this type of leadership and may it reflect itself into the civil government.

10:09 01Nov13 Horst Kalupner -
This is a very needy teaching for some Christian communities, thank you! But will it help in protestant churches without baptism (in water) and baptism in the holy ghost?

  -- Dr Juster replies: I think it helps all churches, but historic churches have more structures of accountability (e.g. Presbyterian).

10:10 01Nov13 Susan St.Clair -
Thank you for such a balanced teaching. This one has been in need of correction for a long time as many years ago I came out of a church with this form of doctrine.

19:05 01Nov13 Albert Johnson -
Excellent Article. Because of a lack of accountability and humility in the Christian Church, it has become prideful, self-absorbed, judgmental, and uncompassionate. That is in part, why I have left the Christian Church and am currently enjoying Studies in the Torah and Jewish Worship Services.

  -- Dr Juster replies: To be fair, I must caution that there are synagogues that have the same problem and there are very solid and balanced churches, but sometimes and in some areas, they are hard to find.

23:02 01Nov13 DT -
Not too long ago I was involved both in a church and an aliyah ministry that held this doctrine. I eventually left both of them quietly as described above, losing nearly every Christian relationship I had ... The questions is, is there nothing that can be done except to leave quietly and try to start over? Not only did these events bring an end to relationships within my home church, but also to relationships in various other churches in the body of Christ at large. I've received these circumstances as from the Lord, but I still hope that there will be reconciliation (especially of offenses) before the final Day.

  -- Dr Juster replies: I would say ask God to lead you to a congregation with good government and justice. Then come and visit us in Israel. We will pray for you and you can at least connect with us.

13:13 02Nov13 Shannon -
Thank you for this article - the truth is freeing. May the Lord continue to bring us into the fullness of revelation of Himself by the Holy Spirit.

17:08 02Nov13 Amanda Hattingh -
Amen! If only pastors and leaders of congregation realize that they are also servants of the Almighty. That they are accountable to the Almighty, as well as to the body of Messiah.

06:35 04Nov13 Prime Lina -
Awesome revelation and eye opener

09:49 04Nov13 Marie -
Thanks for the enlightening on this subject.

04:31 06Nov13 CC -
Thank you for someone standing up and telling the truth. For years these pastors have used this to badger people to put themselves on a pedestal by saying they are Gods anointed. I have the Holy Spirit and I am anointed also. Jesus said to call each other "brother" because we are all the same no one is better than the other. We are to knowledgeable about the work of God and that is where people cannot stretch the truth and deceive people.'

  -- Dr Juster replies: I do not think that most pastors do this, but those who do teach a dangerous doctrine; that they are beyond correction.

04:50 06Nov13 Robin Munn -
I have never come across this interpretation before; perhaps I've been fortunate enough to attend churches with a better view of Scripture than that. Besides the reasons you mention in the article, there's also the fact that it contradicts what Paul instructs Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:19: "Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses." While a single person's complaint may be motivated by something other than the truth, if two or three people are bringing the same complaint, then there's probably something to it -- which is why Paul wrote that. (A note of caution, though: I would probably count a couple, or a family, as a single witness in such a scenario -- because if Dad comes home and says "Pastor Smith did thus-and-such", Mom and the kids are likely to believe him even if they haven't seen it for themselves.) So if a single person (or family) brings an accusation, be cautious -- but if two or three people are bringing the same accusation, the New Testament is quite clear that the accusation should be listened to.

I raise this caution because I've actually encountered, recently, people making accusations against people in church leadership positions -- accusations that, when examined, turned out to be unsupported. So there are problems to be avoided in both directions.

  -- Dr Juster replies: An excellent and well-framed comment - I wholly agree.

16:16 06Nov13 Donna Diorio -
I really appreciate this article of correction, Dr. Dan. The royal model is too widespread and I have been in many congregations where this was believed to be solid gold theology.

04:22 18Nov13 Undisclosed -
You wrote, "Within his sphere he is the final authority or dictator. If he abuses people or they do not like his decisions, they have two choices. They can remain under his leadership and trust the situation to God or they can quietly leave the community. In any case, they are to make no waves or protest in their leaving." And in your "Models of Accountability" brochure you wrote on page 17, that the Unaccountable Authority model "usually leads to secretiveness in handling funds, decision-making, etc ... Authoritarian models are based on insecurity. Countless lives have been wounded from such abuse. Without due process, people can be disfellowshipped, drummed out of community and ostracized, with no justice and due process."
I testify that this is true, and warn the readers to take this teaching by Dr. Juster seriously. Indeed it stems from the insecurity of the leader, hurts inadequately dealt with that bear fruit to destruction within the leader's family and throughout his community of followers. A leader who is operating as Juster describes ultimately demands his followers to trust him to their thinking for them; submit in silence or invisibly leave, it is a binary choice.

09:35 28Nov13 B -
Thank you for this article! It seems that nearly everyone who's been in the American church for the last 20 years has seen this on a personal level. It's heart breaking! I appreciate this information - it is well balanced and truthful. God help us to have the humility to put it into practice.

  -- Dr Juster replies: It is so very sad sometimes. Yes, hopefully we will see congregations governed in a different manner.

14:56 08Dec13 FJ -
This is article is profound. I read it, re-read it, and will read it again. I have grown up with this wrongful doctrine all of my life in the church, always knowing and feeling that it was wrong. It carries horrible stigmas and introduces the idea that an earthly man or woman can never be wrong nor do they need the help of any other man or woman. Now, I am a grown woman and see that this wrong doctrine is pervasive throughout the church in America. This hurtful doctrine has pushed away many well-meaning disciples of Jesus who gently come with correction and are immediately cast down from other church goers. Most often the correction never reaches the actual pastor/apostle because it is shot down in the pews. So many of the church goers believe in this wrongful doctrine because they have been taught that if they speak against the "anointed" one that they are completely wrong and deserving of excommunication. I pray that we could all come into the communion of the Holy Spirit to see that discipline/correction is GOD'S loving way. It has always been HIS way and it will remain HIS way. And that HE typically uses other men/women to deliver that correction.

Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Daniel Juster's article in French: Ne Touchez Pas a L'Oint du Seigneur
Steve: Declare It in the Isles Afar Off
David: Did God Ever Try?
Daniel: Israel Impressions
Shavei Tzion: Haifa Theological Institute
Asher Intrater: Feet of Yeshua
Revive Israel: Bearing Fruit