What is the “Spiritual Fathering” Movement?
The “spiritual fathering” movement, as it has been dubbed, is a group that promotes the idea of a “spiritual father” who is a leader to whom followers should submit themselves fully. This leader is often seen as the “father” of the congregation, with the “children” being the members who have been “adopted” into the group. The concept of “spiritual fathering” has been around for a long time, but it has recently become more popular as more people seek a sense of community and belonging in their religious lives.
The Problem with the “Orphan Spirit” Concept
One of the major problems with the “spiritual fathering” movement is its tendency towards manipulation and control. Those who refuse to submit themselves to the “spiritual father” are often accused of having an “orphan spirit,” which is meant to convey a sense of brokenness and rejection. This label is used to manipulate individuals into following the “spiritual father” and accepting his teachings without question.
The concept of the “orphan spirit” is not found in the Bible, which is why it is so concerning that it is being used to condemn those who question the “spiritual fathering” movement. The idea that someone could be possessed by an “orphan spirit” goes against what Jesus taught, as He promised that He would not leave us as orphans but would come to us.
“I will not abandon you as orphans, I will come to you. (John 14:18).
The Use of the Term “Orphan Spirit” is a Sneer
The “spiritual fathers” use the phrase “orphan spirit” as a sneer, a way to dismiss and reject those they deem “fatherless.” This use of the label is concerning, as it reveals the true nature of the “spiritual fathering” movement as a trap to lure people away from God and towards following a man.
Those who reject the “spiritual fathering” movement are not possessed by an “orphan spirit,” but rather they have access to God as Father through the Holy Spirit. Paul explained that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of adoption, reveals Christ to us and gives us a relationship with God the Father. If we do not have the Holy Spirit, we do not have God. Therefore, any claim by the “spiritual fathers” that someone has an “orphan spirit” is a denial that they are filled with the Spirit of God.
The Dangers of the Movement
The “spiritual fathering” movement is not only dangerous in its use of manipulation and control tactics but also in its promotion of the “spiritual father” as the ultimate authority in the lives of its followers. This kind of authority can lead to an unhealthy dependence on the leader, which can in turn lead to abuse.
The Bible teaches that our ultimate authority is God and that we should submit ourselves to Him alone. The idea of a “spiritual father” can be helpful in terms of mentorship and guidance, but it should never be used to replace our relationship with God.
The Verdict Against Jesus’ Teachings
The “spiritual fathers” claim that anyone who does not accept their teachings or submit to their authority is possessed by an “orphan spirit.” This goes against what Jesus taught when he said,
“I will not leave you as orphans.” (John 14:18)
This statement from Jesus suggests that we have a direct connection to Him and the Father. The claim that someone has an “orphan spirit” implies that they do not have this connection, which goes against Jesus’ teachings.
Furthermore, the “spiritual fathering” movement is based on the idea that there are certain individuals who have a special anointing or authority to act as spiritual fathers to others. However, Paul reminds us in Romans 3:4 that,
“Let God be true, but every man a liar.”
In other words, our trust and faith should be in God alone, not in any man.
The Role of the Holy Spirit in Adoption
The Bible teaches that we are adopted into God’s family through the Holy Spirit. Paul writes in Galatians 4:6,
“The Spirit of the Son of God has come and cried out in your hearts, ‘Abba, Father.'”
And in Romans 8:15-16,
“For you did not get the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you got the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ That we are God’s offspring is a fact attested to by the Spirit Himself.”
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This adoption is a personal experience between us and God, mediated by the Holy Spirit. The idea of a “spiritual father” acting as an intermediary between us and God undermines this personal relationship and denies the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Anyone who claims that another person has an “orphan spirit” is essentially denying that they have the Holy Spirit.
The Danger of False Charges and Manipulation
The use of the term “orphan spirit” is a false charge and a form of manipulation. It is a label that is applied to anyone who questions or challenges the teachings of the “spiritual fathering” movement. This label is used to delegitimize their concerns and to cast doubt on their spiritual state. However, such charges are not from God but rather from the devil.
The “spiritual fathering” movement’s use of the term “orphan spirit” is not only unscriptural but also dangerous. It undermines the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and denies the personal relationship we have with God. The movement’s focus on a spiritual father figure also places too much emphasis on human authority, which can be abused and manipulated. Instead, our focus should be on developing a personal relationship with God through the Holy Spirit and trusting in His guidance alone.
The use of the term “orphan spirit” in this way is highly problematic. In the Bible, orphans and those without a father figure are often portrayed as vulnerable and in need of protection and care. The Old Testament contains numerous commands to care for orphans and protect them from harm. Jesus himself also spoke about caring for widows and orphans, and he instructed his disciples not to call anyone on earth their father, but to look to God as their ultimate source of guidance and support.
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By contrast, the “spiritual fathering” movement seems to use the concept of an “orphan spirit” as a way of shaming and dismissing those who are not seen as having proper spiritual guidance. This approach is not only disrespectful to those who are accused of having an “orphan spirit,” but it also contradicts the biblical teachings on caring for the vulnerable.
Another concern with the “spiritual fathering” movement is its gendered nature. Proponents of this ideology often argue that only men can be “spiritual fathers,” while women are relegated to the role of “spiritual mothers.” This approach not only reinforces harmful gender stereotypes but also excludes women from the full range of spiritual roles and responsibilities that are available to men.
In addition to these concerns, many have argued that it is simply an unhelpful and potentially harmful ideology. By placing too much emphasis on the role of “spiritual fathers” and creating a hierarchy within the church, this movement can lead to unhealthy power dynamics and a lack of accountability. It can also create an unhealthy dependence on certain individuals, rather than fostering a sense of personal responsibility and spiritual growth.
[blockquote align=”left” author=” By placing too much emphasis on the role of spiritual fathers and creating a hierarchy within the church, this movement can lead to unhealthy power dynamics and a lack of accountability.”][/blockquote]
Ultimately, the “spiritual fathering” movement is not without its dangers and should be approached with caution. While there is certainly a need for mentoring and guidance within the church, this should not come at the expense of other biblical values such as care for the vulnerable and equality between men and women. By remaining vigilant and aware of the potential pitfalls of this movement, Christians can ensure that their spiritual growth is grounded in biblical principles and not harmful ideologies.
Reading Into The Text
This highlights the danger of reading something into the biblical text that is not actually there. When we do this, we risk building our beliefs on a shaky foundation and potentially straying from the truth. It is important to approach the Bible with humility and a willingness to let the text speak for itself, rather than imposing our own ideas onto it.
Furthermore, the misuse of the term “orphan spirit” by some false spiritual fathers can lead to a distorted understanding of God and His relationship with His children. Rather than promoting a healthy, loving relationship with God, this kind of teaching can lead to fear, shame, and a sense of spiritual inferiority.
Instead of fixating on the concept of an “orphan spirit,” we should focus on the truth of God’s love and care for His children, as expressed throughout the Bible. We can find comfort and security in knowing that God is our heavenly Father and that He promises to never leave us or forsake us.
Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
We can also seek out true spiritual fathers and mentors who can help guide us in our spiritual journey and support us in our relationship with God.
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Biblical Description of Spiritual Fathers and Mentors
The Bible describes spiritual fathers and mentors as those who guide and teach others in the ways of God. In the Old Testament, Moses was a spiritual father and mentor to Joshua, who later became the leader of Israel. Similarly, Elijah was a mentor to Elisha, who became a prophet and performed miracles in the name of the Lord.
In the New Testament, Jesus is the ultimate example of a spiritual father and mentor. He spent three years teaching and guiding His disciples, and even after His death and resurrection, He continued to guide them through the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul was also a spiritual father and mentor to many, including Timothy and Titus, whom he mentored in the ways of God and in ministry.
Biblical spiritual fathers and mentors are characterized by their selflessness and love for those they teach. They do not seek personal gain or financial reward for their guidance but instead desire to see their spiritual sons and daughters grow in their relationship with God. They lead by example, demonstrating the character of Christ in their own lives.
One of the key roles of a spiritual father or mentor is to disciple others in the ways of God. Jesus commanded His disciples to make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything He had commanded them.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
This involves not just teaching, but also modeling the Christian life and providing guidance and support to those being mentored.
Another important aspect of spiritual fathering and mentoring is the idea of passing on a legacy. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul tells Timothy,
“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”
In this way, the spiritual father or mentor is not just investing in the life of the one being mentored, but in future generations as well.
In contrast, false spiritual fathers and mentors are characterized by their desire for personal gain and power. They may use the concept of an orphan spirit to manipulate and control others, demanding tithes and offerings and promoting a hierarchical structure in which they are at the top. They may present themselves as having exclusive access to God’s wisdom and revelation and may discourage their followers from seeking guidance from other sources.
While true spiritual fathers and mentors are an important part of the Christian life, it is crucial to be discerning and careful in choosing whom to follow. Biblical spiritual fathering and mentoring are characterized by selflessness, love, and a desire to see others grow in their relationship with God. False spiritual fathers and mentors, on the other hand, are often motivated by personal gain and power and may use manipulation and control to achieve their goals. As believers, we must always be guided by the principles of God’s Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit in our quest for spiritual growth and maturity.
A True Spiritual Father
It’s important to note that not all spiritual fathers are abusive or manipulative. There are many true spiritual fathers who have a genuine love for the people they mentor and disciple, and who model themselves after Jesus, who said,
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).
True spiritual fathers are not focused on building their own platform or following but are instead focused on building up and equipping the people they mentor to be effective servants of God. They have a heart for people and are willing to invest time and energy into the lives of those they mentor, just as Paul did with Timothy and Titus.
Paul wrote to Timothy,
“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:1-2).
Here, we see the heart of a true spiritual father who is focused on equipping others to carry on the work of the Gospel.
True spiritual fathers are also humble and willing to learn from those they mentor. They don’t see themselves as having all the answers or as being infallible, but instead are open to correction and willing to admit when they are wrong. They understand that they too are in need of guidance and direction, and they look to God and to the people around them for wisdom and insight.
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Jesus Himself modelled this kind of humility and servant leadership when He washed His disciples’ feet and said to them,
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15).
In this way, Jesus showed His disciples that true leadership is not about power and control, but about serving others.
True spiritual fathers also recognize the unique calling and gifting of each person they mentor, and they seek to help them discover and develop their God-given talents and abilities. They don’t try to mould people into their own image, but instead, help them to become the person God has called them to be.
Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus,
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).
Here, we see the heart of a true spiritual father who is focused on equipping and building up the body of Christ.
While it’s important to be aware of the dangers of abusive and manipulative spiritual fathers, it’s also important to recognize that there are true spiritual fathers who have a heart for people and a genuine desire to see them grow in their faith. These spiritual fathers model themselves after Jesus and seek to equip and build up the people they mentor to become effective servants of God. As we seek out spiritual fathers in our own lives, may we be discerning and wise, and may we be open to the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit.
Making It A Scheme
Unfortunately, in some cases, the concept of the “orphan spirit” is not used by genuine spiritual fathers to nurture and care for their spiritual children but is rather abused by false spiritual fathers to manipulate and control their followers. They use it to create a culture of dependency and hierarchy where the spiritual father is at the top, and all others are beneath him.
This approach is similar to a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme, where those at the top benefit from the hard work and earnings of those below them. The false spiritual father uses the “orphan spirit” concept to make people feel like they are incomplete or lacking something, and the only way to fill that void is by submitting to his authority. He creates a sense of fear and inadequacy, convincing his followers that they need him to access the blessings of God.
In turn, this creates a financial scheme where the spiritual father often demands tithes, offerings, and other forms of financial support from his spiritual children. The false spiritual father often lives a lavish lifestyle at the expense of his followers, taking advantage of their vulnerability and naivety. This manipulation is not only unethical but also unbiblical.
The Bible is clear that spiritual fathers should not be seeking financial gain or exploiting their followers. In 1 Peter 5:2-3, the apostle Peter instructs spiritual leaders to:
“shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.”
Likewise, Paul tells Timothy that,
“the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2).
True spiritual fathers are called to serve and care for their spiritual children, not to control and manipulate them. They are not motivated by money but by love and compassion, just as Jesus was. They should model their lives after Christ, who said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:25-26).
While there are true spiritual fathers who serve as loving mentors and guides to their spiritual children, there are also false spiritual fathers who abuse the concept of the “orphan spirit” to manipulate and control their followers. These false spiritual fathers operate in an unbiblical and unethical way, seeking financial gain and creating a hierarchy where they benefit from the hard work and earnings of their spiritual children. As believers, we must be discerning and cautious in our relationships with spiritual leaders and always look to Christ as our ultimate example.
Benefits of True Spiritual Fathers and Mentors
Mentors and spiritual fathers can provide guidance, wisdom, and encouragement to those who seek to grow in their faith and their walk with God. When done correctly, this type of mentoring relationship can be an incredibly beneficial experience for the mentee. Here are some of the benefits of having a positive mentor or spiritual father:
A spiritual father can provide guidance and support in developing a deeper understanding of God’s word and His ways. A mentor can help a mentee grow in their faith, leading to a closer relationship with God.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
This is especially true when it comes to spiritual growth.
A good mentor can help their mentee develop personally, providing advice and encouragement to help them become the best version of themselves. This can include guidance on how to handle difficult situations, how to grow in their career, and how to improve their relationships. In Titus 2:6-8, Paul instructs Titus to encourage young men to:
“be self-controlled, set an example for others, and to live a life worthy of respect.”
A mentor can help keep their mentee accountable, holding them to a higher standard and encouraging them to live a life that is pleasing to God. Proverbs 27:6 says,
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
Sometimes, we need someone who will lovingly and gently call us out when we’re not living up to the standards we’ve set for ourselves.
A spiritual father can provide emotional support during difficult times. This can be especially helpful during times of grief or stress. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says,
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
A spiritual father can help their mentee build a legacy that honours God. They can help pass on wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to the next generation. Proverbs 13:22 says,
“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.”
It’s important to note that not all spiritual fathers are created equal. Some may be abusive, manipulative, or controlling. It’s crucial to be discerning when seeking out a mentor or spiritual father and to look for someone who exhibits the characteristics of a good mentor. It’s also important to remember that a mentor or spiritual father should never take the place of God in our lives, and we should always prioritize our relationship with Him above all else.
In conclusion, it is essential to discern between true and false spiritual fathers. The Bible teaches us that there are legitimate fathers in the faith who genuinely care for and love their spiritual sons and daughters. These fathers offer guidance, support, and encouragement to their spiritual children, helping them grow in their faith and relationship with God.
On the other hand, there are false spiritual fathers who use the “orphan spirit” as a tool to manipulate and control their followers. They create a hierarchical system that demands tithes and offerings, funnelling all the financial resources to themselves. They function like an MLM scheme, benefiting financially from the hard work and generosity of their spiritual children.
The “orphan spirit” abuse perpetrated by false spiritual fathers betrays their evil motives and the demonic origins of their teachings. They use this phrase to reject and dismiss those whom they deem “fatherless” while disguising their true intentions of exploiting their followers.
Therefore, it is crucial to discern the true spiritual fathers from the false ones. True spiritual fathers will love, guide, and encourage their spiritual children without demanding tithes and offerings or creating a hierarchical system. They will lead by example, seeking to emulate Jesus and glorify God in all they do. As followers of Christ, we must be vigilant and discerning, not allowing ourselves to be manipulated by false spiritual fathers who seek to benefit themselves rather than God’s kingdom.
The concept of the “orphan spirit” is not found in the Bible and serves as a tool for manipulation and control in the “spiritual fathering” movement. Those who reject this movement are not possessed by an “orphan spirit” but have access to God through the Holy Spirit. It is important to be aware of the dangers of the “spiritual fathering” movement and to ensure that our ultimate authority remains God alone. By doing so, we can avoid falling into the trap of false teachings and instead find true spiritual growth and freedom.
Let Us Pray
We thank you for your love and care for us. We come to you today to pray for all those who have been affected by the false teachings of spiritual fathers who misuse the concept of the orphan spirit for their own gain. We pray for those who have been hurt and abused by such leaders, that they may find healing and comfort in you.
We also ask that you guide us in discerning between true spiritual fathers who genuinely care for and mentor their spiritual children, and false spiritual fathers who use their position to demand hierarchy and tithes for their own benefit. Help us to seek out wise and trustworthy mentors who can guide us on our spiritual journeys and lead us closer to you.
We pray for those who have been led astray by false teachings and ask that you open their eyes to the truth. May they turn away from the ways of the world and embrace your love and guidance. We also pray for those who have been marginalized and oppressed, including widows, orphans, and the poor. May we all be inspired to show love and compassion towards them, just as you have shown us.
Thank you for hearing our prayers, and we trust in your love and guidance always. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.