In the last Plumbline, I argued that Tabernacle of David (TOD) teaching is the unseen and underlying theological foundation for many of the new worship forms currently being introduced in a variety of churches today. Although many of these worship experiences are excessively emotional, the major difficulty is the teaching that often accompanies these worship expressions, namely that TOD worship is a necessary ritual to “invoke” and “attract” the manifest presence of God.
Beyond this is the further teaching that TOD worship practice becomes a spiritual warfare technique. Worship is no longer simply a believer offering praise for the singular purpose of ascribing worship to God, but rather worship becomes a spiritual cause and effective law to which God is expected to respond. When properly practiced, this type of worship expects God will show up. The only gauge to whether God shows up is the outbreak of what appears to be involuntary physical manifestations. The difficulty with this scenario is that God is no longer sovereignly free to accomplish His will. Rather man initiates pro-active influence upon the spirit world so that God is obligated by spiritual law to do what man expects Him to do.
Associated with TOD worship is the use of flags and banners and dancing. Let us say at the outset that there is no problem with flags and banners in themselves. The church has for centuries used banners and sometimes flags to symbolize truths that are anchored in God’s revealed word. But in the TOD scheme of things, flags and banners are not just flags and banners expressing God’s truth. Rather, flags and banners are suggested to be “spiritual power tools.” The act of flag waving becomes the causal reason why God’s special presence occurs. The flag processionals, so popular in some circles today, are not just a witness of faith, but become a force in themselves. These flags and banners, initiated by believers, coax the Spirit to respond. Man becomes pro-active and the spirit world becomes reactive.
What are we to make of this? Are flags and banners and prophetic dancing not acceptable just because they are new and different from what we have experienced? No. It is rather the teaching that these physical acts become “spiritual power tools” that make spiritual things happen.
Flag ministers see their source of spiritual power in the Holy Spirit. The trigger that makes these so-called anointings of the Spirit happen is a physical act on the part of man. Related to this, are those today who have brought water pistols to church and when they squirt each other the water produces a ‘slain in the spirit’ experience. But even on the day of Pentecost the spiritual phenomena that occurred was not induced by banners, flag waving, spiritual squirt guns or whatever. Rather the disciples waited for God in obedience. In order to appear biblical, flag raisers and prophetic dancers take us to the O.T. On the other hand, even here they are making inaccurate comparisons.
Beyond this O.T. proof-texting is the improper lifting of historical situations from the O.T. and giving Old Covenant practices the same value and equivalency as in the New Covenant. Furthermore, who decides what in the Old Covenant is for today? Who decides that banners and flags are New Covenant practices? If we use O.T. text to validate flags and banners, why not institute an order of Levitical priests who impose a whole series of food laws declaring various foods unclean, etc.? On what basis do we isolate and require flags and banners? There is a basic rule of biblical interpretation that must be followed and the rule is simply that only O.T. practices that are re-stated by the apostles in the N.T. are valid for N.T. Christianity. To import poor imitations of Old Covenant practices into the New Covenant is to go against the flow of God’s historical revelation of His will.
New Covenant Gentile Christianity has been freed of the Old Testament instructions for worship and to re-impose them is to regress back into the Old Covenant. The model for the church is not the Old Testament but the Apostolic Church. Let’s be obedient to the intent of God’s Word!