TBN (or The Baal Network, as I like to call it) is at it again.
The man pictured above is Bishop Johnathon Alvarado of Total Grace Christian Center here in Metro-Atlanta. Alvarado leads a congregation of over 5,000 members with various locations. Although Alvarado referred to himself as “an apostle” back in 2003 (because he was “planting churches”), he was consecrated as a Bishop within the past few years:
As the demand for covering and guidance from Bishop Alvarado grew, a collection of pastors wanted to further express their covenant relationship with him by forming an official fellowship. In 2005, Bishop Alvarado was nominated by these pastors to the Office of Bishop for the newly founded Grace Fellowship of Churches and was officially consecrated for this office in June, 2006.
Alvarado is a very educated man, earning multiple degrees in Divinity and Theology from legitimate institutions. He and his wife (and co-pastor) Toni are candidates for Doctorates in Ministry, but both are officially classified as “ABD” – meaning they have completed all qualifications for their doctorates except the completion of dissertations, thus the term “All But Dissertation”. Interestingly, Alvarado’s wife refers to herself as “Dr. Toni”…not earthshattering, but an unnecessary half-truth nonetheless.
Alvarado graced the Atlanta studios of TBN April 14th, 2009 to expound on the importance of “spiritual fatherhood” in the Body of Christ. I find his “exegesis” to be so dangerous that I decided to inaugurate my Youtube page with my first video (please watch the entire video before commenting):
You’re “Dangerous” If You Only Hear From God?
Yes, you heard correctly: Alvarado asserts that Jesus’ ministry was only legitimized because He “submitted” to the “preeminent minister of the area” – John the Baptist. I know…I am equally as distressed as you should be right now. In fact, it has taken me 2 full days to write about it so that I could be sure that I am not speaking from my flesh, but by the Word of God. Please indulge me as I take a moment to seriously dissect this false teaching.
Last year, I took considerable time in detailing the fallacy of what many pastors consider “spiritual fatherhood” in today’s church. Beyond a system of transparent accountability, many pastors (and pulpit pimps) have set-up faux “covering ministries” that create patronage systems that help one another grow financially and in marketability.
I believe that Alvarado’s “sermonette” was a shot across the bow to those who have left their “spiritual fathers” in order to start their own ministries…particularly a certain former father/son relationship here in Metro-Atlanta. Alvarado began this interview quite soundly by detailing the affinity for “spiritual fathers” here in the ATL (and other areas), and his dismay with how so many people “jump around from father to father”. He even goes on to detail his relationship with his “father in the faith”, and I don’t have a problem (per se) with his reasoning, considering he’s had a relationship with the man since he was a child.
Around the 2:39 second mark, Alvarado begins to veer off the rails by shifting the discussion to “sonship” – quoting Malachi 4:5-6 out of context by declaring:
“…some of us are cursed in our lives, marriages, ministries, families because we won’t let our hearts be turned”
As I stated in a previous article about the lie of the tithe, Malachi is often misquoted/misunderstood/misrepresented when taken out of context. The entire book of Malachi is a pronouncement of judgement from God on disobedient priests (specifically in reference to priests “robbing God” of sacrificial offerings) and a disobedient nation (Israel – specifically in their continued disobedience andabuse of God’s grace). Here is the text as it appears in the bible:
Malachi 4:5-6 (New American Standard Bible)
5“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.
6“He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”
Further study of this passage of scripture details that God was specifically speaking of societal repentance, returning the hearts of a disobedient remnant to their God through (a foretelling of) His Son. This IS NOT a pronouncement of a curse over “sons” because they have left or been otherwise disobedient to their “fathers” – in any context. It is allegorical language that illustrates a state of falling away from God through disobedience.
Oh if only Alvarado had stopped there…
“…in Atlanta, everybody wants God to be their father and nobody else”
That’s right – everyone wants “God to be their Father” because that’s what God’s Word tell us is true (emphasis added):
Matthew 23:8-12 (New American Standard Bible)
8“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.
9“Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
10“Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.
11“But the greatest among you shall be your servant.
12“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.
Of course, God wants you to call your biological father by his proper title, and He does not forbid us from even using titles as a sign of respect (1 Thessalonians 5:11-2; 1 Timothy 5:1). This scripture, however, specifically forbids us calling others by lofty spiritual titles that allows them to ascribe spiritual authority over us.
Alvarado goes on to dispute the rejection of “spiritual fathers” on the grounds that bastard “sons” will come and go as they please without a “fathers”:
“…because then, if they want to leave Bishop Alvarado’s church and go to Bishop Jackson’s church, then all they gotta say is ‘God told me’ (laughter)…I mean, come on, be fair with me – who can argue with that?”
Alvarado then goes on to use the story of Samuel and Eli as illustration that the young man wouldn’t have even known that God was speaking to him apart from his consultation with Eli (1 Samuel 3). Interestingly, Alvarado uses this portion of scripture to support his “sonship” theory, but he doesn’t use this book of scripture in validating why some “sons” flee the jealousy of their “fathers” in the first place.
God told Samuel of the judgement that would befall Eli (1 Samuel 31-35) because of Eli’s lack of fatherly oversight of his biological sons (1 Samuel 2:12-17). Samuel hesitated to reveal to Eli, his mentor, what God said concerning his fate – yet the old man reacted in a peculiar manner:
1 Samuel 3:16-18 (New American Standard Bible)
16Then Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.”
17He said, “What is the word that He spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. May God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the words that He spoke to you.”
18So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the LORD; let Him do what seems good to Him.”
So rather than curse his “spiritual son” for daring to tell him about the God that he introduced Samuel to in the first place, Eli acknowledged God’s report through Eli, and awaited his fate. How many “spiritual fathers” operating in pimpistries today would not rebuke Samuel for “daring” to speak for God? Not many.
At this point, Alvarado expresses his concern “…about people that God’s the only one that can speak to them.” This retort is a common one among pulpit pimps. They get absolutely beside themselves when you tell them that “God told me to do…” something, ESPECIALLY if it is contrary to what that pimp wants you to do. Now, the same people who tell you that “you can be like God” and “speak those things that be not as though they were”(commonly misused and miss-appropriated elements of scripture) claim that you don’t have the authority or spiritual maturity to hear from God – that you have to hear Him through them.
Wow – you’ve gone from a “little god” to an immature clod in less than 60 seconds! And this has absolutely nothing to do with how many people misconstrue Romans 10:14; and I have commented before on the true exegesis of Romans 10:14-15. The intent of the text is clear – Paul specifically speaks to the importance of the verbal sharing of the Gospel, NOT that God will not speak but by a “preacher” or “sent teacher” alone.
So “Bishop” Alvarado now has to show his complete ignorance of the ministry and order of Christ:
“…does Jesus say ‘God told Me to start a church’? No. He goes down to John the Baptist, he was the leader of the day (the Bishop of that region)…He goes down to John the Baptist…Jesus said ‘if I want a legitimate ministry, I’ve got to submit Myself to the legitimate ministry of the day…if I want to be legit, I gotta sit under somebody who’s legit’“
So, if I am to understand Alvarado correctly (and I’ve watched this video at least 15 times), Jesus – God in the flesh – had an illegitimate ministry UNTIL HE SUBMITTED to John the Baptist?
Is Alavarado drunk, crazy, or both?
May God have mercy on him for ever uttering such crap! Let’s take a look at Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist:
Matthew 3:13-17 (New American Standard Bible)
13Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?”
15But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him.
16After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him,
17and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
Maybe I missed something ACROSS ALL 4 SYNOPTIC GOSPELS, but did scripture record Jesus’ submission to John the Baptist…ANYWHERE? Further, why didn’t we see Jesus “submit His ministry” to John the Baptist after this “revelation” – since Jesus CLEARLY relinquished His Godliness in order to now become the “spiritual son” of John the Baptist.
In Luke 7, John (who is now imprisoned and awaiting a beheading) sought Christ for an escape, but Jesus admonished him to not be offended by His works:
Luke 7:18-23 (New American Standard Bible)
18The disciples of John reported to him about all these things. 19Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?”
20When the men came to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?'”
21At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind.
22And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.
23“Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”
Why didn’t Jesus “save” His “spiritual father”? Isn’t this what “sons” are supposed to do, according to Alvarado and other proponents of a twisted “spiritual sonship”?
Alvarado goes on to describe the Ordo Salutis as a treaty of justifaction for the transfer of salvation through human hands:
“the Ordo Salutis…is the same translation from which we derive the word ‘order. It literally means the way in which our salvation is realized and fulfilled in the earth..and it’s always through the ministry and the hands of another human being”
Sorry to be so blunt, but that is a boldfaced lie! A study of the Ordo Salutis clearly shows that:
The ordo salutis is the theological doctrine that deals with the logical sequencing of the benefits of Salvation worked by Christ which are applied to us by the Spirit. This first thing to remember is that we must never seperate the benefits (regeneration, justification, sanctification) from the Benefactor (Jesus Christ). The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration, etc.) is the work of God in Christ and is by grace alone.
The Ordo Salutis is a Reformed tenet that affirms salvation, repentance, and regeneration are acts of the Holy Spirit on behalf of the elect – NOT SOME DOCTRINE OF TRANSFERENCE THROUGH THE LAYING ON OF HANDS! Either Alvarado is incredibly stupid, or cunning enough to think that no one could research this information! Since Alvarado likes Latin so much, why didn’t he research Sola Scriptura – the belief in the supremacy of scripture alone? I could go on, but you get the point – this is a clear case of hack exegesis to prove a personal philosophy.
Alvarado’s final declaration of his “fear” of Christians who “can’t hear from another person” is quite troubling, but nonetheless expected of an (apparently) false teacher. Why would he or any other pimp want you to read the Word for direction from God – apart from their counsel? They don’t want you wandering away from the plantation.
This is yet more evidence of the sad state of the Body of Christ these days. What could have been a clear and concise discussion on Alvarado’s interest/allegiance to spiritual fatherhood instead turned into a session of nothing short of lies propagated to advance a personal philosophy.
I call on Alvarado to repent of this false teaching publicly – just as he publicly espoused these false theories. I also call upon the sheep who submit to him to consider your allegiance as well. Perhaps we now know why Alvarado hasn’t completed his dissertation and is stil ABD – who would want to stand before a doctoral committee to defend such nonsense?