False Teacher Friday

Hillsong: A Biblical Evaluation

Hillsong has infiltrated almost every church in the western world in some way. This has particularly taken place through their worship music. Many of their songs have become an integral part of worship in almost any church that affiliates itself with the Christian faith. So what is the big deal? If the songs have good lyrics (and some of them do) why does it matter? That’s a great question.

My oldest daughter, Jess, took the time to do some research on this phenomenon known as “Hillsong” recently and I wanted to share here what she found out. When you find out what they believe, promote, and represent, we may want to reconsider using their music or anything else from their ministry in our homes and our churches. Here is what Jess found out–

Hillsong was founded by Brian and Bobbie Houston in 1983 and quickly exploded into a massive worldwide organization. Hillsong now has a church in nearly every major city of the world, with over 180,000 people attending globally each week and even more watching online. They also boast three record labels, an international college, a film and television platform, and multiple worldwide conferences. Their record labels have dominated the Christian music industry and over 50 million people around the world sing their songs in church every week.

We are called to test all things against the truth of God’s Word. So we must take what Hillsong believes, teaches, and represents and compare it side by side with Scripture. And it brings me no joy to say that Hillsong fails miserably. Here’s 10 reasons why.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲’𝐫𝐞 𝐞𝐠𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐧. They ordain women pastors and many of their churches around the globe are pastored by women. Bobbie Houston co-pastors the main church in Sydney, Australia with her husband. She said in reference to the topic that “the church needs to come of age sometimes and just grow up.” (see 1 Timothy 2:11-14 & 3:1-7)

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐠𝐨𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐥. Hillsong Church claims that God wants us happy, healthy and wealthy. “We believe that God wants to heal and transform us so that we can live healthy and blessed lives in order to help others more effectively” is one of their statements of beliefs.

In 1999, Brian Houston wrote a book called “You Need More Money.” He asks an audience, “why would the Bible would say ‘Let the poor say I am rich’ if it wasn’t the will of God to break the poverty over people’s lives?” (by the way, that phrase isn’t found anywhere in the Bible) He urges people to dream big. He claims God wants an abundant life for us and that includes health, wealth, and great success in this life.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐚 𝐰𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐨𝐥𝐨𝐠𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐡𝐮𝐫𝐜𝐡. Houston’s vision for Hillsong includes one that dreams, that welcomes everyone, and that worships. “A church that loves God, loves people, and loves life. Youthful in Spirit, generous at heart, faith-filled in confession, loving in nature, and inclusive in expression.” There’s no mention of the Gospel, the preaching of God’s Word, or the true purpose of the church according to Scripture. The primary purpose of the Church is not to welcome unbelievers but to grow believers.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐁𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠. A BBC article reported that “the messaging may at times attach to specific scripture but it’s easily digestible, palatable, and is largely built on love, acceptance, and faith-led aspiration: be true to yourself, fight fear, never give up, believe in God.” Another magazine reported that “he [the pastor] expounds on the importance of having a relationship with Jesus, as opposed to following the dogmatic structures of organized religion- ideas that are key tenets of Hillsong’s brand of Christianity.” Watch a few clips online, and you’ll soon see that these are good descriptions. They’re simply preaching the wisdom of the world wrapped up in a pretty package they call Christian.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲’𝐫𝐞 𝐞𝐜𝐮𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥. Hillsong Church seeks to unify with all religions since they all worship the same Jesus. (hint: not the Jesus of the Bible) Brian Houston said “Do you know – take it all the way back to the Old Testament – and the Muslim and you, we actually serve the same God. Allah, to a Muslim; to us, Abba Father, God.” He later claimed that his statement was taken out of context.

Hillsong United has performed at Catholic conferences. Hillsong’s “No Other Name” conference invited a Catholic pastor to lead a break-out session to help the Catholics attending “take the experience of Hillsong conference and interpret it into your Catholic world.” Houston also released a statement about the Pope, saying “we pray too that this papacy, like those before it, is marked by a commitment to seeing the Christian message continue to go forward and people changed by the power and truth of the Gospel,” claiming that they share the common desire to exalt Christ. Excuse me? There is no Christian message or truth of the Gospel coming from the mouth of the Pope.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐜𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐆𝐨𝐝. Carl Lentz, who was the lead pastor at the Hillsong Church in New York City (he since has been fired for adultery), was interviewed by Oprah in 2016. She asked him, “do you think only Christians can be in a relationship with God?” He replied “No, I believe that when Jesus said that ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life,’ the way I read that, Jesus said that He is the road marker, He is the map, so I think that God loves people so much, that whether they accept or reject Him, He’s still gracious.” This was his presentation of “the gospel” to Oprah. Later, Bobbie Houston congratulated him and Oprah for the spirit-breathed and Jesus-centered interview, stating she would pray for the “Oprah-haters, God-haters, and Hillsong-haters” who expressed their concern over what he said.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐢𝐠𝐧𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐛𝐥𝐞𝐦 𝐨𝐟 𝐬𝐢𝐧. Brian Houston says they’re a “come as you are church.” He claims that the Holy Spirit convicts, God judges, and he is simply called to love. He once said to his audience, “And you hear people say, you don’t preach enough about sin. You don’t preach enough about repentance. But you know what I actually think they’re saying is, ‘You don’t beat people up enough.’ Cause you know, you don’t have to tell people they’re sinners. They already know.”

Carl Lentz said “If you go to a church and all they talk about is sin, then they aren’t talking about the whole gospel. Jesus to said to give the good news and that’s what we’re doing. The heart of the message is, wherever you are living, whatever you do for a living, it’s valid.”

Somehow they separate the idea of preaching about sin and condemnation from preaching about God’s love and grace. They’re inseparable. There’s no Gospel without both of them.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐫𝐞𝐟𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐚𝐝𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐫 𝐡𝐨𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐞𝐱𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐚𝐬 𝐬𝐢𝐧. Carl Lentz notably refused to call abortion sin during his interview on The View. Both Houston and Lentz are remarkably quiet on the topic of homosexuality. Lentz claims that Jesus never talked about the topic, so why would he?

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐡𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐳𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩. It has been said that the worship part of their church services “rival any other contemporary form of entertainment.” Lights, smoke, effects, jumping up and down. One magazine article stated that “you’d think it’s a rock concert, but it’s actually church.” It’s the main part of their service. It’s me-centered worship. It makes people feel good. The music stirs up their emotions and gives them a false sensation of spirituality. But is it true worship or an abomination to the Lord? Does Hillsong care that true worship only comes out of heart that is pure before the Lord? Does it care that worship must be done in both spirit and in truth?

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐨𝐨 𝐩𝐨𝐩𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐫. Too popular? Is that a bad thing? Yes. Because the Bible promises us that God’s Truth will never be loved by the world. The world will hate us. We will be the fragrance of death to those who are perishing and the fragrance of life to those who are being saved. (2 Corinthians 2:16) Hillsong Church is growing in leaps and bounds. Thousands of people attend. Positive stories about Hillsong have been featured by Vogue, CNN, The Today Show, Cosmopolitan, BBC and many others. Justin Bieber, Kylie Jenner, Chris Pratt, Kourtney Kardashian, and Vanessa Hudgens are all celebrities that attend or have attended Hillsong Church. Wouldn’t you attend a church, as an unbeliever, that tells you can have both Jesus and the world? That Jesus wants you healthy, wealthy, and happy? A church that’s all about love and doesn’t talk about sin?

This so-called church isn’t preaching the Biblical Gospel or the true Jesus Christ. It isn’t a true church in any sense of the word. They’ve created their own message, their own Jesus, and their own church out of the lusts of their flesh. And it truly is an abomination to our God. And it’s THEIR songs that we sing in our churches every Sunday. Can those songs really glorify God if they’re coming from a heretical church like Hillsong? My prayer is that this saves even a few people from getting ensnared in the lies of this church and everything with the name Hillsong attached to it.

(This was a very long post and I didn’t have the space to explain why each of these things is wrong Biblically. If you don’t understand why we can’t unite with Catholics, how we know the true purpose of the church, why the prosperity gospel isn’t Biblical, how we know homosexuality is a sin, etc. – feel free to message me or dig into the Word for yourself!)

Jen Hatmaker: A Biblical Evaluation

Jen Hatmaker looked so good there for awhile. She seemed to say things that seemed biblical. That were almost…right. And then she started veering off to the left. Ever so slightly and subtly. Until eventually she landed at where she is today– an absolute heretic when we compare what she is teaching to what the Bible says. It seems almost pointless to show that this woman is a false teacher, given how clear she makes it for us..BUT if you aren’t in the Word on a regular basis, you may be fooled by her twisting of the Word and her silvery tongue. She sure does make her poison sound like honey. And so my daughter, Jess*, did some digging to give some hard evidence to what this woman is really teaching, comparing it to scripture–

Jen Hatmaker has been around for quite a few years now. She has authored many books, hosts a popular podcast, and has a huge social media following. She has a very likable personality and people love her writing style full of humor and candor. She made headlines in 2016 when she came out in support of the LGBTQ community and received both applause and ridicule as a result. She claims to have reconstructed her faith and now offers “a new kind of christianity” that is really just paganism slightly disguised.

Honestly, Jen is so obvious in her blatant disregard for Scripture that I almost didn’t feature her. However the idea of deconstructing and reconstructing your faith, sometimes called a de-conversion story, is one that is gaining traction and popularity. And so I thought it might be helpful to break down her story so we can see where she gets it wrong according to the Bible. Not because I find joy in calling people false teachers or because I have fun defaming popular “Christian” figures. It makes my heart hurt. But her message is so dangerous that it demands we chime a loud warning bell. And if I can help just one person steer clear of her false ideology, it will be worth it.

The first thing Jen shares about her de-conversion story is the negative aspects of the traditional, evangelical church. She claims that the church doesn’t let people ask questions, never acknowledges gray areas, doesn’t allow for uncertainty, and are unaccepting of certain types of people. That church is outdated, racist, unloving, misogynist, naive, oppressive, and too dogmatic.

The second thing she does is portray herself as the victim of this big, bad church. She simply decided to ask the questions nobody else would. She started seeking and embarked on a journey for answers. And when the answers she found didn’t line up with historical & Biblical Christianity, then she was “mistreated in ways that were scary, disorienting, crushing, devastating.” But her conclusions were in complete opposition to the Bible. So just because some people told her that she’s wrong and the Bible’s right, she’s a victim?

And finally, Jen shares with her audience a new belief system her journey lead to. When she was finally brave enough to ask the hard questions, she found freedom and light and acceptance. She invites them to go on the same journey. Here’s just a few of the conclusions she came to:

𝐖𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐜𝐚𝐧’𝐭 𝐛𝐞 𝐜𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐁𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐲𝐬. “For a season that sense of certainty was wonderful…but of course upon scrutiny it breaks down because, as always, we come to Scripture and the things that we say are certain are obviously not certain to other people…certainty really only works in an echo chamber.” She is insistent that if we really scrutinize our beliefs, we’ll find that we can’t really be certain about anything at all. She claims that when she struggled to find clarity, the Bible “just wouldn’t cooperate on perfect clarity.” I’m confident it wasn’t the Bible that wasn’t cooperating.

𝐖𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭’𝐬 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐞 𝐛𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐮𝐢𝐭. One may wonder how we can know what’s true if we can’t be certain about anything the Bible says. Ironically, she twists the meaning of Jesus’ parable in Matthew 7 to answer this question. She says that “[Jesus is like] when there’s something, be it a relationship, or a person or a doctrine, whatever, that feels ambiguous, or it feels contentious, or there’s tension around its interpretation, look to the fruit…a good tree is gonna bear good fruit, and a bad tree is gonna bear bad fruit…that’s a clue that I feel like Jesus put into the hands of future believers, as we were going to do our generations work of pressing on Scripture and finding the threads of truth, and how do we interpret it and apply it to our lives at this time.” Yes, she did just say threads of truth. Actually, Jen, the entire Bible is true and it applies to our lives the same way for all of time.

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐡𝐮𝐫𝐜𝐡 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐩𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐋𝐆𝐁𝐓𝐐 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐲. Her theory of good and bad fruit is what convinced her of this fact. She said the fruit of the “non-affirming Christian tree” was rotten (depression, self-hatred, broken families, loneliness) while the fruit of the “affirming Christian tree” was universally good. “And so that gave us the confidence to continue pressing until we felt convinced that God would have us open our arms wide to our LGBTQ friends and neighbors, and welcome them into the church, as they are” she concluded in an interview. (Given her view of scripture this would make sense, would it not? No passage regarding this would matter because it isn’t a “thread of truth” in her world. She is the one who gets to decide what is true and what isn’t. ~lda)

𝐃𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐚𝐥 𝐨𝐟 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐟𝐮𝐥 𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞. “That question you are asking, that dream, that need, that buried anger, that delicious desire, it can all live in the open, and its unveiling can be your liberation song” she writes. She encourages her readers to believe that “I am exactly enough” and “I deserve goodness.” She writes that even the worst evildoers “have something precious at their core.” She believes that if we but uncover our inmost being, we’ll find great and glorious good for the world. But the Bible says that our inmost being is utterly sinful, that there’s nothing good in us, that we deserve hell, and that our fleshly desires lead only to sin. And since she misdiagnoses our sinful condition, then there is no need for the Gospel. Which makes sense, I guess, since she never mentions it anyway.

𝐂𝐡𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐩𝐭𝐬 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐞. “Everyone belongs” she says “and until everyone belongs, we’ve replaced truth with a lie. This the world Jesus envisioned.” She begs us to ask “what feels and sounds like actual good news, instead of who is in and who is out?” Is that really the world that Jesus envisioned, though? He talks countless times about the narrow way, about people being in and people being out, about the wheat and the chaff, the true and the false. Does it matter what feels like good news to us?

𝐑𝐞𝐝𝐞𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬 𝐁𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞. “When loving God results in pain, exclusion, harm, or trauma to people then we are doing the first part wrong. It is not God in error but us.” She makes it clear that if we tell anyone that they’re wrong or sinful then we aren’t loving. But that’s her definition of love, not the definition we find in the Bible that never rejoices in iniquity.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. She completely negates the need for church since she figured out this new Jesus “lets me watch CBS Sunday Morning instead of church without shame.” She never shares the Gospel. She never talks about sin or repentance or the Bible. She makes Jesus exactly who she wants Him to be. It amazes me that she can say all of these things and still be accepted in the “Christian community.” There’s nothing Christian about her. She throws out the Bible, the Gospel, the church, and the true Jesus Christ and then expects to be accepted by the Christian community? How have we come to this place? She followed her lusts straight into a pit of heresy. I pray that she goes on another journey that leads her back to the Bible. Because if we can’t be certain about that, then what’s the point of faith at all?

 

 

*Jess is wife to Seth and mom to three active boys. She loves to research and write (like her mom!) and can be found at Anchor for the Soul on both Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

Bill Johnson and Bethel: A Biblical Evaluation

The following is written by my oldest daughter, Jess, who is currently taking the time to do some in-depth research of popular false teachers. She compares what they teach to what the Bible says. This not only helps us understand just why they are considered a false teacher but also gives us a bit of knowledge when we are asked by fellow Christians about some of these teachers.

Today’s focus is on Bill Johnson, whom you may better know by the name of his ministry: Bethel. Jesus Culture Music and many other things stem from Bethel. Many of the worship songs sung in your churches are from Bethel. Let’s find out just what Bill and his ministry teach about God–

Bill Johnson could be called the modern day father of the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) movement. He is the lead pastor of Bethel Church and founder of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. Bethel has also created their own music label, mission organization, and an “apostolic network” that includes hundreds of churches and schools all around the world. Jesus Culture is another popular movement that has emerged from Bethel.

I think most of the people reading this would agree that Bethel is, at the very least, a little weird. Their “manifestations of the power of the Spirit” include things like grave sucking, prophetic cards, prophetic dancing, waking angels, wearing “destiny pants”, fire tunnels, and holy laughter. Since we can’t find even one of those “manifestations” in the Bible, that list alone should be a clear enough warning to stay far away. But my goal today isn’t to dive into that aspect of Bethel. Videos and articles abound online if you want to research that on your own.

My goal is to give you a succinct overview of the heresies that are taught by Bill Johnson. It isn’t enough to simply say “they do weird things”. Their movement is a big one. Bill Johnson has said the main goal of Bethel is to “export their teaching” in music, conferences, books, sermons, schools, churches, livestreams, social media, and missions. They want to transform the church and the culture. We need to know why and how the teachings at Bethel contradict Scripture so we can warn others to avoid anything associated with them.

Today we will look at the 3 main tenants of Bill Johnson’s theology that should concern us. In Part 2 next Friday, we’ll see just how these theologies manifest themselves so dangerously in application and practice at Bethel’s churches and schools.

First, he teaches the theology of dominionism. He believes they are ushering in the kingdom of God or “heaven on earth.” They teach about a “7 mountain mandate” where each mountain represents a kingdom they need to take dominion over such as government, education, and media. How do they do that? By bringing revival. No, not by sharing the gospel but by bringing healing, eradicating poverty, reforming society, and undoing the works of the devil. He fails to see the only source of true revival: the truth of the gospel piercing and transforming the hearts of individuals. He ignores all passages about the last days being evil, the great falling away, judgement, and the way of Christ being narrow and unpopular.

Second, he teaches that we live in a second apostolic age. There are apostles on earth now that are equal to the apostles in Scripture that began the church and witnessed the life of Jesus. Bill Johnson claims to be one of them. They cannot be questioned and receive direct revelation, therefore he elevates his teachings to that of the apostle’s teaching in the Bible. He completely and totally denies the sufficiency of Scripture.

And finally, he teaches false theology about the person of Jesus Christ:

“He performed miracles, wonders, and signs as a man in a right relationship to God…not as God. If he performed miracles because He was God, then they would be unattainable for us. But if he performed them as a man, I am responsible to purse His lifestyle.” This is just one example of many of him teaching that Jesus emptied Himself of divinity when He came to earth. This is a massive heresy. Colossians 2:9 says “For in Him, the whole fullness of of deity dwells bodily” and if He was not God then His sacrifice on the cross would not have been a sufficient payment for our sins.

“Jesus bore stripes in His body through brutal beating as an atoning work to deal with the power of sickness and disease. Lord we give You thanks that You were willing to suffer the way you did to dis-empower disease, infirmity, and afflicting spirits” Bill teaches that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross gives us power over all sickness and disease. See 1 Peter 2:24, 1 John 3:5, and 1 Corinthians 15:3 to see why this is also heresy.

“God is in charge but not in control. He has left us in control.” Proverbs 19:1 and 21:1 are just two among many verses that refute that statement. He is absolutely in control of the entire universe including our lives.

He says that his “standard is Jesus” and that any interpretation of Scripture that doesn’t meet that standard is “theologically immoral”. There are “superior truths and inferior truths” such as ‘the judgement of God is true, the mercy of God is more true” and “anything you know about the nature of God that isn’t seen in the person of Jesus is an inferior truth”. 2 Timothy 3:16, John 17:17, and Psalm 119:160 are just a few among many verses that remind us that ALL Scripture is equally true. There are no inferior truths in Scripture.

We’ve only scratched the tip of the iceberg, friends. Let’s remember that the three main problematic theologies of the Bethel movement are Dominionism, belief in a second apostolic age, and a warped idea of who Jesus is and why He came to earth. There are more but these are enough for now. It’s time to turn our attention to how these unbiblical ideas manifest themselves in practical belief and practice.

First, they believe in healing. They do not simply believe that God can still perform miracles of healing today. Of course He does, if it’s in accordance with His will. And there are, as most of us know, denominations that believe that people still have gifts like speaking in tongues and healing today. (I personally do not, but that’s a topic for another day!) But this isn’t what Bethel believes either. They take it much further than that. They believe that healing is central to the gospel. That Jesus died to heal everyone of their physical pain, sickness, and poverty here on earth.

Bill Johnson preached a sermon on Galatians 2 where Paul tells the church that anyone who preaches a different gospel is accursed. Bill goes on to say that anyone who preaches a gospel that doesn’t include physical healing is preaching a different gospel and is therefore accursed. “I refuse to create a theology that allows for sickness” he tells the audience. He believes if something exists in heaven, it should exist on earth. So because there’s no sickness, pain, or poverty in heaven, that is what we can expect on earth. “We’re coming into a day where the presence of the Lord is so pronounced that everyone walking into the building will be healed…[it will be] a sustained reality in the church” he said recently in an interview.

Let’s just quickly go over a few of the many errors with this type of belief. First, there’s no death in heaven, right? So if we could truly bring heaven to earth, then we also should be able to eliminate death. Something Bethel has yet to accomplish or even mention. Secondly, he totally ignores passage after passage in the Bible that talks about death, suffering, and trials. About eternity being our only hope for freedom from sickness, death, and sin. The verse in Matthew 26:11 where Jesus says “the poor will always be with you.” Someone asked him about the book of Job and he simply replied “Scripture can’t correct my understanding of Jesus.” Excuse me? What he’s really saying is “Scripture can’t correct my understanding of the idol I have created and call Jesus.”

Finally, this belief says that if you aren’t healed, then you don’t have enough faith. I have read testimony after testimony of men and women that have left this movement after they had very real physical pain or sickness that wasn’t being healed. They were only told over and over that they lacked faith. Even Bethel has classes entitled “keeping your healing” since apparently often people think they were “healed” during a meeting only to see their physical problem return. Scripture is clear: faith is never measured by whether we are healthy or sick, poor or rich. True faith, according to Hebrews 11, is trusting and obeying the Word of God even when we can’t see.

Second, they believe in a very heretical type of prophesy. Bethel’s students are encouraged to “say anything” and soon they will be prophesying. Bill asked a group to tell him something they thought Jesus would say if He was sitting in the room with them. After each student answered, he applauded them for their prophesies. Their only qualification for prophesy is that it must be edifying and encouraging. They can’t say anything negative. (nevermind that there are plenty of negative prophesies in the pages of Scripture) Their head prophet, Kris Vallatton, boasts that about 80% of their prophesy is wrong and 20% is right. They conveniently ignore the passages where God says that no true prophet is ever wrong. Their version of prophesy sounds very similar to Jeremiah 23:16: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.”

Third and finally, they blaspheme the Holy Spirit. Their websites states that the “The Holy Spirit gives every believer the supernatural power to witness and release miracles, signs, and wonders.” These signs and wonders include things like holy laughter, grave sucking, communicating with angels, convulsing, and seeing the presence of God at their services in gold dust, holy clouds, and falling feathers. No scripture exists that tells us the Holy Spirit gives us supernatural power to “witness and release” signs and wonders or anything even slightly similar.

I could go on and on about how Bill thinks people can’t believe the gospel without signs and wonders. About fake, manipulated healing and “supernatural” events. About the way they treat people who aren’t healed and question their theology. About the demonic influence in their strange practices. About how Bill tells people to claim the promise of financial blessing. About how students left someone injured lie at the bottom of a cliff for hours while they tried to pray for his healing instead of call for help. We’ve only scratched the surface.

But the bottom line is this: Bill Johnson has created a counterfeit faith that is based on feelings and self instead of Scripture. This faith is all about what God can do for them. They tell God what they think is best instead of the other way around. This faith says that signs and wonders are how God manifests His love towards us instead of the cross. It creates an idol out of the Jesus they want instead of the Jesus that is revealed in Scripture. Bill Johnson purposefully manipulates and tricks and destroys. He picks and chooses which passages of the Bible he likes and twists them to say what he wants. He blasphemes the Holy Spirit. This faith he preaches, without a doubt, denies the truth of the gospel. And so, in conclusion, I recommend we all stay far away from him and his “faith.”

 

 

Please note: You can follow Jess on Instagram at anchor.for.the.soul and on Facebook at An Anchor for the Soul

Steven Furtick: A Biblical Evaluation

So I do realize that it is Saturday, contrary to what the photo says above. So let me explain. Many of you will remember that my daughter, Jess, wrote a guest post a couple of weeks ago about the series “The Chosen” (you can find that post here.) She has started Facebook and Instagram pages dedicated to the topic of discernment (I’ll put links to her pages below). Her goal is to hold popular teachers, authors, songs, and movements up to the light of the Word and to do so in a succinct way that makes sense to the average layperson.

Many of you have seen Jess’s posts on Facebook because I have been sharing them to the Growing4Life page. However, I was thinking about the fact that many of you are not on Facebook. And I was also thinking about how hard it can be to find posts on Facebook once they’ve been replaced by more current posts. It was with that in mind, that I asked her if she would mind if I re-posted what she writes here at Growing4Life. She kindly said yes.

I didn’t have time to do this yesterday so we are going to have a “False Teacher Friday” on a Saturday. :) This week, Jess examines Steven Furtick. Some of us may not have realized that Furtick and Elevation church are clearly unbiblical, while others of us do realize this but aren’t quite sure what exactly is wrong. I think this short post will be beneficial to all of you–

Steven Furtick is the pastor of Elevation Church in North Carolina. His multi-site church is one of the fastest growing churches in America with over 27,000 attendees. He claims God gave him a vision to start the church. His charismatic, emotion-driven speaking style has made him popular among many. You won’t find any glaring errors in the church’s statement of faith and he has the ability to mix in just enough truth with heresy so that it can be hard to pinpoint exactly where he gets it wrong. So let’s dig a little deeper and explore 4 reasons why I think we can classify him as a false teacher.

1: MAN-CENTERED PREACHING

Steven Furtick makes the Bible about you. Every Old and New Testament passage is about YOU. He ignores the context and jumps right to a meaning that is completely false. (fancy term for this is Narcigesis) Here are just a few examples of this:

David & Goliath– you are David, Goliath is your fears and insecurities. You have to defeat those fears and insecurities for God to bless your life.

Moses in Exodus 3:14– Steven writes “Perhaps God was sending Moses—and each of us—a message: don’t skip over the I am….when you go to church, usually you’re given a lot of handles on who God is….but often we don’t know who we are. See, it’s one thing to know who God is to you, but who are you to you? Maybe you can describe and define God, but does that sync up with how you describe and define yourself?”

The wall of Jericho– you need to get into God’s presence for perspective to see over the high walls in your life. And once you have an elevated perspective you will be “able to see past your problems and you will see that the enemy that you were intimidated by, was actually intimidated by you all along.”

The healing of the woman in Mark 5:25– she was consumed by her issue just as you are consumed by your issues or addictions. She didn’t wait for a touch from God, she went and touched God. If you need to feel God, you need to touch Him. She was healed by a thought, so too you can overcome your issues with “just a thought” about God.

I’m not making this stuff up. Not only does he misinterpret and misapply every single passage (I failed to find even one text interpreted and applied correctly in all the clips I watched), he doesn’t even come close to pulling out a Biblical application at all. There is no mention of sin (instead he uses words like problems, issues, addictions) or repentance. He uses the word blessing a lot but fails to explain that God’s blessing doesn’t come in the form of health, wealth, and worldly happiness. He completely fails to understand that the Scripture, from beginning to end, is about CHRIST. He never encourages his listeners to seek answers in the Bible. John 3:30 says that “I must decrease, He must increase” and all of Steven Furtick’s messages do the exact opposite of that.

2: UNBIBLICAL TEACHING IN HIS BOOK “UNQUALIFIED”

It is a book in response to a comment made about him being unqualified as a pastor. Instead of proving that he is Biblically qualified (he doesn’t talk about biblical standards of a pastor even once), he seeks to “find the answer within himself.” In a nutshell, the book suggests that all negative perceptions of ourselves are negative and “hinder our discovery of the self-esteem God wants for us.” He encourages us to figure out who we are, complete with an “I am” self-evaluation that includes 12 categories for sexuality and 6 categories for religion with no further explanation or evaluation of the answer you choose. “God believes in you, He loves everything there is to know about you.” Oh really? How about God loves us despite of who we are? He doesn’t love everything about us or He would love sin. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says that His power is made perfect in our weakness. The first stepping stone of the gospel includes a negative perception of ourself – our weakness, sinfulness, and unworthiness. If he doesn’t understand that, he doesn’t understand the gospel.

3: CORRUPTION OF THE GOSPEL

One of his messages is entitled “God broke the law for love” where he attempts to prove that the law was ineffective at redeeming mankind, so God broke it to save us. God did NOT break the law. The law isn’t ineffective at anything. It is holy, just, and good (Romans 7:12). It is our complete depravity that renders us incapable of keeping it. This is why God sent His Son, in love, to fulfill the law. Otherwise there would be no justice. Again, this proves he has no understanding of the true gospel.

4: STAGED BAPTISMS AND EXAGGERATED NUMBERS

I came across his guide book that explains “how to prepare the way for God to show up” in their spontaneous baptismal services. This includes planting 15 people in the audience to get up and walk toward the front with the “highest visibility and longest walk,” creating an atmosphere of excitement and celebration, having a live feed on twitter, and keeping the baptisms to less than 45 seconds. Does this sound like the biblical version of baptism to you? He also admits that his church leaders often exaggerate their baptismal and conversion numbers.

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And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. He downplays the need for Bible study, saying “you don’t need all that fancy, special knowledge” and making fun of people who want to “stuff your face until you’re so obese spiritually that you can’t even move.” He openly proclaims that his church is for the unbeliever, which is in direct contradiction to John 21:17 and 1 Peter 5:2-3. He preached that the one thing Jesus can’t do is rise above your unbelief (see Daniel 4:35). His wife preaches sermons at his church. He teaches Modalism*. He says that nobody can believe Jesus is Lord “without a doubt.” He associates himself with many false teachers and speaks at conferences about using “God’s power to get wealth.”

Please keep in mind, this is not a judgement of him or his heart or his motivation. I am judging only what he has publicly said and comparing it to Scripture so that you can avoid what is contrary to the Word of God. It’s important that we don’t just know whose teaching is false but why it is false and I hope this helps you with that. If you’d like proof of what I said above, I’ll gladly provide the links if you contact me directly.

 

Guest Post by Jessica F
Anchor for the Soul

Find her Facebook page here
and her Instagram account here

 

*Modalism denies the Trinity and instead states that God is a single person who, throughout biblical history, has revealed Himself in three modes or forms. Find more about this heresy here.

 

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