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 And I was also thinking about how hard it can be to find posts on Facebook once they’ve been replaced by more current posts.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.
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.
19 thoughts on “Steven Furtick: A Biblical Evaluation”
I tried watching him a while back. I didn’t know who he was. I was new to the faith.
My first impression of him was that of a stand-up comic. Second, of someone who thinks if you’re good, only good things will happen to you. Third, I wondered when he was going to stop talking about himself, and start talking about Jesus.
So, I changed the channel. Thank you for addressing this issue! It’s very important.
Thank you! And thanks, also, for giving us a few more reasons to mark and avoid Furtick :)
Amen….it’s not about you as much as it should be about Him. You obviously have tuned into the spirit of discernment. Pray daily for renewal in the Holy Spirit and ask for strength and wisdom. And stay in the Word
You & your daughter write what everyone needs to hear! Thanking God for giving you both the words everyone needs to hear.
Your analysis of Steven Furtick couldn’t be more off base. If you actually spent some time watching him, you would know this. Shame on you.
I guess it really comes down to if scripture is your guide or your feelings are your guide. It comes down to whether you choose to be loyal to God and His Word or to a sinful, fallible man. You give evidence that you have chosen the latter. I am sorry to hear this. I highly encourage you to start studying the Bible for yourself and then compare everything this man says to what you are learning. If you are willing to do this then I feel confident that you will find him a false teacher, as well.
Leslie A., amen…one of my responses spells out the trouble I felt within listening to Steven Furtick. Anyone saying you don’t need the Bible is a false teacher from the giddy up. He writes books and wants to sell his book so you read about his thoughts about what’s important
Dana, I’m curious, you’re claiming steven furtick didn’t say the things the author claims? Because I couldn’t watch 10 minutes of this man without getting serious warnings about his preaching false words. Way caught up in the world and a lot of feel good about you preaching.
Good day to you! I went to a restaurant in my town recently and they had some Elevation Church flyers there. I took one home and thought I would visit the church one Sunday. This morning I got out of bed and prayed to the lord asking him to show me what is true and what is false concerning all things. I began to get dressed as I was thinking of going to pay Elevation church a visit. I paused for a moment to play one of the worship songs by Elevation Worship tilted “The Blessing”. But the song didn’t come up, your blog post came up. Thank you so much! Your Godly discernment and righteous judgement kept me from going to a place of deception. May the lord bless you. I would like to see some of those links you mentioned if you don’t mind. Have a nice day.
I am so very encouraged to hear this!! Thank you for sharing! I will email you links. Can you email me at Leslie (at) growing4life (dot) net so I have your correct email address and I’ll reply with the links 👍🏼😊
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I have to say, I disagree with you. I hear the intention of what you’re trying to do, but as someone else said… I don’t believe you’ve truly done enough personal research before making these very strong claims based on bits and out of context pieces. Steven has made countless statements that show humility (and often even uses his own shortcomings – past and present – as an example of sin to make points of what GOD can do and wants to do in our lives, which not enough pastors are comfortable doing), pulls and quotes directly from scripture in every sermon, and he draws the parallels between back then and now that help remind us how much we need God in this day and age of 2021 just as we always did/always will. His passion for God is refreshing and, yes, lively! May not be your favorite type of person if he’s loud and, like you and I, he’s an imperfect human being… but he’s led a LOT of people to the Bible.
Please…read and study your Bible. I have no doubt whatsoever that if you do, you will come to the same conclusion as what is written here.
I would also ask this: what do you mean by “leading to the Bible”? Because there is no “leading to the Bible” without repentance and confession of sin. There is no “leading to the Bible” without understanding God’s wrath and the doctrine of eternal hell for those who aren’t saved. There is no “leading to the Bible” without the blood of Christ to atone for our sins. This is salvation. Is this what you mean by “leading people to the Bible”? I do not hear him speak of these things.
You threw is “his wife preaches sermons at his church” at the end there as if that’s a bad thing??
I Timothy 2:11-12
Critics only listen to “shirts.” This man led me back to Christ and has help save countless others thro Jesus and his teaching and he most certainly does NOT deny the Trinity; he reaffirms it. Watch an ENTIRE Sermon … May the Holy Spirit convict you then ! Praise Jesus
You are giving your loyalty to a man instead of to God and His Word. I feel confident that if you would be willing to actually read and study the Bible for yourself with a humble heart you would recognize just how off this guy is.
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