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 And I was also thinking about how hard it can be to find posts on Facebook once they’ve been replaced by more current posts.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
*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.