Steven Furtick and Elevation Church
I recently learned that we have another individual who – in some form or another – has come very close to claiming that he is the Son of God.
According to the article – Why Narcigesis doesn’t work: Furtick claims to be “the son of God – Steve Furtick is a guy who essentially says the Scriptures point to him.
Steven Furtick is internationally recognized as King of the Narcigetes for a good reason: he seems to only read himself into the biblical text. The problem with this hermeneutical approach is that Jesus says that the scriptures point to Him.
Not sure if it matters, but in German, the word “furtig” (which might or might not be a derivative for Furtick), means “finished; done” and in that sense then, Steven Furtick’s last name could also support his notion that he is built into the Bible’s text.
Narcigesis means, “A biblical hermeneutic where one reads themselves into the bible and writes God out of it.” I think we would all agree that there are many individuals among us today who are extremely narcissistic to begin with so to find individuals like Furtick who end up inserting themselves into Scripture really isn’t all that hard to believe, is it?
I find it fascinating how many of these younger guys come along and purport to have something special that apparently no one else before them had or understood about Scriptures. As far as Furtick is concerned, it may well be why more folks are beginning to wonder if he is actually a leader of a cult, as opposed to simply being the pastor of a church (Elevation Church).
One article from a little over a year ago notes the following where Furtick and his church are concerned.
Charlotte pastor Steven Furtick and his Elevation Church are making waves this week as more is revealed about Elevation’s odd fixation on their ‘Lead Pastor’ as well as some of the questionable practices of the church, including ‘spontaneous baptism.’ Indeed, many people are sounding the alarm and calling Pastor Furtick a ‘cult-leader in the making,’ though Elevation Church describes him as a visionary they need to unequivocally support.
I’d like to focus in on the last sentence – “Elevation Church describes him as a visionary they need to unequivocally support.” Notice the coloring page that was given to young children and connected directly to the pastor – Steven Furtick. He is understood to be “the visionary” and people including young children must support him without question.
This is completely unbiblical if that’s what’s going on at Elevation Church. No congregation or body of believers should “unequivocally” support any leader without constantly using critical thinking skills. This belief that church leaders must be supported at all costs literally places that leader above the rest of the congregation. On one hand, there is more authority, but that authority is never unequivocal or unlimited. Checks and balances are always to be built into the situation and why is that? Because everyone is human and no matter how humble, how knowledgeable, how filled with love a person might be for God and the people they shepherd, there is always the chance for human failure.
Anyone who would join themselves to a situation where the leader is seen as essentially infallible is making a huge error in judgment and opening themselves wide for the potential of being taken advantage of spiritually, monetarily, or physically. This has happened with every cult leader who has ever come onto the scene and it always ends badly.
Christians cannot simply place their leader’s accountability on the shelf and assume that they will never make a mistake. If so, when they actually make a mistake (and will), it will not be seen as a mistake.
What I find fascinating about Furtick (that also unfortunately applies to many cult leaders as well) is the constant use of neurolinguistic programming language (or NLP). In essence, while people might argue about the specific meaning of NLP, one individual writes (and reading the entire article is recommended):
One common thread in NLP is the emphasis on teaching a variety of communication and persuasion skills, and using self-hypnosis to motivate and change oneself.
I might add “and to others” onto the end of the sentence above. NLP uses phrases, words, and other methods to retrain the brain so that people will start to see things in a different way. Think Anthony Robbins who built a huge financial empire from his use of NLP.
A very quick example of the use of NLP can be seen in Barack Obama’s constant use of one phrase during his first campaign for president. It consisted of three words: “Change is coming!”
Those three words were used to create hype, expectancy, excitement, and even ecstasy over what people thought was coming based on what they believe they understood Mr. Obama to have meant. He never took the time to fully explain his statement, simply repeating it and listened for the resulting air of excitement. Go back and listen to some of his speeches leading up to the 2008 presidential election. Try to count how many times he used this phrase during a speech. Sometimes he would simply say “Change is coming”…(pausing for cheers and applause), then repeating it again, sometimes as many as two, three, four times or more. It became his mantra and no one could agree on what he meant by it! People were simply fine in thinking that he meant all the bad things were going and the good was coming but that wasn’t even specific enough. Most people didn’t care thought because they were thoroughly carried away with the possibilities that the phrase evoked within them.
If you listen carefully to Steven Furtick, you tend to see some of the very same things happening. He uses modern language, which doesn’t necessarily mean the same as the biblical text but many would argue it’s “close enough.” Furtick also tends to play fast and loose with Scripture and application.
In the video below (which is uploaded to Furtick’s Facebook page), Furtick states that he doesn’t know if all of his listeners believe in the devil and simply passes that off as if that’s a possibility where Jesus Himself is concerned. He essentially says that if a person doesn’t believe in a personal being called the devil, then at least consider how bad human nature can be. Whether he realizes it or not, he is planting seeds of doubt where the authority and veracity of the Scriptures are concerned.
He then turns to Matthew 4 to discuss Jesus’ encounter with “the devil,” but hey, if you don’t believe in the devil, no worries. There are also interesting subtleties that occur throughout the three-minute video, where he begins to pour on the hypnotism over the crowd. You can hear how his voice changes and he adds this expressive “uh” at the end of each phrase. He starts building his sermon at this point and as the audience starts constantly clapping, Furtick even asks that he get some help and you can then hear the musical “bed” start to play.
It’s very, very subtle here, but you can hear Furtick move away from Jesus AS God and it’s almost as though Jesus is “a” son of God, not God Himself. The deity of Jesus is extremely clear throughout the New Testament, but unfortunately, Furtick muddies the waters. In this way, he tends to include himself and other humans (who might aspire to that spiritual “truth”) as individuals who are “sons of God,” not in the human way of having been adopted into God’s family as heirs, but in the divine way of being part of God. In this case, the truth of 2 Peter 1:4 would be taken out of context and given a meaning that does not apply in the original.
Another blogger has stated the following regarding some of the beliefs of Elevation Church, or should I say policies (according to the way they were originally numbered)?
1. We serve a Lead Pastor who seeks and hears from God.
3. We serve a Lead Pastor we can trust.
7. We serve a Lead Pastor who pours into us spiritually and professionally.
16. We serve a Lead Pastor who goes first.
People who actually believe this are allowing a cult-like setting to be created around them. No one is infallible. No one is above error. No one arrives to a place in this life where they are incapable of falling. Yet, it would seem that Elevation Church and lead pastor Steven Furtick are ignoring that truth and building a structure that provides him with nearly unlimited authority over people.
Folks this is exactly how cults are built!
Apparently, Elevation Church is part of the Southern Baptist Church denomination. Because of that, leaders within the denomination need to take a very close look at Elevation Church and how they actually do church.
At one point, we were members of a Southern Baptist Church but due to things we considered to be problematic, cut ties and moved on. No church or denomination is perfect of course, but the reality also exists that there is not enough governance over many churches today because of the willingness to ignore what may well be small problems that left to themselves will only become huge problems.
CARM has an interesting article on Steven Furtick and Elevation Church where they state that he seems to denigrate the doctrine of grace. He supports women in the pastorate when the apostle Paul does not. Furtick also has plenty of accolades for T. D. Jakes, yet Jake’s own the traditionally understood biblical concept of the Trinity.
It seems like what Furtick has been attempting to do is create a church that’s “hip” and “together,” where people are drawn because of the excitement of the surroundings and the charisma of the lead pastor. It’s fine to use today’s lingo to attract a younger crowd (to a point), but doing so by denigrating specific doctrines taught in Scripture is absolutely wrong. Beyond this, it appears as though Furtick may well be trying to build for himself a local church that is unswervingly dedicated to him and only him.
Folks, this ought not to be. Do not place your critical thinking skills on the shelf as too many routinely do today! Do not begin to look to any leader as though he/she has all the answers – no one does! Do not exchange your love and trust in the Bible for someone else’s understanding of what they think or say the Bible teaches. Like the Bereans of Acts 17, you and you alone will be held accountable for what you believe.
I’m sure some rabid followers of Steven Furtick will take issue with what I’ve stated here. That seems to be par for the course these days. The reality is that I am cautioning against what someone teaches and their modus operandi as leaders of a local church body. I’m not condemning the man himself. I’m simply questioning his teaching and his approach to Scripture. Numerous folks that he associates with and praises are in serious error with respect to some of the most basic and foundational truths of Christianity. The fact that he not only chooses to hobnob with them, but praise them for their alleged “wisdom” or anything else is suspect and tells us a great deal about Mr. Furtick.
Jesus said in the last days there would many false Christs and imposters (Matthew 24:24). We are also told that evil men will seduce people into following them into error (2 Timothy 3:1-9). Beyond this, we also know that in these last days evil men will grow worse and worse not only in their appetites but in how they pull the wool over the eyes of many (2 Timothy 3:13).
But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
You have a choice. It starts with understanding the truth as revealed in God’s Word. You can learn it yourself or you can simply take someone else’s word for what they consider to be truth. The first way requires effort on your part. The second way only requires you to set your critical thinking skills aside and embrace what you hear. It’s completely up to you, but like Eve, if you wind up being deceived due to your own apathy, you will be held accountable (Genesis 3).
Entry filed under: christianity, Cultural Marxism, Emotional virtue, eternity, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming. Tags: elevation church, son of god, steven furtick.