“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” -Acts 20:28-30
Steven Furtick is the lead pastor and popular personality of Elevation Church located in Charlotte, North Carolina. I have been aware of Steven Furtick for some time now and have observed a number of the ways in which he is attempting to change how we think and how we handle the word of God in churches across America. He has a sizeable following on social media and is influential enough that people within local churches in California are talking about him and praising his teachings. However, in the age of social media, I do not doubt that his reach goes much further than the sunny shores of Southern California. He was first brought to my attention over a video initially published by Elevation Church, where Furtick is spraying his congregation with water guns in a bizarre twist on sermon analogy.
Steven Furtick was born and raised in South Carolina. At the age of 16 he claims to have been converted after reading Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. Shortly after, Furtick claimed to know that he was called by God to pastor a church in a major city. He obtained a Bachelor’s in Communications from North Greenville University and a Master of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He then went on to serve as a music director for a church in Shelby, North Carolina, before finally achieving his dream and starting Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2006.
Aside from the obvious propensity to entertain congregations rather than exposit the word of God, Steven Furtick has been involved with several other troubling practices. Furtick’s church was discovered to have been staging “spontaneous baptisms,” where volunteers are placed throughout the auditorium so that they appear to be new converts desiring to be baptized following altar calls. This is done in order to create hype, and emotionally influence other individuals in attendance to receive the call to baptism as well. Furtick also claims that having doubt in your faith is healthy and produces growth. He has taught that the lack of success and blessing in a person’s life is directly related to the amount of faith that you have. He announced to his entire congregation that the 16,000 square foot, 1.6 million dollar home where he resides is a gift from God, and Furtick has even gone to the extreme of insinuating that God did in fact sin by breaking the law of love when Jesus died on the cross.
Furtick is also known to associate and preach alongside known prosperity gospel heretics Joel Olsteen, Craig Groeschel, Perry Noble, and T.D. Jakes.
While this man is evidently wrong in the way that he often interprets Scripture, the practices in which he chooses to engage, and the complete lack of reverence for the one, true, and holy God, what really caught my attention was a video that I came across this morning. He challenged those who do not accept his way of thinking, his way of preaching, and the way in which he conducts himself. I took that challenge personally and decided to look into his claim that the criticism brought against him is unsubstantiated. The lack of humility evidenced through this man’s actions is quite honestly concerning for someone who claims to be a herald of the truth. But even more shocking than that are the demands which Steven Furtick makes in this video addressed to his “haters”:
“Hey haters, I hate to break this to you, but your day is done… Fall back! It’s a new day! Cause we’re not looking for approval from you who give no respect… Are you going to criticize or create?… Embrace a new way to change the world!… A new light has dawned to still the tongue of the cynic and pierce the heart of the skeptic. This generation is waiting to restore the hope of a nation.”
“But You are the same, and Your years have no end.” -Psalm 102:27
“For I the LORD do not change;” -Malachi 3:6
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” -Hebrews 13:8
This short video, in my opinion, is one of the most blatant evidences for the true condition of his heart. He openly rejects any criticism of himself or the organization which he runs, instead condemning those who strive to stand for truth as being unloving and judgemental. Furtick presents to his critics the ultimatum: Are you going to criticize or create? What should we be creating? What new light is this that has dawned in our age? Where do we find support for this in Scripture? Are we to believe that no longer is it the inerrant word of God which convicts men’s hearts, but rather this new light which stills the tongue of the cynic and pierces the heart of the skeptic?
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” -Romans 10:17
Steven Furtick has won many followers through his charisma, ability to entertain, and willingness to spurn the Church in regards to the way in which it has worshiped our creator for centuries. By all appearances he seems to believe that no longer is any of that necessary or beneficial, no longer is Scripture the primary source that we should look to for guidelines as to how the Church is to be run or how our lives are to look as followers of Christ, and no longer will he tolerate biblical criticism in any form. This is nowhere within the realm of sound doctrine and and his claims are biblically unfounded. This is not the behavior of a man who desires to lead the people under his charge into a high view of God, submitting the entirety of their life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.