by Matt Slick
Steven Furtick (born Feb. 19, 1980) is the founder and pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. He "attended North Greenville University, received a B.A. in communications, and went on to complete a Master of Divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary."1 His church has over 10,000 attendees on a weekly basis.
He has experienced rapid church growth, and he is building various campuses where church services are expanding. His church started with 19 people in 2006 and is now at over 9,000 as of 2012. He attributes the growth to "the jars." As he says, "the oil is something only God can give. It represents his spirit, his presence, his power . . . ", etc. 2 He is right to give God the glory. He promotes Christ, has positive messages about what God wants for his people, and reaches out in faith to expand the kingdom for God. This is admirable, and we should applaud him for it.
Steven Furtick says that he wants Elevation Church to be . . .
" . . . . a church for the overlooked, for the unloved . . . . we preach Jesus so people far from God can know Jesus. And then we train them up so that others can know Jesus. It is called Kingdom multiplication. It is what Elevation Church is all about."3
This is fine. Preaching Jesus so people can come to know Him is admirable and is one of the things the Christian church is supposed to do.
Mocking the doctrines of grace
However, shortly after the above quote in the same video and after speaking of multiple conversions occuring at his church, he said . . .
" . . . . if that doesn't get you excited and you need the doctrines of grace as defined by John Calvin to excite you, you in the wrong church. Let me get a phone book. There are 720 churches in Charlotte. I am sure we can find one where you can stuff your face until you're so obese spiritually that you can't even move."4
The problem with Mr. Furtick's comments is both subtle and profound. The Doctrines of Grace are often described by the acronym TULIP. Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints. This is often called Calvinism. In other words, the doctrines of grace affirm that man is completely lost in his sin and it is only by the grace of God through the person of Jesus that salvation is possible. It is not up to man's sinful free will but God's sovereignty over His creation (Rom. 9:22-23, Eph. 1:4-5). It further states that because of man's enslavement to sin, he is unable to freely choose God (1 Cor. 2:14). Therefore, the doctrines of grace include God's electing and predestining people to salvation (2 Thess. 2:13), which is by God's choice, not man's (John 1:13, Rom. 9:16) and that the saved are eternally secure because their salvation rests in Christ's work, not man's faithfulness (John 10:27-28). Now, whether or not you agree with these doctrines, the truth is that they affirm the greatness of God and His sovereign work of saving people. They are held by millions of Christians all over the world.
Mr. Furtick is entitled to not agree with the doctrines of grace but to mock them as he did is uncalled for and is potentially a serious spiritual error on his part. It seems that he is not only ridiculing those who hold to the doctrines of grace but also he is mocking the very doctrines which the Scriptures teach. Is not God a God of grace? Of course He is (Rom. 3:24, 11:6, Eph. 2:8, 2 Thess. 1:12). Mr. Furtick's mockery divides the body of Christ, helps to create a holier-than-thou attitude, and potentially risks a direct violation of Scripture.
Furtick supports a woman pastor
Steven Furtick introduced Pastix Christine Caine to preach on a Sunday morning at Elevation Church.5
Women pastors in the church have been debated for many years. However, just because something is debated, doesn't mean that both sides have valid arguments. The issue is not if a woman is an international speaker, great musician, great parent, etc. Instead, we must ask if having a woman preacher is what the Bible affirms. It is not.
- "But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet6, 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve," (1 Tim. 2:12-13).7
- "For this reason I left you in Crete, that you might set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6 namely, if any man be above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion," (Titus 1:5-7). (Literally in Greek, the phrase "husband of one wife" is "a man of one woman').
A woman pastor is by definition in the place of authority when she is preaching on a Sunday morning. She is violating what the Scriptures teach concerning such teaching (1 Tim. 2:12-13) and, as Titus 1:5-7 says, the elder (a pastor is an elder, see 1 Tim. 5:17) is to be a male. Furtick contradicts God's Word when he supports a woman pastor by having her preach in his church. His intentions might be in line with political correctness, liberal thinking, and contemporary applications of the "needs of the church," but they are not biblical.8 I recommend that the reader do a serious study of the issue and see exactly what is Biblical.
T. D. Jakes
There has been a lot of controversy around the preacher T. D. Jakes and for good reason. He denies the Trinity. At his church's website, thepottershouse.org in the Belief Statement, it says,
There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three manifestations: Father, Son and Holy Spirit."9
This is typical oneness terminology, and it is heresy. God does not exist in three manifestations. Instead, God is a Trinity of three distinct persons. The term, "three manifestations," is used in the heresy of oneness theology to state that God is one person who "manifests" in different ways--the one person of God manifests Himself as the Father and at another time as the Son and another time as the Holy Spirit. It is a denial of the distinction of the persons in the Godhead, a denial of the eternal sonship of Christ, and ultimately is an attack on the vicarious atonement of Christ on the cross since it risks a true incarnation of the person of the divine word (John 1:1, 14).
No one who denies the Trinity should be allowed to preach in a Christian church. However, pastor Furtick does not seem too concerned with having someone at his pulpit who denies the Trinity. In fact, he wholeheartedly
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approves of Mr. Jakes by having him preach in his church and encouraging his congregation to be taught by a heretic. This is what Furtick has to say about T. D. Jakes . . .
"I want you to stand up on your feet right now and let's welcome to the stage the greatest preacher of our time bishop T.D. Jakes. Come on and show him some embarrassing love."10
How can Furtick say that T. D. Jakes is the "greatest preacher of our time," considering that T. D. Jakes denies one of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith? It shows that Furtick is not concerned with the integrity of the pulpit.
I am not here looking for something to complain about. I'm not a "hater" or a "heresy hunter." I take no pleasure in writing critically of a pastor who, for the most part, seems to be doing a lot of good. However, there are serious problems that must be addressed, and pastors should be held to a higher standard than laity.
First of all, Furtick is not very doctrinally minded, otherwise, he wouldn't allow a heretic such as T. D. Jakes (who denies the Trinity) to preach in his church. Furtick affirms the Trinity and the deity of Christ,11 but as a pastor, he is required to uphold orthodoxy and not promote preachers who deny even one essential Christian doctrine. This is a very serious issue.
Second, he violates Scripture in his promotion of women pastors. This is also a serious issue, and I politely offer to publicly debate Pastor Furtick on this topic.12 My goal is promote God's truth, not man's opinions.
Third, his mockery of the doctrines of grace is shameful. We are not saying that he must affirm the doctrines of grace as found in Calvinism, but his disdainful attack upon them and those who hold to those doctrines is a serious concern. It shows a lack of pastoral care for Christians who don't agree with him on these issues, and it risks violating Scripture.
So, Pastor Steven Furtick, if you are interested, I would be glad to talk to you about these issues. I invite you to do so in Christian love and concern, letting the Bible be our guide.
- 1. stevenfurtick.com/about
- 2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmU563aqnOQ
- 3. youtube.com/watch?v=8wILPzCyWYk
- 4. youtube.com/watch?v=8wILPzCyWYk 1:07
- 5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dn67ZRvh0bk. To hear her sermon at Furtick's church, go to youtube.com/watch?v=9NtkaIyCq50&feature=related
- 6. "Quiet" here in Greek is 'hesuchia', not 'sigao.' The former means to be more quiet though not completely silent. Sigao means absolute quiet. Paul was telling women to keep it down, to not be in authority over men.
- 7. See the article 1 Tim. 2:12-13 and women pastors and elders
- 8. The issue of women pastors and elders is a very serious one. I would be glad to meet Mr. Furtick anytime to discuss this issue from a Biblical perspective.
- 9. thepottershouse.org/Local/About-Us/Belief-Statement.aspx This quote was taken from the website on 3/8/2012.
- 10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ahb1074qX3k
- 11. http://www.elevationchurch.org/beliefs
- 12. Of course, I in no way expect Mr. Furtick to take me up on my challenge.