So a big church with a number of satellites in the Charlotte area is celebrating a major revival. Is this a good thing? Let’s find out as we dive into Deeper Waters.
I’m not really a fan of the term “Revival.” Yeah. I understand the concept, but I don’t really like saying that Christians are dead. Unfortunately also, too many revivals seem to be something like Gatorade before the big game. They give you a good burst of energy for awhile and then you fizzle back out to where you were before with no long term growth.
Growing up in the Methodist church, I never went to Resurrection, a big youth event, but I do remember when the kids came back from it, that they would soon have a youth Sunday where they would lead worship and everyone was so pleased that the kids were so excited about God and indeed they were!
For about a week.
Then what happened? It was the same thing again. Now I’m not knocking emotional highs entirely. Some people are more prone to them. If they have them, great. I have a problem however with simply a high with nothing behind it, especially if just a strong emotional reaction is seen as evidence that God is at work.
The idea of basing how we live on our emotions leads to chaos. This is one reason why so many marriages are failing in America. “I just don’t feel like I love him anymore.” I recall talking to a friend a few months ago who told me “Isn’t love a feeling?” I had to inform him that if that’s what he thinks, then when he gets married, he could have a lot of difficulties, because that feeling just doesn’t last long term and sometimes, the negative opposite feelings can show up.
Now the church that I’m speaking about is one located right here in Charlotte where I currently reside and is known as Elevation church. It’s pastor is Steven Furtick. Elevation has been a growing church for some time. There is no doubt that Furtick is a very charismatic speaker with a gift for public speaking. Charisma can be misleading. Great people can have charisma. So can very wicked people.
Is Furtick getting those who come to have life-changing experiences based not on emotional highs but rather on the conviction that they are sinners and need the grace of Christ in their lives to be saved? Is there heavy discipleship going on learning about the essentials of the faith? If Code Orange is any indication, then the answer would be no.
Let’s look at some of the line-up.
First off is Craig Groeschel. Do you know him? He’s the one who recently wrote about how God wants to use “idiots for Christ.” (See link below) To point to someone like Peter or John won’t work. They might have been such when they were called, but consider how often a Seminary is a four-year education. These guys had three years of day-in and day-out being with Jesus Christ Himself and learning under Him.
Which education do you believe is more substantial?
Do you believe they graduated idiots or not?
Next up is Jentezen Franklin, who is well on the path to becoming a well-recognized Word of Faith teacher. By the way, have I mentioned that these sermons are going to be broadcast on TBN? You know TBN. It’s that station with all those televangelists that are a constant shame on the body of Christ.
The big name I notice however is T.D. Jakes. I know a lot of people like his material, and some of it in relation to right living could be decent, but let us not forget something important. Jakes is also part of the Word of Faith movement and with his background in Oneness Pentecostalism, we have never seen a clear affirmation of the doctrine of the Trinity.
The doctrine of the Trinity. Remember that? That’s the doctrine the church spent centuries developing in their understanding of and had to deal with heretical versions of, like the Sabellian heresy. What was that heresy? It was the idea that God is one person who keeps switching between being the Father to being the Son and being the Holy Spirit. One person and three modes of being in relation to the salvation mission. This is a view held by Oneness Pentecostals today.
You know, the group Jakes comes out of.
Remember how I said that it seems that the people of Elevation are not getting a firm teaching on the essentials of the faith? If you allow someone in your pulpit who denies an essential, then you are simply telling your congregation that you do not view it as an essential.
Are we to say Elevation does not consider the Trinity an important subject? Well maybe they do, but that’s obviously a secondary doctrine we can disagree on!
The early church would have had none of that. The Reformers would have had none of that. The Medievals in the middle would have had none of that.
By all means, let them bring forward their arguments, but let them realize we are prepared to answer them.
In fact, of all the speakers, the only one I can think of recommending at this point based on what I know of them is Matt Chandler.
Looking at Elevation, there is a great danger here, and that danger is that the church seems to be built around the ideas of Steven Furtick entirely. Let us consider what they have to say in the fourth value listed in their “code.”
“We Are United Under One Vision – Elevation is built on the vision God gave Pastor Steven. We will aggressively defend our unity and that vision.”
As was said on the Fighting for the Faith podcast (see link below) this is making Furtick a prophet for all intents and purposes. The church then is built around what Furtick sees and the people of the church are to aggressively defend the vision of Furtick.
Of course, there have never been groups that have started based on the visions of one man, well, unless you want to count that little group that poses no trouble for Christians today known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormons.
Now am I saying Elevation is a cult? No. I am also quite certain that most people there are honest Christians. I am saying that that potential is there however and this is something we should be on the look out for.
You want to see true revival? It won’t come with emotional highs alone. It also won’t come with just good news. Oh there is good news of course, but let us remember the good news is only good news when we know the bad news as well. The bad news is that we are all sinners who cannot save ourselves. The good news is we have a God who sent His Son to die so that we could be with Him. The gospel is not about us specifically. It tells us much about God. It tells us of His great love, justice, mercy, power, and wisdom.
As for Furtick’s teachings themselves, many of them can be found in a book he wrote called “Sun Stand Still.” I cannot point to a better response to what is in that book than that of my best man at my wedding, David Sorrell. David wrote a series of reviews of chapters of the book that can be found on the Tekton Ticker blog of J.P. Holding. (see link below) I urge all to watch David closely as I do not doubt that he has much to do for the kingdom here. He is a good apologist, but more important than that, he is a good friend I respect and honor greatly.
For now, I advise readers to be on their guard. It may sound good and people may feel good about it, but that does not mean that Code Orange is good. Considering that someone like Jakes is there and that we could be getting into Word of Faith doctrines, I do think we need a Code Red concerning Code Orange.
Groeschel on being an idiot for Christ can be found here
Fighting for the Faith review of Code Orange can be found here
A list of Code Orange speakers can be found here
Elevation’s Code can be found here
David Sorrell’s reviews of “Sun Stand Still” can be found here