Follow by Email

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Allure of "Relevance and Practicality"


Not long ago, John Macarthur was asked what he thought of Steven Furtick, the "pastor" of the so-called Elevation Church. After a pause, Macarthur uttered a single word: “unqualified.” It was obvious that brother Macarthur was nonplussed about the question and that he is not, to say the least, a fan of Mr. Furtick. Anyone who has listened to Mr. Furtick "preach" and who is not a sycophant who attends Elevation Church or a like-minded mega church, understands why brother Macarthur used that single, suggestive word in describing this individual.

One can search YouTube and it will not be long before one will find a myriad of messages preached by Mr. Furtick. One will also find a truck load of videos critiquing his messages. Whether one chooses to look at a video of the individual preaching without further comment, or watch one of the critique videos, one thing one will likely see, and rather quickly, is the tendency that Mr. Furtick has to engage in what Pirate Christian Radio has termed "narcigesis." According to Chris Rosebrough, host of "Fighting for the Faith," narcigesis is a combination of narcissism and eisegesis: the idea that the preacher is doing little more than inserting himself and his audience in the middle of the biblical story. A good example is a message entitled "The Lazarus Factor" where Furtick spoke of "finding the Lazarus's in your life." 

One has to ask why there is such a proliferation of what I can only call charlatans in the visible church today. The answer, in my opinion, can be found in the need that the natural mind has to be relevant and needed. Our current crop of seeker-sensitive, mega-church pastors have made it their primary goal to be relevant to today's society. And in order to be relevant in the way they want to be, they have to appeal to the carnal mind by providing what that carnal mind wants: entertaining, relevant, me-centered preaching. Thus, there is no mention of the sinfulness of man, since we're all just wonderful creatures that God would be more than lucky to have in His heaven. Instead, when negative words are uttered, they are usually couched in terms such as “mistake” which are designed to soften the import they have on the psyche.

The tendency to co-opt the carnal mind has always been a strong temptation for the church. The theory goes that the best way to attract people to Christ is by first appealing to their felt needs; you will then be able to, slow and gradually, introduce them to the "real" Christ and lead them to salvation. The problem is that, aside from the fact that such an approach is not biblical in the least, what often ends up happening is that the last step in the process is never reached. Christ becomes a footnote who is only occasionally considered. Oh, there will be mentions of Jesus often, but the overwhelming majority of such mentions will be to talk about how He can satisfy your greatest longings. 

To come full circle on this story, if you think that Furtick would have taken to heart what a well-respected and knowledgeable leader in Christ's church has to say about his qualifications, you are completely incorrect. Not only did Furtick not take the well-deserved criticism to heart, he doubled down by writing a book titled, you guessed it, "Unqualified." I have not read the book, but looking at the introduction it is easy to see that the thrust of the writing is simply to give the reader more of the blather that Furtick dishes out on a weekly basis: emotional manipulation and narcissistic, ego-inflating praise. A sad state of affairs and a sign that the church of today, in its insatiable quest for relevance is, ironically degrading itself to the point of insignificance.




5 comments:

  1. Pessimist that I am - it seems to me that many, if not most of those calling themselves "pastor" today are NOT qualified. They may be able to garner an audience, or they may have an M.Div behind their name - but lack in some aspect of the requirements of I Tim. 3. And, frankly, not a few are out and out hirelings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, you are absolutely right. Check out the joker (literally) at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0exaRtRK0b4 who is a perfect example of what you're saying. No biblical text for the great majority of the message (and even when he goes to it, he does it offhand and with little respect for it), a bunch of jokes that are supposed to make the point (whatever the point is) of his message, and a continuous claim that God told him so and so. This individual is a portrait of our current church culture. Not only is he constantly talking about himself and his audience, but God seems to be eager to talk to him directly. And then you have the "preaching barbies" who stand in front of a mega church auditorium, dressed like they're heading for a fashion show once they're done spilling their nonsense, complete with ripped up, tight jeans and high heels. They know next to nothing about true doctrine. Not only are they violating the Scriptures in preaching, but they don't even understand what they talking about and what true Christianity is all about. The crowds who flock to such events are being led astray and don't even know it. Truly, worship has become a spectator sport. What a sad state of affairs! Thanks for you comment.

      Delete
    2. Sadly, your comments are all exactly on the mark.

      Delete
  2. My apologies for writing my comments in Spanish. Estoy leyendo un libro de el Hermano MacArthur en el nos dice clarament que algunos lamados evalgelistas distorcionaran o no las palabras de nuestro Jesus. Nos dice que Jesus llama a los pecadores a renunciar a su independencia, a negarse a si mismo a someterse a una voluntad extrana y abandonar todos sus derechos con el fin de llegar a ser propiedad del Senor y sercontrollado por el. Aqui no dice que busquemos el bienestar nuestro o que nos aprovechemos de una oportunidad para obtener mas. No, nos dice lo dejemos todo como hicieron los apostoles para entregarse de lleno al Senor. If we are to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we are to submit to his will and be a servant to others that is what it is all about about being like chist. We should not be looking for benefits or how can we get more. It should be the total opposite helping other reach Christ be providing them with the word, assistance they need the nurishment they need. WE should not be egocentrics nor narcissit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sin lugar a dudas, la mejor manera de determinar si una persona tiene fe verdadera, es en su insistencia en imitar al SeƱor. Aquel que cree que la sana doctrina se trata de amasajar a su audiencia y complacerlos en todo, no entiende ni la sana doctrina ni lo que significa ser imitadores de Cristo. La leccion primordial en todo esto es para nosotros. Como nos amonesta el autor de la carta a los hebreos, no seamos incredulos como lo fueron los israelitas y cayeron en un dia mas de 20,000. Gracias por su comentario.

      Delete