Posted in false teacher, simon the magician, steven furtick

Steven Furtick and Simon the Sorcerer

There is such a thing as a prestige battle. The Plains Indians used to count coup, for example.

“Counting coup refers to the winning of prestige in battle by the Plains Indians of North America. Warriors won prestige by acts of bravery in the face of the enemy, and these acts could be recorded in various ways and retold as stories. Any blow struck against the enemy counted as a coup, but the most prestigious acts included touching an enemy warrior with the hand, bow, or with a coup stick then escaping unharmed. Touching the first enemy to die in battle or touching the enemy’s defensive works also counted as coup. Counting coup could also involve stealing an enemy’s weapons or horses tied up to his lodge in camp. Risk of injury or death was required to count coup.” (Left, “Ledger drawing of a mounted Cheyenne warrior counting coup with lance on a dismounted Crow warrior, 1880s.”)

In modern times, computer hackers count coup of sorts. There are all sorts of hackers (and crackers) and they wear white hats, black hats, gray hats, and more. However, we noobs in the unsuspecting public who foolishly rely on mainstream media to tell us who they are, know hackers as the computer genius geeks who slave away in dark basements amid glowing monitors under colorful pseudonyms, breaking into NSA websites and corporations. The white hat crackers do it just to say they could, and to accumulate virtual street cred of their skills and bravery in poking the slumbering corporate or government bear. In other words, counting coup.

Increasingly, there are pastors who count coup, also. Here is the story of one such pastor.

I haven’t written a lot about Steven Furtick of Elevation Church in Charlotte NC. It is an emergent church led by a pastor in skinny jeans and casual attitude, and services have a loud band, a lot of smoke and not too much bible. One of those kind of churches. And given the times in which we live, it is growing by leaps and bounds. (2 Timothy 4:3). And given the times in which we live, going to Elevation Church website and clicking on “About Steven” brings you not to another church page describing the pastor, but to a separate website named after himself. And given the times in which we live (2 Peter 2:3) the pastor of this church lives in a 16,000 square foot, $1.7Million dollar home and is under investigation for excessive lifestyle. Of course. (2 Peter 2:3). But not to worry because Elevation church is planning an $86 million dollar expansion according to a leaked internal document, and thus there will be baby Elevation Churches born soon to distract the gullible.

Forget the biblical qualifications for pastor. The above is the resume for today’s hip, happenin’ pastor.

To add insult to injury, it appears that these kind of pastors have adopted none of Paul or Peter’s characteristics but instead go the way of Balaam and Simon the Magician.

Balaam was a pagan prophet who served those who bid the highest. He knew God and he knew of God but Balaam didn’t serve God. (Numbers 22).

Simon the Sorcerer was a magician who amazed all the people of Samaria (Acts 8:9) by performing supernatural acts, but when Simon saw Peter do miracles, he falsely converted, and thought he could obtain the Spirit’s power by purchasing it. (Acts 8:20-21).

In both these cases, money figures prominently. In the false ministry of a magician and in the false ministry of a false prophet, money was central to the story. Here, John MacArthur recites a devastating list:

Now the Bible does contain a number of warnings about money. Best summarized perhaps in the statement of the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 6, verse 10 where he said, “For the love money is the root of all kinds of evil.” Our Lord put it tersely when He said you can’t serve God and money. Money can definitely be a curse. There’s no question about it. For money, Achan brought defeat on the armies of Israel and death on himself. For money, Balaam sinned against God and tried to curse God’s people. For money, Delilah betrayed Samson to the Philistines. For money, Gehazi lied to Naaman and Elisha and became a leper. For money, Ananias and Sapphira became the first hypocrites in the early church and died on the spot. For money, Judas sold the Son of God for 30 pieces of silver and damned his own soul. For money, many have been cursed.

It is not a sin to be rich, but the bible is replete with warnings that money corrupts. (Matthew 19:24). The bible is clear that if one desires to be a pastor, one must not be greedy of filthy lucre. (1 Timothy 3:3). It is plain, simple, and clear.

Anyway, Steven Furtick is in a prestige war.

How Steven Furtick engineered a spontaneous miracle

Apparently, according to the above article, Elevation Church emotionally manipulates people into coming forward at the invitation so they can be baptized, by seeding the audience with members who arise and walk down the aisle, playing emotional music, performing as actors instructed not only to be enthusiastic but taught specifically what to do to demonstrate this manufactured enthusiasm, told to tweet and exactly what to tweet (notably not told to pray) and taught other things outlined in the church’s “Spontaneous Baptism How-To Guide”. That name is not made up. It is the actual name Elevation Church gives this manipulated event kit. The article states,

For the few that Elevation did baptize, their how-to guide documents exactly how they used emotional manipulation them get people from their seats to the pool. Volunteers were placed throughout the campuses to make sure the baptism candidates maintained the emotional fervor that Furtick had created in the service.

The how-to guide instructs,

… 15 people will sit in the worship experience and be the first ones to move when Pastor gives the call.

–Sit in the auditorium and begin moving forward when Pastor Steven says go.
–Move intentionally through the highest visibility areas and the longest walk.

Elevation has seeded its four auditoriums with 60 shills who pretend to be responding to the call. Their high-visibility movement is designed to manipulate others to follow. If Furtick was confident in his message and in the efficacy of the Holy Spirit’s call, he shouldn’t need fake converts.

When they manufacture miracles, and teach how to manufacture a miracle, they are truly a Simon a Magician.

Pastors count coup, shill the Gospel for money, and elevate themselves. It is the times of apostasy, and the hard thing to know is, this isn’t even the beginning of the worst of it.

I am saddened by the many who seek an experience at churches such as these, when the real faith is so glorious to behold, wondrous to be a part of, and so bright a hope to look forward to. How empty must a pastor feel in his blackened heart to manufacture baptism experiences from a how-to kit? And to do so in some sort of carnal one-upmanship just for appearances sake? How hopeless must he be when sitting by pale lamplight in dark of night writing these instructions teaching congregants how to be shills? Most tragic is the fact of so many who are engaging in a shallow faith of non-conversion…yet thinking they are saved.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2:1)

As for us, let us rejoice in His goodness and grace.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:5-6)

Posted in ethiopian eunuch, faith, simon the magician

The Gospel: comparing Simon the Magician and the Ethiopian Eunuch

Jesus said that the Gospel when it goes out, will fall on varying kinds of ground. (Mark 4:3-9). The seed falls on rocky ground, thorny ground, hard ground, and good ground. Only in the good ground does the seed sprout and bear grain.

In Acts 8 we see two men receive the Gospel, and each had a heart that was different kind of ground.

Simon the Magician

“But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.” (Acts 8:9-13)

“Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” (Acts 8:19-23)

Believing by seeing

Simon said he himself was someone great. He was proud. He believed by seeing. (Acts 8:13). He tried to buy his way into the kingdom.

As a result, the Apostles told him his heart was not right before God. (Acts 8:21). That Simon was in bondage to iniquity. (Acts 8:23). They told Simon to repent. He did not repent, but only asked them to pray for him so that he could escape the consequences. (Acts 8:24). Just like Judas, who was seized with remorse but did not pray to God for forgiveness.

The Ethiopian Eunuch

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”e 38And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Believing by hearing

The Eunuch was humble, not saying he was someone great (although he really was, unlike Simon the Magician) but answering Philip by saying he did not understand the passage. He asked for guidance in understanding it. This is humility, and he loved the word. He believed by hearing. The Eunuch stood on God’s word, being baptized. The result was, he went on his way, rejoicing.

For one man, he was rebuked and in need of repentance, but refused to pray to God. He is like the “ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” (Mark 4:18-19)

In the other man, he stood on the Word of God and received it with gladness and in communion with the Holy Spirit. He is like the ground that is good, “But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:20).

Seeing is not believing. Hearing is believing.