The Oprah Winfrey Network named Steven Furtick to their Super Soul 100 influencers list in the Soul Teachers category along with other self-help gurus like Deepak Chopra, Eckart Tolle, Rob Bell, Tony Ribbons, T.D. Jakes, and more.
Steven Furtick's Elevation Church made this announcement on Facebook. Read the post closely. Pay attention to what is being emphasized and celebrated.
A preacher of the gospel is embracing being celebrated for helping people live an authentic life. An authentic life? Isn't that the language of self-help gurus? Our inability to lead an "authentic life" is one of the problems that Jesus came to solve. We are sinners in need of a Savior, not students who just need a more effective teacher so we can reach our potential. This mingling of Christianity with totally pagan self-help training and leadership advice is very common-and very confusing.
Wouldn't it have been so much better if his Facebook announcement celebrated how he called for people to repent of their sins and trust in what Jesus did for them on the cross? But instead of presenting Christianity as a contrast to all the other New Agers on the list, he just gave a "Christian" version of the same vague "spirituality." Of course, if Steven Furtick was preaching a Biblical message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins he probably would have never made Oprah's list to begin with.
The typical self-help/leadership book is full of catch phrases like "inspiring others" and "live out an authentic life". Furtick's Elevation Church draws our attention to those self-help linguistics.
Let's take a look at the wording on Furtick's bio page on Oprah's website:
The bio does have distinct Christian words like "give their lives to Christ," "power of Jesus Christ," "God's glory." But these distinctly Christian words are not the emphasis of Oprah and Furtick. Oprah and Furtick are not trying to propel your attention to Christ crucified.
Instead they whittle down the meaning of these Christian words so that Steven Furtick seems aligned with the self-help guru hall of fame Oprah is placing him in. As you observed from Furtick's Facebook post, he was more than willing to comply with the whittling away so he could fit in.
Again, his Facebook announcement drew attention to "inspiring others" and "live out an authentic life." Oprah's bio page uses "life-changing," "reach their city," "empowers," "faith-filled lives." The prominent Furtick quote is about reaching for goals, reward and fulfillment. These are all words that propel our attention to self-help and not the cross.
That false gospel draws attention to the self, and to one's own happiness and glory.
Furtick recently used Jesus Christ to draw attention to self on Facebook.
Christ is in us, and that is enough. Furtick uses the full thrust of Christ's name to draw attention to self.
But we don't need to know that we are enough, we need to know that Christ is enough. Period.
Repurposing Jesus into the self-focused self-help guru is, unfortunately, consistent with much of the ministry of Steven Furtick, and most of the mega-church pastors of American Pop Evangelicalism.
Christ is mentioned by Oprah and Furtick, but the true purpose of Christ is not the emphasis. Christ is repurposed into just another means of self-help, as the breadcrumb serving of Christian sounding words are stripped of their full impact. The cross isn't a primary focus, it's not even a secondary afterthought. Rather the cross is tucked snuggly behind the already whittled down Christian words, out of sight, and out of consideration, all so the self-help message can thunder forth from Oprah's guru mountain. No golden calf needed, because the self-help message is itself a golden calf.
Now what? We've exposed the issue. The gravity of the sin weighs on the conscience. Is this where it ends? No. When we here at Pirate Christian Media want a pastor to be "more Biblical" it's not because we want to keep people condemned-it's the exact opposite! The real, Biblical message of the Gospel is Good News. Jesus didn't die on the cross so we could be more successful or have a more fulfilling experience of reaching our goals or any of those self-help/leadership themes. We can't accomplish all the good things we know we should be accomplishing-that's why we need the Gospel. We need to have our sins forgiven-not hear another motivational message full of false hope in ourselves.
What if you're guilty of following this type of teaching? What if you're guilty of teaching this stuff? Are you to sit there, overwhelmed with your sin, without hope, without an eased conscience? No.
Are you tired of trying harder and harder? Are you willing to admit that you're not capable of doing all the good things you wished you were capable of doing?
There is a throne of grace and forgiveness opened to sinners because of what Jesus did freely on the cross. Grace to remove your sin completely. Grace to ease your troubled conscience. Grace to grant you repentance. Freely given for you. Resting on nothing but what Jesus did on the cross. That's the message that people need to hear!
For those who think it's mean, judgmental and un-loving to criticize Steven Furtick (or any other popular pastor/teacher) here's something just for you: Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know.
If you're having a knee-jerk reaction to try and defend Furtick's ideas, check out: Confirmation Bias: Why You Are Protecting Your False Beliefs.
Finally, here's an article that will help you be more discerning and a lot less gullible: Defusing Demonic Dirty Bombs.