31 December 2011

"Code Orange" Speaker Kevin Gerald


Well, it's almost here. The Code Orange Revival, hosted by young, Seeker-Driven pastor Steven Furtick, is mere days away. With this event, Furtick aspires to gather a group of leaders together in order to cause an "eruption" of God's power and movement. The speaker lineup for this volcanic event is quite extensive, so over the past weeks and months, we have been examining them one by one. In previous posts, we've looked at LifeChurch.tv visionary Craig Groeschel, prosperity preacher Jentezen Franklin, Hillsong darling Christine Caine, Joel Osteen's worship leader, Israel Houghton, seeming Word-Faith proponent Stovall Weems, pastor Ed Young, Jr., and "Bishop" T.D. Jakes, an apparent modalist, and blatant Word-Faith preacher who has also disgustingly eroticized the ordinance of remembering our Lord's sacrifice through the practice known as Communion. Most recently, we analyzed Perry Noble of Newspring Church. A notable seeker-driven pastor, Noble is quite adept at using the culture as a means to reach the "unchurched" with his weak gospel. Like the other Code Orange Revival speakers, Perry Noble has also unashamedly preached the lie that one's money is under a curse until a tithe has been given to the church. Indeed, the Word of Faith movement is no longer reserved for the flamboyant charismatic minority. Rather, it is quite successfully weaseling its way into mainstream evangelicalism.

It seems most appropriate, then, that Pastor Kevin Gerald would also be a scheduled speaker for this event. Gerald pastors Champions Centre in the Pacific Northwest along with his wife, Sheila. Yes, you read that correctly. The Geralds are co-pastors, so already we have a significant problem.

The very name of Gerald's church offers another challenge: Champions Centre. Really? The motto of this "church" is  "Equipping people to live successful Christian lives." Hm. I would love to know Kevin Gerald's definition of "success," because I have a sneaking suspicion that someone like, oh, the Apostle Paul, would never measure up to such a definition. 
Thankfully, Gerald has already provided for us what he deems to be "success." He has done this through his books and sermons. Sifting through the titles of these is like perusing a grand buffet of Word-Faith specialities. In fact, the reader may remember that we were first introduced to Kevin Gerald in the article Steven Furtick is Lookin' for the Favor. Within this post, we learned that Steven Furtick had gained his inspiration for his own upcoming sermon series on "favor" from Kevin Gerald's "Favor Forever" series. If you’d like to see and hear this Furtick-approved preaching for yourself, you can visit Gerald’s site and listen to his 3 messages on "Favor Forever." You’ll hear such biblically ignorant teachings as Christians may “expect preferential treatment” because of our association with God. This is most interesting, as it seems to be the exact opposite in today’s world! Gerald teaches in his first message that we can expect favor from both God and man! Apparently Paul had it all wrong when he said, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10). In Part 2 of this series, which is loaded with law and works-righteousness, Gerald says that our “thoughts attract and draw like magnetic forces,” which is why we need to be cautious about negative thoughts. After all, he says, God created us to be “very powerful” beings. Such language is classic and typical of Word-Faith and prosperity preachers. Your words have power, so just "name it and claim it" and if you have enough faith (or sow a large enough seed), then whatever blessing you desire is yours. 

Let us take a moment, then, and glance at the titles of Kevin Gerald's books:
(Online Source)
Notice a pattern? Prosperity, power of the mind and, well...YOU. In his book, By Design or Default: Creating a Church Culture that Works, (a book which is endorsed by such names as Ed Young, Jr., Brian Houston of Hillsong, and Tommy Barnett, who is a founder and co-pastor of the LA "Dream Center" as well as pastor of Phoenix First Assembly of God), Gerald reveals his exceedingly shallow understanding of Scripture and of Jesus Christ. In a chapter entitled "How Attractive is Your Message," he writes:
One of the most impressive characteristics of Jesus' ministry was that it attracted crowds - large crowds - crowds that the Bible calls multitudes. They were drawn to Him. The Bible says in Luke 2:52 (KJV) that Jesus "increased...in favour with God and man." This implies that the more people knew about Him, the more they were attracted to Him. 
Individuals and churches that recognize the characteristics that made Jesus attractive to the multitudes and incorporate those ingredients into their church culture also will attract people. This contradicts what some Christians assume because they were taught that being Christlike will cause people to not like them. This mistaken thought comes from the belief that everyone hated Jesus and this led to His death. In their efforts to be Christlike, they assume that being unattractive to people in the world is a good thing.
The truth is, the only people who didn't like Jesus were a few religious leaders who were threatened by His popularity, but thousands of people followed Him just to hear what He had to say.
Although there are plenty of other things about us all that could make us unlikable, an authentic Christlike attitude in our approach to ministry will appeal to people, not repel them. Christlike attitudes will always have an irresistible magnetism on human nature. (pages 33-34, emphasis in the original). 
Okay, grab your Bible and let us challenge from the Word of God some of the claims made here by Kevin Gerald. First, let's look in context at the half-verse that Gerald provides from Luke 2:52:
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the group they went a day's journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?” And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart. 
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:41-52)
What Kevin Gerald has done is taken a verse that summarizes the normal human growth process experienced by Jesus, has selected only the words that serve his own purpose (namely the word "favor") and has used it to misrepresent the true meaning of the text.

Moving on, it is certainly true that Jesus drew large crowds when He spoke. Yet, Scripture tells us exactly why the majority of the people were present. Scripture also tells us that the majority of people turned away when they heard the difficult truth of Jesus' message. In John 6, Jesus feeds the 5,000. The next day, the crowds are seeking Him again, but not because they were enamored of His message. Rather, they sought to fill their bellies:
On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” (John 6:22-27)
When the people pressed Jesus further regarding His message, He told them the shocking truth. For the sake of space, I will let you read verses 28-51 on your own, and will pick up in John 6:52:
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.
When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. (John 6:52-66)
These early followers were not only "a few religious leaders who were threatened." These were the multitudes. These were the crowds who were following Jesus merely for the temporal comfort they thought He could offer them through miracle healing and feedings. And these crowds turned away, decisively and finally, when they came to know the truth, that Jesus Christ alone was the Bread of Life. There are many other passages to which we could turn to dispute Gerald's claims that everybody simply adored Jesus and His message. Luke 9:57-62 comes to mind, as does its parallel passage in Matthew 8:18-22. Passages such as Luke 14:25-35 are also familiar, and were most definitely quite unpopular with the crowds. After all, who wants to be told that they must take up their cross to follow Jesus? Who wants to be told that true discipleship requires a willingness to give up family, earthly comfort, and possibly even one's own life? And do we need to be reminded of the day of Christ's crucifixion, when the crowds, incited by the chief priests and Pharisees, shouted aloud to Pilate, "CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!"

Contrary to the teaching of Kevin Gerald, those who have been saved by Christ, and who live according to His Word, will indeed be rejected by the world. How do I know this? Because Jesus Christ said so:
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. (John 15:18-23)
One must wonder, then, how it is that Pastor Gerald can have a true Gospel message to share? For if he desires to be likable to the world, then he cannot possibly be preaching about sin, repentance, and salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)
With that, let's look at the titles of just four of Gerald's popular sermon series:
(Online Source)
The reader may notice that the series entitled Breaking Free is, of course, centered around one's finances. And what seeker-driven, prosperity gospel would be complete without preaching about living an extraordinary life?! After all, God doesn't want dull, boring Christians who go about their day-to-day humdrum lives faithfully serving Him even in the mundane. No! He wants followers to whom He may grant "God-sized dreams" and "audacious faith!" Speaking of audacious faith, Kevin Gerald has also preached a Sun Stand Still sermon series. With teachings like this, then, it should not surprise us that Gerald will be joining false teachers Joel and Victoria Osteen at their upcoming Night of Hope as Champions Centre hosts the event on January 6. Indeed, Kevin Gerald has more than adequately proven himself to be a perpetrator of a weak, false, prosperity-centered gospel. 

This seems like the perfect place to pause and listen to exactly how Kevin Gerald "invites" a person to come to Christ. Here is Kevin Gerald presenting his version of the unbiblical "sinner's prayer":



Here is the transcript of the above prayer, as printed on the Champions Centre website:

If you want a new beginning in your life and in your relationship with God, just pray this prayer right now, wherever you are. 

Lord Jesus, I welcome you now into my heart. Forgive me of all my sins and make me a new person. I receive you now as the leader and the Lord of my life. I boldly declare that I'll never be the same again. In Jesus' name, amen. (Online Source)
Honestly, what does any of that even mean? Where in Scripture do we see a prayer like that? Where is the explanation of sin and why we need a Savior? Where is the explanation of Christ's finished work on the cross? Where is the call to repent and trust in Jesus alone for salvation? None of those elements are present and why? Because Kevin Gerald is more interested in making false converts who dutifully fill the offering plate than he is with calling people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. How can I say this with such certainty? Because a true minister of the Gospel, a true under-shepherd of Christ, a true preacher of the Word of God, would never feature something like this at his church:



There it is, the now-infamous "your money is cursed unless you tithe" message, and it has obviously been ingrained into the attendees of Champions Centre. In the end, "Pastor" Kevin Gerald is nothing more than another money-focused, "favor" seeking, Word of Faith prosperity preacher. He may not be as well-known or popular as so many others, but he is most assuredly just as dangerous. Yet he has been embraced by Steven Furtick, and Steven Furtick has been embraced by trusted, so-called "conservative Bible teachers." May we pray that God would open the eyes of those who have been deceived.

The advertised purpose of Code Orange Revival may be to bring about an "eruption of God's power and movement," but there is another dangerous theme that has emerged. That theme is the propagation of the heretical Word-Faith doctrine, and it ought to cause one to begin to question seriously just what kind of "eruption" is going to occur next monthReader, it is time that we acknowledge that this deviant teaching has effectively infiltrated America's "evangelical" church. 


The reader would do well to remember that among Furtick's list of scheduled speakers are the "young, restless and reformed" Acts 29 pastor and Gospel Coalition council member Matt Chandler as well as fellow Gospel Coalition council member James MacDonald of Walk in the Word and Harvest Bible Chapel fame. Both of these men will also be speaking at Perry Noble's Newspring Leadership Conference in 2012. As we have asked before, we ask again, especially of MacDonald and Chandler, two supposedly conservative and reformed pastors: Why? Why would you agree time and again to share a stage and a platform with men and women who preach not just a weak gospel, but a false one? One must begin to wonder about the motivation behind your consistent appearance with the same group of dangerous, even shameful, teachers. The members of your local and extended flocks deserve an explanation from the men they no doubt trust and respect.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)

SEE ALSO:
Steven Furtick's 12 Days of Revival
"Code Orange" Speaker Craig Groeschel
"Code Orange" Speaker Christine Caine
"Code Orange" Speaker Jentezen Franklin
"Code Orange" Speaker Israel Houghton
"Code Orange" Speaker Stovall Weems
"Code Orange" Speaker Ed Young, Jr.
"Code Orange" Speaker "Bishop" T.D. Jakes
"Code Orange" Speaker Perry Noble

3 comments:

  1. Good article, but one thing: You mentioned "Tommy Barnett of the 'Dream Center' in Los Angeles". Don't you mean MATTHEW Barnett? Tommy Barnett heads a church in Phoenix. (I know, it's hard to keep track of all these "celebrities".)

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  2. Nice catch, Anonymous. Actually, Tommy is one of the founders of the L.A. Dream Center and is still considered to be a co-pastor with his son Matthew, in spite of the fact that he is indeed pastor of Phoenix First Assembly of God. I appreciate your input and will update the article to reflect this more accurate information.

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  3. Welcome to my world?? Really??

    ReplyDelete