22 March 2012

Steven Furtick and the Presence 2012 Conference

It seems that April 10-13 will be a time of "fresh anointing, enlarged vision and amazing empowerment" in Sydney, Australia. The Presence Conference, sponsored by Phil Pringle and C3 Church, plans to make waves at Darling Harbour during these days. The powers behind Presence describe their expectations thusly:
We believe that as we gather together at Presence the heavens will be opened over your life and you will experience a greater outpouring of his anointing, blessing, vision and miracles. (Online Source)



This offers a vivid picture of the event and is in fact very telling of the direction in which the speakers at Presence will likely wander. Scheduled speakers for Presence 2012 include Phil and Chris Pringle, Kong Hee, John Bevere and Steven Furtick. In understanding the doctrine that is held by the Pringles, Hee and Bevere, it may cause one to question why Steven Furtick, who has been embraced by leaders within America's evangelical community, would choose to participate in this event. The description provided above already betrays its Word Faith intentions, and Furtick's fellow speakers undoubtedly perpetuate these erroneous doctrines in their own ministries.

Phil Pringle, senior pastor of C3 Church and the architect behind Presence, clearly and unashamedly teaches things such as positive confession, visualization, the power of attraction and the prosperity gospel. At the blog C3 Church Watch, Pringle's teachings are compared against those of Rhonda Byrne, author of the New Age bestseller The Secret. The similarities are startling, and should cause concern to rise within any Christian. Below, Pringle's teaching on visualization is compared with that of Byrne:
Ronda Byrne also teaches on visualisation: 
“Visualization is the process of creating pictures in your mind of yourself enjoying what you want. When you visualize, you generate powerful thoughts and feelings of having it now. The law of attraction then returns that reality to you, just as you saw it in your mind.” - Rhonda Byrne, The Secret, 2006, pg 93. 
Pringle also teaches on visualisation (watch how he approaches scriptures with his experiences): 
“A long after that experience, I looked back and realized that many of the elements I had seem in the imaginations in my mind were a duplicate of what actually happened [sic]. I had stumbled on to a principle of God. As I investigated the Scriptures, it became obvious to me that God spoke to His servants from the beginning of time through visions and dreams. Here we’re looking at the vision of faith. As soon as a real faith for anything arrives in your heart, you will see that thing.” – Phil Pringle, Faith, 2001, pg 94-97. 
“In Ephesians 3:20 Paul says that “God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” The Greek word for “think” here is “no’eo.” This literally means “to conceive and perceive.” Once we are visualizing some-thing, God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above it.” – Phil Pringle, Faith, 2001, pg 103. 
“Gods movies [sic]. There is a screen within our mind upon which three projectors are jostling for prime time… He [God] has a projector with a preset, wonderful destiny as the main feature. As we enter the Spirit through praise and worship, God will form His vision within our thinking. We pray the prayer of faith. The vision of the answer comes to mind and we see it, in living colour… Once the vision of the fulfillment of your dream has been planted in your mind, bring it to your prayer life. Each time you pray bring the picture to mind and meditate on it. See it happening. Destroy all the images of failure. Replace them with the image of success. 
Right now in my life I spend much time dreaming over my visions of faith. I know this works. I would be a fool to ignore it. Remember, one of the mightiest keys in the Kingdom of Heaven is faith. Vision is a major part of faith, for we walk by faith and not by sight. Faith is directly contrasted to natural eye sight.” – Phil Pringle, Faith, 2001, pg 103.
(Online Source
C3 Church Watch also offers insight into some of Phil Pringle's teaching on prosperity and tithing. Unsurprisingly, he falls in line with so many seeker-driven pastors today who teach that one's money is cursed until it is redeemed with the tithe:
“When Paul told the Philippians that God would supply all their need… their generosity would trigger one of the most powerful spiritual laws in existence. It is the law that the widow of Zarephath discovered when Elijah told her to give away her last meal… For the provision of God constantly to be at work in our lives we must activate the laws of God.” – Phil Pringle, Faith, 2001, pg 153. 
These are the giving laws recognised in the Word of Faith Movement such as the ‘tithe’ and ‘seed faith’ heresies. Believers are taught to obey these so they may be graced or favoured with the Gods miracles. This is salvation by works. As a result, Pringle curses Christians by the very ‘faith’ he says we must live by. 
“This especially applies in the world of tithing. Tithing in one sense is not actually giving. The tithe belongs to God, not to us. Malachi the prophet says that when we keep the tithe we are actually “robbing God”.” – Phil Pringle, Faith, 2001, pg 155. 
“When we withhold the tithe we bring upon ourselves a curse.” – Phil Pringle, Faith, 2001, pg 156. 
“Thirdly, WHEN we sow determines when we will reap. We need to sow well before we plan to reap. The time to sow is not when you have a need. You are to be constantly sowing your world with generous actions of faith. Oral Roberts has called this “seed faith”. Anyone who plants a seed has faith that it will become a plant in time. We all realize that it’s not going to happen overnight, but faith and patience inherit the promises of God.” – Phil Pringle, Faith, 2001, pg 156-157.
(Online Source)
The teachings of Phil Pringle, then, are indeed some to be carefully watched. In the March 17, 2012 episode of Fighting for the Faith, Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough offers a helpful critique of a recent Phil Pringle sermon (the sermon review begins about 1 hour in). The reader is encouraged to listen and come to understand the methods being employed by Pringle in his teaching.

Kong Hee is another speaker scheduled to appear at Presence 2012. Hee was examined briefly in the post, T.D. Jakes Joins Fellow Word Faither-ers at Vision 2012, wherein it was noted,
Hee pastors City Harvest Church in Singapore. His biography on the Vision 2012 website reads as follows:
Kong Hee is the founder and senior pastor of City Harvest Church (CHC), Singapore—a Spirit-filled Pentecostal church that was birthed in 1989. With just 20 members at its inception, the church has grown to an average weekly attendance of over 24,000 members today with 71 percent first-time converts. 
Through his visionary leadership, CHC has become widely known as one of the most dynamic and innovative churches in the Far East. The keys to the remarkable growth experienced by City Harvest Church are vision, faith, commitment, a desire for excellence and effective discipleship. 
After more than two decades of pastoral ministry and training disciples for the kingdom of Christ, Kong maintains a passion to see lives changed by building contemporary, relevant and anointed strong local churches in Asia. (Online Source)
It is not difficult to see why Hee's church grew to such a large capacity. Clearly he is a man who teaches exactly what the people want to hear. The video below shares a full-length message delivered by Kong Hee entitled, "Nine Reasons Why Jesus Was Not Poor:" 



Some interesting points to note in this "sermon" are Hee's claims at approximately the 7:50 minute mark that, "[Jesus] would take you out to a nice restaurant! [Our Jesus] is not a cheapskate Jesus!" Or perhaps the reader would be curious to hear Hee's rather interesting interpretation of the feeding of the 5,000 (approximately 9 minutes in).  

Some more notable Scripture twists in this message are: at approximately 24 minutes in, Hee perverts 2 Corinthians 8:9; and at 31 minutes and following, Hee declares, "If we worship a poor Savior, we will always be poor." Not long after this, he says, "prosperity and wealth are our rightful inheritance," and, "a poor Savior can't get you out of poverty," to which Hee adds a familiar distortion of the promise of the 30, 60 and 100-fold harvest (Matthew 13:8ff). Indeed, throughout the entirety of this sermon, Hee unapologetically, unflinchingly and unconscionably twists the holy Word of God.
Not surprisingly, Phil Pringle has preached at and even sits on the advisory board of Kong Hee's church in Singapore. It is clear that these two men share a similar theology, as well as corresponding goals and a shared "vision" for the church.

This brings us to John Bevere who, along with Steven Furtick, is named as a "featured guest" for Presence 2012. Bevere and his wife, Lisa, founded Messenger International. According to the website,
Messenger International exists to help individuals, families, churches, and nations realize and experience the transforming power of God’s Word. This realization will result in lives empowered, communities transformed, and a dynamic response to the injustices plaguing our world. (Online Source)
John Bevere has authored numerous books, including one entitled Relentless: The Power You Need to Never Give Up. Throughout this book, Bevere is found to consistently point the reader not to Jesus, but to him or herself. Greatly exaggerating the idea of the Christian's unity with Christ, Bevere states:
So the question now becomes, Who is Christ? this is where an unrenewed mind once again steals from the children of God. when many think of Christ, they think of only Jesus Christ, almost as if Christ is His last name. These dear people don't think of anyone else other than our Great King who died on the cross and was resurrected. yes, the name Christ does refer to our Lord and Savior, but let's see what God's Word says.
Paul tells us, "Now all of you together are Christ's body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it" (1 Corinthians 12:27, NLT). We believers, together, are Christ's body. Each of us is a vital "body part." Jesus is the head, we are the body; it's that simple!
... When you think of yourself, do you think of your head as being separate from or different from your body? Would you call your head by one proper name and your body by a different proper name? Of course not. You are one being - one person.
In the same way, Christ's head and His body are one. Jesus is the head, and we are different parts of His body, so we are one in Christ. So when you read Christ in the New Testament, you need to see not just the One who died on the cross but also yourself.
(John Bevere, Relentless, 18, emphasis added)
In the book, Relentless, when Bevere describes a characteristic or function of Christ, he follows it up with some form of the question, "would you say the same thing about yourself?" This gives the impression of elevating the Christian nearly to a place of deity. Indeed, it tends to remind one of the blasphemous and heretical "little gods" doctrine of the Word Faith teachers.

In his well-known book, Charismatic Chaos, John MacArthur exposes the erroneous "little gods" doctrine.
[Kenneth] Hagin, whom most major Word Faith teachers acknowledge as a major influence in shaping their theology, has said, "If we ever wake up and realize who we are, we'll start doing the work that we're supposed to do. Because the church hasn't realized yet that they are Christ. That's who they are. They are Christ. (MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos, 334).
It certainly seems from Bevere's quote above, and from even a brief perusal of his book, that he believes the Christian to be Christ, just as Hagin has asserted. MacArthur continues,
Thus have the Word Faith teachers deposed God and put the believer in his place. From that basic error nearly all their other fallacies flow. Why do they teach that health and prosperity are every Christian's divine right? Because in their system, Christians are gods, deserving of those things. Why do they teach that a believer's words have creative and determinative force? Because in their system, the believer is sovereign, not God. (Charismatic Chaos, 335)
Indeed, at the very least, Bevere believes that man is sovereign over the earth. While God has commanded man to "fill the earth, and subdue it" (Genesis 1:28), on page 16 of Relentless, Bevere takes this to mean that, "You and I, not God, are in control of how life is run on this planet." Yet, the Christian knows, and the Psalmist reminds us that,
The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers. (Psalm 24:1-2)
Herein lies the great danger of Bevere's earlier statement, that the believer actually is Christ. For if the earth is the Lord's, and the Christian is equal with God, then the logical conclusion is that man is sovereign over the earth. Indeed, if man is Christ, how much more authority must he possess? And thus we find one of the obvious thrusts of Relentless, that man must come to recognize, acknowledge and use the authority that has been granted him as one who is, in essence, Christ.

Knowing all of this, then, what ought one think of Steven Furtick's involvement in Presence 2012? Furtick has been lovingly embraced by leaders such as James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll. Yet, he has done little to hide his desire to grow his skills and influence among the Word Faith crowd. Furtick has lauded the work of infamous Word Faith teachers T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyer. Many of Furtick's own sermons either hint at or in some instances, blatantly promote dangerous Word Faith teachings (examples of this can be found by visiting some of the links below). His special invitation to speak at Presence 2012, then, ought not surprise. However, it still should elicit concern. With its language of a "fresh anointing," and "vision and miracles," Presence 2012 appears to go beyond the familiar Word Faith teachings of "health and wealth," and into the realm of signs, wonders and manifestations.

It would most certainly be encouraging if those who who have embraced and promoted Steven Furtick as a trusted teacher of God's Word were to express concern and apprehension over his appearance at Presence. Yet those same men have themselves embraced another, T.D. Jakes, who for years has taught the heretical doctrines of the Word Faith movement. Thus the cry for "unity" continues to come at the expense of truth, and so the silence, though deafening, does not come unexpectedly.

SEE ALSO:
Steven Furtick and Word Faith Heresy (Apprising Ministries)
Steven Furtick is Lookin' for the Favor
"The Steven Furtick Show" Now Playing at Harvest Bible Chapel
"We Can Work it Out:" Is Steven Furtick Qualified to Have this Conversation?
A Biblical Critique of T.D. Jakes' Code Orange Revival Sermon

1 comment:

  1. Just a bunch of Charlatan's exploiting the word of God for money.

    Jesus said "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."-Matthew 6:24 we can tell who they're serving and it's not God, it's their belly-Romans 16:18

    it's very clear that they are using Jesus and they don't truly love him. If they did love Jesus then money would be the furthest thing from their minds and Jesus Christ would be exalted, the Gospel of grace would be preached.

    these people keep using the word "vision" like we are going to somehow create our own reality? Gee that sounds a lot like Lectio Divina

    ReplyDelete

Please keep it pithy (in other words, if your comment is long enough to be its own blog post, don't bother), pertinent (please don't go off-topic), and respectful (to the author, to the other readers, and to the subject of the post). If you can't do that, your comment will not be posted.

If you haven't already, please read the Comment Policy in its entirety.