03 July 2012

Steven Furtick, Hillsong Conference, and 'Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire'

It recently was reported that the 2012 Hillsong Conference was scheduled to begin this past Monday, 2 July. Thus far, all things seem to be going according to plan and, as Christian apologist and radio host Chris Rosebrough pointed out in the tweet below, it seems that thousands have gathered onto this "wide ride":
Hillsong 2012 has been a success, then, at least by Hillsong's and the world's standards. The event even garnered the attention of reporter Alex Murashko at The Christian Post as he reported on Steven Furtick's sermon. Furtick, who was the second speaker of the event, had already gushed over Word Faith preacher Joseph Prince's earlier message:
Writes Murashko:
Elevation Church Pastor Steven Furtick preached at a Hillsong Conference in Sydney for the first time on Tuesday, telling thousands of people in attendance and an online audience that God doesn't need anyone to "feel ready" to answer their calling.
The 32-year-old pastor, who leads the Charlotte, N.C., church of more than 10,000 members, said it was one sentence from the book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, that gave him the inspiration to start a church.
"The sentence was 'I despaired at the thought that my life might slip by without God moving greatly on our behalf,'" Furtick said. "The Lord used that one sentence because when the word of the Lord comes to you like it came to Jeremiah, it doesn't have to say much to do a lot. In one sentence God put a desire in my heart – 'one day you're going to start a big church to reach a lot of people who are far from God in a big city somewhere in the United States of America.'"
It is interesting that Murashko emphasized Furtick's recounting of the impact of Jim Cymbala's book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, upon his life and ministry. This is a story that Furtick has told numerous times before, including at the 2011 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit:

Jim Cymbala is the pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle, and his book referenced above is widely known. While there may be points within the book worth commending, there also are many which may not only give cause for concern, but which may offer insight into Steven Furtick's ministry and philosophy.

Gary Gilley, pastor of Southern View Chapel in Springfield, IL, has written a brief but helpful review of Cymbala's book. While Gilley acknowledges the book's positive contributions, he nevertheless shares many concerns which are worth noting. Gilley's review will not be published in full here, but there is one section that is of special interest. About Cymbala's view of the revelation of the Holy Spirit, Gilley writes:
Cymbala supports the increasingly accepted view that one can hear from God in the inner spirit. "I sensed God speaking. . . . I knew I had heard from God. . . . His word to me was. . ." (p.25). "Brothers and sisters, I really feel that I’ve heard from God about the future of our church" (p.27). "The Holy Spirit stopped me. ‘No!’ a voice seemed to say. ‘Fight for him! Cry out to me!’" "The Holy Spirit spoke to one of the choir members" (p.103). "As I spoke, the Holy Spirit seemed to prompt me to add" (p.160). Of course what God had to say to Cymbala was what every pastor would love to hear, "If you and your wife will lead my people to pray and call upon my name, you will never lack for something fresh to preach. I will supply all the money that’s needed, both for the church and for your family, and you will never have a building large enough to contain the crowds I will send in response" (p.25).
Reviewer’s Comment: Where in Scripture does one find this concept? That God has communicated audibly, in dreams and visions, through prophets and apostles, we are in agreement, but this "inner voice" is not to be found. Even the Vineyard theologian Jack Deere claims that the concept of God guiding through promptings, impressions, and insights has no biblical base. He says, "The word ‘prompt’ never appears in Scripture with God as the subject. [We are being] asked to believe in a form of guidance that can’t even be found in the Bible" (Surprised by the Voice of God, pp.283,284). When men like Deere can poke holes in our understanding of revelation, we had better take a second look.
When reading this portion of Gilley's review, a particular sermon clip came to mind immediately. Listen to Steven Furtick as he preached earlier this year at the Presence Conference:

Note the multiple instances within this short teaching that Steven Furtick claims to have received direct revelation from God. The reader is encouraged to view the video again, and observe the following:
  • At 2:48, Furtick says to the leaders of C3, "The Lord told me to give you $7,000 for your Brooklyn church."
  • At 6:04 , he states that, following this offering, the great things of which he had spoken "are gonna happen for somebody" due to that person's obedience that night. Really? How does Steven Furtick know this?
  • At 8:44, Furtick begins his next few statements by declaring that, "Somebody needed to hear me say..." Again, how is he aware of this? Who is telling him these things so definitively?
  • Finally, at approximately 9:50, Steven Furtick begins to describe how he and his wife had saved up a $5,000 emergency fund early in their marriage. Says Furtick, "God told me to give it," and so he wrote five $1,000 checks. He continues, "As soon as I had written the last one, God said, 'I will never allow you to lack for anything you need to do My will if you keep your hands open to Me in this way.'" 
Those who have listened to many of Steven Furtick's sermons know that this type of language and these types of claims actually are fairly common. There seems to be a great deal of similarity, then, between the method by which Steven Furtick claims to receive divine revelation and what Cymbala teaches in his book. Does this merit concern?

Gary Gilley also points out that Cymbala appears to have been greatly influenced by Charles Finney:
Cymbala promotes the currently popular and highly unbiblical view of revival as per Charles Finney style. Finney, who did more to cheapen evangelism than any one individual I can think of, is apparently Cymbala’s greatest hero, and is often quoted (e.g. p.58, p.115, and pp.174ff). Finney, the 19th Century evangelist and theologian, was the well-known author of "means" or special methods that he believed could produce conversions, as well as revival. All the church needed to do, so taught Finney, was to use the right means and the results were guaranteed, with or without help from the Holy Spirit. His evangelistic inventions are legion and lethal. Even prayer was seen as a "means" to an end (see p.58). God could be manipulated to send revival if only the church prayed hard enough. Evidence of Finneyism is rampant in evangelism today. Finney and his views need to be exposed, not endorsed. (Source)
Of course, much of Finney's methodology is running rampant in the seeker-driven church today. If Steven Furtick was so influenced by Cymbala's book, and Cymbala was so greatly influenced by Finney, the methodology of Steven Furtick and his Elevation Church ought not surprise us. It should, however, continue to cause the Body of Christ to speak out against those doctrines and methods which run contrary to Scripture.

It certainly appears as though Steven Furtick was a hit at his first Sydney, Australia Hillsong Conference. While it seems that the 2013 speaker lineup already has been determined, perhaps he will be placed at the top of the list for 2014. For now, the 2012 event rolls on throughout this week, with further messages from the prosperity preacher packed lineup.

Further Reading
Louie Giglio to Join Word Faith Lineup at 2012 Hillsong Conference
Steven Furtick, Hillsong Heresy Conference & Rick Warren (Apprising Ministries)
Steven Furtick Twists Scripture, Claims to Hear from God at Presence 2012


  1. Hillsong creates an attractive product -- it is the same product that T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen produce: a very large audience. Advertisers pay for this product and people who want "position" in the Evangelical community want this product. They will travel to have access to it (to Australia), they will craft statements that will not turn the product away, pastors will resign positions that may turn this product away.

    It is quite unfortunate that this product -- a very large audience or constituency -- is so valued by pastors whose calling is much higher than popularity.

  2. The part of the blog regarding Jim Cymbala's book "Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire" caught my attention. It is being promoted at HBC as part of the recommended summer reading for the congregation. See https://store.harvestbiblechapel.org/c-116-summer-reading-list.aspx Macdonald himself recommended these books a couple of weekends ago before going on his "summer study" break.

    Also promoted and for sale in the HBC on-line bookstore is Furtick's "Sun Stand Still". See https://store.harvestbiblechapel.org/p-2840-sun-stand-still.aspx

    Harvest, we have a problem! :)

    1. rom623rom828,
      I attend a HBC here in the South. We need to get in touch. I am shocked that these books are recommended reading, but I guess I shouldn't be since Macdonald turned over his pulpit one Sunday last year to Furtick and considers TD Jakes a brother. email me at the address in my profile, I having been wanting to talk to you for some time.

  3. That panoramic photo of Hillsongs conference is like looking into the bowels of the lake of fire, that is the sort of colours I can imagine it to be in there. That whole Hillsong thing put on by Brian Houston is like one big worldly entertaining show, it gives me the creeps. No holiness or fear of God in that place.

  4. The influence of Charles Finney a bona fide (if I can say that here :) ) heretic is far and wide and deadly.He continues to be a "hero" of faith for so many to detriment and confusion of the Church. The so called "altar call" was invented by none else but this heretic.

    Please listen to this podcast by a solid brother Jerry Johnson from solid NiceaneCouncil.Com. This is a recast of a program and sort of a limited debate between Jerry Johnson and Michael Brown a Messianic Believer and fairly known scholar and autor of "Answering Jewish Objections to Christ" a magnum opus in some ways. They are discussing Charles Finney and its heritage. Lots of good information and lots of biased views as well... You find out who is responsible for which.

    Go to http://nicenecouncil.com/podcast-2/ and listen to "Michael Brown, Charles Finney and Me". I also highly recommend other programs as well as video series by Jerry "Against the World" available here: http://againsttheworld.tv

    1. Correction. The link provided above to Jerry Johnson's Podcast is a review of the quasi "debate" between him and Dr.Michael Brown which took place in May 2011. Here is the actual program of Dr.Michael Brown called the "Line of Fire" where Jerry Johnson called in to discuss Charles Finney and his deadly heritage which appears glorious to Dr.Michael Brown...

      LINK: http://www.lineoffireradio.com/?s=jerry+johnson

  5. In Acts 8, it says Paul was stopped by the Holy Spirit, does your bible say this was an audible voice

    Those led by the Spirit are the sons of God - Ro 8:14

    I'm pretty sure the Spirit is God....

    So what your saying is God cant speak to me on the inside, that's pretty interesting limiting Him like that...

  6. I have a testimoy to tell. I used to attend hillsong for many years. It was wasted years spent in that place, but I'm also thankful that I was able to experience what it's like going to a non-biblical church. You can also tell by their 'fruit' because they are all rotten, talk about major arrogance coming off of their leaders. I always wondered why they preached a different gospel. Now I know. I will not remain silent about their so called 'ministry' It will be exposed.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Anonymous. Yes, we are called to point out and expose false teachers and false teaching. So long as when we do, it is not out of spite or anger or bitterness (and I'm not implying that you harbor any of these, I'm just taking a teaching moment for all of us). And as long as we always point people back to the truth of Scripture and to the only One Who can truly save, Jesus Christ.

      I also spent many "wasted" years in unbiblical, seeker-sensitive churches. Yet when I look back, I see how God is using those experiences now. God can use your testimony as you warn others of these false teachings.

  7. you people are acting exactly the same way pharisees were in Jesus' day. Self-righteous and insulting the work of God through such conferences. Reflect and look at the things you're accusing such an anointed ministry of. Your fruits are just as rotten. You who think you're justified by the law, you are fallen from grace. Look at that picture of the hillsong conference. That is God's hand at work. The world is peripheral to the church and not the other way around. Meaning, technology and such shall be used for the glory of God's kingdom. Christian television channels broadcast all over the world to preach the gospel to millions of households. Technology was the avenue. Are you saying such mediums are evil?

  8. Almost all that is left on TV evanglist are JUNK. You may look at a huge crowd and think God is working in it. But, think again that is not how God works. These so called preachers are sheeps in wolves clothing, and these people are just following the wolf. Obvious this crowd of people are not reading and studing the Bible themselves. They are just being lead down the wide path to destruction. And if you think God approves of this kind of music I would suggest you to learn about what God does and doesn't approve of. These people are doing exactly what the Bible says what would happen in the last days - having their ears tickled. We are to be on guard satan come in all colours shapes and form. READ AND STUDY YOUR BIBLE FOR YOUR OWNSELF.


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.