The False Teaching of Steven Furtick

HomeFalse TeachingsThe False Teaching of Steven Furtick
Is Steven Furtick a false teacher?
Steven Furtick

Steven Furtick is a very popular speaker. He’s clearly a gifted communicator, and – based on the growth of his congregations – likely a gifted leader as well. As the founder and pastor of Elevation Church – home of the popular Christian music group Elevation Worship – he has a great amount of influence and a worldwide audience. Of course, those have nothing to do with whether he’s a false teacher.

Steven Furtick is a false teacher.

I’m not happy to say this. I’d rather say that he’s a fantastic teacher, that he carefully studies Scripture and clearly communicates God’s Word to his audience. Unfortunately, based on his own words, he’s not like that. I have nothing personal against him, and I don’t know whether he’s saved. You don’t either, of course. The question is whether Steven Furtick can be trusted to teach and preach what God has said… and, while most teachers say a lot of things that are true, the measure of a false teacher is that they too often say things that are untrue.

The first indication of a false teacher, and the easiest to spot, is with whom the teacher associates. Steven Furtick associates himself and his church with other false teachers. He holds conferences with Word of Faith teachers and New Apostolic Reformation teachers. He publicly approves of false teachers like T.D. Jakes, who teaches the heresy of modalism (see below). This isn’t the same as a Christian going on a non-Christian’s show, or the same as an orthodox Christian going on TBN and challenging their false beliefs. This is an arm-in-arm kind of association, where they’re working toward the same goals in the same ways. While the statement of faith on Elevation’s website is entirely orthodox, what gets taught from the pulpit is not.

We who teach – and I include myself – are not in the same group as those who listen. Look at James 3:1: Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. This is serious business.

Modalism

The doctrine of the Trinity comes from the Bible. There are three main ideas in this doctrine. First, we know that there is only one God. Second, we know that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Third, we know that the Son is not the Father nor the Spirit, and that the Spirit is not the Father. Put more simply, there is one God who is eternally and distinctly three persons.

Modalism is the unbiblical idea that there is one God who is only one person… and that when we see the Father, Son, and Spirit, we are seeing three different manifestations of the same single person. This is an ancient heresy that has been condemned throughout church history. Unfortunately, a number of prominent preachers espouse this false doctrine, and Furtick is among them.

In John 16:7 Jesus said, It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. Trying to explain this passage, Furtick claims that Jesus said this:

No, I am not leaving you. I am changing forms. See, up until now I have walked with you, but when I send my spirit, I will be in you.

In case anyone wonders whether Furtick misspoke, there’s more. In the same sermon, speaking of Jesus’ ascension into Heaven, Furtick said this:

“… and now Jesus is taken from their sight, and hidden in a cloud, but he did not leave. He just changed forms. He did not disappear. He just was no longer visible. Instead he was internal… He said “it’s good that I’m ghosting you. It’s good that I leave in physical form because then I can give you in spiritual form, then I can direct you from a deeper place.”

Furtick is saying that God stopped being the Father and became a man (Jesus). Then, when He ascended into Heaven, stopped being a man and became the Holy Spirit. This is not a simple theological error, or a questionable interpretation of a particular Bible verse. This is an entirely unbiblical idea, condemned throughout all of church history as heretical. It completely ignores a multitude of clear Bible passages, in which we see that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are not the same as each other.

God Broke the Law

Steven Furtick earned a Master of Divinity degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. One would assume that this kind of education might help him avoid really dumb theological ideas, but that assumption is flawed.

The laws, regulations, and guidelines we see in Scripture for both ancient Israel and for followers of Jesus are, historically speaking, universally understood to be a reflection of God’s character. When God tells us to not commit adultery, it’s not simply because He thinks we should avoid adultery… it’s because adultery is contrary to who God is. We should do certain things, and not do other things, because they are in concert with God’s character or contrary to God’s character. This isn’t a difficult concept.

Unfortunately, Furtick gets this one wrong. He teaches that God created a good Law, then broke His own Law, and did it because He loves us. “What God did when he sent his son… [he] broke the Law for love.” The idea is that love is greater than the Law. That sounds good, but it’s the opposite of what we see in the Bible. First, God is not subject to any law. That would make Him subordinate to the law, and to the one who gave the law. Instead, we see in Scripture that God is sovereign, that there are none like Him, that there are none above Him, and so on. God is the supreme authority in all things, and subject to none.

Second, Jesus did not set the Law aside, and He did not break the Law. He fulfilled the Law. The Law said that the wages of sin is death. God did not break the Law, He followed it to the letter… but, rather than punishing us, He punished Himself as a demonstration of love. There are a number of very serious problems with Furtick’s teaching on this.

  1. If God broke the Law, justice has not been done. If justice is ignored, God is not who He claims to be.
  2. The one who breaks the Law is a sinner. God cannot sin.
  3. God becomes a lawbreaker in order to save lawbreakers from His own Law, putting God in conflict with Himself.
  4. If God made a Law and then broke it, the Law is not based on His unchanging character but on His circumstances. This makes the morality of God relative to each situation, rather than a universal truth.
  5. It changes the nature of Jesus’ death. We justly deserve death, but He died on our behalf. If Furtick is right, then the Law was ignored in favor of love… and so Jesus did not take our place. The very nature of the gospel is that Jesus died in our place, so Furtick’s error on this matter touches on the most important subjects in Scripture.

God is Energy

A very simple way to assess anyone’s belief system is to ask them about the nature of God. Atheists will say that God does not exist. Muslims will say that Allah is perfect. Hindus will need you to specify which god you’re asking about. Buddhists will talk about becoming one with everything by losing your self-identity. Here’s what Steven Furtick has to say about the nature of God:

God is energy. God is spirit. God is a molecular structure that fills all in all. That’s what it means to say that Christ was from the beginning.

First, that doesn’t match what we read in Scripture.

Second, it’s the kind of claim that can’t be tested, so it’s ‘safe’ from those who would question it. After all, someone might say: who’s to say that God is NOT energy? This is a common practice among those in the Word of Faith and New Apostolic Reformation movements: making claims that sound good, that have no basis in Scripture, that can’t be contradicted directly because they’re created out of thin air.

Finally, the idea that God ‘fills all in all’ isn’t simply unbiblical. It’s also a heresy known as panentheism.

Jesus’ Power is Limited by Our Faith

One of the most common problems among false teachers today is that they change the focus of the gospel from God to humanity. The biblical perspective is that, without God’s help, we are hopelessly lost. He takes the first step. He draws us to Himself. He enables us to believe. He saves us. We are powerless without Him. The most common error among Word of Faith teachers – and that includes Steven Furtick – is to give us the power. Faith, they claim, brings power.

This is certainly not true, but it’s the foundational error of their movement. Rather than having a biblical perspective, they teach what is essentially magic. If you have faith, they claim, your faith gives you the power to do amazing things. Faith is a force, and words contain that force, so speaking faith-filled words gives you power to change your life. It’s not that God enables us to do things because we trust Him and obey Him. It’s that we wield the same kind of power that God has.

Along those lines, a lack of faith is a spiritual limitation. In Matthew 13:53-58 Jesus is in His hometown, and He’s not getting the same kind of response there that He got elsewhere. He noted that “a prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.” Verse 58 says this: And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. Now take a look at what Furtick says about these events:

The power of God was in Jesus, the healing power of God, the restoring power of God, the same power that made demons flee was in Nazareth, but Jesus could not release it. Because it was trapped in their unbelief. And there’s one thing that even Jesus can’t do. One thing that even the son of God can’t do. Even Jesus cannot override your unbelief. I see y’all looking at me like, ‘Is that true? I thought He could do anything.’ It said, ‘He could not.’ He wanted to. He was prepared to. He was able to. The power of God was in Nazareth, but it was trapped in their perspective.

Do you see it? There’s a gigantic difference between Jesus not doing many miracles because of their unbelief and Jesus being unable to exercise God’s power because He was entirely powerless to do so. Furtick puts the power in the hands of the unbelievers, rather than in God’s hands. Jesus wasn’t blocked. God wasn’t powerless… yet Steven Furtick claims that He was.

Narcigesis

Normally, I strictly use a false teacher’s own words to explain why we should avoid them. That way we avoid arguments about one person’s opinions being more correct than another person’s opinions. In this case, I consider it helpful to provide a general warning.

There are two primary ways that people interpret Scripture. The most proper method is known as exegesis, or ‘reading out’ of Scripture. This is where you read a section of the Bible and you ask what is says. You take out of the passage what is already there… what everybody sees. For example: in the passage above, where Jesus is in His hometown, we should read what the text says and learn from what it says. The assumption is that God has already communicated what we need to know, and we just need to discover it by studying the text.

The other method is known as eisegesis, or ‘reading into’ Scripture. This is where you read a section of the Bible and you add to it. It’s not always wrong or bad, but it’s a good way to run into trouble. For example, in that same passage of Scripture, one might ‘read into’ the passage the idea that Jesus may have been angry at His old neighbors and at His family. The passage says nothing about it, but we might imagine it anyway. The trouble comes, of course, when we pretend that our insertion is the truth. We’re adding our ideas to God’s ideas.

Narcigesis is a new word. It’s a combination of narcissism and eisegesis. This is what happens when we put ourselves into the text. For example, in that same passage, a ‘narcigete’ would put themselves in Jesus’ place. This is an incredibly common practice, and it should not be. Yes, it’s good to ask what we would think and feel if we were in that situation. This is something more. Narcigesis makes Scripture about me. Furtick’s teaching is chock full of narcigesis. He’s not alone, unfortunately. I’m not providing examples here, but a warning to watch out for it. The Bible isn’t about you. It’s about God, and we learn about Him and about ourselves by reading it. You aren’t David, and Goliath isn’t your fear standing in the way of your destiny. We aren’t wandering in the wilderness. You and I aren’t Job, or Moses, or Jesus.

Conclusion

Steven Furtick is an interesting person, a gifted communicator, and probably a pretty nice guy. He’s also a dangerous false teacher, whether he knows it or not. I have no insight into his heart, and couldn’t know his intentions. He appears to be a genuine person… that is, I don’t see him as a liar who poses as a follower of Jesus for personal gain. He seems to believe what he’s saying. Unfortunately for him and the many thousands (or millions) who hear him teach, sincerity is largely irrelevant.

The truth matters. While much of what Furtick teaches is true, too much of it is not… and the things he gets wrong are big things: the character of God, His ability to do things, our ability to thwart Him, and so on. As a teacher, Steven Furtick should be avoided.

False Teachers List

Disclaimer

Don’t bother commenting or emailing me about how I’m just wrong. It’s a waste of your time and mine. If you have something to say, include Scripture. I am far from perfect, and I can be wrong… so I don’t do any of this lightly, and I’m open to correction.

Don’t bother telling me how this person or that person helped you. It’s a waste of your time and mine. Nobody teaches lies and falsehoods all the time. In researching these topics, I’ve heard a LOT that I appreciated, and have been inspired by even those who are otherwise far from the truth. The number of times someone is right is irrelevant to the question of whether they also teach false things. We should appreciate anyone who teaches us the truth, but that doesn’t mean we should uncritically follow them when we see significant problems in their lives, in their ministries, and in their teaching. Neither your opinion nor mine matter here. What matters is what the Bible teaches, and whether those who preach and teach in Jesus’ name are teaching falsely.

If you can provide evidence that one of these people has recanted their false teaching, please let me know. I would love to amend their article to show that they have changed what they teach.

Finally: we who follow Jesus should not consider false teachers our enemies. If they’re not saved, we should pray for their salvation. If they are saved, we should pray that God will lead them to teach only the truth.


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43 responses to “The False Teaching of Steven Furtick”

  1. Tommy says:

    i now understand why you see him as a false teacher

  2. Morganne Weaver says:

    Thank you for writing this.

  3. John Roden says:

    I’m not a follower of Furtick, and in no sense do I endorse him or his ministry. But I did check the website for Elevation Church to find out what they teach about the Trinity. Apparently he holds the orthodox view of the triunity of God, at least in his doctrinal statement. Here is what I found:
    Trinity
    God has existed in relationship with Himself for all eternity. He exists as one substance in three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Although each member of the Trinity serves different functions, they each possess equal power and authority.

    Deuteronomy 6:4 Isaiah 61:1 Matthew 28:19 Mark 1:9-11 Luke 1:35 John 5:21-23; 14:10, 16 Romans 8:9-11 1 Corinthians 8:6 2 Corinthians 13:14 Hebrews 1:8-10 James 2:19

    • Tony says:

      John:

      I appreciate the fact that you did your homework! That’s good. Unfortunately, many false teachers have perfectly orthodox statements of faith. Furtick is one of those. If you just read the website, you might think he’s right on track… right? However: when someone claims to hold to orthodox, biblical, historical Christian doctrine but then makes clear public statements of modalism, it’s obvious that they’re not teaching what they claim to teach.

      Here’s what we see: as with so many cults of Christianity, they share our vocabulary… but they use their own dictionary. When Christians talk about Jesus, they acknowledge that He is God. When Jehovah’s Witnesses talk about Jesus, they’re using words that sound the same, but have a different meaning. In this case, it’s that Jesus isn’t God, and isn’t one with the Father, but that He’s the first being that God created. Same vocabulary, different dictionary. The same goes for non-Christian teachings from Word of Faith folks and NAR folks. Furtick is simply pouring his own meaning into the words you might hear at the church you grew up in.

      That’s part of why I’ve decided, after 24 years of having online discussions about Jesus, to go ahead and write about false teachers: so many have simply been deceived.

    • Jon says:

      Appreciate that look up. What looks like Modalism, or “ONENESS Pentecostalism”, can just be an attempt to express what classic theology calls “circumincessionism” or the indwelling of each Person in another Person in the Holy Trinity. Manybtimes statements of faith by very otherwise orthodox groups miss this teaching.

      • Tony says:

        Jon:

        While I appreciate the graciousness of wanting to give people the benefit of the doubt, there are (at least) three problems with this idea. First, it contradicts Scripture. Jesus, in no sense, changed forms at the ascension. As Paul notes, our glorified bodies will be just like His… so, as far as Scripture is concerned, Jesus still has a body at this moment. He did not change forms and become spirit. That’s enough to condemn Furtick’s statement. Were he to address the issue and clarify that he’s biblically trinitarian and not a modalist in any sense, we would all be sure of what he means. That he has not suggests that he stands by his statements, which is why I’ve shared them here.

        Second, as pointed out in the article, Furtick has a degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. If he really is biblically trinitarian, he should know better than to explain anything about the trinity that could be misconstrued as Sabellianism. Again, he seems to have passed up the opportunity to clarify that his words weren’t intended to contradict Scripture.

        Finally, suggesting that he may be engaging in circumincessionism doesn’t necessarily make things better, or more orthodox. This too goes beyond Scripture to the point of contradicting Jesus’ words. When He prayed that we all may be one as He and the Father are one, He clearly wasn’t suggesting anything like circumincessionism. Unless we can become so unified that we actually “indwell” one another, I would suggest a less mystical reading of John 17. The concept of perichoresis appeared 650 years after the close of the canon. That doesn’t make it wrong, of course… but we should be careful about embracing concepts that are far removed from their source.

        As an aside, I have doubts that Furtick even has a clue about perichoresis. I’d love for him to prove me wrong, to explain what he meant, and express clearly that his views match what we see in the Bible.

  4. Creodomus says:

    Very well explained. The disclaimer especially.

  5. Mary says:

    This has honestly been the best I’ve read about the subject. Clear and simply put. Using scripture to point out the errors. So many are just so full of an arrogant and jealous spirit that it deters away from the truth they are giving. Thank you for your gracious words and help. I currently have a dad who has pastored for 40+ years. A Baptist pastor. But some times enjoys listening to fellows like Furtick and TD Jakes knowing the doctrine and error in the ministry itself. Simply put, not obstaining from the appearance of evil and not separating from the world. The services or what they call “experiences” being like a rock concert as apposed to a respectable and honorable way to come to God and worship. But it’s the speeking that gets him every time. He likes to hear them and I think most people are that way. My spirit is bothered when I hear him, thankfully. I would like to know how to reach out to him and make him see that when he listens to these guys he’s being affected, but he should know this. Mostly I’m concerned for the next generation. My children hear them and see them and agree sometimes and don’t see the pitfalls. Church is changing too quickly because of the influence of these false teachers. Meanwhile, I see a whole generation being deceived.

    • Tony says:

      Mary:

      Thank you for your encouraging words. Like you, I’ve found that most critics online are just kind of griping about people they don’t like, or repeating someone else’s accusations. It seems really important to avoid gossip about people, and to be fair and gracious in our assessments. That’s why I work hard to use Scripture and a false teacher’s own words, rather than just post my opinions about them.

      As for helping your father, that can be tough. The only way to change anyone’s bad idea is to offer them a better idea, and for them to take it. My first suggestion is always to be gentle. Most people get defensive about things, and dig their hole even deeper. Gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15) is important. My second suggestion is that Christians should be strategic about these things. One strategy is to ask questions in a different context.

      Here’s an example: Furtick has taught modalism. You could go to your father and say, “Steven Furtick is a false teacher who teaches modalism and you should be ashamed of yourself for listening to him.” That’s not likely to get you very far. Instead, you might ask your father to help you… you could ask, “You know, I believe in the trinity, but I’d like to be able to explain it clearly. How do you explain the trinity?” Along the way, you might ask something like this: “What do you say to people who believe that God is only one person, who just shows up in different forms at different times?”

      Do you see what I mean? Here are the benefits:

      • You’re asking for advice, rather than advising.
      • You’re not attacking him or Furtick.
      • You’re double-checking what your father believes without making him defensive.
      • You’re asking him to critique an unbiblical perspective.

      If your father is a modalist, you’ll find out rather quickly. That’s a whole different situation, right? If your father is not a modalist, he will be able to explain the doctrine of the trinity… and be able to explain how the Son is not the Father, for example. You could even, at that point, ask another question: “What would you say to someone who teaches modalism?” and “What would you say to someone who listens to modalist teachers?”

      Yes, you’re setting him up. There’s nothing wrong with that. Once your father expresses that modalism is false, and tells you what you should say to a friend who believes in modalism, you can say it back to him. I would suggest that this conversation might take place over several days or weeks, rather than in one sitting. Give him time to think about what he’s telling you, to review it in his mind. Then you might, when the time is right, ask him this:

      “What would you say to someone who explained Jesus’ ascension this way?” and then quote Furtick: “… and now Jesus is taken from their sight, and hidden in a cloud, but he did not leave. He just changed forms.”

      You might then ask how to counsel someone whose children are being taught this error. Do you see how this patient and gentle approach might be more effective than a confrontational approach? In the end, you should be praying for your father and listening to the Holy Spirit. He knows better than you or I what your father needs. In truth, it could be that your father is able to listen to Furtick without a problem, sifting the good from the bad. For mature, well-educated believers, there is less danger than for others. It might be that the only real problem is that he’s watching while young and impressionable children are around… and that he just hasn’t thought about that.

      I’d love to hear how it goes, Mary! Let me know if there’s some other way I can help, beyond praying (which I’m doing right now).
      Have a great day!

      • Mary says:

        Thank you for all your help! I will try this and possibly get back with you when I get his response! Will be a week or so…

  6. Jake says:

    Hello, I am in my mid thirties and trying to rebuild my faith. I was raised Roman Catholic and went to private Catholic school. I have had an “on again, off again” relationship with my faith throughout the years. The only thing I remember I was taught about the Trinity , is that as a human being we can’t understand it. I’m trying to understand what modalism is and why as Christians it is the wrong belief system. Any insights with this is much appreciated. I have recently been struggling with breaking free from my past sins. In searching for answers I found Furtick’s podcast, and I have to say that some of his sermons spoke to me deeply. But I don’t want to follow a false teacher. I was also intrigued by the Baptist form of preaching, energetic compared to Catholic masses. ( Not knocking either, it was just different to what I was use to.) Thank you and God bless you.

    • Tony says:

      Jake:

      It’s nice to meet you. Thanks for writing!

      The reason people are taught that we can’t understand the trinity is that we can’t. We don’t really have a way to accurately compare it to anything, and comparing is one of the key ways we understand anything. There is only one God, and He never created anything like Himself… so we can’t say that He is like an egg, or an apple, or the sun, or whatever. Each of those analogies falls apart at some point, and fails to adequately explain what God is like. I’ve included a funny video below that you might like. As with Marvel movies, there’s a bit after the credits too.

      There are two major directions one can go in: tritheism or modalism.

      As the name suggests, tritheism is the belief in three different gods. That would be the Father, Son, and Spirit… who would be considered separate, not one. As the other name suggests, modalism is the belief in one god who reveals himself in three (or more) different ways… or modes.

      First: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are properly understood as God. All three have attributes that only God has. They were all involved in the creation, for example. Jesus, clearly, claimed to be God and His disciples taught that. Our bodies are the “temples of God” because the Holy Spirit dwells in believers. There’s no question that all three persons are God.

      Both tritheism and modalism are false simply because they contradict Scripture. From Scripture, we know that there is only ONE God. That means that tritheism (three gods) is false. On that, modalists agree with the Bible. From Scripture, we know that Jesus is NOT the Father, and that Jesus is NOT the Holy Spirit, and that the Holy Spirit is NOT the Father. Each has a relationship with the other… we see what’s called a subject-object relationship. If you throw the ball, you are not the ball. If the Father sends the Son, the Father is not the Son. We see this all over the place: Jesus is sent by the Father, prays to the Father, obeys the Father, goes back to the Father. The Father knows things Jesus did not know. The Father sends the Holy Spirit after Jesus goes back to Him, and so on.

      So: while we can’t understand the trinity, we CAN explain what the Bible says about God. Does that make sense?

      Here’s that video… enjoy!

  7. Josh W says:

    Thank you for sharing this. My wife and mother in law are both very attached to Steven Furtick and I’ve tried to tell them about modalism and other things he says but they always interpret it to mean something else. I also was attached to Furtick and his teachings not too long ago but thank God for a biblical counselor who called him out and really challenged me to listen to what he is saying. Now I pay attention more to the words spoken by pastors and don’t just take everything they say as being true. I hope to study and understand the Word of God more so I can confidently stand on and defend the faith.

    I really appreciate your conclusion as it shows compassion and love. The fact that you said to pray for Furtick speaks for itself. I agree with you that Furtick genuinely believes what he is teaching so my heart breaks. May God have mercy on him, his family, his church, friends, associates, and all who listen to him. May God save his soul if he doesn’t know Christ and may God give His children eyes to see and ears to hear. God bless you brother.

    – Josh W, a fellow brother in Christ

    • Tony says:

      Thank you for your encouraging words, Josh. You’ve encouraged me twice… first by your gratitude, and second by letting the world know that you’re paying attention! Too few Christians take such things seriously. Thanks!

  8. Kathleen says:

    Actually, the Word of God teaches that there is only ONE Spirit who is God. It ALSO teaches that the Spirit in us is “Christ in you, the Hope of Glory”. Jesus Himself said that HE and the Father would indwell us. If you study the scriptures long enough concerning the identity of Father/Son/Spirit, it is CLEAR that it is all ONE God, ONE Spirit, ONE Lord. There is no other God beside Him. There is no other God before Him, neither would there be one formed after Him. Jesus is the Word of God, (logos, the intelligence of God expressed in words) made flesh. God only has One intelligence, and that intelligence is HIMSELF. So no, “modalism” is not a false doctrine. The problem is that people don’t study the Word of God enough to understand. The Word of God is God , and expression (sending forth) God’s own being just as your words are the sending forth of your own being in words, only you can’t make your words take on human flesh and blood and walk around on the planet. Jesus Himself said that He (as “the Son”) spoke nothing on His own. Every word that came out of His mouth was the Father speaking. Just as you control what you say, God sent forth by His living Word what HE was saying. There is ONE Spirit, ONE Lord, ” ONE God and FATHER of all who is above all and through all and in you all” So yes, the Spirit in us IS the Father , and He IS “the Son”, ie the Word of God made flesh. The Spirit of God is the BREATH/Wind of God and the “Son” is the WORD of God. It is all ONE God, not three different personalities, or “persons”. The false teaching is the one that contradicts God’s own words when HE said that He is the only God, and when as the Son, He said that He (the Son/Word) and the Father are ONE (heis : one in ESSENCE) I don’t know enough about Furtick to know whether he is preaching/teaching the heresy re what you speak creates your reality (a synergistic new age teaching brought into the church by quite a few false teachers of the NAR crowd who are spreading that teaching and building churches all over the US and probably around the world – the Declaration statement may indicate this is in his mind if not his teaching but we can only know what he speaks out of his mouth directly) but “Modalism” is not false. It is false to teach that God is a multiple personality being. He did not make us multiple personality beings, but made us in HIS image.

    • Tony says:

      Kathleen:

      Thanks for writing. What you’ve written is typical “oneness” doctrine. This does not match what we see in Scripture. It’s the result of twisting Scripture, not of careful study. I’m not blaming you, but pointing out that what you’ve written has been condemned by Christians throughout history as being entirely unbiblical.

      >> Actually, the Word of God teaches that there is only ONE Spirit who is God.

      To be more precise, the Word of God teaches that there is only one God, and The Word of God also teaches that God is spirit. This describes his nature, just as soul – the combination of body and spirit – describes ours. The Word of God also describes Jesus in these ways:

      • as God
      • as man
      • as distinct from the Father
      • as one with the Father

      >> Jesus Himself said that HE and the Father would indwell us.

      Jesus makes many statements that show that He is not the Father. If oneness doctrine is true, why make any distinction at all? Why say that He AND the Father would indwell us, rather than simply saying “I”? The truth is that oneness doctrine can’t explain why Jesus prayed to the Father, was sent by the Father, went back to the Father, and so on. The claim that there is one God is biblically accurate. Their claim that God appears in different modes is both unbiblical and illogical. That statement is based solely on what we see in Scripture, with which anybody can – and everybody should – become familiar.

      >> it is CLEAR that it is all ONE God, ONE Spirit, ONE Lord.

      Yes. You are right. Modalists have that part right: there is only ONE God. Unfortunately, that’s where it ends. Modalists claim that there is only one PERSON that is God, but the Bible describes three different persons as the ONE God. There’s no way around this, Kathleen. Typically, oneness folks will cut and run when asked to defend their view. When pressed, however, the illogic is strong… like saying that God, “as the Son,” prayed to Himself, sort of. That’s both unbiblical and ridiculous. To say that God reveals Himself in three different modes, or offices, or roles, contradicts the plain words of Scripture, including clear statements from Jesus.

      >> God only has One intelligence, and that intelligence is HIMSELF.

      Nothing like this appears in Scripture.

      >> So no, “modalism” is not a false doctrine.

      Anything that contradicts Scripture is false. Clearly, modalism contradicts Scripture. The only legitimate claims of modalists on this topic are the ones on which everyone agrees: there is one God. Generally, the rest disprove modalism. Here are a few:

      • My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.
      • Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
      • For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.
      • For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.
      • Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son
      • that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father
      • Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

      There are TONS of verses to choose from. Those are all from a single passage in John 5. The Father and Son are obviously, clearly, biblically, and logically distinct from one another.

      Matthew 24 gives us more: But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

      Matthew 26 gives us more: My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.

      These are only a few of the many, many passages that show that the Father and Son are not the same person. I could list other verses that show the Holy Spirit is also distinct from the Father and Son, of course. Notice that I did not say “separate,” but “distinct.” Some oneness folks think that the doctrine of the Trinity is that there are three separate beings who are God. This is false, of course… that would be the heresy of tritheism.

      >> The problem is that people don’t study the Word of God enough to understand.

      On that, we agree completely! =)

      >> Jesus Himself said that He (as “the Son”) spoke nothing on His own. Every word that came out of His mouth was the Father speaking.

      No, that is most definitely NOT what Jesus said. Look at His actual words, in John 12:

      For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

      When Jesus spoke, it was not the Father speaking through Him. Jesus obediently passed on to us the things that the Father told Him to say. The Father wasn’t speaking. Jesus was.

      >> It is false to teach that God is a multiple personality being. He did not make us multiple personality beings, but made us in HIS image.

      Being made in God’s image does not mean that we share all of His attributes. We are not all-powerful, or all-knowing, or all-present. We can’t create worlds out of nothing. God is love, but we are not. God cannot sin, but we certainly can. God is perfect… and I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely not perfect. We are made in God’s image, but – as God said – there is no one like Him. He is unique. We are like Him in some ways, but not in others.

      God is not a “multiple personality being.” That would be closer to oneness theology than trinitarian. Oneness has God interacting with Himself, as if He were three separate people. When people do that, we put them on medication. The Bible’s descriptions of God tell us that the Son is not Father, the Spirit is not the Father, and the Spirit is not the Son… yet they are all God, and there is only one God. Yes, it’s complex. It’s also biblical. They interact with one another because they are distinct from one another, as you and I are.

      I hope that you won’t take my word for it, Kathleen. I hope that you will begin a serious study… not of oneness theology, or of trinitarian theology, but of Scripture. THAT is where people who follow Jesus should get their information, and THAT is where all theology should begin. I know it can be difficult to separate what we’ve been taught by people we love from what we see in the Bible, but you can do it. I wish you well, and hope that you will reach out if I can help you in any way.

      Have a great day!

    • Mercy says:

      Trinity is somewhat difficult to understand. You have to get the understanding from God. The Trinity of God is like man being a spirit having a soul and living in body. It is still one man. God the Father, son and spirit is one and same person in three forms to carry out different functions for man. Man has three components likewise God. Jesus said the HolySpirit proceeds from the Father. It literally means He came out from my inside the Father. Elevation pastor is not wrong at all.

      • Tony says:

        Mercy:

        Thanks for trying to help. Unfortunately – and I say this with respect – most of what you wrote contradicts Scripture.

        Trinity is somewhat difficult to understand.
        This is true.

        You have to get the understanding from God.
        This is also true. To paraphrase 1 Corinthians 2:14, spiritual things are Spiritually discerned.

        The Trinity of God is like man being a spirit having a soul and living in body.
        This is false. The trinity is hard to understand because God is triune, but nothing else is. Humans are not a trinity. We are not a spirit that has a soul and is living in a body. Go back to Genesis and see that God created Adam out of the earth, and breathed into him, and he became a living soul. We don’t have souls… we ARE souls, which is a combination of the physical and the spiritual.

        God the Father, son and spirit is one and same person in three forms to carry out different functions for man.
        This is false. This is modalism, the same error that Furtick makes. The son is NOT the Father, nor is He the Spirit. They are all one God, but they are not different “modes” or “manifestations” or “offices” of one person. This heresy has always been condemned because it contradicts Scripture. The order is wrong.

        Here’s the order of modalism:
        God existed, then created humans, then became the Son to carry out different functions.

        Here’s the order from Scripture:
        The Father existed, and the Son existed, and the Holy Spirit existed, before anything was created. All three took part in creation. Many years later, the Son became a human. The Father was still in Heaven, and the Holy Spirit was still doing His thing. The Son went back to the Father, and they both sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in each believer. Jesus still has a body, by the way… He didn’t stop being human after the resurrection. If Jesus (the Son) is only the form that God took to carry out functions for man, why did the Son exist before man did? Why do we learn in Colossians 1 that the Son actually created everything?

        Jesus said the HolySpirit proceeds from the Father. It literally means He came out from my inside the Father.
        This is false… and ridiculous. The Holy Spirit came out from inside the Father? The Father is spirit. He has no “inside.” The Holy Spirit is spirit. Can He be contained in anything? This is unbiblical nonsense that doesn’t match the Greek text. Furtick should know better, and you shouldn’t parrot ideas about the Bible that you haven’t actually looked up. I mean no offense, Mercy… but you’re being irresponsible. If the truth matters, then repeating the errors of others is also a problem.

        Elevation pastor is not wrong at all
        This is also false. Quite simply, you’re both wrong. I don’t say that to say that I’m right, but to point to the objective fact that what Furtick teaches, and what you’ve repeated, simply contradicts Scripture. In addition, it’s been condemned by Christians as heresy for the entire history of the church. You can SAY that you’re right, but you can’t responsibly use Scripture to show that you’re right.

        I really do appreciate you being here, Mercy. I also appreciate you taking the time to comment, and to try to be helpful to Kathleen. I hope you won’t be discouraged by what I’ve written, and I hope you’ll accept the challenge to dig into God’s Word to see the truth for yourself. I would never ask you to take my word for anything… I simply want to point you to the Scriptures. We should all be like the Bereans:

        Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

  9. Stegman says:

    Thank you for Narcigesis! False teachers often try to make us read the Bible to see how God is trying to bless us. I am then always in the middle of each passage and then God is not being served. I called this me-ology, instead of theology. I like Narcigesis way more! Thanks again.
    Ps. Your James reference you switched up, 1:3 should be 3:1 😀

  10. Godson Paul-Nzeh says:

    He is wrong about the Trinity. Any person who went through good theological college would have known about sound theology of three persons in one God mystery. Yes heresy touches the doctrines of the Church not the mistakes of theologizing, Trinity is such central doctrine about God.

  11. Leslie t Black says:

    Bottom line, does he teach the gospel, does he glorify Jesus, does he teach repentance as a lifestyle, does he teach the importance of obedience, does it teach how important it is to get sin out of your life, if they teach you how to build a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ???

    • Tony says:

      Leslie:

      Thanks for writing! While you and I would probably be on the same page as to what those things mean, it’s important to be clear:

      • Does he teach the gospel as we see it in the Bible?
      • Does he glorify Jesus as we see Him in the Bible?
      • Does he teach repentance as a lifestyle as we see it in the Bible?
      • Does he teach the importance of obedience as we see it in the Bible?
      • Does he teach how important it is to get sin out of your life as we see it in the Bible?
      • Does he teach you how to build a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ as we see described in the Bible?

      If you and I sat down over lunch and talked about these things, I’m confident that we would find a lot of common ground. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with everyone. For example: Jehovah’s Witnesses may glorify Jesus, but not the Jesus described in the Bible. Rather than being God, Jesus – to them – is a created being. Obedience is very, very important… but there are some churches that teach that a single act of disobedience will cause the Holy Spirit to leave you, losing your salvation. Some teach that getting sin out of your life isn’t a matter of obedience and self-discipline, but of being enlightened.

      Do you see? Yes, I agree with everything you said. The question isn’t whether any teacher is right about some things. For that, I’m glad. The question is whether a teacher directly contradicts the Bible, or adds to the Bible in a way that compromises the truth in it. We all have some things wrong, I’m sure… the goal isn’t to nitpick, but to warn people that false teachers are all over the place, and to encourage them to compare what’s being taught with what God has said.

      Isn’t THAT the bottom line?

  12. Richard Henderson says:

    Interesting, thank you

  13. Ballard Christian says:

    Can you please provide the date of the sermon you reference (or better yet, a link as most Furtick sermons are available online).

  14. Sally L OConnor says:

    Can Revelation 22:18-19 apply to the whole Bible. (It says “this book”) Or does it just mean Revelation. I believe it means all of Scripture and think these false teachings are adding to Scripture.

    • Tony says:

      Sally:

      First, I’ve confirmed your subscription to this comment thread. Thanks for letting me know.

      On the question of Revelation 22:18-19 I would ask you to consider a few questions.

      First: what does this passage actually SAY? I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.

      Second: who does it apply to? In this case, to anyone and everyone.

      Third: what is “this scroll”? Is it part of Revelation? All of Revelation? All of the New Testament? All of the Bible? We want to think clearly about these questions, of course. One of the main issues that cause both false teaching and teaching in error is reading verses out of context. We want to understand the context of this passage before we even think about applying it. Here’s what we know from the passage itself, from history, and simple logic:

      • The scroll in question is a “scroll of prophecy.” That excludes a number of books in the Bible, since not all are prophetic. So it can’t apply to the whole Bible, or even to the whole New Testament. It makes the most sense to apply it to Revelation, as it IS a book of prophecy. Technically, we call it ‘apocalyptic literature,’ which tells the future using symbolism.
      • The book of Revelation was, when written, not part of ‘the Bible.’ Don’t get me wrong: it has always been inspired Scripture. I mean to say that it hasn’t always been combined into a single volume with other inspired Scriptures… so, when Jesus referred to this scroll, he wasn’t referring to the inspired writings of Luke, or Peter, or Paul. He wasn’t referring to the gospel of John, or the epistles of John, either. When we read Revelation in full, we see that it is both a group of personal letters from Jesus to seven real-life churches in Asia Minor, and a prophetic vision given to John. The text gives no indication that it might apply to any other writing by any other author.
      • What makes the most sense of these verses, in context? That Jesus was speaking only about Revelation.

      Because Revelation is usually the last book in the compilation of books we call the New Testament, we have a natural tendency to see it as the summation of what came before. It’s not. We don’t want to fall into the same kinds of errors that false teachers fall into… that is, reading a passage and then drawing conclusions that don’t match the context. The context here makes it clear that Jesus was referring to the prophecies in Revelation.

      That does NOT mean that it’s okay to add to, or to take away from, ANY passage of Scripture. Truly, that’s implied throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament… and it’s one of the ways we know which teachings are true and which are false. This passage carries with it two specific kinds of punishments: plagues for those who add to it, and eternal condemnation for those who take away from it. It would be a mistake to apply these penalties to any other passage of Scripture, as the context will not allow us to do so. We would be saying what Scripture itself does not say, and we should avoid that.

      Does that make sense?

  15. Joann says:

    First of all we have the Holy Spirit which guides us when something is incorrect the holy spirit will Quicken us to let us know what is right and what is not. And as I’m reading your comments. Do not line up with the holy spirit that was Within Me. Because I know my God. And my God will convict you let you know the word is right or the word is wrong.. That is why we have the Holy Spirit when you discern what is right in the world and what is wrong in the world you are led by the spirit of God I disagree with you I believe that you are wrong doctor you are a fake preacher you should not get on this Social Media stuff and tell people things that you really don’t know. Because if a person really Noah’s God and has a true relationship with him they know right from wrong keep your comments to yourself and quit causing Discord among the brethren.

    • Tony says:

      Joann:

      Thanks for writing. I wonder: why do you think that 26 of the 27 books in the New Testament warn Christians to watch out for false teachers? I mean, weren’t first-century believers also indwelt by the Holy Spirit? Didn’t He guide them into all truth, as you say He guides you? I’m not sure that what you’ve written makes sense.

      Apparently, Jesus and James and Jude and John and Peter and Paul thought that it was important to tell the churches to watch out for false teachers. What you’ve written makes it sound like you think that’s unnecessary. I wonder, Joann: who do you think I should listen to? You, or the writers of Scripture?

      No, seriously. I’d like to know. Thanks!

  16. Scout says:

    Thank you for this clarity and God bless. I do think Steven Furtick should not entirely be blotted out but know that not all should be teachers as well and Steven Furtick should refine his biblical views before preaching on the podium again. So I agree and hope God reveals the truth to him. God bless and give you discernment.

  17. Rina says:

    Thank you for writing this. Insightful and reignited the importance of chasing after Truth. I especially resonated with your statement that many false teachers today change the focus of the gospel from God to humanity. Thank you for taking the time to share this.

  18. Holly says:

    🤦‍♀️ the gospel is being preached , judge not lest ye be judged .

    • Tony says:

      Holly:

      With respect, you’re wrong on both. The gospel is NOT being preached, and you’re taking Jesus’ words out of context. When Paul wrote that he was glad that the gospel was being preached, he pointed to the fact that the gospel was being preached for personal gain. I have no idea whether Furtick does what he does for personal gain, and you don’t either. Frankly, I doubt it. I believe he believes what he’s saying. The problem is that he’s not preaching the gospel. He says a lot of things that are true, of course… but he also promotes unbiblical falsehoods.

      As for not judging, you might take the time to look up the passage in question. When you read Jesus’ words in context, you will see that He wasn’t saying to not judge. If you need a hand working through these issues, I’m here to help.

  19. mercy says:

    why would you call me irresponsible? Is that godliness? Is that the language of the kingdom?

    • Tony says:

      Mercy:

      Is that REALLY all you got out of my response?

      First, I didn’t call you irresponsible. I said you were BEING irresponsible. I have no idea whether this was the first time or only the most recent time you’ve been irresponsible, and that’s none of my business. The question is whether you were, or weren’t… and you were. Believe it or not, I held back from actually using ‘the language of the kingdom.’ You should spend a little time in 1 Timothy and Titus to see what Paul says about people who teach anything other than the true gospel. He’s pretty harsh. All I did was point out the fact that you were repeating false teaching, which is – OF COURSE – irresponsible.

      Second, I’m supremely confident that you will agree with these statements… correct me if I’m wrong:

      • When people teach things that contradict Scripture, that’s bad… right?
      • When people defend false teachers and repeat their errors, that’s bad too… right?
      • We’re called to watch our lives and doctrine closely… right?

      If you agree with those things, then the only thing left for you and me to figure out is whether Steven Furtick’s teaching actually DOES contradict Scripture… right? If you knew that he was teaching falsely, I don’t believe you would repeat his errors, because you know that what we believe about God really matters. Right?

      Here’s my position: Steven Furtick teaches modalism. Modalism does not match what we see in Scripture, so those who teach it are, by definition, teaching falsely.

      I’m open to the possibility that I’m wrong, of course. I’m sure you are as well. I’ve outlined a few of the reasons we know that modalism is false in my previous comment to you. Please feel free to respond to the content of that comment, rather than simply complaining about my tone. If what you believe really matters to you, let me encourage you to begin a fresh journey into the Scriptures. See for yourself what the Bible says. Don’t listen to what I say, or what Steven Furtick says. Don’t even listen to yourself! See what God says and then compare that with what you currently believe. In my experience, people who are willing to be led by the Holy Spirit into a clear understanding of Scripture will change their minds easily. People who are unwilling are often, in my experience, not actually interested in following Jesus closely. They’d rather follow their favorite teacher.

      I mean no offense by this, Mercy. I say these things as a brother, and I mean them as a brother. If I’m wrong, show me. If you’re wrong, change. In the meantime, let me know how I can help.
      Have a great day!

  20. Dennis says:

    I just came to this discussion after hearing an amazing worship song on You Tube from Elevation Worship. I don’t know Steve or anything about him. However, I stand in agreement about Modalism. God isn’t morphing like a CGI character from one state of being into another. Ask yourself, who was Jesus constantly praying to, himself? Why did he always defer to the Father, and not himself? Why did he always point seekers to the Father? Why would the gospel of John say” And the Word was with God, and the Word was God” ? The idea of Trinity is a theological one. It’s an observation. While it is an imperfect term, it’s the best one we can come up with. Why imperfect? Because as created creatures in a 3 dimensional world, we can understand how one can be 3-a carrot sliced in three pieces is still a carrot- but we can’t understand how 3 can be one. We are told it in scripture, and accept it on faith. God is not limited by creation, but is above creation, transcends creation. Neither is God limited to 3 dimensions as we are, but exists in such a way that the past, present and future are observed simultaneously. Also as Christians, let us be humble and love one another. Don’t let brother Tony, whoever he is, hurt your feelings. If a brother or sister in Christ corrects us, rejoice! Wouldn’t it be terrible if we spared each other the truth, and allowed our brother or sister to miss out on heaven? May it never be! Search the scriptures and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you into the truth about this, and He will do it.

  21. Ryan says:

    I’m less likely to trust anyone who makes a point to call another out in this fashion. I’m more likely to listen to someone who doesn’t point fingers.

    • Tony says:

      Ryan:

      Like you, I think we should be careful about making accusations. That doesn’t mean that we should remain unaware of what’s going on around us, or that we should ignore those who teach falsely in the name of Jesus.

      If you’re a Christian, one would assume that you believe the Bible to be a guide for Christians. Paul wrote a whole bunch of books in the New Testament, right? Peter called Paul’s writings Scripture… and Paul called out others in exactly this fashion. Does that make you less likely to listen to Paul? I hope not.

      In 1 Timothy 5, Paul said to rebuke false teachers publicly, “so that the rest may stand in fear.” He specifically called out false teachers by name, too: Demas, Phygelus, Hermongenes, Hymenaeus, Alexander, and Philetus.

      The simple truth is that I don’t want you to trust me, Ryan. I want you to know the Scriptures. 26 of the 27 books in the New Testament warn us about false teachers, and tell us what to do when we find them. Don’t trust me. Do your own homework. Find out whether the people you listen to are teaching what we find in the New Testament, or not. If not, do something about it.

      Does that make sense?

  22. Ryan says:

    I have 1 simple question, 1st question for now… what is the 1 and only way to heaven?

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