From the cross, Jesus speaks seven short statements. Seven, the number of completion, perfection. Steven Furtick calls these seven statements mile markers in the Christian’s walk to Emmaus, the Christian’s journey in relationship with Jesus.
I was intrigued by this claim and eager to read this megachurch pastor’s ideas and learn about the seven mile markers on the road to Emmaus.
Furtick uses ways of relating to today’s America throughout his book, including reducing the celebration of Easter by calling it the “Super Bowl of Christianity” in the first sentence of the introduction. He also created an acronym for “More of God” in the introduction. (p. 2) I paused and re-read the paragraph. Then, I looked at the back of the book and the endorsements on the inside. Later, I visited the Elevation Church website. Then, I understood. Perry Noble was preaching that week. Perry Noble’s book, The Most Excellent Way, was another book that bordered on the irreverent and took Scripture out of context.
As with any book or writing, please search the Scriptures as the Bereans did to make sure that the book agrees with the Word of God, Acts 17:11
Yet, there are nuggets of truth sprinkled throughout the book like these two:
- “The anointing of God is only produced under pressure.” (p. 89)
- “The salvation of God begins when our human striving ends.” (p. 134)
2 Reasons Why I Won’t Read Another Book by Furtick
1. Mishandles Scripture
The first statement of Jesus addresses forgiveness: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34 Furtick writes, “The Savior says, ‘Forgive them, Father, when they don’t know what they’re doing or even when they know exactly what they’re doing.'” (p. 36). If I had not been reviewing the book for Blogging for Books, I would have stopped reading at page 36. Jesus told the Father that the people did not know what they were doing when they nailed Him to the cross. Jesus, the Son of God, had no question that the people did not know what they were doing.
Furtick uses the ESV and NIV to make the points he wants to make. However, I could not find any translation that quoted Jesus telling Peter “three times to ‘feed my lambs.'” The ESV translates the words of Jesus as “feed My lambs … tend My sheep … feed My sheep.” John 21:15-17 The NIV translates it as “feed My lambs … take care of My sheep … feed My sheep.”
In addressing the fifth statement of Jesus, “I thirst” John 19:28, Furtick writes, “Again, he struck the rock and got water out of it, but God accused Moses of not having faith in him. We’re not sure what exactly Moses did wrong. Maybe the problem was that Moses struck the rock twice, because once should have been enough if he really trusted God.” (p. 112)
Perhaps if Furtick had read God’s instructions to Moses, he would have understood that Moses disobeyed the Lord by striking the rock instead of speaking to the rock.
“Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle. Numbers 20:8
2. Manipulates His People
In 2014, an investigative reporter wrote an article about Elevation Church planting people in the church to stand up and go forward to be baptized. ChristianPost.com followed up on the article and quoted Rev. David Key, who teaches at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, referring to services like this as a “‘Disneyfication’ of religious services.”
In Seven-Mile Miracle, Furtick indicates that he did not defend the process of getting attendees to go forward for baptism. Instead, he wrote that he announced that the church would be “holding another baptism that Sunday night! And that night was one of our most remarkable worship services ever, as hundreds more people were baptized as a declaration of their faith in Jesus Christ.” (p. 139)
I received a copy of Seven-Mile Miracle: Journey into the Presence of God Through the Last Words of Jesus, from Blogging for Books for my honest review.
Father, I pray that Your followers will read books that use Your Word accurately and truthfully. I pray that readers search the Scriptures to understand their context and consider Your whole counsel, specific Scriptures in light of the entire Bible. Bless Elevation Church with a Berean spirit and fill Pastor Steven Furtick and his staff with an insatiable desire to delve deeper into Your Word as the Holy Spirit guides them. We desire that blessing, too, Lord. Thank You for Your Word. Help us to use it for our teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, so that we can honor You and represent You well. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen