Question me, Oppose God 26

We’ve seen over the last few days how Furtick and Noble continue to insist that people believe their visions and that no questions or criticisms of their actions in pursuit of those visions can be tolerated. There is a deep danger in the way that they present their pronouncements as infallible, and then boldly and quickly pronounce anathema on their critics.

Let’s look at some examples of each.

  1. Infallibility. Furtick specificially told us that when he hears from God, no-one may question him. The only reason that questions would be off the table is if you were sure that what you heard from God, and what you speak in response to it, is infallible. The consequence, as Noble has said, is that the leader must not be doubted.

    A leader should never allow doubters to dictate the direction of their ministry…when God speaks our obsession MUST be complete obedience!

    Not only does Noble not want to hear from any doubters, he dare not even think about them.

    When God puts a word inside of you – “what would others think about this?” is a question that completely dishonors Him!!! HE MATTERS!!!

    To ensure the aura of infallibility, they also present their behaviors and words as irrefutable. If you agree with it, it must be true, but if you disagree with it, it must be even truer. See if you can follow the logic in this Noble argument:

    Church planter–do what God called you to do…if people are speaking out against you…it probably means God has spoken into you and you are being obedient.

    Don’t waste the time God has given you on those who don’t like you…ever! If what you are doing is of God then critics can’t stop it!

    Although we’ve addressed the appeal to fatalism on this blog before, this is a more aggressive variation, where because something is is proof that it should be. Under this logic, a leader can never be disobedient so long as he’s being effective and being criticized.

  2. Condemnation. If leaders represent God’s truth when they speak and act, the next step is to argue that anyone who opposes them is opposing God. Noble forcefully and literally demonizes his critics.

    The only person who would criticize a move of God is a jealous, angry, bitter person. And the other thought is that God would NEVER lead a person to criticize something that He in involved in. Well…uh…let’s see–if the criticism is not God led–then who is responsible? Hmm…just know that if you are doing what God desires…and you are being criticized…then it will help to view the critic as a tool of satan. (I make no apologies for that statement!!!) [emphasis added]

    When it comes to dealing with critics…Jesus dealt with them. Remember the Pharisees? And when it came to dealing with them He pulled no punches, He even referred to them as snakes, vipers, and whitewashed tombs. This is the attitude I have to take–that the religious will always criticize a move of God…and it breaks my heart because when you boil it down–even though the Pharisees were religious–they didn’t have a relationship with Jesus!

    Notice the equivalence. Someone who criticizes Noble is ipso facto criticizing Jesus, which means that they cannot be a part of the family of God.

    Here’s another example of Noble characterizing his critics as heathen, while mixing in his irrefutable logic (that is, if you criticize him, it proves that he is right).

    I honestly believe that a true follower of Jesus Christ will make religious people both uncomfortable and angry…and as long as those are the men and women shooting the arrows at me then I know I am walking in the right path.  (John 15:18-21)

    It’s not that I don’t care about you guys…it’s that I care enough to ignore you!  You see, if what we are doing is wrong and sinful then the Lord will handle us…but if what we are doing here at NewSpring Church is of God…you can’t stop it (Acts 5:35-39) and are actually not opposing us…but Him.  (BTW…you lose!)

There are several notable implications from this approach. First, is it really smart to be raising the stakes so high that you call the faith of your critics into question just for raising a question? Noble is drawing a line in the sand and saying that he’s on the Christian side of it, and the rest of us are on Satan’s side. When you’re a leader of a movement that is sensitive to some people calling it cultish, separating the family of God into saved and unsaved depending on your fidelity to a human leader is hardly going to make those fears go away. We critics are often pressed to affirm that we believe we’re all on the same side. The are you all on the same team? question would more fruitfully be asked of people like Perry Noble.

Second, what are you communicating to your own followers about the worth and dignity of Christians who are outside of your movement and, based on their own commitment to the Word of God, question the beliefs and methods of these charismatic leaders? When you call us sons and daughters of the Devil, what kinds of passions do you unleash and endorse among your true believers?

26 thoughts on “Question me, Oppose God

  1. keitho Jul 16, 2009 1:26 pm

    JDuncan,

    Well thought out and insightful. Let me dwell on this priceless gem from PN:

    “This is the attitude I have to take–that the religious will always criticize a move of God…and it breaks my heart because when you boil it down–even though the Pharisees were religious–they didn’t have a relationship with Jesus!”

    Always? That’s pretty pretentious. Also, what is a religious person really? The early christians followed rules, established patterns for acting out their faith, followed and applied establish doctrines. Even Jesus followed Jewish worship patterns and commandments. Religious people came to follow him. I think “religious” person is a strawman. We all know what they look like, but we can’t name a single person who completely fits the category.

    And so what if PN puts his critics (defined as religious people) on the side of the devil? If a religious person has a personal relationship to Jesus (probably hard to imagine for some, but completely possible) the Community Church theology on salvation says that person is saved. Maybe PN doesn’t believe that religious people are saved.

    Well the “so what” is perhaps as you indicated; the rhetoric is to inflame emotions and to further divide christians needlessly.

  2. David J Jul 16, 2009 1:44 pm

    “The only person who would criticize a move of God is a jealous, angry, bitter person. And the other thought is that God would NEVER lead a person to criticize something that He in involved in. Well…uh…let’s see–if the criticism is not God led–then who is responsible? Hmm…just know that if you are doing what God desires…and you are being criticized…then it will help to view the critic as a tool of satan. (I make no apologies for that statement!!!) [emphasis added]

    When it comes to dealing with critics…Jesus dealt with them. Remember the Pharisees? And when it came to dealing with them He pulled no punches, He even referred to them as snakes, vipers, and whitewashed tombs. This is the attitude I have to take–that the religious will always criticize a move of God…and it breaks my heart because when you boil it down–even though the Pharisees were religious–they didn’t have a relationship with Jesus!” Perry Noble

    Speaking from my personal convictions and request to talk to Perry Noble, he is implying that I am angry, bitter,and jealous when I present the Scriptures to him justifying my complaints with his mouth, antics, and errors? Am I of Satan when I present Col 3:8 to him? Are we not commanded to approach a brother in error via the Scriptures when we see a problem?

    Perry Noble is on a path that many cult leaders have followed. I’m not calling him a cult leader, but if he continues on this path I can see it in his future. It’s one thing to have an opinion or interpretation of the Scriptures, but it’s a whole new realm when one says that to disagree with me and my vision is to disagree with God. What I see in Perry’s statements is pride, arrogance, and putting a whole lot a divine faith in Perry’s own visions and church. I’m really scared that this will transform into anyone who critiques NewSpring and Noble are lost and salvation is only found in all who agree with Noble and NewSpring. I did not add anything to what Perry said, but I merely expanded it to it’s logical end.

  3. Ron Jul 19, 2009 1:03 pm

    Not really intending to engage in a callow promotion of a blog post, but I think this essay might be of interest: link to ronclick.wordpress.com
    As stated in the aforementioned URL, I was essentially told by a NS associate pastor that I would be turning my back on a ‘move of God’ if I left NS.

    Thanks for this blog. You see, until rather recently, I thought I was the only one who had issues with NS and PN.

  4. Tommy F Jul 19, 2009 3:25 pm

    Ron

    I second JDuncan. Your post is very well written and certainly not callow. I found many different posts on your blog very helpful. If I read correctly you’re going to slow down (or cease) blogging for awhile. I hope you return soon. You seem to have much to offer.

  5. Pingback: Steven Furtick & Perry Noble: Oppose Me And You Oppose God «

  6. Lucas H Jul 21, 2009 10:42 am

    JDuncan,

    The SSC’c disdain for “religious” people stems from the seeker method’s incompatibility with doctrine and order.

  7. Pingback: Purpose-Driven Popes of the Carolinas aka Steven Furtick and Perry Noble - Rapture Forums

  8. Douglas K. Adu-Boahen Jul 21, 2009 6:40 pm

    Call me a little tightly wound, but all this behaviour from the SSCs borders on cultic. People are bound to have concerns – you are not Jesus, you are human, so rather than blackball everyone, deal with the concerns head on.

  9. Pingback: Simpleton Pastors – Sad, Desperate or Beautiful? « Signposts 02

  10. MW Jul 24, 2009 11:46 am

    Human centeredness in a church is a scary road. I know this has been the greatest danger for seeker sensitive churches. There is nothing wrong with seeking the lost and reaching out to the seekers, but not at the expense of dethroning God in your life. God must always be King, not man. Moreover, God’s word must always be your guide, not your feelings. That is not to say feelings aren’t good to listen to, but if they go against scripture or if you are using them as inherent as scripture then you are going down a very long and dangerous road that you don’t want to go down. God’s will is His word in scripture. His will worked out in your life isn’t as clear cut as scripture until it is revealed to you when it happens.

    The Emergant movement has fallen in this hole too often.

  11. Ron Jul 25, 2009 6:44 pm

    A rather ‘interesting’ statement from the blog of a NewSpring staffer that adds further validation to the theme:
    link to shaneduffey.com

    “And my primary concern for those who sit in the scoffers seat and cast hate toward this man I know… is that I’m afraid that they are just proving that they don’t know Him. Oh, just to be clear… I don’t mean that the scoffers don’t know Perry… I’m afraid they don’t know Jesus. My fear is that their hate toward a man they don’t know is just evidence that they don’t know a Man they can know.”

    Beyond the post itself, the comments at the bottom tend to be quite disturbing in how Perry is almost idolized.

  12. David J Jul 25, 2009 6:53 pm

    My question is: why is it to question Perry Noble and pointing out his errors hating him? The Bible commands us to go to our brother/sisters in error presenting the Word of truth.

    This type of thinking uplift Perry Noble as a prophet aka a modern cult leader(notice I said this “type” of uplifting…I did not call Perry Noble a cult leader).

    “Oh, just to be clear… I don’t mean that the scoffers don’t know Perry… I’m afraid they don’t know Jesus” this statement is scary to say the least. This is cult speak.

  13. KeithO Jul 25, 2009 10:17 pm

    David J,

    That type of speach may not be “cult speak”, at least to me, but it sure does take considerable liberties in assuming hate feelings in people that are not there. I do not hate any individual in leadership or otherwise at NS, but I certainly don’t have to agree with their vision, nor do I have to be a silent dissident either.

    I have heard this type of stuff earlier in my life,except then it was “get on board or else go to hell”. I don’t think NS is there yet, but they apparently are not far from it.

  14. Lisa Jul 25, 2009 10:51 pm

    This is really very sad and disappointing and perhaps even offensive to me and I’ll explain why. I attend one of the churches that you have berated. What is wrong with a man of God who has a calling on his life to lead a church to explain the vision God has given him for his church? Each church will have different visions, different ways of doing ministry. I’m also a pastor’s daughter, so I have wrestled with pastors, seen the “behind the scenes” junk no one wants to deal with or hear about and most times, never does hear about. The calling to be a pastor is not one to be taken lightly, I do not disagree with you there. However, when God calls a man to ministry such as this and he is given a vision for what God wants to do, who are we as the congregation and as the people of God in that church to question it?

    For example, the vision statement of Elevation is “So that people far from God will be filled with life in Christ.” Nothing wrong with that. It’s become hilarious to me that people think Elevation and Newspring are “cult-ish”. It’s the church being the church – UNITED as one and passionately seeking to live out lives that reach those around them. And if a man of God who I believe God has called into ministry shares with me something God has laid on his heart, I won’t question it. I’ll listen, filter and apply it if it has anything to do with me.

    You know, for me, I’ve been going to one of these churches for 3 years now. The whole vision statement thing was kind of new for me at first. I have to say though, to know those in the church, to volunteer with them, to serve in the community and meet the people of our city, that vision statement becomes personal. You learn a lot about yourself, how you are living your life, if it is in alignment with God’s word, etc. Don’t knock the vision statements, that the Pastors share from their hearts what God is teaching them, saying that they are cult leaders. Far from it, my friend. My relationship with Christ is stronger than it ever has been and I am so grateful to God from placing me where I am.

    Be careful the words you use and the words you share. You just might be criticizing a move of the Holy Spirit. We will all be accountable for our words, thoughts and actions in the end, whether we are the person on the street OR the man in the pulpit. I heed those words carefully and take comfort knowing that God will hold myself and my pastor accountable for what is shared (truthful or otherwise) when the time comes.

  15. James Duncan Jul 25, 2009 11:56 pm

    Lisa,

    Thank you for your comment. First a small clarification. We are not criticizing vision statements. Even though I’d take issue with the “far from God” bit in Elevation’s statement, I don’t take issue at all with the fact that they have one. My own church has one, too.

    The issue we have is with visions, the special messages that only the pastor gets from God and that the congregation is expected to obey.

    You ask, “who are we as the congregation and as the people of God in that church to question it?” You obviously see this differently than we do, but the answer is contained in your question. If the people of God and the congregation don’t question it, nobody will. In that vacuum of unquestioned authority, danger lies.

  16. Tommy F. Jul 26, 2009 12:34 am

    Lisa,

    You wrote: “And if a man of God who I believe God has called into ministry shares with me something God has laid on his heart, I won’t question it. I’ll listen, filter and apply it if it has anything to do with me.”

    The key word here is “filter.” This blog is doing exactly the same thing you are. The difference is that I bet you “filter” a lot less than you should. A strong element of this blog is to filter what is being said, promoted, and taught by pastors and churches.

    BTW: I wonder if Furtick really wants you to filter what you hear, when you hear his vision. After all, it’s from God.

  17. KeithO Jul 26, 2009 3:50 pm

    Lisa,

    Thanks for your comment. I do not intend to offend, but I stand by what I say. I have a problem when a leader assumes people have “bad hearts” or are in some way going against God simply because they are not on board with a certain vision. Many preachers say “God put this on my heart” or “God revealed this to me” and I am suggesting this occurs today way too often. The apostles did not nearly take such liberties at such frequency with personal visions. Instead, you see on several occasions in Acts that “they thought it good”. And their spirit filled lives backed up their authority and people responded accordingly.

    You ended by reminding us that we will all be accountable for what we say. The preacher as well as us. Yes, the preacher will be accountable, but don’t think any of us is blamless when we choose to follow bad ideas that sound good from a spiritual leader who says “God put this on my heart”.

    Keep your filter operating.

  18. Tommy F. Jul 26, 2009 8:35 pm

    This is for all PP readers, but especially for the critics of NS critics.

    While listening to a dull, dry pastor this morning in church I became bored and distracted, so I began reading in one of the best books in the Bible: Job. (MW warning: that was an attempt at humor, sarcastically aimed at SF’s lament of boring pastors). As is often the case when I read a book I’ve read before I come across a passage I hadn’t noticed before (or forgot about).

    In Job 12:11, Job asks (interestingly Elihu later repeats the Hebrew phrase, but changes it to a declarative statement to Job and his 3 friends in Job 34:3): Does not the ear test words as the palate tastes food?

    Reading it was a poignant reminder of the need and requirement for listeners to process what is being said, rather than happily nod in agreement. Think of PP as your food tester. We’re simply trying to keep you from dying from unhealthy food or bad drinks (be they contaminated or prepared incorrectly). Your job in turn is to show PP where we’re wrong. Rants, screeds, and emotional tirades won’t cut it. Argue the facts, the words, the meanings, etc.

  19. MW Jul 26, 2009 11:47 pm

    Tommy,

    HAHA! Thanks for the Heads up! I think I will be able to pick up on it a little easier now.

    Rants, screeds, and emotional tirades won’t cut it? Who made you the rule keeper! That sounds legalistic! (my attempt at humor back)

  20. Tommy F. Jul 26, 2009 11:51 pm

    MW,

    I like this version of MW: Humorous.

  21. MW Jul 27, 2009 12:08 am

    OK, I just want to say (especially to Tommy and Duncan) that I’m not disagreeing but I’m taking a different aproach here.

    I understand the point furtick is making, but I don’t agree with the way he is saying it or the way he seems to belittle scripture. The videos and the all the jazz in these mega-churches is good for reaching our culture. I see the point of reaching culture where it is at and in the way that it can best recieve it, so I have no problem with wanted to make the service a little more artistic and fun. I think his ideas really do reach people better. Paul even said he became like the people he was around to reach them. Being 31 years old, I am from the generation that is very ADHD and it’s not always easy for our generation to pay attention to the traditional style of preaching. It doesn’t fit well. God didn’t put any stipulations on how to present the sermon so when it comes to that stuff I say, whatever works best for you.

    However, God’s promise is that His word will not return void. This means that if you are preaching God’s word, even in the dullest way, it can transform lives. That is powerful!! That means that it doesn’t depend on us and our ability to reach people and save them. It is God’s work through His word.

    It certainly helps my generation to have some gadgets in the sermon but if the sermon and music is not rooted in the word of God; if His word is not being proclaimed boldly and unashamedly, it will be ineffective. You will end up having people that like coming to your church for the rock concert or for the snacks and fellowship, not for the gospel or to be transformed. They will not be challenged and they will not grow.

  22. James Duncan Jul 27, 2009 8:28 am

    MW, I’m confused by these statements:

    1) “If you are preaching God’s word, even in the dullest way, it can transform lives.”

    2) “If His word is not being proclaimed boldly and unashamedly, it will be ineffective.”

    Did you mean to include “boldly and unashamedly” as restrictive modifiers?

    BTW, if you’re preaching God’s Word, how can it possibly be dull? Isn’t the dullness in the hearers in such a setting?

  23. MW Jul 27, 2009 11:18 am

    semantics Duncan. Semantics.

    You know what I mean I think. If you are not proclaiming the gospel boldly you really aren’t preaching it right. By NOT preaching it boldly I mean that you are leaving stuff out or compromising truth. I assume that is what you are asking me to clarify.

    By saying “in the dullest way,” I’m referring to the speaker, not the subject matter. I think we have all been put to sleep by a boring speaker before. What I’m saying is that God’s word can work through even the most boring speaker. Though I wish sometimes that it would be a sin to be boring. I want to see a preacher with passion for what he is preaching.

    There are some men that come to mind that don’t use any gimmicks and draw massive crowds. Piper and Keller are two to start with. When you proclaim the truth, people will respond no matter what. Use whatever gimmicks you like around it to help make a point or don’t use anything at all. The truth is what matters is all I am saying. Furtick is saying that he wants to be creative. I have no problem with that at all, but your creativity should be focused on and around the truth. To paraphrase a quote from Driscoll, If you want to have an F-16 fly into your church and shoot a missile across the stage and it points to the gospel, more power to you, but don’t compromise the truth.

  24. James Duncan Jul 27, 2009 11:45 am

    MW, semantics matter.

    I think there is an important point in here where we may differ. Your last few comments focus on the style of preaching; i.e. the preaching must be bold. What does boldness look like? Isn’t the Word of God sufficient in power to not depend on our adding energy and boldness to it? I agree that there are certain styles of preaching, from “dull” to F-16ish, that attract particular listeners. I don’t agree that a lack of boldness in speaking style (whatever that means) diminishes the power of the Spirit’s message, or that energy in delivery enhances it. Otherwise we need to train all our pastors to preach like Billy Mays.

    How do you account for Paul’s preaching style, which sent at least one of his listeners into a fatal stupor? (Acts 20:9)

  25. MW Jul 27, 2009 12:32 pm

    Duncan,

    Again, I was trying to clarify what I meant by bold. I didn’t mean loudly or entertainingly. I mean uncompromisingly. This can be done in a dull way by the speaker. My definition, and scriptures from what I can tell from Paul just means uncompromisingly.

    Do you not agree?

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