What do Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, and Steven Furtick have in common with the Church of Scientology?
I was watching a show on the cult of Scientology the other day (and then I watched something on L. Ron Hubbard…and another thing on Tom Cruise all about Scientology, somehow Tom Cruise legitimizes Scientology…at least to the Scientology community) The gist, though, of the original show I watched was about how this guy got out of The Church of Scientology, not to quit practicing scientology…just didn’t care for the church. The guy on the show said that while he was in the Church of Scientology, heretofore known as CoS, if someone tried to convince him to leave the church that person was to be labeled as “oppressive” and when he himself left the church he was automatically labeled as an “oppressive” person and the other CoS members were not to have contact with him. Tom Cruise said something similar of Nichol Kidman while he was married to her that she was “oppressive.” Shutting out critics by labeling them something unkind seems to be the CoS’s way of dealing with critics of the CoS.
Discrediting your critics by labeling them…does that sound familiar? It should, because it’s the EXACT SAME tactic that Steven Furtick, Perry Noble, Mark Driscoll, Rick Warren, Ed Young Jr. and a slew of other pastors use to discredit their critics. (side note: what a fun word ”slew”, so many uses.)
Whether you use the word “oppressive” or “hater” or simply use the label “blogger with no life, and no Biblical knowledge, living in their mothers’ basement, eating Cheetos©” or as simple a thing as playing the “Pharisee” card, discrediting your critics is a shallow, narcissistic practice that many mega-church pastors have in common with the CoS. This name calling is only done so as to make the criticism illegitimate, the problem is not all criticism is bad, and certainly most of it—whether you like what is said or not—has validity…and, usually, not just a little validity. For example, I am a graphic designer—it’s what I do for a living—suppose I design a piece, whether it be a logo, flyer or newsletter, and someone doesn’t like it for whatever reason, (the font is too small, it’s too dark, Steve Carrell doesn’t endorse our product…I’ve heard them all.) if I ignore them I’m in trouble…and not just a little trouble, but I’m not getting paid. I may not like what my critic has to say…but its constructive criticism…its purpose is not to tear me down personally, but to improve my final product…to make it function better for the consumers’ needs. I cannot afford to stand on the side of saying my critics are just haters.
It’s just interesting to me that this tactic of labeling is the same used of cults the world over. What does that say about Elevation Church, NewSpring Church, Mars Hill (Seattle), Saddleback Church and so many others? That they’re not much different from a cult…and their cult leader is the pastor, not Jesus Christ. For example: Elevation Church in North Carolina, Steven Furtick’s church, has something they call “The Code” it’s a summary of their core values, and …no, it’s not something as grand as the Nicene Creed. Point number 4 of “The Code” says:
“We Are United Under One Vision – Elevation is built on the vision God gave Pastor Steven. We will aggressively defend our unity and that vision.“
The “vision” God gave Pastor Steven? The vision that “God gave” pastor Steven is to: “start a life-changing church in a metropolitan city” which he did, Elevation…and Elevation has plenty of “life-change” but so does Oprah. The message that Pastor Steven preaches is not even in the same zip-code as the Biblical gospel though. The message is: “audacious faith and how to approach every experience from a visionary perspective.” The problem is this message of “audacious faith” and “visionary perspective” that “Pastor” Steven preaches is not found anywhere in the Bible, therefore it is a message that is outside of scripture, therefore the members of Elevation church are being led, not to eternal life in the Kingdom of God, but down the broad road of a cult…the path to destruction.
The message that “Pastor” Steven should be preaching is of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for our sins not of audacious faith. Faith is part of the gift of salvation; Hebrews tells us that Jesus, not us, is the author and perfecter of our faith. So Jesus not only founds our faith, he forges it to reflect Him…it’s not something we have to do…or conjure up from within us…it’s a gift. This is just one example…and honestly it’s probably the most obvious one, each of these churches, built around one man and his “God-given” vision have equally as backwards vision/mission statements.
We need to pray that these people who go to these churches would see the truth and come out of these churches…and we need to pray for these “pastors” that they would repent of their false teaching and turn people toward the true gospel, instead of the babblings of their heart, for as the Bible warns…it will be better on judgment day that they have a millstone hung around their neck and thrown into the sea.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: For more information about the false teachings of any of the men listed in this blog post go to Apprising Ministries and type in their name, read the results, and be informed.