Recently, someone asked me some questions pertaining to Steven Furtick and false teachers in general. What I do is list the questions. I then answer them:
Does Steven Furtick teach the prosperity gospel?
Is it okay to still listen to pastors who preach it, as long as we are still studying the word, or are they likely to have other false teachings as well?
Would you suggest that someone who is not well acquainted with the Bible avoid such pastors completely?
The short answer to your first question is yes. Having stated that, let me at least give a little bit of beef behind that answer to the first question.
Steven Furtick is a heretic who most definitely and unapologetically preaches the prosperity gospel. Pastor Chris Rosebrough of the program Fighting For The Faith has done the most in-depth work on Furtick’s overall teachings. On no less than two occasions has Furtick manipulated God’s Word to make more than a buck for heretic Phil Pringle. In 2012, he also let prosperity heretic TD Jakes (among other heretics) preach at Furtick’s pulpit for the Code Orange “Revival” (quotes inserted by me). Furtick still maintains a relationship with Jakes, a modalist who is most definitely not a Christian. Furtick very recently clearly revealed himself to be a modalist. Finally, he is a cult-leading narcissist who dismisses his critics in a rather demonic way. He is one who most definitely should be marked and avoided, for he preaches himself instead of Jesus Christ (Romans 16:17; see also 2 Corinthians 4 and Acts 20).
As for your second question, I would say it is permissible for Christians only to listen to/view prosperity teachings for one sole purpose. Please understand that Christians are not to partake in the deeds of darkness (something that accurately describes prosperity teachings); instead, they are to expose them (Ephesians 5:11). Christians must also test and examine all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21; Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1). The Bereans (Acts 17:11) were noble-minded for testing what people said in the name of God to the Word of God. One of the pastor’s jobs is to both exhort in sound Christian doctrine and rebuke those who contradict it (Titus 1:9; see also 2 Timothy 4:1-5 and 1 Timothy 3). Simply refuting false teaching without having an idea of what it is can make one look void of credibility (see Proverbs 18:17). Before someone does take up the task of listening to/viewing false teachings as a means to refute it biblically, one better be a Christian. Specifically, this person needs to understand that by default, he/she was born dead in trespasses and sins.
Ephesians 2:1-10 explains:
2 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
The Bible is clear that people are born dead in trespasses and sins (2:1-3). God’s being rich in mercy makes one alive in Christ (2:4). Furthermore, it is by grace through faith that one is saved (2:5-9). It is not based on works (2:9). No amount of avoiding false teachers as a pagan can ever make one right with God.
If you do not believe what Ephesians 2:1-10 states, I would ask you please look at the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17. Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever stolen something, even if it was small? Have you ever used God’s name in vain? Jesus said that whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery in the heart (Matthew 5:27-28). Jesus also said that if you ever get angry at someone, you’ve committed murder in the heart (Matthew 5:21-26). Just the mere thoughts of adultery and murder make you guilty of the very acts themselves.
Please understand that it only takes one murder to be a murderer, one lie to be a liar and so forth. David said in Psalm 51:5 that he was conceived in sin. Genesis 6:5 states that every intent of the thoughts of man’s heart is only evil continually. Clearly, man has a sin problem. Romans 3:23 states that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Man is in big trouble with God because of his sin. This is more amplified by the fact that perfection is the standard (Matthew 5:48).
Now, some people try to justify their sin by trying to balance it out with the good deeds that they have done. However, if you were to try that in a court of law, the judge would throw the book at you. A good judge would not accept a bribe. He would cast you off into jail. God likewise will not accept a bribe, for there is no partiality with Him (Deuteronomy 10:17; Ephesians 6:9).
Thankfully, Jesus came to solve the sin problem 2000 years ago (Isaiah 53:1-12). You and I broke the law. Jesus paid the fine (Matthew 26:14-28:20). This means that the judge can do what’s legally right in dismissing your case. He can say, “This person has broken the law, but someone has paid his fine. He’s out of here.” This is good news.
There are two things a person must do. He must repent. This means to turn from his sin (Mark 1:16; Luke 24:36-49; 2 Timothy 2:19-26; Acts 17:30-31). He must also put his trust in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31, 17:30-31; Romans 4:1-25, 10:1-17; Galatians 3:1-14; John 6:26-29). These gifts of repentance and faith are granted by God (Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:22-26). Being born again (see John 3:1-21 and John 1:9-13) is basically in alignment with receiving these good gifts of God. If you repent and put your trust in the Savior Jesus Christ, He will forgive you of your sins and grant you everlasting life (John 6:47). Oh may you know His mercy and grace today if you have never repented and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
Finally, those not acquainted with the Bible (including but not limited to non-Christians) should avoid prosperity teachers completely. I would even suggest that those new to the faith should not even think about listening to or viewing popular preachers (sound or otherwise) until they understand the Gospel/Bible themselves. They should be discipled by a local sound pastor who rightly handles God’s Word. They need to understand that the Gospel is not about what they do. It’s not their life story. The Gospel is about what Jesus Christ has done for them (see 1 Corinthians 15; Matthew 1:21; John 1:29; 1 Timothy 1:10). They need to know that the main character of the Bible is Jesus Christ (see John 5:39-45; Luke 24:36-49). The Bible is not about them. They need to know that the Bible is written so that people “…may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing…” they may have life in His name (John 20:30-31). They need to understand that God’s Word will fully equip someone for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). False teachings will not do such a thing. Until Christians are acquainted with the Bible, they should avoid false teachers completely. Pagans should avoid them too. Once Christians understand the aforementioned things about the Bible/Gospel (who it’s about, why Jesus came, etc.), they can then take up the task of a Berean most effectively, for they are less likely to be carried along by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:7-16). This “every wind of doctrine” these days includes but is not limited to the prosperity gospel, a heresy.