Our Recent “Worship Experience” at Elevation Church

elevation-churchOn Sunday, I took two of my children with me to rescue the lost from a “Worship Experience” of Elevation “Church” at one of the nine locations in North Carolina. Two greeters approached us at the doors who gave my children “ekidz” slap bracelets and began asking me questions. I told them about how we are traveling across the country sharing the gospel and gave them both copies of the Church of Tares DVD, which contains many clips and critiques of their leader “Pastor” Steven Furtick.

The loud techno music outside and activity in the lobby was overwhelming to my six-year-old son who asked if we could leave soon. This was definitely not like any “church” he had seen. An Elevation usher also approached me in the lobby and asked me several questions. Eventually I told him I believed Elevation Church was unbiblical and urged him to watch our video which he accepted.

After the “Worship Experience” was dismissed, my children and I headed outside to hopefully reach some people on their way out. The moment I handed out a single business size card about how Elevation is unbiblical, an older Elevation security volunteer came out and asked me not to hand out any material. This was reminiscent of our recent visit to Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In fact, Elevation Church is not a true church, Steven Furtick is not a true pastor, and the “Worship Experience” is not true worship. I will elaborate on my concerns about Elevation below.

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On The Celebration of Christmas

Christmas FireplaceThe Christmas celebration of Christ’s birth on December 25th has long been a tradition of professing Christians. But when did the Church begin celebrating this day as the birthday of Christ? More importantly, should Christians celebrate Christmas today?

Two common objections to Christmas are that the Bible speaks against Christmas Trees in Jeremiah 10 and that Santa is actually Satan. Actually Jeremiah 10:1-5 refers to heathen idol worship, not Christmas Trees. And Santa Claus’ real name is St. Nicholas of Myra, an Orthodox Christian bishop from Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) in the fourth century who suffered for Christ under the persecution of Diocletian and is remembered for his charitable life.

It is often suggested that Christ’s birthday was celebrated when the wise men presented to him gifts (Matthew 2:11). But this was not the birthday of Christ, nor was it even the birth of Christ. Matthew said, “Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men” (Matthew 2:16). Therefore, the wise men offered gifts to Christ when he was as old as two years. But the birth of Christ is recorded earlier in Matthew 1:18-25.

Moreover, the only birthdays which are celebrated in the Bible are Pharaoh’s birthday (Genesis 40:20) and Herod’s birthday (Matthew 14:6), both of which ended in murder. Along these lines Origen (c. 245, E) wrote,

And on birthdays, when the lawless word reigns over them, they dance so that their movements please that word. Someone before us has observed what is written in Genesis about the birthday of Pharaoh and has said that the worthless man who loves things connected with birth keeps birthday festivals. And I, taking this suggestion from him, find nowhere in Scripture that a birthday was kept by a righteous man. For Herod was more unjust than that famous Pharaoh. For the latter killed a chief baker on his birthday feast. But the former killed John. (9.428)

This indicates that the early Christians did not celebrate birthdays during Origen’s time. If we find nowhere in Scripture that a birthday was kept by a righteous man, then why would we all of a sudden make a precedent for celebrating Christ’s birth? [Read more…]

Mars Hill Commands Us Not to Teach in Jesus’ Name

marshillRecently we went to Mars Hill Bible Church in Granville, Michigan near Grand Forks, where we were commanded not to teach in Jesus’ name. The video below shows some our interaction with the Leader AJ Sherrill and Mars Hill security.

What brings us to Mars Hill? In early September, my wife, five children and I embarked on a missionary journey across the United States of America. The primary objectives are to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and conduct video interviews for upcoming documentary films. Thus far we have preached at university campuses in Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Michigan.

robbell Now a converted shopping mall, Mars Hill was established in 1999 by the Emerging Church leader Rob Bell. But Rob Bell forsook his flock to pursue a career in Hollywood. From Rob Bell’s official site:

Rob Bell is The New York Times bestselling author of Love Wins, What We Talk About When We Talk about God, The Zimzum of Love and his most recent book How To Be Here. iTunes named his podcast, The RobCast, Best of 2015. He’s been profiled in The New Yorker, he’s toured with Oprah on her Life You Want Tour, and in 2011 Time Magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential People In The World. He has a regular show at Largo, the legendary music and comedy club in West Hollywood and is currently touring his How To Be Here Experience around the world.

As you are probably already aware, Rob Bell is also a leader in the Emerging Church movement which is founded upon a postmodern worldview. At the end of our meeting with the new Mars Hill Leader AJ Sherrill, I gave him a copy of my book Hath God Said? Emergent Church Theology  in which I demonstrate how postmodernism is incompatible with a biblical worldview of absolute truth and the authority of the Scriptures on various topics including feminism, homosexuality, hell, mysticism, eschatology, Jesus Christ and the Gospel.

A Christian brother named Jaime Rivera and I attended Mars Hill in order to pass out tracts, have conversations with those who were interested in the Gospel and leave them with the DVDs Church of Tares and Real Roots of the Emergent Church. The tract we were handing our is called “The Teachings of Jesus Christ” which is pure Scripture about the Gospel message and what Jesus taught.

We did not disrupt the service in any way, though I was considering doing so when the Mars Hill security apprehended us and brought us into the lobby. There were at least three security guards present. Jaime decided to capture a video on his phone of what took place. The video begins with a view of the sanctuary. Jaime proceeds into the lobby where I am having a discussion with one of the security guards. I was trying to get him to see the parallel of how Mars Hill resembled the Jewish Synagogues which withstood the preaching of the Gospel. I don’t claim to liken myself to an apostle in any way, but we were persecuted in the same way as the apostles were by the religious leaders simply for sharing the Gospel.

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