Mega Fridays: Furtick Says Pastors “Rip Off” T.D. Jakes

Today marks the launch of Mega Fridays, a new, weekly post at From Law to Grace.  Every Friday, I’ll share the latest jaw-dropping, perplexing, “you just can’t make this stuff up” gems from some of America’s most well-known celebrity megachurch pastors, many of whom are setting the trends (not all good)  that many younger pastors will follow.   Every now and then, I’ll pass along a wise word or a particularly encouraging message from some of Evangelicalism’s (and Southern Baptists’) most well-respected non-celebrity megachurch pastors.  With limited comment from yours truly, I’ll ask my readers to ponder and answer a few relevant questions related to the post.  Some Mega Friday stories will be infuriating while others will be inspirational. Some posts will make you scratch your head and still others would be funny if they were not so sad.

The first Mega Friday story comes to us courtesy of the recent Code Orange Revival at Elevation Church.  Steven Furtick, Elevation’s pastor, could be considered an influential voice among many younger pastors, both inside and outside the SBC. I don’t believe in “guilt by association,” but I do believe who we choose to elevate as role models in our own ministries — particularly the preaching ministry — says much about our own wisdom and discernment as men (and women) called to proclaim the Word of God in every generation.

One of the speakers at  the Code Orange Revival was none other than T.D. Jakes. I won’t rehash the arguments surrounding the wisdom of inviting Jakes to take part in Elephant Room 2. Although I have my own thoughts on the matter, I would encourage you to read Dwight McKissic’s excellent post-Elephant Room 2 analysis (including links to those who still opposed Jakes’ participation). It’s clear that Bishop Jakes has had an enormous influence on Steven Furtick and his own ministry at Elevation Church.  Furtick, who called T.D. Jakes “the greatest preacher of our time,” admitted that not only had he “ripped off” Bishop Jakes’ sermons, but that “every preacher who has anything to say rips off Bishop T.D. Jakes”

I can’t speak for any other pastor, but it has never, ever crossed my mind to borrow or “rip off” anything of T.D. Jakes.  I don’t believe I have even quoted Jakes in any form or fashion and I don’t have any plans to do so anytime soon. Of course, I have just admitted that this fact makes me a preacher who has nothing to say. That’s okay. Nothing I say matters anyway. I just hope that God, through His Word, has something to say to His people.

So, take a look at Pastor Furtick’s introduction of Bishop T.D. Jakes and ask yourself:

  1. Do you agree with Pastor Furtick that every preacher who has anything to say rips off Bishop T.D. Jakes?
  2. Do you agree that T.D. Jakes is the greatest preacher of our time?
  3. Do our role models in ministry — especially the pastors who we choose to elevate — reveal anything about our own wisdom and discernment?

A generation of Southern Baptist and Evangelical pastors is being influenced by other pastors, many of whom are serving in large churches with a wide reach (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But, is John Piper the same as T.D. Jakes the same as Matt Chandler the same as Steven Furtick? I know how I would answer that question.  How about you?

14 comments for “Mega Fridays: Furtick Says Pastors “Rip Off” T.D. Jakes

  1. February 24, 2012 at 7:20 AM

    ”every preacher who has anything to say rips off Bishop T.D. Jakes”

    My first thought was that it was typical introduction hyperbole, but he seems quite sincere in saying it.

    This is further example of contemporary evangelicalism’s affinity for style over substance.

    If this quote is true, count me as one who has nothing to say . . . and as one who will continue to have nothing to say.

    • February 24, 2012 at 8:05 AM

      Cameron,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Like you, my first thought is that Furtick has to be employing just a touch of hyperbole in his introduction, but it is clear that T.D. Jakes has had a major influence in his life, particularly his preaching ministry. That, in and of itself, is problematic for many reasons, some of which Milton articulated very well. Modern evangelicalism and modern Baptist life are rife with examples like this, where style is preferred over real substance. If I’m viewed by some as having “nothing to say” because I don’t “rip off” Jakes, I will have no trouble sleeping at night 🙂 You have a nice blog, by the way. The Weekends are for Worship posts are neat. Hope things are going well for you in Cumberland. I was in Grundy — in the far SW corner of Virginia — for 5 1/2 years. We loved Virginia and the people. God bless,

      Howell

  2. Milton Robins
    February 24, 2012 at 7:33 AM

    Oh, I’m going to like mega Friday’s!

    1. Do you agree with Pastor Furtick that every preacher who has anything to say rips off Bishop T.D. Jakes?

    Absolutely not! And I would certainly hope that the preachers in question are not! Jakes, as you know, still employs modalistic language when describing the Trinity, and that–coupled with his prosperity message–is, in the words of Hanegraaff, “plunging Christianity into a crisis.”

    Unfortunately, we’re living in a very anti-theology environment today. But doctrine matters! Theology matters! Biblical theology is right thinking about God. And what we think or believe about God will affect how we live.

    2. Do you agree that T.D. Jakes is the greatest preacher of our time?

    Absolutely not! First of all, the prosperity message is not the Gospel. The Gospel in the NT has some very specific content, and the atonement of Jesus Christ, including its implications for the believer, is conspicuously missing from the prosperity version! Also, if one holds a modalistic view of the Trinity that has severe implications for one’s understanding of the Gospel, because each person of the Trinity is intimately involved in the salvation of an individual. The Father, in His sovereignty, elects. Before the foundation of the Earth, he chose us. The Son, through His sinless life and perfect sacrifice, secured what the Father purposed. Finally, the Holy Spirit, appropriates the truth of what the Son accomplished and the Father purposed to our hearts.

    Besides, the honor of “greatest preacher of all time,” I would argue, is probably–a) Not the pastor of a contemporary megachurch or b) living right now! My vote for favorite pastor is going to have to go to none other than Charles Spurgeon!

    Finally, a sufficient argument could be made that a “preacher” who doesn’t preach the Gospel is not really much of a preacher at all.

    3. Do our role models in ministry — especially the pastors who we choose to elevate – reveal anything about our own wisdom and discernment?

    Absolutely!!! (Notice the word ‘not’ is missing) Martyrs shed their blood for doctrines like the Trinity, and to endorse a gentlemen who articulates a modalistic view of the Trinity and who preaches a heretical version of the Gospel, shows an alarming lack of wisdom and discernment. Preachers are responsible for warning the sheep of wolves that may be in the sheep pen! It is absolutely inconceivable that any minister of the Gospel would endorse a Word Faith teacher. The movement is so antithetical to the Gospel… More could certainly be said, but suffice it to say, Mr. Furtick does not need to be endorsing Mr. Jakes.

    • February 24, 2012 at 8:11 AM

      Milton,

      Tell me what you really think — don’t hold back 😉 I think you hit the nail on the head with your analysis. Doctrine and theology should matter, but, as Nephos pointed out, style seems to be winning out over substance within modern Christianity, even in “conservative” Evangelical and/or Southern Baptist churches. Spurgeon, who I would consider one of (if not the best) preachers in the last 200 years, could preach to 10,000 people (a megachurch before there was such a thing) and still be faithful to the Word. In our celebrity-driven culture, which has impacted the church, we are seeing more and moer of this blurring of lines and embracing of preachers that appear to preach a less than Biblical Gospel (i.e., Word Faith/Prosperity). Such will continue. On a side note, glad you and Max worked out your disagreement. I had every confidence that you would 🙂 And yes, I think you will like Mega Fridays! Hope you have a great day and God bless,

      Howell

      • Milton Robins
        February 24, 2012 at 1:36 PM

        Max was extremely gracious and I’m grateful that we came to an understanding of each other. Thanks pastor

  3. February 24, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    Howell,
    This looks like an interesting series. I’m guessing pastorfashion.com will make an appearance in the weeks ahead.

    Though I’m still in my 20’s, seeing guys like Furtick make me grateful that my ministry track didn’t explode into megachurch stardom. I would be a mess and would probably have ruined a bunch of people’s lives in the process. From all that I’ve seen from the few times I’ve watched Jakes or Osteen on TBN, I would say it is them ripping off the same old illustrations and witticisms and jokes that all of us have heard in sermons from other pastors.

    • February 24, 2012 at 9:07 AM

      Josh,

      Thanks for taking the time to read and to share you thoughts. If I had to guess, I would say that we will be dialoguing a lot today over on Voices. We may not see eye to eye over there, but we can agree on the “megachurch stardom” sydrome which seems to negatively impact many ministries. Ed Young, Jr. was just too easy of a target. I believe that the pastorfasion.com website is a serious site. My student pastor, who, like you, is in his 20s, says that the thinks it’s a parody site. I’m not sure that he can bring himself to think that Ed Young, Jr. would go this far. I think it is entirely in keeping with his personality and ministry style. But, to err on the side of caution and not have a “gotta” moment, I am waiting to see what other videos pop up on pastorfashion.com. If it’s real, you just can’t make up stuff like this. Do you think that pastorfashion. com is a joke or for real? Would love to hear your thoughts on that. Have a great day and God bless,

      Howell

  4. Judith Pope
    February 24, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    Very Interesting comments. I agree with you.

  5. February 24, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    I don’t know whether it’s sincere or not. I was having an intense internal debate with myself about that one the other day. I do know that it takes a lot of work to get a website up and running, and Young could do a parody video on his other sites if that’s all it was. Guessing from how the guy dresses and how little he ever holds back (reading a recent interview where he was discussing how many days he and his wife were successful on their 7 day challenge), I lean towards serious…

    And know that even if we get to disagree a little on Voices, I appreciate the work you’re doing in New Mexico. I went on a youth mission trip to Gallup in 8th grade which was one of the more influential spiritual events of my teens and in my ending up in ministry. I really do hope that the changes in the SBC result in more resources eventually getting to our more unreached areas and states, and I’ll definitely be a voice with you if in a few years that hasn’t happened.

    • February 24, 2012 at 12:22 PM

      Josh,

      Thanks for the reply. I tend to agree with you that, based on Young’s very candid style (I’ve tried not to follow-up on the bed-in — it’s just to creepy), the pastorfashion site is meant to be serious. Of course, it is ridulous on its face, but I’m not sure that Young and his followers would even realize that.

      I just got in from golf, but haven’t ventured back over to Voices. I do think that most of the disagreements among folks on Voices are over issues that are not, in the whole scheme of things, life or death matters. We can all get passionate about ministry and missions and how we implement the vision for the future of the SBC/GCB, but, at the end of the day it’s about making disciples in NM, NY, and throughout the world. Glad that you had a meaningful and memorable experience in NM. We would love to have you come back on another mission trip and we would love to hear how we can partner with you in NYC (even beyond CP). NYC is one of my favorite places to visit. Thanks for the dialogue. God bless,

      Howell

  6. Lydia
    February 24, 2012 at 10:55 PM

    Many congregations, like Furtick, are made up of 20somethings who grew up on reality tv, video games, etc. Most everything is hyperbole but real to them. Cult of personality has reached into homes with realitytv and everyone has their favorite guru. Mega churches are built on cult of personality. “Celebrity” is very different from the type of fame that comes from accomplishment or even a carrier of knowledge. “Celebrity” is Paris Hilton and the Kardashians. Cult of personality is Stalin. Cult of personality is “Charismatic authority”. Combine the two and what do you get?

    • February 24, 2012 at 11:05 PM

      “Combine the two and what do you get”

      Lydia,

      Very astute observation. I think we get a lot of what we are seeing in some of the mega churches. I’m not sure that pastors should be seen as some kind of “rock stars.” rock stars entertain — pastors are supposed to deliver God’s Word. Seems like there’s some ear tickling going on. Thanks for the insights. God bless,

      Howell

  7. Lydia
    February 25, 2012 at 7:47 AM

    Howell, I have studied the phenom of mega for many years now since I left that world. I was very involved with the whole movement and saw the problems up close and personal. They have climaxed in their original form from the incredible growth of the 80-90’s. That is why they started doing sat campi, usually in certain demographic areas. And if you notice, most of the sat campi simply consist of another location to hear the main pastor by sat feed. (People stopped driving to the main campus)

    One of the biggest problems is that it becomes a huge “system” and the system becomes too big to be allowed to fail. Every effort is made to grow and maintain the “system”. Lots of bad stuff becomes institutionalized. It naturally becomes a focus of keeping a certain image. The “image” becomes a demanding tyrant.

    Just as one example. I know the electric bill of one mega is about 25-30,000 per month. Simply because of size and amount of buildings on the campus. That is ONE budget item to maintain the system. Think of the implications when you project that out to other budget items and the needs to feed such a beast. In one mega, we knew that only 3% of members tithed regularly. The main source of money was the offering taken each week. That means you have to have full seats each time you meet. And that means you have to have plenty of programs to entice people to come.

    When you need 2 mill a month to simply maintain a church, something is very wrong. You cannot help but see people as dollar signs.

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