David Sorrell continues...
Chapter 9: The Simplest Systematic Theology Ever
Welcome back to the review of Sun Stand Still. This time we’ll be looking at Furtick’s take on Systematic Theology, which should be a good thing, except it serves to give us a better look at why he says what he does about the will of God.
He starts out by rightly admiring The Knowledge of the Holy by Tozer, which is a pretty good little book, but it should have informed him a little more about the will of God. He’s right by hammering home time and again that who God really is matters a great deal for how we approach him. Unfortunately, this begs a few really big questions regarding God’s will and the Sun Stand Still approach to prayer, but the particulars of that will be reserved for a more appropriate chapter.
One thing I would like to point out about his discussion of his treatment of “God is good” (he kind of creates a theology out of the line “God is great, God is good” prayer for simplicity’s sake) is that there is an equivocation on the term ‘good.’
God is not good in the same sense that we are good; when theologians refer to the goodness of God they mean that God is perfect and lacks nothing in nature; the kind of goodness that Furtick speaks of is God’s omnibenevolence. But if you’re going to speak of God’s goodness toward his people, there is simply more to it than His being good.
Furtick’s gift as an entertaining storyteller really shines through in this chapter in the story he tells of being confronted by a bully in school and rescued by a teacher whom the bully feared. Yet the question ultimately remains—which he does try to address later in the book and elsewhere—of what it means when SSS prayers don’t get answered.
Chapter 10: Hear. Speak. Do.
“[…]in the pages of the Scriptures, as God’s promises become personal to you, your faith potential is ignited.”
In what sense to the promises of God become personal to us? How do we know which ones are meant for us and which were meant for those to whom the texts were originally written—and is it fair to appropriate those promises in things like Sun Stand Still? Also, Furtick’s latent charismatic influences tend to show up in this chapter in his talk of activating/igniting faith. Naturally I recommend Tekton’s article on Faith as a better understanding.
“If your faith isn’t rooted in God’s promises, it’s not scriptural faith. It’s just wishful thinking.” As written, that’s true and commendable. But God’s promises to Joshua aren’t applicable to us.
It’s clear through the book that Furtick lacks an understanding of how God uses people and nations to accomplish His will. Just because God used someone in the Bible, it doesn’t mean that there’s a principle to be learned that can be applied to our own lives. Again, this is just another product of the brand of Christianity Furtick is from.
Furtick lists twelve Audacious Faith Confessions to bolster our faith. Let’s take a look:
1. I am fully forgiven and free from all shame and condemnation. (Romans 8:1-2, Ephesians 1:7-8, 1 John 1:9)
This is one of the few times he actually gets to the core of the gospel—that we are far from God because of sin.
The rest of them with few exceptions are just Joel Osteen, word-of-faith-esque soundbytes that by themselves are just spiritual fluff (even if they are supported with Scripture). A few stand out:
“I am increasing in influence and favor for the kingdom of God.”
What? He references Genesis 45 (Joseph), 1 Samuel 2:26 (Samuel), and Acts 2:37-47 (the rise of the early church at Pentecost).
Is this a legitimate treatment of the rise of the aforementioned people? No. There’s no guarantee that influence and favor follow from believing in God; in fact the exact opposite is the one thing guaranteed by Scripture. But more importantly, why should we desire influence and favor? I’m looking at you, Prayer of Jabez.
Since the theme of the chapter is hearing the word, preaching, and ‘activating faith,’ he quotes Matthew 14 and Peter walking on the water. Furtick holds Peter up as a great example of someone who heard Jesus call, speaks of a bold claim about his faith, and then activates his faith by getting out of the boat and walking on the water.
Except Furtick ends the story there. Which means it’s out of context: because Peter promptly loses that faith. In one of the best sermons I’ve ever heard on this passage, Peter, whose name meant rock, sank like one. That this follows the swagger is no accident and not to be left out. It’s about Jesus, not Peter—because Jesus rescues Peter and lugs him back into the boat. In terms of activating faith, Peter’s example seriously backfires.