Book Review: Sun Stand Still
Let me start by saying, I’ve never been a bandwagon guy. Growing up my mom would ask me the cliche question of, “if all your friends jumped off of a bridge, would you follow?” Not likely, but I would investigate. I cannot escape the thought: what has possessed my friends to the point that they are jumping off of a bridge? Will I do it? No, but I have to know why; if the “why” is a logical, sensible rationale, then maybe. In every situation where I sense the masses gravitating, I approach slowly, cautiously, and objectively to determine what it is that they are drifting toward. Steven Furtick, lead Pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, is a rock star. The back cover of his book, Sun Stand Still,is endorsed by what feels like every major contemporary Protestant figure in the world. This guy has more hype than Carmen. Not only does Steven have his own Wikipedia page, Outreach Magazine has named Elevation Church one of the 100 fastest growing churches in the country for the last four years (over 8,000 members).
For the sake of this analogy, imagine Sun Stand Still as the proverbial bridge, and I’m watching what seems to be an endless pool of people jumping right off of it. Naturally, my presupposition is to assume the masses are wrong. So I approached this title slowly, cautiously, and objectively to determine what it is that these people are drifting towards.
Furtick seems to be gifted in helping people formulate an audacious vision to ask God for the impossible. His self professed tag line is, “If you're not DARING TO BELIEVE GOD for the impossible, you may be SLEEPING THROUGH some of the BEST PARTS of your Christian Life.” (capitalization his) This motif not only has been done before, but reaps a hefty receptive response from the rank and file of the prosperity movement; those who desire their American Dream of health and wealth to mesh seamlessly with their faith: see The Prayer of Jebez, Your Best Life Now. Through the bulk of this work the author continued to harp on the omnipotence of God. If given the liberty a quick outline of the vast majority of this work: God can, God did, and God will, if you believe.
I will commend Steven because unlike most authors who write in the inspirational, faith feel good genre, he does, in approximately 10 pages of a 200+ page book, address the issue of what if God doesn’t. What if God doesn’t heal you? What if you don't get that pay raise? Is God any less God? This is a crucial matter when delving into the topic of God’s omnipotence. It is of the upmost importance when beginning to peer into the endless sea of God’s attributes that one must not over emphasize any of His attributes over another, because they will find themselves worshiping an idol. They will be giving homage to a fanciful notion of their mind, who lives to meet their needs. This idol will never allow them, or anyone they love to suffer because that would be unjust. See, what I mean?
Furtick starts chapter 14 sharing that he had an epiphany a few years back where he realized that he, “prayed some pretty dumb prayers.” In his list of “dumb prayers”, he says,
“I used to always prequalify my big prayers with this introduction: God, if it be thy will... What I was really praying was, God, I’m asking you to do this, but I’m not really expecting that you will. So, just in case you don’t , let me acknowledge up front that you might not.” (emphasis his, Furtick, 150)
If it is a “dumb prayer”, why did Jesus pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, not my will, but yours be done? Surely, Jesus was not giving God an opt-out card as Furtick seems to suggest; Jesus was not appealing to God’s omnipotence, but His sovereignty. Praying, if it be thy will, is you saying to God, I know that if You don’t do what I asked, I will be ok. I will be ok because that is Your will for me, and Your purpose in allowing me to suffer through trials, or watching a loved one become ill, or not giving me the job I’ve dreamed of, has a purpose, and Your ways are higher than our ways.
Steven Furtick has witnessed an absurd burst of populace growth in his church over the last four years. It would be easy for him to explain such growth by stating that Elevation Church, unlike other churches, is doing things correctly. It would be even easier to pride himself on oratory excellence. But the main thing that set Steven apart for me, the redeeming factor in my mind, is that he was quick to give all the glory to God with no tagline extensions.
That being said, Steven doesn't seem to be saying anything outside of what a biblically sound youth pastor might share on a Wednesday night with his acne suffering, text messaging students. Why then are people reading this book by the droves? Probably because, Steven Furtick has witnessed an absurd burst of populace growth in his church over the last four years.
If anyone is interested in purchasing this title you may do so by clicking this link Sun Stand Still.