For those unaware of the latest brouhaha in Evangelicalism, let me first lay out the facts. Steven Furtick, megachurch pastor at Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, is currently hosting a revival which is running from January 11-22 and is promoted as “a 12 night worship experience to set the stage for 2012.” The event is entitled “Code Orange” to indicate, according to Elevation Church’s website, “a heightened sense of urgency….something significant is about to happen.” The line-up of speakers for Code Orange includes Craig Groeschel, Jentezen Franklin, Matt Chandler, Christine Caine, Ed Young, Israel Houghton, Perry Noble, James MacDonald, T.D. Jakes, etc.
So Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Highland, Texas, and one of the invited speakers at Code Orange, stood up at Elevation Church and delivered what turned out to be a barn burner of a sermon. In his distinctive delivery style (that is to say, humble, loving, direct and at times laugh-out-loud funny), Chandler took aim at the kind of preaching that has been so aptly termed “Narcissistic Eisegeis,” and at which Steven Furtick, and so many others in the seeker sensitive movement, excel.
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4
Narcissistic Eisegesis (“Narcigesis”) = Forcing the Bible to mean something you already want it to mean by superimposing yourself into the meaning of the passage, rather than interpreting Scripture for what it means about God, and letting the Scripture simply speak for itself. Conversely, seeking to understand Scripture for what it reveals about God is known as Exegesis, and is also sometimes referred to as the “Literal” or “Grammatical-Historical” approach to interpreting Scripture.Example: The Narcissitic Eisegesis version of David and Goliath would be about you fighting your personal “giants” (i.e., problems, difficulties, setbacks, etc.). The Exegetical approach to interpreting David and Goliath would reveal, instead, an historical account of David’s faith and God supernaturally intervening in an impossible situation for his own glory.
Matt Chandler, Pastor of The Village Church
Now, back to Elevation Church, Code Orange, and Matt Chandler’s sermon. First of all, before the letters start, I am aware that Matt Chandler is affiliated with Acts 29, has contemplative authors on his site and has claimed audible words from God. I’m not putting a stamp of approval on any of that by posting Chandler’s sermon. The church is in a big muddle today, and I truly do think that we’re in the end times deception, such that even the elect might be deceived. But here’s a thought: maybe part of that playing itself out is that some will appear to be slipping, but when push comes to shove, will stand up and preach Jesus Christ and him crucified.
The desire, of course, is for the ones who appear to be slipping to demonstrate that their feet are firmly planted on the Rock of our Salvation – Christ – and it appears to me that Matt Chandler is demonstrating just that. Because really, for Chandler to go to Elevation Church and preach as he did? To stand up before thousands and thousands of people, knowing that his message would not be well received? That could not have been easy, and it demonstrates a fear of God, rather than a fear of man. So the sermon rocked, Christ was exalted, and man was humbled. I can only speak for myself, but I personally need sermons that pierce me and break me and make me lie down on the floor, repenting and crying, and also remind me of the only hope that I have, which is not that I can be great and conquer problems but that God is great and has made a way for wretched sinners (like me) to be reconciled to himself.
But now for the controversial part. Chandler’s sermon was immediately pulled from the Code Orange rebroadcasts. This was pointed out by several Christian writers, including Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for Faith and Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries. Then, the sermon reappeared in subsequent rebroadcasts with a cryptic message from Elevation’s graphic designer about a decision being made to “reformat the content” for the purpose of focusing “the broadcast on Jesus.”
The original appears complete with a comments section for you to weigh in on the discussion right here.