By Jonathan David Faulkner
The notification pops up if you follow their page; “EMERGENCY ALERT; TUNE IN NOW to Facebook Church.” You click on it, church sounds good right? It brings up a live video stream where you listen to the man paint your sin as a disgrace before God, but he never makes a distinction between sin and you. He rails on about Abortion and about the evils of drinking and doing drugs and all kinds of other things, some of which are not even sins. If you are not a Christian you have just been told God hates you but wants you to repent, if you are a believer you have just been told that God hates you every time you sin, “But don’t worry, there is forgiveness.” If you follow the pages of this man and his wife you see plenty of posts that seem harmless at first, but upon further inspection can be extremely dangerous to the reader if exposed for long periods of time.
If you have attended “Facebook Church” and have liked this man’s page you have found Joshua Feurstein and his wife Jessica. A nationally known evangelist and former pastor who has recently taken social media by storm posting about everything from abortion to why your family needs to all shoot guns. In a video recently last year Feurstein called for Christians to “Get back at abortionist” because it was time to “Make them feel the pain that they were causing those babies.” The video that may have been behind the Planned Parenthood Shooting late last year. He is best known for the “Merry Christmas Starbucks” controversy where he posted a video claiming that Starbucks was trying to take Christ out of Christmas by taking the word Christmas off their cups. His open verbal attacks on Starbucks and on President Obama have earned him fame and popularity.
So why would we, at God’s Heart, which is generally a Conservative Evangelical organization come out against someone who seems to represent the conservative argument? The reason; we at God’s Heart do not see these as truly biblical values, nor as a biblical method for the advance of the Gospel in today’s Society. We do not believe that hate speech towards unbelievers or being intentional abusive to those who think differently than us is going to do anything to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that Feurstein’s videos and tirades fall into the category of “Abusive.”
See, what Feurstein and his wife Jessica teach a radical form of Fundamentalism, dangerous considering fundamentalism is already radical, but unlike than the isolationist thinking of the general Fundamentalist teachings like John MacCarther and James Dobson, who have both called for boycotts of companies for the same reason Joshua started #MerryChristmasStarbucks. Feurstein has actually called for acts of violence against abortionist and even released a tirade at Obama on CNN that caused CNN to pull to the plug on his audio. This is the Westboro Baptist type of Fundamentalism that says that if someone disagrees with you, you should strike them down.
God’s Heart decided to participate in one of the discussions carried out under one of Jessica’s post. The immediate reaction from their followers and Jessica herself was to “Move along if you don’t agree.” Indicating that dissent to their strongly held beliefs is not an acceptable practice. Wellspring Resource and Retreat Center recognizes this as a mind control Technique related to what to what Steve Martin Calls “The Sacred Science” in his book “The Heresy of Mind Control.” Where questioning the teacher is frowned upon. When the teacher strips your ability to question a teacher, the teacher has exhorted too much authority over you. We were not the only ones told to move along for offering dissenting viewpoints, there were at least two others not related to GHFT.
If you really begin to listen to Joshua and analyze what he is saying you become aware of other issues. While they stick to salvation by grace alone, a new believer gets the impression that he needs to make sure he does not sin at all. The believer who does sin must confess that sin out loud and ask Jesus to take that sin away. While confession of sin is a good and accepted practice, we are not called to publically shame ourselves and then go on as though we are perfect because of our forgiveness. All sin is shameful and separates us from Christ and all sin and are separated from Christ. The beauty of the Gospel is that we have direct access to the throne of GOD and are free from shame and guilt. Confession, between us and God, is healthy, but sitting in shame and crying out over our sins day and night and not allowing ourselves grace for a time is unhealthy and contrary to scripture. Are there times when confession of sin between man and man is a good thing? Yes, there are times it is a very good thing, but in moderation and with the understanding that the confessed sin is forgiven and you have been restored to God and continue to be Justified despite your sin. Confession does not mean you are made perfect and no longer sin, as the Feurstein’s would seem to believe, but that you have acknowledged breaking the covenant with God and know that you have been restored to Him.
Feurstein’s theology, that often links Christianity and being a Republican, is nothing new, Fundamentalism and its legalistic assertions made by its subscribers are the modern day Pharisee’s. Finding its roots in the Appalachian states and then later becoming highly influential in the Midwest and the bible belt where forms of it are still found today. Adding to the Word of God by demanding an unattainable style of living, demanding of you; purity and denying you grace when you fail. Scriptures are pulled out of context and twisted to fit a radicalized viewpoint and any dissenter is immediately cut off and damned to Hell, including Christians like us who chose a more peaceful and relational form of evangelism. Giving Calvinists and Conservative Evangelicals a bad name and reformed theologians a headache since it reared its ugly head.
So while we warn you to stay away from Feurstein and his wife’s teachings, we would like to encourage you to pray for them for they are still your siblings in Christ. For a radical softening of the heart that can only come from Jesus Christ so that the passion they put into tearing others down might be put into building up the body of Christ. This is not a call for Joshua’s demise, instead it is a call to pray for him and treat him as a brother in Christ. Because whether we agree with someone or not, we still have a responsibility to love and pray for them so that they may know the great and many blessings that come with having a deep and healthy relationship with God.
Jonathan Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a pastor and musician.