By Jonathan David Faulkner
I talked in a previous article concerning Joshua Feuerstien and his wife Jessica, the popular Facebook evangelist. Addressing his often over-the-top videos and subsequent, abusive, fundamentalism and inability to question their doctrines without being told to “Move along.” The purpose of this article is to discuss what we at GHFT find to be troubling theological assertions. I do want to make it clear that we are not out to get Joshua, these articles are not meant to be attacks against him, but rather to engage his theology in such a way that opens the door for discussion and ultimately for heart change in Joshua and his followers. It is not my desire to assert, nor would I ever, that Joshua himself is not a Christian. That is not my place to judge, God looks at the heart, I am not God and cannot judge as God does, perfectly.
However we do want to address his theology, because, as the title suggests, we find it in a lot of ways contrary to the beautiful truth of Scripture. Yes, if you listen to Josh you find him using Scriptures to back up his points about God and our country and to defend his radical views on everything from Guns to President Obama. Views that have caused him to release a video calling for Christians to attack abortionists and openly attack Starbucks for a perceived War on Christmas. Since these assertions were made in a public setting GHFT has chosen to address it in a public setting, citing Galatians 3 and Titus 2 as reasons for a public address of Feuerstien’s teachings.
The Gnostic Root:
It is important for us then to address what we find to be the root of Feuestien’s teachings, that is, an extreme form of Gnosticism that can so easily sneak into Protestant Evangelicalism. Feuestien seems to assert that the flesh is all evil, all the time, that one must run from the flesh and avoid all sins, the implication becoming that man, but living by the spirit can avoid all sins. Or sin no more.
The Dualism then is that Sin, which could easily be substituted for “Flesh” is bad and Spirit is good. This is Gnostic Dualsim applied to Christianity, Yes, GHFT acknowledges that sin is contrary to God’s plan for humanity, that we are to put off the things that are Earthly and put on the things that are from Christ. But like the Gnostics Joshua and Jessica preach a kind of Ascetic that seems to allow themselves to claim some sort of Earthly perfection. The reality is that we will not attain perfection, we all sin, and ranting against other peoples sins, like Obama’s, does nothing for your own spiritual walk.
The Small god.
It would seem then that the Feuestine’s god does not seem to be the bible at all, instead he is a very small, angry god, dependent on Starbucks cups and Republicans to achieve his plans and purposes. One could even make the assertion that the god of the Feuestine’s is American Christendom, and even then an scewed version based on Western Ultra-Fundamentalism. The idea that Christian = Republican, gun owner, church goer. GHFT has no problem being a Republican, Gun Owning church goer, but when that becomes your view of Christianity, as it seems it has for Joshua, then you have distorted the image of true religion. When you rant and rail against what you deem to be its “Destruction” one can assert it has potentially become a false idol, and if the viewpoint has not, perhaps your view of god has become such.
At GHFT we affirm the God of the bible, a God that gives grace to the humble, but is also all-powerful. We affirm the Trinity, that is, God is three in one and a Trinitarian Spirituality. Based on a Holistic study of scripture and years of Theological Training and Education in the reformed Tradition. We do not believe that one can or should limit Christianity to being the religion of the right or what have you. We believe that shows a worship of ideologies rather than the God of the universe who transcends our current western culture and desires that we be Salt and Light in that culture and context in which we daily live.
An Eisegesis Issue:
Eisegesis is when we read our own ideologies into scripture instead of allowing Scripture to inform our own ideologies, opinions, persuasions and convictions. An example of Eisegesis would be the misuse of passages such as Chronicles 7:14 to insist that God is going to restore America if we repent of our fleshly sinfulness. Ignoring the reference to the renewal of the Covenant between God and Israel. The Transcendent truth here is that God’s people should pray, but that does not mean God is going to restore America. There is a greater context in which a passage must be read and be considered. God’s words to Israel do not always apply to us today. Yes, prayer is important to a healthy spiritual life, but Feuerstien wants us to pray for his version of American Christianity to prevail, a type of Christianity I am increasingly wary of given the increasingly damaging effect people like Feuerstien are having on the secular view of Christians. God may let America fall by the wayside, but his believers, who are truly following after Him, they will persevere, they will be preserved.
Chaining the Flock
The result of all of this is a flock chained to western Ideologies and their own small view of the great and transcendent, Triune God of the universe. Creating what Dallas Willard, in his book “The Divine Conspiracy” a “Gospel of Sin Management.” Chaining people to life of constantly trying to make sure they do not sin, or sin less and less everyday that they might become perfect. Ignoring the freedom of a deep relationship with God the father as co-heirs with the son in the Joy of the spirit. To Josh we live primarily to escape evil and become good spirits. Saying nothing of glorifying Go or seeking to achieve the desire of God by preaching the decree of God until the whole world hears. If you subscribe to Feuestine theology you are chaining yourself to a very small, angry god that can do little unless you act. God can work without you, remember that, or as Casting Crowns points out “Sometimes the best thing for us to do (with the gospel) is just get out of the way, because we are slowing it down.” Feuerstien’s logic does more to hinder the Gospel then it does to advance it.
No Longer Christian:
This is why God’s Heart comes down on the teachings of Joshua Feuestien as “No longer Christian.” Meaning they no longer reflect the truth and righteousness of Scripture. Preferring a Pharisaic twisting and adding on of so many requirements that the believer can barely function. As Timothy Keller points out in his commentary on Galatians, “Any addition to the Gospel causes us to “Lose the Gospel.”
Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry.
Good theological response, Jonathan. An insightful analysis.
Thank you Steve.