"Seven-Mile Miracle", by Steven Furtick (book review)

I'll be honest right at the outset: I requested this book for review, not because I especially like how Steven Furtick teaches (extremely charismatic, and light on the gospel of Jesus Christ) or writes, but because I wanted to read what he is presently up to; to read what is attracting people to Elevation Church (besides the quality of music they produce).  I read and reviewed another of his books ("Sun Stand Still") in the past, and I wasn't overly impressed.  So I fully expected this one to be very much the same.

If you've never read or listened to Steven Furtick, take a moment and watch any number of his videos. You'll learn that he is a gifted and passionate speaker who can easily captivate audiences.  Sadly, the majority of what he teaches (that I've ever read or watched) glazes over the gospel of Jesus Christ, misses sin, repentance, God's holiness and wrath, our need for a Savior, etc.  I tell you this to give you a little background before providing my review.

ENDORSEMENTS:  One can usually get a good idea about a particular title by looking at who endorses it.  I certainly would have passed right over "Seven-Mile Miracle", simply due to who endorses it.  The names include Lysa TerKeurst (Proverbs 31 Ministries), Judah Smith (The City Church, Seattle), Christine Caine, Brian Houston (Hillsong), Craig Groeschel (LifeChurch.TV), Andy Stanley (North Point Church), and T.D. Jakes (The Potter's House).  By the way, the endorsements page read at the top, "Praise for Other Titles by Steven Furtick" (emphasis mine). 
Would this suggest those whose names are listed didn't even read this book, but simply endorsed it because they are Furtick's friends?  I digress.

PREMISE: The title, "Seven-Mile Miracle", is a combination of two portions of scripture.  First, the road to Emmaus was approximately 7 miles long, and Jesus walked with two disciples on that road, speaking with them after his resurrection.  Second, there were 7 "last words" of Jesus on the cross.  Each mile (aka, chapter) of the "journey" is each successive utterance from the cross.

GOSPEL: I'll be honest, this book was chock-full of gospel proclamation - sin, repentance, holiness, etc.  It's there.  Readers cannot escape being confronted by the gospel of Jesus Christ in this book.  I can even say, I've scoured the book looking to find who wrote it for Mr. Furtick, because it simply sounds so unlike anything else I've seen from him. I will be the first to admit that I'd like to be wrong about Furtick.  I hope there is a change in what he speaks, that he would eschew the fluff message of hype that is so popular today, and that the Holy Spirit would inspire him to carefully teach the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Time will tell.

CHAPTER 7: In the chapter entitled, "Into the Presence of God", I think Furtick would do well to be more careful about a particular application.  Furtick builds upon T.D. Jakes's prior teachings regarding being "Taken, Blessed, Broken, and Given" (beginning on p.157).  In it, he structures a main point around the events of Jesus serving the Passover meal to his disciples, where he "Took bread", "Gave thanks", "Broke it", an "Began to give it to them".  Furtick and Jakes suggest this is a pattern seen in scripture. And since it's a pattern, it must also apply to us.

They suggest that as Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus were each taken from a particular circumstance, blessed, broken by God, and then given to the people, our lives follow the same pattern.  While I think I understand the point attempted to be made, I think it is a potentially misleading or dangerous one.  Suggesting such a pattern is applicable to us may actually minimize the Messiah's brokenness in his crucifixion, because it fails to take into account that Jesus was fully crushed under the weight of the Father's wrath poured out on him for sin.  At the same time, such a pattern suggestion tempts us to elevate our "brokenness" as being on par with that of the Messiah's.

RECOMMENDATION: I think "Seven-Mile Miracle was decent. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.  It's not very deep, but it my be appreciated by those who are new to faith in Jesus Christ.  I still won't follow him or purchase his materials, but my rating of this book stands alone on its own merits.  I'm simply trying to give you an honest review.

DISCLAIMER: I received this book free of charge from Multnomah Publishers (Blogging for Books) in exchange for my unbiased review of it.  All opinions are mine, and I was not forced to provide a positive review of it.

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