Elevation Church’s revival is seeing some theological controversy. An apologist and blogger is claiming that Matt Chandler’s sermon was censored during a rebroadcast.
Chandler, a Reformed evangelical pastor, spoke as a guest speaker at Elevation last Friday, the third night of the Code Orange Revival. But Chris Rosebrough, blogger and host of Fighting for the Faith, told The Christian Post that Chandler’s sermon was never rebroadcast afterwards like the other speakers’ talks were.
Elevation Church is in the midst of its 12-night revival in Charlotte, N.C. Each night, the worship time and speakers' sermons are rebroadcast on the Elevation Network at 10:12 p.m. and 3:12 a.m. EST.
Rosebrough told The Christian Post that when he went back to watch Chandler’s sermon at both of the appointed times they never showed up. Elevation rebroadcast the worship time leading up to Chandler’s talk, but “right when it got to the time for the sermon it was cut out.” They put a prayer update in its place.
Elevation’s spokesperson, Tonia Bendickson, told CP, “We decided to do prayer time live during the first rebroadcast time. We were getting so many requests for prayer.”
The Motion Graphic Designer for Elevation Church, Geoff Schultz, also explained on his Facebook wall that Chandler's sermon was edited out of the revival's rebroadcasts because "the team decided to focus the rebroadcast on Jesus - so we reformatted the content a bit - We are trying to stay in the flow of what the Spirit is leading us to do."
Elevation’s pastor, Steven Furtick, sent out a tweet at 9:18 a.m. the next day, stating: “I apologize for the inconvenience of last night's #CodeOrangeRevival programming change-Matt Chandler's msg will reair today@10:12am&12:12pm.”
Bendickson noted that “Pastor Chandler’s message did rebroadcast, just not the first time, and it will be available for podcast after the revival with all the other messages.”
Rosebrough isn’t buying it. He said on his blog: “Fact is, Furtick's ‘explanation’ is a flimsy effort at spin/damage control and an admission that a deliberate decision was made to remove Chandler's sermon from the first two rebroadcasts.”
He told CP that he broke the story of the "censorship" Saturday morning and shortly after, Elevation “reversed their decision” and the sermon was rebroadcast at 12:12 p.m. on Saturday.
Rosebrough thinks part of the reason for the alleged censorship stems from Furtick and Chandler’s theological differences. During his talk, Chandler “came out both guns blazing and blew the head off Steven Furtick’s favorite Bible technique of allegorizing a text. He (Chandler) said the Bible is not about you.”
At the beginning of his talk at the revival, Chandler, who leads The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, told crowds, “We’ve got to get past Elevation and Pastor Furtick. We’ve got to get underneath all that so we can gaze upon what is actually going on and what God is about.”
In Rosebrough’s view, the talk was a “boxing match theologically; if you watched Furtick’s body language he was pissed. He wasn’t clapping, he was shaking his head.”
Chandler, who was one of 11 “world-class” speakers invited to the 12-night revival, preached about the law and about sinfulness, which Rosebrough said is “considered negative preaching” in Furtick’s book. Furtick has told his congregation that he doesn’t like negative preaching.
Chandler’s talk centered around the law and Gospel, telling those in the audience that “the law can’t save you, its purpose is to show you your sin.” The Texas pastor told the crowd the only solution against sin is “Jesus Christ and Him crucified,” Rosebrough recalled.
Chandler and Furtick have debated theological issues before. They participated in the Elephant Room Conference last year where Chandler told the young Elevation pastor that the Reformed community is not a big fan of him.
He pointed to a video he came across where Furtick rebuked his church for wanting depth. “You’re in front of your congregation saying you guys want to talk about reform? You guys want to talk about this doctrine? … Well I want you to know we baptized 1,000 people.”
Chandler said he was heartbroken because through that talk Furtick literally “said evangelism and doctrine are exclusive.”
The Elevation pastor clarified that he was just being hyperbolic and that what he was trying to say was that he was tired of people saying “give me abstract theoretical truths” as long as they don’t have to do anything about it. He said he exaggerated his point to tell those people to “get out of here (Elevation) if that’s what you want.”
The Village Church declined to comment on the rebroadcasting issue.