Elevation Worship: Manslaughter or Murder

Do you know the difference between first degree murder and second degree murder? Premediation. In other words, it’s a more serious crime to plan to kill someone and carry through with that plan than to deliberately kill someone in the heat of the moment. Do you know the difference between murder and manslaughter? Intent. It’s a more serious crime to deliberately kill someone in the heat of the moment than it is to accidentally kill someone in the same situation. In any case, killing someone is bad. Nevertheless, our legal system makes distinction between murder and manslaughter. One is worse than the other. This distinction is actually based in the general equity of the Old Testament Law of Moses. What in the world does this have to do with Elevation Worship? Well, the music minister at your church will probably never kill anyone but he probably will choose and has chosen to make Elevation Worship songs (or Bethel, Hillsong, Passion, etc…) a part of your church’s worship service. It is here that we must ask that music minister about his intent. “Why, music minister, do you choose to include Elevation Worship song a part of the worship service?”


His answer matters. Your music minister doesn’t choose songs for the Sunday Service by accident. He doesn’t close his eyes and put his finger on a random song from a hymn book. Every song is deliberately chosen according to the intent of the that music minister. So what is that intent?

The only proper answer to “Why did you pick that song?” is something along the lines of “to glorify God, teach the congregation about His word and nature, and bring the congregation together in orderly, reverant, corporate worship.” There’s no verse in the Bible that says that verbatim, of course. As is the case with other doctrines, we have have to intuit a theology of worship from God’s word. Answers that we would not intuit from scripture include:

“Because it’s a catchy song”

“Because people recognize it from Christian radio”

“To attract people to church who like that kind of music”

“To keep people in church who like that kind of music”

“To entertain”

These answers would be the answers of Elevation Church itself. Elevation pastor Steven Furtick is one of the most nefarious false teachers of our time. He and his false church are not out to glorify God, teach the congregation about His word and nature, and bring the congregation together in orderly, reverant, corporate worship. Furtick and Elevation are out to deceive people, tickle ears, and rake in millions of dollars. They create tools with which to do that. Elevation Worship music is one of those tools.

So why does your music minister use that tool? You don’t hammer a nail with a screw driver or screw a screw with a hammer. If your music minister and your church rejects the narcissistic false teachings of Steven Furtick and Elevation Church then why do they emulate their worship services? Your music minister could just be plain ignorant of Furtick’s false teachings. That’s manslaughter. Your music minister could know all about Furtick and Elevation? That’s murder.

Murder or manslaughter? Which one is okay at your church? Look your music minister in the eye, ask him the question, and insist he give you his answer.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Seth Dunn

Masters of Divinity in Christian Apologetics, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Member of the Evangelical Theological Society Certified Public Accountant