Brian Houston’s damage control and the unanswered questions.

Featured

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Religious News Service article below was the piece that Chris Rosebrough recently read out on his Fighting for the Faith program in his attempt to notify his readers about the Hillsong scandal.

However, Boz Tchividjian’s article was recently pulled due to “Pending investigation by editors.” It appears that Lyall Mercer has complained to the Religion News Service about the article.

You will see these Editor’s notes in Boz Tchividjian’s piece on Hillsong:

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been amended to further clarify media accounts of Brian Houston’s handling of abuse allegations against his father, Frank Houston. In addition, statements of personal opinion that are disputed by Hillsong and could not be immediately verified have been modified by the editors.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Lyall Mercer, a Hillsong spokesman, claims that "the church" referred to by The Guardian was not Hillsong, and that Brian Houston had neither the knowledge of nor the ability to report the cases to authorities in New Zealand.]

Source: Boz Tchividjian, Hillsong Church: Abuse unreported, perpetrator rewarded, Religion News Service, http://boz.religionnews.com/2014/10/17/hillsong-church-abuse-unreported-perpetrator-rewarded/#sthash.1LrYL04j.dpuf. (Accessed 20/10/2014.)

It’s interesting to observe that Lyall Mercer of Mercer PR firm also defended Mark Driscoll back in March in a paid press release. Coincidence?

Oddly, the similarities between these two pastors’ conduct are striking. Given that we have expressed great sympathy for the impact his father’s sin had on Brian Houston personally – in light of his own grief, why aren’t we seeing Brian Houston (and Mark Driscoll) behaving more like Christ’s shepherds towards the abused in their churches? Why are we seeing them act more like CEO’s displaying themselves as victims before their loyal fan base? It’s that same fan base who are not calling these pastors to repentance but DEFENDING their conduct before Christians and the secular community.

It demonstrates how little these pastors demonstrate their knowledge of:

1. the biblical pastoral office
2. how they are meant to behave biblically as pastors/shepherds
3. how to care for the lost and hurting (and are they responsible for that hurt?)

Furthermore, it also demonstrates how lacking in accountability these men are. Instead they throw around words like “relevant” and “evangelism” thereby increasing their own popularity.

It’s just not Mark Driscoll and Brian Houston either. The way that even Kong Hee from City Harvest “Church”, Phil Pringle of Christian City “Church” and David Yonggi Cho from Yoido Full Gospel “Church” have conducted themselves in the scandals they have been caught up in, echo similar behavioural issues and systemic problems within their institutional governance.

These questions need to be asked and answered. Why does it appear that these systems are always protecting the perpetrators and not the victims? And why is it that these Christian leaders can get away with their responses and not be held accountable by their members, and the other leaders of churches they so often speak at?

As a victim of C3 and Hillsong said to us,

“These men don’t care if they are right or wrong. All they care about is remaining popular.”

… Something to think about.

- – – – -

Here is the original article about Hillsong which was made available on this blog. We have highlighted what was changed or taken out in the updated article. It’s our opinion there were some valid, and peculiar edits.

How Is Hillsong’s Child Abuse Cover-up Different from LCMS-ELS-WELS? Why Were Hochmuth and Others Never Reported?

Disturbing news surfaced last week that the founder and senior pastor of one of the largest churches in Australia, and a church well known in this country for its worship music, failed to report his father for sexually abusing children. Brian Houston of Hillsong Church, told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse that in October of 1999, he learned that an adult had reported being sexually abused as a child by leading Pentecostal pastor, Frank Houston.   The elder Houston was permanently suspended from preaching and given a “retirement package”. The victim was sent $10,000.00.   The church eventually uncovered up to eight more cases of child sexual abuse by Frank Houston before he passed away in 2004.   None of these cases were ever reported to law enforcement.

Does any of this pass the “smell good” test?  An adult comes forward to disclose being sexually victimized as a child by an influential minister who happens to be the father of another well-known minister.    The son’s immediate response to hearing about this crime is not to contact the police, but to confront his father who immediately confesses.  Even after the confession, Brian Houston doesn’t call the police, but instead attends a meeting with his father, an attorney, and the church CEO, where it is decided to offer the victim $10,000 as “final payment”. (Undoubtedly, a condition to receive this money would have been that the victim agree not to seek legal action against Houston or the church.)  When he was recently asked why he didn’t report this crime, Brian Houston remarked, “This is one of the things that made it complicated.  He was adamant he didn’t want any kind of police investigation or even a church investigation, he just wanted it dealt with and he just wanted to know that justice was going to happen.” The fact that a victim is an adult when they disclose being sexually assaulted as a child does not relieve those in leadership of the moral duty to report the crimes.  Think about it, what if an adult had stepped forward to report that as a child they witnessed a pastor commit murder?  What if there was evidence that this same pastor had actually murdered 8 other people?  Would there be any hesitation by church leaders to report these crimes to the authorities?  Even if the witness had requested them not to report?  Interestingly, Brian Houston never provides a reason for not reporting the other 8 cases of abuse perpetrated by his father.

One of Houston’s victims told the Royal Commission, “I was so ashamed of the abuse that I kept it inside for many years and did not tell anyone.”  Survivors silenced by years of shame are often empowered to come forward and report after finding out about child sexual abuse investigations and learning that they are not alone.  The failure to report this crime certainly prevented the God ordained authorities in Australia and New Zealand from identifying and helping others who may also have been sexually assaulted by this confessed child molester.   Not only do child sexual abuse investigations empower survivors to come forward, but they often result in finding additional victims.  Recent reports claim that the number of boys sexually victimized by Frank Houston could be in the hundreds.  The failure to report these crimes means that we may never know the degree and extent of the crimes against children committed by this church leader.

Reporting this admitted abuse 14 years ago not only would have helped to identify more victims of Frank Houston, but it would have also provided the opportunity to provide the survivors much needed support and professional assistance.

Brian Houston recently said,

“We probably don’t know now many [victims].  We may never just how far it went.”

What he fails to acknowledge is that his calculated decision not to report these crimes is why we will never know the full extent of abuse and harm perpetrated by his father.    What he fails to acknowledge is that his calculated decision not to report these crimes fourteen years ago left untold numbers of abuse victims stranded and alone.   What he fails to acknowledge is that his calculated decision not to report these crimes ignored the lives of untold numbers of victims who lived through the dark and painful horrors of childhood abuse and are now drowning without hope as adults.

Brian Houston recently told the media that he had “never hidden it [abuse] from the church.”  That statement is hard to reconcile with the fact that in 2001, the Assemblies of God sent a letter notifying pastors that Frank Houston had been suspended because of committing a “serious moral failure”.  At no time was this “serious moral failure” ever identified as the rape of a child.  Even more concerning, the letter went on to say, “We cannot see any reason for this to be announced to your church or further afield.”  Isn’t the intentional use of vague words to mask a dark truth consistent with hiding abuse?  Isn’t a directive to keep silent consistent with hiding abuse?  One can only wonder why Brian Houston and other church leaders believed they had the authority to withhold such child endangering information from the very people who needed to know about it – parents and children.

The failure to report this crime to the authorities, offering money to the victim, giving the perpetrator a retirement package, and the hiding all of this from church members, was a seemingly very convenient way to make the whole matter go away.  Fortunately, survivors don’t go away.  God carries their cries to bring light and truth into the dark places – especially in the Church.

One of the lesser-known horrors of this nightmare is that Brian Houston comes from a “Christian” culture that seemingly prefers to remain silent when learning about children being sexually abused by a pastor.  The Daily Telegraph reports that the Assemblies of God in New Zealand “revealed that 50 of its pastors had known of Frank’s sex abuse.  None of them went to the police or did anything about it.”  Should we be surprised that Brian Houston reacted any differently when he found out?   Yes.  I think we should always be surprised when one who professes to follow Jesus turns his back on the vulnerable who have been exploited and abused.  The Jesus I know actually runs towards the vulnerable and gave His life for them.

Brian Houston recently commented that he was “very pleased” with the way he handled the disclosure of his father’s abuse.  Pleased? Really?  In a well-known scripture passage, Jesus tells us, “…whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” [Matthew 18:6]   Instead, Frank Houston is given a retirement package, a victim is thrown $10,000 to keep quiet, a church is not told the truth, and perhaps hundreds of other victims are left unknown.   Pleased?  Really?

In his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning writes,

“The choice usually presented to Christians is not between Jesus and Barabbas.  No one wants to appear an obvious murderer. The choice to be careful about is between Jesus and Caiaphas.  And Caiaphas can fool us.  He is a very “religious” man.”

When we fail to report the heinous crimes against children, we fail to choose Jesus.  It’s time for churches to stop making the wrong choice.

Pleased? Really?

Source: Posted by Gregory Jackson, How Is Hillsong’s Child Abuse Cover-up Different from LCMS-ELS-WELS? Why Were Hochmuth and Others Never Reported?, http://ichabodthegloryhasdeparted.blogspot.com.au/2014/10/how-is-hillsongs-child-abuse-cover-up.html, Originally from http://boz.religionnews.com/2014/10/17/hillsong-church-abuse-unreported-perpetrator-rewarded/#sthash.keD6D3A0.dpuf, Published 17/10/2014 at 1:17 PM. (Accessed 19/10/2014.)

Read the edited Religious News Service report below.

RNS: Hillsong Church: Abuse unreported, perpetrator rewarded
- Boz Tchividjian, Published 17/10/2014. (Accessed 25/10/2014.)

Rosebrough critiques Caine’s toads & Brian’s frogs

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Chris Rosebrough has decided to review a bit of a speech from Hillsong’s Christine Caine. He also has decided to weigh in on the Hillsong child sex abuse scandal and Hilsong’s stance on homosexuality.

OCTOBER 23, 2014

Are Your Frogs Holding You Back?

Click Here to Download this episode

Program segments:

• William Tapley Weighs In on Bishops Synod
• Christine Caine & the Worst Inspirational Sermon Ever
• Hillsong Update RE: Child Abuse Scandal & Refusal to Take a Stand of Homosexuality
• Sermon Review: Against All Odds by Troy Gramling

Source: Chris Rosebrough, Are Your Frogs Holding You Back?, Fighting for the Faith, http://www.fightingforthefaith.com/2014/10/are-your-frogs-holding-you-back.html, Published 23/10/2014. (Accessed 24/10/2014.)

What are your thoughts on Chris Rosebrough’s critique on Christine Caine’s speech; his thoughts on the Hillsong child abuse scandal; and how he dealt with Brian Houston’s stance on homosexuality?

Christine Caine Hillsong

Don’t let this Caine Toad into your church…

Huffington post reports on Hillsong’s problematic stance on queerstianity.

The Huffington Post reports,

Hillsong Church Pastors Won’t Speak Out On Gays Because Jesus Didn’t Either (UPDATED)

UPDDATE: Hillsong pastor Brian Houston has issued an update to his original statement. You can find that information here. 

Hillsong Church’s New York location reportedly draws “a lot of gay men and women” among the thousands who flock there every weekend, according to head pastor Carl Lentz.

“Jesus was in the thick of an era where homosexuality, just like it is today, was widely prevalent,” Lentz told CNN in a June interview (above). “And I’m still waiting for someone to show me the quote where Jesus addressed it on the record in front of people. You won’t find it because he never did.”

Lentz’s wife, Laura, added: “It’s not our place to tell anyone how they should live. That’s their journey.”

Lentz’s sentiments appear to be indicative of an overarching stance on gay issues set forth by Hillsong head pastor Brian Houston. At a press conference for the Hillsong Conference held in New York City Thursday, New York Times’ Michael Paulson asked Houston directly about his stance on same-sex marriage. In an unofficial transcriptprovided by Jonathan Merritt, Houston responded:

It can be challenging for churches to stay relevant. Because many mainstream churches upheld what they would believe is the long established view of what the Bible says about homosexuality. But the world has changed around and about them. On the subject, I always feel like there’s three things. There’s the world we live in, there’s the weight we live with, and there’s the word we live by. The world, the weight, and the word.

Blogger Ben Gresham, who identifies as a “25-year-old gay Christian” from Sydney, Australia, grew up attending Hillsong Church and often uses his website to write about the church’s stance on gay issues. In an August 2013 post Gresham wrote about a message Houston recorded at Hillsong London and broadcast to all the church campuses entitled “Scandal of Grace,” which touched on the topic and echoed the pastor’s comments on Thursday. The blogger transcribed a portion of the message, in which Houston said:

The one elephant in the room for churches around the world at the moment is the gay situation. What would Jesus do? What would Jesus do?

There’s lots of hatred out there but in the middle of it all you know there are three things: the world of the times we live in; the weight we live with; and the word we live by.

Houston added that “the world has changed quickly” and said “the weight we live with” includes “the weight when a young person growing up in a church feels like they are confused in their sexuality.” This disconnect, the pastor said, can lead to hate, rejection and, in worst cases, suicide.

There’s the world we live in. There’s the weight we live with, and there’s the word we live by. And they don’t all necessary align. With the word we live by, many people have various convictions. In the middle of it all know that Jesus when it comes to people would let nothing stop Him from breaking through a divide to help hurting, broken, everyday normal people like you and I.

In March 2014 Pastor Danny Cortez of New Heart Community Church, a small Southern Baptist congregation in Southern California, delivered a sermon explaining that he no longer believed homosexuality to be a sin. His church struggled with the decision of whether to dismiss him and ultimately decided not to but instead become a “Third Way church” — based on Vineyard Church pastor Ken Wilson’s book, “A Letter to my Congregation” which puts forth the notion that churches could agree to disagree on the subject and refrain from judgement.

But as the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting approached in June, Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, published an article denouncing the “third way”:

There is no third way. A church will either believe and teach that same-sex behaviors and relationships are sinful, or it will affirm them. Eventually, every congregation in America will make a public declaration of its position on this issue. It is just a matter of time (and for most churches, not much time) before every congregation in the nation faces this test.

When faced with “this test,” though, Religion News Service blogger Jonathan Merritt says that Hillsong’s Lentz and Houston appear to adopt a similar “third way” by keeping definitive opinions to themselves and instead noting the complexity of the issue and the need for compassion. In the press conference Thursday, Houston said:

“The real issues in people’s lives are too important for us to just reduce it down to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer in a media outlet.”

h/t Jonathan Merrit

Source: By Antonia Blumberg, Hillsong Church Pastors Won’t Speak Out On Gays Because Jesus Didn’t Either (UPDATED), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/17/hillsong-church-gays_n_6002762.html, Published 10/17/2014 2:48 pm EDT, Updated: 10/20/2014 4:59 pm EDT. (Accessed 24/10/2014.)

Charisma Mag unhappy with Hillsong’s silent stance on queerstianity

We are covering two news articles from Chrisma Mag that examine Hillsong’s stance on the homosexual issue in America. Keep in mind, Brian Houston showed public disdain against both the Christian and secular media like Charisma Mag for reporting on his comments:

“I encourage people not to assume a media headline accurately represents what I said at a recent press conference.

Nowhere in my answer did I diminish biblical truth or suggest that I or Hillsong Church supported gay marriage. I challenge people to read what I actually said, rather than what was reported that I said.” [Source]

hillsong lgbtqi gay homosexualIsn’t it funny that even trained Christian journalists (let alone Charismatic Christian journalists) can’t report accurately statements made by Brian Houston? Poor Brian!

Brian Houston is the man who publicly promotes himself as a motivational speaker and as a prophet of God. Can anyone else see the irony here? Is there anyone who can understand Brian Houston outside of Hillsong? Is there anyone who can represent poor Brian Houston fairly? Anyone?

Understand this: Hillsong will always feel misunderstood.

This below Charisma News article has been shared approximately 26,1000 times across the internet. It appears that there is a growing concern among Christian about Hillsong.

Brian Houston: Hillsong Won’t Take Public Stand on LGBT Issues

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler declared from his blog in June, “There is no third way on [same-sex issues].”

But Brian Houston, pastor of Hillsong Church, a global family of congregations comprising more than 30,000 weekly attendees and millions of worship-music album sales, apparently disagrees with Mohler. At least for now.

At a news conference for the Hillsong Conference in New York City Thursday, Michael Paulson of The New York Times asked Houston to clarify his church’s position onsame-sex marriage. But Houston would not offer a definitive answer, instead saying that it was “an ongoing conversation” among church leaders, and they were “on the journey with it.”

Houston says that he considers three things when evaluating the topic: “There’s the world we live in, there’s the weight we live with, and there’s the Word we live by.”

He notes that the Western world is shifting its thinking on this issue, and churches are struggling to stay relevant. The weight we live in, he added, refers to a context in which LGBT young people may feel rejected or shunned by churches, often leading to depression and suicide. But when Houston began speaking about the word we live by or “what the Bible says,” he refused to offer a concrete position.

(Click here for the unofficial transcript of Houston’s full answer.)

“It would be much easier if you could feel like all of those three just easily lined up. But they don’t necessarily.” Houston said. “The real issues in people’s lives are too important for us to just reduce it down to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer in a media outlet.”

Carl Lentz, pastor of Hillsong’s New York City location, made similar statements on CNN in June, saying Hillsong in New York City has “a lot of gay men and women” and he hopes it stays that way. But he declines to address the matter in public because, in part, Jesus never did.

“Jesus was in the thick of an era where homosexuality, just like it is today, was widely prevalent,” Lentz told CNN. “And I’m still waiting for someone to show me the quote where Jesus addressed it on the record in front of people.  You won’t find it, because He never did.”

Lentz’s wife, Laura, chimed in: “It’s not our place to tell anyone how they should live. That’s their journey.”

No doubt Mohler and other conservative evangelicals will find such answers disconcerting if not downright dangerous to what they believe is the biblical position. If the leaders of Hillsong, one of the most influential evangelical ministry conglomerates in the world, refuse to draw lines on these issues, it could influence other churches and pastors to reconsider their own positions.

And that is why this issue has become a litmus test for many on the left and right. Because in a moment when so much is at stake, a non-statement statement is, well, quite a statement.

Source: Jonathan Meritt, Brian Houston: Hillsong Won’t Take Public Stand on LGBT Issues, Charisma News, http://www.charismanews.com/world/45811-brian-houston-hillsong-won-t-take-public-stand-on-lgbt-issues, Published 17/10/2014. (Accessed 20/10/2014.)

Charisma Mag offers this biblical rebuttal to the folly of Hillsong’s stance:

Brian Houston, the Golden Rule and the Golden Calf

It was wise old Solomon who said, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

Megachurch leader Brian Houston’s response to the LGBT issue talks about “the world we live in, there’s the weight we live with, and there’s the Word we live by.” The present world we live in is no different than the world of the past. Jesus made it abundantly clear that the world of Noah’s day was no different than the world of today or that of the future. “As it was during the days of Noah so shall it be at the coming of the Son of Man.” That being the case, then the weight we live with has not changed either. The issue of sin and depravity is as old as the fall of man. Likewise the Word we live by is just as relevant today as it ever was. God is not in catch up mode when it comes to being abreast of current trends, trials, and temptations.

What every spiritual leader needs to remember is that God chose His first priesthood on the basis of their willingness to separate themselves from the idolatry and immorality that the rest of His people were condoning and practicing. Allow me to jog your memory for a moment. God had originally planned for the head of every household to function in a priestly calling. We see this in operation at the first Passover when the children of Israel did not have to wait for a delegated priest to preside over the sacrificing of the Passover lamb. The responsibility was given to the head of each house. This today we refer to as the priesthood of all believers.

What brought about the change in leadership happened at the time of the golden calf. Israel, you recall, became anxious about Moses who had left the camp to meet with God. Following his departure the people pressured Aaron into giving them a god that would go before them and lead them. Aaron bowed to the pressure and created the golden calf. What followed was nothing less than a sexual orgy. Israel gave themselves over to every base and degrading sexual passion imaginable. During the height of this sex feast God issued a challenge through Moses who had now returned to the camp for anyone and everyone to separate themself and stand with God against all the carnality, immorality and idolatry. Out of the twelve tribes, only the tribe of Levi responded and answered God’s call.

God told Moses on this occasion that because the Levites had sided with God, and in the case of some, resisting the pressure of their fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, He was going to bestow upon them the blessing of the Priesthood.

While there is so much more that could be said concerning this, it is vital here that we don’t miss the essential foundation for all spiritual leadership. That of separation from sin! God will not align Himself with sin or compromise in any form or fashion. You recall that later in Israel’s history Balaam deceived them into another sexual orgy, this time with the Moabites. During the height of their brazen sexual rebellion, Phinehas rose up, spear in hand, and thrust it through an Israelite man and Moabite woman who were unashamedly having sex before the whole congregation. Because Phinehas had displayed such zeal for God, not to mention his hatred of sin, God promised him and his descendants the covenant of a perpetual priesthood. (Num. 25)

Let’s fast forward now to the present. I believe God is once again looking for spiritual leaders who will not waver or compromise in anyway with the present LGBT agenda. Modern day Moabites and Balaamites are pressurizing the Church to partnership with the gay movement. God on the other hand is looking for leaders who will rise up and in no uncertain terms make clear to the world their hatred of such practices. Anything less than this will ultimately disqualify them from the ministry, not to mention God’s pleasure and purpose.

Some no doubt will takes issue with me on this point, stating that I lack God’s love, compassion and mercy. Try telling that to God who destroyed 24,000 of His own people who refused to separate themselves from the Moabites during the time of Phinehas. ( Incidentally you recall that the Moabites sprang from one of Lot’s daughters who gave birth to a son after having sex with her drunken father. (Gen.19) There is nothing more the LGBT movement would love, than to win the sympathy and support of God’s people, while at the same time continuing to practice their sinful, selfish and degenerate sensual lifestyle.

One final note to all mega church leaders; If in taking this stand you lose some of your public persona, not to mention members and their money, know for certain that you will gain God’s approval, blessing and anointing.

Jesus still asks, Do you love Me more than these?

David Ravenhill has served the Lord for more than 40 years as a missionary, pastor, teacher and itinerant minister, having worked with the late evangelist
David Wilkerson, Youth With A Mission, pastor Mike Bickle and the late
evangelist Steve Hill. He is the author of several books, including 
For God’s Sake, Grow Up! and Welcome Home.

Source: By David Ravenhill, Brian Houston, the Golden Rule and the Golden Calf, Charisma Mag, http://www.charismanews.com/world/45840-brian-houston-the-golden-rule-and-the-golden-calf, Published 21/10/2014. (Accessed 23/10/2014.)

Rumblings and ramblings in the Royal Commission

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We found this article to be an insightful recap of what took place in the Royal Commission hearing a few weeks ago. We would love to hear your thoughts on this article.

The Saturday Paper reports,

Hillsong in the Royal Commission into Child Sex Abuse

Despite a royal commission being told that Hillsong’s senior pastor mishandled revelations of child sex abuse by his father and fellow church leader, the organisation’s global expansion continues apace.

Last week Australia’s Hillsong Church sold out Madison Square Garden in New York City, for the recording of its next concert DVD. The week before, Hillsong United, the church’s band, led by Pastor Brian Houston’s son, Joel, won five Dove Awards, the American gospel music equivalent of a Grammy. Next April, a feature film about the band,Hillsong: Let Hope Rise, will be released by Warner Bros. In the trailer for the film, spliced between shots of heaving arenas, two phrases flash in dramatic succession: “It’s not about them It’s about Him.”

Brian Houston walking Royal CommissionLast week, those words might better have read, “It’s not about us/It’s about him.” For three-and-a-half days, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse examined how Hillsong and its board members reacted when presented with accusations against its founder and Brian’s father, Pastor Frank Houston.

The commission heard from a witness called AHA, who gave evidence that around 1970, from the time he was seven or eight, the well-respected pastor from the Pentecostal Christian denomination Assemblies of God, Frank Houston, would travel to Australia from New Zealand, with young Brian in tow, and stay at the boy’s home. AHA said his father was an osteopath and that Frank enjoyed free treatments. Their home was rearranged to accommodate the Houstons, who were considered by AHA’s family to be royalty.

For about five years, it was claimed, Pastor Frank would go to where AHA was sleeping and molest him in the night. AHA said the abuse ceased when he reached puberty. At the age of 16, AHA reported what had happened to his mother, but it would be another 20 years before contact was made with the Houstons. Soon after, in 2000, a meeting took place between Frank, then aged in his late 70s, and AHA at Thornleigh McDonald’s, during which Frank, apparently terrified he would die and face God a sinner, wanted to elicit forgiveness from his victim. He offered AHA $10,000 to go with his plea for absolution, and had him sign a napkin as confirmation that the payment – vigorously denied by Brian last week to be hush money – was the end of the matter.

Evidence tendered at the commission that Brian was emailed by the New Zealand Assemblies of God (AOG) in 1997 regarding the matter did not dissuade him from his original testimony: that he had no knowledge of his father’s offences until late 1999, when Hillsong’s general manager, George Aghajanian, informed him of the allegations they had received. The testimony of John McMartin, NSW state president of the AOG, the umbrella organisation with which Hillsong is affiliated, was that Brian was in shock when McMartin himself told him of the allegations some three weeks later, leading McMartin to believe he was the first to break the news. Houston’s evidence was that, though shocked, somehow in his stomach he knew the allegations to be true. He said he confronted his father immediately and that Frank confessed to a “one-off” incident 30 years prior.

Members of the AOG executive were called to a meeting held in the Qantas Club just before Christmas 1999. Houston said that in his newly assumed roles of AOG president and senior pastor of Hillsong, he removed his father’s credentials and told him to never preach again. Houston snr lived on Hillsong-owned property until his death in 2004. At no time did Hillsong report AHA’s accusations to the police.

At the commission hearing AHA testified that two months after the McDonald’s meeting, having never received the $10,000, he phoned Brian Houston. He stated that Houston said: “Yes, okay, I’ll get the money to you. There’s no problem. You know it’s your fault all of this happened, don’t you? You tempted my father.”

AHA responded, “Why? Did he molest you also?”, at which Brian said “You’ll be getting money” and slammed down the phone.

A cheque arrived soon after, made out to AHA with no note attached. Houston’s evidence is that he turned the matter over to “family” to address, and that he never accused AHA of tempting Frank.

Brian’s testimony

Throughout the hearing, Brian Houston was clearly uncomfortable. It’s likely he has never been in such a situation, where it is compulsory for him to be the one answering questions. He smiled at counsel through much of his evidence as if they were having a conversation about the old days.

Whether he was deliberately evasive or ignorant on the stand has been a matter of great conjecture over the past week, but some responses elicited bemusement even from counsel.

When asked by the commission whether he found there was a conflict for him as the son of the alleged offender and as the president of the AOG and pastor-in-chief at Hillsong, Houston answered, “Internally, definitely I was conflicted, so I don’t doubt that at all, if you’re talking about my own, you know, coming to grips emotionally with what my father did.”

Patiently, several times, counsel attempted to elicit his understanding of the concept of a “conflict of interest”. Each of Houston’s responses were evasive, and accepted no responsibility. This, despite Houston having sat on multiple boards and led numerous companies.

He insisted he had chosen the best course of action at the time.

Houston became most defensive, however, when questioned over the choice of family friend who had driven his father to the McDonald’s meeting with AHA. Counsel inquired if Nabi Saleh, then half-owner of Gloria Jean’s Coffees and board member of Hillsong, acted more out of expertise on corporate governance than moral support. Houston was offended, retorting, “Should I have chosen a close family friend who didn’t work, who didn’t have a business?”

With the Hillsong leadership’s own evidence and documents tripping them up, what emerged from the commission’s nearly four days was a clear picture of a group of evangelical businessmen who, when faced with the worst revelations, closed ranks, took care of their own, and kept it secret for as long as they were able.

Former national secretary Keith Ainge grew frustrated during his interrogation, several times responding, “I’ve already answered that question”. McMartin also resented the questions, admitting that in order to prevent perpetrators reoffending they are encouraged to go to another church. Brian testified at times with an index finger outstretched to make his point felt to the cameras: “I’ll swear on this Bible again”.

But despite the hearing’s revelations that the Hillsong Church’s co-founder was a sex offender who preyed on adult males and boys as young as six, Hillsong won’t be going anywhere. As 2GB’s Ray Hadley heard when “Wendy” phoned his program in defence of the church, Frank Houston “changed a multitude of people”. Brian Houston roused the congregation to a standing ovation last Sunday with his message of freedom from shame.

A burgeoning franchise

Indeed, for the largely under-30 demographic of Hillsong, this is all old news. The Houstons themselves are growing old. At 60, Brian is ancient in Pentecostal years, and while widely revered, is no longer the spine of the organisation. Insiders credit his wife, Bobbie, 57,  for Hillsong’s stability. “You know how Brian flies off the handle too easily?” one said. “Well, even he told the congregation one morning, ‘Bobbie is more Christ-like than I am’. Bobbie has really grown as a leader, in the Word, and as a teacher. She’s the glue that holds it together.”

But if matriarch Bobbie and Papa Brian, as he’s affectionately known, retire from the family business, their three children are well placed to carry on the traditions. Joel Houston is in charge of all things musical, the brand’s greatest attraction and largest source of revenue. Ben and his wife pastor a Northern Beaches church, while Laura and her husband head up the youth ministry nationally.

While Australian growth is steady, the church’s global presence is skyrocketing on the back of its highly commercial music arm. There are Hillsongs in London, Paris, Kiev, Cape Town, Los Angeles and more. The modern evangelical style is epitomised by the work of Carl Lentz, the new down-to-earth pastor of Hillsong New York, who reportedly baptised pop star Justin Bieber this year. His message is not so much about the gospel as standing alongside people in need, and only sharing their faith in Jesus when asked.

It is instructive in how different Hillsong is from a traditional Christian church, less a ministry than a family company. While the horrors of child sexual abuse have emptied the pews of other churches, Hillsong is unlikely to feel those effects. Instead, it will probably continue to grow. It is expanding in the manner of an ambitious business franchise, because in so many respects that’s what it is.

People wishing to contact the royal commission can do so at childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au or by phoning 1800 099 340.

Source: Tanya Levins, Hillsong in the Royal Commission into Child Sex Abuse, The Saturday Paper, http://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/law-crime/2014/10/18/hillsong-the-royal-commission-child-sex-abuse/14135508001136#.VEJeJfmUeSo, Published 18/10/2014. (Accessed 18/10/2014.)

Brian Houston’s statement: ‘defending’ every wind of doctrine?

This article is an expose on Brian Houston’s deliberately misleading public statement on his stance with same sex issues.

You can read Brian Houston’s statement here.

A transcript and statement on Brian Houston’s recent press conference

REVIEW OF HOUSTON’S STATEMENT

“I encourage people not to assume a media headline accurately represents what I said at a recent press conference.”

You can hear the bells of ‘Chrislam’ jangling somewhere in the background, can’t you? It is an all too familiar pattern nowadays, isn’t it? To hear the media report one thing, and then for Brian Houston to come along afterwards and say: “I didn’t say that”.

Houston’s statement from Hillsong website, as presented for comment here:

“Nowhere in my answer did I diminish biblical truth or suggest that I or Hillsong Church supported gay marriage. “

Now Brian, that’s not exactly true, is it? You offered your opinion – not a Christian response. Not a biblical response. You did diminish biblical truth.

I mean, “nowhere have I taken a solid stand against ‘gay marriage’ or homosexuality…” would be a much more accurate statement, wouldn’t it? In fact when it comes to the issue of homosexuality, you actually met and ‘did coffee’ with Ben Gresham, one of the recognised leaders of the ‘gay community’ in Sydney, didn’t you Brian?

According to Gresham’s own website, the following points were mentioned by Houston:

* Brian stated clearly that Hillsong church (and himself) no longer support ex-gay ministries

* Brian acknowledged the involvement of Hillsong church in ex-gay ministries in the past such as Exit Ministries, Living Waters and Exodus. Brian mentioned that he was never truly convinced of the idea of ex-gay ministries, although his father Frank Houston supported them.

* Brian does not want an ex-gay message preached from the pulpit of Hillsong.
[Source]

Clearly, it would be an embarrassment for Hillsong, if the testimonies of those who had succeeded in giving up their gay lifestyles, were to impinge on those who had failed to do so, or worse still, had failed to even try. That would also imply that “being gay” was all about choice. In other words, if you could choose to give up ‘being gay’, then all of those who did not give it up would be tarred and feathered as being decidedly gay. They weren’t ‘born that way’ after all. So much for psychology and so much for any pretence on the part of Hillsong, who appear to simply allow gay people to sit there in their sins, with no call for repentance and no signs of a changed life either.

Was that why Houston met with Gresham – to reassure him that ‘all is well’ for ‘gay Christians’? It would seem so.

Furthermore, if Brian Houston wasn’t diminishing biblical truth, why was he adamantly pushing his mythology on the church needing to be “relevant”? Where in the bible does it teach the church needs to be relevant to be effective in people’s lives? If anything, Brian Houston was more concerned of the church failing to be relevant rather than the church failing to be faithful in preaching the gospel and God’s Word. No matter what way you look at it, that’s just pathetic.

Now let’s see what Houston further said in his online statement:

“I challenge people to read what I actually said, rather than what was reported that I said. My personal view on the subject of homosexuality would line up with most traditionally held Christian views. I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject.”

Oh dear Brian, I’m afraid that your words on the Hillsong site, don’t quite match what you said to Ben Gresham all those months ago, now do they? Nor do your words line up to your sermon ‘Scandal of Grace’. (So which Brian do you want us to believe?)

Also notice how Brian is appealing to his audience that he now holds a view of homosexuality “with most traditionally held Christian views”. He’s lying again. Since when has Brian Houston not opposed traditional Christianity and it’s values?

“I was asked a question on how the church can stay relevant in the context of gay marriage being legal in the two states of the USA where we have campuses. My answer was simply an admission of reality – no more and no less. I explained that this struggle for relevance was vexing as we did not want to become ostracized by a world that needs Christ.”

Well now Brian, here is the perfect opportunity to preach the reality of the Gospel from Romans chapters one and two, as those lengthy passages of Bible truth are more than adequate in exposing all manner of sins – sexual, idolatrous, rebellious:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things.” Romans 1:18-23

It is clear from the pages of holy writ, that when mankind decided to abandon the one true God of the Bible, God also abandoned man, to an extent. They buried their knowledge and experience of God (post flood) and so God gave them over to building the Tower of Babel, and in so doing, making idols of themselves, which they then called “other Gods”. They began to practice all manner of vile practices – immorality of every kind, human sacrifice, and witchcraft. They literally ‘changed the truth of God into a lie” (verse 25) and in so doing, sealed their fate as to their ultimate downfall come judgment day.

I’m just wondering, if something similar has happened in this post-modernist ‘church’ that we see before us these days? Has Brian Houston “exchanged the truth of God for a lie”? Has he wittingly or unwittingly, become an idolater before God and man? Does Hillsong’s particular brand of entertainment, during its meetings, resemble more that of a pagan temple, or more of a company of Godly people, who have forsaken this world and its evil distractions in surrendering their lives to Jesus, through the accurate preaching of the Gospel?

“I made the point that public statements condemning people will place a barrier between the church and the world (and I note that Jesus came to save and not to condemn), which is why at Hillsong, we don’t want to reduce the real issues in people’s lives to a sound bite.””

hillsong lgbtqi gay homosexualThat ‘barrier between the church and the world’ needs to be there Brian – it’s called “separation” and is the very meaning of the word “holy” – separated from the world unto God, for His service, His pleasure and to His satisfaction. And guess who put that barrier there Brian? God did. And he established that barrier through His Word. Now you are using Jesus as an excuse to attack the very thing Jesus himself established.

If you don’t teach separation/holiness, then you end up with a tangled mess wherein some of your congregants may well be saved, but many may not be. How can you tell? Those who have separated (holy) lives will be obvious even to the casual observer, but then again, those same people may not be welcome any more, inside the worldly kingdom of Hillsong.

Yes, indeed Brian, Jesus came to save, but only those who will repent, and how can they repent of their devious ways if no one preaches a true Gospel message to them? One which demands that they recognise themselves as lost sinners, before a Holy God, and that they are without excuse? (Verse 20)

“This – like many other issues, is a conversation the church needs to have and we are all on a journey as we grapple with the question of merging biblical truth with a changing world.”

Honestly Brian, there is no need to ‘have a conversation’ at all. What you are advocating clearly, is how best to compromise with the world for maximum effect.

What is really needed is the sound expository preaching of the glorious Gospel of our Lord and Saviour – Jesus Christ. Try doing that one Sunday night and you might even surprise yourself with the results!

Of course, if Brian was to do so, he would probably lose large chunks of his worldly congregation, and that wouldn’t look to good when the bottom line is examined at the end of the month, now, would it?

In closing, Dr. James R. White from Alpha and Omega Ministries weighs in on Brian’s ‘relevant’ stance;

“Brian Houston says, “He notes that the Western world is shifting its thinking on this issue, and churches are struggling to stay relevant.” Relevant to whom? The Church has an audience of One before whom “relevance” is to be judged. Our aim is to be pleasing to Him (2 Cor. 5:9), not to the “Western world.” In fact, a biblical worldview would lead brother Houston to recognize that the more pleasing we are to Christ, the more of a stench of death we will be in the nostrils of those who have been given over in judgment to their own lusts and rebellion. Relevant? Was Elijah relevant during the judgment of drought and famine? Was Jeremiah relevant as the armies of Nebuchadnezzar marched on Jerusalem? I guess it all depends on one’s perspective as to what “relevance” is all about.”
Source: James R. White, FaceBook, https://www.facebook.com/prosapologian/posts/855416661149854, 18/10/2014. (Accessed 21/10/2014.)

James White also observes,

“While exhorting grace as the medium of criticism, we need to realize that this situation is exposing the foundational problems that have actually existed in the mish-mash we call “evangelicalism” for a very, very long time.”
Source: James R. White, FaceBook, https://www.facebook.com/prosapologian/posts/855414134483440?comment_id=855417537816433&offset=50&total_comments=68, . (Accessed 22/10/2014.)

A transcript and statement on Brian Houston’s recent press conference

hillsong lgbtqi gay homosexualThis article will publish the transcript of what Brian Houston said at the press meeting and will also publish his statement on his church website.

PRESS MEETING TRANSCRIPT

Brian Houston has recently published a statement on his church website with this good advice:

“I encourage people not to assume a media headline accurately represents what I said at a recent press conference.”

Visit the  below link to hear the audio of Brian Houston yourself.

Hillsong Press Conference Homosexuality

Here is the transcript. (Notice how they don’t use the bible in their conversation.)

Brian Houston: The message is sacred but the methods have to change uh- for the church to stay relevant. And uh it’s challenging! It’s challenging to stay relevant. I mean we go to you – you know – the one big hot topic maybe for churches is now with homosexual marriage uh legalised and uh – you know – and churches for generations, they- they hold a set of beliefs around what they believe the Word of God- the bible says. And all of a sudden in many circles the church can look like a pariah because- to many people it’s so irrelevant now on that subject. So staying relevant, it’s actually a big challenge. Uh- I think it’s more than just – you know – singing more contemporary songs and- and uh – and – you know, the c-c-colours you paint your walls or whatever.

It’s- it can be challenging for churches to stay relevant because many mainstream churches – uh – you know – in how in what- would they would believe is a long established view in what the bible says on the subject of homosexuality. But the world’s changed around and about them.

On the subject I always feel like there’s three things: there’s the world we live in, there’s the weight we live with and there’s the word we live by. The world, the weight, the word. And to me, the world we live in, whether we like it or not, is changing around and about us. Um- homosexual marriages legal in your city and uh- and will be in probably in most Western world countries within a short time. So the world’s changing and we want to stay relevant as a church. So it- that’s a mixing thing. You think, “How can we stay- ho-how can we not become a pariah”.

So that’s the world we live in. In the weight we live with is the reality that in churches like ours and virtually in any other church, there are young people who have serious questions about their sexuality. And uh- who maybe spea- you know – hypothetically – speak to a youth leader. A youth pastor. And says -uh, “I think – you know- I’m gay”.

And maybe they feel a sense of rejection there. Or maybe even their own Christian parents can’t handle it and uh- exclude them at the time when they are the most vulnerable in their life. So you can have in churches not- not just our church – churches, young people who are literally uh depressed. Maybe even suicidal. And sadly often times grow up to hate the church because they feel like the church rejected them.

So there’s the world we live in, the weight we live with and the word we live by. And the word we live by is what the bible says. And uh- it would be much easier if- if- if- if you could feel like all of those three could easily- easily wind up. But they don’t necessarily. And that’s why Carl always says, “For us it’s a conversation”.

You know to us, I think it’s very easy to reduce, “What do you think of homosexuality” to just a public statement. And that would keep a lot of people happy. But we feel at this point that it is an ongoing conversation. That the real issues in people’s lives are too important for us to reduce it down to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer in a media outlet. So we- we’re on the journey with it aren’t we?

Carl Lentz: Yeah I think. So what- what you asked initially, what do – what do you meant by relevance, was that there was an age perhaps where I didn’t have to have a – you know – a consuming interest in how to make the, “How does this matter”. If you’re in an areas where this is not relevant, you know a pastor don’t have to worry about this at all.

But when you live in New York city, you better figure out a way quickly to say, “This is what our bible says. This is what we believe and here’s how it applies to your life”. So that’s what he meant by “It’s a challenge to stay relevant”. A lot of churches refuse to be relevant and just say, “This is that”. And will refuse to even look at your situation. Even try to explain this or make some sort of a bridge. So that’s… I think was the… You know…

Source: Hillsong Church pastors Brian Houston and Carl Lentz comment on homosexuality and cultural relevancy during a press conference on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, in New York City; By Nicole A. Menzie, Hillsong Press Conference Homosexuality, Soundcloud, https://soundcloud.com/nicola-menzie/hillsong-press-conference-homosexuality, Published 18/10/2014. (Accessed 20/10/2014.)

Here is Brian Houston’s statement which can be found on the Hillsong website:

Statement from Brian Houston – Senior Pastor, Hillsong Church
Re: recent media comments on homosexuality

I encourage people not to assume a media headline accurately represents what I said at a recent press conference.

Nowhere in my answer did I diminish biblical truth or suggest that I or Hillsong Church supported gay marriage. I challenge people to read what I actually said, rather than what was reported that I said. My personal view on the subject of homosexuality would line up with most traditionally held Christian views. I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject.

I was asked a question on how the church can stay relevant in the context of gay marriage being legal in the two states of the USA where we have campuses. My answer was simply an admission of reality – no more and no less. I explained that this struggle for relevance was vexing as we did not want to become ostracized by a world that needs Christ.

I made the point that public statements condemning people will place a barrier between the church and the world (and I note that Jesus came to save and not to condemn), which is why at Hillsong, we don’t want to reduce the real issues in people’s lives to a sound bite.

This – like many other issues, is a conversation the church needs to have and we are all on a journey as we grapple with the question of merging biblical truth with a changing world.

Source: By Brian Houston, Statement from Brian Houston – Senior Pastor, Hillsong Church, Hillsong, http://hillsong.com/media/statement-re-recent-media-comments-on-homosexuality, Published 19/10/2014. (Accessed 20/10/2014.)

 RELATED ARTICLES

Hillsong grooming members to embrace Queerstianity? (Part 1)

Hillsong grooming members to embrace Queerstianity? (Part 2)

Hillsong grooming members to embrace Queerstianity? (Part 3)

Hillsong grooming members to embrace Queerstianity? (Part 4)

Hillsong grooming members to embrace Queerstianity? (Part 5)

Hillsong grooming members to embrace Queerstianity? (Part 6)

Hillsong grooming members to embrace Queerstianity? (Part 7)

Hillsong grooming members to embrace Queerstianity? (Part 8)

Hillsong grooming its members to embrace Queerstianity? (Part 8)

hillsong lgbtqi gay homosexualRecently Brian Houston, Carl Lentz and Hillsong have received some backlash in American media around their silence on the gay issue.

In writing this, we want to assure you that no matter what Hillsong will say on this matter, they can’t claim to be honest and orthodox about getting their views from the biblical text. In this article we will give people a quick overview of some key articles to understand the dilemma Hillsong now is facing with the media in America. We will end with a recent article from the New York Times.

As you know, we have been reporting how Brian Houston appears to be grooming his congregation to accept Roman Catholicism as a legitimate Christian faith and to embrace what we call queerstianity.

Hillsong grooming members to embrace Queerstianity? (Part 1)

Hillsong grooming members to embrace Queerstianity? (Part 2)

Hillsong grooming members to embrace Queerstianity? (Part 3)

Hillsong grooming members to embrace Queerstianity? (Part 4)

Hillsong grooming members to embrace Queerstianity? (Part 5)

Hillsong grooming members to embrace Queerstianity? (Part 6)

Hillsong grooming members to embrace Queerstianity? (Part 7)

In Part 2 of the above series, we cover an article Ben Gresham published in relation to a meeting he had with Brian Houston. Gresham left the meeting believing and stated that his blog “entry shares Brian’s thoughts on homosexuality, gays in church, the future of the church and dealing with the whole ‘gay issue’. In connection with Brian Houston’s recent comments in American media, we can see the lasting impacts of this meeting.

In the below article by the New York Times, they report Brian Houston saying the following:

“The world we live in, whether we like it or not, is changing around and about us,” he said. “The world’s changing, and we want to stay relevant as a church, so that’s a vexing thing.”

Mr. Houston, as he has done in sermons, ruefully noted the experience of gay children growing up in Christian churches, saying that some feel rejected by their youth pastors or even their parents, and that as a result, some young people “literally are depressed, maybe even suicidal, and, sadly, oftentimes grow up to hate the church because they feel that the church rejected them.”

In Part 7 in our above queerstianity series, we covered Anthony Venn-Brown (AVB), (ex-leader of Hillsong Church), pointing out how Brian Houston indeed appears to be grooming his church to embrace his false doctrine of queerstianity (in the name of relevance). Not only did AVB validly point out the dangers of the road of relevance, he offered his readers a short excerpt from one of Brian Houston’s sermons. You will note when you watch the snippet of Brian Houston how he nearly repeats his ideas to the media in the United States (Read Part 7 to view transcript).

The New York Times also pointed out the following observation of the heretical Matthew Vines (you can see Matthew Vines’ entire theology refuted in Part 1 above by Dr James White):

“Mr. Houston’s comments were welcomed by Matthew Vines, a young gay evangelical who is trying to persuade the evangelical world that faith in the Bible is not at odds with openness to gays and lesbians.

You can watch Hillsong introduce the song ‘Scandal of Grace’ at the beginning of Brian Houston’s sermon ‘Scandal of Grace’. In this sermon you can watch Brian Houston explain the theology behind the song.

(Quick reminder: Hillsong often heavily edit their sermons before putting them online. Instead of seeing the complete sermons of Brian Houston, these edited sermons will appear to be less controversial for Christian consumption. So keep in mind – you are not getting the full sermon in Hillsong’s below presentation.)

Venn-Brown’s snippet was taken towards the end of this sermon (in part 2). Notice how he twists the scriptures and uses behavioural methodologies to undermine people’s intellect to manipulate people?

So what is the point of writing this article? Well – it seems that Brian Houston and Hillsong have no regard for the truth and will basically justify their views with very little integrity. They’ll claim to be orthodox and traditional (even though their identity is built on just the opposite), just to confuse and silence people who are concerned where Hillsong is headed.

A good example of this was when Brian Houston was ‘caught’ teaching that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. He was very misleading in his statement and in his sermon. It was only after he was ‘exposed’ that he addressed the concerns of many by saying he was misinterpreted. And even in his official statement, we exposed his lies to the church and the general public.

A faithful witness does not lie, but a false witness breathes out lies.
Proverbs 14:5

He’s either going to show Christians that Hillsong is no longer traditional or claim he is traditional although pushing everything other than traditional.

So Brian – what now?

Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
Proverbs 30:6

The New York Times reports,

Megachurch Pastor Signals Shift in Tone on Gay Marriage

The pastor of one of the more influential global megachurches has declared that his church is in “an ongoing conversation” about same-sex marriage — saying that it is appropriate to consider the words of the Bible alongside the changing culture and the experience of people in the pews.

The comments by Brian Houston, the senior pastor of Hillsong, immediately attracted concern from the right and applause from the left, coming as many Christian denominations and congregations are struggling with how to respond to rapid expansion of gay rights and legalization of same-sex marriage.

Mr. Houston’s church, which is based in Australia, is known largely as a musical powerhouse because of the popularity of its recordings of contemporary Christian worship music, but its youthful congregation is vast — about 100,000 weekly worshipers at campuses in a dozen major cities, including New York and Los Angeles — and its cultural reach broad.

“The world we live in, whether we like it or not, is changing around and about us,” he said. “The world’s changing, and we want to stay relevant as a church, so that’s a vexing thing.”

Mr. Houston, as he has done in sermons, ruefully noted the experience of gay children growing up in Christian churches, saying that some feel rejected by their youth pastors or even their parents, and that as a result, some young people “literally are depressed, maybe even suicidal, and, sadly, oftentimes grow up to hate the church because they feel that the church rejected them.”

He said he lived by “what the Bible says,” and his spokesman said on Friday that the pastor personally agreed with traditional Christian teaching on sexuality. But Mr. Houston said he did not think it would be constructive to delineate a public position on same-sex marriage.

“It’s very easy to reduce what you think about homosexuality to just a public statement, and that would keep a lot of people happy,” he said, “but we feel at this point, that it is an ongoing conversation, that the real issues in people’s lives are too important for us just to reduce it down to a yes or no answer in a media outlet. So we’re on the journey with it.”

Some of Hillsong’s churches appear to be open to gays and lesbians. Josh Canfield and Reed Kelly, a gay couple featured on the current season of “Survivor;” worship and sing in the choir at Hillsong New York; Mr. Canfield is a volunteer choir director at the church.

Mr. Houston’s comments were welcomed by Matthew Vines, a young gay evangelical who is trying to persuade the evangelical world that faith in the Bible is not at odds with openness to gays and lesbians.

But Andrew Walker, the director of policy studies for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, expressed concern about Mr. Houston’s remarks, blogging for the journal “First Things,” “let’s be clear that this is not the route of faithfulness,” and calling Hillsong “a church exchanging compassion for cowardliness before culture’s consistory.”

Mr. Houston’s remarks on same-sex marriage were one of several instances this week in which he and his church differentiated themselves from some other segments of the evangelical world.

His wife, Bobbie Houston, who is also a senior pastor of Hillsong, responded to a question about women’s roles in evangelical churches by saying, “Really, the church needs to come of age sometimes, and just grow up.” Hillsong allows women to preach and teach; many evangelical churches do not.

And in an era when many religious leaders are defensive about the issue of clergy sexual abuse, Mr. Houston offered several searing, and at times self-critical, descriptions of how he handled the realization 15 years ago that his own father, also a Pentecostal pastor, was a pedophile. The episode has returned to the public eye because last week Mr. Houston testified about it before a royal commission investigating institutional response to child sexual abuse in Australia; in New York he talked with the press about the subject on Thursday and then with 5,500 people attending a Hillsong conference on Friday at Madison Square Garden.

He said he believed he did the right thing by removing his father from ministry as soon as he became aware of an abuse allegation. However, he said, in hindsight he should have informed the police at the time, even though the victim had asked him not to.

“There’s a difference between being pitiful and being transparent,” he said Friday, explaining why he chose to speak about the issue. “Authenticity always works, in every situation.”

Source: By Michael Paulson, Megachurch Pastor Signals Shift in Tone on Gay Marriage, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/18/us/megachurch-pastor-signals-shift-in-tone-on-gay-marriage.html?_r=1, Published 17/10/2014. (Accessed 19/10/2014.)

“A Hollow Victory” – responding to Mark Driscoll’s resignation.

Michael Newnham offers a very insightful commentary on the Mark Driscoll fiasco. He writes,

Mark Driscoll’s resignation is both a victory and a loss.

The tyrant has been felled, but the truth and the larger Body of Christ have not been served.

The choice Driscoll faced was between acting as a corporate leader or the leader of a church.

In the corporate world, you cut your losses, protect your resume, and move on to the next opportunity.

In the church, there is supposed to be repentance, restitution, and restoration.

This was a corporate resignation.

The wounded and abused have not been validated, the wrongs have not been confessed or addressed, and there was no opportunity to forgive and restore.

If Mark Driscoll really wanted to “make Jesus famous” he had a golden opportunity to do so.

Jesus is famous for forgiving sins and restoring broken people…the only requirements are confession and repentance.

Driscoll could have modeled how that works.

He could have lived the Gospel in front of his people.

Had he chosen to do so…to honestly and humbly deal with his sin and work through a biblical process with his church…I believe grace would have flowed like a river.

The world that has watched this debacle unfold could have seen how Christ makes a difference in the lives of His people.

Those who have suffered at his hand could have been comforted and restored.

The financial and ethical issues could have been addressed and resolved.

The local Body could have been healed.

People could have seen the grace and mercy of Jesus at work in a leader and believed they could receive it too…it would have empowered the Gospel the thousands.

That… would have been a true biblical “victory” that honored Christ.

Instead the Body is split, the wounded must heal on their own, and others will clean up the mess.

Driscoll remains in his sins and the corporate model of “church” has survived another scandal.

Jesus wept.

Source: By Michael Newnham, A Hollow Victory, Phoenix Preacher, http://michaelnewnham.com/?p=19569, Published 16/10/2014. (Accessed 17/10/2014.)

Mark Driscoll resigns

Mark Driscoll has resigned from Mars Hill. Why didn’t prophet Brian Houston see this? What heretic will replace him at next years Hillsong Conference?

In the mean time, pray that Mark Driscoll repents of his ways. Pray that those around him can humbly and faithfully restore him into God’s sheep fold.

Religion News Service reports,

BREAKING: Mark Driscoll resigns from Mars Hill Church

(RNS) Mark Driscoll, the larger-than-life megachurch pastor who has been accused of plagiarism, bullying and an unhealthy ego that alienated his most devoted followers, resigned from his Seattle church Tuesday (Oct. 14), according to a document obtained by RNS.

The divisive Seattle pastor had announced his plan to step aside for at least six weeks in August while his church investigated the charges against him. Driscoll’s resignation came shortly after the church concluded its investigation.

“Recent months have proven unhealthy for our family — even physically unsafe at times — and we believe the time has now come for the elders to choose new pastoral leadership for Mars Hill,” Driscoll wrote in his resignation letter.

READ: Mark Driscoll’s resignation letter (RNS)

(RNS) Mark Driscoll, the larger-than-life megachurch pastor who has been accused of plagiarism, bullying and an unhealthy ego that alienated his most devoted followers, resigned from his Seattle church Tuesday (Oct. 14), according to a document obtained by RNS.

The divisive Seattle pastor had announced his plan to step aside for at least six weeks in August while his church investigated the charges against him. Driscoll’s resignation came shortly after the church concluded its investigation.

“Recent months have proven unhealthy for our family — even physically unsafe at times — and we believe the time has now come for the elders to choose new pastoral leadership for Mars Hill,” Driscoll wrote in his resignation letter.

READ: Mark Driscoll’s resignation letter (RNS)
Controversial megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll resigned from his church Tuesday (Oct. 15), according to a document obtained by RNS. Photo courtesy of Mars Hill Church
Show caption

Controversial megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll resigned from his church Tuesday (Oct. 14), according to a document obtained by RNS. Photo courtesy of Mars Hill Church
This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Driscoll was not asked to resign from the church he started 18 years ago, according to a letter from the church’s board of overseers. “Indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter,” they wrote.

Seven elders and one member of the board of overseers conducted this investigation, and the board of overseers provided findings and conclusions:

“We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life and leadership, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.”
“Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.”
“We found some of the accusations against Pastor Mark to be altogether unfair or untrue.”
“Other charges had been previously addressed by Pastor Mark, privately and publicly. Indeed, he had publicly confessed and apologized for a number of the charges against him, some of which occurred as long as 14 years ago.”
In his resignation letter, Driscoll noted that he was not being disqualified from future ministry.

“You have also shared with me that many of those making charges against me declined to meet with you or participate in the review process at all,” Driscoll wrote. “Consequently, those conducting the review of charges against me began to interview people who had not even been a party to the charges.”

Driscoll hinted, though, that his continued presence would be a distraction.

“Prior to and during this process there have been no charges of criminal activity, immorality or heresy, any of which could clearly be grounds for disqualification from pastoral ministry,” Driscoll wrote.

“Other issues, such as aspects of my personality and leadership style, have proven to be divisive within the Mars Hill context, and I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission to lead people to a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Driscoll’s boisterous personality seemed to dominate Mars Hill, a congregation he built up to an estimated 14,000 people at 15 locations across five states. Weekly attendance is now reportedly about 7,600.

“The Board of Overseers has accepted that resignation and is moving forward with planning for pastoral transition, recognizing the challenge of such a task in a church that has only known one pastor since its founding,” states the letter, signed by Michael Van Skaik, Larry Osborne, Jon Phelps and Matt Rogers.

Mars Hill shuttered its Downtown Seattle and University of Washington District churches due to financial challenges.

“During the month of August, we received $1,552,817 and expenses were $2,222,274, so our net over expenses (loss) after depreciation and capitalizing assets was $647,768,” stated a report released to church members in September and obtained by World magazine. “Our income target was $1,842,414, and we missed this target by almost 16 percent.”

Driscoll, who came into evangelical prominence as multisite churches and podcasts rose in popularity, found a niche within a largely secular Northwest culture. Though he has been controversial for years for statements on women and sexuality, several tipping points likely led up to Driscoll’s resignation.

Driscoll admitted to and apologized for comments he made under the pseudonym “William Wallace II” that were critical of feminism, homosexuality and “sensitive emasculated” men.

The church-planting network he founded, Acts 29, removed Driscoll from its membership after influential leaders such as Paul Tripp and James MacDonald stepped down from helping the church. LifeWay Christian Resources, the nation’s second largest Christian book retailer, pulled Driscoll’s books from its website and its 186 stores.

In the past, Driscoll has been provocative, occasionally profane, and has faced more recent allegations of plagiarism and inflating his book sales. “Mistakes were made that I am grieved by and apologize for,” he said late last year of plagiarism charges.

A front-page story in The New York Times on Aug. 23 had suggested that Driscoll’s empire was “imploding.”

“He was really important — in the Internet age, Mark Driscoll definitely built up the evangelical movement enormously,” Timothy Keller, the senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, told the Times. “But the brashness and the arrogance and the rudeness in personal relationships — which he himself has confessed repeatedly — was obvious to many from the earliest days, and he has definitely now disillusioned quite a lot of people.”

During Driscoll’s planned sabbatical, elders within his own church asked him to step down from all aspects of ministry. All nine elders who signed the letter resigned or were laid off.

Members of Mars Hill have sought more transparency from church leadership. A petition was launched requesting the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability to suspend Mars Hill’s membership over allegations of financial impropriety.

At the height of his influence and popularity, Driscoll admitted that he harbored grand ambitions, both for himself and the church he built from scratch.

“I’m a guy who is highly competitive,” Driscoll said in a 2006 sermon. “Every year, I want the church to grow. I want my knowledge to grow. I want my influence to grow. I want our staff to grow. I want our church plants to grow. I want everything — because I want to win.”

Driscoll conceded that he wouldn’t be content with remaining the same.

“That’s my own little idol and it works well in a church because no one would ever yell at you for being a Christian who produces results. So I found the perfect place to hide,” he said.

“And I was thinking about it this week. What if the church stopped growing? What if we shrunk? What if everything fell apart? What if half the staff left? Would I still worship Jesus or would I be a total despairing mess? I don’t know. By God’s grace, I won’t have to find out, but you never know.”

KRE/MG END BAILEY

Source: By Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Mark Driscoll resigns from Mars Hill Church, Religion News Service, http://www.religionnews.com/2014/10/15/exclusive-mark-driscoll-resigns-from-mars-hill-church/, Published 15/10/2014. (Accessed 16/10/2014.)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 115 other followers