The Hillsong cult under scrutiny…

The Sydney Morning Herald reports,

Hillsong Church to come under scrutiny at royal commission into child sex abuse

The popular Hillsong Church will come under the scrutiny of the child sexual abuse royal commission when it examines Australia’s Pentecostal institutions at its next public hearing in October.

It will look at allegations made against Frank Houston, who admitted sexually abusing a boy in New Zealand in the 1970s.

Houston was sacked by his son Brian Houston, now the Hillsong Church’s senior pastor, when the allegations became public in 2000. The disgraced evangelist died in 2004.

Frank Houston, widely regarded as the father of Australia's Pentecostal movement, admitted sexually abusing a boy in New Zealand in the 1970s.

Frank Houston, widely regarded as the father of Australia’s Pentecostal movement, admitted sexually abusing a boy in New Zealand in the 1970s.

Houston snr is widely regarded as the father of Australia’s Pentecostal movement, through his work with the Australian Assemblies of God, now known as Australian Christian Churches.

Hillsong has grown into one of Australia’s biggest movements with 30,000 weekly churchgoers.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will also look at the response of Australian Christian Churches to allegations of child sexual abuse made against former church youth worker Jonathan Thomas Baldwin.

Baldwin was sentenced to eight years’ jail in 2009 after being found guilty of molesting a teenage boy he met through his role as a youth pastor at a Sunshine Coast church.

Maroochydore District Court heard the abuse started in 2004 and continued for an 18-month period, occurring at a church sleepover, a car park near the church and during a Gold Coast holiday.

The royal commission will also examine the response of the Northside Christian College and the Northside Christian Centre, now Encompass Church, to allegations of child sexual abuse made against former teacher Kenneth Sandilands.

Encompass Church pastor John Spinella said the church welcomed the inquiry and said it was co-operating with royal commission staff.

“As a church we have recognised these past failures and take the opportunity to apologise for the suffering and pain endured by those who were abused,” he said.

The public hearing will begin in Sydney on October 7.

Source: By Rachel Browne, Hillsong Church to come under scrutiny at royal commission into child sex abuse, Sydney Morning Herald, http://www.smh.com.au/national/hillsong-church-to-come-under-scrutiny-at-royal-commission-into-child-sex-abuse-20140918-10il3c.html, 18/09/2014 – 4:18PM. (Accessed 18/09/2014.)

Faith fights, snake bites and a Hillsonger’s insights

Jesus said,

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.” Matthew 23:25-31

The above scriptures are highly applicable to the leadership at Hillsong Church.

Pastor Chris Rosebrough once again critiqued Brian Houston on his “Fighting For The Faith” program. In this sermon review Ps Rosebrough asked a question about the leaders who sit on the front row of Hillsong church and cheer Brian Houston on,

“Does he pay people to sit on the front row and say, “Yes boss! Oh amen! Oh that’s so great”?” (1:09:55)

Well, before an ex-Hillsong/GCCC pastor answers that question, listen to Chris’ excellent review of Brian Houston’s sermon below. He accuses Brian Houston quite rightly of using the skillful heresy two-step technique to trick people.

SEPTEMBER 08, 2014

Snakes And Ladders

Source: Chris Rosebrough, Snakes and Ladders, Fighting for the Faith, http://www.fightingforthefaith.com/#sthash.gig64Qnx.dpuf, Published 08/09/2014. (Accessed 10/09/2014.)

So does Brian Houston “pay” those leaders who sit on the front row to be ‘yes’ men? Well, this following insight from a Hillsong/GCCC pastor will help open our eyes to the manufactured Hillsong preaching and worship environment.

We are thankful that he is this courageous to stand up and show us these insights into Hillsong. It is our prayer that other leaders like this do likewise for the sake of Christ and his church.

He writes,

Hi there,

Thanks for the updates, really appreciate it.

My name is David (real name by the way) and I was a full-time pastor at Garden City Christian Church in Brisbane (2006-2009) when Hillsong took it over; I still worked in that same capacity under the Hillsong banner until July 2010 when decided to resign. Actually, I preached on that Sunday morning service at Garden City when the “voting” to become Hillsong took place (April 2009).

The reason for this email is to share my own personal experience with Hillsong, which wasn’t positive at all. What I witnessed first hand there as an “insider member of the pastoral team and staff” really shocked me (back then I already had over 23 years in full-time ministry). I had a glimpse of how that religious business operate. Among many things, I would like to mention a couple at this stage:

1) One weekday, right after the “take over”, Donna Crouch came from Sydney to teach and show us “how to create the atmosphere” during a Hillsong service. We were told straight away that preparing the room with dimmed lights, darker paint, loud music, smiles, cool dressing, could help create an atmosphere for God to operate in our midst (her words). She then (together with a few helpers) demonstrated to us how to do it (either at the auditorium or up the platform); rehearsal then followed by some of us practicing how to “do church service at Hillsong as a staff member.” Basically, we were told to: “choreograph our worship with raised arms, closed eyes, ocasional jumping and ocasional shouts.” If rostered to go up the platform for announcements, prayer, offerings or preaching, to make sure we would go up the steps fast, on a hype, expressing joy and excitement, really “pumped”. Looking downcast in front of the crowd was an “absolute NO.” We were told that, in Hillsong culture, verbal and body language is everything (“your language locates you”).

2) One Sunday morning during the service, I was sitting in the front row with my wife paying attention to the preacher when I received a text message from a guy brought up from Sydney – Steve Mawston – to help implement Hillsong culture in Brisbane. He was there in the same service sitting opposite to me at the other aisle. I showed my wife the text message which read: “David, your aisle is very quite during the service. Now is the time for you to start shouting “yes”, “yeah”, “amem” and “preach it” , raise your arms and make some noise to liven it up a bit so others might follow suit and do likewise.” That really saddened my heart when I noticed how things are fabricated and simulated in order to create a hype during the service and portray an apparent image of “revival, worship and spirituality.” I really feel for those who still work there as I believe they must be lost in what’s true worship and what’s just done to impress the crowd and please others. Young people are surely the most vulnerable and easy victims of brainwash.

Hope it helps shed some light on the “hillsong phenomena.”

Keep up the good work in exposing them.

God can’t be mocked!

Bless you heaps,

David

Source: David, A Hillsong victim’s experience…, Hillsong Church Watch, http://hillsongchurchwatch.com/2014/09/09/a-hillsong-victims-experience/#comment-8414, September 11, 2014 at 7:40 am. (Accesse 16/09/2014.)

Looks like Brian Houston, (who gets paid 300k a year), took a page out of his friend’s book.

Why Is The “Fake It Til You Make It” Joel Osteen Still Speaking At Hillsong Conferences?

One has to consider how Brian Houston can reconcile his facade with his “tweeted” wisdom to his faithful followers:

Live your life in a transparent & authentic way. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear & nothing to lose!

Source: Brian Houston, @BrianCHouston, Twitter,https://twitter.com/BrianCHouston/status/497431278049062912, Published 10:17 AM, 07/08/2014. (Accessed 10/08/2014.)

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Hillsong scrutinised on Echo Zoe Radio

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Andy Olson from Echo Zoe radio recently had Cameron Buettel on the program to discuss the problems with Hillsong.

Cameron Buettel: Hillsong

Cameron is a seminary student at the Master’s Seminary in the greater Los Angeles area. He also works at Grace to You, the media ministry of pastor John MacArthur. Cameron has a blog called “The Bottom Line“, and he also has a website at onceuponacross.com. It was on that blog that Cameron published years worth of correspondence and critique of Hillsong, which is a mega church movement and franchise based in Sydney, Australia. Cameron joins me to discuss Hillsong.

- Cameron began his Christian life in an Assemblies of God church in Australia in the early 1990s.

- Hillsong began about the same time, and gained popularity because of their music. Just a few years later, the Assemblies of God amalgamated into a denomination called the Australian Churches of God, a conglomeration of Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. It was headed by Brian Houston, the pastor of Hillsong church. The definint traits of charismatic churches (tongues speaking, etc.) was pushed to the periphery, and positive thinking began to be pushed much more. They also had a greater focus on marketing, and grew in popularity with their conferences.

- Cameron began to notice their failure to talk about key aspects of the gospel, particularly sin and repentance. He began to write to them to question the message they were preaching, and seemed to get nowhere.

- Eventually, Cameron received a reply from Robert Fergusson. The correspondence they had is posted at Cameron’s blog.

- An example of Hillsong deleting sin and repentance from their preaching and materials is their deletion of “turn from their wicked ways” from a quotation of 2 Chronicles 7:14 found on the CD cover of their album “Hillsong Live – Mighty To Save”

- Cameron wants people to know about the problems with the gospel that Hillsong preaches especially because they have a number of churches found all over the world.

- Even Hillsong’s good songs leave huge gaps in a person’s understanding of the gospel.

- Hillsong has such a strong focus on marketing that they will have just about any big name out to speak at their conferences. Past speakers include: Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, TD Jakes, Bill Johnson, and Steven Furtick. It appears that the only common thread is a big name. The leadership of Hillsong is very pragmatic.

- A strong-sounding statement of faith can be a trojan horse to bring in bad doctrine. This is the greatest danger that Cameron worries about in regard to Hillsong.

- A couple of listener questions: Cameron’s analysis of this video, and what would Cameron suggest people who attend a Hillsong church (or similar) do, in light of God’s word. Also, what does think of some of Hillsong’s better songs?

Scriptures Referenced

2 Chronicles 7:14

Titus 1:9

Romans 16:17

Galatians 1:8-9

Additional Resources

The Bottom Line – Cameron’s Blog

Once upon a Cross – Cameron’s ministry website

Bob DeWaay: Bill Johnson, IHOP, & Ancient Heresy Reborn – Echo Zoe Radio Episode 46

Debunking the Holy Ghost Movie – Chris Rosebrough (podcast)

Source: Cameron Buettel: Hillsong, Echo Zoe, http://www.echozoe.com/archives/3028#sthash.ZIrMakUz.dpuf, Published 13/09/2014. (Accessed 14/09/2014.)

New York Times critically examines the Hillsong movement

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NYTimes_Hillsong

Brian Houston recently tweeted,

Live your life in a transparent & authentic way. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear & nothing to lose!

Source: Brian Houston, @BrianCHouston, Twitter, https://twitter.com/BrianCHouston/status/497431278049062912, Published 10:17 AM, 07/08/2014. (Accessed 10/08/2014.)

proof_Twitter-HoustonTransparency_17-08-2014

How “transparent & authentic” do you think Brian Houston will be after this recent New York Times article was published about him and his movement?

What are the chances that Brian Houston will use the same-old slanderous accusations and criticisms against people who question his movement? Do you think it will be possible for Brian to “Shun the negative” and to “Ignore the critical” overt this?

Let’s hope that Brian Houston doesn’t turn into a critic himself in light of this recent article published by the New York Times.

Megachurch With a Beat Lures a Young Flock

LOS ANGELES — A toned and sunburned 32-year-old Australian with the letters F-A-I-T-H tattooed onto his biceps strode onto the stage of a former burlesque theater here and shouted across a sea of upstretched hands and uplifted smartphones: “Let’s win this city together!”

The crowd did not need much urging. Young, diverse and devoted to Jesus, the listeners had come to the Belasco Theater from around the city, and from across the country, eager to help an Australian Pentecostal megachurch that is spreading worldwide establish its first outpost on America’s West Coast.

The church, Hillsong, has become a phenomenon, capitalizing on, and in some cases shaping, trends not only in evangelicalism but also in Christian youth culture. Its success would be rare enough at a time when religion is struggling in a secularizing Europe and North America. But Hillsong is even more remarkable because its target is young Christians in big cities, where faith seems out of fashion but where its services are packing them in.

Powered by a thriving, and lucrative, recording label that dominates Christian contemporary music, it has a vast reach — by some estimates, 100,000 people in the pews each weekend, 10 million followers on social media, 16 million albums sold, with its songs popping up in churches from Uzbekistan to Papua New Guinea.

Founded 30 years ago, Hillsong has churches in Amsterdam; Barcelona, Spain; Berlin; Cape Town; Copenhagen; Kiev, Ukraine; London; New York; Paris; and Stockholm, as well as multiple campuses in Australia and, now, an embryonic congregation in Los Angeles.

The Hillsong empire might appear to be a musical powerhouse first and a church second. It is, after all, a multimillion-dollar enterprise, drawing large crowds to arena concert performances; one of its bands, Hillsong United, is even the subject of a documentary scheduled for release by Warner Bros. next year.

Its songs, with a folk rock sound and simple, accessible lyrics, pervade theChristian charts and have transformed the Christian songbook.

“They are without a doubt the most influential producers of worship music in Christendom,” said Fred Markert, a Colorado-based leader of Youth With a Mission, a Christian organization. And Ed Stetzer, the executive director of LifeWay Research, an organization based in Nashville that studies practices in American Christianity, declared in an analysis of Hillsong, “In sensory stimulation, Hillsong’s productions rival any other contemporary form of entertainment.”

But its critics, and there are many, deride Hillsong as hipster Christianity, suggesting that its theology is thin, its enthusiasm for celebrities (Justin Bieber is among its fans) unbecoming, its politics (opposition to abortion and a murky position on homosexuality) opaque.

“It’s a prosperity movement for the millennials, in which the polyester and middle-class associations of Oral Roberts have given way to ripped jeans and sophisticated rock music,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “What has made Hillsong distinctive is a minimization of the actual content of the Gospel, and a far more diffuse presentation of spirituality.”

For young Christians in cities where Hillsong has churches, it has become a magnet, combining the production values of a rock concert, the energy of a nightclub and the community of a megachurch. Many of the worshipers say they are drawn by the music but have stayed because of the opportunity to be with other young Christians, and because they believe that the churches can help transform cities, both through prayer and through direct social services.

“I want to be part of something bigger than myself,” said Tricia Hidalgo, 29, who said that she first heard Hillsong music played in her childhood church in Ontario, Calif., and that as a young adult she gave up studying to be a teacher to move to Australia to attend Hillsong’s Bible college. Now, she is volunteering for the church in Los Angeles.

“We’re going to love the city, love the people, and, to me, I feel like love can break any walls,” she said.

Amanda-Paige Whittington, 32, recalled hearing Hillsong’s first huge hit, “Shout to the Lord,” as a girl in a Southern Baptist church in Mississippi.

“I told my mom, ‘One day I’m going to Hillsong,’ ” said Ms. Whittington, who also attended Hillsong’s Bible college in Sydney and now lives in Orange County. “The music drew me to the church.”

Hillsong Los Angeles, as well as Hillsong New York, which opened four years ago, is an example of a growing phenomenon in global Christianity: big church brands taking on big secular cities. This year, Saddleback Church, the Orange County megachurch led by Rick Warren, opened its own campus in Los Angeles, while several years ago, Willow Creek, the megachurch based in South Barrington, Ill., opened a campus in Chicago.

“There’s no question there’s a real current of evangelical enamorment with cities,” Mr. Stetzer said. “Evangelicals have been a rural people historically, and the cities were the places where sin was. But cities are also where the people are.”

Hillsong chooses cities not only because of population density, but also because of their impact on culture.

“These are tough, hard, dry towns for contemporary churches,” said Brian Houston, the Sydney-based senior pastor of the Hillsong empire. “We want to be strategic, and really impact cities of influence, so that the influence can reach far beyond.”

Hillsong has critics who monitor speakers at its conferences, and utterances by its leaders, for deviations from Christian orthodoxy (of concern to the right) or evidence of social conservatism (of concern to the left). Its financeshave been scrutinized by the Australian news media; its preaching is tracked by a critical blog. This year, Mr. Houston issued a clarification after being criticized by other evangelicals for suggesting that Christians and Muslims serve the same God.

Hillsong, founded by Brian Houston and his wife, Bobbie, has been anti-abortion and has described gay sex as sinful. But recently, church leaders have moderated their tone; the pastor of Hillsong New York, Carl Lentz, passed up two opportunities this year to express a view on same-sex marriage, in interviews with Katie Couric and The Huffington Post.

One of Brian Houston’s sons, Joel, is Hillsong’s creative director, performs with Hillsong United and serves as a pastor at Hillsong New York. Another son, Ben, is the pastor of Hillsong Los Angeles. Ben has the “Faith” tattoo on one arm, as well as tattoos of the characters +=♥ (Jesus Is Love) and the names of his three daughters, surrounded by images of flowers and butterflies, as well as that of a lion, “to remind me I’m a man.”

Hillsong’s worship style is charismatic, meaning there is an emphasis on the Holy Spirit and on divine healing, but there is little speaking in tongues, which is seen at more conventional Pentecostal churches.

The Houstons like to say that worship should be enjoyed, not endured. Services are often held in dimly lit concert venues: In New York, the church started at Irving Plaza and then relocated to the Grand Ballroom at the Manhattan Center; in Los Angeles, a debut was held at 1 Oak, a West Hollywood club. There are lines to get in, and fewer seats than worshipers. Some worshipers share images and thoughts on social media during services.

The sound has evolved over the decades, but is now sometimes compared to U2’s. Tom Wagner, an ethnomusicologist at the University of Edinburgh, said Hillsong’s music was characterized by rich orchestration, but simple harmonies, and was often regarded by listeners as “spiritually anointed.”

“They’re very good at writing songs that are catchy,” Mr. Wagner said. “They know what works.”

Source: By Megachurch With a Beat Lures a Young Flock, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/10/us/hillsong-megachurch-with-a-beat-lures-a-young-flock.html, Published 09/09/2014. (Accessed 11/09/2014.)

Take heed that no man tweets you…….

 

Ever wonder why Brian Houston often tweets “theology” that shuns “the negative” and encourages people to “ignore the critical”?

Brian Houston recently tweeted,

Shun the negative – Ignore the critical – Despise the rumors – Reject hearsay – Disregard the gossiper –

Source: Brian Houston, @BrianCHouston, Twitter, https://twitter.com/BrianCHouston/status/487467997078904833, 10:26PM 10/07/2014. (Accessed 09/09/2014.)

To which someone responded with this,

And quite possibly ignore what God might be trying to say….just saying

Source: Brian Houston, @SandyLynRyan, Twitter, https://twitter.com/SandyLynRyan/status/487515671501099008, 1:36AM 11/07/2014. (Accessed 09/09/2014.)

So what is the answer to the question? If they can shut their critics up – does it enhance their theological credibility? Given that these pastors have sold out to the purpose-driven leadership model rather than being undershepherds who guard the flock under the Chief Shepherd’s watchful eye, don’t they see that censoring criticism chokes off feedback vital for their form of “ministry”?

And as @SandyLynRyan clearly indicates – criticism often comes with a morsel of truth attached.

Just saying……

A Hillsong victim’s experience…

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If you aren’t aware of our page, we are starting to record people’s experiences from Hillsong Church.

Hillsong Testimonies

Recently, we were informed of this person’s testimony.

‘S’ writes,

I had first hand experience of being part of Hillsong. I attended the church in london and as a person of 16 at the time it all seemed incredibly appealing. This was not my first experience of church, My whole family are christians. I found a friendship group, a new spiritual out look on life and for the first time I had found hope in humanity. This was not to last though. I gave extensive amounts of money to the church through purchasing bibles, books, CDs and tshirts (also not forgetting donations). All of this to feel more a part of what I thought was my family. I was a musician and was told I had a gift from God and that I should utilize that to help win others over to christ. the problems began as the years went on. I became more involved not just on a sunday but almost every day of the week. Soon I was working more then I was sleeping but I was being told that this was all for God. I finished college and soon after was following my dreams (like I had been taught). this started to take up more of my time so I started to drop some of my commitments with the church, as soon as I had done so suddenly I had fingers pointed at me. I was ‘backsliding’ and I was told to quit my dreams. If I frowned during a service or failed to smile then it looked bad on the others. I was now being told how to think and feel. The less time I spent at the church the more I was shunned by those that had called me their ‘family’. I soon found out people were talking about me behind my back. I felt judged and my relationship with God died. I finally found the courage to leave but it wasn’t easy. My heart felt broken and my soul felt crushed. I had put so much time, money and effort into the church, I was 100% committed, I gave my heart and soul only for it to be thrown back at me. I still feel nervous every time I pass the theatre where they hold their services. It’s safe to say I will never go back to that place nor will I ever support an organization that treats their members this way. I have not been the only one who has gone through these experiences. I have met others who have very similar stories.

Source: Brian Houston lies about the bible to sell his book, Hillsong Church, http://hillsongchurch.wordpress.com/2008/09/10/brian-houston-lies-about-the-bible-to-sell-his-book/#comment-86, January 9, 2012 at 5:47 am. (Accessed 03/09/2012.)

Bobbie biffs it again…

BrianAndBobbieNoOtherName

Bobbie Houston recently put this out on Instagram:

Ladies … if you’ve lost perspective and are having a meltdown over spilt milk or whatever, let this image remind you of what “hard” really is. #sisterhood #forsuchatimeasthis #sisterskeeper #helpthemJesus

Source: Bobbie Houston, Instagram, http://instagram.com/p/sf8dC1IY1Y/, 04/09/2014. (Accessed 04/09/2014.)

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Quite frankly, it’s hard to know what is worse:

1. A pastrix proving she is unqualified to speak on such serious matters, setting off a firestorm of comments from Muslims on Instagram.

2. A pastrix who falsely promotes awareness about an “evil act” against women, at the same time plugging her “#Sisterhood” conference/movement.

So what is this image actually about?

Pastor Gervase Nicholas Charmley has this to say about the picture:

These pictures are well known, and (as the fact that the “guard” is carrying a sword rather than an AK-47 should indicate) are from a Shia religious commemoration called Ashura, which commemorates the battle of Kerbala. Part of Ashura is the re-enactment of scenes from the battle, one of which is the leading away in chains of the women and children. Basically it’s the Shia Muslim equivalent of a Passion Play, the re-enacting of a significant time in their history.

The women are all willing participants, who are playing the role of prisoners.

There is [also] an image from Ashura that has been circulating for a while with the caption “Muslim girls are led off in chains to meet their husbands”, a caption as ludicrous as it is false.

Source: Ps Gervase Nicholas Charmley, Written 04/09/2014.

Speaking about the image, one commenter, Suheild says “I’m glad someone out there is educated enough to know the difference.”

We appreciate that there are followers on Bobbie Houston’s Instagram account prepared to point out the facts about the image. Exposing those who take liberties with the truth to create a false “outcry”, especially during a time of truly great suffering for both Christians and Muslims.

UPDATE (05/09/2014):

Bobbie Houston decided to follow up with this comment on her instagram page:

Ok everyone —so another day has passed and this timeline and post is probably history in everyone’s Instagrams. I hope you found some peace amid “the various dialogue” and that we considered the human heart at stake. These are crazy days. A world of diversity and contrast, a world in need of kindness and love. May God’s “good and kind and gracious and pure and compassionate and righteous and HOLY Spirit” overshadow all our thoughts and endeavors. Be blessed and like the saying goes … “go make the world (your world) a better place”. Selah. Xoxo

Source: Bobbie Houston, Accessed 05/09/2014.

If there is anyone making these last days crazy, it’s uneducated “teachers” like Bobbie Houston. Her Instagram which promoted falsehoods was neither kind nor loving.

Even though she was corrected by those on her Instagram feed, don’t expect an apology from Bobbie. Instead Bobbie band-aids the harm she caused with an American Beauty pageant “world peace” response. 

Hillsong Colour Conference advertises that “at its core”, it is not about Jesus…

Jesus said that you will recognize false teachers (wolves in sheep’s clothing) by their fruit. A classic example would be Hillsong dressing up their conference with their “Jesus-following” wool but completely throwing Christ under the bus to further their humanistic movement.

We certainly appreciate that Hillsong is at least up front with their Colour Your World Conference. Is it about Jesus?

“Colour Conference is about you,” Hillsong says.

However the Colour Conference is not about you or Jesus. It is “a humanitarian conference at its core”

Hillsong Church writes:

AN ATMOSPHERE OF WORSHIP

Encounter God and rest in His presence. Our guests and team prepare to present the Word of God for your hearts to absorb and outwork.

This is a humanitarian conference at its core, so we inform, educate and awaken you to the plight of thousands in desperate situations, and equip you with practical tools on how to make an impact in your own world and globally as we work together.

Colour Conference is about you; it is about value, being valued and placing value on others. We can’t wait to share Colour with you!

Source: Hillsong, http://hillsong.com/colour/experience. (Accessed 02/09/2014.)

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HILLSONG PUBLICLY LYING TO THEIR AUDIENCE

In the above blurb, Hillsong mislead their audiences,

“Our guests and team prepare to present the Word of God for your hearts to absorb and outwork.”

No. They present anything but the Word of God. For instance, they have invited two questionable speakers. One is Word of Faith leader, Joyce Meyer, who is far outside of biblical orthodoxy and must be considered a false teacher. She exposes many to the errors of the Positive Confession movement where she even says that Jesus lost his divine nature, went to hell, finished the atonement in hell, and was born again!  This is a serious error since it implies that Jesus, who is God in human flesh, needed to be changed.

The other is Beth Moore who reduces her audience’s spiritual IQ whenever she attempts to preach anything from the scriptures. She cannot to be trusted to properly teach from the word of God, she is leading many astray with her approval of contemplative prayer, personal revelations, and faulty biblical exegesis. It wouldn’t take much effort for Hillsong to research these false teachers and the false doctrines they peddle. So why does Hillsong insist that their guests, like Joyce Meyer and Beth Moore, “prepare to present the Word of God for your hearts”?

What also stands out in this blurb is how Hillsong associates their “humanitarian conference” with the idea to “awaken” people to worldly causes. You may think that we are overreacting. But consider for a second what a Christian often associates the word “awaken” with – revive or revival.

Not so with Hillsong here. They deliberately link the idea of “awaken” with their “humanitarian conference”. Why?

This only links yet again that the definition of “awaken” used by Hillsong is interchangeable with pagan origins. This is not the Christian idea of ‘awakening’. This is self-actualisation disguised in Christian talk. This type of thinking stems from Buddhism. Although Hillsong insists that they preaching Christ even, they are really only using his name (in vain) as a buttress for their social “gospel”. The problem with the social gospel is that it emphasises we are the answer – not Christ.

Dr. Michael Horton informs us that in C. S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters, the devil’s strategy is not to remove Christ altogether from the scene, but to propagate a “Christ And…” religion:

What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of “Christianity And.” You know–Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychic Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform. If they must be Christians, let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian colouring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thing (Letter XXV).

Hillsong’s marketing gimmicks (Part 2): “No other name” but “Hillsong: Brian Houston”?

Before reading this article, please read our previous article here.

01 Hillsong Marketing Scam

MARKETING

power of association: cars get you good looking girls

We all know advertising agencies are often paid big dollars to produce innovative and effective marketing campaigns, using the powers of suggestion, association and implication in visual and audio media to manipulate people to buy things they would not usually buy.

These “market managers” carefully consider what is presented to their audience. They consider visual placement of objects when advertising their client’s product. If it is an advertising campaign, insinuation and association are very powerful.

MARKETING AND HILLSONG

So if a church movement decides to use marketing, you would hope they would market with integrity – that is, to simply promote awareness of who they are, what they are doing in upcoming events or what they have to offer people. The last thing you would expect a church to do is market dishonestly.

Sadly however, Hillsong appears to exploit Christianity through their marketing gimmicks. More specifically, they appear to have no conscience in the way they exploit their “marketplace” i.e. members, through these same secular marketing methods. What’s becoming more evident is how Hillsong appears to distort scriptures to convince members to believe dangerous ideas about their movement, their pastor and who their god is.

We say all this to bring to your attention to this work of Michaelangelo found in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel:

Take notice of the space between God’s hand and Adam’s hand. They are practically touching. In Hillsong marketing, who do you think is going to ‘fill in the gap’?

With Hillsong’s no other name campaign, Brian Houston decided to do a sermon on ‘No Other Name’. But what do you think of Hillsong’s marketing arm for ‘no other name’ on this?

proof_GoogleNoOtherNamePicture1_25-08-2014

Source: By Hillsong Church, Hillsong TV // No Other Name, Pt1 with Brian Houston, Vimeo, https://vimeo.com/100380947, July 10, 2014 1:52 AM. (Accessed 25/08/2014.)

proof_VimeoNoOtherNameBrian_25-08-2014

Do you honestly think it is a coincidence that the finger of  God and the finger of Adam, are pointing to “Hillsong” and “Brian Houston”? Why didn’t they point to “NO OTHER NAME”? “No other name” is about Jesus right? And why did Hillsong red stripe out the hand of God?

(If you type ‘no other name’ in Google, you will eventually stumble upon the above ‘No other name’ Michelangelo graphic.)

proof_GoogleNoOtherNamePicture2_25-08-2014

 

Deception is misleading others through lies or trickery. Like leaven, it grows and changes whatever it contacts. You don’t notice it until it is too late. Sadly, Hillsong flourishes these days because they have reshaped the gospel into the kind of “product” the consumers are willing to tolerate. Bottom line, Hillsong has placed its focus on man, not on God where it belongs. And the body of Christ should never be made to “conform” to the needs of a consumer-driven culture.

Proverbs 10:9 “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.”

Everybody else but me…

Earlier this year, we exposed the visionary leader Brian Houston’s “clarification” on his statement that Muslims and Christians serve the same God.

“Pull the Allah one, Brian” (Part 1)
“Pull the Allah one, Brian” (Part 2)

Next year the visionary leader Mark Driscoll is speaking at Brian Houston’s Hillsong Conference 2015. Mark Driscoll is currently, (as Chris Rosebrough would say), in deep kimchi.

Mark Driscoll is at the moment facing Christian public pressure to step down from his pastoral office for his immoral conduct in ministry. Recently Mark Driscoll offered an ‘apology’. But what we noticed with his ‘apology’ was the similar tactics Brian Houston used in his ‘clarification’. Who are the victims? Who are the baddies? And who is still not taking responsibility for their own actions?

This article is a course in Spin101. 

Translating Mark Driscoll

This morning I watched the 17 minute videoed announcement from Mark Driscoll this weekend that he is stepping down as Pastor of Mars Hill for a minimum of six weeks. You can watch the video and read the transcript here.

Within the announcement Mark speaks of the “court of public opinion” not being useful in addressing issues in a Biblical manner and suggests online conversations, like this blog for instance, are unhelpful. I can see that everyone having OPINIONS can be problematic, but without the courageous tenacity of bloggers across the internet raising the issues, Mark Driscoll would not have taken the very necessary and welcome step that he has. So I’m not going to apologise for adding to the OPINIONS in the public space and I would suggest his denigration of the “court of public opinion” is a tactic to silence the hurting, and as a book we Christians honour states, “For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.”

I have recently begun working with perpetrators of domestic abuse. I am facilitating a Respect accredited programme with men who have chosen to be violent and abusive to their partners. And if there is one thing that perpetrators are “gifted” in, it is avoiding responsibility and manipulating people’s views of them. I would suggest that some of what we see in Mark’s announcement uses those same tactics, whether intentionally or not, whether orchestrated by a PR plan or by the man himself. I would like to clarify that I am not suggesting Mark is perpetrator of domestic abuse, but that his words and actions mirror those of abusers.

During the announcement Mark was emotional, at points he seemed very close to tears. It is interesting to note that domestic abuse perpetrators who visibly show remorse change at about the same rate as those who don’t. In our wider context of power based masculinity, men crying, or being close to tears brings out a specific response for many. That act of vulnerability in a society that states the only appropriate emotions for men are humour and anger can change perceptions of an offender in an instant. I’m not for one minute suggesting they were “crocodile tears” but that we must be careful not to use an emotionally remorseful delivery as a litmus test for repentance.

This is my translation of some parts of the announcement:

“When a small group of us started what would become Mars Hill Church in 1996, we could not have dreamed it would be what it is today. Thousands upon thousands of people have become Christians as the gospel of Jesus Christ has proven powerful over and over. Every day, it seems, I hear of someone whose life has been transformed by the power of the Word of God taught in this place and modeled by so many who call this their church home.”

I’m going to start by reminding you of all the 1000s of people my ministry has saved from hell, so that when I get to my bad choices, we’re all feeling that is insignificant compared to all the people I have helped. So many people’s lives have been transformed by my teaching of God’s Word and you all living out my teaching.

“Today, we are blessed with lead pastors who love Jesus and the people He gave His life for. These men faithfully serve the Mars Hill family.”

Though there are 21 ex-leaders of the our church who are publicly stating that I have behaved in horrendous ways and were either sacked or left due to their strong convictions, the current leaders are supportive of me.

“While I’m still young, I suspect when I’m old I’ll be known for many things—some good, and some not so good.”

I am a 43 year old grown up, but I am going to describe myself as “young” in order to suggest that my young-ness mitigates the bad choices I have made. I would also like to remind you that I have done good things and not actually say that I have done bad things, but just things that are “not so good”.

“I may be an author, a speaker, and a thought-provoker; but in the deepest recesses of my heart, I’m a local church pastor, and that’s what I want to give the rest of my life for.”

I would like to remind you all of the powerful man I am and the many successes I have had in my career so far, but that I also want you to know that I am humble local church pastor, even though I have intentionally and ruthlessly built a large megachurch over the last 18 or so years.”

“It is because of my deep love for the local church in general, and Mars Hill Church in particular, that it grieves me to see anything come against it or threaten to harm it. It also grieves me greatly when something I say or do results in controversy and publicity none of you signed up for when you decided to be a part of this church family.”

I get upset when my choices, actions and words result in people challenging me. I am so totally uninterested in the people I have hurt that I’m not even going to mention their hurt in my announcement. I don’t want to accept the consequences of my actions as the leader of a large church which I am paid large amounts of money to lead and rather than say this, I am going to make it about the peripheral hurt of the church family, which I am actually responsible for not those who have challenged me.

“Over the years, as I have grown and as the Lord has been molding and pruning me, I have, on many occasions, shared with you some of the lessons I’ve been learning. Some of these have been painful, and some I’ve been slow to learn. I’ve acknowledged and confessed many of my sins, shortcomings and missteps, and God has been more than faithful with His forgiveness. Most of our Mars Hill family has been forgiving as well, and for that I’m grateful and blessed. By God’s grace, I want to always be humble and teachable.”

I would like to remind you all of the times I have said sorry for what I did over the years. The fact that at no point have I actually changed my behaviour is something I’m going to try and ensure you don’t think about by making it all about the ways I’ve learned. I’d like to also remind you that before God I am forgiven. Rather than mention how much I appreciate and value all those who have tried to stop it coming to this point, I’m going to validate all those who collude with my behaviours by honouring those who keep forgiving me. Although I have proven that over the last 18 years of ministry that I am not willing to be taught and am not humble, I am going to say that I am both of those things.

“A central theme in my personal walk with Jesus in recent times has been to follow the Apostle Paul’s charge to Believers in Romans 12:8: If possible, so far is it depends on you, live peaceably with all men. God is not honored by conflict, strife, disunity, arguing, slander, gossip or anything else not consistent with the fruit of the Spirit, and I am deeply sorry for the times I have not done my part to living peaceably with all men.”

By quoting Scripture I can reduce my ongoing hurtful behaviour to the term “not living peaceably with all men”. I am going to use the term “my part” so as to suggest that it is not all my fault, but that it is a reciprocal thing where both I and every other person involved are partly to blame for the hurt I have caused.

“I want to thank those who have come directly to an Elder, lead pastor or me to tell us of an offense they are carrying. This allows us to deal with it head-on between the two affected parties, rather than in a court of public opinion and public media. I believe God is honored by this approach—the approach He prescribed for us in Matthew 18 and other Scriptures.”

All those who have used public spaces to challenge me are wrong and dishonour God and only those who have come to me and the leadership of the church are right and honour God. I am going to use the term “offense they are carrying” so as to avoid saying that I had hurt people. The fact that when people tried to come to me I refused to listen, sacking them, threatening them and destroying their lives and livelihoods is of absolutely no relevance. God is not honoured by anyone who publicly holds me to account. I am going to mention the first bit of Matthew 18 where Jesus tells us to approach other Christians who we have been hurt by, but I am going to conveniently ignore the bit Jesus says that’s someone who fails to listen should be treated like a non-believer.

“Others have chosen to air their grievances with me or this church in a more public forum. As is often the case, some of what is said it true, some is partly true, and some is completely untrue. Lately, the number of accusations, combined with their public nature, makes it much more difficult to know how to respond appropriately. Indeed, many times we have chosen not to respond at all, which probably raises even more questions in some people’s minds, and I understand that.”

I am going to use the term “air their grievances” rather than talk about people being hurt. I am going to talk about truth, half-truths and lies without distinguishing between them so that I subtly cast aspersions on all that everyone has accused me of. I am going to talk about “the number of accusations” increasing which makes the issues external to me, rather than about my own choices and hurtful actions. I am going to reinforce my criticism of people holding me to account publicly, but will use it neutral language like “public nature” to hide that. I am going to mention that we haven’t addressed the issues, acknowledge that is problematic but continue doing it.

“In other cases, some have publicly brought up issues that were long ago addressed and resolved, adding to the understandable confusion many of you may be experiencing recently. For example, nearly 15 years ago I wrote some things on a Mars Hill discussion board on our website using a pseudonym. I quickly realized what I wrote and how I did it was wrong. We removed the entire section of the website a few months later and I addressed it publicly in a book I wrote six years later—calling it what it was: wrong.”

The only accusation I am going to address during my announcement is the one that relates to historical actions. I am going to manipulate the facts to suggest that a book I wrote six years later dealt with what I had done, when in actual fact, that book mentioned that I thought it was funny how I had a man turn up at my house to challenge me; that I talk of things “going crazy”. I’m not going to mention that at no point in the book do I actually own or apologise for my misogynistic, homophobic behaviours and attitudes. I am also not going to mention that for the past almost 15 years I have continued to use similar language and ideology in my preaching and writing. I am going to use language that distances me from my actions by saying “what I wrote and how I did it was wrong” rather than saying “I was wrong and I have hurt people”.

“I have taken full responsibility for those actions and will forever be ashamed by what I did, even as a 29 year-old preacher. What I did in this case back in 2000 is indefensible. It is also forgiven; and thank God, I’m not the man I was back then. I have learned hard lessons from this situation, as I have from other situations where I have done wrong things and God has had to deal with me.”

I am going to talk of taking full responsibility for something while still using language that distances me from my choices and actions. When talking about what I did I will mention the age I was in order to justify it as related to being young (like I did earlier in my announcement). Although at 29 years old I had been an adult for over ten years, I will suggest my age made me immature, though I was a married father entrusted with the leadership of a church. I will remind everyone that this happened in 2000, keeping people focused on the historical accusations and not the current ones. I will talk about learning hard lessons which will allow me to suggest I have changed, when the way I have behaved and the choices I have made since then have continued to hurt many people.

“Storm clouds seem to be whirling around me more than ever in recent months and I have given much thought and sought much counsel as to why that is and what to do about it. The current climate is not healthy for me or for this church. (In fact, it would not be healthy for any church.)”

I will again talk about the consequences of my actions using language which distances me from any responsibility by talking of what “storm clouds seems to be” doing. I will talk of how unhealthy this would be and subtly place myself as a victim. I will then restart talking of Mars Hill Church as the main victim of the issues, keeping my audience feeling like they are the centre of this and their interests and hurts are cared about while continuing to completely ignore the hurt and pain of the people I have hurt throughout my ministry.

“Some have challenged various aspects of my personality and leadership style, and while some of these challenges seem unfair, I have no problem admitting I am deserving of some of these criticisms based on my own past actions that I am sorry for. In recent years, I have sought to apologize to people I have knowingly offended in any way. I’m grateful that God has honored many of these encounters and granted true reconciliation and restoration.”

I will start addressing criticisms by saying that some have been unfair. I will not use language which states that my critics are right, but will instead say “I am deserving of” some criticisms. This sounds like I’m taking responsibility, but subtly avoids doing so. I will use the term “past actions” to suggest that this isn’t related to my ongoing behaviour, thereby subtly connecting it to my previous comments on my actions in 2000. I talk of seeking to apologise to people even though those who have been hurt report being shunned and destroyed by me. I will talk about God honouring these encounters without specifics.

“But I’m particularly sorry that any of my past actions or decisions have brought distraction to the mission of Mars Hill Church, and therefore, to those who call this their church home. Part of this is no doubt a function of the media age we live in—anyone can write anything, anywhere, anytime. As a public figure, I recognize and accept this, even if I don’t like it; for this is one of the paradoxes of being a pastor in a media age—the same media channels that can be used to carry a sermon to virtually anyone around the globe can also be used by anyone around the globe to criticize, attack or slander.”

The first time that I start a sentence with “I am sorry” it is related to the impact on the church community which yet again reinforces to the audience that their feelings are validated, but the actual victims of my offences are not mentioned. I make my sorry focused on the mission of Mars Hill, reminding everyone that is the priority, not the reality of the people who have been hurt. I will then yet again criticise people who have publicly challenged me and place myself as the victim by talking of myself as a “public figure”. This makes the situation more about my position than my choices and actions. That I have used media channels to criticise and attack is irrelevant, and I will suggest my detractors are “criticizing, attacking and slandering” without actually stating that is what those who challenge me are doing.

“However, another part of it is simply my fault and I will own it, confess it and move on from it as God continues to redeem me. I will seek to resolve unresolved issues with others, and will seek to avoid such conflict in the future; at least to the extent I have any control over it.”

After spending time being negative about my detractors I will now talk about my fault. Yet I won’t take responsibility for any of it, I will just accept partial fault, which essentially means the other people involved are also at fault. Essentially I am blaming everyone else while using the language of responsibility. I will talk of God redeeming me to remind everyone that God is okay with me, having previously implyred that others have dishonoured God by challenging me. I will use the term “avoid such conflict” which essentially distances me from fault and focuses the issues as conflict based rather than founded in power and abuse.

“There is a well-documented list of past actions and decisions I have admitted were wrong, sought forgiveness, and apologized for to those I hurt or offended. I will not review them here, as it is my prayer we can, together as a church, move on as Paul writes in Philippians 3:13—But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead.”

I will talk about admitting I am wrong when what I have done previously is apologise but continue to do the same things over and over. I quote Philippians and use the word “forget”; this implys that forgetting is the option for the church community. That forgiveness and forgetting are not in any way related and that forgetting is impossible when we have been hurt badly is something I want to avoid people being aware of.

“These are serious times we are living in and people all around us are dying every hour without Jesus. It is this reality that drives me and motivates me to keep learning God’s Word, and teaching God’s Word to His people so that together, we can continue to reach people with the saving grace and love and mercy of Jesus. I hope that regardless of whatever else is swirling around us, we never lose this perspective on why Mars Hill exists in the first place – Jesus loves people and people need Jesus.”

I will now spend time explaining how people’s souls are at risk of burning in hell and that in comparison these issues that have been raised are really not a big deal. I will talk about my purpose and call and will talk of the current issues that have resulted from my actions and choices as “swirling around us” yet again distancing myself from being the instigator of the issues.

“I realize the vast majority of you just want to come to church and hear God’s Word taught. You want to feed your families spiritually just as you feed them physically, and Mars Hill should be a safe place to do just that. As your pastor, I want that for you more than anything. All of our lead pastors want that for those under their care as well.”

I will keep the audience supportive of me by yet again talking about them as the primary victims in the situation. I will talk about the consequences of my choices and actions in a way that acknowledges the struggles of people are going through without taking responsibility for them.

“I have submitted to the process prescribed by our church Bylaws as overwhelmingly approved by our entire Eldership for addressing accusations against me. I invite this process, rather than debating accusations and issues in social media or the court of public opinion. A report on this process will be presented when it has been completed.”

I will not mention that one of the accusations against me relate to changing the bylaws of the church to make it very difficult for the church to hold me to account. I will talk of inviting the process even though it has taken enormous public pressure to essentially force me to take action. Book shops are withdrawing my books from sale, I am being removed from church networks and others and although there have been issues throughout my entire ministry, I have shut down all criticism to the point of changing church bylaws and sacking employees, yet I will state that this is a process that I have invited. I will again reinforce that challenging me publicly is wrong. I mention that a report will be presented, but I haven’t mentioned who that report will be presented to, and I have called it a “report on the process” not implyring whether the outcomes will be made public.

As a general rule, I will respond to little if any criticism of me in the media, on social media, blogs, open letters, etc. Conducting church business and biblical conflict resolution through media channels is not healthy and is more likely to prove unproductive at best, and destructive and dishonoring to the Lord at worst.

I will now categorically state that media channels are unproductive, destructive and dishonouring to God. That without these media channels I would be able to continue behaving in hurtful and damaging ways without any accountability or negative consequences. This places anyone who comments publicly about what I have said as unproductive, destructive and dishonouring God. The hurt I have caused people should be compounded further by me attempting to silence and denigrate their attempts to heal.

“I have asked our Board of Advisors and Accountability to strengthen our board by adding members to it, and they are in the process of doing so with local members being our first choice.”

We will strengthen the board of advisors and accountability by inviting people who are still in the church and have stood by me throughout all that I have done. Anyone who has had the courage to challenge me has talked of how they were sacked or abused by me. By saying this I yet again focus on my audience, enabling them to feel they are being given power to change things and trusted with that.

“I have agreed to postpone the publication of my next book until a future season, to be determined.”

Bookshops have removed my books from sale and due to the current climate I would probably not sell many books if I did publish my book, plus I am no longer able to pay a PR company to unethically get my books onto bestseller lists.

“I have begun meeting with a professional team of mature Christians who provide wise counsel to help further my personal development and maturity before God and men. I have never taken an extended focused break like this in my 18 years as your pastor, and it is not a vacation but rather a time to focus on deep work in my soul in the areas of processing, healing, and growing.”

I will talk of meeting with a professional team of mature Christians but will not mention any of their names. The fact I haven’t taken an extended break in 18 years will be used as an opportunity to be applauded for my commitment rather than concern that I have not had a healthy work life balance.

“As I look forward to the future—and I do look forward to it—I believe the Lord has shown me I am to do two things with the rest of my life: love my family, and teach the Bible. I deeply love my family and our church family and am seeking the Lord for how to have a godly and loving future that is not just sustainable but fruitful.”

I will now talk about my family which reminds everyone I am a human being with good priorities. I will establish that I plan to continue teaching the Bible for the rest of my life which suggests I will continue be seeking to influence and lead people.

“Finally, I want to say to our Mars Hill family—past and present, I’m very sorry. I’m sorry for the times I have been angry, short, or insensitive. I’m sorry for anything I’ve done to distract from our mission by inviting criticism, controversy or negative media attention.”

Having spent over 15 minutes talking I will finally say that I am sorry, not to those I have direct hurt, but to my church family. I talk about inviting criticism rather than behaving abusively and focus on the actions of the commentators rather than my own actions.

“God has broken me many times in recent years by showing me where I have fallen short, and while my journey, at age 43, is far from over, I believe He has brought me a long way from some days I am not very proud of, and is making me more like Him every day. The gospel is powerfully at work in me, your pastor, thanks to the faithfulness of our Senior Pastor Jesus Christ, and the best thing for us each to do is look to Him and point others to Him. Thank you Mars Hill. I love you.”

I talk of “falling short” and doing things “I am not very proud of” yet still do not quantify that in terms of identifying what I have actually done. I make this last section about what God is doing in me and still do not mention anything about the people I have damaged who are no longer in Mars Hill church. After this I am given a standing ovation by the church and my wife and children all come onto the platform to embrace me. This reminds the audience that there are children involved in any decisions made about me. The image of them embracing me will be used on the Mars Hill website alongside my statement.

By ROBTHAINSMITH, What Mark Driscoll actually said on Sunday, http://mrsglw.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/translating-mark-driscoll/, 26/08/2014. (Accessed 27/08/2014.)

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