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.)

“Authentic” Brian Houston strikes again

Angry Brian Houston

This week’s Sunday message by Brian Houston had no gospel. This message was damage control. The message was intentionally designed to manipulate people for his sake. In this message Brian Houston lied in his sermon and had deliberately twisted scriptures to arm his followers to silence people who dared question Hillsong and their leaders. (We will be covering his lies and twisted scripture in later articles.)

In connection with this, our authentic and transparent Brian Houston recently tweeted propaganda that promoted his fraudulent Sunday Message.

Sin pays us wages for what we deserve but grace gives the “gift of righteousness” which is totally undeserved. #freedomfromshame

Source: BrianCHouston, Instagram, http://instagram.com/p/uEhJ_0PkCV/, 13/10/2014. (Accessed 13/10/2014.)

Someone by the name of Raymond Mizzi challenged Brian Houston with questions about the cover up. What was Brian Houston’s response?

@raymondmizzi You make assumptions and judgments on things you know nothing about. Self righteousness is ugly bro.

proof_InstagramBrianStrikesAgain_13-10-14

Typical of Brian Houston, he has now deleted his comment.

If anything – the way Brian and Hillsong have responded to the Royal Commission and to the general public have left no doubt in our mind that they are a dangerous cult. If you are concerned with our opinion being too strong, look at the other comments in the screen grab that attacked Raymond Mizzi. Those comments should concern both the general public and Christians around the world.

Hillsong’s prophet Brian Houston needs to step down before this movement gets even more dangerous and out of control.

Hillsong’s claptraps, cheap claps & bad raps

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Brian Houston Royal Commission hearingAfter Brian Houston’s abysmal behaviour at the Royal Commission and the emerging shocking revelations of his poor leadership over his dad, it was reported to us that only a select few of Brian’s pastors came to support him at the Royal Commission. No family. No church members.

In light of this, here was Hillsong’s response this Sunday morning to their false prophet.

You will also notice that in the above clip, Hillsong edited out Brian Houston’s second statement and sermon. (It appears they don’t want critics to get hold of it.)

In spite of this, the Daily Telegraph reports what was disclosed in the morning session,

Hillsong leader Brian Houston breaks silence on paedophile father: ‘It was wrong not to report him’

HILLSONG Church head Brian Houston told thousands of his followers it was wrong of him not to report his paedophile father to police, but said other senior church leaders also knew and did nothing.

Giving his first sermon at Hillsong’s church-cum-convention centre at Baulkham Hills yesterday since testifying last week at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Mr Houston said no one advised him to report his pastor father Frank after he was told in 1999 that Frank had molested a boy in a Sydney household in the 1970s.

Mr Houston told the congregation of more than 3000 that the victim, known as AHA, whom his late father tried to buy forgiveness from with $10,000, did not want the allegations investigated by the police or the church.

“You had a situation where this was the first time I had ever heard about my father’s abuses. There was victim, a survivor, who was adamant he did not want a police investigation and he didn’t want a church investigation,” he said.

“So I genuinely believed at the time, by the way no one gave me any advice to counter this, that if he wanted to go the police, he was 36, he could. Obviously if it was someone who was still a child we would have had no choice but to report it. It seems I was wrong and that will form part of the findings.”

Mr Houston also read out a prepared statement in which he said media reports of his testimony did not give the “full story” and headlines could be “misleading”.

He said paying victim AHA had nothing to do with him despite the royal commission hearing the victim had contacted him about Frank Houston failing to pay as promised.

Two weeks later the $10,000 cheque was delivered.

“There have been reports of money being paid to the victim. Again for clarification, this was between my father and the victim. It had nothing to do with me or Hillsong Church,” he said.

The commission had heard Hillsong founder Brian Houston was national president of the Assemblies of God Church from 1997 to 2009 and in charge when his father was outed as a serial paedophile. It also heard the episodes of sexual abuse of seven boys by Frank Houston happened in the 1960s and 70s. All but one, AHA, were abused in New Zealand where Frank Houston preached.

In yesterday’s sermon, Mr Houston denied the church tried to cover up the abuse.

Frank Houston died in 2004

Source: By Ben McClellan, Hillsong leader Brian Houston breaks silence on paedophile father: ‘It was wrong not to report him’, The Daily Telegraph, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/hillsong-leader-brian-houston-breaks-silence-on-paedophile-father-it-was-wrong-not-to-report-him/story-fni0cx12-1227088167208, Published 13/10/2014 12:00AM. (Accessed 13/10/2104.)

News reports from Royal Commission on Hillsong 09/10/2014

Brian Houston gospel issue

The Sydney Morning Herald reports,

Church failed to follow procedure for sex abuse allegations, royal commission hears

A senior member of the Assemblies of God in Australia has admitted church leaders failed to follow policy in handling allegations of sexual abuse made against paedophile pastor Frank Houston.

Keith Ainge, the former national secretary of the Assemblies of God in Australia, told a royal commission on Thursday that the executive did not observe due process regarding rehabilitation for Frank Houston because “it was a new policy that was perhaps not fully understood”.

Under cross-examination he also agreed, “with the benefit of hindsight”, it was a conflict of interest to allow Frank Houston’s son, Hillsong Church founder and then national president of the Assemblies of God Brian Houston, to discipline his father.

Brian Houston suspended his father from the church at the end of 1999.

Documents tendered to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse show that Frank Houston was later allowed to quietly retire from the church despite executive members of the Assemblies of God being aware of allegations that he sexually abused seven young boys in the 1960s.

Frank Houston, the founder of the Sydney Christian Life Centre, which merged with his son Brian’s Hills Christian Life Centre to become Hillsong Church, wrote to churchgoers in November 2000, informing them of his resignation due to “retirement”.

“I hereby wish to tender my resignation from the staff and eldership of the City Hillsong Church as I feel it is time for (my wife) Hazel and I to enter retirement,” he wrote.

“It has been a privilege to minister in the church and to work with you all.”

Minutes tendered to the commission show that at a November 2000 meeting of the senior ranks of the Assemblies of God, now known as Australian Christian Churches, it was agreed that Frank Houston should be thanked  for “his immeasurable contribution to the church”.

The provision of “financial support” for Frank Houston and his wife was discussed at the same meeting.

A separate document tendered to the commission revealed that the national executive of the Assemblies of God prepared a statement regarding the allegations to be used “in response to individuals if they hear rumours and approach the executive for clarification”.

Frank Houston died in 2004. Brian Houston is expected to give evidence on Thursday afternoon.

The public hearing is examining the response of Australian Christian Churches and affiliated Pentecostal churches to allegations of child sexual abuse.

The inquiry will also look at how the Pentecostal churches addressed the case of convicted paedophile Ken Sandilands, a former teacher at Northside Christian College, now known as Encompass Church, and Sunshine Coast church youth worker Jonathan Baldwin, who was sentenced to eight years’ prison for molesting a teenage boy.

The hearing, before Justice Jennifer Coate, is expected to continue until October 17.

Source: By Rachel Browne, Church failed to follow procedure for sex abuse allegations, royal commission hears, Sydney Morning Herald, http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/church-failed-to-follow-procedure-for-sex-abuse-allegations-royal-commission-hears-20141009-113hwq.html, 09/10/2014. (Accessed 09/10/2014.)

The Australian reports,

Hillsong founder Brian Houston defends caution on sex abuse claim against father

HILLSONG Church founder Brian Houston has defended a decision not to take to police allegations his father sexually abused a boy when he first learned of them in late 1999.

Brian Houston was today questioned in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse about when he became aware of the sexual abuse claims against his father, and former senior pastor of the church, William Francis “Frank” Houston.

Brian Houston says he was first made aware of the claims by an unidentified man, known as AHA, that his father Frank Houston sexually abused him as a seven-year-old, in October 1999.

When asked by commission barrister Simeon Beckett why he did not immediately report the claims to police, Mr Houston said that it was the victim’s decision because he was by then a fully grown man, despite Mr Houston’s having no “doubt it was criminal conduct”.

“On that day? All the information I was being given was that the man was 35-36 and if the man wanted to go to the police he can … I did not have a doubt it was criminal conduct,” he said.

“If this was about someone under 18 we would have gone to the police then and there.

“Rightly or wrongly I believed I would have been pre-empting the victim at that point,” Mr Houston told the inquiry.

He also pointed out that he knew the victim and his mother, and said the man, AHA, “was extremely brittle, extremely angry that the information had come out”.

Mr Houston said he was unaware of any allegations against his father until the matter was raised with him by another senior Hills Christian Life Centre official, George Aghajanian, at a meeting between the pair in October 1999.

Mr Houston denied he had been made aware of the claims that had been raised by a pastor of the church after being alerted by AHA’s mother.

“I never saw any of these documents. Frank was dodging and weaving, and was a desperate man treading water.”

Mr Houston described how “his stomach dropped” when he was told of the claims, saying he had thought to himself “we’re not just talking about homosexuality, we’re talking about pedophilia”.

“You don’t forget when you find out that your father is a paedophile.

“George said, ‘here’s one other thing I need to talk about, not about you, about your father’. I thought this is not going to be good, my stomach dropped … Someone had rung one of the pastors in our church and started to blurt all this stuff about Frank, about Dad.

“George told me this complaint of abuse, this child sexual abuse had come in. There may have been more detail,” he told the hearing today.

Mr Houston told the commission he “dreaded” confronting his father about the abuse allegation.

“I cried, I went home. I was devastated. I was devastated, to be honest with you. Totally devastated,” he said.

Frank Houston was subsequently suspended from his work as a pastor on the advice of his own son. Frank Houston died in 2004.

Frank Houston founded the Assemblies of God Sydney Christian Life Centre after migrating from New Zealand as a pastor in 1977.

His son Brian established the Hills Christian Life Centre in northwest Sydney, and Brian went on to merge the two churches into the hugely successful Hillsong Church in 1999.

Mr Houston said he was “completely oblivious” to the allegations against his father when Frank Houston asked him to take over as head of the church in 1998, and was shocked at the “abrupt” nature of the request but “in hindsight I think we know why that is”.

“I believe that he knew that things we coming to a head, on the issues we’re talking about at the commission.”

Source: By Leo Shanahan, Hillsong founder Brian Houston defends caution on sex abuse claim against father, The Australian, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/hillsong-founder-brian-houston-defends-caution-on-sex-abuse-claim-against-father/story-e6frg6n6-1227085300844, 09/10/2014 2:41PM. (Accessed 09/10/2014.)

[Watch this space]

RELATED ARTICLES

News reports from Royal Commission on Hillsong 08/10/2014

News reports from Royal Commision on Hillsong 07/10/2014

Brian Houston’s statements

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Hillsong published a statement from Brian Houston today about the Royal Commission. We have decided to publish his latest statement (12 October 2014) and his earlier statement (7 October 2014).

Statement from Brian Houston, Senior Pastor, Hillsong Church
Re: Royal Commission – Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

12 October 2014

This past week was a challenging time for me personally and for our church. I’m sure you have seen media coverage around my appearance at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

I wanted to take a moment today to help you understand what this is about, because it’s difficult to get a true picture from media reports. The media only have a few minutes or a few lines to report so they can’t give you the full story and sometimes the headlines can be misleading.

First let me make the most important point – We fully support the commission. As we’ve seen over many years, parts of the Christian church have failed our children by turning a blind eye to abuse and even covering it up. In my eyes, attempting to cover up child abuse is pure evil. This commission allows survivors to share their traumatic experiences, and my prayer is that this will help them to heal.

Hillsong was asked to appear not because of anything that happened here but because of the abuse suffered by children at the hands of my father around 40 years ago when he was based in New Zealand – many years before Hillsong Church existed and when I was a teenager myself.

This was a Royal Commission to examine the way institutions – like the church – handle complaints of sexual abuse. There was no allegation of abuse against anyone at Hillsong Church and no one was on trial.  This was a hearing, not a trial. It’s important this point is clarified.

As most of you know, I have spoken about the crimes of my father many times over many years. I have shared that when I first found out about this, I immediately confronted my father and ensured he never preached or served in any ministry capacity again. There was no delay in action – from the moment we knew and he confessed, his ministry stopped. I then consulted the elders of what was then Sydney Christian Life Centre and we referred the matter to the national executive of the Assembly of God.

The investigation and subsequent actions were then handled by the AOG without my interference.

There have been reports of money being paid to the victim. Again for clarification, this was between my father and the victim. It had nothing to do with me or Hillsong Church.

Be assured that we did not tolerate sexual abuse when we heard of these allegation in 1999 – and we don’t now. Hillsong Church has zero tolerance for abuse. We do not allow any person with convictions or findings against them of child sexual abuse to attend any Hillsong activity and we are continually reviewing and updating our procedures so that children across our campuses are protected.

While I wanted to explain these events, I also wanted to thank you for being such a wonderful and supportive church. Talking publicly about such personal details involving my father is draining, yet throughout the week Bobbie and I have felt your love and encouragement and that’s lifted us and helped us through. And though we value your prayers for us, the truth is there are many people who’s lives have been devastated by sexual abuse and specifically by my fathers actions and need our thoughts and prayers.

Please keep praying for those affected by sexual abuse and for the victims in the cases involving my father. I believe that unconditional love and total restoration is possible for anyone through Jesus Christ – and that there is no other name that can bring hope and healing to those that are hurting.

7 October 2014

Hillsong Church welcomes this Royal Commission and fully supports its objectives. We believe that exposing child sexual abuse and the response of institutions to that abuse, and allowing survivors to share their traumatic experiences, is a powerful step in the healing process.

While our involvement in this commission does not involve abuse that happened at our church, and there are no allegations against me or Hillsong, I have been touched by the horrific act of child sexual abuse in a very personal way. Having to face the fact that my father engaged in such repulsive acts was – and still is – agonising.

However as painful as this is for me, I can only imagine how much more pain these events caused to the victims, and my prayer is that they find peace and wholeness.

Hillsong Church has zero tolerance for sexual abuse and has comprehensive child protection policies that are continually reviewed. We also welcome any recommendation of the commission that would assist us to improve on these policies even further.

This Royal Commission reminds us of the vulnerability of our children and should compel every organisation responsible for the oversight of children – churches, schools or other institutions – to ensure that the abhorrent acts of the past will never happen again.

Source: http://hillsong.com/media/statement-regarding-the-royal-commission-into-institutional-responses-to-child-sexual-abuse. (Accessed 12/10/2014.)

Exclusive – Brian Houston: “I got attacked by a protester”

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Emotions were raw yesterday in the Royal Comission when Brian Houston recounted his father’s confession as a serial pedophile.

Brian Houston HearingIn a 2GB interview yesterday after the hearing, Brian Houston said the following:

“And even today as I was walking out of the commission, I got attacked by a protester who was attacking me because somehow it was my fault.” [5:50]

Yesterday afternoon we received information from Brian Houston’s “attacker” who attended the hearing. The woman was a victim of institutional child abuse.

She states,

“I just went up quietly to Houston and said, ‘You’re a very wealthy man. You probably drive an expensive car. You live in a mansion. You’re the leader of a wealthy organisation, church. And your church offers the victim only a measly ten thousand dollars for being assaulted as a seven year old? You’ve never gone back and offered the victims any more?”

Another person present at the hearing who contacted us said they could hear Brian Houston screaming within the vicinity.

Houston’s female “attacker” explained what happened next,

“He screamed out, ‘That was my father who was the pedophile! I’m not the pedophile!’

And then he started screaming at me… ‘I’m not a pedophile. And then I knew he was illogical, so I walked away. I said what I had to say. But Brian Houston storms up to me and started screaming at me, ‘I’m not a pedophile! I don’t like pedophiles!’

I was very annoyed that he evaded my real question by not disclosing anything about the victims measly compensation and whether he was going to properly and correctly compensate the victims of his father’s abuse. “

The woman did confess as she walked away that she labeled Brian the “head” of the male appendage. As she was sitting down she noticed Brian was approaching her.

“He then got right in my face. I thought Brian was going to bash me and I stood there. Stood my ground. And I was ready to take the blow. I’ve dealt with the heads of churches and religious organisations before when confronted with child abuse. I’m immune to the leader’s out of control behaviour.

The security at the Royal Commission had to drag him away from me. They had to scream at him and tell him to get away from me, words to the effect of “Brian! Brian! Stop it Brian!” As they were dragging him away he was fighting them to come back at me.

Frustrated with him, I gave him the bird.”

When asked what the woman wanted to achieve with her dialogue with Brian Houston she stated,

“I want those victims properly compensated. I know Jesus said that false teachers come to steal, kill and destroy. If Brian Houston or the leaders of Hillsong are listening, prove to your God, His Church and the victims involved, your level of faith: properly compensate for the victims.”

NOTE: Time of correspondence – 10/10/2014-09/10/2014.

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