A good refutation on Stanley’s sermon series ‘Brand: New’

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Xaiquiri Matthews from XM Blogo did a very good refutation on Andy Stanley’s sermon series ‘Brand: New’. We would encourage you to visit Matthews site and read his good material.

AndyStanley-BrandNew-Contradiction

Matthews writes,

Not So, Brand: New

A response to Andy Stanley’s sermon series 

In Andy Stanley’s latest sermon series, “Brand: New,” he argues that the Old Covenant’s “temple model” has been completely replaced with the new Christian ethic: love. And he argues that if we are going to embrace Christianity, the “Jesus model,” then we must completely abandon every aspect of “temple thinking.”

There are several good things that can come out of what Stanley has said. For example, a question that everyone ought to regularly ask himself is, “What does love require of me?” He encourages people to love those who can do nothing for us. He also urges Christians, and especially Christian leaders, to become humble servants who aren’t too good for the poor and the dirty. He reminds us that our theology is no good if we are not loving. He reminds Christians to remember that they are not under the law. These are just some of the awesome takeaways from this sermon series that everyone would be wise to hear.

However, there’s an incredible flaw in what Stanley has been teaching for the last five weeks, and it is the foundation for everything he says in the series. He describes the “temple model” as a system of religion that involves sacred places with sacred men interpreting sacred texts to control superstitious people. I wish I didn’t have to explain this, but what he is teaching is a gross mischaracterization of the Old Covenant. And in mischaracterizing the Old Covenant, he comes to very wrong conclusions about the New Covenant and misses the primary purpose of Christ’s coming. To make this point even stronger, in making accusations against the Old Covenant, he essentially is making an indictment on the God who inaugurated that covenant. He says that the “temple model” is about how you as an individual can get right with God and that the “Jesus model” is about loving our neighbor. But the Law was never intended to make us right before God, and Jesus’ primary purpose for coming to earth was in fact to make us right before God. From the third chapter of Genesis to the third to last chapter of Revelation, the thrust of Scripture is primarily focused on what God is doing to restore man’s relationship with him.

So what is the Old Covenant?

There are hints at the Old Covenant in God’s interactions with Adam, but the Old Covenant explicitly begins with a promise to Abraham in Genesis 15. There was a promise of land, which we know from Hebrews 11 to ultimately be the hope of the new heaven and the new earth. And there was a promise that Abraham’s descendants, which we know from Galatians 3 and Romans 9 to be those with the faith of Abraham, would become a great nation. Throughout the New Testament, we learn that the truest fulfillment of those promises was found in Jesus. By faith we are adopted as children of God and are given an inheritance. However, all the while, there has been a problem; man is sinful, and God is holy. This is a problem because sin separated mankind from the presence of God. We learn in Genesis 17 that the sign of the covenant with Abraham was circumcision; circumcision was an external sign of an internal reality, namely the circumcision of the heart. When Moses received the Law four hundred and thirty years later, it was not given to help people become righteous through obedience. Instead, the Law of Moses was given to expose people’s sin and lead them to faith in the promise of God. God’s covenant with Moses was filled with promises for the nation of Israel that were dependent upon their obedience, but God’s covenant with Abraham was an unconditional promise. As the nation of Israel developed, the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle were introduced. Since God could not be directly in the presence of Israel because of their sin, these were the specific places where the presence of God would reside. Priests would offer sacrifices for the people of God and for themselves in order to come before God and make petitions on behalf of the people of God. Eventually, under Solomon, the tabernacle was replaced by the temple, and God’s presence would dwell in a place called the Holy of Holies inside the temple. The Old Covenant was never about “sacred places with sacred men interpreting sacred texts to control superstitious people.” The Old Covenant was about God’s promise to redeem his people, and the temple was about God’s desire to dwell among his people. Jesus critiqued Pharisees, religious leaders, in the New Testament, but that was because they missed the point of the Old Covenant, not because the Old Covenant was Pharisaical. Instead, Jesus and all of the writers of the New Testament upheld the goodness of all of the Old Testament scriptures.

And what exactly changed in the New Covenant?

The New Covenant does indeed replace the Old, not because the Old was flawed, but because the Old was fulfilled in Christ. In the New Covenant, no more sacrifices are needed because Christ was the sacrifice for sin once and for all. Baptism would replace circumcision as the sign of the covenant, and like circumcision, baptism would be an external sign of an internal reality, namely the baptism of the Spirit. In the New Covenant, God’s presence would not dwell in the temple; God’s presence would dwell within the hearts of believers through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The old temple was destroyed both symbolically and physically because believers are the new temple.

Why am I writing this?

Andy Stanley actually notes this aspect of the New Covenant, that Christians are temples. However, the conclusion he makes is that being a temple is what makes us valuable and is what undergirds the New Testament ethic of love. He says that the Old Covenant was about making sure our relationship with God was right and that the New Covenant is about pursuing right relationships with others. He even says several times during the sermon series something to the effect of, “Don’t worry about how you treat God. God is fine. All you need to worry about is how you treat other people.” This is blasphemy. Andy Stanley is right to criticize the Pharisaical qualities of the modern church like legalism, power-seeking, and theological divisiveness. But at worst, he is criticizing very purpose for Christ’s coming, to save sinners.

Andy Stanley misses the point of both Covenants, and he completely inverts the Great Commandment. He might as well be saying, “Love your neighbor with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your God as yourself.” He does, rightly so, say that our love for God is displayed in our love for others. However, his explanation of what is central to New Covenant thinking reveals that there is actually no love for God involved. In Andy Stanley’s explanation of the New Covenant, love for neighbor is central and the cross is simply something Jesus did that helps us not have to worry about our relationship with God anymore.

On the contrary, when Jesus gives us the two greatest commands in the New Testament, he’s not only quoting the Old Testament, but he’s showing us the central ethic of Scripture across the board. Loving God and loving neighbor are not replacing the Old Testament; they are the two commandments on which all of the Law and Prophets are founded. Loving God and loving neighbor are the driving force behind every other command. Our love for God is and always has been important, and our love for others is and always has been important. However, Stanley seems to think that the first half of this is irrelevant and that the second half of this is something brand: new. Not so.

When Andy Stanley attacks the sacred places of the “temple model,” he attacks the dwelling place of God among His people. When he attacks the sacred men of the “temple model,” he attacks God-appointed, and yet flawed, men who sought the good of God’s people, and he implicitly attacks his own calling as a pastor to lead the church today. When he attacks thesacred texts of the “temple model,” he attacks the Scriptures that Jesus and all of the New Testament writers quote and affirm, and he calls into question the validity of the very text from which he is reading.

When he criticizes the church throughout history for becoming creedal and theologically-minded, he neglects the consistent New Testament warnings about false teachers and its urgings to guard our doctrine. When he tells you not to worry about your relationship with God, he mocks the practices of Jesus himself when he would retreat into times of prayer, meditation, fasting, and seeking the will of the Father. He undermines the purpose of baptism and communion which remind us of our right standing with God. He contradicts the consistent call of the New Testament for believers to work out their salvation by living obedient, holy lives. He says that the reasons people give for rejecting the church are things that Jesus called the church to reject as well, but Jesus said in John 15 that the church will be hated precisely because of their affiliation with him. There is clearly a huge disparity between how Jesus described the church and the picture Andy Stanley is painting of the church.

I don’t believe it would be wise to write Andy Stanley into the New Testament category of heretics and false teachers. However, I want to say publicly that Andy Stanley has shown, especially over the last five weeks, that he is, at the very least, an untrustworthy expositor of Scripture, and I would encourage those who have followed him to stop following him. Stanley has a tremendous platform and says a lot of good and helpful things, but when you are seeking pastoral leadership, you ought to seek it from those who prove themselves to be, more than just good communicators, faithful teachers of the Bible.

Andy Stanley wants you to stop worrying about your relationship with God and start worrying about your relationship with others. This is an incredibly unloving thing to tell you. We do indeed, as he says, show our love for God by loving others. However, if we truly love God, then our love for others will be driven by the desire for them to love God as well because we understand that a right relationship with God is what is best for them. The primary mission of the Church is to make disciples by preaching the gospel and teaching those disciples to obey the teachings of Christ. This is the mission that separates the Church from every humanitarian organization and non-Christian religion in the world. And it is love that fuels this mission. We want people to turn from their sin and trust in Christ because we care about people’s souls.

One of the things that Andy Stanley is right about is the fact that the church has largely been guilty of being unloving, and all of our pursuits of theological knowledge are ultimately in vain if they do not make us more loving. The church has been guilty of being more concerned with theological pride than with loving our neighbor. The church has been guilty of being more concerned with appearing wise than with operating with wisdom. The church has been guilty of accusatory judgment rather than graciousness and patience with sinners. The church has been guilty of selfishness rather than selflessness. The church ought not give up on solid theology, but the church ought to recognize that its theology is intended to propel its love.

The greatest command is not to love our neighbor. The greatest command is, always has been, and always will be to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The ultimate way we love God is by glorifying him in everything that we do. And the ultimate way we glorify him in everything that we do is by displaying his character in our lives. This is why loving our neighbor is so significant. We are not in the business of love because love is the new law. We are in the business of love because we love God. We love others because, in love, the glory of the God we love and the character of the God we love and the kingdom of the God we love are on display. The church is called to love one another because we know love to be a central element of righteousness and godliness. The church is called to meet needs because we recognize that the kingdom of God is a place void of earthly neediness. When we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, and show hospitality to strangers, we are displaying the character of God. There are no hungry, thirsty, naked, imprisoned, and poor strangers in heaven, and the church is called to love people in a way that reveals the kingdom of God on earth. More significantly, there are no unrighteous people in heaven. We can die without food. We can die without clothes. We can die as a martyr. We can die alone. But we cannot afford to die without God. Every earthly need pales in comparison to the eternal need for righteousness before God, and the most loving thing we can do for our neighbor is to bring them to the cross of Jesus Christ where that need was met. This is the ethic of the New Covenant.

The Holy Spirit is working in the hearts of believers to conform them to the image of Christ. As this happens, the love of Christ inevitably emanates. If we are truly his disciples, then love for others will be the fountain of our hearts. If it isn’t, then I pray that we would recognize that, repent from it, and turn to Christ for forgiveness and renewed life. A living faith works itself out in love, so may all of us pursue this kind of faith and consistently ask God to strengthen our faith to this end.

I love Andy Stanley. I really do. But my love for him leads me to pray for him that the faithful Christian leaders that I know are in his life would come beside him in correction, that the Lord would grant him ears to hear, and that the Lord would use his gifts to become a tremendous platform for the gospel. Will you join me in this prayer?

Source: By Xaiquiri Matthews, Not So, Brand: New, XM Blogio, http://xaqmatthews.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/not-so-brand-new.html, Published 02/03/2015. (Accessed 06/03/2015.)

Erin Benziger: “Bobbie Houston apparently has no regard for the Word”.

If you are a woman you could attend the neuron-free Hillsong women’s conferences put on by Bobbie Houston, (the next round of Colour Conferences starting in 7 days). Or you could actually tune into NoCompromise Radio and listen to Erin Benziger on the Equipping Eve segment, discussing the issues surrounding Hillsong’s deceptive theology for women.

Benziger states,

“So Hillsong church wants to look like the world and wants to welcome women into all kinds of roles into leadership and this and that. Well that’s fine. Hillsong can look like the world all they want. But they need to stop calling themselves a church.

And they may seek to not sideline the girls but they are doing so in direct disobedience to the Word of God. There is a place for women to serve, whether your young or old or married or single or widowed. And Jesus’ own ministry demonstrated that he had a heart for women. And that’s something I would like for us to look at another time: the importance of women in Jesus’ ministry.

But for now, we have to realise that when we seek to usurp the role that God has ordained to be exercised by men, we are turning his will upside down and replacing it with a will that reflects the sin of the world in which we live.” [28:38]

Here is the segment you can read up on and download:

On Women, Roles and Hillsong

Pastor-Bobbie-HoustonFirst Timothy 2:12 reads, “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” What did Paul mean by these words? Are these instructions open for interpretation? And if they are not, why do so many popular, professing Christian women seem willing to violate this command? What is the role of women in the Church? This latest episode of Equipping Eve tackles this controversial topic.

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

Source: Erin Benziger, On Women, Roles and Hillsong, NOCO, http://www.nocompromiseradio.com/2015/01/03/on-women-roles-and-hillsong/, Uploaded 03/02/2015. (Accessed 03/03/2015.)

Hillsong’s influence with influential people: Australian Treasurer Peter Costello and Houston’s invite for opposition leader Mark Latham

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“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”

“Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?” James 2:1-7

INTRODUCTION

We are posting all these articles to highlight the fact that Hillsong is not afraid to “leech” on people who make it big in society. And “leech” is the right word. (It is emotive because we have personally seen how the inside operations work with these mega-church phenomena.) As you can see with our recent articles, Hillsong likes to invite/associate with influential people, which then allows them to leverage off their “influential” status. If it’s at the expense of the celebrity they have befriended or talking to – they don’t care. The philosophy is for “The Cause” of Brian Houston’s movement. At the end of the day, it’s about Hillsong using these people to give Hillsong more credibility. The influential simply become an asset like everybody else.

OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE BELOW ARTICLE

The role of the church is to represent God and His Word – not political parties. Hillsong thinks likewise. In the article below, you will notice that Brian Houston allowed Australian treasurer of the Liberal Party, Peter Costello, to speak and pray at his annual Hillsong Conference. You will also notice Brian Houston’s apparent swipe at the Labour party leader Mark Latham although he invited him to speak at the Hillsong Conference:

“I gave Mr Latham an invitation to come this year and speak for a few minutes about his vision for the country but maybe they’re not quite seeing this demographic as important as some in the Liberal Party have seen it.”

Why is it so important for Houston to invite political leaders to speak from the Hillsong Conference stage? Notice how Houston and Rick Warren are both using their pastoral positions to get in the media spotlight over their celebrity/political stunts (Rick Warren: “Both of them are my friends” 2:35) to get a name for their churches. We stress again – if you’re famous, just like everybody else, you are simply an asset to these movements. The 7:30 Report published this transcript on Hillsong,

God and politics mix at Hillsong

MAXINE MCKEW: This week, a rocking religious worship album became the biggest selling CD in the country – that’s the biggest selling CD – leaping over big-label pop releases on the mainstream chart, surely something of a first.

It’s the latest outing from the Sydney-based evangelical church Hillsong, which also ships millions of CDs overseas.

The church is fast becoming an emerging religious powerhouse in Australia, with thousands of recruits and some influential figures taking more than a passing interest.

It’s no great political secret that governments these days are largely won or lost in the handful of marginal seats on the outer edges of our capital cities.

Winning the hearts and minds of these so-called aspirational voters is the door to government.

And it seems politicians are starting to realise that God may hold some of the keys.

Political editor Michael Brissenden reports from Sydney’s north-west, the rocking heartland of Australia’s booming evangelical Christian movement.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: No, it’s not a rock concert, well, not like they used to be.

There’s no wayward behaviour, no bad-boy stage antics, no backstage atrocities, no drugs.

No, these people are high on God.

SONG:# One way, Jesus, you’re the only one that I could live for.

# MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Well, God and politics.

BRIAN HOUSTON, HILLSONG CHURCH: We’ve asked Mr Costello to come tonight and to greet Hillsong 2004, so why don’t you give him a big warm welcome as he comes to greet us tonight.

PETER COSTELLO, TREASURER: To Brian, to Bobby, to the wonderful people of Hillsong.

I’ve addressed a few audiences in my time, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one with the enthusiasm and the commitment of tonight’s gathering.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: In just 20 years, the Hillsong Church in Sydney has gone from a small service in a school hall in the north-western suburbs to this.

SONG:# You live and you die.

And you rose again on high.

# BRIAN HOUSTON, HILLSONG CHURCH: These days, every weekend over 17,500 people pass through the doors from Friday night through to Sunday night and it’s been quite a miraculous story.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: This is now the fastest growing religious experience in the country.

The new Pentecostal preachers know it, the mainstream churches know it and, increasingly, the nation’s politicians know it, too.

DR DAVID MILLIKAN, UNITING CHURCH MINISTER: What was we see at Hillsong is the beginnings of a whole new shift in Australian Christianity.

Churches like Hillsong have a lot of money and they have a lot of political power.

PETER COSTELLO: We need a return to faith and the values which have made our country strong.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Peter Costello’s remarkably passionate opening address to the Hillsong conference in Sydney last week was public affirmation of the growing political influence of this new spiritualism.

PETER COSTELLO: The editorial writers may not understand it, but I want to say to you – more lives have been transformed by faith in Christ than have been transformed by the editorial writers.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Peter Costello, the son of a Baptist lay preacher, had been promising for some time to show a more compassionate political face and it seems it’s faith that’s emerging as the vehicle to help broaden his political image.

Not that that surprises many.

From all corners of the church, the Treasurer’s religious convictions are well known.

BRIAN HOUSTON: I think that he is a man of faith and he is a man of values and I took great encouragement from the fact he was courageous enough to be so bold about those issues.

DR DAVID MILLIKAN: I think Peter Costello has deep religious feelings within him.

I actually think that he feels that he has been destined by God to be the prime minister.

I’m sure he feels that in his very being.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: What does surprise many, though, is his enthusiastic embrace of Hillsong.

It’s a long leap of faith from Baptist austerity to rock’n’roll religion, but then, these days that could just as easily be interpreted as simply smart and pragmatic politics.

This is the key to why the Hillsong Church and churches like it have become so successful and why the politicians in turn are becoming more interested.

The message is a thoroughly modern one and one that sits neatly with the aspirations of people who live in suburbs like this.

A powerful part of that message is the gospel of prosperity.

If you believe in Jesus, the Church says, he’ll reward you here on earth as well as in heaven.

Brian Houston, the head preacher at Hillsong, is also the author of a book called You Need More Money.

It’s a Christian gospel that sits easily alongside today’s dominant political paradigm.

BRIAN HOUSTON: The church isn’t about money, but I do believe it is about equipping people to live lives that are bigger themselves.

And if we have nothing, there’s nothing we can do.

If we have a little, we can help a little.

And if we’ve got a lot, there’s a whole lot we can do.

DR DAVID MILLIKAN: Hillsong says that if you come to Jesus, then Jesus offers you, in fact promises you, that you will have a prosperous life, you’ll be healthy, you’ll be wealthy, your marriage will flourish, you’ll have a good sex life, your business will flourish and you will be a prosperous winner in this society.

Now, that is the religious version of exactly what the Howard Government is saying to us, and what they are holding out as the idea for Australian society.

So in that sense, Hillsong is the Howard Government at prayer.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Well, Mark Latham might have something to say about that.

The fact is the aspirational suburbs, of course, are often the ones sitting on the closest margins and both the preachers and the politicians want to win them over.

Louise Markus is the Liberal candidate for the western Sydney seat of Greenway.

She’s campaigning hard and could be a real chance to win in what used to be safe Labor territory.

But the demographics here are changing fast and, while she doesn’t want to make much of it, at least to us, the fact that she’s an active member of the Hillsong Church won’t actually do her any harm.

LOUISE MARKUS, LIBERAL CANDIDATE FOR GREENWAY: Well, I’m not here to talk about Hillsong Church specifically.

What’s important to me is the people across the whole of this electorate and what’s important to them.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Do you think being a member of the church, though, gives you some advantages here?

LOUISE MARKUS: I think people make their decision about who they’re going to vote for and who they want to represent them for a number of different reasons.

I think the values that people represent is significant.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Ms Markus says her values are the values of the Liberal Party, with family and individual responsibility at their heart.

Religious activists like David Millikan say the two are a comfortable and convenient mix?

DAVID MILLIKAN: The mainline churches are more problematic.

The mainline churches ask questions about refugee policy, about welfare policy and, see, the Howard Government has a very troubled relationship with people who question or argue about the justice or equity of what’s happening in Australia.

They’ll never get that discussion from Hillsong.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The Hillsong Church, though, says it hasn’t deliberately set out on a partisan political path, but Brian Houston says his flock is naturally interested in the direction the country’s taking.

BRIAN HOUSTON, HILLSONG CHURCH: I gave Mr Latham an invitation to come this year and speak for a few minutes about his vision for the country but maybe they’re not quite seeing this demographic as important as some in the Liberal Party have seen it.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Maybe Mr Latham should re-think.

Peter Costello’s obviously onto something here.

This week, the Hillsong worship album has become the biggest selling CD in the country.

BRIAN HOUSTON: The worship of Jesus Christ, this week at least, is the number one most popular music in the nation.

So, that’s what I stand for.

That’s what we live for.

It’s certainly a great moment.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: It’s certainly great marketing, but then maybe that’s what both the preachers and the politicians have always been looking for.

BRIAN HOUSTON: Father, we thank you for Mr Costello, we thank you for your PM, John Howard, we thank you, Father, for the Leader of the Opposition, Mark Latham.

Source: By Michael Brissenden, God and politics mix at Hillsong, ABC (7:30 Report), http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2004/s1154131.htm, Broadcast 14/07/2004. (Accessed transcript 01/03/2015.)

Hillsong’s influence with influential people: Bear Grylls, name dropping and “idolatry”

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Watch Brian Houston and co. talking with Bear Grylls from the Hillsong stage (and it’s painful to hear Brian Houston “name-drop” people).

You might be asking, after watching the above pointless clip, “Where’s Jesus?” in the above discussion. Good question. Below is an article from the Huffington Post.

Please note Hillsong is not Pentecostal and does not represent the Pentecostal Churches of Australia in spite of its wide range of claims. As the article rightly points out, Hillsong peddles the heretical prosperity theology. Many Pentecostal and even Charismatic leaders protest against this heretical movement and beliefs and will often state that Hillsong is a Word of Faith cult.

While Hillsong may offer a copy/paste belief statement to mislead people into believing they follow the beliefs of Christianity, the movement itself presents a false Jesus, a false gospel and a false faith which are more akin to the New Age and the early 19th metaphysical cults. Hillsong also deliberately cloaks itself behind  Christian music. However, the philosophy behind the movement is heavily anti-Christian and anti-intellectual. To question the theology is to question God Himself.

And since some of us from CW formerly attended the Hillsong movement – we are aware that Hillsong actively promotes their congregations and their college students to buy their CD’s to help promote their success. In other words, Hillsong knows how to promote their movement to give the appearance of being genuine. Nothing can be further from the truth.

The Huffington Post writes,

Australian Idolatry: Evangelical Christians Resurrecting the Music Industry

Prime Minister Julia Gillard may be an avowed atheist, but if the Australian music-buying public is anything to go by, she’s a tad out of step with her electorate. You might say she’s not singing from the same hymn sheet. God Is Able, an album of contemporary Christian music released by the stratospherically successful Hillsong mega-church in Sydney, recently debuted at number three in the Australian chart ahead of Beyonce and Lady Gaga, becoming the tenth album of Christian pop to reach the top ten there since 2002. And Hillsong has broken America without so much as breaking a sweat. Last year its youth ministry house band, Hillsong United, went in at number two on the US iTunes album chart, just behind Eminem. If it’s true that the music industry is in its death throes, then nobody told Hillsong.

Hillsong Music is the ‘resource arm’ of Hillsong Church, a Pentecostal ministry in Sydney which began in 1983 with a congregation of forty-five, and which now boasts a membership of 21,000, an annual conference attracting 28,000 faithful attendees, and a growing international footprint with churches in London, Paris, Cape Town, Stockholm and Kiev. In 2009 Hillsong London celebrated ten years of worship in the capital with a service at the O2 London Arena. More than 14,000 people attended.

Needless to say, any church funded by a ‘dynamic music label’, as its promotional materials describe it, is foursquare in the realms of ‘non-traditional’ financing models. But Hillsong is no traditional church. It is ministry with marketing strategies and corporate visions, communion by focus group, where clergy are CEOs and pastors head up ‘creative teams’. Services take place in ‘state-of-the-art worship centres’, in which chancel is jettisoned for multimedia ministry and preaching by PowerPoint. Hillsong London’s website, whose front page features a group of smiling twenty-somethings in chic winter wear, bears closer resemblance to a Gap advert than a call for cash and congregation. And possibly taking a leaf out of Scientology’s book, Hillsong now looks to the power of celebrity to spread the gospel; it recently hosted an ‘Evening with’-style event in which tele-survivalist Bear Grylls talked of Everest expeditions, alligator wrestling and the ‘quiet strength’ of his Christian faith. Jumble sales and church roof appeals it is not.

Masterminded by founders and senior pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston (no self-respecting mega-church is seen dead these days without an alliterating husband-and-wife team at the helm), Hillsong’s brand of ‘prosperity theology’ found a hungry market in Sydney’s affluent, conservative Baulkham Hills district during the 1990s. ‘Health and wealth gospel’, popularised in sixties America by the repellent Oral Roberts, proved to be an elixir for middle-class Christians in prosperous, suburban Australia, as the success of Brian Houston’s book You Need More Money: Discovering God’s Amazing Financial Plan For Your Life attests. Spiritual health and material wealth go hand in hand, says Houston; humility and sacrifice are not unimportant, but nor should the faithful be ashamed of material success.

And Brian should know. In the last year for which figures are available, Hillsong’s annual earnings were in the region of $60m, roughly half of which came from its congregation. You see, record sales aren’t the church’s only source of revenue. Tithing – such an archaic-sounding word among all that corporate speak – is still a vital part of Hillsong’s income. Houston admits to a personal package of $300,000 a year plus company car (Bobbie’s salary is undisclosed), but his company Leadership Ministries Inc. – ‘the entity through which Bobbie and I conduct our broader ministry’ – bought two waterfront properties from the couple shortly after the company was set up in 2001.

And it’s very much a family business. Joel Houston, Brian and Bobbie’s son (and incidentally a spit for Westlife’s Brian McFadden), leads the creative team behind Hillsong Music, the multi-million dollar hit machine that powers the operation. He is also the singer in Hillsong United, a ‘next generation praise and worship’ outfit which has released a new album every year since 1999, making Prince look positively idle. Churning out mostly live albums recorded at services and conferences, the Hillsong Music stable is so prolific that just as one release reaches the end of its chart life, another is waiting in the wings to take its place. Evidently the received wisdom in the music industry – that live albums don’t sell – doesn’t apply to Hillsong either.

They’ve done their homework, too. If it felt like Snow Patrol were following you around for three years from 2006, it’s because radio stations and music television channels the world over were banking on audience research which decisively crownedChasing Cars as the stickiest song of the noughties by a country mile. Hillsong, if you can imagine this without wincing, sounds like Snow Patrol singing from a prayer book. And in case you’re tempted to seek out this music for yourself, be warned. For the purposes of journalistic thoroughness I’ve listened to more than my fair share of it the past few days; it’s marginally less excruciating than chewing tinfoil.

Contemporary Christian music – CCM to its friends – is changing the market in other ways. For All You’ve Done, the first live worship album to debut at number one in Australia, drew widespread whingeing from disgruntled record labels, upset that almost all its sales rang through the cash registers at Hillsong’s annual conference. It’s hard to know which is more telling – the pointless display of sour grapes from the mainstream music industry, or the fact that sales at a religious conference can outstrip the buying power of an entire nation.

But it does raise the question of why Hillsong music is routing the secular competition so convincingly. Possibly these conference sales are more ‘got the t-shirt’ souvenir purchases than high-rotation repeat-players. Or perhaps it’s just that piracy is less rampant in Christian circles than in the wider market. Downloading music illegally isn’t proscribed by any specific commandment as far as I’m aware, but it does seem a very un-Christian thing to do. In 2007 Hillsong hit the headlines again, amid accusations of ‘vote stacking’ in the Australian Idol talent quest. Idol issued a formal, on-air statement refuting the allegations, although four of the eight finalists did in fact turn out to be from the Assemblies of God Pentecostal church, of which Hillsong is an affiliate. Idolatry – 1, Idol - nil.

On Christmas morning last year, finding myself with a few hours to kill before barbecued turkey and trimmings with my Sydney hosts, I went to see Hillsong for myself. I should state for the sake of transparency that I’m an atheist humanist, justifying my godless sneering on grounds of journalism (I was researching a book). But as I made my way there on the Hillsong courtesy shuttle, I felt like a freeloading interloper, a joyless gatecrasher en route to a children’s party with the sole intention of stealing party bags and calling the birthday boy names. To ease my conscience I resolved I would be the perfect houseguest, making every effort to participate, in as far as I could do so without compromising my principles or seeming to take the piss. If there was singing, I would sing. If there was hugging, I would hug. I drew the line only at praying.

Arriving at the church – sorry, worship centre – I was welcomed into a cavernous modern atrium by a model-pretty hostess bearing glad tidings and armfuls of Christmas candy. Dean Martin’s Winter Wonderland crooned from the speaker system. Free lattes and valet parking to all comers. Being slightly behind schedule I pressed on past the crèche and headed straight for the main room. (If ‘main room’ sounds a tad super-club, it’s not so far off the mark.) Five enormous TV screens flanked a wide stage, upon which Hillsong stalwart Robert Fergusson was already in mid-flow, hammering home the prosperity gospel as the gifting envelopes went round. In the audio clip below he urges us to be as ‘extravagant’ with our money as God is with his love:

Then two very happy but slightly stoned-sounding men appeared and invited all the kids onto the stage to show and tell what they got for Christmas.
“What did Santa bring you, little fella?” beamed Happy Man number 1.
Little boy: “An iPod Touch.”
“Whoooo!” clapped the audience.
“And what about you?” said Happy Man 2, turning to another little boy.
“A remote-controlled car.”
More whooping.
Happy Man 1: “Well, we’ve got some great prezzies to give away today, for the big kids as well as well as the little kids. But first we’re crossing live to our Hills campus, where our senior pastor Brian Houston is going to say a few words.”

I will say this for Christmas at Hillsong: it’s an ambitious and tightly choreographed technical feat they’re pulling off. All this ‘crossing live’ felt like Live Aid – it was terrifically exciting. On the TV screens behind, another show-and-tell session was finishing up at the Hills service across town. A third happy man was talking about prezzies for big kids and little kids, and then Houston himself was striding back and forth across the stage in front of foot-high chapter and verse, a bible in his hand and a flesh-coloured Madonna-mike clamped to his cheek. Swap the bible for an iPad and he could have passed for Steve Jobs unveiling his vision for the exciting next phase of the company.

He launched into some impassioned stuff about Emmanuel, punctuated with fists in the air about his GRACE and DIVINITY, which I confess was where I started to tune out. It’s not that I wasn’t listening, just that a sort of glazing over took place. The same thing happens when I listen to evangelical preachers on the radio, which I do often in America, where late-night preaching is among the most compelling speech radio on the dial. It’s a little like the shipping forecast on BBC Radio 4 – fantastically hypnotic, but utterly incomprehensible unless you’re in on the lingo. Very often the welcome end result is blissful slumber.

So what did this godless impostor make of Christmas at Hillsong? Was it the riot of divinely sanctioned conspicuous consumption I had feared? Not quite, but it wasn’t far off. Did it feel like congregation? Emphatically not – it was spectacle from start to finish. And that’s what bothered me, if I was bothered by anything at all. This was a show, with high production values and a competitively priced soundtrack available in the foyer on your way out. If I was going to ‘get’ any kind of worship, as a music lover it should have been this. But Hillsong was more awards ceremony than gig, more exclusive media event than inclusive musical or spiritual experience. The live link ups were impressive and fabulously next generation, but in the end the action was always happening somewhere else. I needn’t have worried about crashing the party, because in more senses than one I wasn’t invited.

It struck me that, right now, the lavishness of Hillsong could only work in Australia, seemingly the only economy in the world these days untroubled by debt, deficit or danger of default. Anywhere else – including America, where the mega-church model seems to be crumbling – the extravagant giving, all the showing and the telling, would seem a tad inappropriate. Shuffling out of the auditorium, I made my way by courtesy shuttle to my Christmas lunch engagement, gifting a Transformer toy to my hosts’ going-on-three year-old as I arrived. He was thrilled of course, but somehow I couldn’t shake the feeling that, to truly enter into the Christmas spirit, I should have rocked up with an iPod Touch.

Source: By Chris Price, Australian Idolatry: Evangelical Christians Resurrecting the Music Industry, Huffington Post, 14/09/2011 23:46 BST Updated: 14/11/2011 10:12 GMT. (Accessed 28/02/2015.)

Hillsong’s influence with influential people: “Brian Houston, is one of [Scott] Morrison’s mentors”

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The Monthly reports,

SCOTT MORRISON: SO WHO THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU?

In a country that has always exhibited a fickle streak towards foreigners heading for its shores, Scott Morrison is especially well credentialed to speak on the subject of his shadow portfolio, immigration. The Liberal politician who has spent much of the past 18 months regurgitating the phrase ‘stop the boats’ was also the managing director of Tourism Australia, who asked the rest of the world: ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ The member for Cook, who counts Desmond Tutu and the anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce among his heroes, reportedly argued in shadow cabinet that the Liberals should exploit community concerns about Muslim immigrants.

The man who attests that his faith has imbued him with “the values of loving kindness, justice and righteousness” also tried to make political hay when relatives of asylum seekers killed in the boat tragedy off Christmas Island in December 2010 were flown at taxpayers’ expense to attend their loved ones’ funerals in Sydney. The Scott Morrison who claims that deterring boat people from ever embarking on the hazardous journey across the Indian Ocean offers the most humane and Christian approach is also the Scott Morrison whose incessant politicisation of the issue has made compromise so difficult. “There is nothing to negotiate,” he said after a vessel carrying 250 asylum seekers sank off the coast of Java in December, adding glibly that Labor had “super-sized” the problem by releasing boat people into the community.

During his maiden speech to parliament in February 2008, Morrison quoted Bono as he made an impassioned appeal for more aid to Africa – hardly a hot-button issue for his constituents in Cronulla. His first words in the chamber acknowledged the Gweagal people of the Dharawal nation, the traditional owners of the land now occupied by his parliamentary seat. Admirers describe him as compassionate, personable, moral and extremely able. Critics take a wholly different view, calling him arrogant, over-ambitious and bullying. “It is impossible to talk about Scott Morrison,” says one, “without dropping the C-bomb.” So with the 43 year old spoken of as a possible future Liberal leader, Australians could be forgiven for asking: ‘Who the bloody hell are you?’

*

Scott Morrison was born in Bronte in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, now one of the richest enclaves of the country’s richest parliamentary constituency. His family background, however, could hardly be described as part of the elite. Rather, it was strongly Christian and communitarian. His father, John, was a police commander who founded the local Boys Brigade in Bondi Junction, played rugby for Randwick and was an active member of the local RSL. John Morrison was also politically active, serving 16 years on the local council as an Independent and becoming the mayor of Waverley in the mid 1980s. His son’s first political act came at the age of nine, when he handed out how-to-vote cards on behalf of his father.

Scott was an active member of the Uniting Church in Bondi Junction, where his father says he became “a dedicated Christian”. Like his parents, he threw himself into a range of activities – rugby, music, rowing and drama. “He was well liked, a very personable chap,” recalls Reverend Ray Green, who knew him as a child. “He was definitely a leader. People used to follow him around. He was also liked by the girls. There were quite a few in the Girls Brigade who thought he was the ant’s pants.” He met his future wife, Jenny, at church, aged just 12. She had grown up in the St George area of south Sydney, solid battler territory, and used to tease Scott about coming from the posh side of town.

From early on, Scott and his elder brother Alan were instilled with a strong sense of community service (Alan Morrison is now a superintendent in the NSW ambulance service). Scott is a muscular Christian in his father’s mould, and in his zero-tolerance approach towards border protection, perhaps there is something of the police commander as well. Neither did it come as a complete surprise to learn that his bloodline reaches back to Northern Ireland. Whenever I have encountered Scott Morrison, he has reminded me of the Orangemen I used to run into in Belfast, who marched in their tangerine V-shaped collarettes to the thumping beat of the Lambeg drum. Typically they were genial men, of ’50s-era sensibilities, who were prone to defensiveness and flashes of anger on the thorny subject of the border.

Morrison is now a Pentecostal and thus part of the most rapidly growing denomination in the land. He worships at an American-style mega-church called Shirelive in his constituency, where the gospel of prosperity is preached in an auditorium that can accommodate over 1000 evangelicals. With its water baptisms and designer-shirt pastors, Shirelive has close ties with the better-known Hillsong community. The founder of Hillsong, Harley Davidson–riding pastor Brian Houston, is one of Morrison’s mentors. In Who’s Who Morrison lists the church as his number one hobby, and his maiden speech reads in part like a personal testimony delivered on the last night of a church retreat. It included passages from Jeremiah and also the Book of Joel: “Your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”

A test of his faith came during the period when he and his wife were trying to start a family. It involved repeated courses of IVF treatment and “14 years of bitter disappointments”, but Scott and Jenny were buoyed by their sense of the providential. “God remembered her faithfulness,” recalled Morrison during his maiden speech, as he paid tribute to his wife, “and blessed us with our miracle child, Abbey Rose.” The couple now have two daughters.

While his faith animates his politics, he is on the record as saying “the Bible is not a policy handbook, and I get very worried when people try to treat it like one”. Critics would say that is self-evident from his heartless response to asylum seekers. “I wonder how you can claim to be a serious Christian and take these positions,” said one former colleague. Supporters, however, claim he has pursued a faith-based policy. “He’s a very ethical and moral man,” says a fellow Liberal. “Stopping the boats is ethical and moral.” In his response to December’s boat people tragedy off Java, he advocated a ‘tough love’ policy, which he claimed had the safety of boat people at its heart. After all, for Morrison the Pacific Solution was not only efficient but righteous since it crushed the evil of people smuggling. Church friends might even have seen shades of Wilberforce in his efforts to eradicate such a nefarious trade. To his critics, however, his attacks on the government, which resumed 48 hours after the overloaded boat capsized, offered yet more proof of his harrying opportunism: this was more about political point-scoring than finding a workable solution.

School for Scott Morrison was Sydney Boys High, one of the best in the public sector, while his student years were spent at the University of New South Wales studying economics and geography. That led to jobs in a number of industry groups, including the Property Council of Australia and what was then known as the Tourism Task Force (now the Tourism and Transport Forum). He served as the number two at the TTF before jumping ship to its main rival, Tourism Council Australia. Afterwards, the TTF changed its employment contracts to prevent others from “doing a Morrison”.

When the New Zealand government wanted to set up an Office of Tourism and Sport, it turned to Morrison. Across the ditch, he was associated with the highly acclaimed ‘100% Pure New Zealand’ campaign, but also drew fire from Labor MPs for being the political placeman of the country’s then tourism minister and now foreign affairs minister, Murray McCully. The New Zealand Herald dubbed him McCully’s “hard man”. When McCully resigned his portfolio in 1999, over a scandal involving “golden handshakes” to tourism board members who had resisted his heavy-handed interference, Morrison lost his chief political sponsor. So with a year still left on his contract, he returned to Sydney in March 2000, where he took up a position as the state director of the NSW Liberal Party.

Party chieftains deemed Morrison’s four-year tenure an outstanding success. Though he could never dislodge the state Labor government from power, he revitalised the party machine, and helped the Coalition gain three federal seats from Labor in New South Wales at the 2001 federal election. John Howard said he had never seen the state party better organised.

His reward came after the 2004 federal election, when the Coalition needed a chief executive to head its newly created tourism body, Tourism Australia. In a move that reeked of political cronyism, Joe Hockey, the then tourism minister, gave Morrison the $350,000-a-year post. His reign at Tourism Australia lives in the memory for the troubled ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ campaign that ran afoul of the British advertising regulator. Fran Bailey, Hockey’s successor as tourism minister, even had to make an emergency trip to London to cajole the British into overturning their ban amid grumbles from her ministry that a closer reading of UK regulations would have alerted Tourism Australia to the problem. Eventually, the campaign worked well in the US, UK and German markets, partly because the controversy surrounding the use of the word ‘bloody’ delivered a bonanza of free publicity. It flopped, however, in Asia, and especially the all-important Japanese market, where the slogan was unfathomable.

Something of a bureaucratic black belt from his days in New Zealand, Morrison also fought running battles with Tourism Australia’s nine-strong board. Its members complained that he did not heed advice, withheld important research data about the controversial campaign, was aggressive and intimidating, and ran the government agency as if it were a one-man show. But Morrison thought he had the upper hand. Confident that John Howard would ultimately back him, Morrison reportedly boasted that if Fran Bailey got in his way, he would bring her down. When board members called for him to go, however, Bailey agreed, and soon it was Morrison who was on his way. “Fran despised him,” says an industry insider. “Her one big win was ousting Scott. His ego went too far.” Another senior industry figure claims that it was Morrison’s arrogance, combined with his misreading of John Howard and the power dynamics of Canberra, that proved his undoing: “He was naive to think he could take on the politicians. Howard was always going to back his ministers.” The “agreed separation” was said to have pocketed him at least a $300,000 payout.

Afterwards, Morrison was given a stopgap role as the “minder” for the then NSW Liberal leader Peter Debnam in the run-up to the 2007 state election. During the campaign, Debnam sported his budgie smugglers at Bondi with such pride that his early morning appearances could easily have been mistaken for a tourism advertisement. Yet even Morrison’s famed organisational skills could not stop Labor from winning in a canter.

Soon Morrison turned his attention to getting himself a seat in federal parliament, and eyed up the safe seat of Cook, which encompasses the Sutherland Shire or ‘God’s Country’, as locals prefer to call it. His friend Bruce Baird, who had been seen as too much of a ‘wet’ by John Howard to be entrusted with a ministry, had decided to step down rather than face what looked like being a nasty challenge from the right of his party. Sure enough, it turned out to be one of the most vituperative preselection campaigns in NSW history, with the right and left factions waging an internecine war. Morrison was not backed by either side – Bruce Baird remained neutral – and he finished a long way back on the first ballot, receiving just eight votes.

Michael Towke, a Lebanese Christian from the right faction, won. Four days later, amid allegations of branch stacking, Towke became the victim of a smear campaign, with a series of damaging personal stories leaked to the Daily Telegraph (after mounting a legal fight, News Limited offered him an out-of-court settlement). There were dark mutterings, as well, that a Lebanese Australian could never win a seat that had recently witnessed the Cronulla riot. The upshot of the smear campaign was that the NSW state executive refused to endorse Towke’s nomination, and demanded a second ballot. The beneficiary was Scott Morrison, a cleanskin in the factional fight, who was parachuted in as a unity candidate. So it is a mistake to presume Morrison is simply an ideal Sutherland Shire man. Local party members initially rejected him, partly because he was considered insufficiently right wing.

Preselection at the second time of asking brought with it the prospect of a safe Liberal seat. In the 2007 election, Scott Morrison was duly elected as the member for Cook, the point of arrival for the first boat people in the history of modern Australia: the crew of the HMS Endeavour.

*

Scott Morrison presented himself as a Liberal moderate in his first speech to parliament. Not only did he acknowledge the traditional owners, honour Desmond Tutu and William Wilberforce, quote Bono and pay tribute to Bruce Baird, he made reference to Kevin Rudd’s national apology to Indigenous Australians that had brought the chamber to its feet the previous day. “There is no doubt that our Indigenous population has been devastated by the inevitable clash of cultures that came with the arrival of the modern world in 1770 at Kurnell in my electorate,” he noted, and proclaimed himself “proud” of the national apology. Much of the speech could easily have been penned by Malcolm Fraser. His father, John, reckons it reveals the true Scott Morrison: “That speech says what he is and the way he thinks.”

So obviously an up-and-comer, Morrison did not remain on the Opposition backbench for long. Malcolm Turnbull, recognising a fellow traveller from the moderate wing of the party, elevated him to the shadow ministry as the spokesman for housing and local government in 2008. But it was the immigration portfolio handed to him by Tony Abbott in 2009 that provided the vehicle for his rise to prominence.

As the party lurched to the right under the leadership of Abbott, so too did Morrison, and the tourism marketeer proved himself an adept political sloganeer. Gone now was the antipodean Wilberforce of his freshman speech. Instead, he cast himself as a central figure in the Liberal fight-back, much to the annoyance of longbeards in the party who grumbled that he was a first-termer in too much of a hurry. “Supreme opportunism,” scoffed one senior Liberal when I asked about the one-time moderate’s confrontational approach on asylum seekers.

The more publicity that came Scott Morrison’s way, the more hardline he became. So much so that last February, on the morning when victims of the Christmas Island boat people tragedy were due to be buried in Sydney, he launched an ill-tempered attack on the government for paying for family members to make the long journey from Christmas Island. Among them was Madian El Ibrahimy, a detainee at the Indian Ocean detention centre, whose wife, Zman, four-year-old son, Nzar, and eight-month-old daughter, Zahra, had all died at sea. “Do you think you run the risk of being seen as heartless on the day of these funerals to be saying — to be bickering over this money?” asked ABC reporter Barbara Miller, whose report that morning was broadcast on AM. Morrison replied: “When it comes to the question of do I think this is a reasonable cost then my honest answer is, ‘No, I don’t think it is reasonable.’” Seasoned commentators struggled to recall a nastier instance of gutter politics from a senior politician since the heyday of Pauline Hanson. Labor accused him of “stealing soundbites from One Nation”.

Seemingly blindsided, Tony Abbott gave the remarks a lukewarm endorsement when he appeared on Andrew Bolt’s MTR radio program later that morning. “It does seem a bit unusual that the government is flying people to funerals,” said Abbott, though he cushioned his response with genuine sympathy for the survivors. Instead, it was left to Joe Hockey to condemn the remarks: “I would never seek to deny a parent or a child from saying goodbye to their relative.” Then came an acid shower of criticism from party elders. John Hewson called his comments “inhumane”. Malcolm Fraser was scornful: “I hope Scott Morrison is just a fringe element in the party.” More woundingly, Bruce Baird also slapped down his one-time protégé: “I’m very disappointed that Scott would make those comments. It is lacking in compassion at the very time when these people have been through such a traumatic event.”

Morrison also enraged certain members of the shadow cabinet, some of whom seemingly thought he was trying to grandstand his way towards seniority, and then the leadership. At least one exacted revenge by providing damaging leaks from a shadow cabinet meeting the previous December. Chairing the meeting in Tony Abbott’s absence, Julie Bishop had opened up a discussion on which issues should be prioritised in the new year. “What are we going to do about multiculturalism?” Morrison was reported as saying. “What are we going to do about concerns about the number of Muslims?” Morrison later noted: “The gossip reported does not reflect my views,” which fell short of an outright denial.

Morrison declined an invitation to contribute to this profile, but during a lengthy interview on ABC’s Sunday Profile with the journalist Julia Baird, daughter of Bruce, he spoke more about the Christmas Island tragedy. He explained how he regretted the timing of his comments – it was “a very insensitive time for me to have made those remarks” – but not their content. Revealingly, he also recalled how the weekend before, during one of his regular consultations in Cronulla Mall, two pensioners had complained about government waste, and how they themselves no longer felt valued: “And every time they saw money particularly being spent in this area or in the blow-out in costs in [dealing with] asylum seekers and others it really, really offended them.” Here was populism in one of its most unfiltered forms, for Morrison seemed to be suggesting that he was merely a mouthpiece for these elderly constituents. It was not so much a case of dog-whistle politics as megaphone politics.

His comments also provide another vital clue for his lurch to the right: what might be called ‘the Shire factor’. Morrison no doubt recalls how he was rejected in the first round of preselection, and also that the right-wing candidate who beat him, Michael Towke, still controls many of the local branches. What better way for a first-termer to shore up support in Cronulla than to champion the issue of border protection?

Perhaps Scott Morrison entered parliament imagining a very different career, where the nobler instincts of his maiden speech would define his politics. However, the gusto with which he has assailed the government over asylum seekers suggests that his decision to adopt such a hardline stance was morally uncomplicated. He, no doubt, would claim it is simply moral. The boat people issue, where his ambitions and survival instincts intersect, has both advanced his career in Canberra and consolidated his position in Cook. He has become a creature of the capital’s hyper-adversarialism and also of his Cronulla constituents’ parochialism. So while this eastern-suburbs native may not be a product of the Sutherland Shire, he may have become its captive. For Scott Morrison, it is not only a question of how he will be judged by God, but also by ‘God’s country’.

Source: By Nick Bryant, SCOTT MORRISON: SO WHO THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU?, The Monthly, http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2012/february/1328593883/nick-bryant/so-who-bloody-hell-are-you, ??/02/2012. (Accessed 28/02/2015.)

Has Hillsong asked Sunday World to retract their story?

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EDIT 26/02/2015: Since Hillsong leadership have quickly responded to this publication from SundayWorld, we offer our readers what Hillsong leaders have said in relation to the story below.

Lentz-Houston-Mercer

CARL LENTZ

It appears that Carl Lentz has responded to the below article published by Sunday World through Saiko Woods.

“Saiko Woods contacted Carl earlier today and he said it wasn’t true at all.”

Source: FaceBook, https://www.facebook.com/piratechristian/posts/10205689062133080?comment_id=10205689123254608&offset=0&total_comments=34, Published 25/02/2015, 17:08. (Accessed 25/02/2015.)

Saiko Woods also stated,

“Carl Lentz said the report isn’t true. Justin isn’t performing at his church at all.”

Source: Saiko Woods, FaceBook, https://www.facebook.com/saiko.woods/posts/10203322676500098?comment_id=10203322693980535&offset=0&total_comments=24, Published 25/02/2015, 08:16. (Accessed 26/02/2015.)

“Supposedly!”

Source: Saiko Woods, FaceBook, https://www.facebook.com/saiko.woods/posts/10203322676500098?comment_id=10203322694540549&offset=0&total_comments=24, Published 25/02/2015, 08:16. (Accessed 26/02/2015.)

BRIAN HOUSTON

Chris Rosebrough reported Lyall Mercer offered a statement made by Brian Houston,

Lyall Mercer who is a PR agent for Hillsong says that Brian Houston has issued a statement saying “Not true that Justin Bieber has qualified to be lay preacher or plans by Hillsong to rush him onto our platform.”

Source: Chris Rosebrough, FaceBook, https://www.facebook.com/piratechristian/posts/10205689062133080, Published 25/02/2015, 16:42. (Accessed 25/02/2015.)

LYALL MERCER (Hillsong’s PR)

Chris Rosebrough published the original article on Beiber from SundayWorld on twitter. Lyall Mercer replied,

No truth to this. Dangerous to believe Hollywood gossip stories.

Source: Lyall Mercer, Twitter, https://twitter.com/LyallMercer/status/570454929812299778, 9:27 PM – 24 Feb 2015. (Accessed 26/02/2015.)

Chris responded,

Are you speaking as an official representative of Hillsong?

Source: Lyall Mercer, Twitter, https://twitter.com/LyallMercer/status/570454929812299778, 9:31 PM – 24 Feb 2015. (Accessed 26/02/2015.)

What was Mercer’s response?

on behalf of the church, yes.

Source: Lyall Mercer, Twitter, https://twitter.com/LyallMercer/status/570469488476475392, 10:24 PM – 24 Feb 2015. (Accessed 26/02/2015.)

On Twitter, Lyall Mercer writes,

Reports in abt Justin Bieber “performing” at Hillsong LA not correct. Also not true that he is lay preacher. Totally fabricated

Source: Lyall Mercer, Twitter, https://twitter.com/LyallMercer/status/570453837896511488, 9:27 PM – 24 Feb 2015. (Accessed 26/02/2015.)

Resistance is futile. Submit to Hillsong's vision.

What are your thoughts? Who is right? Does anyone have additional information on this story?

The SundayWorld reports,

Justin ‘Believer’ Bieber to perform… from the pulpit

Justin Bieber is planning a series of new performances… delivering sermons from the pulpit of his favourite church.

The pop brat claims to have turned over a new leaf after qualifying as a lay preacher following an intensive, three-month bible study course.

And he even wants to bring TV cameras into L.A.’s trendy Hillsong Church so he can preach to the masses and spread the good word as a part-time televangelist.

Bieber, who turns 21 next Sunday, has helped Hillsong become the first church in history to be signed by top Hollywood talent agency William Morris Endeavor.

The agency, whose megastar clients include Robert De Niro, Ben Affleck, John Travolta, Taylor Swift and Kanye West, is already reportedly negotiating a prime time small screen slot on Sundays with two networks.
And, to help boost ratings, The Bieb has offered to help staff clergy by reading sermons and even appealing for donations on camera.

Hillsong is a Pentecostal church that was founded in Australia in 1983 by married pastors Brian and Bobby Houston and quickly achieved popularity through its pop-style worship music, selling more than 12 million Christian records worldwide.

It now draws 100,000 attendees to services in 11 countries every week, including at the Belasco Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles, where keen devotee Bieber has brought several fellow celebrities.

These include his former girlfriend, 22-year-old singer Selena Gomez, High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens (26) and Glee star Lea Michelle (28), who has raved about Hillsong’s “amazing vibe”.

Bieber claims the church has “transformed” his life after two years of bad boy behaviour around the world that landed him in several legal scrapes and even punch-ups with rival stars like Orlando Bloom.

He said: “I’ve done a few things that might not have been the greatest. But I’m ready to own up to them.”

Source: By Mike Parker, Justin ‘Believer’ Bieber to perform… from the pulpit, http://www.sundayworld.com/news/justin-believer-bieber-to-perform-from-the-pulpit-hillsong, Accessed 25/02/2015.

Once again, we ask the question.

Has Hillsong made any attempt to get Sunday World to retract their story?

The dangerous new teachings of Andy Stanley.

(EDIT 21/02/2015: Added new Andy Stanley’s sermon review which was published on FFtF on the 16/02/2015 .)

Chris Rosebrough has sounded the alarm for Christians to watch out for Andy Stanley’s latest dangerous teachings. It appears that these new teachings from Stanley will be steering the dangerous Seeker Sensitive “Church” movement into greater apostasy.

In reviewing Andy Stanley’s sermon (titled Brand: New), Chris exposed how Stanley downplayed the “sacred” in Christianity and that the bible supports the Seeker Sensitive church model. As Chris Rosebrough pointed out, nothing could have been further from the truth.

This sermon review is worth your while. Below the sermon review is a good article expressing and addressing the issues with Andy Stanley’s teaching.

From Fighting for the Faith,

FEBRUARY 12, 2015

Don’t Miss The Sermon Review!

Click Here to Download this episode

Program segments:

**Do Not Miss the Sermon Review, It’s THAT Important**

• 2015 Prophetic Stragglers Matt Sorger & Jim Bakker
• Cindy Jacobs and the Highway of Holiness?
• T.D. Jakes on Supply & Demand
• Sermon Review: Brand New by Andy Stanley

Source: Chris Rosebrough, Don’t Miss The Sermon Review!, Fighting for the Faith, http://www.fightingforthefaith.com/2015/02/dont-miss-the-sermon-review.html, Published 12/02/2015. (Accessed 15/02/2015.)

Chris has also reviewed Stanley’s next sermon:

FEBRUARY 16, 2015

Andy Stanley’s Da Vinci Code Rewrite Of Church History

Click Here to Download this episode

Program segments:

• Andy Stanley’s Da Vinci Code Rewrite of Church History

Source: Chris Rosebrough, Andy Stanley’s Da Vinci Code Rewrite Of Church History, Fighting for the Faith, http://www.fightingforthefaith.com/2015/02/andy-stanleys-da-vinci-code-rewrite-of-church-history.html, Published 16/02/2015. (Accessed 21/02/2015.)

Philip Lee writes,

What Andy Stanley is Teaching This Month and Why it Matters

I’ve listened to Andy Stanley’s most recent Sunday sermon three times now.  I watched the 9:00 AM service live online.  I listened to the download made available by North Point Community Church, which came from the second service and contains a few minor differences compared to the sermon I watched live.  Finally, I listened to Chris Rosebrough’s review of the sermon in the February 16 edition of Fighting for the Faith.

Why? I think what’s happening at North Point this month is going to have long-lasting effects on American, and even global, Christianity.

Andy Stanley is easily one of the top five most influential pastors in America, and maybe top 2-3.  It’s impossible to quantify such things of course, but it is easily seen if you pay attention to the broad landscape of American Evangelicalism.  It’s no secret that pastors around the country duplicate Stanley’s sermons and series, and there have been documented cases of pastors plagiarizing Stanley word-for-word.  Thousands and thousands of pastors around America and around the world look to Stanley as a leader and follow his teaching and methods.

Stanley is currently teaching a five week series titled Brand: New.  Stanley’s assumption is that Christianity has been corrupted by “Temple Model” thinking since the days of Constantine.  He defines the Temple Model as being controlled by sacred places, sacred texts, sacred men, and sincere followers.

His definition of the true Jesus religion comes from half a verse in Galatians.  In the ESV, Galatians 5:6 in its entirety reads, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”  In his sermon series, Stanley has repeatedly quoted the NIV’s translation of the second sentence of the verse which reads, “The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.”

Stanley is attempting to build a doctrine of Christianity on half of one verse.  And his version of Christianity is one in which it doesn’t matter what a person believes or does, as long as they love their neighbors.

In other words, Stanley is embracing theological liberalism.  Actually it might be better to say he’s no longer hiding his theological liberalism.

Three years ago Al Mohler asked, following an Andy Stanley sermon, if the megachurch is the new liberalism.  In that sermon, Stanley told the story of two men in his church involved in a homosexual relationship.  One man was divorced, the other still married.  Stanley told the congregation that the men were forbidden from serving in the church, not because they were in a homosexual relationship, but because one was still married and therefore committing adultery.  Many people questioned at the time if Stanley was signaling his approval of gay Christianity – the idea that a person can be actively involved in a homosexual relationship and a Christian.

When I first read about what Stanley was teaching in the Brand: New series I thought he was going to come out as gay affirming.  After listening to the first and third sermons in the series I’m not convinced he’s going to make that explicit at this time, but I do believe he is laying the groundwork to do this in the future.  Based on comments made this past Sunday, it does seem likely that Stanley is going to endorse female leadership in the church in week five of the series.

All of this is significant because of Stanley’s influence.

If Stanley openly embraces liberalism in the name of bringing more people to Jesus, thousands of others will follow. It should be noted that liberals have been making the same argument for more than two centuries, and that every church that has embraced liberalism is now dead or dying, but the arguments keep being made and people keep buying into them.

Liberalism has always denied essential doctrines of the Christian faith in order to make the faith more palatable to unbelievers.  The problem is that if people don’t believe in the God who has revealed in Himself in Scripture, if they don’t believe in the Jesus revealed in Scripture, they are not in Christ, no matter what they call themselves.

The seeker-sensitive movement, in which Stanley is a major player, seeks to make Christianity as accessible as possible to the largest number of people possible.  Up to now, most seeker-sensitive churches have remained theologically sound on paper while functioning as liberal churches.  They’ve managed to keep their feet in both worlds.

I think that’s about to change.

Stanley has been always been zeroed in on what’s happening in the culture.  Twenty years ago when he started North Point in the heart of the Bible Belt, he could not have survived by openly embracing liberalism.  The Bible Belt culture simply would not have tolerated a pastor who openly endorsed homosexual Christianity, female pastors, a denial of the Biblical account of creation, or any of the other hot-button issues of our day.

Things have changed.  Even among professing Christians today, very few still hold to those positions.  Stanley now sees that it is more costly to deny that a homosexual can be involved in homosexual sin and be a Christian than it is to embrace gay Christianity.  Even in the Bible Belt, it will be more costly to deny evolution than embrace it.

So, he will say that it doesn’t matter what a person believes as long as they love.

It was very telling, and honestly shocking, that it in this past Sunday’s sermon he indicated that it didn’t matter that Arius believed Jesus wasn’t eternal.  For 1700 years virtually every branch of religion that calls itself Christian; Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestantism has agreed that Arius was a heretic who was outside the Christian faith.  Stanley said Sunday that it was no big deal.  It doesn’t matter what a person believes, as long as they love.

The problem is that Jesus and the Apostles repeatedly warned against those who would proclaim a different gospel or a different Jesus.  A Jesus who is not eternally God, as Arius taught, is most certainly a different Jesus than the one revealed in Scripture.  The blood of a different Jesus can not atone for our sins.

I do believe that God’s grace is such that those who are unknowingly caught up in a false system can be saved in spite of what they’re being taught if they recognize their sinfulness and trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins.  But woe to those who preach a different gospel.  It’s ironic that Stanley is using a verse from Galatians as the foundation for his series.  In Galatians 1:6-9 Paul wrote:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 

The immediate context of Paul’s letter to the Galatians was the Judaizers attempting to make circumcision a requirement for salvation.  Stanley is clearly not doing that.  But, in saying that the only thing that matters at the end of the day is how well we’ve loved our neighbors, he is coming dangerously close to preaching a different gospel and putting people back under the yoke of the Law, if he hasn’t crossed the line.

The summary of the Law and the Prophets, according to Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40, is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  

Loving your neighbor as you love yourself is Law, and the Law cannot save you unless you keep it perfectly from the day you’re born until the day you die.  The problem?  We’re all born dead in trespasses and sins and cannot keep the Law.  We’re all guilty.  So telling people it doesn’t matter what they believe as long as they love others is actually putting people back under the yoke of the Law.

Should we love God? Absolutely! Should we love our neighbors? Absolutely!  But if we try to do so without being given new life by God’s grace through faith in the Jesus revealed to us in Scripture, we remain dead in our trespasses and sins and children of God’s wrath.  There is no salvation without repentance and faith in the true Jesus.

I don’t yet know what Stanley is going to say in the final two sermons of this series.  I think we all need to be paying attention though.  Stanley’s influence is such that if he goes off the rails of orthodoxy and into apostasy, American Christianity as we know it will change forever.  I don’t think I’m exaggerating.

Source: By Philip Lee, What Andy Stanley is Teaching This Month and Why it Matters, 24 Emmaus Rd, http://24emmausroad.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/what-andy-stanley-is-teaching-this.html, Published 17/02/2015. (Accessed 19/02/2015.)

Like father, like son: Hillsong’s sandy foundations (Part 1)

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Jesus says,

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:24-27

The purpose of this article is to examine a sermon excerpt from Brian Houston. This sermon was entitled, “My Salvation – My Freedom from Shame.” Brian preached this sermon after presenting his case around his father’s pedophilia to the Royal Commission.

Being FrankHis sermon was about not living in shame. In the below segment, he used his sister as an example what happens when you live in shame. To expose the lies in the below sermon segment, we will contrast his account with his own mother’s testimony (from her book, ‘Being Frank’), in order to understand what really happened within the Houston family regarding Brian’s sister.

To begin, we will first look at what Brian actually said in his sermon. Then, we will lookat what really happened according to Brian Houston’s own mother, Hazel Houston.  We will then conclude our investigation by looking at the book excerpt written by Hazel Houston.  It will not be until our next article that we will expose why the “biblical” foundation of Hillsong is so dangerous as well as the negative impact that that has made on the church today.

HOUSTON’S LIES POST THE ROYAL COMMISSION

The Sunday after the Royal Commission, Brian Houston preached a sermon entitled “My Salvation – My Freedom from Shame.” This sermon has just been recently published on their website. As you watch it, please note that you are seeing an edited version. In spite of some technical difficulties, we were able to record the original. The part of the sermon that we would like people to pay careful attention to is transcribed below.

Brian Houston said,

“When I was 13, I remember one time my mum talking to me and my siblings in our lounge room and telling us that we are going to be looking after a baby for awhile. I mean I was surprised I was told it was someone’s baby and we were going to look after it, and so sure enough that’s what happened for I don’t know how long, maybe a year we looked after this baby in our house.

At the time my older sister was in Melbourne, what I didn’t know was that she had been secretly sent off to Melbourne, because she was pregnant. And then without anyone knowing she was brought back to New Zealand, and then across the Mountain range, close to where we lived was a little town and quietly, on her own, she had a baby there. And ahh in that era, in that landscape, there was so much shame attached to it. So much shame was put on her, that it affected her for many, many years.  And a lot of people, they allow things to become shame and then it rules you, it robs you. You see, one of my favorite verses is Proverbs 15:24, it says ‘the way of life winds upwards for the wise’.

Sadly instead of winding upwards, some people want a steep decline downwards, a spiral downwards. Because this is what happens, sin leads to guilt, then guilt leads to shame and ultimately, shame leads to condemnation and condemnation is death.

If a building is condemned, it means it’s unfit for use, it’s disqualified, it’s only good for being pulled down.”

Source: Brian Houston, My Salvation – My Freedom from Shame, Hillsong Church, 12/10/2014. (Accessed 12/10/2014.)

BRIAN HOUSTON’S VERSION OF THE STORY

When Brian told the story about his sister, he stated that his mother said to him one day that they were “going to be looking after a baby for awhile.” According to Brian they had the baby for an entire year, not knowing who the baby belonged to.

In his sermon, he deliberately avoided connecting the dots so that he could make whatever point he wanted to about shame. He said he “didn’t know” that his older sister “had been secretly sent off to Melbourne because she was pregnant.” Then he said that he somehow found out, (“without anyone knowing”), that his sister who, “was brought back to New Zealand,” was hiding “across the Mountain range.”

Brian’s conclusion, of course, was that his sister “had a baby” outside of wedlock and experienced ”so much shame” during that time. “So much shame was put on her, that it affected her for many, many years.” These comments, then, lead us to believe that his sister moved around a bit in order to deal with her sin, guilt and shame.  What is very interesting about this story, however, is that Brian’s very own mother has a different account.

frank-houston-with-his-wife-data

Hazel and Frank Houston

HAZEL HOUSTON’S VERSION OF THE STORY

In 1989 Hazel Houston wrote a book about her husband, Frank Houston,  entitled “Being Frank: The Frank Houston Story”.

In her book Hazel writes,

“That God is more merciful than people was proved in the experience which almost shattered our world. We were sitting comfortably by the fire one night when our daughter and her boyfriend came in.

‘Do you want a cup of coffee?’ I asked.

  ‘Sit down Mum, I’ve got something to tell you.’ Her voice contained an unusual gravity. There was a long pause then she continued, ‘I’m pregnant.’

For a moment we had no reaction. Then deep unreasonable anger swept through me as I realized the implications. Fingers would be pointed at us and we would have to resign from ministry. Twenty years ago a pre-marital pregnancy in any circle was regarded as the ultimate disgrace.  There would be some ready to accuse the pastor of this inability to control his children.

  ‘You better leave,’ I told the boy.

  ‘Don’t be so hasty,’ Frank reprimanded me.

  ‘I’ll have the baby adopted,’ our daughter volunteered.

  ‘I’ll pay for her to go to Australia,’ her boyfriend offered.

  After they had left we discussed the situation. Should we tell the church and the other children or just Trevor Chandler. As our associate pastor he should know. We didn’t tell anyone but we should have done. Someone else eventually told the children.

  ‘We will have to resign from the church,’ Frank said.

  A day later when the heat of the moment had passed I began to ask myself had God removed the call to the ministry at this time or was this an attack of the devil designed to smash our ministry. We fell on our knees before God. I voiced my thoughts to Frank.

  ‘I don’t think we should resign. God hasn’t lifted the call.’ Frank agreed.

  Our daughter went to Australia but a noted trouble-maker in the church asked people at the next prayer meeting to pray for the Houston’s family situation.

  Did she suspect something and was spreading gossip in a spiritual guise? We never found out.

  Our hearts continued to ache and our daughter suffered extreme homesickness as she sheltered in a Salvation Army home from a hostile world. We decided she must come home.

  We arranged for her to go as companion to an elderly lady over the mountains from our valley. Within us there was a monumental struggle between the desire to keep the baby and face the consequences or proceed with the adoption.

  ‘Frank, I think we should keep the baby. It might be another statistic to the Government but it is our grandchild and I want it. I can look after it.

  ‘I’ve been thinking the same thing,’ he said. We hurried over the mountains to tell our daughter what we had decided.

  That day we saw a light in our daughter’s eyes which had been missing for a long time and God removed the ache in our hearts. But people are not so forgiving. Months after the baby was born, some by their attitude screamed condemnation at the young mother until an agonized cry fell from her lips.

  ‘Mum, when does God forgive?’

  ‘As soon as we confess our sins from a repentant heart.’

  ‘Then why don’t people also forgive us?’ Why indeed.

  ‘Unfortunately, people are not like God.’ Frank and I both would have carried her pain but she had to work through it herself.

  ‘Do you realize the times I longed to sit on your bed and talk after an evening out?’ she asked one day years after she was married. No I hadn’t realized.

Source: Hazel Houston, Being Frank: The Frank Houston Story, UK, London: Marshall Morgan and Scott Publications, Published 1989. pg. 165-167

Comparing Hazel’s account to Brian’s raises some questions.

1. Was Brian being honest?

2. Why did Brian put his sister’s journey back in public focus, using it as an example of his idea of shame? (He has mentioned his family feeling the pressure of recent public scrutiny.)

3. Brian’s account is very different to his mother’s and he leaves out significant information related to the point he is making. The practice of cover-up was plain in Hazel’s account. If this did not happen, would his sister’s journey have been different?

4. Is Brian ashamed to give an accurate/more complete account? What does he know? Did he ever discuss with his parents their decision to hide his sister’s pregnancy from the public, including their church and children, largely to avoid being stood down from ministry? What did Trevor Chandler do with this information? (You would assume Brian would have discussed it with Frank and Hazel at some stage as, either from a family point of view or from a ministerial responsibility perspective. After all, it is a significant family event.)

5. Brian made the point that his sister was “sent” to Melbourne. So who “sent” his sister?

6. The timing of him saying this was a few days after his public hearing at the Royal Commission (RC) into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. So why did he talk about this issue right after the RC?

Last year, the Royal Commission revealed a tendency for cover up within Brian Houston and Hillsong’s dealing with Frank Houston’s pedophilia and not being forth-coming with the “whole” truth. However, after Hazel Houston’s account, we are noticing that cover up appears to run in the Houston family. And the more we seem to uncover – the more we realise Hillsong is founded not on Christ the rock but on the sifting sands of man.

2015 Hillsong Vision: A “Dangerous Declaration” indeed (Part 1)

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We have managed to obtain a Hillsong Vision 2015 booklet. The theme this year is “A Dangerous Declaration”.

Vision 2015 - Hillsong

We couldn’t agree more. Can anyone else see why this Hillsong “declaration” is dangerous to Christianity?

Vision 2015 - Hillsong Vision Manifesto

Hillsong also published this on their website:

An Unusual Manifesto

2000 years ago, a young first century itinerant preaching from a backwater village in an insignificant corner of the roman empire, announces his own ‘unusual manifesto’, the ramifications of which continue to reverberate down the centuries. With a dangerous brevity, Jesus the ‘hinge of history’, supersedes the many thousands of words that come before and after when He boldly declared in the Sermon on the Mount:

“You have heard that it was said… but I say to you…” Matt 5

Jesus’ manifesto was unusual. The Sermon on the Mount offers a radically different take on the world… a dangerous declaration that upends the status quo and human nature by challenging the idea of “business as usual”. It was dangerous because it was and is so unusual… re-founding the world on love and selflessness instead of hate and self-interest.

As a church, we have never been about doing it the world’s way and we aren’t about to start now. We are about doing things Jesus’ way because we long to see “His will on earth as it is in heaven”. The Church is a preview of the age to come and the Sermon on the Mount forms the constitution of the alternative Kingdom Jesus came to establish.

Our task as the people of God, is to offer an attractive alternative, a new society exampled by the church, built on the grace of Christ’s love. Love is the scandal and the dangerous declaration that can make many people angry, yet is the only thing that can set a sin bound world free.

The Kingdom cannot be enforced by coercion, it must be embodied by God’s people. The reign of God exists wherever we are subject to HIM… where love and the fruit of the spirit are evident there we find the borders of the Kingdom.

The Kingdom of God is among you. – Luke 17:21

Jesus represents the possibility of an unusual kingdom, an unusual power, an unusual glory and an unusual peace. To declare Jesus as Lord/God and to live in the love and humility of the beatitudes is our dangerous declaration to a world desperately looking for an alternative. It is the announcement of a living, breathing kingdom of grace that unceasingly calls out to the ‘whosoever will come’.

Source: By Hillsong Team, An Unusual Manifesto, Hillsong, http://hillsong.com/blogs/collected/2015/february/an-unusual-manifesto#.VOBKnvmUeSo, Published 09/02/2015. (Accessed 15/02/2015.)

Hillsong’s ‘infallible’ prophets? (Part 2)

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DID YOU KNOW THAT GOD WHISPERS TO BOBBIE?

Bobbie declared in her 2013 Women’s conference that she received a “God whisper”.

“And in that moment, God spoke to me…”

“I feel like the Lord is saying, ‘Go home and flourish.”

“It was the genius and wisdom of God! Honestly!”

Speaking with such authority that God spoke to her, she continually reinforced the idea that she was some kind of prophetess.

Towards the end of this video – you’ll notice Bobbie Houston’s innerspasm kick in as she wrestles with what she just said to her audience.

[5:26] “And you know if you’ve been around me and us that, you know, the essence [of this conference] came out of what I felt was a god whisper.

A whisper in my spirit many years ago that said, “Bobbie! Create a conference in Sydney. An environment in Sydney for young women, girded up with the older women, and tell them something. Tell them there is a god in heaven who believes in them. And not only that, a company of others.” I mean, that is the god whisper.

[Looks unsettled]

Sometimes I smile at myself and I go, “I hope when I get to heaven it was a god whisper. I hope I don’t get there and Jesus goes, “Actually we never said that but we rolled with it anyway because it was really God”. I don’t know! Hahaha!

No I feel it was a God whisper! The fruit bears witness! Hahahaha! Sometimes, do you ever doubt that? You’re going, “How embarassing if I get to heaven and they say, ‘Actually – no- but it was a good idea and we went with it anyway’.

But you know what? That was a – that was a god whisper.”

Source: Juan Marcos Lecuona, Pastor Bobbie Houston, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwqz-1PA0wE, Published 17/07/2013. (Accessed 05/02/2015.)

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