Dietrich Bonhoeffer , German Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident, founding member of the Confessing Church and martyr, had some interesting insight into the “visionaries” of his day. Who did you think Bonhoeffer had in mind when he wrote this piece? Brian Houston… or someone else?
Beware of visions for church
“God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own laws, and judges the brethren and God himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of the brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together.”
“When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself.”
“Because God has already laid the only foundation of our fellowship, because God has bound us together in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ, long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients. We thank God for giving us brethren who live by his call, by his forgiveness, and his promise. We do not complain of what God does not give us; we rather thank God for what he does give us daily.
Source: Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, Christian Kaiser Verlag, 1939.
We would like to point out to you some of Hillsong’s misleading words and “visions”.
Love God, Love People, Love Life
Source: Vision, Hillsong, https://hillsong.com/vision. (Accessed 10/06/2014.)
Taken face value, is this true? Jesus says, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word”. Does Hillsong fail to keep Jesus’ word? Why do they seem to be so ignorant of God’s holy Word – are we to assume they do so deliberately? Does Hillsong demonstrate the love of God by failing to honour His Word by preaching a different “gospel”? How many versions of the bible have you heard being used by Brian Houston to force his own interpretation into the text?
2 Timothy 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth”.
If they refuse to repent of their false gospel, are they demonstrating “love” for people by keeping them in ignorance, keeping them from obeying the truth of the gospel? In fact, rather than “loving” people , they are hurting people.
Finally, loving “life”. Loving life by laying that life down? Living a selfless and sacrificial life? Or does the Hillsong version of “loving life” simply mean being physically healthy, materially wealthy, and personally happy? Or more simply put, if this is true, “grace is obsolete, God is irrelevant, and man is the measure of all things”.
The misleading mission statement:
To reach and influence the world by building a large Christ-centered, Bible-based church, changing mindsets and empowering people to lead and impact in every sphere of life.
Source: Vision, Hillsong, https://hillsong.com/vision. (Accessed 10/06/2014.)
Once again, for Hillsong to call it self “Christ-centered” and “bible-based” doesn’t that mean they need to fulfill those requirements? Doesn’t this mean they need to present a biblical Jesus, rather than a moralistic, therapeutic deity that entices people into Word of Faith practices? We are yet to see a sermon where Hillsong handles the bible accurately at all. Is it right for Hillsong to parade such titles when they barely resemble the historic Christian faith?
Last but not least are Brian Houston’s Roman Catholic sounding visions (no other name right?):
The Church I See
The Church that I see is a Church of influence. A Church so large in size that the city and nation cannot ignore it. A Church growing so quickly that buildings struggle to contain the increase.
I see a Church whose heartfelt praise and worship touches Heaven and changes earth; worship which influences the praises of people throughout the earth, exalting Christ with powerful songs of faith and hope.
I see a Church whose altars are constantly filled with repentant sinners responding to Christ’s call to salvation.
Yes, the Church that I see is so dependent on the Holy Spirit that nothing will stop it nor stand against it; a Church whose people are unified, praying and full of God’s Spirit.
The Church that I see has a message so clear that lives are changed forever and potential is fulfilled through the power of His Word; a message beamed to the peoples of the earth through their television screens.
I see a Church so compassionate that people are drawn from impossible situations into a loving and friendly circle of hope, where answers are found and acceptance is given.
I see a people so Kingdom-minded that they will count whatever the cost and pay whatever the price to see revival sweep this land.
The Church that I see is a Church so committed to raising, training and empowering a leadership generation to reap the end-time harvest that all its ministries are consumed with this goal.
I see a Church whose head is Jesus, whose help is the Holy Spirit and whose focus is the Great Commission.
YES, THE CHURCH THAT I SEE COULD WELL BE OUR CHURCH – HILLSONG CHURCH.
– Brian Houston 1993
Note how his language and philosophy has changed. His vision contains Roman Catholic ecumenism, New Age tones, fascistic philosophy and totally lacking anything of biblical substance. How is this a good vision to have? You wouldn’t think He might include the gospel?
The Church I Now See
The church that I see is a global church. I see a global family: One house with many rooms, outworking a unified vision. I see a church apostolic in calling, and visionary in nature; committed to boldly impacting millions for Christ in significant cities and nations throughout the earth with the greatest of all causes – the Cause of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I see a church that champions the cause of local churches everywhere; encouraging them to be all that God has called them to be. A Church that refuses to be content with the triumphs of the past, but is constantly looking towards the future – filled with a vision that inspires and influences many.
Positioned in the heart of culture, in great diverse urban centres, I see buildings that struggle to contain the increase of all that God is doing; occupying land and places that are miraculous in provision and impossible to ignore.
I see a church that is big enough to dream on a global scale, yet personal enough for every ONE to find their place. I see a church that beckons ‘WELCOME HOME’ to every man, woman and child that walks through the doors.
The church that I see is a worshipping church whose songs reflect such a passion for Christ that others sense His magnificence and power. A distinct sound that emanates from a healthy church, contagious in spirit – creating music that resounds from villages and tribes to great cities and nations.
I see a church that is constantly innovative: A church that leads the communication of a timeless message through media, film, and technology. A church with a message beamed to people around the globe through their television screens, bringing JESUS into homes, palaces and prisons alike.
I see a church with a world-class college that raises, equips, and empowers generations of young, anointed leaders from across the globe. Graduates who serve God in all walks of life, released to salt the earth with dynamic ministries and churches throughout the continents of the world.
I see a church graced with layers of ‘once-in-a-generation’ type leaders – who are naturally gifted, spiritually potent and genuinely humble. Leaders who will pay the price and count the cost of impacting cities and nations with great, God-glorifying churches.
I see a church whose leadership is unified in their commitment to the authenticity, credibility and quality of its heart. Leaders who dare to be themselves, yet live secure in the knowledge that “what they are part of is bigger than the part they play.”
I see a church committed to an innovative NETWORK that connects hundreds of thousands of pastors and leaders and equips them to flourish. A network committed to the apostolic anointing of leaders who are desperate to see the Church of Jesus Christ rise up to live the un-lived life within her… His glorious Church.
I see like-spirited churches in cities of influence that exemplify faithfulness manifested in bricks and mortar. Churches with supernatural provision of buildings and properties standing as beacons of light that bring glory to God and hope to humanity.
I see a church that loves God, loves people and loves life. Youthful in spirit; generous at heart; faith-filled in confession; loving in nature and inclusive in expression.
Yes, the church that I see is committed to bringing the love and hope of Christ to impossible situations through the preaching of the Gospel and a mandate that drives us to do all we can to bring help and solution to a needy world. Whose head is Jesus, help is the Holy Spirit and whose focus is the Great Commission.
– Brian Houston 2014
Was Bonhoeffer being prophetic about today’s Hillsong visionaries and “visions”?
Gene Edwards wrote a book some decades ago called “What is Our Mission in the Face of a Church Split”.
He wrote about a community he led in the 60s in a small town called Isla Vista in California. It was a small group of mainly college students and he talked fondly of his vision for this group which essentially was about getting back to New Testament Christianity. The group ended up splitting, and Gene Edwards wrote this manuscript about what happened and the things he learned as a leader.
I remember reading this book in the 80s and found it shed a great deal of light upon much of my church experience of that decade. The mega-churches which were around had produced a great many disillusioned people who were ‘church-hopping’ in order to find the community of loving caring christians who were actually living out the gospel and seeing it’s truth change their lives. Some of those people are still looking. The current ‘post modern’ clutch of mega-chuch pastors are still on the same ‘visionary path’ and still trying to impress believers with their friendship with the world. Unfortunately this illegitimate union never ends up impressing either party and in the end the pastors look like fools and the congregation feels like one.
As for Gene Edwards, there is ample evidence online to suggest that all of his insight into men who think they have God’s ‘mandate’ to go out and conquer the world for Jesus has done him little good personally. He seems to have devolved into a cult group pastor and ended up abusing his congregation just as much as those men he warned against in his “What is Our Mission” book.
In the end, what I have seen is that it is all very well to claim that you have a ‘vision’ but if your life is not a silent testament to your own revelation of the cross of Jesus Chrsit and his saving power, then all the grandstanding in the world is not going to make any difference on Judgement Day. In my experience, it is the humble man who will be able to face the end with trust and security in the saving power of Jesus Christ, knowing that his reward is not because of his own efforts, which will be wood hay and stubble, but because Jesus saved him out of this perverse generation and brought him to His side with the words “well done good and faithful servant”
Danny O'Daniels said:
I was saved in that little group of Christians in Isla Vista California. It was great for a while,( lots of love and community) Gene’s ministry was Christ centered and powerful. We learned church history and wanted to evangelize the world. At Gene’s bidding we sent the older leader types probably 10 or 12 families all over the world. We had conferences in the summer of 78 and 80 with people from every continent. Unfortunately this seemed to weaken both the Isla Vista group and the people sent out. By 1981 the church disbanded. I agree with most of your take on Gene’s ministry since 81 . Don’t really know why that happened although some of the seeds for that were there in Isla Vista. Sincerely Danny O’Daniels
Wow, Danny, that’s amazing. I have never heard so much as a peep from anyone who was part of that whole thing. Gene Edwards kind of made it sound like a huge experiment. My church was completley sold on that book, and changed their whole approach to doing church after reading it. I have to say also that they opened the way for another, bigger church to seduce them with a false gospel, and that church has now disbanded, split, and half of the members part of what is now a religious cult.
Hope your walk with the Lord is going strong after beginning in such an explosive way.
Do you still keep in contact with Gene?
Danny O'Daniels said:
The church in Isla Vista during the Jesus movement was awesome. The Spirit was moving so strong in those days that it seems like any Christian leader who was willing to work with young people or hippies would be amazingly blessed. Maybe in Gene’s mind it was an experiment but to us it was our life. We lived communally and we were incredibly close. For me it was like a spiritual incubator as I was coming out of the drug culture. We had a reunion in 2009 and the love and fellowship and our open way of meeting were all still there. It was like finding a 69 Chevy in an old barn an starting it up only to find that it still ran great! Many people are still serving the Lord full time in different capacities and it was great to see everyone. I am still trying to follow the Lord . Have not really kept in touch with Gene since 83 although I saw him and talked with him in 88 and at the reunion.
Judi Keener said:
I was in that Isla Vista group, the last 9 years of the 12 — 1972 to 1981. I am 72 in 2015.. We were never abused. Tell me what makes you say that? They were GOLDEN years full of Christ. We were flooded with Christ, Christ, Christ. The Lord took us on great adventures. WOW the best years of my life. So many of us say they were the best years of our lives. Sure there are some bitter ones, blaming Gene Edwards for their own problems and shortcomings. Gene drowned and drenched us in Christ. Wait til you read all the awesome things the Lord showed us and took us thru. The world will see THE MIGHTY GOD WHO DOES MIRACLES. We will shake the world with our story. We are writing the story now — a book. And it will give the world HOPE and they will know THERE IS A GOD. Because, we say WE WERE THERE AND WE LIVED IT. LIFE in RADIANCE AND GLORY AND THUNDER/ So many happenings. We went to Viet Nam to the refugee camps, looking for Christians. We were going to take 2 of the Hmong tribe from Laos. They said, NO, all 27 of us, we are a family or none. The brothers called us and said, “Can we take 27?” And we said, “YES” And we crowded into our apts and opened up some apts for the Hmong. They came, knowing no English. They were hill people, never seen a plane. Their leader said that we might kill them. At the airport, 120 of us were waiting. It is a small airport with 3 gates outside. And when they came off the plane, we shouted and cheered, Hallelujah!! PTL!!! what a night. What a Lord. Our moms taught them English and how to use a stove and refrig.Awesome days. And they still rise up and call us blessed every December. And we went to Camp Pendleton when all the refugees came to the US. There was no way for us to get into the camp, but OF ALL THINGS, the Red Cross issued us badges to go in any time. We rented an apt. nearby and our saints (Paul called his people saints) would come for 2 or 3 days or a week –whatever. We held meetings,sang, shared Christ and adopted many of them. So we scrunched some more for our new people. We were called the brothers and the sisters by the college community around us, because we called each other brother and sister. We were a family. Best family I ever had. We would leave out apts at night and walk down the street and meet 2 saints and we would sing. The community didn’t like cars driving around. Then we would go visit someone and sing with them at their apt and help them wash dishes and put their kids to bed and we would go visit womeone else.. No one had a TV. Who had time to watch it? And I had always been a TV addict. The BEST YEARs of my life. Then one time a week we would ask different people to meet with us in the morning before work to pray and read verses or sing. Those were PRECIOUS times. sitting quietly with one or two, saying, “Lord I love you” or reading a verse. Then quiet for a time. Singing a song. And sometimes the Lord would come, wrapping us in the ecstasy of His love. We were soaking in Him, so alive and feeling His radiance. WOW oh WOW I could tell you 100 more stories. My life — my husband was drinking, spending all our money. I had to tell him to leave me and our baby. I had no job. And I said to Gene, you said that Christ was all we need. Now I am going to find out. And I did. He treated me royally. I was flooded with Christ. Saints left anonymous money –$90 and more in envelopes on my door. I cried. What a family. What a Lord!!!! And we got on our feet. I had to go on welfare for awhile, but then I got a job. And I was drowning in Christ. So many things to say. But it is 2 am. I am writing our story in a book. Today is 8/16/15 You can read it soon. AND IT WILL CHANGE THE WORLD –120 people who lived the MIGHTY POWER OF GOD AND ALL HIS MIRACLES. The world is falling apart. We are bringing HOPE –JESUS CHRIST –HOPE. Isla Vista ended because we quit reading our Bibles, and touching the Lord. And we got dead and quit bringing things to share to the meetings. Gene warned us 3 times over 6 months, that he would end the church. He said he was not going to have a denomination on his hands– he would not have people holding hands and sharing precious verses. A few bitter people with hard hearts say we ended for other reasons. What happened to those bitter people, I wondered? How did they get so bitter?. They hung out together and talked and got bitter. They had to blame someone, so it was Gene. I am a scape goat, too. I get blamed for so much stuff everywhere I work and go. What is it? So these bitter people don’t want to admit that it was OUR fault that IV (Isla Vista) ended. I was dead, quit being with the Lord and so out of it. So Gene moved on and started a church in Atlanta and I was part of that for 20 years. Stay tuned for our story. It will EXPLODE. Judi Keener proud member of the Church in Isla Vista with the best worker ever, Gene Edwards — love poured out of him. You could see it and feel it. He radiated love. People were drawn to him. What a privilege to know him and to be part of this church. I praise God every day for being part of this group. Abused??? You got to be crazy. He poured the love of Christ on us, taught us how to love the Lord and SHOWED US the riches of meeting in the morning with the KING OF ALL KINGS. The Lord says — how could I forget you, see I have engraved you on the palms of My hands. Isaiah
Judi Keener said:
Isla Vista did not split. Judi Keener of Isla Vista Church with Gene Edwards. Read my long writing of all the glory and radiance of Jesus Christ that we saw and experienced under Gene. Most all of our people are in Christian work. We all say it was the BEST YEARS of our lives.
Judi Keener said:
Bonhoeffer sounds so bitter, spewing words like a machine gun. Never heard him write like that. I liked his writing about the Dream. What was it called? It was good. I am 72 and I forget things. But writing the story of Isla Vista, the Lord is pouring out of me, writing all the facts. Things I never remembered are pouring out. Amazing. The Lord writes books.!!
Perhaps he had a very good reason to sound “so bitter”, Judi Keener.
“Apart from his theological writings, Bonhoeffer was known for his staunch resistance to the Nazi dictatorship, including vocal opposition to Hitler’s euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews. He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and imprisoned at Tegel prison for one and a half years. Later he was transferred to a Nazi concentration camp. After being allegedly associated with the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, he was briefly tried, along with other accused plotters, including former members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office), and then executed by hanging on 9 April 1945 as the Nazi regime collapsed, just two weeks before Allied forces liberated the camp and three weeks before Hitler’s suicide.”
Very true Anita. When man tries to save the world man ends up destroying the world.
Before starting up this blog – our pastoral oversight and leadership challenged us who does the saving. That challenge has been an amazing wrestle and journey since starting this blog. In C3 you do the saving. This has been a mindset we have had to shake and it’s been a hard one to shake since it is ingrained in C3 members that we must sa- change the world.
The scriptures instead say we must contend, defend, uphold, stand steadfast and speak the truth in love. God does the saving. The temptation when running a site like this is that we must do the saving. This is especially true when you see C3/Hillsong defenders operate in deception on these sites and when they start dropping how “salvations” are occurring in these churches. Our natural reaction is that we want to see people “saved” out of these places. While this feels genuine – it is not right. Prayer is so important when these feelings come. And through prayer, Christ’s sovereignty returns to our minds and humility is restored.
At the end of the day, “saving souls” is not our job. We should be reminded that we are to be anxious for nothing and put our trust in Jesus. Many of these controlling people operate out of fear. This is why visionaries are so dangerous. Their fear (or insecurities) is what is driving them.
Since we started tackling Phil Pringle’s false god-given 2020 vision – it is interesting to see how he has de-emphasised the 2020 vision and embraced an older C3 vision “Sydney – a city for Christ”. By observing his recent behaviour ever since this site started, it is of our opinion Phil Pringle is driven by fear of losing control. And as we are seeing, he is becoming more controlling.
We are even being told by c3 leaders and members that one “Sheepdog Saundy” is monitoring people’s behaviour and observing closely who might be dissenters and leaking information.
Ruff, Ruff! said:
Ah, the sheepdog – a most faithful sidekick, playing Robin to Phil Pringle’s Batman: always rushing here and there like a gimlet-eyed kelpie, fixing all and sundry with the steadiest of stares as he works so hard to ferret out all the doubters and naysayers in C3’s midst (he would be shocked to know how many there are, and how well-placed within the organisation some of them are).
Sadly, Mark is not having much luck at identifying the miscreants – which is rather strange, because C3 “pastors” are meant to have a hotline to God (maybe Mark doesn’t have enough “faith”, or perhaps he has some outstanding “back tithes” that he is yet to pay). You’ve got to feel a little sorry for him, really – he’s spent the best part of his life striving ever so hard to make his Lord and Master Phil Pringle rich and famous, while he himself has remained in relative obscurity. It’s true that he has made a good living on the backs of those who actually have to work for their money, and I’ve heard that he does drive a nice car – perhaps he thought that a comfortably-off life in the shadows was a decent compromise, or maybe he didn’t have the skills or the confidence to aspire to anything beyond his long-term lowly station.
It does make you wonder how professionally fulfilled Mark is; a source at C3OF has commented that he seems rather distracted and distant, as though he is just going through the motions out of habit, or out of a misplaced sense of loyalty to Phil. Given Mark’s age and long years of service slaving away for C3, you’d have to suspect that he’s seen enough to understand that the prosperity gospel is nothing more than a pyramid scheme that enriches those at the top whilst perpetually dangling a carrot in front of those the bottom. Maybe his conscience pricks him when he considers just what his legacy will be, or perhaps he’s burnt himself out trying to keep those insidious doubts at bay – after all, he did think that Rodney Howard-Browne was ushering in a revival all those years ago, and he couldn’t fail to be bitterly disappointed that all that nonsense turned out to be a mirage, and that C3OF really hasn’t grown at all since then, let alone taken the city of Sydney. Maybe it’s time for Mark to admit that he’s backed the wrong horse; perhaps he should just step down gracefully and fade away into the sunset.
Mark is definitely not cut from the same cloth as Sherlock holmes.No doubt he trawls these blogs searching for clues.
I do feel sorry for him..he should actually be chasing where old Phil the prophet got his many false ‘prophecies’ from. I have noticed that when websites such as Churchwatch began exposing those false prophecies…Phil hasn’t made any since.
Have all the powers of Pringle prophecy dried up???????
I think that the key is to keep our own spiritual life in order even while speaking out against those things that appear so quickly on the church scene to de-rail our faith. My own faith was shipwrecked for 15 years while I attended a controlling abusive church. However, the last ten years of re-discovering my faith and researching for myself what is right or wrong has taught me so much about going to God for answers rather than expecting people to give me the truth. The Bible is so chock full of wisdom and life, it truly is like a buried treasure in a field. The more you dig, the more you find. The Holy Spirit is able to lead us into all truth and to help us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
I read Paul’s writings and see in him something I had not seen in my younger years. I see his utter commitment (I hate the word passion) to the people he ministered to, and his deep concern that the false shepherds and gospels out there would not lead them astray. He was a true brother, shepherd and apostle, and I dearly wish that the leaders of today would look towards this man’s example and imitate him as he imitated Christ.
But Paul isn’t cool, or awesome, or like, totally on facebook, so no-one thinks much of him. It seems to me that leaders are either like Brian Houston, or they are authoritarian touch-not-the-Lord’s-annointed types who won’t hear a word spoken in criticism against them. But then dear old David WIlkerson who was probably closest to an authentic, but popular, man of God of my generation got some stuff wrong too.
I have to say that David would be one of the few pastors I have heard who had no problem admitting publicly to his congregation that he stuffed up. And you could hear from his voice that he truly was aware of his own pride and need to impress others with his ‘godliness’. If a Pastor can function like this both privately and publicly, he will indeed bear much fruit both in his family and congregation.
Bonhoeffer, This is one man that lost everything, sacraficed everything for following the Lord. This man was and is right.