The tragedy on today’s ecclesiastical landscape is the number of heretics who are thriving inside evangelicalism. They are having a field day and hardly anyone is raising a voice against them. Behind closed doors we all seem to agree that these “brethren” are spreading serious error. But as soon as the door opens and one of them walks in, suddenly, we seem to be unsure and would rather be silent for the sake of Christian love.
This begs the question, “How should we as Christians respond to the many wrong teachings that surround us, especially those serious heresies being propagated by people who are in the church?” This is an important question because we are living in days when the very nature of evangelical Christianity is being turned upside down. This is especially true because of those who are teaching what we call “the prosperity gospel” in its various shades. Many lives are being destroyed. The way of salvation is being confused. How should we respond to all this?
We should respond to this by deliberately engaging in Christian polemics. What does the word “polemics” mean? Polemics means a strong verbal or written rebuttal of someone else’s belief. It is an argument that disputes another person’s opinion and shows that it is not true. It is the opposite of apologetics, which is a strong verbal or written defence of one’s own belief in the light of the attacks of other people. In other words, polemics and apologetics are two sides of the same coin. An apologist begins with the truth under attack and seeks to defend it, while a polemist begins with an error being propagated and seeks to refute it.
Church leaders must be polemists
The Bible teaches that one of the responsibilities of a church elder is that of polemics. The apostle Paul said to Titus, “[An elder] must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9). Notice that it is not only the positive but also the negative. An elder must positively give instruction in sound doctrine but he must also negatively rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine.
Why is this important? The apostle Paul said that this must be done because “there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach” (Titus 1:10-11). If we keep quiet, heretical teachers will continue to upset the faith of many because of their personal quest for shameful gain. So, it is the responsibility of those who are in charge of Christ’s sheep to silence them.
That is what polemics is all about. At one time, it was taken for granted that Christian pastors and teachers would engage in polemics as part of their duty. Being politically correct was not a virtue in those days. Error needed to be vanquished. The great American theologian B.B. Warfield held the chair of Didactic and Polemic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary from 1887 until his death in 1921. There was nothing extraordinary about that in those days.
Jesus the great polemist
The question is often asked, “How should we engage in polemics?” Thankfully, we have the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. Towards the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus spent some time refuting the teaching and lifestyle of the scribes and Pharisees. A whole chapter in the Gospel of Matthew is occupied with seven woes that Jesus issued to these men because they were leading many astray. Let us look at one section of it, Matthew 23:16–22, to learn how we can resurrect the lost art of polemics today by following Jesus’ own example. There are four lessons we learn from this…
Stating the wrong teaching
Jesus stated plainly what the wrong teaching was. What were the Pharisees and the scribes teaching? Jesus said, “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath’… And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath’” (Matthew 23:16, 18). What Jesus was opposed to was this clever way of telling lies or making false promises and getting away with it. Men were seeking to remain religious while they were inwardly ungodly. Jesus was not willing to let this go unchallenged. He pointed out that it was erroneous teaching. We too should not be afraid to point out the wrong teaching that is upsetting the faith of God’s people.
Using strong language
I will take a little longer on this because we are living in a day of political correctness that is turning even God’s servants into wimps. Jesus used very strong language when referring to these false teachers. He said to them, “Woe to you, blind guides…. You blind fools! …You blind men! (verses 16, 17, and 19). In the same chapter, he also called them “Hypocrites, children of hell, serpents, a brood of vipers…” (verse 13, 15, 33) and he likened them to “white-washed tombs” (verse 27). Let us admit that Jesus was using very strong language here. Such language is not politically correct. Gentlemen do not normally speak like this.
How should we explain this? First of all, this was not how Jesus spoke everyday. He was normally one who spoke with gentleness. However, it is evident that Jesus had been teaching true spirituality for about three years and these men were bent on resisting this and instead teaching error. This was Jesus now removing his gloves and telling it like it is. That is important. Sadly, there are some Christian teachers who seem to possess a perpetual split spleen and their entire ministry is full of nothing but vitriol, sarcastic contempt, and hurtful scorn. Hiding behind Jesus’ example here is to swallow an entire camel and strain a gnat.
Having said that, Pharisees and scribes were not Jesus’ sparring partners with whom he needed to be gentle so that they could keep coming back to give him a good sweat. They were enemies who were destroying souls. They were rejecting the truth and teaching error, leaving destruction in their wake. They were closing the door of heaven on other people and making them twice the children of hell as themselves (verse 15). It was crucial that Jesus shows something of his feelings about these teachers of heresy. Paul did the same thing when he said that those who were teaching another gospel should “go to hell” (Galatians 1:8, 9). In fact, elsewhere he calls them “dogs” (Philippians 3:2).
Jude was more scathing when he called such heretics hiding in the church as “…hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever” (Jude 1:12–13). All I am saying out of all these citations is that let’s not be shocked when strong language is used in polemics against heretics. Jesus and other inspired writers led the way in the use of strong language.
Appealing to logic and reasoning
The Lord Jesus Christ used logic and reasoning when showing the error of the scribes and Pharisees. He asked, “You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred?” and “You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred?” (verses 17 and 19). Jesus was essentially asking, “How on earth can you make the gold more important than the temple when it is the temple that makes it important? In the same way, how can you make a mere gift more important than the altar when its very value depends on the altar on which it lies?” His message was clear: The logic is faulty. You simply need to think to see through it.
Herein lies the power of polemics. It is not in simply stating the wrong teaching or using scathing remarks. It is in showing the absurdity of the doctrinal position taken by those who teach error. You see, human beings have brains that still function, especially when the grace of God has washed them from sin. Appeal to those brains. Heresy is irrational. Through logic we should show the absurdity of wrong teaching and win back those who are willing to think.
Giving the right teaching
The Lord Jesus Christ finally gave the right teaching to those who were listening to him. He said, “So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it” (verses 20–22). Jesus was stating the truth here. It was not enough to state what the wrong teaching was, or to use strong language to give a verbal slap to those who are dosing, or to argue logically and thus show the error of the false teachers. He needed to finally state what should be believed.
In the same way, one reason why error is thriving today is because we are too apologetic about the truth. We are living in a Post-modern age when there is no longer “true truth”. Thus, all we seem to be willing to do is question the correctness of others but not state unequivocally what the truth is. Our church members are thus left in doubt about the teaching of others but they do not know what to believe. We are telling them that they should not believe what others are teaching but then what should they believe instead? What is the truth?
A final appeal for polemics
O that we may follow the example of Jesus. I plead for the revival of polemical teaching and preaching today. We are living in a very dark day. It is very sad what is being propagated in many a Christian pulpit in the name of evangelicalism. I say this with love: Many of the followers of the prosperity gospel are not Christians at all. This movement has become a sordid moneymaking enterprise. It is full of scandals. Its advocates must be publicly rebuked. Souls need to be salvaged from them through following the example of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I close by saying, thieves love dogs but they love dogs that do not bark. If you have a dog that wags its tail when thieves come into your home to steal you had better sell it off quickly. God once described the prophets of Israel as silent dogs that cannot bark (Isaiah 56:10). Could he be saying the same things about us? Thieves have entered into the church. They are stealing from people’s pockets and destroying many lives. Are we barking at them or are we wagging our tails as they wreak havoc in the church? O that we may revive polemics again!
Eyewrenchi J said:
Pentecostal churches like Hillsong and Bethel really not renown for there Theological expertise. Maybe there Praise and Worship music and thats about it.
Their worship reflects their lack of truth and understanding.
This is a good article. Tho understand its message fully, you need to understand the background and context that Mbewe speaks/writes from. Mbewe’s concern stems from the state of practiced Christianity in Africa, where a an added layer of African spiritualism is added to Christianity causing confusion among the people. Preachers become nothing different from the witchdoctors Africans hold in such high regard.
In the Western context, Mbewe’s message is also relevant. There is an important role for Christian polemics and apologetics. I feel, however, that websites like this become bogged down by their own agendas, and unless they are tempered with a genuine Christlike love for the people they target, they end up doing more harm than good for Christianity as a whole. The Bible encourage us to encourage and correct each other(Ephesian 4:14-16), not set up witch-hunting websites where anonymous commentators take free shots at other Christian brothers and sisters.
And you think we aren’t aware of the context and Conrad Mbewe’s ongoing battle with charismania? Why do you think we have highlighted this article on three ChurchWatch sites. It’s part of the modern day downgrade, much the same as Charles Spurgeon addressed during his day:
“Assuredly the New Theology can do no good towards God or man; it, has no adaptation for it. If it were preached for a thousand years by all the most earnest men of the school, it would never renew a soul, nor overcome pride in a single human heart.”
It’s for good reason Ps. Mbewe is called the African “Charles Spurgeon” and often speaks at conferences in the “west”, particularly the Strange Fire Conference.
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch
“I feel, however, that websites like this become bogged down by their own agendas”
You would rather that websites like this did not exist, and Christians had nowhere to go for advice or information, and the Body of Christ slid into apostasy even faster than it already is going.
“not set up witch-hunting websites”
Big lie there. “Witch-hunting” implies there is no problem, that it’s a boogeyman. Hillsong is no boogeyman, and neither is Brian Houston, or C3. You refuse to admit it.
“where anonymous commentators”
James you love being the unscriptural one don’t you? You just cannot accept the fact that you are wrong. And in addition you strain at anonymity gnats while swallowing lying camels.
“take free shots at other Christian brothers and sisters”
There are a lot of goats in the Hillsong / C3 crowd. And stop being uber-sensitive about calling out the awful awful awful errors and outright lies being pushed onto the Body of Christ.
BTW, your comments are echoing that of a very nasty website that has set itself up against this one. In fact, your entire comment just echoed his latest article. Looks like his sickness has polluted your mind. You need to stop reading his unbiblical articles. He makes up all kinds of garbage.
‘You would rather that websites like this did not exist, and Christians had nowhere to go for advice or information, and the Body of Christ slid into apostasy even faster than it already is going.’
Not true. I have no problem with the existence of websites like this. My issue is with the approach and intent of websites like these. Their is almost no quality that identifies a Christ-like nature in the tone and language used by most of its contributers. There seems to be a lot of bitterness and unforgiveness flowing through obvious hurts they may have suffered, possibly at the hands of the people linked to the churches they tend to target.
‘ You just cannot accept the fact that you are wrong.’
Wrong. No one is right all the time- and that includes me and you. Do you have the humility to accept that.
‘you strain at anonymity gnats’.
Anonymity allows goats dressed up like sheep hide their own sins while condemning people whom they cam easily get selective information on. In my opinion Christians who trust God should not be afraid of repercussions if they indeed are telling the whole truth.
‘a very nasty website that has set itself up against this one.’
In all honesty, I do not know of such a website. Would you be kind enough to post me a link- unless you are are fearful I may find something….but you guys are Christians right? You should have no problem sharing this info then.
James, I am certainly NOT a wounded ex-Hillsongee. I went to an Assembly of God church for one year. I only left that church due to moving cities. One seed of doubt in Charismatic Christianity was planted when I noticed how little bible knowledge the older women in my group had compared to me. I had only come back to God months previously. I hadn’t read the bible for well over ten years.
They had knowledge of God through worship and experiences. One woman who I was particularly friendly with from that group emailed me months later. We had several email exchanges, in one she said “I don’t believe in Hell any more…. I can’t believe that God would be so unloving.” When I showed her that the bible clearly showed Jesus says there is a Hell and proved that early church leaders certainly believed in Hell too she stopped responding to me.
She was one of the three women in the group who swore on going to Sydney’s Hillsong conference. Because of those several emails I also learned that one of them had separated from her husband, and the other was still struggling with same personal problems. The ones who swore by Hillsong’s worship sounded like they were at best in the same place there were when I’d left.
Why was that? If the Holy Spirit moves upon people in a special way during worship, (like Hillsong seems to endlessly proclaim) why were those women still battling so much with their sinful flesh? What was missing in their lives, what was I missing?
To cut looonngg story short:
* until I had searched for decent sermons etc. online, I had never heard the full Gospel, either at the Roman Catholic church or at various Charismatic churches. I had no idea of the enormity of what Jesus did for me, for dying for ME- a woman with so much self-condemnation for past sins, so much regret for failures-that God now saw me as if I was without sin because Jesus died in my place
* I realized everything was accomplished at the cross. I didn’t have to do or achieve anything, I didn’t need to worship until I felt like I had pleased God enough. Yes Charismatics, worship sessions had led me to *legalism*. Genuine bible preaching took my eyes off myself and onto Jesus, the author and finisher of every Christian’s faith.
Hillsong takes Christians’ eyes off Jesus and puts them back on ourselves. MY destiny, MY purpose, MY meaning, with “in Jesus’ name” added as an afterthought. Even their worship is focused on how WE feel about Jesus. We are only humans, God is the only Being worthy of worship…. why does Hillsong always make it all about US?
Hillsong’s “me” Gospel also omits what needs to be faced -personal sin. Calling sin personal weakness, a mistake or a lesson to be learned from does not remove the sin. Deep down we all know all the word games in the world do not delete the guilt and shame we *rightly* should have. Only by freely and fully admitting our sin to God and asking for forgiveness will we be washed clean, “white as snow by the blood of the Lamb” (Jesus).
This why I aim to defend the faith against Hillsong out of love for my fellow brothers-and-sisters-in-Christ. Hillsong/ Hillsong clone churches’ “faith” are counterfeits of the true heart-changing faith in Jesus Christ *alone*. I want them to be free from spiritual bondage, like myself.
Thanks for your indepth response. I have no reason to doubt or question your personal experience. I can only share my own as a response.
1. ‘One seed of doubt in Charismatic Christianity was planted when I noticed how little bible knowledge the older women in my group had compared to me.’. Most new converts in any church do not have much Biblical knowledge. That is why small groups are set up in most churches to do Bible studies. There is also something called personal responsibility- which comes from a growing personal relationship with Jesus. No church, charismatic, catholic or other can give you that. All they can do is encourage you- through music, people and fellowship, bible studies etc. The onus to grow is still on the individual.
2. ‘When I showed her that the bible clearly showed Jesus says there is a Hell ‘. I have not attended a church yet that teaches thatHell is not an actual place. I believe it actually exists. What I have discovered though, is that most Christian churches still teach that we will spend eternity with God in somewhere ‘up there’ in Heaven. The truth is that we will spend eternity on the New Earth((Revelation 21&22).
3. ‘Why was that? I’ If this is a question about why saved people still have problems, then the answer is in Romans 5:3-5. These are verses I recently shared with my mom who went through a series of ‘tribulations’. The message here is that we are not guaranteed a trouble-free life after we give our lives to the Lord.
Roman 5: 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
4. ‘If the Holy Spirit moves upon people in a special way during worship, (like Hillsong seems to endlessly proclaim)’. I don’t think this is an accurate accusation. Worship is an integral part of a Christian’s life. Worship can be in a corporate atmosphere and it can be personal. There are endless passages in the Bible that encourage this practice. God has resourced Hillsong to do this does this particularly well and thousands of Christians are blessed by the Holy Spirit inspired lyrics.
5. ‘I didn’t need to worship until I felt like I had pleased God enough.’. This is an issue at many churches, charismatic or not. Hillsong has this phrase repeated constantly- ‘Come as you are’, and because of this, at every service, you will find the type of people Jesus loved to associate with, and got chastised by the Pharisees for. And at every church service many give their lives to Christ. Follow ups ensure that many of these people grow in their relationship with a God that came to save, not condemn them. And many result in testimonies of transformed lives, freed from a life of sin. Yes, the message is come as you are, but the guarantee is that you will not leave as you came. The core business of this church is still the same- to link people to Jesus who alone can bring about lasting change.
6. ‘We are only humans, God is the only Being worthy of worship…. why does Hillsong always make it all about US?’ I agree with the first part of your statement but disagree with the second part. I will leave you with this challenge- listen to the following song and tell me why it is wrong to have the ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘us’ in the song? Any rational thinking person will realise that it is about a personal affirmation of a believer’s faith.
Comment edited – you can post lyrics not YouTube clips.
“God has resourced Hillsong to do this does this particularly well and thousands of Christians are blessed by the Holy Spirit inspired lyrics.”
Holy Spirit inspired lyrics? That’s a lie from the pit of hell, to put it mildly.
Our theology permeates our ministry, and it also permeates our worship. When we worship we are expressing more than our heart (which is deceitful above all else) – the “theology” of our lyrics is also instructive to teach. Hillsong promotes a theology of glory (self) through their worship (which is satanic) and that impacts directly on their sermons, also a theology of glory (self).
“And at every church service many give their lives to Christ.” – decisional regeneration is not biblical. Yes, people are saved despite Hillsong, praise God, but that’s a sovereign elective move of God.
There’s more to be addressed in your comment, but it seems your intent is to create more bunny trails as a Hillsong “apologist” rather than an apologist for Christ alone.
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch.
‘Holy Spirit inspired lyrics? That’s a lie from the pit of hell, to put it mildly.’
‘Hillsong promotes a theology of glory (self) through their worship (which is satanic) and that impacts directly on their sermons, also a theology of glory (self).’
Prove your accusations based based on the song I provided the link for.
What is that supposed to mean?
‘Yes, people are saved despite Hillsong, praise God, but that’s a sovereign elective move of God.’
Absolutely correct- and God chooses to move at places like Hillsong Church.
God chooses to move through the power of His Word – not Hillsong. If anyone picks up and faithfully preaches from the bible – God will move in power. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God, NOT by the words of frauds.
I think you’re asking Churchwatchers an extremely unreasonable question.
From responses given from many online Hillsongees they’re so biblically illiterate they wouldn’t have any idea of why some websites’ cult-like use of isolated bible verses sound correct. In context most readers would easily see the several verses have been used in a misleading way on purpose i.e. to give cultists’ “teachings” support.
I’d be happy to discuss some of these ‘teachings’ in the context it is taught in at Hillsong. What teaching would you like to discuss?
James – you can do your own due diligence. But start with some biblical reviews:
Cheers, Team Churchwatch.
Take a pick and we’ll discuss it.
You don’t get to determine the direction of comments on these sites, mate.
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch
I have no intention of determining the direction of any discussion mate. I just thought that this was a forum that had no fear of discussing anything because it is guided by God. Obviously I was wrong. The challenge still remains. Prove that you guys are genuinely guided by the Holy Spirit.
“God has resourced Hillsong to do this does this particularly well and thousands of Christians are blessed by the Holy Spirit inspired lyrics.”
In your delirious state you claim to have extra-biblical revelation.
My God has not resourced Hillsong “Church” to do anything. My God does not resource False Teachers, though yours must.
Your opinions are respected but I stand by my statement Bensun.
“The Bible encourage us to encourage and correct each other(Ephesian 4:14-16), not set up witch-hunting websites where anonymous commentators take free shots at other Christian brothers and sisters.”
Well you said it chap. We’re doing the biblical job of exposing apostate men and women and you call what we do “witch-hunting”. Those are your words. You put the label on them yourself.
Dare we quote what even Charismatics and Pentecostals say about these “witches” we are exposing?
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD…” 1 Samuel 15:23
Fire is a sign of God’s wrath and judgment. God will grant this rebellion such fire at their request. Still, you defend them and have the audacity to call these lawless one’s “brothers and sisters” when there is ample evidence to prove that they are thieves, liars and frauds.
‘you defend them and have the audacity to call these lawless one’s “brothers and sisters” when there is ample evidence to prove that they are thieves, liars and frauds.’
My purpose is not to defend anyone. My issue is with the apparent intent of websites like these. They have a common characteristics-
1. targeting those churches where cherry-picking is easy simply because there is so much information available. I don’t notice them targeting churches that don’t have much information readily available online. Partial information is often selectively exaggerated to create a false picture of the targets.
2. You can easily sense the bitterness and maybe unforgiveness in many of the posts. So there obviously is a lot of history that motivates the people who probably set these sites up. So their motives are questionable, and highly likely to be unbiblical. True Christians are free from such bondages.
3. I am of the opinion that Christians who trust God, and have a genuine relationship with Jesus do not need anonymity. What have they to fear if God is with them?
Edward München 43 said:
“My purpose is not to defend anyone.”
James, please cease from all your lying. You have not stopped defending hillsong & brian c houston since your ungodly arrival on this biblical platform.
I stand by my previous comment, Ed.
“I stand by my previous comment, Ed.”
Which one? You keep changing your stories. Schizophrenia?
And it’s Edward, not Ed. I am not Ed, Ed is another poster who rarely posts. He posts far less than you, but has far more substantive content and makes far more sense.
This James chap is looking more and more like a goat.
We don’t think James is a ‘goat’ – a lot of us have come out these movements as we were led by the Holy Spirit. It’s sites like ours that have been part of that journey for many. Hopefully James will realise this as the Lord leads him to be more Berean?
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch.
Name-calling doesn’t affect me because my identity lies firmly in Christ Jesus my Saviour.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Chap what is the matter with you? You have acted like a goat deefending lies why are you surprised people think youre a goat? That is not name calling its an observation.
Has your short memory forgotten youve inferred Churchwatcher is a goat? So its okay for you to say but not for anyone else to say? You have double standards.
Sorry to break the bad news the majority of your endless posts your identity has lied firmly with Brian Houston defending Hillsong not Jesus.
Chester, my friend.
‘So its okay for you to say but not for anyone else to say? You have double standards.’
‘Goat’ seems to be a common label people in this forum use to refer to people wjo question the motives and tone of this site. I apologise for dropping my standards to yours by using the term. I thought I’d use a term you seem to be more familiar with.
Why don’t you behave like a sheep then and discuss something more worthwhile.
James – “Goat” was a common label well used by Charles Spurgeon and this sermon describes exactly what we see and hear at Hillsong and other similar movements.
Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats? Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)
“An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it during the past few years. It has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them.
From speaking out as the Puritans did, the church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.
My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the church. If it is a Christian work, why did not Christ speak of it? “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). That is clear enough. So it would have been if He had added, “and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.” No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him.
Then again, “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers .., for the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:11-12). Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.
Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all his apostles. What was the attitude of the church to the world? Ye are the salt” (Matt. 5:13), not the sugar candy—something the world will spit out not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, “Let the dead bury their dead” (Matt. 8:22) He was in awful earnestness.
Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into his mission, he would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of His teaching. I do not hear him say, “Run after these people Peter and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick Peter, we must get the people somehow.” Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them.
In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of this gospel of amusement! Their message is, “Come out, keep out, keep clean out!” Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon.
After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the church had a prayer meeting but they did not pray, “Lord grant unto thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are.” If they ceased not from preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). That is the only difference! Lord, clear the church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her, and bring us back to apostolic methods.
Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to effect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless and scoffers, who thank God because the church met them halfway, speak and testify. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment has been God’s link in the chain of the conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today’s ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.”
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch.
Eyewrenchi J said:
In Australia and in Western countries as a whole we have what is known as the concept / idea / practice of Freedom of Speech. So as a Christian I have no problem with this website at all.
Truth always offends and if one is easily offended maybe one shouldnt read said articles or post on said board.
Congo2 – appreciate your response to James but it’s off topic so stays in moderation. Unfortunately as the Hillsong apologist continues to hijack the thread, the same rule applies to everyone. ‘Stay on topic’
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch.
It’s Ok, I understand.
Thanks Anonymous. Another good article. It is true that there are crazy things like this happening in many third world nations They have a very high percentage of people who already believe there is a spiritual world out there and Christianity is added as another layer to an existing faith, usually demonic in nature.
Churches in the Western world have different issues emanating from what I call the ‘white Jesus phenomena’. Western Christianity(and I am speaking in very broad terms here) is largely based on an English-speaking Jesus like the one in the Jesus movie. They haven’t even got Yeshua’s name right. Various forms of Western Christianity struggle with first world type problems, often related to finance, organisational matters, church systems, ‘biblical’ qualifications and similar things that did not matter to Jesus much. Others( like many people on websites like this) waste their time looking for sinners among the saved! Jesus was more interested in seeking and saving the lost, and so he spent a lot of ministry time in the ‘gutter’- with the prostitutes, thieves(tax collectors) the blind, sick and dead. And that is what I think Christians should be doing a lot more of.
“They haven’t even got Yeshua’s name right.”
Please explain? Particularly since the New Testament is written in Greek.
Cheers, Team Churchwatch.
The Greek word for Jesus is Iησοῦς. It is pronounced as “eeaysoos.” When “eeaysoos” was transliterated into the English long ago, it became Jesus–the term we use in English today.
Many people believe that Yeshua(Hebrew יֵשׁוּעַ) is the Jewish name that Jesus would have been called by those who knew Him.
There is no problem with calling him Jesus…I use that name most of the time myself. I was simply using it to highlight the fact that Western forms of Christianity have been promoting a very different Jesus to the one that actually walked the surface of this earth.
Exactly – “Western forms of Christianity have been promoting a very different Jesus to the one that actually walked the surface of this earth.” = Hillsong and other similar “seeker-sensitive” movements.
By the way, it’s pretty clear that Conrad Mbewe was particularly addressing the western church in this article. His ministry also includes a full itinerant preaching ministry in different countries around the world as a member of the Gospel Coalition.
A good example of what we are seeing was found at the recent 2016 Presence Conference, with keynote speakers often found at Hillsong ( they all like to share the “circuit” among themselves, it’s quite lucrative). Brian Houston shared the platform at the Presence Conference with Louis Giglio a year (or two) ago.
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch.
How is the Jesus promoted by your Western church different from the one promoted by, for example Hillsong church? I doubt it would be very different.
We have a Jesus who gives us under-shepherds who serves His flock and preach the biblical texts faithfully and in context.
We have a Jesus who gave us under-shepherds who don’t fleece their congregation at every opportunity.
We have a Jesus who doesn’t give authority to women over men in the pulpit.
We have a Jesus who doesn’t endorse, promote or invite the likes of modalist T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Steven Furtick etc in the pulpit.
We have a Jesus whose under-shepherds has the likes of Conrad Mbewe, Paul Washer and Dr. James White speak at their churches and conferences.
Finally we have a Jesus who gave us under-shepherds who faithfully lead with a theology of the cross, not the theology of glory always seen at Hillsong and their ilk.
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch
Since we are discussing who Jesus is in our churches, here is a song that I think some of you may like. Feel free to critique it.
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch.
Here is another one. I’m sure you’ll like it.
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch.
I like your taste of music, Churchwatcher. You still have not addressed my main point- What is the difference, from a biblical perspective between this and the music I gave from Hillsong? This is still western style worship isn’t it?
Would they have been singing like this in the synagogues? I’m sure the music and singing would have been different in David, or even Jesus time. They didn’t even have electricity then!
Apologies for length!
James: “Most new converts in any church do not have much Biblical knowledge. That is why small groups are set up in most churches to do Bible studies.”
At the time I was the youngest in the group (35), in both chronological age and born-again age. The next youngest was mid-40s.
The bible studies done were of this variety: “read this short passage, notice which verse jumps out at YOU, why does that verse have meaning for YOU? What do you FEEL like God is communicating to YOU through that verse right now?” Completely out of context. No objective looking at “who, when, what, how and why”. e.g. WHO was the passage written for: Jews (OT), apostles personally (Gospel), early individual churches or mankind overall.
It’s understandable why topical bible studies cover topics addressing personal issues but no Christian will mature if their bible studies are done purely out of *subjective* interpretations of a verse/ passage.
James: “There is also something called personal responsibility- which comes from a growing personal relationship with Jesus.”
Problem is that many people rely on church services way too much. Not saying that’s right, just being realistic. Since many people only put their mind towards God 1-2 hours per week, pastors should put EXTRA effort into making sure that they preach from the bible, NOT less.
James: “I have not attended a church yet that teaches that Hell is not an actual place.”
That AOG church never said anything against Hell. That woman had formed that opinion from reading an anti-hell website. She was also the woman who’d complained to me privately she didn’t feel the move of the Holy Spirit any more at that church.
She’s why I am concerned that “soft” Charismatic churches e.g.Hillsong are a gateway drug to the hard drug, New Apostolic Reformation churches/ meetings. She also told me in the email she wasn’t going to church any more, just those other services because that is where (she believed) the Holy Spirit truly moved. The bible wasn’t enough for her. She chose to ignore the bible e.g. Hell because her heart told her Hell couldn’t possibly be true….
I actually went to one of those meetings with her. Since then I have seen Youtube clips of Rick Joyner, Todd Bentley and Bill Johnson rallies and it brings back memories of that evening. Prolonged worship, way longer than the AOG service, people swaying and looking hypnotised, and then being called out and given a personal “word”.
I was very surprised when I was called out. From memory it was a generalised message of how God loved me, He was going to heal me spiritually in a way I hadn’t experienced previously, He had a purpose for me etc. It felt very genuine at the time. Looking back what was promised didn’t eventuate. e.g. I didn’t feel God with me or speaking to me personally after the meeting.
RE worship: “God has resourced Hillsong to do this does this particularly well and thousands of Christians are blessed by the Holy Spirit inspired lyrics.”
Holy Spirit inspired lyrics -that’s quite a claim there. If they are, they should be in complete agreement with the BIBLE. The bible is all about JESUS and what HE has done for us. If a songwriter misinterprets or distorts bible/ Christian doctrine in any way they are not inspired by the Holy Spirit. Full stop. No loopholes or fine print permitted.
James: “Hillsong has this phrase repeated constantly- ‘Come as you are’, and because of this, at every service, you will find the type of people Jesus loved to associate with, and got chastised by the Pharisees for.”
On that I agree with Hillsong. All sinners are free to come to church – saved or unsaved. However if a sinner is born again they should start to turn from their sinful lifestyle because they put God first (out of love/ desire to please Him). They should not remain sinning e.g. remain in non-marital relationships and be able to say “this CHURCH says God loves me as I am right now “, and use that church’s teachings (or lack of) to *remain* in their sin.
No self-proclaimed Christian should be allowed to pull a “don’t judge me” without correction, even if they’re extremely famous like Justin Bieber. [Not safe for Work] https://www.yahoo.com/celebrity/justin-bieber-is-now-coloring-1407093549604918.html
James: “…. tell me why it is wrong to have the ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘us’ in the song? Any rational thinking person will realise that it is about a personal affirmation of a believer’s faith.”
I say that because Hillsong has taken it to an unhealthy extreme. Compare a classic hymn “Amazing Grace” lyrics, with one of Hillsong’s. http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Amazing_Grace/
From the first person perspective, but it’s about our salvation, wonder at God’s grace and faith in God’s promises of eternal life for those who have faith in Jesus Christ. Note the thought and doctrine presented throughout the hymn. Now *that’s* a truly Holy Spirit inspired one.
‘Problem is that many people rely on church services way too much. Not saying that’s right, just being realistic. ‘
Maybe that is a problem at your church. At Hillsong the personal aspect of our relationship with our Saviour Jesus Christ is strongly encouraged. There is no intimate knowledge formed unless there is a personal walk. No pastor can help you with that.
James and his mystical Jesus… All fluff – no substance… Just like his comments.
“Maybe that is a problem at your church. At Hillsong the personal aspect of our relationship with our Saviour Jesus Christ is strongly encouraged.”
No James. Giving $$$$$$ to further Brian Houston’s LIES is STRONGLY encouraged.
At first you said you werent too keen on Brian Houston, giving the impression you only liked their music. Now it’s “At Hillsong OUR….”
Why do you keep lying for the Hillsong Cult?
Another Hillsong apologist who lives in a lie so big you cant separate truth from fiction.
‘I didn’t feel God with me or speaking to me personally after the meeting.’
If you are going to rely on your feelings for assurances of matters relating to faith, I assure you that you will be disappointed.
The lady you refer to in this section needs help- there is no doubt about it. I cannot understand how she ended up in this mess because of Hillsong. I have not witnessed any of the crazy things you describe at any Hillsong church service.
“I have not witnessed any of the crazy things you describe at any Hillsong church service.”
That’s because their ‘beautiful’ music puts you in a hypnotic state, you live in a cult spiritual buzz once you enter the door and start worshipping Brian Houston and all the other Hillsong false gods.
‘Holy Spirit inspired lyrics -that’s quite a claim there. If they are, they should be in complete agreement with the BIBLE.’
Yes, I stand by those comments based on the lyrics of the song I provided(O Praise the Name). You have not attempted to show why it may not be Holy Spirit inspired. I invite you once again to listen to the song and critique it.
As already stated, you don’t get to determine direction of comments.
“I invite you once again to listen to the song and critique it.”
And Church Watch invited you to discuss the Gospel, but you didn’t have any clue, remember?
‘On that I agree with Hillsong. All sinners are free to come to church – saved or unsaved.’
Thank you. At least you agree on something. Now lets praise God for this work He chooses to do at Hillsong church services.
‘However if a sinner is born again they should start to turn from their sinful lifestyle because they put God first (out of love/ desire to please Him). ‘
I absolutely agree with this, and that is what Hillsong church helps people with through follow ups after conversion. You are incorrect in assuming that people who give their lives to Christ at this church do not turn away from their sinful lifestyles. Most do, as is the case in any church, including yours.
‘They should not remain sinning’.
Have you committed any sin after you came to Christ? We all do, BUT we do not obtain a licence to sin because of the grace bestowed on us( see Romans 6:1). So the question is: Do Christians sin? Yes. Do they willfully continue in sin? No. Scripture indicates that, while we will always “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), we have the hope that the power of God is at work in us to “make us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NLT).
James, I am blessed to be in a small church where only an adult false convert with the most hardened, seared conscience could attend long-term (without being forced to do so).
My AOG year was 2007. Using feelings as my compass is now ancient history.
OK, it seems we are in agreement that Christians turn from sin, we all fall short of the glory of God (including after we’re born again), faith alone in Christ for salvation.
How do you explain Brian Houston’s consistent avoidance of naming sin as sin, instead using softer words in his speeches like mistake, wrong choice, negative thinking etc. if Hillsong still believes in sin (like the bible teaches)?
RE “O praise the Name”: the lyrics show basic human understanding of *what* happened and what *will* happen for eternity – where’s the WHY Jesus was crucified and resurrected from the dead?
If amateur musicians attempted to play the above song- out-of-tune singers with head colds sang the notes flat, the drummer sped up and down erratically, the guitarists kept on positioning the fingers incorrectly (and wrecking the notes in process) et. al. – would poor listeners in the audience still say the song was “Holy Spirit inspired”?
The moderators have asked for all comments to relate to the articles posted. James created some bunny-trails as a Hillsong apologist and a lot of his comments have been moderated. We obviously respect the anonymity of those who post here and James has demanded the anonymity be “exposed”. We have respected his own anonymity – his names is not “James”, and will continue to do so if he wishes to comment here appropriately.
We really appreciate your thoughtful interaction here Thinker, and hope you don’t mind if James stays moderated if he doesn’t stay on topic.
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch.
‘his names is not “James”’
Sorry to dissapoint you again, but it is. Now if you claim to be Holy Spirit led, and you have been proven to be wrong, does that make you an apostate, similar to many of the other Christians you so readily attempt to crucify here because of an error or two they make?
Or are you now going to ‘compare’ your ‘little’ wrong with the. ‘greater’ wrongs of the ones you target?
Take time to think about this… You don’t need to place it on your ‘clean’ website…it may just reveal this weakness in your armour.
James – you can call yourself what you like. Your private details are attached to your posts. To give your whole name would revealing too much information?
As for “spirit led” We don’t lay claim to have a particular “gift” as most charismatics like to boast about. Spirit-filled? Definitely.
1 Corinthians 12:13 “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit”
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch.
‘Your private details are attached to your posts.’
Wrong- those details don’t contain my middle name-James- given by my mother and on my birth certificate).
So your accusations are false. And that is the problem with you guys. You cherrypick selected information and quickly make false accusations. And you do exactly that with men God has chosen to bring people to HIs saving grace. I say this in love, not in a condemning way. Search your motives. They are not exactly pure. You have convinced yourself that the ‘work’ you are doing is helping build God’s kingdom. I agree that there is a role for Christian polemics, as there is a role for Christian apologetics( which I have a deep interest in and often get condemned for by real cults), but truth in love always seeks to build, not destroy. Please take time to contemplate what I have shared here.
It’s exercising the Christian polemic that clearly reveals to anyone practicing biblical discernment that Hillsong is a cult, a REAL cult.
Scientology has their Tom Cruise, Hillsong has their Justin Bieber.
Cheers, Team Churchwatch.
James – Back in 2005 Phil Johnson from Grace To You spoke at the Shepherds Conference, his message sending a polemic warning about what had already occured up to that time. You can read it here: http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/SC05-1013.htm
Fast forward 11 years to the 2016 Shepherds Conference and again Phil Johnson presents another clear expose of the “modern-day downgrade”. If you haven’t heard already, listen and apply to Hillsong.
(Of course you can choose to “throw the baby out with the bathwater – http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/TM13-9/is-there-a-baby-in-the-charismatic-bathwater-phil-johnson
Cheers, Team Churchwatch
I trust your judgement Team Churchwatch. Your blog is unusually open to varying opinions compared to many other websites. The rest of us have no idea of what isn’t let through either.
I have spent more time because James types like he’s formed spiritual beliefs, not received beliefs passively via Hillsong musical osmosis. He’s defending his position, not just blowing raspberries like the average online Hillsongee. It’s also a good way to waste time while being forced to watch the footy with male relatives. 🙂
Unfortunately it’s the comments that aren’t approved that are the issue. Yes,’James’ has well-informed beliefs. However it’s the demands he makes, coming here only in the last few days, expecting those who have commented here safely for years to reveal who they really are. If he has taken the time to read all the well-researched and informed articles and testimonies (and I doubt it) he might have been a bit more circumspect in his approach.
And the hypocrisy of his using a false name, while calling out others who choose to remain anonymous? Seriously?
Varying opinions on posted articles are welcome if respectful. Telling us how we should run the site? Well, he’s welcome to start his own.
Cheers, Team ChurchWatch
‘And the hypocrisy of his using a false name,’
OK then, lets identify the hypocrite. My name is actually James.
You and Thinker are the ones who are the fearful ones who use false names, yet accuse me falsely of using one.
I guess this comment will ‘have to be moderated’ in case it reveals how you guys are are so quick to point out others mistakes but will keep comments like this away from public view to hide your own errors.
Something to think about- was there any discernment practiced when you made that declaration? And if not, does that make you a ‘false teacher/ Christian/wannabe polemist?
‘How do you explain Brian Houston’s consistent avoidance of naming sin as sin’
Good question. May I inform you that as you were probably writing out this very question, Brian was preaching a sermon on sin. And in it he dies name sin as sin! You can check if I am lying by purchasing a copy of the sermon(friday night) from any Hillsong church store. Many people made a commitment to begin the walk with Christ in the church service last night after listening to the message.
It is easy to see that your critique of the song is a very weak attempt at something that is surely Holy Spirit inspired.
“You cherrypick selected information and quickly make false accusations.”
what this (edited) poster james willfully ignores is the huge difference between Brian Houston WILLFULLY deceiving people in a huge misrepresentation of God’s Word for money, and this website MAKING A small MISTAKE.
james is actually the quickest one to throw accusations. james is a huge hypocrite. and he is in no sense into apologetics. his knowledge of scripture is laughable to be put it politely. his interpretation of Revelation was laughable.
additionally websites like this does not claim super spiritual revelations. brian houston and his ilk claim them all the time.
” And you do exactly that with men God has chosen to bring people to HIs saving grace.”
which men might those be james? all the liars on stage at hillsong conferences? you are so out of it.
James, you are entitled to your opinion but that song left little impact on me.The song is well-performed BUT the tempo is fairly slow, there is excessive repetition, the melody is very simple and the lyrics are very basic. There are more chord changes than many modern songs but in actual difficulty scale it’s probably mid-way on difficulty scale at the vveeeryyy most (compared to professional performers of religious classical music).
Youtube singing of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Jesu, joy of man’s desiring.”
Jesu, joy of man’s desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.
Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
With the fire of life impassioned,
Striving still to truth unknown,
Soaring, dying round Thy throne.
Through the way where hope is guiding,
Hark, what peaceful music rings;
Where the flock, in Thee confiding,
Drink of joy from deathless springs.
Theirs is beauty’s fairest pleasure;
Theirs is wisdom’s holiest treasure.
Thou dost ever lead Thine own
In the love of joys unknown.
Which melody will still be played in the 22nd century (should the Lord decide to tarry)?
‘Which melody will still be played in the 22nd century (should the Lord decide to tarry)?’
If that is a serious question then the serious answer is probably both, and there will be much more by then. People have different tastes for music, but the ones with the best lyrics seem to be the ones that survive longer than others.
Time will tell of course. Memorable songs and masterpieces always get remembered and replayed by people who love that particular style of music.
Except for YouTube users/ music history researchers it is unlikely any Christian/ secular songs except “the cream of the cream” Number Ones from the 20th century will be listened to in a few decades time.
I’d be happy to discuss some of these ‘teachings’ in the context it is taught in at Hillsong. What teaching would you like to discuss?”
From the highest ranking officials e.g. Dr Michael Brown (Radio show “Line of Fire” fame”] down to the lowest ranked bloggers, they choose to use “do not judge EVER” guilt trips towards Christians who ask why Charismatic leaders are making such questionable decisions in their ministry/ fellowshiping with such questionable false teachers. They love Matthew 7:1 and completely ignore verse 5. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+7%3A1-5&version=KJV
e.g. Dr Brown trying to defend Hillsong for this stupid decision. http://www.christiantoday.com/article/michael.brown.on.hillsong.churchs.racy.rendition.of.silent.night.dont.judge.by.mere.outward.appearances/76690.htm
Do you also believe Hillsong should be given a “pass conceded” for such shows like Dr. Brown tried to do (and failed), if what Hillsong does is (supposedly) to bring people to Christ?
So what is the ‘teaching you are referring to?
Exactly what I said. “Do not judge EVER, under any circumstances” has become the 11th commandment of Charismatic churches and “Spirit-filled” variety Christians.
As a result false teachers can do/ say whatever they like (as long as it’s legal). They can make the wildest “God spoke to me” claims, knowing they won’t be questioned by their fans. Critics have become the condemned ones in today’s churches, not the unrepentant sinners.
These days atheists seem to have higher expectations for Christian morals than many Christians. The “do not judge EVER” commandment has intimidated Christians who do notice what is wrong in many Charismatic churches to keep silent.
Comments off topic will not be approved.
Totally agree with this. I only request that you apply this rule (as Christians should) equally to all respondents.
It’s the nature of the articles posted that Hillsong apologists like to create “bunny trails” to deflect from well-researched, proven content.
Those who wish to interact with the articles posted will have their comments approved. All others stay in moderation.
And of course James, as a Hillsong apologist, chooses to ignore the moderators’ rules so his comments stay in moderation. James, it’s also called “trolling”, and we don’t feed trolls here.