This article is broken into three sections, exposing the lazy journalism of Channel 9’s online report (Brian Houston speaks out on dealing with Hillsong’s nasty secret), on Hillsong Church. In section 1 we introduce the issues in Channel 9’s article. In section two we review the online report. And in section three you can examine all the sources to the material we referenced throughout our article.
People have started asking the question: “Is Pat Mesiti is still a pastor at either Hillsong or C3?” (Due to his recent arrest after beating his wife.) Even though Pat Mesiti was exposed in a scandal that expelled him from his position at Hillsong, evidence shows he is STILL considered a pastor in the Hillsong and C3 movements.
The proof of this is the fact he is still able to travel between Hillsong & C3 churches AND apparently speak in a pastoral context from their pulpits, (remember, the official role of a church pastor is to teach/preach from the pulpit). AND we are yet to hear an official statement denying that Pat Mesiti is a Hillsong or C3 pastor.
We also know that Senior Pastor Joel A’Bell from Hillsong , as early as 2010, defended “Pastor” Pat Mesiti from critics.
On the 13th of October 2010, Joel A’Bell posted this tweet, which came through on his FaceBook wall,
A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. Matt 7:16 MSG.
In reality, the Message is NOT a valid translation of the bible. It’s a paraphrase that is filled with pagan and new age references. Nevertheless, Eugene Peterson did capture the nature of today’s false teachers rather well – they DO “exploit the wallet”. This particular scripture attracted Hillsong critic Steve West and others to protest the fact that Hillsong pastor Pat Mesiti DOES exploit Hillsong member’s emotions and their “pocketbook”.
Steve West was the first to respond,
And thus will likely not have offerings at every meeting, conference, cell group and college chapel service.
This led into questions as to why Hillsong’s disgraced pastor Pat Mesiti was acknowledged as a pastor at Hillsong London on Joel A’Bell’s wall. Many people, including Hillsong attendees, were surprised he was reinstated at all and protested other sins of Mesiti to Joel. By this stage, Mesiti was rapidly earning the reputation, world-wide, as an international con-artist from 2009 onwards, with his ongoing endorsement of men renowned for their dubious integrity.
The fact that Mesiti endorsed notorious con-artist “AussieRob” did not help strengthen his reputation as a con-artist. Read more here:
This did not stop Joel A’Bell from defending AND endorsing the apparently restored Hillsong “Pastor” Pat Mesiti from speaking at Hillsong London.
So why was Hillsong allowing Pat Mesiti to speak at Hillsong London – in spite of critics pointing out how Mesiti fulfilled the scripture that Joel A’Bell put up on his FaceBook wall? In fact, this snippet of Pat Mesiti in 2009 was put up in the conversation on Joel Abell’s wall back in 2010:
Source: By speakercoach, Pat Mesiti Millionaire Mindset reveals the best tips on public speaking and presentation skills, YouTube, https://youtu.be/fldjYzfLUxw, Uploaded 16/04/2009. (Accessed 18/01/2016.)
In spite of the evidence put up by these critics, Senior Hillsong pastor, Joel A’Bell, defended Pat Mesiti speaking at Hillsong London in 2010 in his comment section:
“I knew Pat before, during and after his moral failure. Those who don’t know him should keep their comments in closer circles or to themselves. I find these public comments about Pat to be unloving. He is well on track in his restoration…”
“I said to keep it close (or) to your self. They could put their unrelated issues on their own wall. I wouldn’t use your wall to push my pet topics. Would make more sense if I had of posted something about Pat but this just screems of immaturity…”
Throughout this entire conversation, Joel A’Bell did NOT refute the assumption that Pat Mesiti was a Hillsong pastor. His continual defense of Pat Mesiti speaking at Hillsong London only confirmed the fact that Pat Mesiti was still a Hillsong Pastor (or affiliated with Hillsong’s leadership). Furthermore, he defended Pat Mesiti as one of their own.
It is clear that Hillsong, as an organization, was NOT acting in ignorance but validating and treating Pat Mesiti as a RESTORED pastor in their movement. Otherwise, why have him speak as a pastor at Hillsong London?
We note in 2014, Mesiti’s “loyal friend,” Brian Houston said:
“Literally, it didn’t only cost him his ministry, it cost him his marriage, it cost him his home, he lost his home, it cost him everything. The only thing he had was loyal friends and perhaps that’s the greatest thing we can have anyway, is loyal friends.
And there were people who stuck with him, people who I know here in our congregation who stuck with him. I was talking with him yesterday on the phone, actually text messages, same thing these days, and ahhh he was telling me that after years of rebuilding his life, just constantly rebuilding his life that the house he lost that his sin, his shame had cost him, he is on the edge of perhaps buying back.” [Source]
Brian has made it clear. Mesiti is still alive and well as a “restored” Hillsong pastor, he still has close relations with Brian Houston. In fact, Brian Houston used Pat Mesiti an example in this sermon of how one can be restored. Restored into what?
C3 “PASTOR” PAT MESITI:
We’ve also covered how C3 “Pastor” Mesiti spoke at C3 RealMen’s Conference and had no problem speaking on C3’s Positive Hits:
In this specific sermon, not only is what Pat Mesiti saying blasphemous, he also refers to his involvement with Hillsong.
In the sermon above, Mesiti says,
“I said that at Hillsong London at the Freddie Mercury theatre.”
So something tells us Mesiti has not been broadcasting his other Hillsong “pastoral” engagements. Furthermore he states (present tense),
“I have a preacher on every single day… This year I’ve invited Bob Harrison and Pastor Phil Pringle to be our chaplains. This is where we raise the million dollars for missions… On here is Brian Houston. On here are my spiritual and business mentors.”
What is interesting about the sermon above, as Chris Rosebrough reviews it on his program ‘Fighting for the Faith‘, he clearly exposes the prosperity cult theology (and predatory nature) that Mesiti appears to have fine-tuned from his association with long term “pastoral” friends and mentors, Phil Pringle and Brian Houston.
It’s well worth listening to the sermon review to prove that this man is STILL used as an example to follow by Brian Houston. And because his life is a “success story”, one can assume that’s what qualifies people like Pat Mesiti to be pastors in the C3 and Hillsong prosperity cults.
• Ed Young’s Hee Haw Sermon
• Bishop Tudor Bismark’s The Big Fish Anointing
• Jim Bakker’s Prophecy Fear Mongering For Dollars
• Sermon Review: The Joseph Generation by Pat Mesiti
Source: Chris Rosebrough, Hee Haw, Fighting for the Faith, http://www.piratechristian.com/fightingforthefaith/2015/5/hee-haw, Published 01/05/2015. (Accessed 06/01/2015.)
Clearly there is NOTHING regenerate or “restored” in Pat Mesiti’s life. The signs were there even before he was charged with assaulting his wife. So why on earth would Hillsong/C3 hold onto him? Why would Hillsong and C3 have him (unbiblically) re-instated as a pastor when there are so many others who could easily replace him?
Hillsong’s a church… and a charity… can’t you tell?
They do Christian Christmas carrols better than the world. Look how relevant Hillsong is – not even the world has taken this song to this… level.
We tend to think that all the faithful men in Hillsong “church” decided to cross their legs in this “traditional” Christmas carol.
P.S If you’re a hater and a blogger, judge not lest ye be judged. You’re just jealous of what you’re missing out on at Hillsong and want in on Hillsong’s successes. #IllHaveWhatShesHaving #TheBestIsYetToCome #LiveLoveLEGS! #UnsilentNight
Note: A few hours after we posted this video, it was “made private” by Hillsong; the video on this page now is a copy of the original.
Because this article on Brian Houston and Hillsong is questioning and analysing it’s history and leadership, this article is not from God but the devil. (That’s how the Hillsong philosophy goes. If it’s good, praise God! If it’s bad, it’s of the devil.)
There is so much to examine in this article which we are sure to refer to in articles to come.
Rick Warren is famous for coining the phrase “Deeds not Creeds.” This anti-creedal statement of Warren indicates that he shows very little regard of the creeds. That is unless he can use them to give the impression he is a legitimate Christian minister.
In 2014, Hillsong leadership were quite relaxed in confessing that Hillsong is a non-creedal church. It was at Hillsong Conference 2015 this year where Rick Warren preached a rather anti-Christian message on how to hear from his god.
After Pulpit and Pen exposed Warren’s pagan teachings, Rick Warren now appeals that he does indeed affirm the Nicene Creed. This is just another slick attempt to keep his sheepskin in tact while he continues to destroy Christ’s church for his own selfish gain.
Nevertheless, Christianity Today continually fails to care about integrity when it comes to journalism or the Christian faith and allowed Justin S. Holcomb to use nice sounding arguments to say not much at all in defense of Rick Warren. If anything, it has only created more confusion over church history and clear definitions on words such as ‘heresy’ and ‘heterodoxy’. Thank you Christianity Today.
The below well written article exposes the game of Holcomb and Warren and calls out the deceit behind Christianity Today:
“It seems to be just another attempt by the Evangelical Intelligentsia to distract from the real issues–issues that are bringing destruction in the church, further leading Christianity astray. It’s their typical game strategy.” [Link added]
Paul warns the church that ravenous wolves will emerge from inside the church. The evil intentions of these men will only stop when God fearing Christians says enough is enough and call them out. Thank God for Maples.
Jeff Maples writes,
Christianity Today says Rick Warren’s Mysticism isn’t Heresy Because he affirms the Nicene Creed
Recently, I wrote an article addressing serious theological issues that the CEO of Saddleback Church, Rick Warren, preached at the Hillsong 2015 Conference. Apparently this article ruffled quite a few feathers, since it has almost five-thousand Facebook shares, and Hillsong even contacted me requesting that I remove the video of Rick Warren’s sermon from Youtube (even though it’s protected under the fair use act). Now it appears that Justin Holcomb at Christianity Astray Today has taken an opportunity to lash out at Pulpit & Pen, though without any substance. Though he didn’t mention our blog or my name, my article would seem to fit the description, along with his passive aggressive, stereotypical depiction of Pulpit & Pen. He writes:
A group of bloggers seeking reform in Southern Baptist circles recently decried pastor Rick Warren for teaching that God communicates to believers via dreams. The bloggers named Warren and other speakers at a 2015 Hillsong conference “heretical preachers that claim extra-biblical revelation from God.” To be sure, the nature of God’s revelation has been debated throughout church history, and overemphasis on dream interpretation can be theologically dangerous.
He then goes on into a rant about some British guy, of which I know nothing about, and will not comment on. However, his beef with us seems to be more about semantics than anything else. His approximately 3600-word article is dedicated to attacking Pulpit & Pen (and this other guy) about the use of the word “heresy.”
The article I penned at P&P in which appears to be the focus of Holcomb’s harangue is titled “Rick Warren Preaching Heresy at Hillsong 2015 Conference.” He then spends the rest of the article attempting to define the word, “heresy,” as well as trying to prove that what Rick Warren was teaching is, in fact, not heresy. He says:
But are these problems of heresy? Both complementarian and egalitarian leaders have taken to the Internet to call each other’s views on gender and leadership heresy. That, though their respective movements have officially existed for about 30 years.
If we stopped reading his article here, one might conclude that in order for a theological teaching to be considered heresy, it must be relatively new. However, we will see by continuing that that isn’t what he thinks. So my question would be, why mention it? If the length of existence of a given theological teaching had anything to do with it’s being considered heresy, then that would have made all of Jesus’ teachings “heresy,” in which we know is not the case–at least not from a Biblical believer’s point of view.
However, Mr. Holcomb later asserts his definition of the word as follows:
Heresy, as historian David Christie-Murray explains, is a belief that denies a doctrine “officially defined” as orthodoxy…For example, according to Protestants, the Catholic teaching that Mary was born without original sin and remained a virgin for life is heterodox. It’s not heresy, because Catholics affirm orthodox Christology…However, Oneness Pentecostalism is an example of heresy, because it rejects historic orthodox Trinitarian theology.
And then goes on to conclude,
If a believer genuinely accepts the Nicene Creed, they should not be dubbed a heretic.
Okay, there are a number of problems with this. First, I would ask him that since the pope of the Catholic Church affirms the Nicene Creed, should he not then be labeled a heretic? This is assuming, of course, that he believes the Catholic Church to be a false church that teaches a false gospel. However, according to his definition, the pope affirms the trinity and other “orthodox” teachings set out at the council of Nicea, and, therefore, should not be labeled a heretic.
But is this the proper, biblical use of the word heresy?
First of all, let’s be clear, there was no Nicene Creed while the New Testament was being written. It did not exist. The Nicene Creed was established about 300 years later after the New Testament Canon was closed. So when Paul referred to heretics in his epistles, he wasn’t referring to people who didn’t affirm the Nicene Creed. Paul says in Titus 3:10m
As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, (ESV)
and the KVJ translates it as,
A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
The Greek word translated here as one who stirs up division, or “heretick,” (as the KJV translates it), is “αἱρετικός,” or “hairetikos.” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines the word as:
1. fitted or able to take or choose a thing
2. schismatic, factious, a follower of a false doctrine
So what is “false doctrine?” Obviously Paul isn’t referring to simple disagreements over non-essentials in Titus 3:10. But Holcomb is attempting to make a biblical definition of the word “heresy” that equates to a more distinguished use of the word than that of the standard definition, which is basically, “a choice.” This is fine, as I am attempting to do the same thing, however, Holcomb’s “biblical” definition fails, as it is not consistent with biblical usage. He has narrowed the term down too far in order to avoid usage on those whom it should apply biblically.
Peter actually gives us a better picture of the biblical usage of the word in 2 Peter 2:1,
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
So basically, a heresy, according to Peter, is a “destructive doctrine,” or a doctrine that will lead someone to “destruction.” Again, there was no Nicene Creed during this time, and I simply don’t see any biblical support for limiting Paul and Peter’s usage of the word to those who would only deny certain declarations of it. For example, the Nicene Creed doesn’t even touch upon soteriology, yet the doctrine of salvation is by far the most important doctrine of the Christian faith. While all aspects of the Nicene Creed are important and essential, it is rather limited in its scope. The Roman Catholic Church, as well as any other sect that asserts a false gospel, or a false way of salvation, or any other teaching that could lead one down the wrong road to destruction, would clearly be considered heretical by biblical standards.
So back to Rick Warren, in whom Mr. Holcomb believes should not be referred to as a heretic. I would then ask, why not? Is not what he teaches dangerous? Is not teaching that the Bible is insufficient for hearing from God a destructive doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16-17)? Is not contemplative prayer, and other practices of mysticism and divination strictly forbidden in Scripture? Are these practices not linked with idolatry and rejection of God (1 Samuel 15:23)?
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. – Matthew 7:13
Perhaps Mr. Holcomb doesn’t see Rick Warren’s teachings as dangerous. To his credit, he does say “Traditionally a heretic is someone who has compromised an essential doctrine, usually by oversimplification, and has thus lost sight of who God truly is or what he has done for us.” I would agree with him on that statement, however, it appears he doesn’t see mysticism, contemplative/centering prayer or denying the sufficiency of Scripture as an essential doctrine.
Or does he?
It’s unclear because he goes through a number of false teachings that, although he refuses to call them “heresy,” he refers to them as “heterodox.” Is there practically any distinction between the two words? Traditionally, historically, maybe–slightly. But Holcomb, again, writes a 3600-word article refuting my use of the word “heresy” in favor of the word “heterodox,” in which there is no practical argument to be made. It’s clear that the biblical definition of the word fits much more than he is willing to acknowledge and is a proper term to fit Rick Warren’s practices. But even if it weren’t, what is the point of his article? What purpose did it serve? It seems to be just another attempt by the Evangelical Intelligentsia to distract from the real issues–issues that are bringing destruction in the church, further leading Christianity astray. It’s their typical game strategy.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. – Proverbs 14:12
A few months ago, Jeff Maples from Pulpit and Pen did an article exposing Rick Warren’s heresy at Hillsong Conference 2015.
As usual, whenever someone critiques Hillsong and it’s teachers, Hillsong attempts to hide or remove the content at whatever cost. You will notice that Hillsong have removed Rick Warren’s message from YouTube.
Quick reminder on how Hillsong works:
If you expose Hillsong (or CHC) of heresy with sound bites – they accuse you of maliciously slandering them by taking crying someone has taken them out of context. They then put defamation notices against their critics.
If you put up entire messages in context – they accuse you of breach of copyright and do everything they can to shut you down so that the content is removed.
If they can’t get you this way, they will attempt other means necessary to silence or discredit you.
Rick Warren Preaching Heresy at Hillsong 2015 Conference
At the Hillsong 2015 Conference in Sydney, Australia, where Rick Warren shared a stage with other heretics such as Joseph Prince, Warren teaches that he receives extra-biblical revelations through subconscious dreams. The theme of the Word of Faith conference that Rick is speaking at is “Speak Lord, I’m listening.” This is fitting since all of the speakers at this conference are heretical preachers that claim extra-biblical revelation from God.
He starts out by twisting Exodus 4:3 regarding Moses’ encounter with God, and God commanding Moses to throw down his staff while God miraculously turns it into a serpent, and then pick it back. He says that this passage represents that Christians today need to throw down their income and identity and let God do something miraculously with it. He says:
Hearing the voice of God starts with a willingness to give up his identity, his income, and his influence, for the global Glory of God. When you do that, you are now in a position to hear God speak.
He says that the prerequisites to hearing from God are “believing that he cares about the details of your life,” and that you must “believe that God wants to answer your questions, confusions, quandaries and problems.” He then reads Habakkuk Chapter 1 and 2 and says that this passage lays out a strategy for hearing from God. While reading, and holding up his counting fingers while reading, he says the following:
In Habakkuk, we find the model for hearing the voice of God…These are the five things you do to hear the voice of God…  I will climb up in my watchtower,  and I will wait,  and I will look to see what the Lord will say, then the Lord gave me this answer  write down what I reveal to you,  so that you may read it.
Watch, as he tells the audience that he often asks God questions before he goes to bed, the Holy Spirit works on him, then he wakes up with an answer.
While emotionally and repeatedly restating the conference theme, “Speak Lord, I’m listening,” in an effort to draw the crowd into an emotionally submissive state of mind, he goes on to say that these will become second nature to you if you practice all your life. “You must station yourself,” he says, “you don’t move… God speaks to those who wait on him.” “You calm your body, you calm your mind, and you calm your emotions… you relax your body.” He then recites Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God,” as a proof for this. He then teaches taking deep breaths while stretching and relaxing your muscles, and getting comfortable. His next statement says it all:
Until you get comfortable with silence, you will never, ever, ever, hear the voice of God…the inner-calm gives me the intercom to God…the inner channel to hearing the voice of God.
He goes on expounding on this for quite some time. Then, surprisingly he says that God speaks to us through his Word, however, he then contradicts himself by saying that in addition to this, God speaks to us through mental images and visions. This isn’t Christianity, this is mysticism. Rick Warren has been on a downhill path for a number of years, but this is outright heretical teaching.
And to the angel of the church in Sardis [Hillsong, Saddleback, Lakewood, etc.] write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.’ – Revelation 3:1
You can see the entire “sermon” below.
Source: By Jeff Maples, Rick Warren Preaching Heresy at Hillsong 2015 Conference, Pulpit & Pen, Published 05/07/2015. (Accessed 09/05/2015.)
One reason why we started Church Watch was because we noticed popular cults starting to rewrite their history. Specifically C3 and Hillsong.
In his book, ‘Live Love Lead,’ Brian Houston of Hillsong lied about his history in how he dealt with his father’s crimes and victims (he also added new information to the story that was not disclosed at the Royal Commission). The stories he told the media also contradicted his story at the Royal Commission.
He has also been promoting the lie that he started CLC/Hillsong (switching histories to suit whatever agenda). He also insists that he founded his church at Hills in 1983. This is now being refuted as well.
The philosophy with Hillsong is this: if your history doesn’t make you look good, change it or cover it up. And Brian Houston has had lots of experience with this (as we are about to find out).
EIC – no morals, no ethics, no Christianity. Just a network to promote stuff that sounds Christian to consumers.
Recently, Brian Houston was focusing on the Evangelical Industrial Complex (EIC) in America to sell his new book ‘Live Love Lead.’ Terry Meeuwsen appeared to make Houston nervous while he promoted his material on the Christian Broadcast Network. She raised the issue of Houston’s terrible experience losing his “best friend” in 1995. His body language indicated that he clearly was not comfortable with Meeuwsen throwing this experience in his face. (Watch at 7:10 onwards.)
Terry Meeuwsen: “… When I think of Hillsong, I think of praise and worship because those songs are sung in my own church and the churches of so many of us. And God actually used the disappointment and the surprise of a leader leaving – a key lead- THE leader of your worship team, and yet God did an amazing thing.
Brian Houston: “You mean right back in 1995?
Terry Meeuwsen: Yeah.
Brian Houston: So it’s 20 years ago? It’s true.
We were on the edge of recording with ah- Integrity Music here in America. And of course we’re Down Under, like, you know, its already amazing that, that um- people were reaching out to us.
And so, the week that it was about to happen – and ah- I still don’t even understand it. I still to this day don’t understand it. But our worship leader walked out. [Behaviour gets antsy] And literally walked out. Like literally left my life- left our lives- and he was like a best friend, so there’s huge grief involved. [Rubs loose tooth?] And uh-
But the incredible thing in it all is that the only person I could turn to was a lady called Darlene Zschech. And of course Darlene Zschech is well-known now around the globe. So I kind of, as well as I could, I gently pushed her forward. I rang Integrity Music. And incredibly they never had a woman lead one of their projects at that time. So it was quite a big thing for them. But it turned out to be an amazing story.”
[Drinks cup of water]
That worship leader and “best friend” to Brian Houston in 1995 was Geoff Bullock.
Geoff Bullock was the man that gave Christian Life Centre the name Hillsong and helped put Hillsong on the map for it’s outstanding musical events and it’s famous music. Just like many others who made Hillsong what it is today, Brian Houston simply rode on the coat-tails of his “friends” who made Hillsong what it is.
So how does Brian Houston treat his best friends? Did he really suffer memory loss on the CBN set? To answer that question, we will look at Brian Houston’s book ‘You Can Change the Future’, Tanya Levin’s book ‘People in Glass Houses’ and finally read what Geoff Bullock himself said about his experience.
Tanya Levin wrote about Geoff Bullock in her book ‘People in Glass Houses’:
“Geoff left Hillsong in late 1995. I knew that his marriage had broken down and had remarried but, not having stayed in touch with the Christian music scene, not much else. The Geoff that I shared cappuccinos with was the same man as always. Same piercing blue eyes, soft mannerisms, and a voice born for the BBC. Geoff is not, by nature, an AoG salesman. Rather he represents a large group of artists who are attracted to the Pentecostal church by the opportunity for creative expression for Jesus.
What I didn’t expect was the brokenness. Although I had worked with people from a diversity of backgrounds for years, I assumed all the old wise men of God were naturally of stronger character than me, Over the time we spoke I found it not to be so. It was Geoff’s openness and willingness to talk that prepared me for a world of people damaged for the long-term by the work of Hillsong and the AoG.
Geoff says he remembers having episodes of mania when he was a child, although he wasn’t diagnosed with symptoms of any kind until after he left Hillsong. He sees a therapist to work on his long periods of depression, which are often followed by episodes of intense creativity. The other obstacle in his life is the nightmares he suffers dating from the time with Hillsong, an off-shoot of his post-traumatic stress diagnosis.
As the Hillsong conference expanded in the late eighties, so did Geoff’s responsibilities and pressures. He and his wife, Janine, were expected to spend infinite hours away from their children to run the music department. International interest in the music grew and so did Geoff’s profile. The couple travelled extensively with the Praise and Worship team, and personally with their old friends Brian and Bobbie. Despite the bright lights and the glory, his music career at it’s peak, Geoff was finding less satisfaction and spirituality in what he was doing.
After the most successful conference yet, Hillsong ’95, Geoff went to Brian and told him he was leaving. It was time, he felt, spiritually, to pursue other interests. Nothing personal.
Geoff Bullock had left a career with ABC-TV as a production manager to become a pastor with the Hills Christian Life Centre in 1978. For nearly twenty years he was able to use those skills to produce Hillsong music, and the show that accompanied it. During that time he wrote, produced and performed countless songs, and released seven albums. Because Hillsong still uses those songs, has remixed them and re-released them, Geoff’s royalties are growing at the same rate as Hillsong.
Which is lucky for Geoff. Hillsong did everything in its power to prevent his future success. Due to speak at a bible college occasion soon after leaving, he received a phone call with a sudden apology. Hillsong had informed the bible college that any associations with Geoff Bullock meant no further association with Hillsong. Christian magazines were told the same thing. Piles of the CD Geoff was about to release were found dumped at a tip in Blacktown, not far from Hillsong headquarters.
In Bobbie’s I’ll Have What She’s Having, this period is clearly referred to (the emphases are hers):
In July 1995, we witnesses a wonderful HILLSONG Leadership Conference. It was our 9th conference and in our nation and in our context of influence, to put it delicately- ‘we put the wind up the devil!!!’ Stories would flood into our offices of churches and towns being turned upside down with a revival spirit. God is good (all the time). Brian and I took a week to tie up loose ends and then together with our friends Pat and Liz Mesiti we took a little holiday. (I think God was just being terribly kind to give us a rest, because he knew what lay around the next bend.)
We came home a week later, stepped off the plane (‘hello, hello … lovely to see you … we missed you all … had a lovely time!’) and literally all hell broke out with one of our key people. It was the first and only time that something like this had happened to us. (I must admit prior to that conference I sensed something brewing, and had called our pastors wives to prayer.)
… For the next several months it was as though demons came out of the woodwork on every front. When attacks come from every side it is a sure sign that you are doing something right (which is contrary to some people’s belief). We experienced a barrage of attack-cancer, accidents, stinking thinking, people throwing in the towel, disloyalty in our team that disappointed our heart, devil induced confusion, opposition and fine thread ‘cancerous attitude’ bent on contaminating and taking out this particular Body of Christ.
Eventually, a Hillsong board member had lunch with Geoff. ‘We tried to destroy you,’ he told him. ‘until we realised you weren’t a threat.’ Geoff continues to work and write music, though he gave up performing years ago.
The nightmares remain one of the most intrusive spillovers from the old days. Three of four times a week he dreams about Hillsong events, being humiliated by Brian’s demands, being screamed at, berated and bullied along the way. His psyche is deeply affected. He is very aware that he, too, became a bully. Years later, Geoff has tried to make amends to many people he treated ruthlessly in order to avoid punishment from above.
At the end of our first meeting at a café, Geoff is exhausted. He tells me he feels drained by the remembering. I realise I have stumbled into a much more serious affliction in people’s lives than I had anticipated.”
Source: Tanya Levin, People in Glass Houses, Published: Black Inc., Melbourne, VIC: 2007, pg. 242-4.
Brian Houston writes of his best friend this way in his book ‘You Can Change the Future’ (a book that attempted to cover up his father’s crimes as a paedophile and exalted as a role model for others to follow):
Commitment to the right vehicle
“When I was a little boy, I had a scooter. As I got older, I rode a three-wheeled trike before I got my first bicycle. One day my father took me down to the shops and as I sat impatiently waiting for him in the car, all of sudden [sic] he came around the corner with a shining green bicycle. It was my pride and joy. Of course getting my first car was an unforgettable moment in my life. It was a ’57 Austin A50. It was also green and it cost me $650.
Many people desire to make an impact on the generations but rely on old vehicles to get there. Imagine me trying to fulfil my overseas speaking engagements via my original scooter or bicycle! You need the right vehicle and the right associations to enable God to take you forward. You may have a great vision to impact the earth, but alone you cannot do as much as you could together with others. If you are in associations which are holding you back or on a vehicle that is moving too slowly, stretch yourself by stepping into the mainstream and being committed to going forward.
I have been blessed to pastor at least four world-class songwriters, and many others heading in the same direction. I cannot take credit for their anointing or their God-given gifts, but I do have a sense of satisfaction about their opportunity. The Hillsong Church is a vehicle that has taken their songs to the world. One of these writers, who severed their link to our church several years ago, told me how they were writing more songs than ever before. Interestingly, it is only the songs that were written within the local church that I have heard anybody singing. It seems as though the local church was the vehicle which God was blessing.
Currently, the most sung praise and worship songs in Australian churches have emerged from the life of our church. Obviously that association with Hillsong Church has been very fruitful for people like Darlene Zschech, Ruben Morgan and Russel Fragar. They have obvious talent, a beautiful anointing, but also the right vehicle. Talent and anointing on their own aren’t enough, but placing the right people, in the right place, at the right time, has enormous potential.”
Source: Brian Houston, You Can Change the Future: Living Beyond Today and Impacting the Generations Ahead, Published: Maximised Leadership Incorporated, Australia, 2000, pg. 131-2.
And what did Geoff Bullock had to say about his experience? This is a very insightful interview exposing what Bullock went through, discussing areas of Hillsong’s philosophy, methods and dirty tactics which lead to his swift removal.
And Houston claims he has no idea why Geoff Bullock, his best friend, walked? What other lies and smear campaigns has Brian Houston written about in his book ‘Live Love Lead’? What other media organisations and Christian groups has he publicly mislead and lied to about his past life?
Let the sledge BEGIN!
Terry Allen from the Christian Faith wrote this piece back in 2010:
Geoff Bullock opens up …
We all know his music and we each have a favourite. He is Geoff Bullock. But what do you know about the man? About Geoff as a Christian? About Geoff as a sufferer of bi-polar disorder?
Join Geoff as he discusses his life and ministry with Terry Allen.
Geoff, what have you been doing for the last decade or so?
Oh, what a question! What have I been doing for the last 10 years? I would say I have been learning grace and un-learning working to prove myself.
Now, that is not just in a spiritual situation, that is in a whole of life situation: in my relationships with my kids, with my friends, with [wife] Victoria, especially as a step-father. Learning how to be rather than to do.
Spiritually, that has huge impacts on my life. I wrote two books at the beginning of the century, which was the beginning of that journey. Jesus’ story painted in a way that I hope you could see or visualize the impact he was making on society and the lives of broken hearted people; people without hope.
In the last 10 years I suppose, I would say, combined with that, I have been battling with mental illness: bi-polar type two which has caused all manner of symptoms in my life which has been confronting. One of the main ones being high levels of anxiety, which has seen me come and go publically three times.
I am now 10 years on and I feel the illness is manageable and the greatest gift, I think, is that I have been forced to learn insight into the way I think and the way that I do. I have learnt that by reflection on my past and reflection on the times where I can see the illness in that.
Also, over the last decade, I have had a most surprising return to public profile to tie that journey in to the life of Christ and the hope we see in the cross. So, I think that’s what I’ve been doing.
Life as a Christian, especially with bi-polar disorder, must be difficult. Some Christians believe it is demonic & should be dealt exclusively by prayer. How have you managed it?
Well, the first thing I want to wade in swinging is that I wish the evangelists and those who visit churches, and they arrive one day and leave the other, who drop such dangerous bombs on people’s medical situations; I wish they would go and do some research by sitting down with a psychiatrist and realizing how dangerous their teaching is.
You wouldn’t dare say that to someone with diabetes, but this irresponsible message; all it does is heighten the symptoms twice. You know, they go off medication, they get worse and then, getting worse, they think they must be possessed by demons, so that makes them feel worse and then they are totally without an anchor. Of course the hope of medication and a good psychiatrist is taken away from them, so I get furious about that.
And it’s also totally irrelevant to the gospel. There’s no resemblance to the life of Christ whatsoever. So, those are my little swinging punches.
For me, I do a lot of thinking, prayerful thinking and I think about the life of Christ all the time. Trying to strip away all of the things we’ve said culturally and theologically: strip it away. The drama that was Jesus when he walked into somebody’s life or somebody’s social circumstances: that is of great help to me.
I have a little saying: receiving grace compels us to begin the journey towards becoming gracious. Receiving grace is free but becoming gracious will cost you everything. It will cost you every opinion you have in your life and every bias.
So that has made a huge difference in the way I react to my symptoms because often my symptoms are feelings of rejection and a lack of affirmation and a feeling of isolation.Then I will expect people to do as I want them to do which is to work to prove their love for me as I am working to prove my love for them. So meditating on the life of Christ helps me to challenge that works based expectation of myself and others.
Bi-polar disorder is often suffered by artistic and creative people and one of the symptoms is depression. Have you suffered depression?
Yes, I’ve been absolutely lost in it. It was in 2007, actually it started back in November 2006, I remember vividly when i suddenly realised that I was falling into depression, I was sitting on a sun drenched balcony overlooking the sea and feeling absolutely miserable and that lasted for just on a year.
Obviously, talking to my GP and then my psychiatrist, I began a journey of trying to balance medication and cognitive therapy. I ended up as a day patient at a psychiatric clinic in Sydney, which I think was the beginning of helping me to have insight and, strangely enough, 2008 saw the rebirth of what I’m doing now and I spent a good 18 months of it depressed, but it was wonderful having a mission.
Have you ever felt Christian condemnation over your condition?
No, I don’t think I’ve ever been in that situation, but look, I can be a little outspoken and I have thought really deeply about my condition and so I feel that I have ammunition now. If, for example someone said to me, “Oh, it’s the devil”, which did happen to me once: one of my very, very oldest friends: he is not a man with insight. He does not think deeply and so he has a book of rules that he applies. He started a conversation with me about my depression being demonic and I think my response was strong enough for him to realize that even if he thought I was wrong, he would be wise to step away.
15 years ago you left Hillsong. Why?
Well, I’ve got to say that I was always a round peg in a square hole there. From the beginning of Hillsong’s association with the Word of Faith churches in America, their prosperity doctrine and their very works-based doctrine of spiritual and physical rewards, I just could not tie the gospel together with what they were saying. Not when I looked at Jesus at the cross; I couldn’t understand how they combined the grace of Jesus found in the gospel with the laws of conditional blessings and rewards found in the Old Testament.
They teach that Jesus rewards us according to our works. That is not the work of Christ. Grace is never a reward. We receive grace as a gift according what Jesus accomplished for us.
I actually tried to leave in 1992, but got turned around. It’s important that I say I chose to stay and rededicate all that I could to continue being part of their vision and the outworking of it.
Then, in 1995, I had two major things happening: I had this sensation that I really didn’t know Jesus. I knew Paul’s Jesus, I knew the epistles’ Jesus and Hebrews and I knew my movement’s Jesus: all the preachers and teachers who came through and spoke about him, but in my own life I felt I did not have this sense of meeting him. And so I started a search.
That’s when I wrote the song Jesus, God’s righteousness revealed. Towards the middle of the year, I started to really burn out because I was trying so hard to prove myself worthy of being who I was and trying to prove myself worthy of God’s presence on a Sunday: I had this poor, misguided feeling that if I play really, really well, God will come. It might sound stupid to say it, but it was where I think lots of Church musicians still are.
But after Hillsong ’95 I just felt so broken and so failed, I thought, “Look, I could just fall over dead and no one would notice.” But then I had this profound sense, and it grew: in fact, I would say it was the strongest spiritual encounter I had with God, where he said, through a whole lot of ways, to do something: that I had to go.
And it took three months and a whole lot of conversations, but eventually I wrote a letter and handed it on by a friend. I didn’t have the courage to do it to their face, but I knew that if I didn’t do what I felt God was saying… I had a choice: either I follow God or follow the church.
In the end, I’d rather build my relationship, my spirituality, on trying to discern what God’s saying to me and that’s how I left. And it really was the great divorce. It was unnecessarily bitter and divisive and that I found very confusing.
By saying it was bitter and divisive, do you mean you were stabbed in the back?
Yes, absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt. There were letters written to other churches, there were approaches made to other churches, there was a statement made to the whole church leadership team. They just couldn’t understand what I was doing, but in the end that’s just human and it’s very painful.
One of the hardest things was when my marriage ended three months later people jumped to a conclusion which was so far from the truth. This sad piece of gossip is still believed to be the truth.
Even last weekend I had to retell my story to put events back into the order that they occurred. It would have been lovely if Hillsong helped to put things right. However I simply became the invisible and forgotten man and that hurts deeply. Very deeply. I would have thought that my work there was seen as a blessing.
Unfortunately, I don’t think that rift has ever been repaired. There is nothing to indicate that it has.
Has there been any reaction at Hillsong in recent times to your current ministry?
Well, firstly, I made contact within six months with Brian Houston who was my very best friend at the time. This is really painful stuff and I can fully understand how he felt. I tried to explain as I was slowing gaining insight into what eventually would be bi-polar. I talked about co-dependency, I talked about my spirituality and I would often find that Brian would understand and ‘get it’. I had a chance to go and see most of the elders and senior pastors at that time and try to explain that I was sorry it happened the way it happened. I could have handled it a whole lot better: I handled it very, very poorly. I suppose we both did, but I can only be accountable for myself.
I met with Brian many, many times because I didn’t like the thought that he thought ill of me and misunderstood me, but I also felt that I had wounded him in a way that I wished I hadn’t and that somehow I could take those wounds away or help heal them. So, we’ve had good contact, but as far as the church is concerned, nothing. There’s just been silence, absolute silence.
I must say, when I left and obviously it was getting rather sad, I decided not to contact any of my friends because I felt that if I did, the worst thing they could do is try to understand me because then they would misunderstand the church and I didn’t want to put my friends in the middle of something that was unnecessary but very human. So, I walked away too and that has to be understood.
Funnily enough, I could see something of my bi-polar going way back to when I was 17 and I was at a very good school in Sydney and all of a sudden I decided I had to leave and I left at the end of year 11. I’ve had almost no contact with that school ever since.
The same thing when I left the ABC and the same thing when I left Hillsong. There is a part of me: I just cut my ties and run.
In realising this I have to take responsibility for my actions and not blame others for my sense of isolation. This is a difficult lesson to admit. I must have hurt so many people. However, no matter how I set about leaving I always come back to believing that i made the right decision.
You wrote some of our generation’s favourite songs. They are ones we all sing in Church. How does that make you feel?
Weird. I’ve always been a musician and always written songs but it hadn’t really defined me all that much, so it was very weird when all of a sudden I was writing songs that were defining me. My claim to fame in the early to mid 80’s was that I was a former cameraman with the ABC. I worked on virtually all their programs for 10 years, so that was my claim to fame.
Then I wrote The Power of Your Love and The Heavens Shall Declare and off it all went. And I have really badly battled with it at times because I would feel it placed on me a responsibility to try to be someone I wasn’t. And that was hard and unnecessary, but I would still feel this pressure. People would come and tell me these stories and I wouldn’t know how to answer.
The way I relate to it now is that I just feel like I have very successful children, which I gave birth to. They’ve now gone and travelled the world, they’ve made a huge impact in their own right and I look back remembering their birth, but looking at their independence. I think that’s by and large how I relate to it now.
Many of the songs you wrote, you now sing with revised lyrics. Why?
Well, I suppose it’s because I remember who I was when I wrote the song. I remember my approach to God and I remember what was a real disfunctionality. Yes, it was the result of an undiagnosed illness, but it was also an error of theology. An error of grace or rather an error of works in grace.
When Paul says in Galatians, “You foolish Galatians.” ‘You silly things. It had to be done by the Spirit; what are you doing completing it by works?’
Well, that was me. I sort of felt like it was a one-time grace or two-time grace. You went back to God asking for forgiveness, you hung your head in shame, but then you tried to prove yourself worthy of it all. I was constantly striving and therefore constantly burning out.
I was so fierce on myself. I would just push myself and push myself and I would never receive any comfort because I would always be measuring myself and coming up short. I didn’t count myself worthy of comfort. I could never be than man of god that significant others were telling me I should be.
In the middle of this sad and broken time I became aware, ever so gently, that grace was embracing me. I started to realise that I hadn’t fallen from grace, I had fallen into it. I was no less righteous; I had simply lost my sense of self righteousness. Yes, there were consequences but I became increasingly aware that Jesus had come to give me hope and to help me to be accountable to all these consequences.
So, grace became my only anchor, sort of like lifeboat drill. When you’re a sailor and you do lifeboat drill it is usually in an Olympic swimming pool, but when you are in the middle of Bass Strait, you suddenly discover how effective this lifeboat is.
And so the phrase, “Lord, I come to you,” I was saying that in frustration. “Oh Lord I’m sorry. I should be there with you but I’m not. Here I come again. I come to you again.” And then the prayer, “Lord, hold me close” is like saying “Please hold me close because I don’t think you are holding me close at the moment. I think perhaps you turned away again because you are as frustrated with me as I am.”
The wonderful truth is that the “Lord you come to me to let my heart be changed, renewed flowing from the grace that I found in you” that the “weaknesses that I see in me are being stripped away by the power of your love.” Isn’t that so wonderful? Sometimes I wonder if we simply don’t understand what God has already done for us in Jesus.
So I changed that song to a confession of what God has done. It’s not “hold me close” but “you hold me close”. No matter how dry and disappointed I am, to be able to say to myself, “It’s okay, he’s holding you. You’re depressed, life is tough, but nothing’s changed between you and God. You’re not a disappointment.” And perhaps that also relates back to my experience with my father.
You would hope every Christian, certainly evangelicals, would be pleased that you are looking for ways to ground your songs in God’s word, because if they are not Scriptural we should not be singing them. However, in the case of The Power of Your Love, and I’m thinking in particular of that line you mentioned: “Lord I come to you,” Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all you who are weary and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” So the idea of us coming to God is not un-Biblical, therefore there is no need to completely re-hash all of your songs is there?
No, but you see the greatest thing about Jesus saying “Come to me,” is he wasn’t calling to me from the other end of heaven waiting for me to work and struggle all the way to him. Jesus came to mankind to say “Come to me”. And that’s outrageous when you really think about that. God put on flesh to come personally. I mean, he could have sent a postcard, he could have written in the sky, but he came personally to dwell as a human being.
Jesus has come to hold us close, to draw us to his side, to comfort us, to speak healing to our wounded souls. He comes propelled by a mission of such eternal and unconditional love.
For this current generation, singing in church has become synonymous with worship. Why is that? And how would you describe the current state of Christian music?
First, I think we need to look at ‘worship’ again. And I think ‘worship’ as our response to Jesus could be a whole lot of other things before we turn it into songs. The intimacy between a husband and wife is expressed many ways before it becomes a love song and that love song will speak of a life of love rather than a love song about love itself.
And I think we’re in error here. I’m not saying don’t sing or play. I think that’s fabulous; it gets down into the soul. Many of the lyrics we sing are great theological truths, mind you, many of them aren’t, but if we could get a grip on God becoming flesh to come to us, Jesus living a life of grace, love, forgiveness, mercy with his last dying words announcing forgiveness and then living a life that responds to his life. How wonderful could that be.
For me worship is my response to the grace of Jesus. This response is my choice to become gracious, to become loving, accepting, merciful, forgiving. This journey needs grace for every step, however, this journey will start its work of transformation in me and hopefully through my life: a worship that flows from grace becoming graciousness in us. A worship that is seen in our relationships with the world around us. A worship that cries “grace” to our leaders, the media, our friends and our enemies.
Does this mean we don’t sing anymore? Not at all. It simply means that our songs are more about worship rather than being worship. Yes, of course there is time for celebration, for adoration, for a corporate time of singing songs of love thankfulness but we will be on a wonderful journey discovering that there is so much more than we have ever realised. I think our songs would be more wonderful, but I think our worship lives would be even more wondrous and I think the way the church’s interaction with our world could be far more a work of love than us simply singing songs on a Sunday morning.
So now I’m wondering what elements have to go in to make a good Christian song. Is it difficult to write a song which has both a good “hook” and good theology?
Yes it is. I must admit, these days I write from experience first, or from meditation first. Almost every song I write is about brokenness being repaired in the most extraordinary way. So I start, I suppose, with my own sense of being overwhelmed with who God is when I see him from my own brokenness.
Then I try and work that into good poetry that has flow, a little bit of repetition but especially that each line contains a picture that is bigger than the words. Then, working that into a melody that can fly; that can float, so you can close your eyes and be caught up in just a beautiful melody.
Or you can turn the melody off, just read the words and become caught up in the words: a piece of poetry. But you put it together and I suppose I hope that people go, “Oh, my goodness, that’s me. How wonderful!” That it hits their life, not just their soul.
You have been a Christian for over 30 years. You’ve had highs and lows. Looking back over that time, what can you say you have learnt about God and what advice would you give to a young Christian about how they should prioritise their life?
What I’ve learnt about God is just the overwhelming amazement that God would do the Jesus story. He didn’t have to. He just didn’t have to. He lived in this huge creation of trillions and trillions of stars and constellations and whatever. That God would make a bee line to broken people finds me simply awestruck!
It appears to me that Jesus did not come to establish Christianity, he did not come to start a movement, he came to meet one person here, and one person there. Broken people, hopeless people, people like me, like you. Jesus did not come to reward us; there’s no reward in it. He came to give hope and he came to affirm the most unlikely people.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why he was crucified, because he put everybody’s nose out of joint, he was a disappointment to so many people who wanted a messiah in the image of their needs and theologies. Jesus was not a preacher of righteousness, he was a bringer of hope to the unrighteous, the poor in spirit. He didn’t start a campaign to overthrow the Romans, he affirmed a Roman centurion as having more faith than all of Israel.
He allowed a prostitute to anoint him with oil with her hair… Jesus was decidedly “ungodly”. This Jesus excites me because the more I look at him, the more I meditate on his life, the more grace I see.And that’s a growing thing, it continues in my life. This is the truth, it’s not just something I’ve learnt to do to get myself seminars & concerts. It is a constant source of amazement.
So I would say to a young Christian, “Look, this is different to any other relationship you’ve got. You don’t have to prove yourself worthy. You don’t have to dress up, know the right words to say or the right actions to make. You are totally free to be just who you are. You don’t have to have faith. There is no hurry. Ahead of you is a lifetime of discovery. Jesus offers his life, he holds it out to you. It’s free. It’s a gift. God comes to bring hope to the good times and the bad times, the times when we make mistakes, some truly awful mistakes. This Jesus shows us an acceptance that gives us the hope that we can walk forward with his comfort, his peace, his grace and his love. I have found that, in my life, a life that has had its considerable challenges, that I am slowly being renewed and transformed. And that’s really quite amazing.
Geoff, thank you for what you have given in service of the kingdom over the years and for enriching the lives of so many congregations who have sung your songs over and over. We pray the Lord will bless your ministry in whatever time remains. May you make the most of it.
Thank you for the opportunity of being part of what you are doing. And if you hear of anybody who wants that message, you know where I am.
Once again, Brian Houston comes across as an unstable man, ruling with an iron fist in a movement where he demands things are done his way. If Geoff Bullock was his “best friend”, why did Brian Houston and his empire destroy him? Why is everything always about Brian Houston? How come Houston is the victim… again?
Geoff Bullock repented of his sins and sought reconciliation to those he damaged. However, Brian Houston still refuses to show any sign of the Holy Spirit. No conviction of sin. No repentance. No seeking reconciliation of those he has destroyed.
Only lies, slander and cover up in his books and on national television. Lastly, if this is the way Brian Houston treats his “best friend”, you have to wonder how he treats people he doesn’t know.
• T.D. Jakes and the Power of the Pulse
• Nicole Crank and You’ve Got a Dirty Mind
• Steven Furtick – Uses and Abuses Mark 5
• Interview with Elizabeth from Norway RE: Her Time at a Mega-Church that Joined Hillsong