Lance and the Bloggernaut

Chase Kuhn blogs…

Many probably know Hillsong church for their popular worship albums. Most contemporary churches in the USA probably sing one or more of their songs on a Sunday. The unfortunate reality that is often not understood is their philosophy for ministry and the gospel they preach (or don’t preach).

This last Sunday night, Amy and I traveled to Hillsong with three guys from the local church plant that we have been working with here in Sydney. During the four weeks that we have been here, we have heard many jokes about Hillsong, and have read some press from the Sydney Anglicans writing against the ministry there. The main complaint is that the ministry there is nothing more than an evolved Pentecostal service that preaches a prosperity gospel. In spite of all that we had heard and read, we thought that it would be best to keep an open mind for our visit, giving them the benefit of the doubt.  The following is a summary of our visit, followed by some reflection.

Upon our arrival, the outside of the church was very large. Upon entering the inside, we walked into a busy thoroughfare, where parishoners were buying coffee, books, and presale CD’s and DVD’s. We walked past these things and entered into the arena. To our surprise, the church was smaller than we had expected. From all of the pictures we had seen of their worship rallies, we expected a massive arena, when in fact there were seats for about 3,000 (still considerably large, but not too overbearing for people from the land of mega-churches).

The service began with some amazingly produced music. There were three movie theater sized screens that were flashing images of the band and art, as well as lights moving across the stage and crowd, and there was a lot of sound. Big guitars, lots of bass, cool synths, and loud drums. The sound moved through you. The crowd was very involved in the music as most of them (15-25 yrs. old) were jumping up and down and singing. Lyrically the music was quite impressive. Most every song that we heard referred to Jesus, the gospel message, and the glory of God. These songs were often loose strands of Christianized words, however the overall message was very encouraging from a gospel perspective.

In the middle of the music, a pastor came out and gave an alter call. There was no preaching preceding this, but rather a strong movement of music. The call was in response to the songs. The pastor that gave the alter call explained that everyone had a problem of separation from God, that they could not solve that problem by themselves, and that Jesus was the answer to their problem. After this explanation he invited people to come forward if they wanted to begin to live for Jesus.

The service continued with more singing. Then another pastor came out and read from Galatians 6. He explained that we need to sow our money in order to reap rewards. He said that it is a good thing to be generous, and that the Lord blesses generosity. He prompted a video of a lady giving a testimony of how she sold things on eBay in a compulsion to give, and how her giving resulted in miracle after miracle in her life that next year. There was prayer, then more music as the offering buckets went around.

The music continued. Another, pastor came out waving prayer request cards and prayed for the Lord to answer the requests based on the promises of his Word. Then more music.

Next, Brian Houston (senior pastor) came out and gave a sermon. The theme for the evening was a heart for the household, and that evening there was a once a year special offering to support the household (the church). His sermon was on Acts 16, the story of Paul and Silas in jail, and the conversion of the jailer. The main thrust of his message was based on the word ‘hold.’ He used the words ‘hold’ and ‘household’ throughout the entirety of his message. He explained that the jailer went from putting people in the ‘hold,’ to seeing his ‘household’ converted. He said that the jailer was being ‘held’ by things. There were ‘holds’ on his life that almost kept him from what his ‘house-held.’ He applied this by saying that we all have things in our lives that may be ‘holds’ on us keeping us from what our ‘house-held’ (he used the past tense here). He gave three or four illustrations to support his point, including one about himself. He said that when he was younger, his father always favored his older brother, seeing him to have more potential. Brian said that had he allowed that ‘hold’ of his father favoring his older brother to keep him down, he may have never realized the potential of what his ‘house-held.’ In conclusion he said that whatever was ‘holding’ us (e.g. poor relationships, negativism, etc.) could be keeping us from our potential. Therefore we needed to free what our ‘house-holds.’

The evening then returned to more music. Brian’s wife came out to pray. There was a satelite feed to the other congregation in the city. There was a video about the special offering and their hopes for work around the city and around the world. The bucket was passed for the offering. Then more music. Finally, there was an encore, as people shouted “one more song.”

So what do we make of this first-hand encounter of Hillsong’s ministry. In our discussion following the service, we decided to start with positives first, before we offered critiques. Therefore, that is where I shall begin.

Positively:
*The music was about as good as a production could be. It would rival any good rock show. This includes quality of sound and theatrics.
*Lyrically, the music included the gospel message. The aim of the lyrics was glory to God. *There was a very clear missional element to their lyrics that encouraged the hearer to be active in the world for the kingdom.
*The video for the giving was very good, as it portrayed a vision for aid around the world and Sydney. This sounded like gospel work (though this did not match Brian’s words).
*They (the Church leaders) seemed to know their audience. The music and style of the service fit well with the demographic of the service. The service we attended was definitely a youth service. The only old couple in the congregation (maybe mid 60’s) was sitting behind us. At one time I turned around to see how he was responding to the service. When I looked he had his cheeks puffed out, exhaling, and he was rubbing his ears as if to express “wow! that was intense (and LOUD!!!!)!” ( I chuckled when I saw him! ) )
*There was an expressed care for people.
*There was a gospel presentation. It was not clear in explaining sin, or the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, or even faith. However, there was clearly an attempt to connect people with Christ. The preacher clearly said that we all are separated from God, and Jesus is the only answer.

Negatively:
*The sermon was rubbish (as the Aussies would say). To translate: The sermon was garbage!!! I am quite certain that it was the worst sermon that I have heard. The content was terrible. Brian clearly had an agenda, the word ‘hold’ and ‘household,’ and he used the Word to accomodate his message. His sermon had no relation to the text at all. In his message he never even addressed the fact that the change agent for the jailer was JESUS!!! His message was a prosperity/ self-help talk. Besides the content, his delivery was also terrible. He was very slow on his feet, and unorganized in his thoughts. And in all seriousness (and not to poke fun) he has a preacher’s voice that sounds like a pirate (I comment on this because I think it was manufactured.  If this is his natural voice and not a part of his image I apologize).
*The push for giving was given in the attitude that if you give you will be blessed with miracles.

*The gospel was presented in a loose way, but it was not presented in fulness.  It was not clearly stated why we are separated from God (sin), or why Jesus is the answer to our separation from God (namely because of the atonement he made for us by his death, burial and resurrection).  It also was not explained clearly what the gospel means for our lives.  The preacher did call people to live for Jesus, but I would hope that there would be further explanation of what it means to walk in the newness of life.

Synopsis:
I want to err on the side of charity. I think that there are many people at Hillsong who truly love Jesus. I think that there are some there who would be gospel believing Christians. That being said, I also think that the church is doing a very poor job at feeding their sheep. Their diet is an emotional one of musical experience. The Word is absent. It is not absent as though it is not read, but it is absent in that it is not taught. People are in fact being lead astray by a false gospel. They do teach that Jesus is the only way to God, but they also believe that the Christian life equals a life of prosperity in this world.  In fact, there message seems to make a heavy appeal to this end.The music is very good, but it is a concert. A personal hobby-horse of mine is flashy production in a worship service. Though I am typically against this, their production is done in such a way that there is a large amount of audience participation. The draw for the church is clearly the music. 

 

I think for churches around the world, it is okay to use their music, but there must be an understanding of the church which is generating the music. Most of the Sydney Anglicans do not use Hillsong music because they are in the same town and they do not want to associate Hillsong and its teaching of a prosperity gospel. It is their way of boycotting the message. Concerning Brian, he seemed very out of place in the service. The service would have been close (note the word close!) to permissible without him. His message was an atrocity, and it made my stomach hurt (not exageratting). It is sad to reflect from a ministerial position on the many lives he is misleading. He will surely have to answer to God. (This may seem harsh, but this is not something to take lightly).  

Hillsong is a church with a lot of missed potential. Each weekend they draw a crowd of well over 10,000 people. During that time they would have a great opportunity to share the gospel and the Word with their congregants. Unfortunately, people are being mislead by poor teaching and emotional hype. I fear that many who attend will fizzle out when their emotions become stale. Their faith is currently based on experience, but when their experience changes, I wonder where their faith will reside.

After talking to my Anglican friends here, I empathize and side with them. If we allow for poor teaching one generation, what will happen in the next generation? False teaching should not be permitted. I think my overall approach would be similar to Paul’s response to the Corithians. He was keen to recognize them as brothers and sisters in Christ, but was sure to rebuke them for their mislead life. I think that Hillsong does have some genuine believers, however they are mislead and their life and faith reflect that. My prayer is that there will be a change of heart amongst the leadership and the congregation, that they might have a clear passion for the Word of God. Then there worship will not only be in Spirit, but also in Truth.”

And FWIW, I (Lance) added the following comment to the post.

“I’ve researched Hill$ong for a few years, and I’d point out that what you heard was not a failure to explain the gospel, but their own spin on or version of the gospel.Hill$ong does not see the gospel as justification through faith in Christ’s blood via repentence from sin.

Hill$ong sees Christ’s death and resurrection as an expression of God’s power, and therefore if you believe in Jesus you share in an ‘empowerment to live an awesome life.’

It takes the consequences of embracing the gospel, and makes it the ‘gospel’ itself.

The key to understanding Hill$ong’s ‘gospel’ is their alternative definition of grace.

Whereas a regular evangelical would see grace as God’s unmerited favour on an undeserving sinner (amazing grace that saved a wretch like me), Hill$ong teaches that God gives you ‘grace’ ..that is power (as long as you do all the right things like tithe..etc)….to fulfil ‘God’s amazing plan for your life’.

That is… they believe God ‘graces’ you to live your life in power and authority.

Hill$ong bypasses the whole sin thing altogether. The closest they get to acknowledging sin is that they sometimes admit that believers ‘make mistakes’…(as opposed to sinning), but teaches that believers should not live in regret or ‘negativity’.

So when someone like you goes to Hill$ong, although you’ll hear a lot of the same words like ‘Jesus’ and ‘born again’ or ‘following Christ’…the assumptions you have about those terms and the assumptions they have about what those terms mean are very different.

It took me years to figure out the difference between what Hill$ong believes and classical Christianity…and that was only after studying transcripts of their teachings and writings.

So I wouldn’t expect someone who’s been there on a first visit..or even a few weeks or months…to get a handle on what’s not right about the place.

BTW. On Hill$ong’s website you can read their statement of beliefs…which cover the traditional ground of sin, repentence, the blood (it’s a copy and paste of standard AOG beliefs)….blah, blah, blah…but that’s not what Hill$ong teaches from week to week.”


32 thoughts on “Lance and the Bloggernaut

  1. A very interesting read. The description of the service seemed to be trying to be fair and accurate. Sad if true. I can’t say, as I have not participated in Hillsong, except for one event many years ago. I appreciated the authors acknowledgement that there are many who do love Jesus at Hillsong. I would hope that God would lead those people into truth in their own walk, despite any error or a false worldview being taught.

    Lance’s comments later are even more sad. Unfortunately his comments do correspond to the consequences of a heavy emphasis on prosperity gospel teaching, in my view.

    Having known people from Frank Houston’s church (Brian’s father) prior to the Hillsong phenomena, I do know that those people were quite aware of teachings about sin and repentance. That was distinctly AOG at the time, or so I understood. Seems like much is changing, and the seeker sensitive churches, which are not all Pentecostal, do de-emphasise sin and repentance, so one wonders what consequence that has for the gospel message. Does it matter, or not? If someone turns to Christ, is that not repentance in itself – will the Holy Spirit not do His work on the inside and as they read scripture? Are they not turning to the Light, and so away from darkness? Misdirection cannot help them though.

    If as Lance says, the consequences of following Christ are taught as gospel, rather than the gospel itself, then the true power of the gospel is not seen, just all sorts of other things. Lack of care in teaching, and manipulation of scripture to suit a different agenda is very serious, especially when debate is not present, and a charismatic teacher acquires such enormous unchallenged authority, all in a feel-good musical environment.

  2. Presumably the majority of attendees are already Christians, so why would you press for repentance and sin messages? Some content would be useful for those who are new to the meeting on the day, but generally you would vary your message according to the needs of the congregation, as led by the Holy Spirit, so you’d teach on a number of different topics.

    This isn’t an evangelistic rally. It’s a weekly meeting of Christians receiving instruction in godly living.

    I’m amazed at how many people go to one meeting and judge the whole thing on whether an evangelistic/repentance/cross/sin emphasis was present rather than godly living standards and instruction for already saved saints!

  3. The question was whether sin/repentance are taught as part of the gospel – there was no explanation prior to the altar call. In isolation, it may not be an issue; if its never taught, it could be an issue, as evangelicals regard it as very foundational. If its never taught, do people really understand what Jesus has done for them, and is their response to Jesus or to promises of prosperity?

    The other question raised was whether the teaching was actually helpful, or just BH’s agenda. If BH misuses scripture, or uses it as a springboard for his own agenda and not for what it is actually teaching us, in a supremely accepting environment, then the result will be instruction in BH’s agenda or a humanistic worldview , with the apparent backing of God, rather than actual teaching re godly living and Jesus’ worldview.

  4. Luke 9:49-51

    49″Master,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”

    50″Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”

    I’ve been to Hlllsong many times; ** *** *** **** ** * ***; I could testify to how much they’ve blessed us through their teaching there.-

    However, I can see how much hype is involved; the music and the ‘big-name’ preacher-circuit, and hype can be of itself a form of distortion- I have no problems in general because of the above scripture, but would agree specifically with Chase & Lances observations as above.

    God always has a way of turning-up at churches though, and Im happy whenever people come to Christ; and they do, en-masse over there. My Cousin In-law was baptised into this congregation and seems a solid-enough Christian in thought & practice, so fair-enough.

    I feel I should also stress that ‘you dont have to be very bright to believe in Jesus’, as I feel even the simplest connection gets us started with the Lords love, and they do that much, for sure.

    But you know guys, my pet hate is how Used-car salesman practice ‘show-and-switch’- a common method of deception in a sales-situation: in this case, the huge drive to turnover funds is the base reason of so many of Hillsongs practices; commercialising the music, books, tapes etc; so they appear to show Christ and switch to a lifestyle of Hype to keep the funds running.

    [ Jim Thwaites describes the dynamics of the ‘mega-churches’ in his books; that basically they centralise the members to the Assembly and generally fail in the mission of ‘equipping & filling creation’ with the work of these Saints.]

    Very good Post; Lances observations really insightful in particular.

    [There was until recently a u-tube documentary on “the Truth about Amway”, which uncovered how the mass of members were ripped-off with false-promises of riches and the real money was made from the turnover of Seminar fees and commodities to keep their Speaker-Circuit running.
    I was astounded to see a similar Rock-show scenario in one of their mega-Rallies, and similar emotional scenes as at Hillsong; the dynamics of Mass-Churches are quite dangerous-(try checking-out a documentary footage of Nazi-Rallies of the 30s, just to exercise your perception of Large human gatherings.)- I believe that if ‘people want to believe’ just about anything, they can be very hard to dissuade, especially in the realm of Faith]

    Hence, the need to so-sensitively keep listening to that ‘quiet voice within’, and keep the ‘Kingdom of God within’.

    Luke 17:21
    nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”

    Z

  5. The bigger the church the bigger the overheads.

    I thought the article and Lance’s comments were very balanced and very fair. If it is a total misrepresentation of what actually happened in the service then of course that changes everything.

    Never been to HS and have no desire…big church is not for me.

    But one of the key issues I think is permeating churches of all sizes and persuasions is simply not preaching from the Word, allowing it and God to speak for itself thru the Spirit.

    I’ve noticed it in my own church that the pulpit from time to time (not always or even 50% of the time) has been used as a soapbox for an agenda. I may even agree with that person’s view point from time to time, but I greatly resent and get angry about people basically substituting their own agenda in place of God’s, or trying to manufacture something from Scripture that is not there, because they have a sermon to preach.

    A friend commented there always seems to be an application…

    Often that’s OK but what he was saying is that we have this perverse tendency to insert some sort modern thing to do in our time, because if we don’t do something, then what will we do and what will happen (We need to help God along, or serve ourselves in someway).

    The sort of message that BH was reported to have given above seems to me that sort of message where he’s searching for something to say when he don’t actually have anything to say at all (beyond perhaps we can all have a nice life if we let God help us – pernicious crap that). Danger, danger Will Robinson!

    I have heard these messages from time to time in my own church where the net message – oh dear, I can’t see something here so I’ll concoct something that sounds sorta in keeping with where this should go.

    So this issue is I doubt not unique to HS, although perhaps on a grander scale. The issue becomes as has been noted above that if this becomes the dominant form of teaching, those Christians who actually want to go further hit the wall at some point in time – whether it be 1, 5, 10 or 15 years down the track. The question then becomes how each individual responds to that – give up, seek God anew in some other way/place, study themselves etc etc

  6. So now we take the word of someone we know almost nothing about, who, in all probability, isn’t Pentecostal, and a group of friends from an Anglican church plant, who have issues about Hillsong anyway, based on one meeting, and one message.

    I’ve listened to podcasts of BH and he is very Christ-centric and varied in his material. Perhaps you’d be better placed spending an evening going through his free and available podcasts for better idea of the kind of teaching his flock is actually receiving.

    Lance disqualifies himself from credible critical analysis of either Pastors or Pentecostals because of his general, unrepentantly bad attitude towards any of them, and his aversion to churches in general.

    It appals me that you’ve decided to side with these critics based on little verification, and a biased perspective, when there is plenty of evidence of balanced Pentecostal teaching, and a high degree of openness in the podcasts available.

  7. FaceLift said:
    “Lance disqualifies himself from credible critical analysis of either Pastors or Pentecostals because of his general, unrepentantly bad attitude towards any of them, and his aversion to churches in general.”

    That’s because Lance is not “planted” and not under the “covering” of leadership to be considered credible. Isn’t that right FaceLift?

  8. “It appals me that you’ve decided to side with these critics based on little verification, and a biased perspective, when there is plenty of evidence of balanced Pentecostal teaching, and a high degree of openness in the podcasts available.”

    I find this statement amusing. I’m so biased that I post articles that I even disagree with, only hoping to see what people think about. Generally- I post news or articles on things that need to be looked at and addressed. Unfortunately- the bigger the church, the more obvious and bigger the problem is going to stand out.

    I have yet to see any good pentecostal teaching that hasn’t involved hype, a personal agenda or a mis-use of scripture that actually edifies, equips or builds the faith of the church.

  9. Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but Lance calls Pastors – all Pastors, without exception – pond-scum, and calls all Pentecostals quasi-Christians, whatever that means, but it doesn’t mean anything nice. You can work it out for yourself if you like, whether he has any respect for either.

    His own admission is that he hates all Pentecostals because he has this strange idea that they all hate gays, of which he is one, rather than believe what the Bible states about homosexual sex as being questionable for many who interpret scripture in a conservative way.

    It’s God who sets us in the Body (1 Cor. 12:18), the Church. In a recent post I spoke out against ‘covering’ principles. Where we are set is only relevant to where we believe he has placed us, as long as we are set somewhere. Or do you think resisting God, or refusing to be set anywhere, is acceptable?

    Whether Lance wants to be set anywhere is entirely up to him, but to be a credible critic you have to be prepared to accept the good as well as what you perceive to be the bad. Lance finds no good whatsoever in Pastors, Pentecostals, or the Church. I’d say that makes his comments somewhat biased, yes?

    I wasn’t actually singling you out. Nor did I have you in mind. I am amazed at the way in which the comments in the post have been generally considered to be unquestionable. So it’s not at all about you!

  10. s&p,
    ‘I have yet to see any good pentecostal teaching that hasn’t involved hype, a personal agenda or a mis-use of scripture that actually edifies, equips or builds the faith of the church.’

    Then I’m sorry for you. There is much excellent teaching available by highly reputable ministers from Pentecostal circles. I’m guessing you either haven’t been a Christian very long, or you don’t look hard enough.

    Try Jack Hayford for a start.

  11. Or they’re simply mistaken. or caught an indifferent day. Or have a different set of values or perspective on what constitutes a valid message. Or a have a different opinion. Or…

    If another person present derived inspiration and satisfaction from the same message and their faith was enhanced, would they be right or wrong?

    Are you saying it’s acceptable to judge an entire church on one meeting?

  12. Anyway I’ve lost interest – it is like debating Liberal v Labour or Holden v Ford.

    For most of the people debating the facts, truth or whatever you call it is irrelevant.

  13. I found Lance’s comments credible, fairly restrained, and interesting.

    I think the sermon was probably described fairly, but even if not, it sounded like a typical springboard use of scripture in a megachurch setting, even if the denomination is not the one I’m most used to.

    FL, you may just be incredibly lucky, and probably should feel sorry for the rest of us here who are not as fortunate as you with respect to teaching. I can say I have heard good teaching in Pentecostal settings. Including megachurches. But, the emphasis these days seems to be more and more on money, on loyalty that negates any criticism or debate, and on moulding the congregation to serve the pastor’s or church’s vison, rather than on really developing an understanding of who Jesus is, or who our Father is.

  14. FaceLift said:
    “I wasn’t actually singling you out. Nor did I have you in mind. I am amazed at the way in which the comments in the post have been generally considered to be unquestionable. So it’s not at all about you!”

    I understand you weren’t singling me out. You made it really clear when you said the following to me:

    “I’ve listened to podcasts of BH and he is very Christ-centric and varied in his material. Perhaps YOU’D be better placed spending an evening going through his free and available podcasts for better idea of the kind of teaching his flock is actually receiving.
    It APPALLS me that YOU’VE decided to side with these critics based on little verification, and a biased perspective, when there is plenty of evidence of balanced Pentecostal teaching, and a high degree of openness in the podcasts available.” (emphasis added)

    MN says:
    “For most of the people debating the facts, truth or whatever you call it is irrelevant.”
    Hm… Interesting observation. This is somewhat true. To me truth is relevant and essential. However, understanding others perceptions on what ‘truth’ is, is fascinating. I’m more then open to change my views when someone informs me of an error in my perception on an issue.

  15. Well actually YOU can be plural as well as singular, s&p. But trust me, I wasn’t SINGLING (singular) you out. You (or YOU or that matter) don’t have to believe me. I probably had the comments MN, Z, W2, or RP more in mind than the actually post, but there you, or YOU, go.

    It’s all in the mind!

  16. FL says (of Lance) :

    “His own admission is that he hates all Pentecostals because he has this strange idea that they all hate gays, of which he is one, rather than believe what the Bible states about homosexual sex as being questionable for many who interpret scripture in a conservative way.”

    Its been observed before Lance interprets scripture in a fairly conservative way on this issue – he seems to have a more standard evangelical interpretation than I would have. He has not sought to justify himself by taking a particular theological position, and you have to respect that.

    The comments Lance made about the concept of grace being subtly transformed by Hillsong into “power to live an amazing life” are worth thinking about. I see traces of this idea in many sermons by BH. The idea is certainly developed to a high degree in many mega-churches overseas and it seems to be influencing some churches here.

    If people hear this message repeatedly, and there is no reminder that grace is unmerited favor on sinners, they tend to think that the results are the proof of the pudding. If they have an amazing life now then its tempting to think thats all there is to the Christian walk. BH seems to have an even more amazing life, so he must be doing really well in his relationship with God. Similar logic can be used for people who do not seem to have such an amazing life.

  17. That’s very lovely, and has an element of truth to it, but it’s not very nice attempting to respond to Lance’s criticisms when you’re pastor-supportive and a Pentecostal. What ever you say is dismissed as irrelevant based on being a quasi-christian, ie of a cult. Where’s that at?

    s&p seems to have a similar general attitude towards Pentecostals, so I would expect some kind of agreement between him and Lance. But to dismiss Pentecostals’ arguments as baseless because the are all members of a mass cult is nothing short of irrational, so ho can any critique be seriously credible? But I suppose it ends all discussion or argument, along with Lance’s decision to only sling arrows without right of reply.

    I guess the plank gets too heavy to bear after a while.

  18. Oh FaceLift. What would Signposts be without you?
    You constantly make my days on here so enjoyable.

  19. Its pretty well known that Lance is partisan, but that shouldnt mean that we dismiss his arguments. Same as it is likely that you Facelift are acting in a partisan way when you are being pastor-supportive. That dosent mean that we automatically dismiss your arguments.

    A few weeks back Facelift, you said that you were in dialog with some other Pentecostal pastors and seemed to imply that you were encouraging them to consider change. Maybe you could share the points of concern that you have with the development of Pentecostalism in some churches? Then it might be a more balanced discussion, not just simply people defending entrenched positions.

  20. Um… I am a Pentecostal too, in that I believe in the modern practice of the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit. So is S&P, in the same way. I don’t regard ‘Pentecostal’ as a denomination though, so perhaps you’d call me charismatic. I have now left my Pente denomination because the teaching has become too based on a worldview that I do not see in the gospels.

    When the Pente churches, seeker sensitive churches, or any other church, becomes so worldly in the way it measures things, and the measure they use is that of the world – numbers, appearances etc – then they will only receive that which they are able to measure, and miss the main points of the good news. They will not even understand them in order to be capable of teaching them.

    ***************

    Mark 4:24

    24″Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”

    *************

    When you measure using worldly measures, you will only be capable of measuring what the world values. What measure should be used to measure what is from God? That does not seem to be questioned by these big seeker sensitive churches. Consequently, I wonder if they truly understand the gospel they claim to preach.

  21. I don’t put any of you in the same class as Lance when it comes to anti-Pentecostal, anti-pastor attitudes. I have had many debates with Lance and always, without exception, been ridiculed for being Pentecostal and pastor-supportive, including being misrepresented in posts. So where does that leave any kind of discussion or debate?

    I don’t expect anyone here to agree with my perspective; which I believe to be representative of a large number of Pentecostals, by the way, but at least I know you show some respect for my position, which I give you in return, despite the fact that you disagree me with me often, and I disagree with you on some things, but not all.

    I am in dialogue with some leaders, from more than one position, incidentally, and I find that genuine, open dialogue is the best way to relate other perspectives, and I don’t find any disrespect towards varied points of view between mature believers, where there is not a threatening, or antagonistic, confrontational demeanour.

    Discussion and debate is a healthy way to come to agreed positions, but it doesn’t always happen in a day. Some ideas we’ve been thrashing out for years, and we’ve all had to change somewhere along the line. But we don’t write one another off because we don’t see eye to eye on everything. Nor do we call one another stupid, relationship diminishing things like quasi-Christians, or cultish.

    Many Pentecostal leaders, for instance, are reviewing their stance over the tithe as law, but some of these things will take time, and patience, because the argument, as I’ve stated many times, is not as clear cut as critics make out. Many are having to deal with the way televangelists appeal for finances, and a surprising amount are beginning to be critical. Again, you have to let them come to terms with these issues.

    It can’t be done by dismissing, as Lance does, anything and everything they say, even before they say it, as if they are the enemy.

    Actually, we’re on the same side, that is, if Lance is a born-again believer!

  22. One of the hardest things is to judge when to remain in league with a group of people and attempt reform from the inside, or when to break with them and criticize from the outside.

    When you are an insider you (at least on the surface) have more of an opportunity to convince others of the need for change. But you are also subject to political forces within the organisation, and must sometimes do or say things you may disagree with to remain in good standing within the organisation.

    Colin Powell I believe is a prime example of this. He did not want to go to war, but in order to remain in the cabinet and have a voice, he had to do the bidding of others. And this involved selling the idea of weapons of mass-destruction to the UN and others. In order to try to prevent a war, he ended up being an advocate for it. There were others that got caught in the same trap, Tony Blair and the director of the CIA for instance.

    I wonder if the AOG and to a lesser extent Pentecostalism in general has reached a point where a similar dynamic is occuring. That is, that it has gone from being a counter-cultural movement to a successful cultural movement which has integrated contemporary notions of success, celebrity into itself. And it has always had a culture of leadership which has relied on single leaders with few checks and balances and separation of powers. The dynamics are now such that a few influential people are running an agenda that causes concern to many other leaders in the movement, but they are unable to reform from within and unwilling to go out into the wilderness again to reform from the outside.

  23. Well, its a very good thing to hear that some leaders are becoming critical of the way televangelists appeal for finance. I hope they take action, even at personal cost. When they associate with such people, by inviting them to speak or by recommending their books with no caveats, they become tarnished themselves. It would be good to see some of these people take a clear stand before the televangelists become completely discredited in everyone’s eyes, including the congregations, otherwise the leaders will only appear to be crowd pleasing, rather than actually shepherding.

    I’m not even going to go near the tithing thing, except to say that it would be great to see a change to at least tithing by free will, with no condemnation if people don’t tithe, and no pressure to do so. If they were to say 10% is a good thing to aim for – in their view – at least that would be flexible, but I’m not sure it would count as no pressure. Having said that, I do believe that if one attends a traditional church, one should support the church one is a member of so that undue stress does not fall upon the congregation and its leaders, if one is financially able to do so.

  24. That’s very well put, wazza. I think there are leaders within Pentecostalism, at different levels, who do have a range of concerns. It does seem to me that it is difficult for these people to be heard in many cases. The culture of submission to those over you, ultimately to the man at the top, means that many keep their thoughts to themselves or to a safe and trusted circle who will not speak. They do not even connect with others in the same movement who have the same concerns, and feel ‘disloyal’ if they speak of them. Plus there are also power structures at the top, generally supportive of oneanother, that make it difficult for an outsider, even one in a leadership position, to be heard with any consequence.

  25. “Actually, we’re on the same side, that is, if Lance is a born-again believer!”

    I believe he is. Just a very cynical Christian. We need cynics. Sometimes they can be handful, but so are leaders, evangelists and prophets.

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