In an extraordinary article over at chookwatchcentral, where the chookwatchers amalgamate their various site’s posts, the chookwatchers level an incredible accusation at a highly respected minister as he preached in a large congregation in Singapore.
The post is titled ‘The City Harvest Reich?’, and makes the disgusting claim (in the guise of a question) that there is fascist ideology being encouraged by Paul Scanlon as he ministered at City Harvest Church.
These claims are not new, and have been levelled at Hillsong, C3, Rick Warren, and a number of other popular ministries at various times. The claims are based on a weakly argued theory by Chris Rosebrough, which I have already written about here and taken to pieces.
The ‘it sounds to me like…’ argument
According to the CWs, during one of his opinion pieces, as he dissects a message, Rosebrough makes the following allegation about a speaker at City Harvest Church – Paul Scanlon.
“So [Paul Scanlon’s] really preaching about the leadership of City Harvest Church. Hmm… This sounds to me like the kind of thing you would hear from, you know, like a fascist dictator (or something like that) to whip up the troops, or somebody who works under a fascist dictator to, to soar up the community and their devotion and commitment to the fuhrer, kinda thing. That’s what this reminds me of. It’s really creeping me out.”
Well, to be realistic, it’s arguable that it’s Rosebrough’s own conspiratorial imagination that’s ‘creeping’ him out. That comment is nothing more than an opinion based on a meme developed by Rosebrough himself, and bears no resemblance to fact, nor is there any evidence produced to adequately or even remotely back up the suggestive nature of his assertions.
It’s as if he has placed a sheet over a broom in his broom cupboard, forgotten about it, and returned in the middle of the night to open the cupboard door, only to be frightened out of his wits because he thinks he’s seen a ghost.
Er, Chris and CWs, that’s called an analogy, by the way – a means of getting over a point using an illustration that catches the imagination and relates a picture that gets the point across quickly. Jesus used them all the time. It’s a legitimate teaching tool.
So, in a manner of speaking, Chris has a fear of his own shadow. He says, “It sounds to me like…” – like what…like something imagined by Chris Rosebrough is happening, that’s what.
There you have it, in a nutshell. A frank admission that it is his own thought processes that have convinced him of something that doesn’t exist except in his own imagination based on his own opinion influenced by his own theories connected to his own memes and narrative.
That’s not journalism. That’s ridiculous.
When examples are criticised
I listened to Rosebrough through this segment on his site, and it was clear that his opinion was made up before he set out on his dismissal of the sermon. He did not play the entire message so the listener could gain context, but selected snippets on which he could comment.
His interjections during the recording are unhelpful, and, sadly, to the non-commital observer, sarcastic and spiteful. They detract from the message so that it is extremely difficult to grasp what the speaker is saying, and the context is lost. Rosebrough clearly doesn’t have a clue on types, patterns, analogies, or using the Old Testament as examples for our present time.
As Paul says to the Corinthians in chapter 10, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” The Greek for ‘examples’ is tupos, from which we derive ‘type’, and means, ‘teaching which embodies the sum and substance of religion and represents it to the mind’, or it could be a pattern to follow, or a figurative illustration of a point.
Those experiences Israel went through, the results, the situations and the outcomes are relevant to our own circumstances and we can see from their actions, words and deeds how to avoid problems and be conformed to God’s Word.
They are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. ‘Admonition’ – literally, to set our mind in place or order, so that we have right thinking that leads to right actions. We look at the responses and outcomes of God’s people in the Old Testament to gain an insight into how we should respond to situations that arise in our times, albeit under the New Testament. That is a perfectly scriptural teaching device. And Scanlon uses it.
In his analysis, Rosebrough’s interjectory comment on fascism was unfair, unwarranted, opinionated, and not related to what Scanlon was saying. He also interrupted the message with several talks which were not what Scanlon was actually saying, which is leading the listener away from the message to Rosebrough’s narrative.
It would be fair to say, using his terminology, that his methodology ‘creeps’ me out, but that would not be a valid argument or proof of anything, would it? No. We need more than our emotions and feelings to prove a Biblical point. Isn’t that right, Chris, CW, ‘team’?
So, to recap, in Rosebrough’s fertile imagination, Paul Scanlon is ‘like a fascist dictator whipping up the troops, or somebody who works under a fascist dictator to soar up the community and their devotion to the fuhrer’.
Can you believe this incredible assumption? Based on what? On a message that encourages people to stand together as the local church and be faithful?
Paul Scanlon is a highly respected English minister with an excellent reputation, who helped oversee a fabulous church in UK, and is now a traveling ministry encouraging the Body of Christ. But Rosebrough, who knows nothing, nor, it seems, respects or cares, about this man’s ministry, lays this accusation at his feet – and the CWs claim it as their own by repeating it.
Taking it beyond the ridiculous
But, as if that quoted phrase isn’t farcical enough, the chookwatchers take it several leagues further on into the ridiculous.
That’s quite an achievement, you’ll agree. How do they manage this? By taking assorted snippets of quotes from the CHC trial and interspersing them with quotes from Hitler and members of the Nazi Party, including a ten minute Youtube Video documentary on the sayings of Adolf Hitler.
Yes, they do. I am not joking. This is serious. They actually believe what they are saying here. It is not a spoof, or satire, or even a thought bubble gone wrong. They believe what they are saying.
They actually think it is good journalism to intersperse a good person’s conversation with an evil person’s conversation and expect the reader to make a comparison and come to the conclusion that the first person must therefore be as evil as the second.
Yeah, right, that’ll stand up in court. So if I take the sayings of one of the chookwatchers, and interject it with the sayings of Karl Marx, is the chookwatcher, therefore, a marxist?
That would be dumb journalism, would it not, and highly provocative and suggestive? I agree. That’s why any self-respecting blogger would avoid such comparisons like the plague.
But the CWs have done exactly this, only by comparing people with the most notorious tyrant in modern history.
The chookwatchers then ask the reader to make an assessment based on a conspiratorial opinion and a flawed narrative in a contrived article on their anonymously presented web site.
Take note of their title – ‘The City Harvest Reich?’ It has a question mark at the end of the phrase. In other words, even the chookwatchers are unsure of their claim and have attempted to cover themselves by turning their statement into a badly parsed question.
It seems, from this, that they know they are being suggestive rather than evidential, and their phrasing betrays their lack of proof for their allegations.
Well, here’s a couple of questions for the chookwatcher supporters and ‘team’ to consider. Does God honour this kind of journalism? Did the ‘team’ at the CW sites actually prayerfully put this article together, or have they been planning to attempt this kind of falsified comparison for a long time?
It’s generally accepted on blogs that Godwin’s Law is the end of the argument in any debate – that is, when the first person stoops low enough to bring up an argument based on the wickedness of Adolf Hitler as an equivalence argument.
Taking this several eons further into the absurd, the CWs are only too willing to begin with Godwin’s Law.
‘Deceit is in the heart of those who imagine evil’, as the proverb says.
Lord have mercy on them!