The chookhead attempts to fool the reader into believing that, because they live in the modern world and use technology, transport and communications methods to reflect our current environment and opportunities, Hillsong is, therefore, changing the gospel message. This is a ridiculous and flawed argument.
Here’s how they commence their article, contentiously titled ‘More proof Brian Houston writes off Jesus Christ to invent his own religion’:
‘It is all too common to hear Brian Houston insist that “the methods have to change for the church to stay relevant”. This is more cult talk because the Bible is absolutely clear that the church has been given a mission and methods to follow.’
In fact, what Brian actually said, in the course of an interview on national media, was “I think with the church, the message is sacred but the methods have to change for the church to stay relevant, and it’s challenging. It’s challenging to stay relevant.”
Well, of course it is challenging for the Church to stay relevant in the modern world. Did the chookhead want us to revert to Book of Acts travel, communication or language? Are they not aware of the media’s quest for the headline sound-byte?
It is clear that the chookhead left out the part of the conversation where Brian Houston said “with the church, the message is sacred.”
In other words, we do not, cannot change the message. The message is clear and loud. It is established. God’s Word is not for changing. It is the reason for our method of delivery. It is sacrosanct. It is sacred. It must not, cannot be changed in any way.
Yet the chookhead uses modern methods of delivery of their ‘message’. I do not see them travelling on donkeys, or walking everywhere over great distances, or writing in Greek or Hebrew on parchments or scrolls with quills and ink.
In fact, the chookhead would not exist without the latest technology. There was no chookwatch before the internet. If it wasn’t for WordPress, and Servers, chookwatch would not be able to do a single thing to reach their audience. They are net-bound.
If the internet went down they would be nothing. They cannot operate without computers. They rely on broadband to get their message out. They cannot do anything without the tools of the modern world. They are slaves to technology.
Saying we need to change our methods to reach our audience is clearly referencing the means we use to communicate an ageless message of hope.
It also means, at a higher level, that we have to temper our message to navigate the hunger for the sound-byte that media outlets rely upon, and on which sites like chookwatch thrive – such as taking apart 128 letter tweets as if they are scripture, or dissecting news reports that splice conversations into bits and pieces of dialogue reduced to very short sentences that may or may not relate to the original content, that were offered, in longer statements, by ministers with influential movements.
The media hangs on every word of the well-known to grab a story, even fabricating rumours out of brief statements, slips of the tongue, poorly expressed opinions, or simple gaffes, which, if they were made by one of us ordinary folk, would be nothing more than a passing comment gone wrong, but for the media-pressured famous person could provide a week’s worth of innuendo about what the celebrity ‘really’ meant to say, or, for the more keenly ruthless journalist, a headline story to turn into a narrative to add to all the other little snippets that create a meme.
Of course, the chookhead has made itself a member of this media circus and is all too happy to repeat the rumour-mill and perpetuate the gossip-cycle.
No blogs in the Bible
So here we see the chookhead again utilising modern methodology to carve out a niche in the technologically driven meme-spreading world. They have become surrogate journalists recycling gossip. To do this they rely on modern communications channels – operating at least five blogs all dedicated to spoiling the ointment.
The chookhead continues:
“Hillsong has clearly rejected biblical [sic] Christianity from it’s [sic] inception in Sherbrook Hall, Sydney, which is why it falls into the category of an anti-Christian cult.”
I was’t aware that Biblical Christianity had its inception in Sherbrook Hall, but there you go. I’ll assume they mean that Hillsong started there. But starting a church at a certain location is certainly not proof that it is an anti-Christian cult. The chookhead has not demonstrated anything of the sort. They have made this up. They have created a meme and drawn followers into their narrative.
The Hillsong they speak of is not the same Hillsong that is growing at a rapid rate globally as it takes the message of the gospel into the nations.
They go on:
“Brian Houston appears to surpass what the Bible clearly says about preaching and methods for what should be preached on the Hillsong stage.”
It’s not really clear what this sentence actually means, since it is not well phrased, but I’ll take it that the chookhead means that Brian Houston bypasses Biblical teaching on preaching and methodology. Of course he doesn’t. He made it very clear that the message is sacred. It cannot be touched, or changed, or altered in any way whatsoever.
The chookhead has proved nothing except that they are prepared to leave out the qualifying part of a person’s quote so that they can make a deceptive point.
Methods depend on the leading of the Holy Spirit
Brian Houston was correct to say that the Church is challenged by modern means of communication and we must be wise to remain relevant. Would the chookwatchers prefer that we adopted a first century means of travel, communication or meeting places, or are they content to update their means of delivery of the gospel without compromising the actual message?
Do the chookhead think that we should simply give the media a story they can manipulate to suit their antichrist opinions and sell their product? Doesn’t the chookhead realise that whatever a Christian leader says to the media is highly likely to be misrepresented no matter how he phrases it? Oh, wait a minute, chookwatch has made itself a part of that process.
The Bible doesn’t strictly give a method. It gives a commandment, which is the commission – to go into all the world to make disciples of all nations – and a message – the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. So we have a defined mission and message, but we are to be led by the Spirit when it comes to the method or means by which the mission and message are delivered.
The New Testament also tells us how we are to conduct ourselves as followers of Christ. But it encourages us to be prayerfully directed by the Spirit when it comes to ways in which we reach the world with the gospel. In fact, we have to be inspired at all times about how we deliver the eternal message.
When Paul was in Athens he used his surroundings to reach some of the Greeks. He pointed them to the statue of the Unknown God, which gave Paul the opportunity to reveal God as the Creator of all things who could be known to them. This is methodology. It was an inspired moment that he used to preach the gospel using a familiar prop.
The methodology of the early Church was totally innovative. It followed on from the example of Christ.
Jesus once told His disciples to push their boat out onto the lake so that He could address a large audience knowing that sound carries over water. This is methodology. He used the conditions available to Him. He once hired an ass to travel into Jerusalem. It was the most expensive means of travel available at the time. It designated royalty. He used the means available.
Method and means
There has always been innovation using available technology.
Luther used the printing press to carry the gospel out to people. He also translated the gospel into German. This is methodology. The message remains the same, but the means adjusts to the environment. Luther made the gospel relevant to his times without compromising its message. He enhanced the delivery system.
Wesley, banned by the Church of England from preaching the truth in churches, took the message outside, which was unheard of at the time. He reached the masses where they were. It was innovative in his day, even though it echoed the early Church. The methodology changed but the message remained intact.
Wesley’s brother, Charles, took the popular pub songs of the era and rewrote the lyrics into some of the most loved hymns of all time, with some of the greatest doctrine ever presented in songs, that are still sung today. The methodology changed, but the message remained intact.
The Booths took the musical instruments of their time out on the streets and used brass bands, which was considered the devil’s music back then, adding dramatic presentations of the gospel to reach the lost, as they changed the way the message was presented and reached millions, inventively calling themselves the Salvation Army. The methodology changed, but the message remained the same.
Today we have the internet, aircraft, automobiles, smart-phones, computers, amazing music production tools, video, television, etc, etc. All tools we can and do use to relay the unchanging message of hope to a dying world. We can reach more people in one minute than the entire population of the world in Paul’s day.
Think about it.