Scripture tells us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought, because, we are told, God resists the proud but exalts the humble.
Here, contained within an extraordinary response from CW to someone who politely asks a couple of pertinent questions, is a series of frank admissions that point to CW’s growing sense of self-importance.
Questioner: “…make me wonder, are you not sinning by judging Pastor Brian Houston or any other pastors?”
CW: ‘No. Jesus permits his believers to judge correctly. We have demonstrated explicitly that Brian Houston preaches a false Jesus, a false Gospel and encourages people to embrace a false spirit. It is the Apostle Paul that has pronounced eternal damnation on Brian Houston for preaching another gospel – not us. If you have a problem with God doing that, pray about it. Many of the pastors Brian endorses the Aposte (sic) Paul condemns.’
Questioner: “Don’t you think it would be more beneficial to attempt to partner with these people and challenge them in a healthy way rather than just tearing them down?”
CW: ‘No. Jesus told us to have nothing to do with those who reject his correction approach laid down in Matt 18. If Brian Houston is prepared to demonise and slander those who corrects them (sic) – then we are exactly what Jesus is telling believers to do: warn and treat these men as pagans; have nothing to do with them.
You might want to do your homework on Brian Houston’s gospel and teachings. You would not want your family around him.
What do we hope to achieve?
1. People to be safe from cult leaders like Brian Houston
2. Our government to protect it’s citizens by monitoring the Hillsong cult
3. Most importantly – repentance.’
These are astonishing comments for several reasons. First of all, as always, it is made by an anonymous critic – one of several anonymous critics who use the same pseudonym and moderate the sites under the guise of chookwatcher.
Anonymous because, they claim, they or their families will be persecuted by the people they… well… persecute, even though their families are very happily involved with, and much loved by, the same churches the CWs come against. Go figure.
There is not a shred of evidence for this false assumption. It is pure speculation in the guise of an evasion. It is merely another mask they hide behind – first they have their mask of anonymity, and, to cover this, a mask of an excuse for why they are anonymous.
However, their anonymity disqualifies them from any form of judgment of a church leader, full stop.
Perhaps they wrestle with this dilemma, but the fact remains. Biblically, as they should know, any accusation brought against an elder must be before the oversight of the church and given by two or three witnesses in the presence of the leadership, and these witnesses cannot for any reason be anonymous, or not present (although there could be a case for a witness testimony signed in the presence of a recognised authority), or addressing the council using false names or identities.
Yes, it is true – pseudonyms (fictitious names) are, in effect, false names that disqualify the witness.
This should be glaringly obvious to even the most basic of Bible students, let alone those who purport to be scholarly and wise enough to have the authority to publicly judge elders.
The argument should end there, but we’ll look at one or two other points made by the CW pseudonym.
False claims of evidence
Secondly, they boast that they have ‘demonstrated explicitly’ that Brian Houston preaches a false Jesus.
No. They haven’t. They have created a narrative amongst supporters that falsely makes this claim, based on their own misrepresentation of what Houston actually preaches, or on selectively misinterpreted passages from various public statements or tweets made by Hillsong personnel, or on the opinion of critics sympathetic to the chookwatcher cause, but they have never proven or ‘demonstrated’ anything of the sort.
As previously pointed out here, they have created a strategic narrative that promotes their own theories and opinion and excludes all and any challenge.
In reality, anyone who bothers to set up a counter argument to their own is immediately moderated, rudely ridiculed, has their Christianity challenged, is called names by the CW community, told they are unknowledgeable about scripture, misled, cult-members, an assortment of other falsehoods, and ultimately ostracised, usually after having been called trolls, because, in minds of the CW conglomerate, any challenge to their own perspective is considered trolling. Trolls, of course, must then be banned altogether.
False claim about Pauline doctrine
Added to this, in what is a wildly absurd claim, they state that the Apostle Paul has condemned Brian Houston to eternal damnation, which is outrageous.
To make this kind of extraordinary accusation they must give Biblical proof and open up their lines of communication and allow for a debate on their claims, but they never will, because they do not like to discuss scripture or rebuttal of their own application of scripture.
Throwing out a random statement like this is a disgrace. They have shown nothing of the sort – ever.
What they actually mean is that they have used scripture from the New Testament as a weapon against someone they oppose, but misusing scripture is not evidence that Paul has condemned a person. There has to be substantive doctrinal evidence presented, not opinion.
Anyone with an alterior motive can misrepresent scripture to prove an erroneous point. If any scripture falsely used by the CWs remains unchallenged on their sites because no rebuttal is allowed by them, then it is merely a meme established by the chookwatchers and guarded by its supporters against any form of denunciation.
In short, it would be a simple matter for anyone with any Biblical nous to use Paul to refute their Pauline claims. The thing is that they do not have the stomach for debate so do not allow it.
Corrected – by whom?
Thirdly they claim that they have corrected Hillsong and that Hillsong has refused to be corrected, presumably by them. They have the pride and gall to claim that Hillsong has rejected the correction provided by these same masked anonymous critics. This would be frankly laughable if it wasn’t so preposterous.
The assumption they make is that Hillsong should in any way be impressed by anonymous critics.
What would the CWs’ logic be for this, let alone any Biblical precedent the CWs could come up with to convince those who actually do have some Biblical understanding that they can assert their anonymous criticism as correction and expect the people they criticise to have to take any notice whatsoever?
How many of you who are reading this would ever submit themselves to an anonymous writer for correction? Would you not want to know who they are, what their credentials are, and even ask for proof that they are saved, in fellowship, and authorised to correct Christians? Isn’t the requirement for correcting an elder even more stringent, Biblically?
The generally accepted rule of thumb when receiving anonymous complaints is to let it go through to the keeper, or, at the very least, if you must read it do so, but shelve it until the anonymous person has the courage to show their face or put a name to their claims.
Sometimes even an anonymous criticism is worth considering, and it can be taken to heart, but the fact is that no-one in leadership should ever be compelled to act on anonymous criticism. Critics need to man up and put their name to it.
If a complaint is lodged it should have a signature attached as proof that it was from a recognised individual or individuals who demonstrate basic credentials, by which I mean they have a name, do exist, are associated in some way with those they level complaints against, and have just cause. Biblical standards are even higher on this, by the way.
The CWs are not recognised in any form of leadership or oversight, nor in membership at any of the assemblies they criticise, and, therefore, not in any position to bring correction against an elder, or an assembly, or a movement, or anyone else, in the Body or outside, really, if you think about it.
They are simply people with opinions who express themselves anonymously, and, therefore, having no accountability to anyone, including God, the Word, or the Spirit, they have no authority to correct a single soul.
They have every right to an anonymous opinion, of course, but no Biblical, or even logical right whatsoever to claim that the people they anonymously criticise should consider what they say to be correction, or to respond in any way, shape or form to anything they say.
The cult narrative
Fourth – they make the erroneous claim that Hillsong is a cult, which is so far against the grain that their backs must be red hot from the friction burns they are causing themselves on the way down their slippery slope to the lonely place of self-aggrandisement.
Hillsong is regarded by identifiable peers as bona fide ministry. They have their critics, of course, as all churches and leaders do, but critiquing a ministry because it thinks differently is not evidence that it is a cult.
The CW clan can call a Christian group a cult all day long, and even convince their adulating adherents of the same, but this, in itself, is not proof that it is a cult. You can call an apple a banana until you’re blue in the face, but it is still an apple.
In fact, it is more cult-like for CW to create this kind of strategic narrative amongst CW followers. It is more cult-like to then exclude those who give a Biblical rebuttal to the CW narrative.
It is more cult-like to manufacture the meme that those who challenge the CWs’ theories are trolls, or are not saved, or allow any number of rude assertions to be tagged against those who are seen as opponents of the CW directive. It is more cult-like to shut the door on all dissension to the CW cause and guard the CW project at all costs.
Opinion is not proof
The fact is that the CWs base their claims on opinion not sound doctrinal evidence. They have not demonstrated, ever, that Hillsong preaches a false gospel. They have opined on this, but never proven their point.
Those who have challenged their theories Biblically have been shut out, so there is very little evidence on their sites of rebuttal, not because it has not been made, but because it is edited out, or censured, or those who make the arguments are heavily moderated, banned or falsely called trolls.
Ironically, they have reproduced the opinion of atheists, critical media and the hostile, antichrist press articles and made them their own, but they have never set out a doctrinal case – i.e. taking an actual doctrinal statement or sermon and line-by-line, using scriptural arguments, giving a reason for their claims that Hillsong is a cult.
In fact they have never gone through this process for any of the ministers or ministries they have railed against. It is an abject and pronounced failure on all of their sites, which are more akin to gossip rags than discernment sites.
The closest they have come to line-by-line Biblical refutation of Hillsong doctrine is to repost the ramblings of the pirate radio man, who actually thinks he is giving a scriptural alternative to the things he critiques, but is, in actual fact, preaching his own message over the top of an audio sermon which is so obscured by his continual interruptions that it is impossible to determine what the victim of the pirate’s approach is actually saying.
Rarely was there a person that loved the sound of their own voice as much as the pirate. All other voices must be blotted out. Oh, the power of the overdub.
The CWs themselves merely critique things like introductions to books (because they never read the actual books), and tweets, because they never take the time to go over actual sermons, as well as snippets of conversations, because they can’t be bothered to research anything for themselves.
Almost everything on their sites is sourced from outside, with a couple of doom and gloom scriptures that reflect their need to condemn people, and an introductory written contribution that makes sure the post is slanted to match their agenda. The only requirement is that the information tallies with their prejudice.
State intervention of churches touted by CW
Fifth – well this has to be the provocative move towards pressing the government to monitor Hillsong, which, in terms of what the CWs are demanding, i.e. Government interference, is actually unconstitutional.
However, in terms of the requirements of not-for-profit associations, is already being accomplished, because all charities and not-for-profits are monitored by the government – in Australia, at least, where Hillsong began.
You cannot run a charity or not-for-profit without producing independently audited records and presenting them to the relevant Government department annually. Every registered charity or not-for-profit has to include it aims in its constitution before it can be registered. They are already accountable and monitored.
By the way, we would have to ask the CWs which country they would be referring to here. Hillsong seems to gave gone fairly global.
The US Constitution protects the Church from interference by the State. That is actually what the US Constitution refers to when it speaks of separation of Church and State. It will not have a State-run Church, neither will it interfere in the religious practices of churches.
As does the Australian Constitution, albeit in a slightly different way. But if you’re going to go down this line, maybe the governments of these countries should take a look at defamation laws regarding religious anonymous blog owners.
Point six – the demand for repentance. Surely this is between a person and God. Or are the CWs wanting to set themselves up as an anonymous priesthood clan with a secret online confessional in the corner of their sites specially set up for people they oppose?
Would the CWs care to publicly repent of anything to set the example? Perhaps the CWs could ask some of their defenders on their sites to apply the same standards.
Some of the comments made to people who challenge CW attitudes are so far removed from Biblical Christianity, any way you look at it – i.e. if the CWs are dealing with fellow Christians when they address Hillsong, their co-workers should never speak to them the way they do because we are commanded by Christ to walk in love with the brethren, but if, as some of the CWs and their fans claim, Hillsong folk are not Christians, then they should have no quarrel with the unsaved anyway, since we are told only to correct those within, not those without.
So, in conclusion, who are the CWs correcting? Members of the Body? Or people who are outside? By what authority do they claim to be authorised to anonymously correct Christians, and leaders at that? Finally, who are the CWs? What are their credentials to level accusations against elders? They cannot justify their anonymity on any level.
The CWs say that Jesus permits Christians to judge correctly. In fact, if you divide scripture correctly, He advised us not to judge. If they judged with the righteous judgment that Jesus refers to when addressing the legal sects of His day, they would know that they are in error with the way they go about their continual and biased judgment of Brian Houston and Hillsong. They are not judging with righteous judgment at all, and have misrepresented scripture and Christ’s words.
If repentance is the order of the day, why is it that they never correct the fellow critics who frequent their sites (and there is a growing list) when they are abusive towards people who speak in favour of Hillsong or challenge the way the CWs go about judging others?
This is surely a log in the corporate CW eye. A series of huge beams emblazoned over their sites, obscuring rationality and blinding their adherents to truth.
Still, when you’re anonymously attempting to correct named leaders, everyone should sit up and take notice. Or should they?