In the Christian sphere at least, individuals, churches, denominations and movements should be spared trumped-up charges, allegations, defamation and the false witness of critics purporting to be Christian.
Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, says that believer should not go against believer in a secular court action, but, rather, disputes should be settled through arbitration by authorised and acknowledged Elders amongst the brethren.
There is nothing more secular, nor court-like, than the global web.
Hyper-critical blogs like the chookwatcher sites have set themselves up as judge and jury of Christians they personally do not agree with either doctrinally or in terms of method, means or ministry. Their anonymity, of course, negates their judgment.
They also resist dissent, and have excluded many who have attempted to point out errors in their often extravagant claims, or briefly used them as foils for their own defence of their warped methodology.
Critics from the beginning
There will always be critics, of course. These so-called discernment sites are throwbacks to Sanballat and Tobias, who’s nagging presence was part of an attempt to prevent Jeremiah from rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem way back in Ezra’s day. Before this, the serpent in the Garden of Eden was God’s first critic, and called the father of lies. He invented the false witness.
Some of the accusations levelled at Hillsong and their leadership over recent times have been nothing short of demonic. Chookwatchwatch has reviewed several mischievous articles, comments and opinions displayed by chookwatcher and associates, many of which have been scurrilous unproven accusations based on the opinion of the accuser. Note that word – ‘opinion’.
One such accusation has found itself on the front page of one of their latest posts. Chookwatcher has labelled the entire Hillsong movement ‘criminal’…
‘We produced an article that labeled Hillsong’s statement of belief’s as a “sheepskin”, exposing the fact that this criminal* organisation can say whatever they want to convince Christianity they are Christian while recklessly doing things that oppose the Christian faith.’
The reference here is to an article from 2014 that essentially produced Hillsong’s statement of beliefs, which is an orthodox Christian presentation accessible here.
In that article, chookwatcher adds…
‘Hillsong for a long time have tried to convince the Christian church that they are not a cult. Since Hillsong is under more scrutiny with their stance on social issues, it is of our opinion that they may start to tamper with their belief statements.’
So it is chookwatcher’s opinion that they might change their stance. Opinion, you note. No evidence, no proof, no substance to the claim, just an opinion.
So there was no ‘exposing the fact that Hillsong this criminal* organisation can say what they want‘ in this ‘opinion’ piece at all. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Chookwatcher failed to report his own previous article accurately.
The gall of the asterisk
Notice the asterisk next to the word ‘criminal’.
Now my understanding of criminal is that it refers to conviction in the civil court of law of a crime, misdemeanour or fraud. In Australian law a person is to be considered innocent until proven guilty. The onus is on the prosecution to produce evidence of criminality.
Hillsong has not been summonsed or accused of anything in the Australian court of law, nor in any of the other nations with Hillsong churches. So chookwatcher’s claim cannot be based on any civil misdemeanours.
What then does the asterisk represent?
At the bottom of the article chookwatcher qualifies his accusation of Hillsong’s ‘criminal’ activity with this statement…
‘* We appeal to the fact that Jesus Christ calls those who claim to be of him false prophets and on judgment day calls them lawless/wicked ones in Matthew 7:15-21. Since Hillsong continue to fulfill [sic] this criteria according to Christ – it is our opinion this title is fitting to apply to Hillsong so that Christian and secular communities do not get destroyed by such a fraudulent institution using the guise of Christianity to further their fraudulent behaviour.’
What does Jesus say in this passage then?
Matthew 7:15-21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
On what basis does chookwatcher attribute this passage to Hillsong? Well none is given.
They have cherry-picked a scripture and slapped it on the whole of Hillsong simply because chookwatcher seeks to increase the level of accusation against all and sundry connected to Hillsong.
Adding ‘criminal’ to the fabricated chookwatcher crime-sheet is a convenient inclusion in their list of false claims against them. The connotations, though, are defamatory.
Opinion is not fact
Note what chookwatcher admits in his own qualifying statement – ‘it is our opinion this title is fitting to apply to Hillsong’. What did you say, chookwatcher? ‘It is our opinion’. Read again – ‘it is our opinion’.
‘Our’ opinion. Does this mean that all the chookwatchers in the chookwatcher pseudonym agree with the writer’s accusation of criminality by the whole of Hillsong?
No evidence, needed then, obviously, in this kangaroo court of opinion.
No evidence of fraudulence, no proof of criminality, no authentication of any kind of destruction of community, just an opinion that Hillsong in general should be called ‘criminal’.
Anyone can write a blog and claim a person or organisation is bad, wicked or evil in some way, add a scripture that points to badness, and level an accusation with unrelated ‘proof’ from scripture to back it up. But this doesn’t make the claim right, accurate or just.
Falsely calling an entire body of people ‘criminal’ on the basis of admitted opinion is dangerously close to appearing to be a false witness, and it is deadly serious in terms of our eternal well-being.
As Jesus said in Matthew 12:37…
“By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Thankfully, Jesus gave us the option of repentance to clean the slate.