Well, it seems we have had an effect on chookwatcher following the article posted that pointed out his rough treatment of commenters Rachel and Felicity.

Chookwatcher put out a full page apology to both. This is progress, and to be commended, except…

…well the apology was sandwiched between further slurs against Hillsong and Brian Houston, and a challenge to Rachel and Felicity to prove them wrong, which rather dampened the effect had they stuck to their admission of guilt.

And the comments are switched off, so you won’t be able to say anything about this debacle.

Further, it’s an apology from the ‘Chookwatcher Team‘, not from the chookwatcher who wrote the comments and was rebuked by another chookwatcher for overreacting to Rachel’s remarks (there are at least eight secret anonymous moderators who use the same pseudonym).

Sorry, but…

After a long and unnecessary introduction that attempted to justify their existence as a discernment blog obsessed with condemning Hillsong and C3, they added the following apology.

We were unloving in our replies to comments made by Rachel and Felicity and for this we are sorry.’

Had they simply said this and not tried to justify their rudeness towards the ministries about which Rachel and Felicity gave very civilly written good reports, we could have considered their apology to be genuine.

However their ‘sorry’ was tempered with a challenge to Rachel and Felicity to prove them wrong about their attitude towards Hillsong in particular. They said…

‘Rachel, we are sorry that this reply by us was unloving towards you. It is never okay to use ad hominem attacks towards another person when debating. There are no excuses for how the above message was written to you.’

Great. That is a good apology. Unfortunately they followed this paragraph with…

‘We do believe that you do not understand the blasphemous beast that is Hillsong. They preach a different Jesus and a different gospel than the Jesus of Scripture, one that cannot save anyone because their god does not exist.’

Fail! That is not the way to apologise. On the one hand they say they’re sorry for being unloving and ad hominem, and then follow it up with an unloving and ad hominem statement about Rachel’s (according to them) lack of understanding.

Then they throw in a few scriptures pointing out bad people, etc, etc.

Then they challenge Rachel to prove something they haven’t been able to prove themselves – the bargaining chip.

They just don’t get it, do they?

Felicity’s turn

Then they turn to Felicity and make a similar apology.

‘Again, how we replied to you, Felicity, was unloving in the above comments and we are sorry for attacking you as a person rather than only attacking your beliefs.’

‘Only attacking your beliefs’? She gave a testimony of how God had led her family to Hillsong where they found a renewed faith in Jesus and were restored as a family. That is surely what the gospel is all about. Why would you attack this?

But, an apology of sorts, nevertheless, which was begrudging, but a start, except it was followed up immediately with…

‘We would encourage you to do the same research as Rachel and to read/listen to the above resources we’ve provided. If you can prove that Brian Houston and Hillsong preaches God’s Word rightly and is faithful then we will denounce calling Brian Houston a Heretic, Wolf in Sheep’s clothing, and Cult Leader and will instead call him a brother in Christ.’

That is not a genuine apology. It is ‘sorry, but…’, or ‘we’ll be sorry if you’ll be sorry back.’

On the way to acceptance of guilt, or not?

Further, it is the third part of coming to terms with having done something wrong. The pattern goes – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

The bargaining chip was for Rachel and Felicity to prove to the chookwatcher clan that they are wrong to go after Brian Houston and Hillsong, to show that Hillsong is OK, or to demonstrate that Hillsong preaches the gospel.

The onus has never been on someone like Rachel or Felicity to prove Hillsong is made up of genuine Christians. They are saying that Hillsong is Christian, and that the people who attend are Christians.

The onus is always on the accuser, chookwatcher, to prove that they are a cult, and that thier attendees are not Christians, which he has never successfully achieved.

Rachel and Felicity were actually pointing out that, in Rachel’s case, chookwatcher was being ungodly in his approach towards condemning Hillsong, and, in Felicity’s case, that Hillsong had helped her family find a stronger relationship with Jesus Christ.

The response from chookwatcher and some of his supporters, as we have pointed out here, was horrible. The apology was an obvious requirement in the circumstances, but not with the conditions.

The bargaining chip was and is unnecessary. But it is only two steps away from acceptance of culpability, so chookwatcher should keep trying, and one day might get there.

All that was required was the apology.