Look, you can understand Australia’s ACA program producing what is essentially a beat-up that emphasised their own limited perception of what constitutes a Pentecostal church, but how come the self-titled ‘discerners’ at the anonymous churchwatchcentral so gullibly reproduce the arguments made by ACA as if they actually endorse them?

There’s an uncanny likeness to some of the articles and personnel featured at various times by churchwatchcentral that were used to give a negative commentary about Phil Pringle and C3 churches over a couple of nights of rather uninspiring reporting.

American polemics critic Chris Rosebrough was, astonishingly, added as an ‘expert’ on Australias C3. Ahem!

You’ve got to be kidding!

The first program came across as a somewhat lazy jester’s pack of investigative work. The use of scripture was blatantly argumentative and out of context, and the information sadly devoid of anything edifying, being sensationalist in nature.

You wouldn’t have to be much of a detective to see right through ACAs presentation, which was at least as one-sided as their other critiques of Hillsong and the Houstons.

The point is, though, that you would expect it from these kinds of franchise. They sell advertising on the back of their supposed exposés. They are, it seems, as dependent on creating and sustaining a revenue stream as they claim some Pentecostal leaders are.

It doesn’t take much for a non-believer to attack Pentecostals for speaking in tongues, receiving tithes, or being flamboyant and vibrant in their approach.

In fact, Christians can expect the unsaved world to mock them for their faith and for their seemingly strange styles of worship and belief. Jesus told us this would happen. Paul said rejoice anyway. He said it from prison, by the way, where the authorities threw him for preaching virtually the same message. It’s par for the course for effective ministries. John the Baptist was beheaded for his faith.

After all, Jesus was hanged on a tree for preaching the gospel, healing the sick, and setting the demonised free. Worse of all He was revealed as a Prophet and as the Messiah. They didn’t like it in His day either.

Brainwashed simpletons

Of course, the 100,000 or so adherents who gather every week at these joy-filled, lively churches seem to be determined by ACA to be brainwashed, ignorant, fooled, stupid, blind, manipulated, and not at all in any way normal, sensible, God-loving Christians. After all they sow a portion of their hard-earned to the church.

No, congregation members across the globe are obviously, according to these critics, too dumb to realise that the fellowship they relish, giving they enjoy, and the worship they rejoice in are simply the result of their own stupidity. Let’s not get carried away by the joy, relationship and fulfilment inherent in these places.

The fact that they are bathed in prayer, something not mentioned by the critics, nor the charitable giving and outreach into the community, nor the youth work that builds character into young people, nor the wonderful worship and praise music that has covered the globe, nor the enthusiasm for God they instil, nor the encouragement to live life to the full without the need for artificial stimulants, and, most important, the heralding of Jesus as Lord, is testament to the lack of care and attention given to the so-called investigation into these churches and their leaders.

As Paul said, God chooses the base, the ignoble, and the weak to confound the wise.

According to the critics at churchwatchcentral none of these adherents have the right Jesus. So are they saying they’re not actually Christians? Can you believe this snarky criticism from people who can’t even believe that God is the same as He ever was in healing, deliverance and miracle works?

So the critics appear to preach against spiritual empowerment and aspiration, and for the powerless, joyless, near-empty religious church they can find in many towns across Australia, long deserted by their flocks.

But who can blame them? Journalists need a new story every week. They don’t know any better. They’re probably not saved, nor filled with the Spirit. They are without Christ and churches are easy targets, especially successful movements.

As Paul said, we’re called to rejoice, and again, he says, rejoice. Trouble is par for the course.

But my point here is, why haven’t the discerners been able to discern the worldly-logical, ungodly, unkind, unscriptural, anti-christian approach of ACA?

Sad. Very sad.

But… rejoice, regardless. These things have a way of causing persecuted churches to thrive and grow anyway…