Thursday, May 11, 2006

An Article on Hillsong Church: The High Cost of Faith

Before proceeding to the main article, readers might want to take a look at the interview with Geoff Bullock, the former worship pastor for Hillsong Church, in which he mentioned that he has rewritten some of the lyrics in his songs to make them doctrinally correct and in line with the teachings of the gospel.

Geoff Bullock said in the interview regarding the song Power of Your Love,
“A good example is ‘Lord I come to you, let my heart be changed, renewed’. Well, us going to God? When you just think of it naturally, I mean man going to God, that’s creation’s cry. All creation longs for communion with the Creator but we cannot go to God. The miracle of it is that it’s ‘Lord, you come to me’ so I now sing the song with ‘Lord, you come to me’. Instead of singing the prayer, ‘Hold me close’, it’s ‘You hold me close’. Just expressing it in that way...To say ‘Lord, hold me close’ is actually a misunderstanding of the Gospel. It’s sort of like saying ‘Oh Lord, have mercy’ - well, how much more mercy must He show? Or ‘Lord, forgive me’ - well, how much more forgiving can God get? I’ve become so aware of what God has done for me in having to apply grace to my journey rather than trying to prove myself worthy...It made me realise that there’s a whole culture of people pleading with God to do something that He’s already done. And when you turn around and realise the miracle - that He has done it - it turns life all the way around. It suddenly puts a value on you that you could never achieve in your own endeavour at all...”
The following is quite an interesting but pretty long article on Hillsong Church. A number of responses to the article by ex-Hillsong members can be found at the Signposts blog.

The High Cost of Faith
Published by News Limited, 29 April 2006, by Jennifer Sexton.

As crowds - and their cash - flood into Hillsong Church, former members tell Jennifer Sexton about the heavy price they paid for leaving the flock.

Whoa! I wanna know you, I wanna know you today.” With that catchy lyric, the lead singer rips into a punky-pop riff on his electric guitar as the band and side-stage choir spring to life. Over a sea of raised arms, five cameras capture the action as the audience, in time with the lanky, tousle-haired lead singer, belts out a thundering chorus: “You’re the best thing that has happened to me.”

No, this isn’t MTV live. It’s Hillsong Church, part religious service, part rock concert, part multi-media conglomerate. Every weekend at Hillsong churches in Sydney 19,000 people sing, clap and jump through a two-hour tribute to a God who rocks. As traditional religious congregations shrink, Hillsong attendance expanded more than 13 per cent in 2004.

There are no images of Jesus being tortured on the cross at Hillsong headquarters in Sydney’s Baulkham Hills, no vaulted ceilings. The audience sits not on wooden pews but on 3500 cushioned theatre seats. Under each one is an envelope and credit card form for believers to donate their pre-tax 10 per cent salary tithe. Ushers flood the aisles and pass black buckets down each row. The buckets have holes in the bottom, presumably to discourage parish-ioners from giving coins. And the rivers of cash keep flowing: donations and salary tithes to Hillsong were $15.3 million in 2004; merchandise, CDs, books and DVDs, returned a further $6.93 million, while total church revenue has now passed the $50 million mark - all tax-free thanks to Hillsong’s charitable status. And then there are the donations - it’s anybody’s guess how much - from the owners of the $40 million Gloria Jean’s coffee empire, Nabi Saleh and Peter Irvine, who are both senior members of Hillsong, the former as treasurer. The message of Hillsong’s prosperity gospel is: the richer you are, the more you can help others.

But along with the expanding congregation and profit margins have come the ugly rumours that won’t go away - of underhanded treatment of disaffected church members, of attempts to silence critics, of profiteering from the faithful. Only last month, the Labor Mayor of Blacktown in Sydney’s west, Leo Kelly, accused Hillsong of attempting to pressure him, via an ALP state official, to dampen his criticism of their use of public funds.

Hillsong’s main benevolent arm, Hillsong Emerge Ltd, has been accused in federal and NSW parliament of misappropriating commonwealth grants worth millions of dollars. And a former member, Robert John Orehek, was charged with fraud after allegedly fleecing believers of up to $20 million, which he sank into failed and fraudulent property investments.

THE KING OF HILLSONG EVANGELISM, Brian Houston, bounds onto the stage, clad in a dapper suit. “The faithful are in church tonight,” he declares, surveying the auditorium. “Awesome!” The background music fades away and the house lights brighten. People reach into their bags for Bibles and notebooks. Houston savours a silent pause. He’s been thinking about the seven deadly sins. “What would be my deadly sins, destructive in the lives of people?” Avarice, gluttony and wrath are apparently old hat. Houston instead says the sins are negativity, regret, complacency. Just a few weeks later, Hillsong’s formidable marketing arm has swung into action, releasing a four-CD set of Houston’s teaching on the sins that undermine potential in people, retailing for $35 in the church shop.

Houston has become the most influential pastor in the Pentecostal movement, and is a household name to born-again Australians. He also has political pulling power: Prime Minister John Howard, Treasurer Peter Costello and former NSW premier Bob Carr have all addressed the Hillsong congregation in recent years. In the last federal election, Hillsong member Liberal Louise Markus narrowly snatched from Labor the seat of Greenway, next to Hillsong’s Baulkham Hills church.

After the service - there are 30 every week in the two main Sydney venues, Baulkham Hills and Waterloo - people pour into the Hillsong shop. Half of the back display is devoted to the CDs and books by Houston and his perky wife of 28 years, Bobbie. Their bright white teeth and perfect hair seem to shine down from dozens of book and CD covers. In Bobbie’s CD set She Loves and Values her Sexuality she proclaims, “You might be happy with your weight but is your husband happy with your weight? … How are you going to do anything that might surprise your man when you need a hydraulic crane just to turn over in bed?” Boob jobs and face lifts get the thumbs up, as do good sex and a husband who says sorry with an impromptu spending spree at the jewellers. It’s a feel-good message, and when it doesn’t feel good, money makes it better.

GEOFF BULLOCK KNOWS ALL about Hillsong’s brand power and merchandising. He helped build it, even coming up with the name Hillsong more than 17 years ago. He launched the church on the international Christian music scene when he wrote most of the original songs, such as Power of Your Love, Refresh My Heart and Have Faith in God. For the church’s first decade he was Brian Houston’s best friend. For eight years, until a messy split in 1995, he ran the music department, nerve centre of “the brand”. Although his songs are now rarely played at Hillsong, they are popular on the international Christian music scene and Bullock lives off composition royalties paid through APRA (the Australasian Performing Rights Association).

When I meet Bullock at a sunny, beachside terrace cafe he is edgy and constantly apologises - for knocking the table as he crosses his legs, for being unable to eat much of his salad. A short, tidy man with intense blue eyes, he is approaching his 50th birthday. He hasn’t slept much in anticipation of revealing the backstage story behind the “miles of smiles” at Hillsong. “It was very nice being at the top of the tree but it just … ” He pauses, swallows. “This is going to sound dramatic. They stole my soul.”

Bullock’s moment of religious revelation struck in 1978 at Sydney’s Koala Motor Inn, where Houston’s father, Frank, was preaching. Bullock was 23 and had been touring the east coast in a rock’n'roll band, smoking dope and reading Carlos Castaneda’s stories of magic and sorcery. “It was wild,” he recalls of that November night. They sang hymns to a funked-up polka tune played with live piano, drums and bass. In the latest fashion blue safari suit, at the centre of the throng was the bespectacled 56-year-old preacher, Frank Houston, who declared that he used to smoke cigarettes before Jesus saved him. “People were trying to put cigarettes in his mouth,” says Bullock. “He lay down and he spat them out. It was a show of great confidence and charisma.”

Bullock was a needy, naive Sydney North Shore lad, schooled at the Presbyterian Knox Grammar. He believed in a higher being and was willing to try anything to reach Him, including cannabis. “I was absolutely ready for brainwashing. I was absolutely ripe for ‘love bombing’.” So, just two hours after walking into his first evangelical experience, Bullock answered God’s call, and his 21-year-old Anglican girlfriend from Lithgow in country NSW, Janine, followed. Individually, in back rooms, they were counselled. They had been born again and were now committed to Jesus. Satan would fight to get them back, they were warned. “I went in with a confident world view and I came out quite rattled. My whole belief structure had been turned on its head.”

He said goodbye to his rock’n'roll band, Arnhem, and to smoking, drinking and playing the occasional gig in topless bars in Sydney. A church leader came to his house and threw out his extensive collection of music - Joni Mitchell, Pink Floyd, The Beatles. “I had this wonderful group of friends, a great lifestyle, going listening to bands. All of that was viewed as being ‘of the devil’ … I didn’t lose some friends, I lost all my friends.”

Five years later, when 29-year-old Brian Houston set up his own church, Hills Christian Life Centre, in the newly suburban northern hills of outer Sydney, Bullock was a founding member. Young Houston was inspired by Tony Packard, who established a high–profile Holden car dealership in the area at Baulkham Hills with the catchcry “Let me do it right for you”.

Bullock was among the 70 believers at Pastor Brian Houston’s first service on Sunday, August 14, 1983, at Baulkham Hills Public School. From here a Pentecostal phenomenon called Hillsong was born. Bullock sang, played piano and was music frontman on stage for at least three services every Sunday. He recorded the church’s first six albums, three of which went gold, one platinum. He also ran the Bible college curriculum. For this he earned no more than $45,000 a year from the church and gave back a pre-tax tithe of 10 per cent, even when he couldn’t pay his growing family’s bills. Now he is being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder after being expunged from the church he helped build.

Bullock and Janine married in 1980 and had five children within a decade. At the height of his Christian stardom in the late 1980s to mid-1990s, Bullock toured the United States, Britain, Asia and New Zealand with an expanding repertoire of songs. For Sydney Sunday services they rose at 6am to set up the band and audio equipment and then rehearse ahead of morning, afternoon and evening church services. He was too busy to notice he was failing as a husband and father. “We had to put our parenting on hold,” he says.

Bullock began to feel like a real estate agent selling a manufactured ideal of God rather than one he really believed in. “I think Hillsong’s still got it, this feeling that God smiles a bit more when we’re singing our songs, and we’ve got good hairdressers, dentists, cosmetic surgeons. I came to think that the patron saint of Hillsong was Gianni Versace.”

Christmas Eve 1994 was the end for Bullock. He had rehearsed the choir and band to play the standard church repertoire for three Christmas services. Just hours before the first service, Houston discovered Bullock had not rehearsed traditional Christmas carols. “He just tore me to shreds and then left me to do three services,” Bullock says. Houston got his Christmas carols that night, but it finished his partnership with Bullock.

Once Bullock departed, a campaign of whispering about his morality and sexuality filtered throughout the church. When he broke up with Janine a few months later, his subsequent relationship with a married woman (whom he later married) was, he says, twisted to become the reason he had been forced out. At the same time, Houston preached about dark forces intent on undermining the church. “They ran a huge campaign to discredit me,” fumes Bullock.

Janine says she changed her phone number to stop friends from the church calling to tell her Bullock’s departure and their marriage break-up was against God’s will. She once hid in the wardrobe when a woman visited her house a second time. “I couldn’t bear her preaching at me again, telling me that this wasn’t of God.”

Janine still goes to Hillsong once a month, but says she can’t help but be cynical about the facade of spirituality compared with the lack of compassion and understanding she experienced. But, she adds, “there’s some beautiful Christian people who attend there”.

GEOFF BULLOCK ISN’T THE ONLY FOUNDING member of Hillsong to question its methods and ethics. For a decade until 1991, Stephen Grant was paid $100 a week to preach at Hillsong and was dean of the church’s Bible college. He admits that, as an eccentric, he was a strange fit for a fundamentalist church.

Still, Grant came from a wealthy family - he now runs a successful art gallery in Sydney’s Redfern - and had pledged (but never paid) $150,000 to the church’s building fund. He had a beautiful wife and was entertaining at the pulpit. He wore loud, colourful suits and sometimes a red leotard. When he blew on the congregation, the entire room of people would fall over.

But he realised his views diverged from Houston’s when they travelled together to the US in 1988. “In the US, I saw the wholesale commercialisation of born-again Christianity. I went, ‘Nah, truth is becoming a commodity here. It’s not a question of internal search, it’s a question of external commodification.’” But Houston liked what he saw and soon Hillsong’s fundraising became increasingly glitzy.

“I started to question what the bloody hell I was doing,” Grant, 46, reflects. “I was preaching all over the world. But I was getting really depressed.” He had lost both his parents and his marriage was under pressure. Grant subsequently discovered that, in the inner sanctum of the church, his wife was being encouraged to recognise that he did not belong.

His clinical depression was seen by the church as a sign of faltering faith. “I knew there was nothing wrong with my faith, and yet I was told: ‘You are not believing in Jesus enough.’” The Hillsong website backs up Grant’s claim. “Depression,” it declares, “is a supernatural spirit straight from the devil.”

When Grant broke up with his wife and left the church, like Bullock, he had to start life all over again, outside the Hillsong fortress. “People find a lot of healing in the church. I don’t have a problem with that. But … if you are kicked out, you are f—ed.”

The Christian message of the shepherd seeking lambs lost from the flock doesn’t apply at Hillsong, says Grant. “It was forbidden for me to be visited by the members of the church. Damn the lost lambs.” His recovery took five years.

The sentiment is echoed by theology student Penny Davis, who took years to rebuild her self-esteem after a shattering experience at Hillsong, which began in 1995 when she was just 20. Women who don’t fit Bobbie Houston’s mould at Hillsong, or those brave enough to challenge the male hierarchy, are swiftly brought into line, she says. With ambitions to become a pastor, Davis quickly realised she needed to change her wardrobe. “To get anywhere, you had to become a clone,” she quips. “I grew my hair, started wearing make-up and doing all the nice girly things.”

Life became very full, and it was all about church. She moved into a share house with four other young women from Hillsong, volunteered two days a week at church and did paid work with the Hillsong community youth centre three days a week, earning a weekly income of $600, less the 10 per cent salary tithe. “The pressure at Hills to be glamorous and have everything as well - it’s quite difficult on a low income.”

Just months after joining, she slept with a woman from the church - one who later confided about the liaison to a youth leader. Davis was immediately counselled that homosexuality was a sin. “I was just so vulnerable,” Davis says simply. She was assigned a mentor, who claimed she had successfully corrected her own “dysfunctional” sexuality. They spoke at least once a week, when Davis had to confess any lesbian fantasies. The mentor also read Davis’s diaries. After the “problem” persisted, she was put into an 18-week “ex-gay” program called Living Waters, then conducted at Hillsong. Once a week she attended the Living Waters group sessions, where she was told to focus on problems in her past which may have triggered her sexual “dysfunction”. “I was committed to getting these things fixed,” Davis says.

Three years of counselling, sessions with a psychiatrist and group therapies failed, however. Davis resorted to grabbing joyful glances at a video of Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras while her flatmates were out, she laughs. “I started to subconsciously realise that this was not going to change … the shame and guilt were eating me up inside.”

Davis decided her sexuality and spirituality could never be reconciled at Hillsong and made the momentous decision to leave. In response, her Hillsong friends sent a barrage of text messages quoting the Bible on the “sin” of homosexuality. She was kicked out of her house and then her friends froze her out, ignoring her emails and phone calls. “She’s gone, we have restructured, there’s no need to continue communicating with her” was the message sent to her Hillsong friends by church leaders, claims Davis.

Social worker Tanya Levin, who spent her teenage years at Hillsong, says that those who question church policy are first shouted down and later ostracised if they persist. Levin has been commissioned to write a book about growing up in an evangelical church. For research, Levin attended the annual Hillsong women’s conference Colour Your World last March and took offence when poor children in Africa were being marketed for sponsors in the audience on the basis of being cute. “They are actually for life, not just for Christmas,” Levin shouted before walking out of the auditorium.

When she wrote an email the next month to the Houstons asking to meet them on a regular basis in order to gather material for her book, she got this curt response from the general manager, George Aghajanian: “We are aware that during your attendance at our recent Colour Your World Women’s Conference you caused a significant disruption. It is for this reason that we ask you to refrain from attending any future Hillsong church services or events; including accessing Hillsong’s land and premises at any time.” Aghajanian closed by saying the church’s leadership and staff were unable to provide assistance for the book.

When Levin subsequently attended a Sunday evening service, a pastor asked to speak to her outside. When she attempted to get back in to retrieve her bag, two security guards blocked her path, picked her up by the elbows and escorted her off the premises.

Brian Houston refused numerous opportunities to comment for this story, except to say: “More than 19,000 people come to Hillsong Church every weekend and I know that the overwhelming majority of them would testify to a healthy experience for both themselves and their families. They would also speak of the constant positive impact they see on others who are being helped through Hillsong Church and its many community programs.”

There is no doubt that Hillsong - or, closer to the mark, its loyal parishioners - perform many good deeds. The church has a number of charitable arms, including Mercy Ministries, a residence for girls dealing with unplanned pregnancies and eating disorders established five years ago by Hillsong’s Darlene Zschech, the country’s most popular and successful Christian singer. Although recently mired in controversy, the church’s main benevolent arm, Hillsong Emerge, has helped people find jobs and recover from addictions. Hillsong attendees sponsor about 2600 children in Uganda, and generously gave $500,000 to victims of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

But the criticism seems likely to persist as long as Hillsong makes $50 million in revenue, pays no tax and yet spends just $2.67 million on “welfare services”. It is not clear how much Mercy Ministries gets from Hillsong, but its total donations were just $304,840 in 2004. And Hillsong Emerge’s 2004 accounts show it got only $646,666 from the Hillsong Foundation Trust and about that again in government grants.

And Houston has been less than transparent about his own income. Until last year he had failed to declare that he and Bobbie had sold their own personal property holdings to a Hillsong-related entity of which he is a director, Leadership Ministries Incorporated. Bobbie sold a Bondi beachfront apartment on the same block as Jamie Packer’s pad to the not-for-profit LMI for $650,000 in February 2002. The couple also sold a waterfront property on the Hawkesbury River in October 2004 to LMI for $780,000, making $535,000 on their 1998 purchase price. They continue to use both these properties.

LMI is the tax-free entity Hillsong set up as a vehicle to pay the couple’s income. In breach of Office of Fair Trading reporting rules, no financial statements had been lodged since its inception in October 2001. Only after the property deals were uncovered by The Australian were the accounts filed in August last year. When the numbers came in they revealed the golden couple got a measly net income, after donations, of just $21,658 in the year to December 2002, $12,739 in 2003 and $69,041 in 2004.

If this is all there is, then how do the couple and two of their three children pull off a property buying spree worth $1.738 million over 12 months in exclusive beachside Bondi? On August 26, 2003, son Joel, who is a lead singer in the Hillsong band and earns song-writing royalties, bought a $676,000 apartment a few minutes’ walk from the LMI-owned apartment, paying $276,000 up front. That same day Brian and Bobbie paid $650,000 with a collateral mortgage for the apartment next door to Joel’s. Exactly a year later, son Ben borrowed just $90,000 to buy a $412,000 apartment a few streets from the other family holdings.

And questions persist about why it took 30 years for Brian Houston’s father, Frank, to be exposed over a complaint of sexual abuse of a boy in his homeland of New Zealand. Houston says his father was banned from preaching in 2000, when he confessed. But Frank continued to live on the Hillsong account, in church digs, until his death in November 2004.

Houston has hiring and firing rights over the board, and has appointed some influential and rich men to control the church’s empire (there are no women, he says, because one of the board members won’t allow it). The general manager of Hillsong - psychologist George Aghajanian - now oversees a $100 million property portfolio. And Hillsong has its sights on lucrative new markets in Europe - it opened a church in Paris last year and already has churches in London and Kiev.

Geoff Bullock says he can’t help but admire Houston. “He works hard and is gifted. He deserves to be a wealthy man.” But when told how little Houston is claiming as net income Bullock is incredulous - especially knowing the charismatic pastor’s fondness for Valentino suits and first-class plane tickets. And then there are the thousands of dollars in “love offerings” Houston regularly personally pockets for every talk he gives on the international Pentecostal speaking circuit. “Why not just be open about it?” Bullock asks.

As Bullock watches the church lurch from one controversy to the next, he has a sense of foreboding. He muses there is a valid expectation that the church should pour more money into helping others and less into promoting itself and amassing wealth. “In the end, it’s just sad,” he says, looking into his coffee cup. “It does look like it’s approaching a train wreck.”

Jennifer Sexton is a senior writer on The Australian.



Blogger naniecheng said...

Hmm... thanks for sharing this article. It is true that power and money corrupts. Sometimes a person may start off with the best intentions in serving God but slowly may fall unknowingly into the temptations of this world.

Everybody likes to be rich and have plenty - that's human nature. And often it is for our own good that God keeps us from having too much material possessions. If not we could become corrupt too and consequently be blinded to our own sins, thinking we are still walking in the light of God.

11/5/06 2:44 PM  
Anonymous A Christian Annoyed about Hillsong. said...

Jesus throw the markets out of the Church, Hillsong has gone and built their church about marketing. Do you think that Jesus would like that?

19/5/06 12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, when i read this article, the writer seemed so much irritated by Hillsong church.the words that the writer used, it seemed like the writer is trying write a biased article based on their own feeling at that moment.
but please let me say this...
while you all been fuming amongst yourselves, Hillsong Church has been reaching out, changing lives and literally millions of people around the world have been greatly impacted.
let me ask you a question.

what have you done to reach out to the Lost Sheeps?

would you like it if other had judge you the same way you had judge them?

have you ever think of God's power and what He can do?

let me remind you all of the importance of the church
the church is Jesus' body. every member is equally important. why dont we all stop criticizing others and work together towards salvation for the lost. isnt that what God would wanted? for each and everyone of His family to work together to save His people?

22/6/06 4:15 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

It is amusing that every now and then, you will have a judgmental person coming to my blog accusing me of having a judgmental attitude. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. By posing the question which hints I am not doing my part to reach the lost sheep, the anonymous poster appears to be judging my actions too. My answer to this is don’t anyone worry; I am definitely doing my part in preaching the gospel and refuting false gospels like the prosperity gospel.

When we preach the gospel, what is more important is that we are making true disciples of Jesus Christ – people who are living according to the Word of God. Quality, not quantity, is what counts. So pardon me if I am not blown away by dubious statistics that the anonymous poster cannot substantiate with facts.

That being said, I would not discount the fact that God can make use of apostate churches and heretical pastors to reach out to the lost. However, this should not give us any reason to abandon our efforts to refute heretical teachings, which the Scriptures clearly tell us to do.

As to what I think about the power of God and what He can do, this is a laughable question. I am a staunch five-point Calvinist and I believe in the absolute sovereignty of God in all things, including suffering and evil, which works according to His purposes. I believe in the power of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ at the cross that actually saves His elect, rather than simply making salvation possible. I believe the power of God is able to overcome the depraved will of men, causing men to have faith and repentance, and drawing men to Him through His irresistible grace. I believe salvation lies in the powerful will of God, rather than in men. I believe God is able to keep His elect from falling away through His power. This is the power of God that I affirm according to His Word.

This is also the gospel I preach to everyone without distinction, to professing believers and to non-believers so that they might all be saved through the power of God.

22/6/06 8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your blog! Thanks for your honest heart and truthfulness, it is refreshing to hear someone be real. Its cool to read about real people who serve Jesus.

I am a musician, and I would be honored if you would check out my music. All music on my site is free for download. Anyway, don’t want to be a pest, I just thought that I’d share.

“All my music is free.”

6/7/06 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Gonzalote said...

I have read the complete article. I just want to say one thing: this happens in every church of the planet. But I m not talking about corruption or money problems, Im talking about the people who fall down and have no capacity for get up. They blame others by the bad things that they have done. But it's so normal in every church. Every church haves people who acused the congregations of kick thems out, and speak to everybody about it.
Please be careful. First see the two sides in every accusation. Later, and only if it is necessary, give an opinion.
And rememember it: God is always doing justice for His sons. If You was kicked out from your church, do you really believe in your heart that God is by your side? If the answer is No, please come back to your church and just ask for forgiveness, and if the answer is Yes, live in the trust that GOD is the only one who mades justice for You!

GonZ, Viña del Mar, Chile

6/7/06 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

offering buckets have a hole in the bottom so they dont suction together. its simply practical, not financial. the hole is not big enough for coins to fall through, so i dont think it is about discouraging the giving of coins...

12/7/06 5:31 AM  
Blogger the_aussie_dreamer said...

That article sounds very biased to me. I have never been to Hillsong Church (I plan to in the future), but the people I've met that have been there have absolutely loved it. Let me ask you a question, have you been to Hillsong Church? Have you experienced it for yourself? The article is all fine and dandy with interesting information, I would like to know the sources, but that's just the reporter's opinion as well as the interviewees' opinions. I have heard Pastor Brian Houston in person and I have to disagree with many statements made in the article. Do you have a problem with Christians being wealthy? Should we all be poor living out of our cars? It is true: if you have more, you can do more. We all do what we can with what we have! If you have more you are able to do more. What you do with what you have is up to you! Jesus wants us to be good stewards with whatever He gives us (parable of the talents-Matthew 25:14-30). Hillsong Church is wealthy, but they are doing a heck of a lot of good for their community and the world. I know the Houstons aren't perfect. No one is. And I'm sure they've made many mistakes, we all do, but this article, now that I think about it, seems to judge them based on the fact that they are wealthy! How they spend their money is their business. That's between them and God and in the end, all wrongs will be made right. One of Hillsong's "mottos" is "...blessed to be a blessing." I think they are doing that. Regardless of where they (the church and the Houstons) stand politically, financially, whatever, God has blessed them and they are blessing others with what God has given them. Isn't that what we're all called to do?

16/7/06 2:47 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

Let me first address the question, “Do you have a problem with Christians being wealthy?” Honestly, this is a weak straw man Word-Faith proponents commonly put up to defend themselves. And the answer to this is no. The issue here is not about Christians being wealthy, but really about the word-faith or prosperity theology.

Prosperity theology teaches that health and wealth are signs of salvation. According to this false teaching, if you are not experiencing health and wealth, you are doing something wrong in your Christian life. Word-faith proponents will say there is probably some unresolved sin or maybe you are not tithing enough. Like what the article wrote, “You are not believing in Jesus enough.”

This false teaching attacks the absolute sovereignty of God. It denies the sovereign will of God over all things – that the absence of health and wealth is not about sin or the lack of belief but because of the will of God. Anyone who reads the Book of Job cannot help but conclude that prosperity theology is a false gospel.

Secondly, one does not need to go into Hillsong Church to understand their theology. Just like one does not need to take drugs in order to criticize the harmful effects of drug addiction. I do not have to go to a Mormon church to know that the teaching of Mormonism is wrong. The standard of truth is the Word of God. And as one studies the Word of God regularly, one would be able to discern right from wrong and warn fellow believers to stay away from false doctrines.

Thirdly, just because Hillsong is “doing a heck of a lot of good for their community and the world” does not mean that their doctrines are sound (look at my first point on prosperity theology). The Roman Catholic Church is well known for advocating human rights and correcting social injustice. However, it clearly deny that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Does their “good works” justify their theology? Let me put it another way: does it mean any religion that engages in humanitarian aid means that their theological framework is correct?

Fourthly, the author of the article is a professional reporter working for one of Australia’s newspapers. If you think that the reporter is not fairly representing Hillsong in an accurate light, then I strongly suggest that you should perhaps show some explicit evidence of misrepresentation instead of casting doubts on the reporter's credibility.

16/7/06 9:37 PM  
Blogger varedhead said...

Those that are in Leadership at Hillsong are Godly people, they are human and none of us are perfect. The church's messages are not about prosperity driven, it's about giving back in all areas of your life. It's also about what God has done for us.
It's amazing how rumors fly when a church is successful. I go to a "spin off" of Hillsong and I am never demanded to give 10% of my money.
I heard the Geoff Bullock story from one of his own friends, one of which was in P&W with him, this friend tried to prevent his downfall. His friend was brokenhearted over his choice. To this day, Geoff has never returned this friends attempts to contact him. I should add that when this story was told, Geoff's name was never mentioned. Only after I read Geoff's own posts did I put two and two together and went to his/my friend and asked him. He admitted to me sadly that Geoff was who he was talking about.
Geoff Bullock's downfall is not a made up story, he made the choices - he needs to quit blaming the church. His desire to was to do secular music.
He was to do the project for Integrity & sing "Shout To The Lord". He left, Darlene Zchech has the acclaim he so badly desired. Jealousy and greed is what I read from Geoff Bullock. I loved his music, sadly I'm throwing it away.

10/10/06 9:37 AM  
Anonymous Eden said...

Thanks for sharing that article. I'm a business major, and the prosperity gospel has really troubled me recently. Not specifically the prosperity gospel itself but how I've heard too many sermons preached on how there is nothing wrong with being rich. I am not saying there is something wrong with being rich, but I just don't think Christians need to hear that message. When I look at Jesus' life and how I am called to be more like Jesus it is very difficult for me to reconcile my desires (one, is to be rich) and the way Jesus lived. Usually when it comes down to deciding between two choices for me, following Jesus has pushed me to pick the harder road.

8/12/06 5:18 PM  
Anonymous Eden said...

varedhead your statement is completely contradictory and ignorant. If you say that all people are human and Hillsongs is still great, even with its mistakes, because they bring God glory why would you throw away Geoff's music. I am a worship leader, and I would never not do a song because the person that wrote it made mistakes. .. Everyone is human and if you sing a song and it brings glory to God why would you throw it away?

9/12/06 4:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i went to hillsong a few times. I don't really know if any of those sources are true. Whenever I visited AU from the states, I was shocked at some of the news reported. (of america and such) Near everyone that was reported was twisted to just put down george bush and the american government. etc. etc.

Whenever I was there, I have know idea what your talking about whenever you mention prosperity gospel. You have no idea how many other programs they fund. (Equip and Empower is one). They provide money for transportation, hotels, food. I would like to know the reporters sources that Hillsong got 50 million in revenue and only gave 2.7 million of it. (i don't remeber the exact number.)

Of course with the media, they will down play any non-liberal act. (face it, media is very biased.)

The Hillsong Church doesn't teach Hillsongology and other theologies. It is just Christianity. I pretty sure ill be bashed as ignorant, dumb, whatever. I just needed to put in my two cents.

18/12/06 1:36 PM  
Anonymous Psalm said...

The truth is that most of us will never really know what goes on behind the scenes in Megachurches. I would like to point out the fact that just because some ex-members have come out with complaints, I cannot assume that Hillsong has no unsavoury details about the ex-members.

Ultimately all sides are worrying:

1) Bullock is divorced, having been involved with a married woman...Did he leave the Church because of the way Brian Houston spoke to him, or was this this merely the last straw? Proper cause and effect are lost here. Was Bullock clean and faultless throughout all this deterioration? The article leaves so many blanks that at some point I thought that Bullock was bitter about old records he had to chuck out as a new believer...

2) Re: Davis. Homosexuality is a sin. So, I do not know what Davis' issue is. Does she disagree with God's Word hence expecting Hillsong to have condoned an abomination? or is she in agreement with the Word of God, but of the view that she could have received better counselling, support and encouragement in bearing her burdern?

3) Is the writer implying that tithing and offering(Scriptural principles) are wrong? These are given precisely for Church 'infrastructure' and need of the Body of Christ. The bigger the amount received, the larger the buildings, auditoria, outreaches, etc.

4) On the income of the Pastors... I am concerned about the alleged lack of transperancy. All things should be done in Truth, especially in the body of Christ.

5) As for Levin...Surely logic dictates that if you attend a Conference, where people have opened their doors to you to write about them, it is silly to expect them to be impressed by student-type of disruptions (akin the student union disruptions). It displays lack of common sense to raise objections in such a manner. She would have gained much more, I believe, by approaching the leaders to voice some of her thoughts. I can understand why any Church would escort anyone like Levin out, especially after proving that her strength lies in causing disruptions, not conversing to get insight that may be included in her book...

6) I am sure that there are MANY imperfections and weaknesses in Hillsong. However, all I have from the article before me are accounts from worrying sources: divorcees (with worrying circumstances), ex or practising lesbian (not clear from the article), a writer who leaves gaps regarding tithing and offering and other issues of faith, a disgruntled wannabe student activist and writer AND the gaping silence from Hillsong...

I wonder, did Hillsong refrain from commenting to any writer for the fear that they might be opening a can of the form of more student-like disruptions to at their meetings? I do wonder...

8/1/07 7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I am new to blogging so pardon me if I get the blogging etiquette wrong.

Quoting Beowulf,"When we preach the gospel, what is more important is that we are making true disciples of Jesus Christ – people who are living according to the Word of God. Quality, not quantity, is what counts. So pardon me if I am not blown away by dubious statistics that the anonymous poster cannot substantiate with facts."

I agree with your statement 100% - quality is important. But let's examine some Bible truths.

Ananias and Sapphira in Book of Acts tried to cheat the church and were struck dead, which goes to show that God definitely knows how to protect His own from wolves in sheep clothing. So let's not be concerned that God is not doing His job in Hillsong.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter rose up and preached and 3,000 were saved (Acts 2:41). God who wrote the Bible further added that by HIS FAVOR, "the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." (Acts 2:47) Clearly, God gave them QUANTITY and made it a point to mention it.

Peter the ex-fishermen went on to do great things for the Lord - the lame walked, a dead child was raised, and the favour of God was on him - a glorious example of a ministry blessed of God.

Paul, anointed by God, started churches throughout Asia and wrote 2/3 of the New Testatement.

God's style is fruitfulness and abundance in quality AND QUANTITY.

It takes a great man to celebrate other's success. Let's rejoice that the Lord is alive and is still adding to HIS church daily.

Quoting Beowulf, "This false teaching attacks the absolute sovereignty of God. It denies the sovereign will of God over all things – that the absence of health and wealth is not about sin or the lack of belief but because of the will of God. Anyone who reads the Book of Job cannot help but conclude that prosperity theology is a false gospel."

Anyone who reads the Book of Job cannot help but conclude that God blesses us with health and wealth too - "Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job MORE THAN HIS BEGINNING: for he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He also had 7 sons and 3 daughters. And he called the name of the first Jemimah, the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-Happuch. IN ALL THE LAND WERE FOUND NO WOMEN SO BEAUTIFUL as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. After this, Job LIVED 140 YEARS AND SAW HIS CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN FOR 4 GENERATIONS. So Job died, old and full of days." (Job 42:12-17)

Concerning the grace of God, Paul said in Romans 3:3,4 "For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true and every man a liar."

If we see a harsh, judgemental, mean and vengeful God in the Gospel we preach, perhaps we are the ones who need to submit ourselves to His Word and change our view of God, rather than those who are enjoying the truth of His abundant goodness.

Romans 8:32 - He who did not spare His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us ALL things.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever.

8/2/07 4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those who actually read this posting...I want to let you know something important. I went to Hillsong church for a year and was involved in three of the ministries there: Hillsong Kids, Fuel (junior high) and I was also in Hillsong's choir. I don't attend the church anymore, because I live in another country now, but after reading your article, I was thinking how ridiculous it is for someone to write an article like this.

First of all, in the bible, the church is not a building. It is God's people, meaning all Christians. We are God's people, are supposed to live in unity. If you love people, and love God, then why on earth would you take time to write an article that would downplay God's work on earth? I wonder what the motivations would be for someone to be so bitter about a church at all, especially if they have never experienced it first hand. The writer has obviously put alot of thought and effort into writing this article. Why not use your talent and time to do something more productive? Do something that will build people up, instead of tearing people down. I have a message for the writer: I see in you someone that is of worth. I see in you someone that is blessed by God and talented with writing words. I see so much potential in you, and I don't even know you! But understand this. God didn't give us potential to hurt others. If you recall, He said the most important things to Him are that you love Him first, and then you love people. If the church is built up of people, then ask yourself this. Why would you write anything in attempt to destroy people? Did Hillsong do anything to you personally?

I just want to point out that the people who left the church did so out of choice. It was a decision they made, and a choice that they made. Nobody at Hillsong forces you out of the church. Trust me. It's such a big church that it just can't happen. You'll get lost in the crowd. The "security guards" are often just college students. They don't have a clue who you are unless you know them personally. How do I know this? Well, because I was at the college.

After working with some very prominent people at Hillsong, I want to let you know that they do not brainwash people as you suggest. They don't force you to give them any money. It is a choice. Just like any church. I've been to a variety of different churches in my life time, and different denominations. Nobody has ever forced me to give anything I did not want to give. My conclusion is that a church is God's people, and that it is good for people to fellowship with others.

There are so many good things happening at Hillsong church! Why don't people write about that? It's funny that when God decides to bless something, people will always try to tear it down. In all my days at Hillsong, I never saw anything weird or strange happening either financially or spiritually. It's not even a "fanatical" church! haha. People there are really nice, and open and they really do nurture the church members. Just for reference, I wasn't dressed in any ritzy nice clothes. I dressed like a skater girl. Yes that's right. T-shirts that are cheap cheap cheap! Fun stuff. Nobody from church ever judged me for that. They still loved me as if they knew me for ages!

What I saw at Hillsong, was a church that was full of integrity. People there that loved God, loved people and loved life. I guess when people see that, they like to tear it down because they haven't experienced it themselves.

I have some questions about the writer, and I don't want you to answer it to anyone but yourself. These are rhetorical questions: Are you living out a life that is allowing you to be the best that you can be for God? Do you love the church (the people of God) with a passion? If someone wrote an article like this about your family, what would you think? ... I'm saying this because Hillsong church is part of the family of God. Part of God's family that consists of anyone in the world that believes in what Jesus has done for them and accepts them as saviour.

There is nothing added to that at Hillsong. You don't need to do or say anything extra to earn salvation. Salvation is a gift that is given to us from God. You don't need to speak in tongues to be saved, you don't need to be rich to be saved, and you don't need to go to Hillsong church to be saved. :) You just need Jesus Christ.

Now, I don't want anyone to respond to this post...because I won't be able to write back to them. I don't go on this website much. I just happend to come across it. I hope this helped put things into perspective though.

Hillsong is not about riches or marketing. They are solidly based on building relationships. That's why every ministry at Hillsong is so adament on building "connect groups" to help people feel welcome. Connect groups = small groups. I'm thinking many big churches do this too. Anyway, that's all i have to say for now.

In the end, God knows best, and I know without a doubt that in heaven, it is relationships that matter. Especially your relationship with Jesus...and that is not to be judged by anyone because everyone's relationship with Christ is different.

17/3/07 2:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God is the only one to judge people. All we must do is pray that it will be his will and his way.

11/4/07 3:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The quotation from Geoff Bullock at the beginning is completely wrong-headed.
Why does he think that we can’t say, “Oh Lord, have mercy”? Does Bullock think that King David is wrong in saying, “Have mercy on me O God, according to your unfailing love”?
Does he seriously think that we shouldn’t say, “Lord, forgive me”? I guess Jesus was wrong when he tells us to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Good thing we have Bullock to show us the way.

18/4/07 1:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

first of all .. why are you dissing hillsong ? whether you think that they are going after the money or not ,they are gods people. and even though im sure that they have made mistakes ,like every normal person. just look at how they are changing the world for the better, worshipping god. glorifying him. they do not FORCE people to put money in thoes money. but they do need profits to keep up the great music.. but people give money o their own free will, maybe they encourage it but they do not make them do anything ? so pretty much your taking something great ,and amazing, a great gift from god.. and turning it into something that people will hate, and turning them on it .. god job, but honestly.. i dont beleive any of this :) please, just stop dissing hillsong. pfft.

31/5/07 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Simon from WA said...

Hi All,

Was doing some searching on Google and came up with this so thought I would leave some comments.

I have had a problem with the pentecostal movement for a while. In my opinion what they teach about worship for example is not consistent with the Biblical teaching. What they view as worship is song, music, open displays of joy etc. There is nothing wrong with music etc, but I always feel sick when it is turned into a self glorified performance.

Looking at workip from a Biblical sense is an eye opener. I am going to be very blatant and use some writings from about the nature of worship,

"The meaning of the New Testament Greek word most often translated “worship” (proskuneo) is “to fall down before” or “bow down before.” Worship is a state (an attitude) of spirit. Since it’s an internal, individual action, it could/should be done most of the time (or all the time) in our lives, regardless of place or situation (John 4:21). Therefore, Christians worship all the time, seven days a week. When Christians formally gather together in worship, still the emphasis should be on individually worshipping the Lord. Even in a congregation, participants need to be aware that they are worshiping God fully on an individual basis.

The nature of Christian worship is from the inside out and has two equally important parts. We must worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). Worshipping in the spirit has nothing to do with our physical posture. It has to do with our innermost being and requires several things. First, we must be born again. Without the Holy Spirit residing within us, we cannot respond to God in worship because we do not know Him. “No one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11b). The Holy Spirit within us is the one who energizes worship because He is in essence glorifying Himself, and all true worship glorifies God.

Second, worshipping in spirit requires a mind centered on God and renewed by Truth. Paul exhorts us to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:1b, 2b, italics mine). Only when our minds are changed from being centered on worldly things to being centered on God can we worship in spirit. Distractions of many kinds can flood our minds as we try to praise and glorify God, hindering our true worship.

Third, we can only worship in spirit by having a pure heart, open and repentant. When King David’s heart was filled with guilt over his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), he found it impossible to worship. He felt that God was far from him and he “groaned all day long” feeling God’s hand heavy upon him (Psalm 32:3,4). But when he confessed, fellowship with God was restored and worship and praise poured forth from him. He understood that “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17. Praise and worship toward God cannot come from hearts filled with unconfessed sin.

The second part of true worship is worship “in truth.” All worship is a response to truth and that which is truth is contained in the Word of God. Jesus said to His Father, “thy word is truth” (John 17:17b). The Psalm 119 says “Thy law is truth” (v. 142b) and “Thy word is true” (v. 160a). To truly worship God, we must understand who He is and what He has done, and the only place He has fully revealed Himself is in the Bible. Worship is an expression of praise from the depths of our hearts toward a God who is understood through His Word. If we do not have the truth of the Bible, we do not know God and we cannot be truly worshipping.

Since external actions are unimportant in Christian worship, there is no rule regarding whether we should sit, stand, fall down, be quiet, or sing praises loudly while in corporate worship. These things should be decided based on the nature of the congregation. The most important thing is that we worship God in spirit (in our hearts) and in truth (in our minds.)"

My second annoyance is the stupid doctrine of "you will be successful if you are a true Christian", the whole prosperity theology concept. To put it simply this has no Biblical support, rather Christ warned against the pursuit of ruches, (again from, "Far from stressing the importance of wealth, the Bible warns against pursuing it. Believers, especially leaders in the church (1 Timothy 3:3), are to be free from the love of money (Hebrews 13:5). Love of money leads to all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus warned, "Beware and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions" (Luke 12:15). In sharp contrast to the Word Faith's gospel's emphasis on gaining money and possessions in this life, Jesus said "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal" (Matthew 6:19). The irreconcilable contradiction between prosperity teaching gospel and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is best summed up in the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:24, "You cannot serve God and riches."

Coupled with this is the stupid notion that if you experience bad things in your life you obviously do not have enough faith. This is a total falacy. This is not supported by any Biblical text. For example I have clinical depression (I'm 25). This is due to several factors with lack of Faith not being among them. We are told by the Bible that we will experience hardship in our lives and that those who keep their faith in those times are true beleivers and children of God.

For the Hillsong Church to describe depression as some sort of sign of a lack of faith is completely obsurd and insulting to those who suffer it.

The measure of a church should come from the example given in the New Testament (Not the Old) of the beginning Church. It should teach in accordance with the teachings of Christ and I am sorry but the Hillsong is found wanting on this criteria.

Now for those who want to say who are you to judge I simply have this to say. I do not judge but Christ does through his Word the Bible. It is clear that the Hillsong church is not in harmony with the Biblical teachings used by many other churches. That it focuses on financial wealth as a sign of faith is in complete contradiction to the Bible which teaches that Faith bears the fruits of the spirit.

God Bless

14/8/07 2:48 PM  
Anonymous Carl said...

"If we see a harsh, judgemental, mean and vengeful God in the Gospel we preach, perhaps we are the ones who need to submit ourselves to His Word and change our view of God, rather than those who are enjoying the truth of His abundant goodness."

Have you read the Old Testament? Your God is very harsh.

"From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. 'Go on up, you baldhead!' they said. 'Go on up, you baldhead!' He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths. And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria." - 2 Kings 2:23-25

That's one of many examples. God sending bears to maul 42-youths to death for teasing someone. Sounds very loving and forgiving, doesn't it?

But you know why God seems so harsh in the OT? My guess is that it's because he's a remnant of Ancient Hebrew culture. So his values fit in with Ancient Hebrew values of what is fair and what isn't, even if those values aren't compatible with the values of our society today.

In my view, your God is sick and unjust. Eternal punishment for unbelievers, even if they can't help their unbelief?

Commanding children to be stoned to death for disobeying their parents?

The Bible is full of many more examples of God being excessively harsh and unjust, in the Old Testament.

Of course, one could contend that man’s sense of justice is inferior to God’s, because God is a perfect being and man is imperfect. And that because God created life, he has the right to take it away at any time.

But the Bible says that God created man in his own image. Most people would view the bear-mauling story as excessively harsh and unjust. If we were created in God's image, wouldn't our sense of justice be more on-par with God's?

And after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, wasn’t that supposed to give them some kind of awareness about things that only God and perhaps angels were aware of previously? They realised they were naked, for example. Perhaps this event could have, theoretically, made humanity more morally aware and gave us a sense of right and wrong that only God had previously.

17/10/07 9:22 AM  
Blogger Silvana said...

Regardless the fact that this articlue may or may not be telling the truth about Hillsong church, as a christian, it's hard to miss out the judgemental actitude of the writer. I can only see hatred in his words, not towards a sin but towards people. And you know, i agree with the Word of God, the most important thing, is LOVE. Sure we are to speak truth, and try to point out what is not right, but before doing that, first we should ask God, pray for guidance, etc. I can clearly see from this article, and what it reflects to my spirit, you have not done that, or even considered yourself.....
I hope Hillsong are doing things right, for they own sake. I know my God sees everything, and will judge everything we do, that's why i cry out for mercy everyday, for me and others....and believe He can change people, and uses every circunstance to my benefit....
Take care.....continue writing, but with a right heart, if not it's all the same....sins are sins....

17/6/08 9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...'s an interesting article.
I have been attending Hillsong church in Paris for three years now and quite frankly I think that for the most part the author is right...unfortunately, especially as far as glamour and smiles are concerned.
Anyway, we should put our focus on Jesus, spend time with Him and His Word because sooner or later we'll get dissapointed by the people.

6/9/08 4:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hillsong and the AOG, in gneral, are nothing but the re-emergence of the Montanist heresy.

23/1/09 8:26 PM  
Blogger justcheckin008 said...

I attended Hillsong in London a few times and was amazed at how much emphasis was put on tithing, it was right in your face. They used the scripture in Malachi (twice)about giving the "tenth" without any hint to the context of scripture or who it applied to. Malachi was written for the Jews, who through the Mosaic law were entitled to give the best of their best, or firstfruits, to the temple as part of their worship, but had given lame animals and poor sacrifices and God said he was not interested in their sacrifices any longer, he wanted their hearts to be pure. So he went on to say to bring a tenth into his storehouse out of a good heart and he would pour out on them a blessing. This is because God had withheld his blessing from the Israelites through their unfaithfulness, not their lack of tithing. So the whole scripture of Malachi was taken out of context. The tithing was for the upkeep of the temple of God in Jerusalem which was the centre of true worship for the whole Israelite nation. This was Gods direct command to them, and them alone, it was not a command to be applied to the Dominion, Tottenham Court Road's Sunday rent and pastor's salary, along with all the other church expenditure.

In the new testament, the apostle Paul clearly wrote to Christians that the Mosaic law was abolished through the sacrifice of Jesus, who paid the price for all our sins, and we are therefore no longer under the Mosaic law that the Jews had lived under. Otherwise we would have to be going up to Jerusalem at least once a year as that was a requirement by law, to celebrate the passover and also to carry out all the requirements of the law. The law was fulfilled in Christ and was no longer necessary for Christians to follow. As it is clear in scripture that the law has been abolished for Christians, that would also include tithing.

In the first century church, all money collected was exclusively for the poor, the widows and orphans, also for those in the congregations who were in need of charity. The apostles, such as Paul, Peter, John etc, did not receive a wage, but on occasions had their immediate needs met such as food and shelter, this was not a "wage" but a basic need satisfied, however they mostly had to fend for themselves. Paul himself was a tentmaker and often wrote that he did not want to be a burden on the congregations, so worked for his own needs when he could. Other times Paul and the apostles went hungry, thirsty,went around in rags, experienced floggings, shipwreck, imprisonment and generally had a hard time of it. This hardly meets up with prosperity teaching. None of the apostles were wealthy or successful, only successful in their faith. These are the examples the church should be looking to, not old testament tithing laws which they wish to apply to themselves.

You have to ask yourself if all this measures up to the way you see the Hillsong church in our day as compared to the first century church.

I have no intention of ever walking into a Hillsong Church again, I found it ear-tickling, totally manufactured for entertainment of the masses, and shallow, despite the good works they claim to be doing. Plus the emphasis on money, money, money. Go read your bible, read from Acts to Jude, do your homework and draw some comparisons, it won't take long for you to work it out for yourself.

16/2/09 7:46 AM  
Anonymous filipino christian said...

for me, hillsong church have inspired and strengthened each one's faith ti God...
may God bless those judgmental persons... May they realize taht they're wrong...
filipino christian

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Thanks for posting this story. This prosperity gospel is quite contradictory to Jesus' message of the suffering servant. I do believe that there are good Christians who attend Hillsong, but the church has become a business rather than a place of fellowship. Brian Houston will have to answer to God one day. I wonder what God will have to say.....?????

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