A Blog by Steven Kozar
On July 6th, 2017, Brian Houston wrote an article for an Australian News site. In this article, he shows himself to be a "used car salesman" who is just pushing his Hillsong brand under the guise of being a pastor who cares about the entire country of Australia. Let's take a look at what he wrote and analyze it; Houston's words are in bold, and my comments will be in italics and in parentheses. -Steven Kozar
THE census results that revealed a small drop in the number of people calling themselves “Christian”, and less people identifying themselves as being affiliated with any religion, should be a wake-up call for the Christian church across Australia.
While these results were not unexpected, the census also showed the changing social values our country is facing including a rise in the number of people following the Muslim faith.
Again, this is not surprising, as it is clear that Australia’s immigration policies are having an impact on the texture and makeup of our society. Yet as a Christian pastor it does concern me that what I see as the foundations of our community — the values that bring us together — are being diminished, and the faith that has shaped our nation for so long is declining.
While many Australians are not practising Christians and value, as I do, the many different cultures that form our country, I believe the vast majority also want a strong sense of national identity and don’t want to lose those features that make us unique. (This appears to be an attempt to say to the non-Christians in his audience: "Hey! We're really nice; not like those Muslims. If you won't become a Christian, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me continue growing this Hillsong monster across the country; it makes us unique!")
At the same time, Australians are concerned at the extremism they see overseas and are fearful that recent events in Australia make us vulnerable to a similar path.
The Christian church can — and should — play a significant role in reshaping our national identity and providing Australians with hope, love, peace and faith. I am convinced that, just as Christianity was the solution to the greatest human issues 2000 years ago, so it is to this day. (This is one of many examples where Houston turns the Christian Church into a vague and charitable entity for the purpose of increasing brand acceptance to his targeted demographic. How, specifically, is the Christian Church offering a solution to the greatest human issues? What is the solution he speaks of? Who knows? He never proclaims the actual Gospel message. )
The recent census figures show that many Australians are understandably disenchanted by church child abuse scandals (This is coming from the guy who protected his pedophile father, Frank Houston) and the perceived irrelevance of formalised religion. At the same time we are seeing an increasing demonising of Christianity for holding firm to 2000-year-old biblical perspectives on societal issues such as sexuality, marriage and the inherent value of human life.
But are we witnessing the demise of Christianity and the church in our country? I don’t believe so. Despite these census statistics there are life-giving churches all over the country that are growing, youthful, and clearly meeting the very real needs of people. (Here's where Brian Houston defines his brand: Life-giving. Growing. Youthful. Meeting the Very Real Needs of People. No Old People Allowed. Take Your Hymnals and Your Wheelchairs and Just Go Away.)
The gospel message is timeless and should not be tampered with; but for the church, the methods simply must change to keep pace with society’s desperate cry for authenticity and a deeper meaning in life. The Christian message is one of love and acceptance, and must replace the sense of hatred, fear and cynicism that the world is experiencing at the moment. (It should surprise no one that Houston fails to articulate any Gospel message at all. "The gospel message is one of love and acceptance?" No Brian, that's the message of postmodern pop culture; that's the message of a spineless frontman trying to win the approval of the most gullible members of society. The Gospel is about how Jesus died on the cross to pay for the sins of mankind. If society is actually crying out for authenticity, as you claim, how is the Hillsong brand helping? By putting on even bigger spectacles in even larger auditoriums with even cooler "pastors," who have bad theology but dress like primping rock stars? THAT'S the Hillsong solution to society's deepest needs? Brian Houston IS the problem! Hillsong is a heavily-marketed corporate entity pretending to be a church, and hurting untold thousands of people with a false Gospel message.)
In my experience, as I engage with everyday Australians in cafes, airports, or shopping malls, people at large are not anti-God; they are anti hypocrisy, irrelevance, and ‘tired’ old religion that has compromised on issues of morality and Christian distinctives. (This is the Hillsong pitch: "You don't like hypocrites? Neither does Hillsong! You don't like 'tired' old religion? Neither does Hillsong! Wow, it sounds like our church is perfect for you, doesn't it?! Now, what's it gonna take to get you to drive this church off the lot today?")
We, the church in Australia, are stewards of a message desperately needed in these complex days. The good news of Jesus Christ is a message of life and hope and the New Testament points to a God who is for us and not against us. In a world of extremism, tension, hatred, horror and sheer evil, the Australian church, no matter what the persuasion, is desperately needed in this country. But are we recognising societal needs and focusing on bringing life-giving answers? Sadly, often the answer is no. People need community and a real sense of belonging. People need hope. You can live a certain amount of time without food — a lot less time without water — but we were never designed to live without hope. (Once again, Houston mentions nothing of the redemption that Jesus provided by His death on the cross. Instead, he tells everyone about the need for hope that we all share. Yes, we all need hope, but Houston is not providing real hope, he's selling the Word of Faith and New Apostolic Reformation bucket of bolts that takes money from people and gives them nothing in return. The "community" of Hillsong is not based on the true fellowship that the Christian Church provides, because Hillsong is not a real Christian Church. Btw, yes I know, I know, there are some actual Christians involved in Hillsong...)
People are tired of religion with form but without substance, with ritual but without relevance — that is what people are shunning. People are scared because of the evil we constantly witness on the news — in the name of religion. (Hillsong, like every cool new Mega-Church, claims to be "real" and "relevant" but those are just catch-phrases, and a growing number of people are abandoning these "churches," as they figure out that this is a bait and switch sales pitch. This is a marketing gimmick, and it works for a while, just like any multi-level marketing organization. Hillsong constantly hypes itself, uses hyped-up rock bands with laser light shows and has hyped-up "pastors" preaching a positive-thinking/prosperity message that tickles itching ears. And of course, it always contrasts itself against crusty old "religion." You don't like religion? Neither does Hillsong!...)
No matter what the denomination or name above our doors, the Australian church that believes in Jesus Christ, must show more commitment to the real issues. We must help people to find a sense of belonging, meet physical and spiritual needs, and speak life-giving messages that connect with people’s everyday lives. (So, Brian says that churches must "show more commitment to real issues." That's quite a sentence, coming from the master of hype, marketing and Prosperity Pimping. What does he leave out, again? The Gospel message. Jesus did not die on the cross to just help people "find a place of belonging," so we can "speak life-giving messages" of prosperity and earthly success. Oh wait, the Gospel message doesn't "connect with people's everyday lives," nevermind...)
With a 2017 worldview and a first-century message, the church in Australia will continue to be an active, effective, and dynamic part of the heart and fabric of this wonderful country. (This is a real audacious sales job; it's completely backward and upside down. This is putting a cheap, but shiney paint job on a broken-down rust bucket. A "2017 worldview?" What does that even mean? And he says that Hillsong has a "first-century message?" Really?? When did the first-century church use stadiums, rock bands with laser-light shows, TV shows and Word of Faith heretical teaching based on sorcery, selfishness and power-grabbing businessmen sporting perfectly groomed beard stubble in place of sacrificial and pastoral shepherding? When did the first-century church abandon the message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins and replace it with a Naked Cowboy?
When did the first-century church go to bars with pop superstars to down shots and start to take off their clothes? When did the first-century church have "pastors" like these? (yes, these are Hillsong "pastors"):
Let’s keep our distinctive traditions, Eucharist or biblical values but recognise the times we now live in and bring to people the answers they desperately need. (This sounds like a politician fumbling for words and desperately trying to come across as broadminded and knowledgeable while saying nothing of any substance. "Eucharist?" How does that even fit within that sentence?? Come on Brian, you can afford a good ghost-writer; I suggest you hire someone who can construct fully functional sentences.)
I’m a believer. The church in Australia has the perfect message for a deeply troubled world in 2017. We just cannot afford to make the methods more sacred than the message. (Translation: "We've got this giant Hillsong thing figured out, and I'm getting filthy rich as a result, so you better let us keep expanding like a giant blob of rancid bread dough across this great country.")
Read and research more about Brian Houston and the Hillsong Brand: The Brian Houston & Hillsong Cornucopia of False Doctrine, Abuse, Obfuscation & Money Generation
Here are a whole bunch of episodes of Fighting for the Faith where Brian Houston's "sermons" are compared to true Christian doctrine from the Bible: Fighting for the Faith
Tired of Mega-Church Mobsters and the Evangelical Industrial Complex? Read A Manifesto of Christian Discernment
One of the most common errors in the Pop Evangelical Church is the elevation of man (with its constant emphasis on our supposed "Destiny") and the depreciation of Jesus Christ and the great work He accomplished for us on the cross.
Here's a great little guest post from our Mitch Schultz of Fruitful Vine Ministry:
"There are two ways to read the Bible. To see what it says about us, or what it says about Jesus. Reading the Bible with you in mind leads to a self-centered, empty and meaningless pursuit. Some refer to this as narcissistic eisegesis. (Eisegesis reads yourself into the text while exegesis seeks to read what’s out of the text.) Reading the Bible with Jesus in mind is selfless and comes with unimaginable gain, Jesus Himself. Michael Horton claims that the Bible is not about us, it’s for us. The Bible is the story of Jesus, for us. God’s revelation of Himself through the pages of scripture is an invitation to know Him, and by knowing Him, discover ourselves. You discover yourself best when you seek to know Him first. The only way to truly discover yourself, sinful and in need of a savior, is to begin with Jesus.
There are plenty of preachers, too many, who approach the Bible looking to see what it offers to make life better and easier. Bryan Wolfmueller in his book, Has American Christianity Failed? refers to this as a moral reading of the Bible. Many take passages meant to relate a historic story, or serve as a type and shadow of Christ, and allegorize for today, thus promoting a theology for now never intended in the text. This is as futile as looking at a road map to try to understand what’s wrong with your car. We are not David, and Goliath is not our financial giant, easily knocked down by one stone called faith, or a second stone called prayer, a third stone call trust, a fourth named hope or that fifth called patience. (Yes, I actually heard it preached like that once.) The Bible was not written to help you lead a better, healthier more fulfilling life. It was written to know God, His commands, and by consequence to understand our problem, that we are hopelessly sinful and in need of a Savior. And in scripture God has revealed to us that Savior.
A right view of self leads to an encounter with Jesus on every page of scripture.
Several years ago I decided to read the Old Testament looking for Jesus in every story. The scriptures came alive. I’m not just permitted to do this, but instructed to. You remember Jesus walked with two men who seemed perplexed by all the events surrounding his resurrection. When their eyes were finally opened, Jesus took the rest of the journey, explaining to them how all scriptures prepared for and pointed to him. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:27) Think about it. Every story and every event in the Old Testament either was about Jesus, or pointed to him. Consider, too, these words from John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” (Note the contrast between using scripture for your own end – eternal life – instead of knowing him –bear witness about me.)
If the Bible is about Jesus, we should read it with him in mind, not us. If you read scripture as a way to live better, you’ll end up in a dark place, for the Bible paints a pretty dismal picture of man. If you really want to look for yourself in scripture, here’s what you find; “All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18). Clearly, to read the Bible looking for encouragement and personal affirmation, outside of Christ the Savior, is a pretty disappointing exercise.
It’s tempting, for example, and on the surface, logical, to go to passages where barren women received the provisions of a miracle birth and take that to mean God will meet you in all your equally barren situations. However, God put those stories in the Old Testament to point us to the most amazing, unbelievable miracle of all history; the impossible birth of Jesus to a virgin. Those stories, where barren women get pregnant, were meant to point us to the birth of Jesus, not to promise us that each time life gives us a short end of the stick, he will deliver. (Pun intended).
Recently, a famous female speaker used the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Mark 6 and took every point of the narrative to show what God will do if we give him the little we have, like the boy gave Jesus all he had. This story, though, has nothing to do with that. The moment the attention shifted away from Jesus to the boy, his two fish and five loaves, the speaker stepped onto a narcissistic, self-indulging path, and the story bogged down completely in a muddy and sluggish trap where we, not Jesus, become what the story is about. It’s a pitiful place to walk. It completely misses the whole point of the story, which Jesus quite clearly explains as the narrative expands.
A thorough and complete reading of this story tells us what this miracle was meant to teach, and it’s a story for us, not about us. Later in John 6:35 he explains that he is the bread of life. Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” The whole miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 was to teach that truth. Sandwiched in this story is another, often misunderstood and misapplied wonder work of Jesus. When the disciples left Jesus following the feeding, and were alone in a boat, a fierce and unexpected storm swept over them. In their panic they saw what they thought was a ghost, but it was in fact Jesus. That part of the story is not a place for us to turn when financial or health or relationship storms rock our world. This is a story about Jesus and his power over nature and his demand that we acknowledge him to be God, like Peter did. But it was also when the storm calmed that Jesus referred to the miracle of the feeding, pointing to their lack of faith in both instances. …for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.” (Mark 6:50-53) So the miracle of the feeding did two things: showed them their hardness of heart, their sin, and revealed himself to them as the bread of life, the one who came to save them by offering eternal life. This grand story was written to show his disciples that he is God, they are not – they are sinners – and that he came to offer eternal life. And his provision to the 5,000, and his great display of power over sin showed that he had the authority to offer that promise of eternal life.
The point of both stories, the feeding and the storm, was to prove that Jesus is the bread of life who promises eternal life to those who take him in (eat his bread) and that he has the power over death (calming the storm.)
The beauty of this approach is once we truly meet Jesus in this way, by making the Bible about him, not us, we get to bring ourselves, our problems and all life’s challenges to someone who is bigger than us, sovereign, just, good and fully in control. There is no guarantee he will resolve our current problem, but I didn’t go looking for that. I came looking for him and meeting him in the scriptures is enough.
When my son Travis was dying of cancer I rushed often to the story of Jairus who in Mark 5 pleaded for Jesus to heal his daughter. Now, I did not run to Jairus with my need, I ran with Jairus to Jesus. Honestly, I never expected Jesus to heal Travis like he healed Jarius’s daughter. I simply went to this passage to meet again the same Jesus who looks with compassion on his children and whom I trust has the right authority, the appropriate power and who can sovereignly give me, what he wants and bring me to that place where whatever the outcome, I will love him all the more. And I do.
There is great value in reading the Bible with Jesus in mind. You might not get what you want for this life, but it’s the way to truly meet him." -Mitch Shultz
Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted, Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone. -A.B. Simpson (1843-1919; founder of the Christian & Missionary Alliance)
(Mitch wrote "Part One" to this article last year)
Step one is essential: "Get in the loop!" What does this mean, you ask? Well, this thought pattern is almost everything you'll need to stay clueless within the confines of Postmodern Christianity. Once you start thinking this way, you'll never get out of "the loop." It goes like this:
"Mean, angry, narrow-minded and judgmental people are bad, and whatever they believe is instantly invalidated by the fact that they are judgmental, narrow-minded, angry and mean. I get to decide if, and when, they are mean, angry, narrow-minded and judgmental."
Once you're safely in this loop you won't need to carefully consider the truth claims of another believer with their precious little Bible verses. And, thankfully, you'll never have to learn anything about the theology and creeds that have been passed down for almost two thousand years. Remember, there are still old-fashioned Christians who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, and they are mean, angry, narrow-minded and judgmental. These dinosaurs want to conduct church the same old way and cling to antiquated beliefs that are out of step with today's social climate. You can easily ignore these people if you're "in the loop." Before you know it, you will have completely dehumanized them and-best of all-you'll never even realize that you've been the judgmental one all along!
To follow step two, say something like this: "That may be true for you, but it's not true for me." In days of old, this was only used for superficial matters, like one's preference of Mary Ann over Ginger. But nowadays this simplistic catch phrase serves a vital new purpose: it enables anyone to ignore God's Word with impunity. It used to be that a Christian couldn't just go around rearranging and reinterpreting the Bible, but now it's easy! You may substitute similar catch phrases like "I just feel like it's not wrong for me" or you can even quote that great Bible verse: "What is truth? asked Pilate..."
Step three, in case you haven't already figured it out, is this: Don't take the Bible very serious at all, just give it lip-service. I know, I know, this sounds extreme, but remember this is Postmodern Christianity. Postmodernity is a belief system that says that no belief system is true. It's absolutely certain that nothing is absolutely certain. The Bible is full of absolute truth claims, that's why it's so exclusive, hateful and out-of-date. However, you will still need to make reference to it on occasion, so it's good to have some overly simplistic proof-texts handy. "Thou shall not judge" is the all-time most popular proof-text, so feel free to use it as often as you want. Just remember not to read the entire passage in the actual Bible, otherwise you'll see what Jesus really meant. You can even misquote it like this: "Who are we to judge?" or "Only God can judge-that's not my job!"
The Bible has clear rules about what is right and wrong, so you will need to avoid all of that. Remember, people generally hate God's rules, so you need to stay on their side; instead, make those Bible thumping "traditionalist" Christians seem like the real problem, i.e. they're bad because they think they're better than anyone else. You must ignore the fact that true Bible-believing Christians don't think they're better than anyone else, they are simply pointing to the unchangeable truth of God's Word as the only ultimate authority. Furthermore, the Gospel itself is only "Good News" because Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins... and we couldn't even have sins unless we were guilty of breaking God's commandments... and since God Himself gave us His commandments we are clearly guilty and in need of a Savior.... do you see how this all falls apart if you start reading the Bible? You'll just turn into a regular Christian-ugh!
Instead of that, keep it simple and just say something like "I believe the way of Jesus is love" or "I believe God just wants everyone to be happy in their own way." Nobody's going to argue with that, right? For more ideas on how to misquote God's Word, just listen to any interview with Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones or any of the hip new emergent leaders. With a good dose of sincerity and direct eye contact (plus some emotional background music), you can say almost anything in the name of Jesus!
Finally, when in doubt, always prefer ambiguity over certainty and truth. Ambiguity is the magic glue that holds Postmodern Christianity together. What does this mean? I don't know, what do you think it means? Is it possible that the ambiguity of uncertainty is really just the context from within which our sense of community can emerge? I don't know, I'm just asking the question, because the beauty of relationship reveals itself through the self-discovery process, as we all find personal meaning collectively and individually. I'm not saying that anyone's version of truth is right or wrong; I'm just asking questions so that a dialogue can be established. Maybe there's a better way, a way where all of our collective narrations can form a cohesive, yet multi-faceted story. Maybe this new meta-narrative can lead us to a place where fear and hatred will be replaced by mystery, beauty, and ongoing book sales. A place with well-attended conferences and substantial speaking fees, a place of extensive radio and T.V. interviews and, ultimately, a regular guest position with Oprah. We must dream. We must hope. We must never reach any conclusions.
(See how easy this is?)
Now get out there and confuse everyone! You can do it!!
Here's a great episode of Fighting for the Faith to help you understand Postmodernism better: A Beginner's Guide to Post-Modernity
Check out this article (with a TON of links) from the Berean Examiner: Postmodern Christianity's End Game?
For a serious look at the "Emerging/Postmodern" church, please watch this extensive video:
For an extensive and serious understanding of Postmodernism please listen to this audio book from Professor Stephen Hicks:
(Thanks to the folks at Pyromaniacs for the memes)
Here's part three of a series of articles from Holly Pivec about her visit to Bill Johnson's Bethel Church:
Patricia King and Bill Johnson have much in common. Here's a brand new advertisement from Patricia King's XP Media Company that is selling Bill Johnson's useless $59.00 "class:"
For further reading and research on the very dangerous teachings of Bill Johnson:
Here's a brief guest post by Marcia Montenegro:
An article by John Pavlovitz about Rob Bell criticizes Christian critics of Bell for being unloving towards Rob Bell. I agree we should not be “unloving” towards anyone, including Rob Bell. But I think this is a "straw man" argument and serves only to make light of Bell's steady drift from the historic Christian faith. The article describes it as this:
"He deviated. He dared to ask questions. He challenged the status quo. He moved against the grain."
Bell went much further than just “deviating” and "asking questions." That was not the problem. What Bell did was question the truth of God's word as well as some major doctrines. In fact, I think Christians were slow to recognize problems with Bell, starting with his book, "Velvet Elvis." It took a long time for voices to be heard and even then, it was not that many. Yet Pavlovitz's article makes Bell sound like a victim:
"As so often happens in the modern Church, he was intentionally and mercilessly pushed to the margins of the Christian community, just a few feet from irrelevance. There he would be left to languish for a few months before hopefully dissolving into obscurity."
I don't think Bell was treated “mercilessly.” What happened is that as Bell continued his drift from sound doctrine, many churches and conferences no longer wanted to book him. Well, that is a consequence of Bell's choices and ideas. It's on him.
The article denies that Bell is “softening the Gospel” or denying orthodox doctrine. Rather,
"Bell’s been doing something very brave. Something many pastors overseeing churches in this country would never do, but many in their congregations wish they would do. He’s admitting the real questions that surface in the excavation of deep faith. He’s looking to separate what in this religion is of God and what is of people. He’s asking why we believe what we believe, and asking believers to do the same."
Bell's words and actions indicate a rejection of the Christian faith as delivered one for all to the saints. This is not being "brave." I have tracked this since “Velvet Elvis” through NOOMA videos and his recent participation with uber New Ager Deepak Chopra.
Serious red flags appeared in Bell's first book, “Velvet Elvis." For example, Bell gives a positive recommendation of Ken Wilber and advises his readers to take 3 months to read Wilber's book, “A Theory of Everything” (which I've read). Wilber, an admitted Perennialist, is a nondualist and the architect of Integral Spirituality, which is mostly based in Eastern spirituality (especially Buddhism). What Christian would positively point anyone to Ken Wilber, whose beliefs have influenced many to his kind of anti-Christian worldview?
There were other red flags in the book, including misinterpretation of Scripture, but Bell's advocacy of Wilber was the most startling and most disturbing to me.
The article continues to bring Bell's critics to task for “destroying” Bell. Again, I repeat that I am against any harsh or unloving treatment of anyone, and I admit some may have been this way toward Bell. However, any articles I read critiquing Bell were not harsh towards Bell but rather expressed grave concerns about Bell's ever-changing theology that was spinning rapidly away from sound doctrine.
Not only that, Christians were and are concerned with Bell's influence on the church and on younger Christians, and that concern has been validated. The Emergent movement, of whom Bell was a spokesperson and leader, has considerably damaged the church in such a way that those influenced now question absolute truth, the Bible as God's word (Bell denied the Bible as God's word years ago), that we can know anything for certain, the doctrine of hell, how people are redeemed, the nature of Christ (which is rather panentheistic in “Love Wins”), and other core beliefs of the faith.
This attack on Bell's critics reminds me of William P. Young stating, with no evidence at all, that critics of his book "The Shack," did not read it. It's a way to deflect attention from the author's theological problems onto those pointing them out. -Marcia Montenegro
Please check out Marcia's extensive website for more information: Christian Answers for the New Age
Here's a GREAT video that carefully examines the "Postmodern/Emergent Church" movement:
Here's a fascinating interview between Marcia Montenegro & Steve Kozar: Marcia Montenegro: Astrologer Overtaken by the Love of God
Check out the review of Rob Bell's new book on the podcast In Layman's Terms
Just for fun...
Here's another CCM Song Critique by Jorge Rodriguez at Faithful Stewardship. Please, please, please keep in mind that these articles are examining the meaning and theology of the lyrics-NOT critiquing the intentions or sincerity of the songwriters/performers:
I have a confession to make: I used to be a feminist.
You’d never think that if you looked at me now. I willfully submit to the authority of my husband, my pastor and the inerrant Word of God. The thought of being a stay-at-home mother when my husband and I are blessed with children fills me with joy, and I am highly satisfied with the vocation that I have been called to fulfill. So how in the world was I ever a feminist?
Let’s turn back the clock a few years…
It was the Fall of 2011, and I was entering my first year of college at a small Evangelical Christian University in the Midwest. I was young, nervous and impressionable. Never before had I been forced to defend my beliefs, my faith or even what I had in my lunchbox. To put it simply, I had grown up in a bubble of protection. Due to this, I had never come into contact with the harshness of reality and its many challenges. My goals and aspirations were filled with a zeal to help those around me. I was majoring in Music Education with the goal of teaching elementary school students. My hope was to help children discover the same comfort and healing that I had found through music. Actually, it was my over-developed sense of empathy and compassion that became the very snares that entangled me in Feminism in the first place.
With the invention of social media my generation has ditched private journals in favor of exposing their hearts to the entire world. So many of my friends and classmates created blogs to chronicle their struggles and triumphs at college. I felt the need to do the same. I chose the website Tumblr as my platform not knowing that I had just thrown myself wholeheartedly into a feminist stronghold. As I fell down the rabbit hole of Tumblr I was introduced to ideas I had never heard before. Shrodinger’s rapist, the gender pay gap, the evil patriarchy, rape culture, toxic masculinity, fragile masculinity, the glass ceiling, intersectionality, the male gaze, manspreading, mansplaining, the pink tax, safe spaces, LGBTQ+ rights and so on and so forth.
I was appalled at the perceived injustices that went unchecked. How could these things happen in a civilized society? How could I stay silent and not fight when my sisters were actively being oppressed? I had to help. To my credit, I had never heard these arguments or issues before. My parents had never taught me about such things because they weren’t issues we were faced with. My bubble of protection had shielded me from such rhetoric a little too well, and I quickly found myself in an echo chamber.
While I was drinking from the ideological firehose of Tumblr I encountered a completely different sub-sect of feminism at college. This is the hybrid known as Christian Feminism. A majority of my friends at school were just as curious about Feminism and the siren song of Social Justice as I was. In our quest to learn more, we found self-proclaimed Christian Feminists like Jory Micah and Nadia Bolz-Webber. Through them, we learned about the fight to break the stained glass ceiling, the sexism of the Apostle Paul and the abusive men who barred women from the pastoral office. I was hooked. Aside from being pro-life, I considered myself fully aligned with the goals of feminism and nobody could tell me otherwise. And then God sent two men into my life who challenged everything.
When I met Joshua Rosebrough on the dark and dreary night of November 17th, 2013, I had no idea what I was in for. He was funny, charming, witty, handsome and a bit eccentric, but what stood out the most was how confident he was in his convictions. While he showed me he was knowledgeable about Church history and Christian doctrine, he was not entirely familiar with Christian feminism. I quickly realized that he was NOT a feminist, but I was dead set on converting him. I didn’t know it at the time, but my beliefs drove him to plumb the depths of the internet for answers about feminist ideology. During the time we were getting to know one another, he began to ask questions about what it was I believed.
Feminists are not unfamiliar with controversy. Oftentimes those who openly oppose feminism don’t hide their disdain and are usually vying for a fight rather than an open and honest discussion. These interactions become less an intellectual conversation and more like guerrilla warfare. I had become so battle hardened in the trenches of the internet that I had begun to believe that those who opposed feminism had no compassion or love for their neighbor. It was this jaded mindset that left me utterly defenseless when Josh would ask me simple questions. It wasn’t so much the questions themselves that disarmed me but rather the way in which he asked them. He wasn’t trying to win an argument. He wasn’t trying to destroy me. He honestly wanted to know and understand my opinions.
As he continued to learn more behind the scenes his questions became more focused. We had made it a habit of civilly discussing our ideological differences, but then he started asking follow up questions that called everything I thought I knew into question. He had already won my trust and respect so I couldn’t openly dismiss his ideas. I had to defend my ideology, but the more I tried the more holes he poked in it. Before long the pillars of secular feminism began to fall one by one. Yet, I faithfully clung to the tenants of Christian feminism.
As my relationship with Josh grew I found myself regularly joining his family for dinner. I knew that his father, Chris, ran an online Christian radio station where he discussed popular preachers in the evangelical church. However, I had never listened to it myself. Much to my dismay, he would often joke about female pastors and openly refer to them as heretics. I was scandalized. What was worse was that he would quote the writings of the Apostle Paul. Didn’t he know that those were just cultural norms that had long passed their expiration date? How could he be so callous against women who had been called by the Holy Spirit into the ministry? I reluctantly resigned myself to the idea that if I continued to date Josh I would just have to endure his father’s bigotry towards women in ministry. I told myself that it was a small price to pay for a boyfriend who I really liked.
I began to do a little research on Chris Rosebrough and his infamous Fighting for the Faith radio program. The stories he covered seemed so outlandish that I thought they couldn’t be real, but they were. I was hooked. Listening to FFtF became a daily ritual, and the more I listened the more I learned. In the same way that my secular views had been shaken, I found my beliefs regarding Christian feminism being called into question. Time and time again Chris would cite the writings of the Apostle Paul and make the claim that women who called themselves pastors were in direct violation of scripture. The cornerstone of Christian feminism is to forcibly separate the writings of Paul from the ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus never explicitly forbade women from assuming the holy office of Pastor, but Paul clearly does in 1st Timothy and 1st Corinthians.
Listening to FFtF forced me to question my interpretation of scripture. Was it truly “God-breathed” as Chris loved to claim by citing 2 Timothy? Or was it merely a collection of antiquated writings that had long expired with their authors? The more I questioned certain passages, the more I found that reading to call the rest of Scripture into question as well. I had one of two options. Either it was all true or none of it was true. Chris kept dragging me back to the cross and pointing me to Jesus. I quickly came to understand that the authority of scripture was built upon Christ’s claim to be God in human flesh, a claim that He proved by dying and raising Himself from the grave. Based upon this criteria the only logical choice I could make was to affirm the authority of all scripture. Much to the chagrin of my feminist beliefs, this invariably included the writings of Paul. Since Scripture was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and Christ and the Spirit are part of the same Triune God, I could no longer claim that Christ was silent on the topic of female pastors.
My brain now knew that women couldn’t be Pastors, but my sinful heart continued to rebel. Why would God allow women to feel the call of ministry if they were never meant to be Pastors? How could He allow them to be hurt like this? In my confusion and anger over this issue I decided not to ask either of the Rosebrough men for guidance. I needed to discover the answer on my own. I scoured the internet for resources on this subject. Podcasts, books, articles and lectures began to consume my free time. I was starving for the truth. Eventually, I stumbled upon the doctrine of vocation as understood by Lutherans. This was my breaking point.
So much of evangelicalism is built upon the idea that good works done unto neighbors must be a grand gesture. People are constantly told to “change the world” through their works. Dig wells in Africa, build houses in Mexico, feed orphans in India and so on. What often ends up happening is that the immediate neighbors you’ve been called to serve around you are forgotten. While digging wells in Africa is legitimately a good work for your neighbor, it is wrongfully conflated as the best work you can do.
It was in this same line of teaching that I was made to believe that your feelings dictated to you what your calling or “Purpose” in life would be. I heard all kinds of lessons telling me that what you enjoyed and were naturally gifted with would show you God’s path for your life. Conversely, the Lutheran podcasts were saying that your neighbors determined your vocation. It went a little something like this. Do you have parents? Serve them respectfully and honor them as their son or daughter. Do you have a husband? Serve him faithfully as his wife. Do you have a wife? Serve her lovingly as her husband. Do you have children? Serve them by caring for their needs as their parent.
What’s even more beautiful is that the scriptures clearly outline what those vocations entail. Suddenly the path before me was clear. I didn’t have to travel to far off lands or magically pick the right career path to fulfill a shadowy dream destiny. I could serve my neighbor every day in a million different ways because my neighbor was already in my home.
Throughout my study of vocations I came to the realization that men and women have had very different vocations from the beginning of creation. Nowhere was this more clear than in the account of the Fall. When sin entered the world God did not give the same punishments to our first parents. Adam, like all men to follow, was cursed with toil and work, but Eve was cursed differently. Most people only remember half of Eve’s curse, namely the pain of childbirth, but she was also told that her desire would be to rule over her husband, but that he would be her lord. This difference in curse opened my eyes to a new possibility that my feminist ideals had never allowed me to consider. If men and women are cursed differently, then perhaps we are called differently as well.
As Christians, we are all called to die to our sinful flesh and serve our neighbor, but with different curses the sinful desires of men and women are different too. A man may sin against his neighbor and family by shirking his responsibility to teach and instruct them in the faith, but a woman can sin against her neighbors by taking that responsibility upon herself. Not only does she enable the man’s sin when she usurps his place, she is also succumbing to her sinful desire to rule over her husband. Instead, the woman who wishes to serve her neighbor dies to her sinful desire for power and influence, and then calls the men around her to fulfill their God-given vocation even though it is difficult.
Armed with this new understanding of vocation, I began to ask myself what the vocation of Pastor would entail. Thankfully I found again that I could turn to the Scriptures for the clear definition. 1 Timothy tells us that a Pastor “must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” While there are many women today who could easily meet many of these standards, no woman could ever be the “Husband of one wife,” regardless of what the world proclaims. If this passage wasn’t damning enough to the ideology of Christian feminism then 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 mercilessly drove the point home:
This passage is nothing short of kryptonite for Christian feminist doctrine. Rationally, this clear text should clear up any and all arguments on the matter, but the mental gymnastics of post-modernity knows no limits. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul easily refuted the modern argument that this mandate was nothing more than a cultural norm. The one phrase that so many pastors conveniently skip over are the words “As in all the churches of the saints…” This singular phrase was the final nail in the coffin. My argumentation that a woman’s desire to be a Pastor was God given was obliterated. A woman becoming a Pastor is nothing short of her succumbing to the curse in Genesis and blatantly disregarding Paul’s clear teachings.
Feminism claims that it doesn’t hate men but spent an awful lot of time telling me that everything wrong in the world was a direct result of their actions. I was told to be independent, and in my independence show the world that I didn’t need patriarchs in my life. I was told that they would domineer and control my life. Yet, thanks to these two patriarchs, I was saved from Christian feminism. They were kind. They were gentle. They lovingly told me the truth and showed me the grace and mercy of Jesus where I had none before.
Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for this patriarchy.
In the 1990's my wife and me had three young children and we were in financial trouble; my income as an artist was very inconsistent. We were invited to become Amway distributors by a family member who knew we were the kind of "go-getters" who could really "make things happen."
I was very skeptical at first, but I eventually gave into the promise of "multiple streams of residual income." In the late 1990's we heard (and fell for) "The Dream Destiny Thingy." This is years before it crept into (and devoured) much of the church. It's a bunch of assumptions that go something like this:
"God brought you here today for a reason; it's not an accident that you're in this meeting today. The reason you're struggling financially is because you don't have a dream-it's not because you don't have money! Once you have a big enough dream, the money will follow. Amway is just the business vehicle; this is really about changing people's lives by getting them to pursue their dreams."
They would pray in the meetings like this:
"Thank you God that you've given each of us the ability to dream. Help us to chase our dreams, discover our destiny and make a real difference in people's lives. In Jesus name, Amen."
We were taught about the power of using the right words to speak things into existence. We had to be positive all the time because being negative would attract negative results. (Years later, I would go on to research and refute this Word of Faith false doctrine.)
Large Amway conventions are the ultimate gig for motivational speakers and other performers, and most of the really big guns were there, helping to prop up the illusion that Amway was a great opportunity for anyone willing to work hard and stick to it. Zig Ziglar, Robert Kiyosaki, John Maxwell and other big name speakers have all done the Amway gig; people would even write books praising the Amway opportunity because they knew thousands of distributors would buy them; it was a built-in audience of niche consumers. I tried not to notice how none of these people making money by praising Amway actually joined up and became Amway distributors themselves.
But the best speakers in the Amway business weren't the "professional" speakers, they were the "regular folks" who worked hard and had made it to the level of Diamond (or higher). These "regular folks" would convince the socks off of anyone that you could make it happen. "You just need to really buy into the system and do everything your leaders tell you to do; your success is guaranteed!" "If your dream is big enough, the facts don't count!" The most convincing Diamond speakers would come from another organization and speak at your meeting to help you grow your business. "Wow, these people are so nice and giving of their time" you would think. Plus, they would always start by praising your leaders and telling you how lucky you were to have the leadership that you had in your own organization.
Eventually, I learned that all of these Diamond (and above) speakers were getting giant speaking fees. They weren't giving their time, they were selling their time. If you were getting $10,000 for an hour and a half speech, do you think you could praise whoever was writing your check? On top of the very convincing speakers, they had amazing videos with powerful music and emotionally charged stories to tear at your heartstrings. The use of multimedia was incredibly effective, especially in a stadium full of like-minded people who all believed.
We were even told that if you went to the next big meeting it "would really build up your belief." A more honest way of saying it would be "if you go to this big meeting you'll be convinced to stick around long enough for us to make money off of you for a little while longer because you'll be emotionally convinced that this business is great!"
This Isn't a Dream, It's a Nightmare!
In short, we spent 4 years trying to build an Amway business and lost about $40,000 in the process. We did everything we were supposed to do-everything!
- I know all about mind control techniques because I experienced them first hand.
- I know what it's like to be emotionally manipulated because I experienced it first hand.
- I know about turning the Christian faith into a vehicle that promises to make your dreams come true because I experienced it first hand.
On top of all that, we started going to a large "positive confession" charismatic church as a result of this new outlook on our faith. We prayed and prayed and prayed... and prayed: "God please help us build this great business so we can be financially free and help others..."
But God didn't answer. We had to figure out the hard way that we were being scammed.
You see, in most Amway businesses, all of the emphasis is on "the system," which had 3 components (called "tools"): Books, CDs and Functions. We would buy and read the positive self-help type books (a new one every month); we would buy and listen to a motivational CD every week (or more if you were really committed, like us), and we would buy a ticket to a different function every single month.
No matter what.
This is how they could build such large and compliant organizations. This is simply a type of thought-control. Some of the teaching was actually decent business/success type material, but overall, the system kept people in the business and in the dark. Sure there were always people quitting, but there were always new people to replace the quitters. And there was tremendous profit to be made on each and every book, CD and ticket; that's where the upline distributors were making most of their money. It was all in secret and a lot of it was cash under the table, so these hucksters weren't even paying tax on all their income. After the internet became popular, Amway's seedy underbelly couldn't hide so easily, and it has never gotten back to its original multi-billion dollar American heyday (much of Amway's growth has been in foreign countries in the past 15 years).
The Evangelical Industrial Complex has copied many of the very things that have worked so well in Amway:
Tell people that Christianity is all about getting your Dreams and realizing your Destiny. Check.
Tell people that having lots of money is a good thing that God wants for you (so you can help others, of course). Check.
Tell people to only listen to positive messages about success and prosperity. Check.
Tell people that they can speak things into existence because words have power. Check.
Ignore the people continually quitting and leaving, because they get replaced by new and different people just as fast. Check.
Get people to "experience life change" by learning self-help and relationship-building techniques, but don't emphasis repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Check.
The guy on the stage is making money off the people in the seats. Check.
The guy on the stage is promising you things you'll never actually get (in the name of God). Check.
After you don't get what you were promised you're told to have more faith and try harder (and buy the latest book). Check.
The visiting speaker (pastor) praises the local leader (pastor) and gets a fat speaking fee (plus sells his books in the lobby). Check. (handy tip: It's not a speaker fee if it comes from a "free-will offering")
Use music, lights and multimedia/video to emotionally manipulate like-minded people who desperately want to believe. Check.
Wait a minute, is this Amway or a Mega-Church we're talking about??
For further research on this topic:
FYI, Here is an excellent website with details about the Amway tool scam:
Also, just to be clear, I have no ill feelings towards those in my upline who were taken in by this "business" and who probably lost even more money than I did. God help us all. -Steven Kozar
The following quotes from Charisma Magazine editor Jennifer LeClaire are all real, except for one that is totally fabricated. Remember, Dr. Michael Brown fully endorses Jennifer LeClaire and has gone to great lengths to protect her from criticism. Have fun guessing, and we hope you don't get nightmares from reading this:
1. "I believe people can release witchcraft word curses against you. I more than believe it, I know it because my inbox is full of them every week. People curse me, my family, my ministry and more with the wicked words of their mouth—most of the times these are Christians. A witchcraft word curse from a Christian, I believe, is more powerful than any curse from a witch because a believer's words carry an anointing."
2. "New Testament prophets consumed with the spirit of Jezebel continue to release fearful death threats in the form of judgments and curses that are not from God. Ashtoreth and Baal were married. So these spirits often share one another's characteristics. We must discern what we are dealing with. The prophets of Jezebel were puppets, probably among her messengers of doom."
3. "The Holy Spirit showed me that we are entering a season of shifting atmospheres, because the witchcraft spirit of Jezebel is merging with the spirit of religion. It's time to get prepared for the prophetic battle that will enable us to secure God's victory, but we cannot grow weary and become complacent. Jezebel is more patient, most of the time, than we are. We can curse our victory before it is secured-by our negative words."
4. "There was a prophet-killing spirit on the loose that had successfully muted the voice of true prophets and turned them into spiritual eunuchs. Without any true power or authority of their own, eunuchs live vicariously through Jezebel and draw their strength from the approval of Jezebel-or more specifically those flowing in a Jezebel spirit-rather than the approval of God."
5. "After this squid spirit attacked my friend, I went to her home to help her battle it. The attack was severe, but when I laid hands on her and commanded the squid to be bound, the most violent symptoms would cease. Of course, when you stand in the gap, you often take a hit. That squid spirit started stalking me. I ended up with a migraine during the battle—a manifestation of that mind control spirit—and was attacked in my mind for days afterwards."
6. "The Holy Spirit showed me that many times witchcraft against your mind can cause you to focus so much on the symptoms attacking your body that you can't extend your faith to receive God's healing power. In other words, if you aren't careful, when witchcraft attacks your mind you will wind up speaking and thinking about the infirmity rather than speaking and thinking about your healing, allowing the enemy to maintain the stronghold."
Learn more about Jennifer Leclaire, Dr. Michael Brown and the "Sneaky Squid Spirit" on this fascinating episode of Fighting for the Faith: The Calamari Discord
For those of you who think it's mean and un-loving to criticize Jennifer LeClaire (or any other popular teacher) here's a list of Bible verses to consider: Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know.
Finally, here's an important article that will help you be more discerning and a lot less gullible: Defusing Demonic Dirty Bombs.
On May 5th, 2017, Dr. Michael Brown interviewed Jennifer LeClaire on his call-in radio show "The Line of Fire," and after the interview segment was finished Chris Rosebrough called the show to ask Dr. Brown some tough questions about Jennifer LeClaire and her "Sneaky Squid Spirit." There was a brief and interesting exchange between the two men.
I (Steven Kozar) wrote a blog post about the exchange where I said this about Dr. Michael Brown: "He's a hyper-charismatic cheerleader with a big microphone and a very gullible audience." (Here's the full blog post with audio of the "Sneaky Squid Spirit" exchange between Dr. Brown and Chris Rosebrough: Michael Brown Can't Defend "Sneaky Squid Spirit"-Repeatedly Changes the Subject)
Dr. Brown decided to make light of my quote and garner support from his Facebook friends by posting this:
I decided to comment on Dr. Brown's Facebook page and ask him some serious questions; here's a screenshot of my first comment plus a few more. I figured that as long as I might get through to a few Dr. Brown fans, I'd add two of my articles; by now some other people were starting to ask Dr. Brown some really good questions and make their own comments:
Chris Rice, A.K.A .The Museum Boy, really took Dr. Brown to task about the "Sneaky Squid Spirit." Also, notice how William George Metz's comment has been removed:
Here's where Dr. Brown responds to us; he starts with Chris Rice and really "steps in it" right from the start. His comment about studying God's Word (in Hebrew no less!) all the time is self-refuting: he's on Facebook responding to his own comments, but he says he studies God's Word (in Hebrew!) all the time. How can he write books, speak at conferences, host a daily radio show... when he's studying God's Word (in Hebrew!) all the time? Next, he says he went on Benny Hinn's show one time (but hey, haven't we all?) and anyway, how can he possibly have a clue what Benny Hinn teaches? Next he confirms his continued support for Jennifer LeClaire's "Sneaky Squid Spirit" saying that no chapter and verse in the Bible speaks against the Sneaky Squid Spirit, so who are we to question Jennifer LeClaire? Remember, Dr. Brown believes that a "Word from the Lord" is 100% from God, but it's not the "Word of God." Got it? (Neither does anyone else who isn't brain dead yet.)
We could finish the article right here, because he's already destroyed his own credibility, but he's going to "step in it" even deeper before he finally abandons ship and deletes everything.
First, let's think about what Dr. Brown says about the "Sneaky Squid Spirit." Brown says "As for a sneaky squid spirit, first, I haven't heard Jennifer's actual words; I only heard what Chris (Rosebrough) represented. Second, on the face of it, I can't say if it's false or true... Please give me a chapter and verse that tells me to say there is no such thing."
Chris Rice and I take about one minute to find and post a response with Jennifer LeClaire's ridiculous article from Charisma's website, the same website that Brown writes for. So Brown acts like he just doesn't have enough information (I guess he has not yet heard of "Google") and then he goes on to defend the Sneaky Squid Spirit because... (he actually said this): Scripture doesn't tell him that there's no such thing. Seriously, let that sink in for a moment. This man writes (many) books, hosts a daily call-in radio show and is the Grand Poo Ba of the College of Supernatural Wizardry or whatever it's called. Chris Rice rightly ridicules his idiotic argument by asking: "What's to stop me from saying there's a big purple demon named Larry who gives atomic wedgies? Under your standard I might be right, since the Bible doesn't speak against big purple demons named Larry who give atomic wedgies."
Dr. Brown digs himself into an even deeper hole by telling Chris Rice that he has to prove from Scripture that the Sneaky Squid Spirit isn't real. Really. Brown makes one of his craziest comments here: "There are many unusual creatures described in the Bible, so based on sola scriptura, I can't say either way." This is the ranting of a delusional person. This is so incoherent that it's breathtaking. Brown is basically saying, "because of sola scriptura (Bible Only) we should believe in something that isn't in the Bible."
Dr. Brown goes on to use a tactic that displays his lack of confidence in this conversation: he starts referring to other important scholars who have absolutely nothing to do with this Sneaky Squid Spirit discussion. I couldn't fit the whole exchange on one page, but here's most of it. Chris Rice has the last comment to which Dr. Brown doesn't reply to:
Now let's take a look at how Dr. Brown answered my initial comment (and he also responds as the older, more mature "bully" to Kevin Much's comment):
No surprise here: Dr. Brown brings up cessationism right away, even though I said this "has nothing to do with cessationism, but you always divert people's attention to that topic." I call this tactic "The Dr. Michael Brown Death Spiral." Crocodiles are not good at fighting on land, so they attack their prey in or near the water and drag them under. Then the crocodile starts violently spinning around under water, and quickly kills its prey. Dr. Brown wants to pull his "prey" into a cessationist battle whenever possible, because he's a highly skilled debater who knows how to "win" that battle. (Obviously, I'm not saying he's a violent person-I'm just using that as an analogy.) He then says "I rarely go after other believers on my radio show." Except for all the time he spends convincing everyone how terribly wrong cessationists are, that is. He brings up the Strange Fire book, and then tells me how he's been correcting errors in the charismatic camp for 40+ years. So he doesn't "go after believers" and he's really busy studying the Scriptures (in Hebrew!) all the time, but he's also been correcting a lot of errors in his own movement. I believe him when he says he's been addressing some errors, but the NAR movement (that he's right in the middle of) is a doctrinal train wreck, where any Christ-centered, Gospel-centric preaching is a rare exception.
Now Dr. Brown gets to the one thing he may have been entirely correct about: I don't know how much money Heidi Baker makes, and she may not actually be getting rich off the church. She's a really bad false teacher (for sure), but I honestly have no information about her income. Sorry if I lumped her in wrongly with the others, as I was lumping together a bunch of NAR people he has associated with and made general claims about all of them in my comment. It's very interesting that he ignored my comment about them all twisting Scripture and he didn't refute the idea that all the other people I mentioned were getting rich off the church. In fact, he didn't remove my article about Kris Vallotton being a prosperity preacher for the entire time that this post was public. My guess is that he knows most of these people are somewhat shady, but for some reason he doesn't say anything. He called my comment "libelous" but he didn't refute most of it, just the "Heidi Baker getting rich"part. By the way, I do wonder how Heidi Baker can be living such a "sacrificial life" among the poorest of the poor (in Mozambique, no less!) when she's also on the speaking circuit for much of the year...
Here's Heidi Baker doing whatever it is she does:
Before we go on to reveal more of Dr. Brown's blundering, let's talk about the little man in Dr. Brown's closet: Benny Hinn.
Dr. Brown has been avoiding, obfuscating and deflecting ever since he was on Benny's TV show. Here's the thing Dr. Michael Brown really hopes you don't know: he wrote a book against John MacArthur's book called "Strange Fire," which is a book packed with information about Benny Hinn. Brown's book was written specifically to refute the book "Strange Fire," it's called "Authentic Fire."
Do you think he read the book that he refuted? Of course-he had to read MacArthur's book!
Chapter 8 of MacArthur's book is called "Fake Healings and False Hopes" and it's largely about Benny Hinn. Here are some jpegs I took of the pages that refer to Benny Hinn and the false Word of Faith teaching he espouses:
Those are 17 pages with a lot of specific information about Benny Hinn. But Dr. Michael Brown says he doesn't know anything about Benny Hinn. He says it over and over and over. Oh, and by the way, chapter 8 has 69 different footnotes; lots of primary source information about the little man in Michael Brown's closet: Benny Hinn.
He really looks bad in this next comment to Martin Kantola; Brown says "I'm not here to defend or attack Benny Hinn. Next?" That's a combination of a bully tactic and a deflection tactic. Then Chris Rice asks him a similar question.
Then I specifically address the fact that he already knows what Benny Hinn teaches because he already read the Strange Fire book. Brown will attempt to answer me (without actually answering me) and then he'll delete my comment, and then just delete the whole post...
Here's Brown's answer to my comment. I went to bed and so this came while I was asleep; when I woke up my comments were gone, so this is a screenshot from my iPhone/email:
Basically, Dr. Brown ignores the essence of my question and says the same stuff he always says.
- "I'm too busy to do any research on any of the people I associate with. (But I'm a really great scholar and expert for 40+ years.)"
- "It's not my calling to be a 'heresy hunter' so I don't have to obey the Bible's clear instructions to 'test the spirits' and 'hold fast to sound doctrine' and 'exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict' and 'remove the evil person from among you...'" (Find these verses and many more HERE)
- "Since I am unable to do lots and lots of research, I, therefore, can't do any research. Not even 15 minutes of research."
Here's a screenshot of him going to great lengths to explain how he can never watch or read anything anyone sends him (Una Carapleades was asking Dr. Brown to watch THIS 15 minute video):
Dr. Brown also had a dialogue with Amy Spreeman, and his tactics were the same. Let's take a look:
Here's how Dr. Brown responded to Amy:
Dr. Brown is very clear that he supports the people that we were bringing to his attention (some more than others); especially people like Heidi Baker, Jennifer LeClaire and Bill Johnson. He then goes on to say that we are the real problem. Amy asks him a more specific question before he gives his last reply to her (sorry for the low-resolution jpeg, it's all I could get):
Wow. He ends by saying "Again, I am NOT here to say whose ministries I like or do not like." This is a classic straw man argument; nobody asked him to tell us which ministries he "likes" as if we were chatting about our favorite flavor of ice cream! He can't say "I refuse to compare the teachings of these people to Scripture" because then he would be in big trouble, so he makes it sound like this whole discussion was about expressing personal preferences over minor issues. Dr. Brown gives many excuses, but the end result is that he knows and approves of certain people and you just have to trust him.
Dr. Michael Brown refuses to look at any information that might threaten his currently held beliefs-he even tries to hide that information from his followers. But he wants everyone else to read his books and trust whatever he says. He suggests that if a video shows really bad things about one of his friends it must be a "misleading compilation." So when these false teachers say ridiculous and heretical things on video (from their own Youtube Channels and TV shows) it makes no difference.
Dr. Brown's entire post was deleted in the middle of the night. All of his followers were spared from having their great leader exposed as a man full of contradictions and excuses. A few days later, Dr. Brown wrote a new post all about "heresy hunters" and this time he was quick to block me from commenting after just 13 minutes.
I was able to make a few comments before my comments were removed and I was blocked (special thanks to Jeff Klock for his amazing comments!):
Here are two more intelligent comments that Dr. Brown quickly deleted (and there's good old Jeff Klock, "defending" Dr. Brown some more):
Here's how he treated Phil Johnson on Twitter around the same time:
Hopefully, the people who truly want to be discerning Bereans will find all of this information helpful. If all you ever see is Dr. Michael Brown's highly controlled Facebook feed (Twitter is similar), or if all you ever listen to is his highly controlled radio show, you're not getting the full picture.
It's time to stop listening to this man and return to a careful evaluation of everyone's teaching against the only trustworthy standard: God's Holy Word-The Bible.
Postscript: Dr. Brown is now busy telling his gullible listeners on his Line of Fire radio show that critics demanded he "condemn Jennifer LeClaire to Hell." This is yet another strawman argument. Nobody told Dr. Michael Brown to condemn anybody to Hell. Of course, his audience might believe him, since he deleted what we actually said. He also wants his gullible listeners to think we're "anonymous bloggers full of hate; religious Pharisees" you know, me, Amy Spreeman, Chris Rice and Chris Rosebrough, Phil Johnson, Marsha West, Anthony Wade... anonymous. He also claims that Jonathan Edwards would support the NAR/Signs & Wonders/Hyper-Charismatic movement. “And yet some people actually imagine that the revelation in God’s Word is not enough to meet our needs. They think that God from time to time carries on an actual conversation with them, chatting with them, satisfying their doubts, testifying to His love for them, promising them support and blessings. As a result, their emotions soar; they are full of bubbling joy that is mixed with self-confidence and a high opinion of themselves. The foundation for these feelings, however, does not lie within the Bible itself, but instead rests on the sudden creations of their imaginations. These people are clearly deluded. God’s Word is for all of us and each of us; He does not need to give particular messages to particular people.” -Jonathan Edwards
Here are more articles and videos to consider (with many more links):
Dr. Michael Brown probably doesn't want you to listen to this episode of Fighting for the Faith: Calamari Discord
Many people are leaving the New Apostolic Reformation/Signs & Wonders/Hyper-Charismatic churches and telling their stories; you can read about them here: Leaving The NAR
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
— 1 John 4: 1
“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”
— 1 Corinthians 14: 33
“An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?”
— Jeremiah 5: 30-31
“And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord has not spoken.”
— Ezekiel 22: 28
“Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity
to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you oracles that are false and misleading.”
— Lamentations 2: 14
“For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”
— Matthew 24: 24
If you want to tickle itching ears with a prosperity/Word of Faith message it helps if you can talk out of both sides of your mouth. Vallotton is an expert. He begins his article by saying:
"Do you know that God wants you to be wealthy? It may be contrary to what we’re usually taught in the church, but I believe that wealth is a sign of God’s blessing in your life, and it’s how we are made to live as children of the living King! Think about it, if your Dad rules the world, then you are royalty on this earth and have access to everything He has access to."
This is the same old Word of Faith/prosperity Gospel that has ruined millions of lives around the world, right? But then he says this:
"I want to make sure you’re understanding that I’m not talking about being rich. Although fruit of a wealth mindset is living in abundance, wealth is much bigger than simply having a lot of money."
Wait... I thought he just said that God wants us to be wealthy? This is where he starts talking about a thing he calls a "wealthy mindset." So is this about monetary wealth or isn't it? Yes. No. Depends on which sentence you read. Vallotton then says this:
"Wealth is a “can do” attitude, a “more than enough” mindset, and a “nothing is impossible” belief system. How do you know the mark of a wealth mindset? It displays itself through radical generosity, extraordinary compassion, sacrificial giving, and profound humility. Wealth is always thankful, never jealous, doesn’t brag, celebrates others and looks to the future with hope."
Doesn't that last sentence sound kind of like a Bible verse? Only the Bible uses the word "love" where Kris Vallotton uses the word "wealth."
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
— 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
Why in the world is he exchanging the Bible's clear teaching about love for a make-believe statement about wealth? Because Vallotton (like his buddy, Bill Johnson) is just another prosperity preacher. He doesn't care about mixing up words or teachings; he's got an agenda. He then goes on to list 8 things to determine if you have a poverty mindset or a wealthy mindset:
1. Poverty lives for today, wealth leaves a legacy.
2. Poverty finds a problem in every opportunity; while wealth finds an opportunity in every problem.
3. Poverty feels entitled, while wealth feels empowered.
4. Poverty fears the future, while wealth makes history.
5. Poverty blames others for their condition, while wealth takes responsibility for things that aren’t their fault.
6. Poverty asks, “What are you going to do for me?” Wealth asks, “Who is worthy of my investment?”
7. Poverty hangs around with other disgruntled people who validate their accusations. Wealthy people surround themselves with other powerful influencers.
8. Poverty votes for candidates that increase their entitlements. Wealth elects officials who will sacrifice today’s comfort for tomorrow’s children.
Although Vallotton's teaching doesn't make it clear which comes first, a good attitude or a big pile of money, he is clearly teaching that wealthy people are better people. Wealthy people have good morals and good attitudes. Does the Bible teach this?
“Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.”
— James 5: 1-5
After he tells his readers to carefully consider his 8 points, he says this:
"I know that God wants to encounter you in the way you think about his abundant provision in your life! Invite Him in to speak to you about the ways He wants to pour out His resources in your life."
So, now that you know (for sure) that God wants you to be wealthy, you just need to invite God into the situation. God wants you to be wealthy, but His hands are tied until you do your part. For the icing on this heresy cake Vallotton takes a Bible verse and mangles it to be about our need to have a wealth mentality; he concludes with this:
"As it says in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” I believe God wants to transform the way you think about this topic!"
Kris Vallotton actually wants (gullible) people to believe that Romans 12: 2 is about how God wants us to be wealthy, but we need to change how we think in order for this to happen.
The problem with this world is that nobody wants to be wealthy enough, so God wants to transform how we think about it??
News flash for Kris Vallotton: When the Bible tells us not to conform to the pattern of this world it means this: Do not conform to the pattern of this world!
Here's Kris bragging about his new sports car on Facebook:
2 Peter 2:1-3 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
Romans 16:18 “For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”
2 Corinthians 2:17 “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”
The day after Kris Vallotton posted this article Benny Hinn was all over the news, because federal investigators were searching his offices. Benny Hinn is a huge prosperity preacher and Kris Vallotton is following in his footsteps. Hinn was an honored guest speaker at Vallotton's Bethel Church earlier this year. Here's Benny Hinn and Vallotton's co-pastors, Bill and Benni Johnson:
Here's another CCM Song Critique by Jorge Rodriguez at Faithful Stewardship. Please, please, please keep in mind that these articles are examining the meaning and theology of the lyrics-NOT critiquing the intentions or sincerity of the songwriters/performers:
Two of America's biggest and most influential Evangelical megachurch "rock star" pastors have officially jumped the shark and joined forces with full-on "prosperity pimp" Bill Winston.
These guys pass themselves off as Bible-teaching pastors, but they have proven (yet again) that it's all about the money. Word of Faith teaching has no place in a real, Christ-centered, Christian church.
Here's an article about this pathetic excuse for "leadership" and "business training" from our friends at Pulpit and Pen:
For an extra-large dose of irony, here's a full-page advertisement from Christianity Today Magazine (May 2016) from the (poorly named) Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability:
"You can trust us! Why? Because we took out this expensive ad that says you can trust us!"
Bill Winston, Steven Furtick and Craig Groeschel do NOT want you to read this: Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know!
Here's an absolutely fascinating interview with Benny Hinn's nephew, Costi Hinn. Costi went from being an insider in his world-famous uncle's ministry to being just a "regular" Bible-teaching pastor. Please listen and share this episode with your friends who need to hear the real Gospel message!
His Twitter handle is: @costiwhinn
Here are some of the articles that were mentioned in this podcast:
Charles G. Finney (1792-1875) was the father of "Revivalism" in America, the most prominent preacher of the Second Great Awakening, and in many ways the father of modern Evangelicalism in America. He is often considered the predecessor of American Evangelists/Revivalists like D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday and Billy Graham. He was a successful lawyer who became a Christian as a young man and decided to use his considerable powers of persuasion to begin preaching, in spite of having little theological training.
If you've ever heard a preacher give an impassioned, emotionally manipulative sermon that ends with an irresistible plea to come forward and somehow make a decision to become a Christian, you've witnessed the lasting impact of Charles Finney. If you've ever felt that the church was ineffective in building God's Kingdom and what we really need is a big 'ole revival, you've been influenced by Finney.
In overly simplistic terms, Finney was guilty of a form of "Pelagianism," which means he over-emphasized man's free will so much that the sovereignty of God (and God's ability to save) was virtually ignored. Finney believed that Christians could accomplish God's work by simply using their determination, so much so in fact, that he practically left God out of the equation:
"A revival is not a miracle according to another definition of the term "miracle” — something above the powers of nature. There is nothing in religion beyond the ordinary powers of nature. It consists entirely in the right exercise of the powers of nature. It is just that, and nothing else. When mankind become religious, they are not enabled to put forth exertions which they were unable before to put forth. They only exert powers which they had before, in a different way, and use them for the glory of God. A revival is not a miracle, nor dependent on a miracle, in any sense. It is a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means — as much so as any other effect produced by the application of means." -Charles Finney, (Lectures on Revival, Lecture 1, 11)
Worse than that, was Finney's unorthodox view of the atonement of Christ. Finney didn't believe in the substitutionary atonement, instead he believed that Christ's death on the cross was simply demonstrating obedience to God. Since Jesus was obedient enough to go all the way to death on the cross, we should do likewise. Christ didn't so much accomplish something on the cross (pay for our sins) as He was setting a good example for us to follow. This alters the meaning of the Gospel completely! This view of the atonement is usually called the "Moral Influence" theory. Not only did Finney believe that the "moral influence" theory of the atonement was the chief way of understanding the cross; he explicitly denied the substitutionary atonement, which he said:
"assumes that the atonement was a literal payment of a debt, which we have seen does not consist with the nature of the atonement ... It is true, that the atonement, of itself, does not secure the salvation of any one" -Charles G. Finney (Systematic Theology p.217).
If you've ever felt worn out and frustrated by the "do more, try harder" version of Christianity, this shocking news about Finney's beliefs might help you to understand what has gone wrong in much of American Evangelicalism.
The following articles and videos are from various writers, theologians and pastors who all agree that Charles G. Finney had a number of very questionable beliefs, and it would do the church much good to carefully consider how Finney's ideas contrast with Holy Scripture.
Read this amazing first-hand account from a homeschool mom who dared to confront the hyper-charismatic superstar, Todd White:
Read more about this false teacher:
Todd White is part of the New Apostolic Reformation: The New Apostolic Reformation Cornucopia of False Doctrine, Dominionism, Charismania and Deception
For those who think it's mean, judgmental and un-loving to criticize Todd White (or any other popular teacher) here's something just for you: Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know.
If you're having a knee-jerk reaction to try and defend Todd White, check out: Confirmation Bias: Why You Are Protecting Your False Beliefs.
Finally, here's an article that will help you be more discerning and a lot less gullible: Defusing Demonic Dirty Bombs.
Our "fearless friend," Elliott Nesch, took two of his children and went to visit Elevation Church a few months ago; this is the article he wrote about that experience:
For further reading and research:
The "attractional" church model is so common that it's practically the norm; most Christians have assumed that it is the only valid way to "do church" nowadays, or they don't even know that other legitimate options exist. What is it? Simply put, this model of church starts with the idea that "normal" church is unattractive and can't bring in new people, so exciting new ideas must be implemented in order to get people in the door. Once people show up for the attractive and entertaining aspects, they'll eventually hear a gospel message and they'll "accept Jesus in their hearts" (or something to that effect).
This philosophy makes a number of assertions and assumptions right from the start:
- The needs and sensibilities of the unbeliever should determine the strategy of the church.
- All of the churches in history (up till now) were doing it wrong: too old-fashioned, too boring, too stiff, too negative, too much doctrine, too ritualistic, etc.
- People would be glad to go to church, but it's just too "churchy." All we need to do is tone down all the religious stuff, make it fun and "relevant" and people will show up.
- A church should focus on meeting people's needs through "life skills," "success," "psychological therapy" and "leadership" training, and it should help it's members become "purpose-driven" people who can "accomplish their destiny." A church doesn't need to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins anymore; or if it does, it must radically alter the language to appease unbelievers.
- Numerical growth is proof of God's blessing; lack of numerical growth is proof that God is not involved.
- In order to build the church, God needs "vision-casting" pastors, and these pastors must then command their followers to do the work required by the "vision" that God gave them.
Robert Schuller (1926-2015) is probably the man most responsible for establishing the Attractional, Seeker-Friendly, Purpose-Driven church model; although a case could be made that Henry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969) really laid the foundation. Schuller removed many of the "negative" aspects of Christianity like Christ dying on the cross to atone for our sin, hell, God's anger and God's wrath; and replaced it with the Positive Thinking philosophy he borrowed directly from his mentor, Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993). Here's an article with more detail: Robert Schuller and The Seeker Sensitive Church-The Roots and Fruits of Robert Schuller's Version of Theological Liberalism by Bob DeWaay
At a very fundamental level, Schuller believed that because modern people didn't care about their eternal salvation anymore, the church should reach them by appealing to the things that did matter to them; things like their self-esteem and their earthly success and happiness.
After Schuller established the Crystal Cathedral and his T.V. Show "The Hour of Power" there were two young pastors who took his ideas and implemented them on an even larger scale: Bill Hybels and Rick Warren. Both of these men learned about growing a church directly from Schuller when they were starting their new churches. Although Schuller was often viewed with skepticism by many Evangelicals (because he had so clearly altered and reduced the Gospel message), both Hybels and Warren have maintained more mainstream reputations as genuine Evangelicals and have escaped much scrutiny. But when examined more carefully, the Mega-Church/Attractional model they brought to full fruition in Willow Creek Church (Hybels) and Saddleback Church (Warren) is not really an orthodox, Biblical Church; it's a strange hybrid that ends up creating more problems than it solves.
Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, attended Robert Schuller's "Institute for Church Growth" in 1979 while Warren was in his last year of seminary. In a 2002 interview for Christianity Today Magazine, Kay Warren said this of their visit to the institute: "He (Schuller) had a profound effect on Rick. We were captivated by his positive appeal to non-believers. I never looked back." (Christianity Today, Nov. 18, 2002) Rick Warren, however, has been strangely silent about the obvious influence that Schuller has had on him.
A big problem with the Mega-Church message is that it's a watered-down and neutered message. This Christianity is focused on meeting the "felt needs" of people, but the Gospel message is about how Christ gave His life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. He didn't die on the cross to give us purpose or make us successful. The true and complete Gospel must be preached so that people can hear the Word of God and can understand the weight of their sin; it's only from that point that people have the opportunity to repent and have their sins forgiven. In the worse case, "Mega-Church" scenario, the message confuses people into thinking that becoming a Christian is simply "accepting" Jesus so that He can make you more complete, or more satisfied. As an example of this, Rick Warren had a chance to preach a gospel message to a gigantic audience at a TED Talk in 2008, but he choose to preach a feel-good, non-Christian message instead:
One of the most striking characteristics of the Attractive, Seeker-Friendly church is the constant emphasis on LEADERSHIP. This is not surprising, since much of the philosophy behind this church model is not based on the Bible-it's based on business principles. The non-Christian business guru Peter Drucker (1909-2005) has probably had more influence on this idea of church than any single pastor. Read: Peter Drucker's Mega-Church Legacy. Both Hybels and Warren refer to Drucker as their primary mentor. Here's a quote from Bill Hybels book "Courageous Leadership" that clearly portrays his near-idolatry of leadership:
The following articles are from various people coming from various theological backgrounds who all agree that the "attractional" "seeker-friendly" "purpose-driven" church model should be reconsidered:
The following video from our friend Elliot Nesch, is probably the most careful and comprehensive examination of the mega-church model available on the internet. This is three hours of very important material; every Christian should watch this (and then watch it again!):
The following two videos are based on the excellent "White Horse Inn" radio program: