A friend on Facebook posted this today:
“Mark Driscoll is appearing at Hillsong along with Rick Warren, Jentezen Franklin, and Joseph Prince. Are you still wondering if there is a problem?”
I wasn’t sure what he was referring to but a 1 minute search on Google brought up the Hillsong Sydney 2015 conference:
Why yes, there is definitely a problem. Each of these men pictured above who lead churches have demonstrated non-orthodoxy either with their conduct and/or their theology.
But first let’s start with the venue, Hillsong Church.
Erin Benziger sums up the issue with Hillsong in this way:
Hillsong Church has been the subject of criticism not just for its seeker-sensitive, pragmatic methods of ministry, but also for its promotion of a form of the false Word Faith gospel. It is not unusual, in fact, for Hillsong’s massive conferences to feature prominent Word Faith leaders such as T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen. Below can be heard a critique of Brian Houston teaching earlier this year on the text of Matthew 7:13–14. This clearly demonstrates Houston’s ability to twist God’s Word beyond recognition:
And after the colon above there is a video demonstrating non-orthodox interpretations of the Matthew text.
Hillsong has also been the focus of financial scrutiny and official investigation.
Hillsong teaches word faith doctrines, prosperity gospels, and more. The church itself is not a solid church in that it can be said they consistently handle scripture incorrectly and teach unorthodox, non-evangelical teachings.
Todd Friel of Wretched Radio said, Be Careful of Hillsong. But he also said that if he was extended an invitation to go, would he go? He said if he was assured he could preach anything he wanted, and after telling the Hillsong organizers what he planned to preach if they still wanted him to come, he would. Why? Because Hillsong people need the Gospel. So are the preachers listed for the 2015 lineup solid preachers going with an intent to share the Gospel to a lost and wandering herd of sheep? No. Given the track record and long-term pattern of Franklin, Prince, Warren, and Driscoll, we cannot give that benefit of the doubt. Let’s take a look.
Joseph Prince is just purely, out and out, a false teacher. (source)
Rick Warren is a pragmatist, indeed, the description under his photo above lists him first and foremost as “a global strategist.” Warren is driven by fads and leads his church that way, prays to false gods, and fails to give the Gospel either totally, or at least clearly.
The issues with Mark Driscoll are so numerous they’d be impossible to list here on a short form, or even to list them all in one blog post. What I find most egregious about Driscoll’s unregenerate life are his demon trials, spiritual abuse, pornographic visions, plagiarism, and fiscal secrecy. To name just a very, very few.
I posted the above about the men Hillsong has invited to their conference to show that is not about a wayward word-faith church trying to correct its course by inviting good men to preach, it is about an unregenerate church inviting unregenerate men to unite their rebellious hearts and minds in darkness.
To this end, a series of scriptures came to mind that to me seem linked.
False Christians are proactive in their self-delusion. The seek out and purposely find false teachers who preach a message that appeals to their craven hearts.
The false Christians with itching ears heap up teachers to themselves so their itching ears can be scratched. (2 Timothy 4:3)
And the false teachers are not innocent bystanders either. They do what they do because they are greedy. (2 Pet. 2:14, 1 Tim. 6:5).
And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:3)
Therefore, seeing an opportunity for dishonest gain, the false teachers and false prophets seek out and gather the false Christians with itching ears who are rushing toward them.
“And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Luke 17:37)
Now, the Luke verse and its parallel in Matthew 24:28 is a difficult one to exactly interpret. The context is the Tribulation. Jesus is preaching the signs of the times and the coming of the Kingdom. It cannot be specifically applied to a situation of false Christians heaping up false teachers who in turn exploit the false Christians who are happy to buy their false products and listen to their false message. The Expositor’s Greek Testament says of the vultures verse, “If we connect it with Matthew 24:27 the idea will be that Messiah’s judicial function will be as universal as His appearance (Meyer and Weiss).” That seems to be the general meaning.
But what I picture in my mind when envisioning such a conference as Hillsong 2015, is a lot of dead people being picked over by vultures.
Sermon Bible Commentary explains the parallel Matthew 24:28 verse:
I. When a wild beast falls in the desert, or a beast of burden on the highway, there is no stir in the heavens [skies] for a time. But, far above human ken, the vulture is floating poised on his wings; and looking downwards his eye soon distinguishes the motionless thing—for he hunts by an eyesight unequalled in power among all living things, and like a stone he drops through miles of air. Others floating in the same upper region, see their brother’s descent and know its meaning. One dark speck after another grows swiftly from the horizon, and in a few minutes fifty vultures are round the carrion. That illustrates—and with astonishing power and sharpness—for the disciples had often witnessed such a scene—the suddenness, the usefulness and the necessity of judgment. Inevitable, swift, unerring, as the vulture’s descent on the carcase is the judgment-coming of the Son of Man to corrupt communities and corrupted men.
II. From all this we now infer the law of judgment. It is this: Wherever there is entire moral corruption then there is final punishment; wherever there is partial corruption, there is remedial punishment. God in His capacity as Governor of the world, as Educator of mankind, is bound to destroy corruption. It is necessary that the vultures should devour the carcase, lest it pollute the air and breed a pestilence. It is necessary that corrupted nations should be blotted out, lest they infect the world with evil which may delay the whole progress of mankind. And our own sense of justice goes with the destruction. Nor, when we are wise, do we think that such justice shows want of love. We know that the weak man who shrinks from exacting deserved punishment is often the most cruel when his own interests are touched; and we can trust ourselves in the hour of our trouble best to One whose justice we are so sure of, that we know that if our trouble was caused by wrong-doing He would make us feel that wrongness before He would relieve the trouble. S. A. Brooke, The Spirit of the Christian Life, p. 57.
It is hard to say who is more alive and who is more dead, this ever descending cycle of false Christians who are dead being the provision for the false teachers to feed on them, or the false teachers selling what the dead Christians want. It is hard to say where the vulture begins and their food ends or where the food begins and the vulture ends.
In Hosea 13:1 Hosea prophesies that Ephraim (Israel) used to be alive and exalted, “but he incurred guilt through Baal and died.“
In the New Testament we read of a similarly tragic situation.
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.“ (Revelation 3:1)
They look alive. But they are dead. They live, move, and breathe, but they are DEAD. The word dead in the Revelation verse is nekros, “unresponsive to life-giving influences (opportunities); inoperative to the things of God.”
So we see that an entire bunch of people can gather, sing praises to God, move, worship, wave hands, applaud approvingly, and be dead tot he things of God.
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And what do vultures do, but feed on the dead.
A warning to us all:
Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16)