Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Message For Troy - Hillsong And The Gospel They Preach

Troy, who has commented previously on this blog, insists that Hillsong do faithfully preach the true biblical Gospel. When pressed to provide some evidence (in response to the mountains of evidence to the contrary) nothing has been forthcoming. Instead Troy asked for some clarification. He wrote:

Hi Cameron,

Would like you to clarify a few things. You said:

"I have heard many sermons by Brian Houston and Hillsong conference guests over the years and I am yet to hear a Gospel presentation that is faithful to what I outlined..."

This is the outline you're referring to:

"At the fundamental level, any Gospel presentation should include these five elements:
1. An explanation of The Holiness of God - His character and nature.
2. An explanation of man's depravity - define and explain sin.
3. The necessity of judgment - heaven and hell are real places where real people go - that God is bound by His character and nature to punish sin.
4. Christ's atoning work and resurrection - that Christ fulfilled the law that sinners break, and took God's wrath on the cross in the place of sinners and that the resurrection verifies God's satisfaction with Christ's payment.
5. The call on all men everywhere to repent of their sin and believe the Gospel."

Do you believe that unless someone is taken through all five of your points they are/will not be saved?

So for example simply saying "Jesus I need you, forgive me for my sin, I give you my life, you are my saviour."

Would someone "be saved" after saying that prayer? Or would God say "pretty close, but not quite..."

What about Romans 10:9:

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

Does simply believing in your heart that Jesus is Lord and confessing that God raised Him from the dead, make you saved? That's what it seems to say here.

What if a person is alone and does not have someone to take them through the "five points", but in a moment of desperation cries out to God, and their life is forever changed? I've heard many stories of this type of encounter where someone meets Christ.

What are your thoughts? Is it the "five points" or you're not in, or can you be saved with out being so specific?


Dear Troy, I have never said that it is the Gospel presentation that saves people. It is God Who saves - not a salvation prayer (which is something Pastor Joel doesn't seem to understand). My point to you and Joel has never been that we can get a right formula that will save people. Salvation is a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit where He regenerates an "enemy of God" who is "dead in sin" (Ephesians 2:1) into a "new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ezekiel 36:25-27, Ezekiel 37:1-10)) who loves Him and trusts in Him for forgiveness of sin and His righteousness. Please read my series called Anatomy of the Gospel.

But God chose the foolishness of preaching (1 Corinthians 1:21) as the means of proclaiming the Gospel and we are responsible to get it right. I never said that people could not get saved at Hillsong nor that there aren't Christians attending (though genuine conversion is never cultivated in a place where the Gospel is never preached). Read Galatians 1:8-9 tells us that it is a damnable offense to preach any other gospel than the one he preached. Leaving my five points aside for a moment Hillsong's preachers violate their own doctrine statement when "presenting the gospel" in their failure to preach repentance (their faith statement says that you must repent of your sin in order to be saved). And when is repentance from sin preached at Hillsong??? It is a disgrace that they have such disregard not only for the clear teaching of Scripture, but also for their own doctrine statement (which is correct on this point). Furthermore, since the cross is about Christ taking the wrath that we deserve in the place of sinners - how can you explain the cross without preaching about God's wrath - when is God's wrath ever preached at Hillsong? How can you preach forgiveness without what you are forgiven of (sin). How can you preach salvation without preaching what you are saved from (damnation). I will stop there but I hope you get the point.

As for Romans 10:9, the belief described there is a repentant belief or faith. Scripture is clear that turning to Christ in faith involves turning away from sin.

When God graciously saved me as a biblically illiterate 20 year old I was certainly incapable of theologically formulating the doctrine of justification. But I clearly understood that I was a sinner with nothing to offer God. I knew that my salvation depended solely on the completed work of Jesus Christ. I clearly understood that my human works played absolutely no part in my redemption. I also clearly understood that my human works (or wickedness) were the main reason that I needed a Savior to rescue me from the damnation that I deserved. The issue is not our ability to formulate the doctrine of justification, it is whether we are trusting Christ's completed work alone, by faith, or trusting any other system that involves even the smallest level of works righteousness. And to consciously teach any view of justification that involves any degree of human achievement is a damnable offense - including the idea that our salvation hinges on a human decision/salvation prayer rather than a miraculous work of God. It is the reason Paul wrote to the church in Galatia.

Likewise, we might not understand all the inner workings of the doctrine of the atonement. But we do need to understand that the cross Jesus died on is what we all deserve. Remember these words:

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:39-43)

Here we have a criminal who is most likely uneducated and lacking a deep working knowledge of the theology being played out on the cross beside him. But he does know that he is evil and deserves wrath. He does know that Christ is fully righteous. He does know that he has nothing to offer the Lamb of God. He does know that his only hope is to completely humble himself as a wretched sinner and beg the Savior for mercy. And it is to these that God grants pardon!

Thus says the LORD: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:1-2)

It is here we get to ground zero. In order to be saved we must respond in repentance and faith. And different models of atonement elicit different responses to the Gospel. We don't hear the thief thanking Jesus for identifying with the pain of his human experience. We don't hear the thief calling out as a poor victim of Satan awaiting his rescue. We hear a thief who sees his own enormous guilt. We hear a thief who sees the righteousness of the Son of God. And we hear a thief crying out in genuine repentance, trusting in the One Who was heading for His throne. Jesus did not come to provide therapy for victimized people. He did not come to feel the pain of hurting people. He did not come to coach untrained people. He came to save sinners - even really bad ones like me!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's anonymous again. I read your response to Troy.

You said in your blog (I am now quoting) "Troy, who has commented previously on this blog, insists that Hillsong do faithfully preach the true biblical Gospel."

Where does Troy insist that Hillsong faithfully preaches the true biblical Gospel? Are you not twisting words here. I thought all he asked was a question.

Coming to your newer post now... if then the Salavation Prayer / Gospel presentation is not the way people get saved (to which I agree) and it is only God who saves then why did you come with bullet points for the Gospel to be presented. I just don't understand where you are going with this.

My question now to you is am I saved or not? I believe I am but you are indirectly inferring about the points and making me feel down. Not just me, trust me Cameron, 100s like me feel down when they read such things. Do you know how difficult it is to be a Christian in a Muslim country? Aren't people's testimonies more of an evidence about Gospel than the way it is presented (which I think you agree to). Then I don't understannd what in the world is the purpose of all the 6 blogs and this kind of character assasination on people or organisations which has played a part in us getting saved.

Do you think by reading your blog people like me are getting enlightened or being put down? A muslim friend who knows I am a Christian is the one who pointed me to this blog defending what he always said "Christianity is a scam".

I don't know Cameron I just don't understand your blog and your reasoning. If it had any thickness to it I and many other's would not have felt let down. I for one particularly feel let down because Brian and his teachings and many countless other's who we fortunately watch through satelites have always brought strength to me. I don't currently leave in the Islamic country however so many people who look up to me does. I just don't understand the reason behind all these (your blog) and how it benefits me or anyothers. As I said before I realise one thing. Preachers, teachers and myself do not know all about God. They do make mistakes and this for particular is not a way to correct something if at all there are things wrong. As I said to you before I attend a church where there are a lot of things that I can find fault with. However, I know that even my pastor and my elder's are not perfect. Including me. I don't know Cameron.

On behalf of,
most of us anonymous who were touched by Christ.

Cameron Buettel said...

Anonymous, I was referring to an earlier comment (on an earlier post) by Troy which you may have missed. He said:

"I really do care about all those things you're talking about. And I can assure you that I've been to Hillsong quite a few times and have heard the gospel accurately preached. Yes, including the mention of sin and the cross."

I asked him for one example and am still waiting.

Also, there is a correct way to preach the Gospel which is why Paul wrote Galatians 1:8-9. It is God who saves, and we are called to preach and answerable to God for the content of what we preach.

This has never been about me being superior. Or that people must be right bout everything. What I have been saying all along is that the Gospel can be known rightly because God made it known for even simple people. It is not the gospel of Cameron vs the gospel of Hillsong. It is the gospel of Hillsong vs the clear straightforward teaching of Scripture. And if that doesn't satisfy you, I even pointed out that Hillsong's gospel preaching even violates their own doctrine statement. We may be wrong about many things but Christian leaders can never afford to get the gospel wrong. We are talking eternity here.

Also, I do not criticize Hillsong for many other things I disagree with because a) I could be wrong on that issue and b) I am not here to argue every minor point. But Gospel purity is of FIRST IMPORTANCE.

I cannot comment on your own salvation because I don't know you. But I can say that I seriously doubt that you have ever heard the true Gospel from Hillsong because I cannot find one single example anywhere (audio, video, or written). Can God save you in spite of false teaching - yes. Does that excuse the false teacher - no! Do you need to learn and hear the Gospel throughout your life - yes! So Anonymous, I am doing you a favor by pointing you to where you can hear it. If you don't like the resources on my blog then I would recommend www.gty.org

For reaching your Muslim friends who are in a false religion and are headed for hell I recommend the evangelism resources at www.livingwaters.com

Anonymous said...

For more material to help tell Muslims the Gospel try http://www.cresentproject.org. This is put out by a man who is from Lebanon and has a huge heart for people who are enslaved by Islam.

Troy said...

Very good comment Anonymous. I am sorry that Cameron decided to respond defensively and not very lovingly. I can't even imagine what it would be like to be a Christian in a Muslim country. I will definitely pray for you.

Cameron, as far as repentance goes, we've been over this before, you seem to think that you need to say the words "I repent from my sin"... where as I think, and as far as I can tell Hillsong, that repentance is an action. It is asking for forgiveness and then changing your ways from what they were. If you don't agree with that, then there is no further discussing that topic.

As for your much requested video, have a look at this one, featuring your pal Joel A'Bell.

Enjoy. http://vimeo.com/7720018

Cameron Buettel said...

Troy, what did I say that was unloving?

I did watch the video and have to ask why you would use that video to argue against what I have been saying? It actually affirms almost everything I've said. So much missing information I don't know where to begin. Who is this God? Why do I need His forgiveness? What cross? Why did Jesus need to die that I can get this gift? Why do I need this gift? Why don't I deserve it? What is this gift? etc etc

On a purely logical level it creates many more questions than it answers. But once again I'll zero in on one point because it is a part of Hillsong's
own doctrine statement. The necessity of repentance from sin in order to receive salvation. Where in this video did Joel speak of our need to repent or turn away from our sinful life. Of course it is difficult for Joel to do this when he never even defines sin.

Come on Troy, I am not being a nit picking monster, this is basic Christianity - stuff any true Christian understands.

Anonymous said...

To the first Anon:

I have a heart for our persecuted brothers and sisters. The Church, in countries where persecution of Christians is the norm is “underground.” When a person chooses to follow after Christ one does not make this decision on a whim. It is a serious commitment because now the person’s life is no longer is one’s own; and there is a high probability this person may be persecuted and even martyred. Also in these countries the Bible is forbidden therefore, it is very difficult to get one; and then to find fellow believers who can encourage and disciple one another is another huge challenge. So to be able to get any preaching from people who say to be “Christian,” especially from a pastor in a mega church would seem encouraging.

Here in the West where we have freedom of religion there are going to be counterfeit teachings from people who claim to preach the Gospel. Christians are encouraged, no commanded, to test what we hear being preached. When Apostle Paul was in Berea (Acts 17 10-12) the Bereans tested what preached by reaching for the scriptures (the Old Testament) and Paul never said, “I am God’s anointed you do not net need to test what I say.” In fact the Bible calls the Bereans “noble minded.”

Also Paul wrote in Galations 1:6-9 (NLT) “…. You are already following a different way that pretends to be the “Good News” but it is not the “Good News” at all. You are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including myself, who preaches any other message than the one we told you about. Even if an angel comes from heaven and preaches another message, let him be forever cursed.” You see the people who preach a false “Gospel” are in fact preaching a different gospel that is like the one Paul warns the Church in Galatia. Cameron and others like him are not condemning the person they are condemning the teaching.

What would happen if a Muslim cleric went against the foundation of Islam and claimed that Muhammad was not a prophet of Allah? Other than having his life threatened he would be condemned a heretic. The leaders of Hillsong and other teachers are doing just that---going against the foundation of Christianity. At the Hillsong conferences that are held every year people like T.D. Jakes (He does not believe in the Trinity.) and Joel Osteen (He does not believe in the doctrine of original sin, hence no need to repent.) come and speak. To invite these people is to give credence to their teachings. Would any Muslim cleric invite anyone to speak at a conference who did not believe Muhammad was a prophet of Allah, of course not. Since Muslims would not let a teaching contrary to its foundation be called Islam, so why should Christians let teachings that are contrary to its foundations be called Christian?


Another thing, years ago I heard one of the pastors from Hillsong, Randy Rothwell, at a choir retreat. He proudly told us that when Brian Huston became the pastor people started leaving the church. Soon there were less than 100 people left. To increase attendance he started to preach while swinging from a rope. (This is equal to entertainment.) Then people came to see a pastor swinging from a rope, not to hear preaching from God’s Word.

What would happen if a Muslim cleric noticed that everyone was leaving his mosque to go other mosques decided to swing from a rope in the mosque to increase attendance. My guess is that his superiors would discipline and perhaps remove him.

I know there are other ministries that reach around world, and into Muslim nations such as Walk Through the Bible Ministries (www.walkthru.org) another which seems to be biblical (from my limited research) is trans world radio (www.twr.org). If you continue to listen to Hillsong let me encourage you to test their teaching with the scriptures; pray and ask for discernment to see if what they are teaching is biblical.

From a sister in Christ who prays for the persecuted church around the world.

Anonymous said...

Anon:

I have a heart for our persecuted brothers and sisters. The Church, in countries where persecution of Christians is the norm is “underground.” When a person chooses to follow after Christ one does not make this decision on a whim. It is a serious commitment because now the person’s life is no longer is one’s own; and there is a high probability this person may be persecuted and even martyred. Also in these countries the Bible is forbidden therefore, it is very difficult to get one; and then to find fellow believers who can encourage and disciple one another is another huge challenge. So to be able to get any preaching from people who say to be “Christian,” especially from a pastor in a mega church would seem encouraging.

Here in the West where we have freedom of religion there are going to be counterfeit teachings from people who claim to preach the Gospel. Christians are encouraged, no commanded, to test what we hear being preached. When Apostle Paul was in Berea (Acts 17 10-12) the Bereans tested what preached by reaching for the scriptures (the Old Testament) and Paul never said, “I am God’s anointed you do not net need to test what I say.” In fact the Bible calls the Bereans “noble minded.”

Also Paul wrote in Galations 1:6-9 (NLT) “…. You are already following a different way that pretends to be the “Good News” but it is not the “Good News” at all. You are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including myself, who preaches any other message than the one we told you about. Even if an angel comes from heaven and preaches another message, let him be forever cursed.” You see the people who preach a false “Gospel” are in fact preaching a different gospel that is like the one Paul warns the Church in Galatia. Cameron and others like him are not condemning the person they are condemning the teaching.

To be continued...

Anonymous said...

Part Two:

What would happen if a Muslim cleric went against the foundation of Islam and claimed that Muhammad was not a prophet of Allah? Other than having his life threatened he would be condemned a heretic. The leaders of Hillsong and other teachers are doing just that---going against the foundation of Christianity. At the Hillsong conferences that are held every year people like T.D. Jakes (He does not believe in the Trinity.) and Joel Osteen (He does not believe in the doctrine of original sin, hence no need to repent.) come and speak. To invite these people is to give credence to their teachings. Would any Muslim cleric invite anyone to speak at a conference who did not believe Muhammad was a prophet of Allah, of course not. Since Muslims would not let a teaching contrary to its foundation be called Islam, so why should Christians let teachings that are contrary to its foundations be called Christian?


Another thing, years ago I heard one of the pastors from Hillsong, Randy Rothwell, at a choir retreat. He proudly told us that when Brian Huston became the pastor people started leaving the church. Soon there were less than 100 people left. To increase attendance he started to preach while swinging from a rope. (This is equal to entertainment.) Then people came to see a pastor swinging from a rope, not to hear preaching from God’s Word.

What would happen if a Muslim cleric noticed that everyone was leaving his mosque to go other mosques decided to swing from a rope in the mosque to increase attendance. My guess is that his superiors would discipline and perhaps remove him.

I know there are other ministries that reach around world, and into Muslim nations such as Walk Through the Bible Ministries (www.walkthru.org) another which seems to be biblical (from my limited research) is trans world radio (www.twr.org). If you continue to listen to Hillsong let me encourage you to test their teaching with the scriptures; pray and ask for discernment to see if what they are teaching is biblical.

From a sister in Christ who prays for the persecuted church around the world.

Pearl said...

To Anonymous, I love your rationale, I will definitely use this in discussions. Many in the community regardless of religion have respect for muslims because despite their error they are devout and don't tolerate contradictions to their teachings. "Would any Muslim cleric invite anyone to speak at a conference who did not believe Muhammad was a prophet of Allah, of course not. Since Muslims would not let a teaching contrary to its foundation be called Islam, so why should Christians let teachings that are contrary to its foundations be called Christian?" Hillsong not only allow anyone to speak at their conferences they joined with the catholic church for World Youth day. They should not call themselves a christian church but a motivational centre for people who want to "do life" and be healthy and most importantly wealthy. Whats next?