The Gospel, according to a Nobody called Tanya Riches – Part 1.

Just a quick introductory for my readers: In January 2014 I wrote an article about returning to Hillsong Church after being in Los Angeles. I was pretty excited to be attending the church where I grew up. And, it still feels like a gift every single Sunday. I read the bible with people I have known for decades. Even when they don’t know, I cry when they lose children, I cheer when they walk into new areas of gifting, and my heart hurts for those who lose their faith. My door is always open for coffee and story-telling at a deeper, heart level. I’m excited about vision Sunday, because we’re all going somewhere together. I trust the leaders, after all these years. And even when I’ve got tears in my eyes and I’m hurt, I know that Jesus is the head of His church. Despite the critics, and the logistics of working out how best to fit back in, it’s my family, and my happy place. I’m not a celebrity, I’m not on staff, I’m just an attendee. I’m like one of those anonymous characters of the bible you’ll catch up with in heaven.

I guess I have to say this, because it’s important – I’m a Christian so I worship Jesus. We’ve attended other churches, especially in Los Angeles, and we loved them! I don’t worship the church. But there’s something about coming home that’s different. I don’t think it’s possible to compare – God must have placed me there as a child. It’s the same feeling in the driveway of your childhood home. It’s not about the house, but it is about the house. Anyways.

Writing is what I do, so I wrote it all down – why my family came to the church, what it meant to them, why it changed the world, and (in my most humblest of opinions) what it was. I wanted to point out the beauty of seeing both in both truth, and love. It was published on the ABC Religion & Ethics site. A good day – a *lot* of people read it.

To be honest, many were shocked to hear a positive Hillsong story, because in the circles I move it’s kind of rare. But other than that, nothing really happened. Of course, right? It’s just one of thousands of histories of an enormous congregation.

But this week a site decided to re-post the article (one year on) in the context of a much wider debate. It’s funny, because I’m used to critique, and having my ideas tested. In fact, I’m all for that. I’m entirely comfortable being criticized and walking away knowing there’s stuff I have to work on. It happens pretty much every week of my life. But here I couldn’t work out the central problem. The site, to be honest, is theologically schizophrenic. It claims a basis of Christianity, but I cannot yet see how it claims Christ. By this I mean that it is not easy to see how it models Christ in its engagement, has any accountability, or provides any support for people who share their experiences. As well as this, it has no clear outcomes of community-building, or relationships with the local church (aside from promoting a number of “safe” Reformed congregations, and removing them when they fail a non-advertised theological litmus test). Perhaps I’ve got it wrong, it’s more than possible. I’m told the site is hosted overseas, but I see no evidence for that. The leadership are mysterious – they don’t reveal their names, but they want personal email addresses of Hillsong staff and leaders. It’s just weird, eh?! For this reason, I won’t be publicizing the website.

Being trained in critical thinking but also appreciative inquiry I’m finding it hard to find something positive to say. IMHO it’s a group of people with unrelated theological positions united around a practice of rehearsing what (in my experience has seemed like) character defamation; and providing a release for their outrage and anger.

This could actually be healing, I think. It’s important for people who are in pain to tell and retell their stories. Where there is corruption, it should be unearthed. It’s just that this site has absolutely nothing for anyone more informed than the leaders, because truth, personal preferences and downright lies are mixed together so strangely. I note, however, that a number of people from the website think it is polite. Each to their own.

One thing that really ‘gets’ me is that my article was posted with a couple of ‘morals’ about sexual abuse and the church. Now, please, post your morals, but puhlease, don’t use someone else’s sexual abuse to critique me. Sexual abuse is no joke, I find it deathly serious. It’s incredibly hard for those who have suffered it, because abuse doesn’t just happen in Sydney, Australia. I know of one direct instance in which sexual abuse happened at the City campus (Sydney Christian Life Centre, which became Hillsong) and to this victim I would say that *I am incredibly sorry*. It’s important for me to say that. Globally, more and more stories are being unearthed and they are terrible. This links to the volumes of trafficked women being moved around the world. There are horrific, horrific things coming out about people who may have appeared completely normal – and this is now proved true even in churches. My friend’s niece sits on the Royal Inquiry into Sexual Abuse, and I can’t imagine how she gets up in the morning. My friend says she’s genuinely tortured. She is continually confronted with the deep, dark evil carried in human souls.

So it’s not right for me to put on a cape and be a crusader as if I could ‘solve’ the pain this insidious evil causes. But I want to grapple with the depth of it. I believe that those who run fastest, and strongest, should be creating spaces of safety and protection for those who are weak and who struggle. I’m paraphrasing some biblical passages here that are, of course, better left un-paraphrased. But I hope you understand.

We the church need to stand against sexual abuse. I’m totally up for new friends and connections, and discussions on how to do that best. But in this case, there are some people making my personal experiences fit their paradigm. And their claim is that my church experience is intricately connected to the hurt and anger of other people’s experience of sexual abuse. And that’s so, so, so sad. They’ve asked me to answer some questions, which I will do – in an upcoming blog in a couple of weeks. I’ll answer questions that are genuine and serious, because I love to interact with those honestly seeking Truth.

But, in the interim, I thought I would post what the gospel is – one of the questions asked. So… here it is.

PassionOTChrist_4001Pyxurz

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”

– John 3:16 (NKJV).

21 thoughts on “The Gospel, according to a Nobody called Tanya Riches – Part 1.

  1. Hi Tania.
    I totally get what you say. What people can do and say, believing they have the whole truth about a history and that they “have” to do justice can be so bad and harmful. I think anyways they words will be tested by the truth and reality one day. I know it must to be hard to face it but I know God is in control of everything. I totally believe your words are honest about the church and your life with God. This world needs so much Jesus that we just have to continue forth speaking and living HIM, so others, including this kind of “justice critics” can know the truth, light and reality that we know in Jesus.

    We love and admire you Tania!! I’m praying for you to have a heart full of peace.

    From Chile,
    – Gonz

  2. Tanya

    to me you are somebody, the reason i know your name is because you were known for writing a couple of the hillsong worship songs years ago. you have been around for years, you have also recorded a couple of albums of your own.

    so you cant say you are knowbody, you are a singer songwriter and a worship leader. its a shame you didnt get to write more songs for hillsong. but being around hillsong for around 12 years this year i know.

    its the same old 4-5 guys who write most of the songs, that are replicated in all the other hillsong churches around the world. thats why i chose not to join the worship team as a backing singer even through i was asked a few times, because i have written over 100 songs and i didnt want to be overlooked written off and pushed aside as i have seen this happen to other songwriters on the worship team who didnt get released into their songwrting gift.

    so they write the odd song every now and again, and it gets published.

    so i served in the other area of the team the bump team for a few years, but now im concentrating on trying to put out a worship project of my own. i love your blogs, you are very open and honest in your blogs.

    i wish i could meet more people in the church like you, but i havent so.

    you are blessed.

    1. I think it’s a mistake to self-protect before you allow the other person to make a move, right?

      So you should try again at the backing vocalist thing!

      And I’m pretty easy to get a hold of if you’re interested in connecting up.

      May you find the right words and notes to place in the right spots to bless many people with your songwriting gift.

      Cheers!!

  3. From what I’ve read there no-one blames anyone but Frank Houston and the church leaders in the “Hillsong Vatican” who knew what was going but covered it up. That includes Brian Houston, the current leader, Frank Houston’s son. People there have been quite polite to you.

    1. Hmm… well, it’s kind of you to say, thanks.

      I hope you can understand the dynamic – a group of mysterious, non-named Christian leaders meeting online to comb through my personal testimony to find fault is pretty intense. Even if they use polite words. I’m prone to overreaction in a case where the rules aren’t clearly drawn up before I’m called in. Also lots *else* went on this week … no matter.

      To me, the truth is important. Defining a correct response in the case of sexual abuse, that’s also important.

      But there’s a lot of untruth being told, from my perspective. A part of my testimony is saying that I’ve never seen a “Hillsong Vatican”. There are elders and leaders with particular leadership strategies, and certain actions. At the core, Hillsong is (from what I see) based on a fundamental plurality. Even Frank Houston and Brian’s relationship was charged with a dynamic only coming out now (aka Brian’s preaching last week). And so it’s hard for me to see how all these different churches, leaders and individuals can be held culpable for anything except for their own piece in the puzzle. That’s not to say I don’t believe in a moral code, I just think nuance often wins out compared to flattening life into ‘goodies’ and ‘bad-ies’.

      If I’ve gained a wrong perception from the interactions I’ve had, well so be it. But I’m going to call it honestly as I see it either way, in hopes that there is a way forward into unity of the church under Christ.

      1. Tanya,
        There is a good reason for anonymity. Publishing names opens you up to a lot of harassment and potential threats from Hillsong. Hillsong have threatened legal action against people before. Personally I have been harassed and verbally abused on Facebook by Hillsong members simply for disagreeing with their gospel. I think you would be shocked to see the behaviour of some people in your church.

        I’ve read most of the posts on that site and disagree with you. People are just passionate about these topics and really don’t mean to attack you personally. I had a lot of respect for you replying to people there, but what you’ve just posted here is hypocritical. Calling the site “schizophrenic” and “weird” and accusing them of not claiming Christ is far worse than what you think they have done to you. No one made accusations like this against you, and certainly didn’t try to “assassinate” you. I read the post in question and think you have just misunderstood their questions.

      2. Thanks Uppercut.

        I see your point regarding those two words.

        Firstly, I’ve changed it to “theologically” schizophrenic, because that’s what I meant, and stand by. It seems a website run by Reformed Christians, that shames Sydney’s Reformed Churches by crossing them off their list. Yet, the theological standards of the site weren’t easily accessible. The moderator (and a Catholic?) asked me questions about a type of charismaticism ala Vineyard, holding Hillsong (which is essentially a NeoPentecostal congregation) to this (I suggest they check out Alan Anderson’s typology on Pentecostalisms because I couldn’t figure out how to condense it). It was proposed that I was the Australian Rachel Held Evans … and also emergent… although I tried to make it clear that I’m not, and neither is Hillsong, stating why. After this, I was critiqued via a 19th century North American historical movement – the social gospel – in the same breath as being asked whether I considered the bible in historical context. Tiring. I’m not sure I can make sense of this for my readers, it does my head in. But I came to the conclusion it’s a group of people united by a dislike of Hillsong. So, it appears random and kind of … theologically schizophrenic. Obviously this is not a good use of the word, but I can’t think of another. Suggestions accepted.

        I also removed the word “assassinate”. I must have been walking past an American sniper movie poster. I think we can agree my article was being “critiqued”, something very normal in my world. What’s not normal in my world is to first **attach** morals that frame how readers should view a piece (most notably point 9 – me?), through the lens of tragic circumstances I feel should be given a) more nuance and b) more respect. I dunno, maybe that’s normal in the blogosphere. I’m probably just a novice.

        Well, I’ve made two adjustments, and answered a LOT of questions/comments, spending much of my week hoping to try and send a message to website moderators and commenters that I’m listening, and that I am one of the many Christians building the church together.

        But …. I can’t SEE much of the character of Christ in the interaction – maybe for either of us. I definitely felt no compassion or grace. It seemed communicated that it was also not received from me. My requests to meet or speak were refused by the website, so they will never know what was happening in my life this week, or why I asked them to take it down and talk first.

        I doubt I would have made “harassment and potential threats”, or “verbally abuse [them] on Facebook”. Any of my friends can say whether that’s my personality. I don’t like being stereotyped. But it’s OK, I’ll live with it.

        I’m looking forward to writing up a better reflection on this in a couple of weeks. I’m sure my own emotions will be lessened. Whether my view changes, I’m not sure. At the end of the day, I’m not convinced the site promotes spiritual health. I may be wrong.

        It just seems like it was a slow news day ……

      3. It is a very challenging website to read at times. The unpleasant truth is just that – unpleasant. People understand that it is not an oversimplified black-and-white, goodies versus baddies situation. There are no winners in this story.

        Brian Houston cannot be held responsible for his father’s many sins but he should be held responsible for letting his father’s child abuse remain covered up when he learned about it. I watched one segment of the Royal Commission enquiry last October and from memory the lawyer strongly suggested there was a major conflict-of-interest due to his being Hillsong’s leader and the abuser’s son at the same time. Reports and clips easily Googled anyway. Whether rightly or wrongly, Brian Houston respected requests from the adult survivor(s?) to not make Frank Houston’s abuse of them public and he is paying for the price for that now.

        It is unfortunate when Hillsong followers like yourself feel that you are being caught in the crossfire unfairly. Yes Christians should seek to be united but sadly there are times when a line must be drawn in the sand. No matter how different (and contradictory at times!) contributors’ perspectives there may be on certain doctrinal issues they are united in seeking justice for Frank Houston’s victims. For that, as a relative and friend of incest survivors (several abused by their religious leaders, no way involved with Frank Houston though), I applaud their seeking justice for the underdog.

      4. Interesting! “They are united in seeking justice for Frank Houston’s victims”. I didn’t realize that. Thanks. I will look for the ways this site has mobilized people to do that.

        And, if that is the measure by which my testimony was being assessed, then there is clearly no concern at all – my intention regarding action in the case of abuse, and willingness to act to protect victims is stated clearly. And, there are many people like me.

        One small ask: please don’t call me “a Hillsong follower”. As I stated in this blog, I follow Jesus, and I just go to church at Hillsong. Somewhat irregularly now, I might add, as I’m on the road many weeks of the year.

  4. It may seem theologically schizophrenic because it’s not an organised church and has no leadership. People post as they please and will have different opinions. I certainly don’t agree with everything that’s posted but I can still appreciate the site’s usefulness. I used to read a similar blog when I left Hillsong and found it very helpful. It shook my faith pretty badly at first, but I was all the better for it and now understand the true gospel and can identify a fraud. For this reason I believe it does promote spiritual health. I am far more spiritually strong because of this site and others like it (e.g. fightingforthefaith.com). I was spiritually immature at Hillsong. I only ever heard a watered down gospel and terrible topical preaching with almost no expository preaching at all. I was also never taught how to identify a fraudulent gospel. So I would ask whether Hillsong is actually promoting spiritual health.

    There’s a question that’s been asked of many Hillsong members who have posted on that site. It’s whether they can provide a complete Gospel presentation that has been preached at a Hillsong service. So far, no one has provided one.

    If you want to see an example of the kind of spiritual immaturity I’m talking about, watch this video and skip to 9:40 where some Hillsong leaders are interviewed. This is the standard at Hillsong, and it’s pretty sad…

    [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkdlIRku2Z8]

  5. I feel frustrated, because this is exactly what I’m talking about. The video is a mess. It doesn’t have *any* theological nuance at all. I could only listen to a couple of this guy’s questions. Why does he look like Joel Olsteen???

    The “prosperity” debate is an unfinished discourse that primarily has to do with First/Third world realities, or global inequality.

    Pentecostalism is a Third world Christianity, largely addressing African American realities in the US. It was the worship of the marginalized, and is highly embodied/affective. It is therefore perfect for the uneducated. For poor people, attending Pentecostal churches is shown to encourage an economic “uplift”. This is usually because people stop smoking, gambling and doing drugs. However you could describe it as a benefit of the faith.

    In contrast, Anglicanism (for example) is a First world Christianity, and it has many power-brokers, and speaks from a position of privilege. Most other traditional denominations are the same.

    If you are interested in some smart thinking on this topic, Paul Oslington is a theologian who has been putting a lot of effort into it. He’s not (ironically) a celebrity preacher.

    Of course, things get screwed up when you have First world people adhering to a Third world type Christianity. Understandably, it does seem that they are increasing their wealth by attending these churches – so no wonder they are now claiming this. However, data shows that attending a Pentecostal church for those in the First world actually decreases the very rich’s material wealth. This is something pastors are probably not even aware of, neither should they necessarily have to be. I don’t hold *any* single pastor to the standard of reconciling a problem inherent in global Christianity.

    So what it appears you’re objecting to is just basically the Hillsong pastors appearing lower class, ie talking about money.

    Still, this clip has nothing to do with sexual abuse, which is what is described to me as the purpose of the website above by other commentators.

    1. .. that’s not to say that what I call “magical thinking” isn’t a problem in Pentecostal churches (including Hillsong). I consider it a huge problem… using the “mechanisms” of the faith to get what you want, instead of submitting to a relationship with the Creator – that is inherently flawed. Unfortunately it’s very easy to slip into, because the social norms can be easily viewed as mechanistic from experience.

      Ah, but I could give you some more *actual* theological issues to work with, but why? It’s useless to empower this kind of deconstruction.

      But that’s the difference between me and that dude who whitens his teeth and does montage YouTube clips…

      Theology, in my mind, must lead to Doxology.

      1. Sorry, I’m confused, because it doesn’t seem like you’re replying to what I’ve written. I didn’t mention money, and it wasn’t meant to be about sexual abuse. I was replying to your post saying that the HCW site isn’t promoting spiritual health. I provided evidence from my own experience to show why it does. The video was meant demonstrate the kind of theological problems I experienced at Hillsong and show they are promoting spiritual immaturity, confusion and a false gospel. Despite the many hours of sermons an average member hears each year, some even up to 3 services a week plus connect groups, they still can’t articulate the Gospel correctly. Can’t you see a problem there? There’s no excuse for it, and the blame falls squarely on the Hillsong leadership.

        My objection isn’t necessarily just about money, it’s that they don’t preach the Gospel. Their preaching is more like self help seminars. They find verses to support their own message, while ignoring what the author is trying to say. There is no expository preaching, which is why no Hillsong member has succeeded in providing an example of sermon containing a complete Gospel presentation.

        As for the video not having theological nuance, I’m not sure how you came to that conclusion. His question was “what is the message of Christ?”. Seems theological to me. The ad hominem attacks aren’t constructive either and are misinformed.

      2. Sorry, I thought you were following the train of the comment section. Maybe this is also part of my problem. I don’t have any idea who you are, but y’all seem to work together and against each other. You, ie “Uppercut” seem to have commented a lot on the *other* site, so, honestly yes, I’m just getting confused. OK, let’s just forget the “magical thinking” comment.

        1) Hillsong in my view do present the gospel. As in they do present the death and resurrection of Christ. Additionally, I outlined the version of the gospel above by which I measure this in this blogpost. That was intended to be the only purpose of this post. If this outline does not suffice, I would say we have very different ideas of the gospel.

        2) And thus in regards to your claim “they still can’t articulate the Gospel correctly” – the very first logical question is, who deems what is ‘correct’? In my experience, the only people who feel they have authority to deem “the correct gospel” is Reformed Christians. And if this is the case for you, I am not Calvinist, I am Pentecostal (ala Arminian). So we’re probably going to disagree on many issues. Therefore, without embedding our engagement into its larger historical and ecumenical discussion, there is no nuance to it. This is the type of critique offered in the video, which is based upon a particular popular reaction against the word “prosperity”. I hope this makes sense to you.

        But because you did not understand the reason for outlining my frustrations with this level of debate does not make it an ad hominem attack. However, apologies for any offense I caused.

      3. I understand you’re frustrated. It’s difficult to reply to a post like this because you’ve covered a lot of topics. I didn’t mean you were attacking me personally, I was just referring to your attempt at discrediting the person in the video.

        John 3:16 is a good start but not enough to explain the whole Gospel to someone. For example, why should they believe in Jesus and why do they need a saviour, as well as the importance of repentance and salvation through faith alone. The depravity of man is something that is missing from Hillsong’s gospel. It may be in their statement of faith but it’s not preached from the pulpit. They even removed sin from a verse on one of their CDs, which pastor Fergusson didn’t think was a problem (see http://onceuponacross.blogspot.com.au/2010/02/false-gospel-of-hillsong-part-4-my.html). They actually teach a more humanistic gospel and that people are inherently good, at least to some degree.

        I consider myself somewhat of a “reformed” Christian and neither Calvinist nor Arminian. What I think is the correct gospel is one that includes the main points that are indisputable; salvation through faith alone; sin and the depravity of man who have broken God’s perfect law; repentance. Hillsong not only misses the sin and repentance part, but add to it a lot of extra things that water it down into something rather pathetic, such as Jesus dying for our physical health and prosperity. It’s why there are so many confused people at Hillsong like the person in the video. We all agree on the indisputable points, but Hillsong pastors just don’t preach them.

        If I were to choose some verses to communicate the Gospel, I would also include verses like James 2:10, Romans 6:23 and Eph 2:8-9. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses believe John 3:16 but I think you would agree that they believe a false gospel; one that does not save. Mormons would dispute the Ephesians verse because of what their own text says, because they follow a works based gospel.

      4. OK, well, I guess in this case (“why should they believe in Jesus”), you’re either looking for a specific type of content, or you’re talking apologetics. I could have responded with an apologetic, but was asked for a *summary* of the gospel.

        What you are looking for is a genre of preaching within Hillsong I guess, but it is usually called ‘evangelistic’. It is actually a bit of an art form, as there are many meetings that are intentionally open to the public, and these are the ones with a more comprehensive gospel message. I can find you references to this if you would like, it is very commonly done. I don’t know if that would help you or not.

      5. oh, by the way, my area of expertise is in lived religion, and that term usually means *what is actually happening in churches*.

        For those who are not educated, this is not related to the “emergent” church. It means I use social science methods.

        I can easily find you an example, but I’m not focusing on biblical theology, but the anthropology of Christianity. I can point you to examples to examine, but I’m not necessarily very skilled in apologetics (or whatever you’d call this defense of “the Hillsong gospel” you claim) myself.

        🙂

  6. The “prosperity” debate is an unfinished discourse that primarily has to do with First/Third world realities, or global inequality.” Really? Because in my experience it has everything to do with personal wealth and nothing to do with this. I’ve never heard global inequality mentioned at a C3 church, ever. If you spent 5 minutes looking at some of the youtube video’s where some of these pastes hit their stride you won’t be left with any doubt what they’re trying to say – give to us and God will bless you 100 fold. Financially.

    I’m not going to relay my story again, you’ll find it in the comments somewhere (a couple of times) on C3churchwatch.com but to summarise my family was ripped apart and placed into bankruptcy by the greed and false prophesies of C3. You question what the purpose of the “watch” sites are, well from what I can tell it does a couple of things; i) It questions C3 and Hillsong leadership behaviour (e.g. Phil Pringle’s “Doctorate”) and ii) it gives a voice to the many people like me who C3 and Hillsong would rather not exists. I don’t know if you’d be surprised how many people have been burned and discarded by those organisations, they tend to do a pretty good job at altering history once someone has left. You might find this hard to believe but they (the “watchers”) do tend to reference everything back to scripture, unlike Phil and Brian who have a very clear history of twisting the word of God. You can find those instances by yourself if you read more of the websites.

    I do want to say that I think it’s naive not to assume that if the Churchwatch people went public that Brian and Phil Pringle wouldn’t use their considerable resources to try to shut it down. Phil in particular has specifically made reference to the site on a number of occasions.

    Being trained in critical thinking” I only have a master’s and bachelor’s degree but I think you need to watch out for cognitive biases. “…united around a practice of rehearsing what (in my experience has seemed like) character defamation“, if you would care to be specific that would be good. That’s’s a pretty harsh judgement on a group of people who I think do very well in supporting their conclusions.

    1. Were you talking about this message, Icarus? It was sent to WordPress spambox.

      I would want you to know that you and anyone else are free to tell your story on my blog, and I’m sorry to hear your experiences were negative. This situates our interaction, which I’m also sad about. I would hope that if we had met another way and were sitting over coffee, you would see that I’m not angry, condescending, or trying to belittle those experiences. Don’t worry, I have a story too. I didn’t write everything. I probably won’t ever. But it’s real.

      Unfortunately, your (and your friends’) anger felt like it is addressed at *me*, and at the same time I was also being addressed by my church leadership about certain issues. Therefore, I was smack bang between two groups that felt a lot stronger than I was. The timing was incredible. Luckily it ended well on one front and I at least received a clear answer, and then on the other, well, I’m sorry if I appeared insensitive.

      There are things I disagree with in regards to general characterization of Hillsong. I’m happy to take the criticism that I have “cognitive biases”, I would say that’s a compliment. When it comes to understanding communities, there’s a difference between research and sharing personal opinion. In the ABC Religion & Ethics article, I was sharing personal opinion. That’s why it was put in the opinion column. But appreciative inquiry is often used with communities to ensure that new (and wrong) stereotypes are not created through the written word. I’m careful about that. Where it’s true, sure.

      I don’t attend C3, so I can’t really comment on prosperity theology there. You may not have heard C3 speak about global inequalities, but that doesn’t discount what I said about the ways these theologies emerged. (This may have been the comment I deleted). Nevertheless I’m sure at some point I will write a peer-reviewed piece on this view, which will be subject to critical response. In the meantime, I suggest Amos Yong’s books “Pentecostalism and Prosperity: The Socio-Economics of the Global Charismatic Movement” and “Afro-Pentecostalism: Black Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in History and Culture” which I’m sure will push ALL your buttons. 😉

      I’m sorry to the victims of child abuse at Hillsong.

      I have never met one. Ever. It makes me shocked to think that members like me are hiding information. If *anybody* was to come to me and say they had been abused at my church, I promise I would do all that I could to help them, and take it to the police. If I was put in that situation, I have good reason to believe the leadership would support me.

      I hope that you don’t take portions of this comment over to the other site. I don’t feel that is fair, as it is personal communication. But, I’ll leave that as your prerogative.

  7. As you can see, even *wikipedia* considers the word ‘Reformed’ synonymous with ‘Calvinist’. I don’t need a theological education to point to a wikipedia article, I guess. It also helps to know some pre-eminent Reformed theologians. None of them have ever asked me to present them “the gospel” on cue, with particular references to scriptures. Heavens only knows why their church members are doing this online.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calvinism

  8. Also, I’d really like to highlight this video, which seems to have been released after this week’s investigation into instances of sexual abuse in the Jewish community. I definitely share the sentiments of these Rabbis. And if you need help, please let me know.

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