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Brian Houston and the Pastoral Culture of Blame

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,   but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.  - Proverbs 28: 13 (ESV)

They say that the two hardest expressions for us as humans are "I was wrong" and "I'm sorry." At the heart of this phenomena, as is at the heart of all sin, is our simple stubborn pride. We do not live in a forgiving society. We live in a society that glorifies sin and embraces deception. A world where the secret to life is plausible deniability. While these truths remain in a fallen world, the church is supposed to be different. Where the world sees nothing but subterfuge, they are supposed to look upon the church and see honesty. Where the world sees pride in every moment of every day, they are supposed to look upon the church and see humility. Even more so are we to hold our leaders to an even higher standard. The problem is that a majority of the Body of Christ worships pastors and individual church buildings more than they follow God. Their allegiance is primarily first to the man behind the pulpit and not to the primacy of Scripture. The result is a man centered church, devoid of the true power of the Holy Spirit, where the "man of God" seemingly never admits to being in error. Never asks for simple forgiveness. They remain perched upon the pedestal their congregation has placed them on, waiting for the one big fall that cannot be swept away with trite denials. Until then, they remain perched, swiping at any accusation of wrongdoing as if they were somehow being victimized. Sputtering random mumblings about unity and discord without understanding that their false teaching is what sows true discord. Thus we come to the case of Brian Houston once again. 

For the uninformed, Brian Houston is the mega church pastor of Hillsong Church, based in Australia. Hillsong, widely known for their worship music, has also began to spread out across the globe with one location in NYC and another coming to Los Angeles soon. Houston is an unashamed prosperity and word faith heretic. Of this there is no debate. The vast collection of his teachings are available for any who wish to discern the truth. He is cut from the Osteen mold and trained as a Warren disciple. Recently however, he strayed into the area of Chrislam, quite possibly by accident. In a sermon to church leaders in December, Houston stated the following:

Do you know -- take it all the way back into the Old Testament and the Muslim and you, we actually serve the same God. Allah to a Muslim, to us Abba Father God."

The entire context does not clarify what Houston was trying to say. His message was a contortion of the Parable of the Talents in which he tried to make the story to be about pursuing your purpose. Despite the poor overall hermeneutics displayed in the sermon as a whole, this one statement garnered much attention - as it should! Anytime an evangelical pastor claims that Islam and Christianity serve the same God, one should stand up and rightly question it because it is so patently false. I did not write about this at the time because to be quite honest, I assumed Houston had simply made a mistake. He may believe in heretical teachings when it comes to money and speaking things into existence but I had never heard him challenge the supremacy and exclusivity of Christ. I assumed he would quickly issue a mea culpa, say he misspoke, and we could all move on with our lives. As wrong as Brian Houston is on so many biblical areas, I certainly do not believe that he thinks we all serve the same God. Instead of a simple explanation to clarify his misstatement however, Houston decided to pass the buck as so many who are truly full of themselves will often do. I will break down his statement into bite sized chunks:

" Recently there have been false claims on social media that I believe Muslims and Christians worship the same God. This is incorrect. Those propagating these false statements have taken one sentence from an entire message out of context. I realize that some critics WANT to believe their interpretation, but my prayer is that reasonable people will take my comment in context, accept my acknowledgment that I did not explain this sentence as I intended, and judge me on 40 years of pointing people to Jesus - not one sentence.

Now, I agree that maybe he could have been given the benefit of the doubt but when you make your living on preaching a false gospel, most who reside in the truth will simply assume that you meant what you said. Let us be clear here. This is not a false claim - it is what Brian Houston said - period. I can accept the fact that he made a mistake in what he meant to say but that doesn't change the fact that he said we serve the same God - and he qualified it as well! The second argument he makes here is that the "one sentence" has been taken out of context. I managed to listen to the entire message, which has now been removed from the Hillsong website, and there is not contextual complaint at all. In fact, I would challenge Mr. Houston to provide a context in which the following statement could ever be correct:

Do you know -- take it all the way back into the Old Testament and the Muslim and you, we actually serve the same God. Allah to a Muslim, to us Abba Father God."

Unless this is preceded by - "here's a false statement" - there is no acceptable context that makes this a correct statement. Finally from this snippet a quick word about what us "critics" want. I certainly do not want to believe that Brian Houston believes in Chrislam. I so much did not want to believe it that I did not even report on this misstatement when it first came out. If he had simply said, "my bad", it would not have received this much attention at all. It is that he simply could not own his mistakes and felt compelled to blame anyone who had the temerity to merely report on what he said. It is not just Brian Houston. It is the same attitude that Mark Driscoll has shown at Mars Hill Church, where he thinks nothing of mocking the dead bodies he leaves in his wake. Brash pastors devoid of humility who think they are serving God but are only serving their own stomachs. But Houston would continue:

For further clarification, here is the context of my message:King David said about His God in Psalm 119:68, "you ARE good and you DO good". Who David believed God IS, determined what He Believed God DOES. The spirit of the message was exactly the opposite of what some critics are claiming. If you listened to the message in its entirety, my point was that; who a Muslim extremist believes God is, determines what they believe God does, and what they believe God loves.I was contrasting their harsh perspective of (their) god, with who I believe God is - (a Loving God, the Father of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ) and therefore what I believe God does and what I believe God loves. 

Of course the problem is that this is not what he said. It may very well have been what he intended to say. It still does not quite add up but I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt. To come out after the fact however and claim that we are just misinterpreting what you said is patently ludicrous. 

The ONE sentence that critics are drawing huge conclusions from was clearly a (clumsy) way of me explaining that though both Christians and Muslims believe they serve the God of Abraham, they are very DIFFERENT 'entities' or 'deities' in both nature and action.I have always believed and will always believe that there is only one Way to God and that is through His Son, Christ Jesus. I also believe that anyone -- irrespective of their religious upbringing, culture or background -- can find grace, peace, freedom and eternal life through Christ ."

Go back and listen to the original soundbite. There is no confusion in what was said - only in what was meant. But let's for argument sake say that he simply meant to say that we  believe  we serve the same God; even though that is not what he actually said. All his statement had to say was that. All he needed to say was - hey; this is what I meant to say - sorry for any confusion! Instead however, he chose to try and blame others for his own mistakes. He tried to pass the buck. Just like in the garden when God asked what happened and Adam blamed the woman and the woman blamed the snake. We have been passing the buck ever since. People correctly pointed out a glaring error and his answer is to blame the critics. That is sad. We need to stop placing pastors on pedestals and remind ourselves who we are following. 

I am glad this blip is resolved. Now Mr. Houston...about your word faith and prosperity heresies...

Rev. Anthony.

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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