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Abstain from all appearance of evil. - 1Thessalonians 5: 22 (KJV)I so want to root for Dr. Michael Brown sometimes. He seems to genuinely love God and is clearly a learned man when it comes to Scripture and languages. When it comes to discernment however, he seems to have never met a false teacher he couldn't apologize for. I remember speaking to him on his radio show when he was going on the Benny Hinn show for a week and how it was wrong to share his credibility with such an obvious charlatan. Dr. Brown was having none of it. I remember then asking him about hyper-grace false teacher Joseph Prince; considering Dr. Brown wrote an entire book against the hyper-grace error. Instead of stating the obvious, he referred to prince as a brother in Christ who has given millions a deep revelation about grace but has some holes in his theology. It was then I started to wonder if there was anyone Brown would consider false? Despite numerous warnings throughout the Bible against falseness; it seemed that there was no biblical atrocity that Dr. Brown would not find some way to excuse. This trend continued this week when he defended the sleazy Hillsong Silent Night performance from a few weeks back. In case you missed it, Hillsong Australia put on a burlesque performance of Silent Night, including scantily clad dancers circa 1920's. Brown admits being as disgusted as many were but chose to wait until he received more information. He penned an article today entitled, "Hillsong, Silent Night and the Danger of Judging by Outward Appearance." Let's address the main points.
A Twitter follower shared with me a comment made by one of the pastors at Hillsong in Australia. He explained that this despicable version of Silent Night was designed to be cringeworthy in every way--in other words, it was intended to elicit the kinds of responses that it drew--and it was written and produced to portray Herod's alleged desire to worship the newborn King. This, then, was meant to be the world's version of Silent Night, which was anything but holy. The pastor also explained that later in the Christmas play, in adoration of Jesus, Silent Night was sung again, this time the right way, in stark contrast with Herod's version. - Dr. Michael BrownSeriously Dr. Brown? What does this even mean? Let's start with what we know. The sleazy silent night was posted online BY Hillsong. There was absolutely no mention in the video or anywhere else that this was supposed to be portraying a "worldly version" of the song. In fact, I do not recall the world ever being so irreverent to the classic Christmas standard. Once there was a growing backlash it was Hillsong that pulled the video. Why would they do such a thing if their motive was so misunderstood? No beloved. It seems the masters of spin at Hillsong went fishing for someone to be willing to buy this cover story and Michael Brown took the bait. Remember it was the Hillsong spin machine that pretended to know nothing about an openly gay worship leader despite video evidence that they knew eight months prior. Then there is the excuse. Granted it was near impossible to come up with a coherent argument why they performed Silent Night as if it were in a Prohibition Era Speakeasy. But it was written to portray Herod's alleged desire to worship the newborn King? Really? Let us as always turn to the text. Here is the entire Scriptural account of Herod and his desire to worship Christ.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:"'And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'"Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him." After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. - Matthew 2: 1-12 (ESV)Is there anything in here that would lead anyone sane to believe that Herod actually wanted to worship the baby Jesus? Anything to suggest that if he had the opportunity he would have strippers and flappers gyrating around the manger? Or course not. The text is abundantly clear. Herod was troubled. So troubled he eventually would call for the slaughter of all male children under the age of two! Does that sound like someone who just wanted a chance to dance for the Messiah? It is equally clear that even his statement about wanting to worship the babe was nothing more than a ruse. He wanted to kill Jesus not put on a dance routine for Him. To further cement this, the text tells us that God specifically warns the wise men to not return to Herod. Was God afraid of the scandalous worship Herod intended? This is beyond the point of absurdity and someone as well versed as Dr. Brown ought to know better.
But the Hillsong "Unholy Night" controversy reminds us that we must be very careful in how we make our judgments, not judging by mere outward appearances but rather judging righteously. In this case, the outward appearances were damning, but there was more to the story than met the eye. Again, you might still differ with Hillsong's Christmas presentation, and you might still take issue with some of their teachings or with their overall approach to ministry. But for those who completely threw them under the bus because of their cabaret version of Silent Night, this should be a cautionary lesson. - Dr. Michael BrownNo Dr. Brown. There was not more to the story than met the eye. Yet even if somehow you actually buy this load of garbage it still begs the question if a church should be willing to portray such lasciviousness and sin for any alleged reason. A cautionary lesson? Completely threw Hillsong under the bus for this sleazy silent night? Apparently Dr. Brown must have missed when Hillsong London did the obscene club hit "I like to Move It Move It" during worship last year that included the human disco ball, Mr. Sparkle. Or another Hillsong branch performing "The Monkey" during worship. Or the fact that Brian Houston is one of the largest prosperity hucksters on the planet, including writing a book entitled, "You Need More Money." The list goes on Dr. Brown if you are willing to discern the possibility that Hillsong was one of the most egregiously heretical outfits in the world, long before they did the sleazy silent night. Sadly however, this is inevitably how Dr. Brown parses out false teaching. One can "take issue" with their teachings or approach to ministry. I do not take issue with them Dr. Brown - God does. The article would conclude:
It's a lesson we should all learn well, since we will be judged in the same way that we judge others. And it's a lesson I try to remember before I ever write or speak, since it's far better to wait and be sure than to launch an unrighteous attack. Let's make this a teachable moment. - Dr. Michael BrownI do pray that he does take this as a serious teachable moment. The truth is that the lurid silent night was an atrocity and no fake back peddling or tales of Herod will provide some missing context that would make it vaguely acceptable. I would hope that if I ever thought so carnally as to represent Hark The Herald Angels Sing with can-can girls and g-strings that someone would step in and tell me how wrong I am. That's not judgment beloved. It is good sound Christian common sense driven by a love of God and a refusal to compromise His Word. As for Dr. Brown, I sincerely pray that he thinks better of this absurd defense. That he views the video for what it is worth and the excuse offered as less. Cause if he really believes this Herod excuse offered weeks after the fact then I have a bridge in Brooklyn I would like to sell him.