These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. -- 2Peter 2: 17-19 (ESV)
Hillsong is a million dollar global enterprise disguised as a church. Their CEO is Brian Houston who disguises himself as a pastor. They are renowned for their glitz and showmanship. They entertain goats while promising them that they really are sheep. They have churches from Australia to Los Angeles and New York to London. These are not independent churches. They are all under the stewardship of Houston, while there is a site pastor of course assigned to each site. Hillsong is infamous for the new breed of worship, most of which is designed to scratch itching ears rather than teach solid doctrine. This past Christmas, Hillsong London put on a sleazy rendition of silent night; jazzed up and stripped down. London also famously once had a human disco ball they called "Mr. Sparkle" that performed during a club song, "I like to Move It, Move It." This was during corporate worship. Brian Houston is a huge proponent of the prosperity heresy and Hillsong routinely employs the purpose driven church model on steroids. Hillsong preys on the weak in Christ, youth, and those who are seeking the Lord who do not know any better. They make church hip, cool and relevant at the expense of having it not be biblical. They have created their own unique brand and they protect it at all cost. They are experts at damage control and spin coverage. They have many friends within the Seeker Friendly Industrial Complex they rely upon to affirm their heretical ways. One such sycophantic friend is Charisma News.
Charisma News has been on a slippery slope of promoting apostasy for some time now. While there does appear to be some strands of sound theology left they are few and far between the absolute utter nonsense of Charismania. They support nearly every false teacher alive today and one of their favorite things to do is defend the indefensible. These two entities collided once again this week when false prophetess Jennifer Leclaire used her power as an editor at Charisma to prop up the latest absurdity coming out of Hillsong. For those who may have missed it, Hillsong New York recently had a Woman's Conference. As part of this conference there was an appearance by the Hillsong New York Youth Pastor dressed up as the Times Square personality known as the Naked Cowboy. The Naked Cowboy patrols the Times Square area dressed only in underwear, with an acoustic guitar strategically hanging to provide some coverage for his crotch. He takes pictures with tourists and sings some songs. He is a carnal slice of New York City Americana. Why in the world any church would choose to want to emulate this in any kind of service, let alone a Woman's Conference is beyond me. It was also beyond many others who have rightly criticized Hillsong since the news of this broke. In typical Brian Houston fashion, he waited until the initial outrage had lessened and then made a statement feigning ignorance and playing the victim. He then allows his network of bootlickers to go out and release the statement without any regard for the truth or any attempt to question him. Enter Jennifer Leclaire:
"Hillsong's Brian Houston says the media is not reporting all the facts even while admitting it was inappropriate. In the spirit of telling both sides of the story, here is Houston's response to the stirring controversy." -- Jennifer Leclaire
Now, Jennifer makes no judgment on this issue but by doing so it is clear what her objective here is. It is to protect the Hillsong racket. Instead of challenging the absurd statement from Brian Houston she just drops it in her personal column and claims it is in the spirit of being fair. No Jennifer. Fair would be telling your readers the truth. Let us walk through the statement from Houston to see how ridiculous his defense was:
"So how did someone come on stage resembling a cowboy, (during a fun moment involving lots of other people), at the Color Conference in NYC? It's a good question, I've been trying to work that out myself." -- Brian Houston
We see the first thing Houston tries to do is pretend he was unaware while at the same time minimizing the significance. During a fun moment involving lots of other people? Is that even a lucid point here? You think so little of your church and the God you serve that you think it is not a big deal to have someone parading on stage while giving the impression that they are nude? Seriously? At a woman's conference? A conference you charged women $220 to attend? A conference where you promised women they would become part of a "growing global movement creating a stance for justice and change?" I might also point here that it was not just "resembling a cowboy." It was your Youth Pastor practically naked! This is not a joke Brian. Also, how in the world did you not know? Why should we believe that? Are you the "Senior Pastor" or not? This was not some random event. This was your annual conference for the women in your church at the New York campus. I love false pastors who pretend they hear from God and can speak prophetically but are absolutely clueless whenever something happens at their church. Houston would continue:
I do know that Bobbie -- my wife -- who was convener of the conference was clearly unaware that this was going to happen and was taken back by it. She was at the dress rehearsal and there was no sign of a cowboy there. Carl and Laura Lentz were also not part of the decision. I can only guess at this point, that someone thought it would be funny and sent him out there without thinking about the ramifications. -- Brian Houston
So let me get this straight. Your wife is the convener of the conference and she had no idea either? That is what you expect us to believe? That the people who work under you and are under your "mantle of leadership" think so little of you and your wife that they did not bother to consult you about sending out your Youth Pastor in his skivvies in front of all the women from your church? And you wrote a book on leadership if I am not mistaken, correct? Not only do they think nothing of your leadership and your wife but they apparently also think nothing of their own site pastor in Carl Lentz and his wife too? You honestly expect people to believe that no one in management knew? Wait a minute? Isn't that Carl Lentz and Bobbie Houston dancing on stage with the naked cowboy youth pastor? Why yes it is! Bobbie even said, oh my God we have the naked cowboy! They certainly did not seem "taken aback" by it at all. Why didn't they put a stop to it? Why are they dancing with him, laughing all the while? So all you can do is guess? What actions have you taken since with the people under your leadership who so blatantly disregarded you, your wife and the Lentz's? What does it say about what they are being taught that they thought this would be funny?
What I do know is that those who perpetuate the story, do so mainly with the help of a video, no context, and a good dose of what the bible describes as hearsay and rumor. He was wearing proper shorts, not underwear, and he had a flag draped over him -- perhaps inappropriate, certainly unexpected and unauthorized but not naked. -- Brian Houston
Bzzt! Thanks for playing Brian. First of all it is beyond hysterical that a man who routinely preaches with utter disregard for biblical context would scream context to defend having one of his pastors running around on stage at a woman's conference in his underwear. Is there any context in which this is acceptable? Any at all? Secondly, stop playing the victim here. You perpetuated this story Brian. You did by raising up leaders who do not care about the people who lead them and see nothing remotely concerning about appearing on stage at an alleged Christian conference for women, just once stich away from being naked.
At this point I start to worry for Houston's sanity. The video is the context. The video removes any concerns about hearsay and rumor. If someone told me over the phone that the Youth Pastor for Hillsong paraded in his underwear at a woman's conference that would be hearsay and rumor. Quite frankly, I would give the benefit of the doubt until it was confirmed. The video however confirmed it! It is no longer hearsay or rumor. And then you want to parse out what he was actually wearing underneath that guitar? You think that is the winning Christian point for you? The point is that he was pretending to be someone who calls himself the naked cowboy. The fact is that the guitar covers the groin area so no one can tell when looking straight on if he is wearing underwear or shorts or nothing at all! Perhaps inappropriate? Are you serious? No one is actually accusing your Youth Pastor, you know -- the guy who leads your youth, of actually being naked. The uproar is in the nature of the outfit is one that is almost naked and provides the illusion of nudity. Oh and that this was done in a church. Oh and at a conference for women. This is not just potentially inappropriate. It was entirely inappropriate. But Brian Houston cannot come out and simply admit a mistake because he has a multimillion dollar international brand to protect. So sure there are snippets of admission surrounded by playing the victim and minimizing what happened. Houston concludes his insanity:
What I also know is that talk of apostates etc. is nonsense. Some well-meaning person just made a silly decision. It won't happen again.
It won't happen again? It happened again that very week! At the London Hillsong Woman's conference they had a pastor dress up as Austin Powers and paraded him on stage. You know Austin Powers baby. The same one who likes to shag and who is just one dirty sex joke after another. I will be honest beloved; if this naked cowboy thing was an aberration I would be the first to say it was a mistake and move on. Last year Houston preached during a sermon that Muslims serve the same God as Christians. No question he said it. I heard it. But I know that while Houston is one of the biggest heretics on the planet when it comes to prosperity and purpose driven heresies, he has never supported such a notion about Islam. So I waited to hear how he would defend it. He tried to play the victim again but admitted it was said in error. Hey, good enough for me. Anyone can make mistakes. The problem with the naked cowboy incident is that this is no outlier event. This nonsense is so prevalent that the Austin Powers thing happened in the same week halfway across the world. It is the same as having half-dressed burlesque dancers sing Silent Night for Christmas. It is the same thing as having Mr. Sparkle during corporate worship. This is Hillsong. The naked cowboy was not a mistake. This is simply what Hillsong teaches and believes.
So with absolutely no apologies to Mr. Houston, the talk about apostasy is not nonsense; it is established fact. Brian Houston is an apostate and he runs an apostate church. The word apostate means to have fallen away and certainly that describes Hillsong. Do you think Jesus would be clapping and singing along to the naked cowboy in His church? Do you think that He would give you a high five for being clever enough to have a pastor dress up like a sex crazed comic spy? In His church? Do you think that God is pleased when during worship everyone busts into disco mode and starts to "move it move it?" Dear Lord, I am embarrassed to even have to write about things like this and the lead pastor of one of the largest churches in the world is defending it by saying it was shorts instead of underwear!