Yes you read that headline right. This story comes from Australia where the county’s largest megachurch, Hillsong, condemned rugby star Israel Folau for quoting scripture that condemned homosexuality, among other sins, and warned of hell. The two biblical passages paraphrased by Folau are 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Galatians 5:19-21. Now, this, predictably, earned a Fatwa from the Rainbow Jihad crowd and corporate sponsors of Rugby Australia pressured the league to take action against Israel Folau’s past social media comments. In a column last month titled “A message to Folau: The world doesn’t need more judgmental Christians” in The Sydney Morning Herald, Brian Houston of Hillsong wrote a sharp rebuttal to Folau’s message.
While sin is a real issue, the God I know and seek to follow is a God of love. He says that He did not come to condemn the world, He came to save it. And as Christians we would do well to follow the example of the founder of our faith. I believe there is a heaven and a hell but if you study scripture you won’t read about Jesus screaming to people that they are all going to hell. In fact Jesus, John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul, all kept their harshest criticism for those who were religious and judgmental.
There is a lot of crap to break down here. Brian Houston after praising Israel Folau has completed his “but” and is moving towards his own theological teaching. It begins by trivializing sin. Then references John 3:17, which is fair. But then charges Christians to follow the example of the founder of our faith. He names Jesus, John the Baptist, and Paul. So what is their example? It is oft said that Jesus preached more on hell than heaven, but regardless of the official tally, one would be hard-pressed to find a scriptural example of someone who preached about heaven and hell more than Jesus. John the Baptist preached a hardline message of repentance, and Paul was the source of what Folau was quoting. It seems Israel Folau was following a more literal example of these three.
But let’s break down the last portion of this quote. Are the harshest words of Jesus directed towards the religious and judgmental? I disagree with this premise. Jesus renders woes towards the Pharisees, but it’s not because they were religious or judgmental; it’s because they were frauds. In John 3, Jesus comes close to berating Nicodemus for not understanding Scripture when it’s his job. Jesus employs the word hypocrite. In ancient times, a hypocrite is an actor. Jesus doesn’t condemn their judgmentalism, he condemns their apathy.
But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. – Matthew 23:13 (NASB)
This is the first woe. The subsequent woes condemn virtue signaling prayers, their travels, their greed twice, their fake appearance, and their virtue signaling messages about the prophets of the past whist they conspire to kill the Messiah. Never does it condemn their accurate quoting of scripture. Never does it condemn their calls of repentance. The Pharisees were actors. And the ones who weren’t acting, Nicodemus, were sucking at their jobs. The Pharisees weren’t leading people to God because they knew not God. And how can a people know God if the people who are supposed to show them suck at their job. The very thought process engenders righteous anger. The Pharisees didn’t understand the law, instead exploited the culture and population’s lack of knowledge to live a life of luxury and elitism.
In 40 years of telling people about the good news of Jesus, I have seen that the “turn or burn”, approach to proclaiming the message of Christianity alienates people. Scaring people doesn’t draw them into the love of Jesus.
God cared so much for the eternity of humankind that he sent his only son to die in order that he might make a way for restoration and reconciliation. The problem with harsh comments in the media and disparaging statements on social media is that they create a further wedge between God and people.
The world doesn’t need more judgmental Christians. In the eyes of many, the church is not relevant to their lives and is seen to be stuck in the past.
I don’t agree with turn or burn, but I am a big fan of fire and brimstone. Peter’s Second Sermon in Acts 4 confronts the people with their sins and makes it clear that the failure to heed Jesus has eternal consequences. Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God is perhaps the most famous sermon in American history. Fire and brimstone is remembered, and that was Israel Folau’s message. Then Houston starts talking about division and creating a wedge. But why is this bad? If people see a wedge between God and the people, they will soon see that the God side is better. Instead of finding middle ground with society, Christians are called to stand apart. We are called to create the wedge where the alternative is a society rejecting God. Jesus created a wedge between God and the people and was crucified. Peter employed this same wedge to bring people back to God. There is a right side of scripture and a wrong side of scripture.
Modern Day Pharisee
The actor hear is most certainly not Israel Folau, rather I pose this question: is Brian Houston a modern day Pharisee?
I hope Izzy is extended some grace from all Australians. He is young and sincere and passionate about his relationship with God. We have all made mistakes when it comes to speaking too quickly, judging too harshly or being blinded by our own stubbornness. The world is a better place when we all look at ourselves and recognise our own human failings, and we can extend the same grace to him as we’d like others to show us.
The only reference to the right way and wrong way to do things that Brian Houston uses are those from his experience. He cites broad biblical examples, which have shown to be incorrect. To Brian Houston, there is a right way to reach people and a wrong way, and because he owns the largest megachurch in the world, he must be doing it the right way. Because he is well established, he knows what he’s doing. His admonishment comes off as a “stay in your lane.” Sound familiar? Come to think of it, the Pharisees ran the largest temple in Judea…
Back to Israel Folau
The Australian Rugby Union wants Israel Folau gone. They want him out of the league after he was found guilty of a high level breach of the players code of conduct for a social media post paraphrasing the Bible. Church Leader’s Megan Briggs reports that Folau grew up in a Mormon church but his family left. And when he began his professional career, he began attending a Christian church and heard the love of God for the first time. Since then he has been outspoken.
Will America-First News Outlets Make it to 2023?
Things are looking grim for conservative and populist news sites.
There’s something happening behind the scenes at several popular conservative news outlets. 2021 was bad, but 2022 is proving to be disastrous for news sites that aren’t “playing ball” with the corporate media narrative. It’s being said that advertisers are cracking down, forcing some of the biggest ad networks like Google and Yahoo to pull their inventory from conservative outlets. This has had two major effects. First, it has cooled most conservative outlets from discussing “taboo” topics like Pandemic Panic Theater, voter fraud, or The Great Reset. Second, it has isolated those ad networks that aren’t playing ball.
Certain topics are anathema for most ad networks. Speaking out against vaccines or vaccine mandates is a certain path to being demonetized. Highlighting voter fraud in the 2020 and future elections is another instant advertising death penalty. Throw in truthful stories about climate change hysteria, Critical Race Theory, and the border crisis and it’s easy to understand how difficult it is for America-First news outlets to spread the facts, share conservative opinions, and still pay the bills.
Without naming names, I have been told of several news outlets who have been forced to either consolidate with larger organizations or who have backed down on covering certain topics out of fear of being “canceled” by the ad networks. I get it. This is a business for many of us and it’s not very profitable. Those of us who do this for a living are often barely squeaking by, so loss of additional revenue can often mean being forced to make cuts. That means not being able to cover the topics properly. Its a Catch-22: Tell the truth and lose the money necessary to keep telling the truth, or avoid the truth and make enough money to survive. Those who have chosen survival simply aren’t able to spread the truth properly.
We will never avoid the truth. The Lord will provide if it is His will. Our job is simply to share the facts, spread the Gospel, and educate as many Americans as possible while exposing the forces of evil.
To those who have the means, we ask that you please donate. We have options available now, but there is no telling when those options will cancel us. We have our GivingFuel page. There have been many who have been canceled by PayPal, but for now it’s still an option. Your generosity is what keeps these sites running and allows us to get the truth to the masses. We’ve had great success in growing but we know we can do more with your assistance.
Thank you, and God Bless!
Covid variant BA.5 is spreading. It appears milder but much more contagious and evades natural immunity. Best to boost your immune system with new Z-Dtox and Z-Stack nutraceuticals from our dear friend, the late Dr. Vladimir Zelenko.
Reads well Ray.
Brian cant have his cake and eat it too.You can embrace the sinner but sooner or later you have to renounce the sin.
Christs message was so popular and inclusive he was crucified for it!
“Do not assume that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn ‘A man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”Matt 10:35
Go Israel Folau!!