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Hillsong’s Brian Houston condemns Christian athlete Israel Folau for quoting scripture

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Hillsongs Brian Houston condemns Christian athlete Israel Folau for quoting scripture

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.

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Culture and Religion

Democrats turn Mexican Independence Day celebration in Chicago into political statement against Trump

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Democrats turn Mexican Independence Day celebration in Chicago into political statement against Trum

The long-standing tradition of cruising in Chicago streets for Mexican Independence Day had a double meaning this year as hundreds of revelers circled Trump Tower in Chicago waving Mexican flags and honking in celebration and protest.

The change in venue from the normal “cruising” in Hispanic neighborhoods was prompted by law enforcement’s decision to block off roads normally used for the occasion. The disruptive and sometimes violent celebrations were relocated after 10th district police blocked 26th St. in the Mexican neighborhood of Little Village.

The motivation behind the blocked streets in Hispanic neighborhoods was clear: To move the celebration downtown where it could become a protest. We know this because the official police statement declared their reasoning was for cleanup following a parade… but there was no parade scheduled for the streets in question. This was clearly a political move orchestrated by leftists in the Mayor’s office.

Cars and trucks with Mexican flags have been cruising Hispanic neighborhoods for Mexican Independence Day since the mid-80s. It wasn’t until far-left Mayor Lori Lightfoot sought to weaponize and politicize the celebration that the venue was changed to the streets right in front of Trump Tower.

Expression of cultural pride is one thing. Waving Mexican flags defiantly at Trump Tower has turned the celebration of Mexican Independence Day into a political statement, just as Democrats want it to be.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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The non-existent Evangelical Dark Web

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The non-existent Evangelical Dark Web

There’s lot of talk about there being an Evangelical Dark Web. This is supposedly the “Christian” version of the Intellectual Dark Web, which comprises of secular thought leaders like Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, Joe Rogan, Dave Rubin, The Weinstein brothers, Sam Harris and several others. They all come from different backgrounds, have different political ideologies and disagree on most issues. Their unifying factor, however, is that they believe in freedom of speech and want to engage in open and honest conversation about their differences.

What the IDW does that’s different than virtually anyone else is that they embrace the discussions. They are okay with disagreement. They enjoy the intellectual exercise of talking though philosophical differences of opinion. They’ll engage honestly with those that they disagree with. Podcasts like The Joe Rogan Experience, The Rubin Report and Ben Shapiro’s Sunday Special all exemplify exactly that: Just talk to people.

When I launched my podcast, Conversations with Jeff, this was my inspiration. I thoroughly enjoy Dave Rubin and Joe Rogan, especially, because they are curious, will talk to anybody and they enjoy the intellectual exercise of talking things out in a long-form conversation. You can look through my guest list for CWJ, and you’ll see a wide range of people who I’ve had on. I’m a Cessationist Calvinist, theologically. However, I’ve hardly had any Calvinists on my show… Steve Camp is the only one that comes to mind. I’ve had on Brannon Howse and Andy Woods who are both strongly opposed to Calvinism. I’ve had on charismatics like Dr Michael Brown, Stephen Black and Ken Peters. I’ve even had on a non-Christian like Trevor Loudon. I enjoy the process of just talking to people. This is what the IDW is all about.

Earlier this year, I began talking to a small group of people about launching our own version of the IDW, even naming it the Evangelical Dark Web. Some feelers were put out, and then all of a sudden a big polemics blog started running with the terminology. Which is fine by me… I care more about fixing things than getting credit for anything or any form of self-promotion.
However, what ended up happening is that the EDW turned out to be nothing like the IDW. The group that identifies as the EDW are just a bunch of people who agree with each other. There’s no engaging in differing opinions. There’s no open dialogue. It’s literally a bunch of anti-SJWs who’ve hijacked the name Evangelical Dark Web and redefined it into something that bears NO resemblance of the Intellectual Dark Web. Sure, there may be some differing theology, but that’s ignored and not dealt with. They don’t want to talk about they disagreements, they only want to talk about what they agree on.

You see, these guys aren’t engaging with those they disagree with. They’re only talking trash about people with differing opinions… and sometimes they’re just talking trash about people they don’t consider to be in their little group, even if they agree on virtually everything! Sounds more like a clique to me.

Let me share some anecdotal evidence for you.

First, take a look at the EDW’s podcasts. Who are they talking to? People that agree with them on virtually everything. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a podcast with any of these guys that engages in a non-hostile way with anyone they disagree with.

Second, when I had Dr Michael Brown on CWJ, I strongly opposed his charismatic beliefs throughout the entire podcast. However, it wasn’t hostile and we engaged with each other’s arguments. I then got a text message from a guy who runs one of the supposed EDW podcast networks that said, “Your support of Dr Brown is the death of any claim of discernment on your platform.” I never said that I support him. I only had him on my podcast, and we spent an hour of the show going back and forth on our disagreements! THAT is the DEFINITION of the EDW/IDW mentality. Engage with each other’s arguments! The simple fact of discussion does not mean endorsement. However, this is the problem with those that claim to be a part of the EDW. They don’t want to engage with those they disagree with. They’ve turned the EDW into something that’s the complete opposite of what it’s supposed to be.

And third, I’ve invited so many people on my show Conversations with Jeff. The funny thing is, the majority of the men that would be considered a part of the EDW (or in that theological tribe) have turned me down or sometimes even put unrealistic conditions on them coming on my show.

Here are a few examples of some of the responses I’ve received from these supposed EDWers:

“As long as you are friends with *******, Jeff, I cannot come onto your program.”

“Being on your broadcast would be contingent upon you taking down those negative articles you have about me.“

After publicly criticizing me for not having anyone from his “camp” on my podcast that I’ve publicly disagreed with, I invited this next person on my show. He responded with:

“So no, I cannot possibly, in good conscience betray those good men by participating in a debate/discussion/podcast hosted by a person whose sole reputation is of a trollish controversialist known entirely for sowing discord among brethren and blasting fire upon their Gospel efforts.”

And the examples go on and on. This is not how things are supposed to be in a supposed EDW.

So here’s the deal, there is no such thing as the Evangelical Dark Web. People can claim to be a part of it, but it’s non-existent. The supposed EDW is nothing more than a theological tribe that continually preaches to the choir and doesn’t allow their positions to be critiqued. They don’t welcome disagreement, they avoid it all cost… unless it’s them disagreeing with someone else.

So where do we go from here? Let’s create an ACTUAL Evangelical Dark Web. One which engages with each other, even if we disagree. Understand that talking to someone does not equate an endorsement. Be honest. Stop playing these behind the scenes games of manipulation. Be a part of the conversation, instead of just yelling at each other from a crowd of a like-minded individuals.

So let me take the lead on this one… My podcast Conversations with Jeff is open to anyone who is a part of the greater conversation in evangelicalism. Whether we agree or disagree, I’d be happy to have you on. Whether we are friends or on different teams, I’d be happy to engage with your positions. And on the flip side, if you’d like to have me on your podcast, I’d be happy to come on and discuss anything you’d like. You can ask me whatever you want. This is how the EDW is supposed to go. So I can only hold myself to that standard. I hope the rest of you follow suit.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Culture and Religion

The Evangelical Dark Web

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The Evangelical Dark Web

The battle for the soul of the evangelical church in the United States spans across the remaining denominations that have not openly fallen into apostasy. The United Methodist Church was saved by the African delegations from rejecting biblical ministry standards. The Southern Baptist Convention struggles to reject critical race theory. Many denominations have split over the encroachment of liberal or progressive theology such as the PCA. This constant fight to maintain the doctrine of the church from false teachers is never ending, dating back to the divinely inspired writings of Paul. The Evangelical Dark Web is the latest decentralized movement in the fight against false teachers infiltrating the church.

As I enter the fray to defend the church, it is important to recognize that, in defending the church from the false doctrines and heretics, the stakes are eternal. We live in a Romans 1 era.

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

The country’s descent into decadence, it’s rejection of truth, is evident in seemingly every area, and the church is unimmune. The attack on the church is one that seeks to pacify the gospel with worldly ideas. I identify three false gospels, in which, the Evangelical Dark Web combats that seek to subvert Christianity. Note: these do not include cults that identify as Christian.

The Prosperity Gospel

The word of faith heresy reduces the God of the universe to a vending machine with a “name it and claim it” philosophy. It conforms the gospel to a self-help ritual so that the practitioners can get rich and stay healthy. In short, the Prosperity Gospel is about using God to achieve worldly desires.

The Social Justice Gospel

The Social Justice Gospel can be briefly summarized as antinomianism combined with postmodernism. This heresy reduces God by denying the Word. Sanctification is discouraged. Its Jesus is a brown skinned Palestinian. Its evangelism is affirming the world. Its sacrament is abortion. Its charity is entitlement programs. Belief in the Resurrection is optional, and Muslims worship the same god. The Social Justice Gospel is the troll to the Bride of Christ. It’s how the world wants Christianity to be, if people are to identify as Christian and those who practice the Social Justice Gospel always feel the need to call out Christians who hold to orthodox doctrine.

This doctrine is a parasite. Churches who partake in the parasite dwindle, and so the parasite must find a new church to infiltrate, for the Social Justice Gospel cannot survive in the world it wants to create.

The Popularity Gospel

The Popularity Gospel is most difficult to explain. It reduces Jesus to the popular kid in high school. It’s hard to describe a heresy that creates an idol out of the living God, but this phenomenon is prophesied in scripture:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 NASB

The Popularity Gospel is an artificial image of Jesus that appeals to the masses. It’s often identifiable in those who employ a worldly definition of love when talking about a savior whose kingdom is not of this world. God is all “love” and no wrath. Its favorite verses poll extremely well. We aren’t being saved from sin; we are trusting in Jesus to protect, lead, and bless us. You are good. Jesus makes you better. This diluted gospel accepts worldly premises on goodness, judgment, love, and Christianity as a whole. Its church organizations are mass growth marketing mechanisms. Its sermons are elementary. Its commission is to baptize believers, nevermind discipleship. Discipleship requires critically thinking. With the Popularity Gospel, one just has to sit back, enjoy the entertainment, ambiance, and childcare.

Unlike the Social Justice Gospel, the Popularity Gospel is self-sustaining because marketing works, and the masses enjoy being entertained. What I described was the megachurch motif.

The Movement

A number of Christians are waking up to the spiritual battle that is going on within the Church, realizing, how many leaders are perpetuating or capitulating to the corrupting forces of the three aforementioned heresies. Just as academia in this country has largely been corrupted, our seminaries, likewise, are under attack. If the institutions that train the pastorate in this country fail, churches will struggle to find pastors worthy of the calling.

In the last few years, church leaders have responded with faith statements such as the Nashville Statement and the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel to redress such pressing issues. But these faith statements, while a commendable effort, are insufficient in rooting out false teachers by themselves. For the Bible says:

10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. Titus 3:10-11 ESV

Christianity needs a united front against such heresies mentioned above as they would, in modern times, be united against the teachings of Arian. Orthodoxy must be enforced even if it means powerful figures in Big Eva get cast out in the process.

In championing the disparaging title Brian Auten and Jake Meador over at Mere Orthodoxy, this platform seeks to be theologically sound, historically literate, and culturally relevant, as called in facing the most pressing threat Christianity is facing in America today.

If you are feeling called to learn more about this important battle, join the Evangelical Dark Web

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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