Archives For Hillsong

Hillsong Church has been hit with a barrage of criticism after an employee “accidently” used the official Hillsong Twitter account to ridicule Donald Trump’s performance in the first Presidential debate of the 2020 US election.

According to the Herald Sun an ‘unnamed staffer allegedly logged into the official Hillsong Twitter account, rather than their own personal one.’ The Tweet read: ‘Can’t someone just mute Trump’s microphone!! He is coming across as such a bully. No respect for him sorry.’

The “gaffe” was quickly deleted, with Hillsong posting an apology soon after, saying, “Earlier today a staff member accidentally posted on this account personal comments about the US presidential debate, that were meant for a personal account. Hillsong does not comment on partisan politics & apologizes. These comments do not represent the views of Hillsong Church.”

ChristianPost listed a series of criticisms for the original post, starting with Greg Locke, Pastor at Global Vision Bible Church in Tennessee. Who said, ‘Dear @Hillsong, that was deleted very quickly. Careful. I sat beside @brianhoustontv at the RNC acceptance speech at the White House. Your boss secretly likes Trump.’

The Post also highlighted how problematic the “gaffe” could be for Hillsong. Brian Houston has visited the White House, applauded Trump’s initiatives regarding the preservation of religious freedom, and is part of a group of Christian leaders active in lending Donald Trump prayer support.

Criticisms of the “gaffe” was met with a similar amount of fiery criticism for the apology. Candace Cameron Bure (Hallmark/Full House/Fuller House) simply remarked, “Oooof”.  While a list of other Twitter users took the apology as an opportunity to throw more anti-Christian abuse Hillsong’s way.

The loudest condemnation came from those attempting to conflate Houston with Hillsong. They labelled the apology hypocritical. Pointing out that Houston’s support for Scott Morrison, and Donald Trump negated the Churches’ claim to distance itself from political dichotomies by “not commenting on partisan politics.”

This is despite the “gaffe, mistake, accident” – whatever – suggesting that Houston’s personal views don’t necessarily represent the views of Hillsong as a whole. The false equivalence seems to have blocked the obvious irony.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that the high visibility of the Church, sins of some of its leaders, and the massive success of its music arm in recent years has brought Hillsong under a microscope.

The consequence of such close quarters’ scrutiny is that any unintentional faux pas by, or connected to the “mega-Church”, are rapidly churned out for maximum attention in order to either undermine, discredit or cancel them. And not just Hillsong, but Christianity in general.

It’s Hillsong. Just like Trump. They’re influential, but not exactly THE authority when it comes to Christian theological truths, or the conduit by which all Christians make their decisions.

It’s also almost guaranteed that most of the people acting all dismayed at the recent US election Presidential debate were just as equally entertained by it. Such is our spectator culture.

Perhaps the problem with leaders is a problem closer to home?


In this sense the debate and reactions to it are a mirror. What we condemn in others, we must first address within ourselves. For instance, eye-to-eye respect will always trump plankeye, and eye-for-an-eye relationships.

As atheist, author and ex-Muslim, Ayaan Hirsi Ali quipped: “Everyone is talking about and asking about last night’s debate. I don’t want to make light of this because it is not funny. But where in the world do people in their seventies behave like stick-your-tongue-out preschoolers on national TV while vying for the highest office?”

The election debate highlighted the fact that the future of America, and by default her allies, will be decided by the choice between a career politician and a citizen President.

Trump doesn’t need the Presidency, Biden does. Trump’s income doesn’t ride on him being President, Biden’s does. Which of these is more likely to be the public servant Americans need? All the evidence shows that it isn’t Joe Biden.

If anything positive can be drawn from the debate moderator’s obvious favoritism, it’s that Trump was inadvertently painted as the underdog.

If the plan was to save Biden midway through, or gang up on Trump, and bait him for soundbites, it’s backfired spectacularly.


First published on Caldron Pool, 1st October 2020 

©Rod Lampard, 2020

Advent Day 3: Waiting

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The documented events pre and post-birth of Jesus the Christ are about expectancy. This is on display in Luke and Matthew’s historical record of Joseph, Mary, Zechariah, Elizabeth, John, Herod, no vacant inns, Roman administrative customs, Shepherds, Wise-men, Angels, and a postnatal flight to Egypt (Mt.2:13).

A concept of waiting has a big part to play in the Advent tradition. However, this focus on “waiting” can hide from us the tremendous amount of movement found within both texts.Particularly the  activity of the Holy Spirit. This is primarily because of a thematic over emphasis on ”waiting” found in some (not all) advent reflections.

It is summer in the Southern Hemisphere. The traditional ideas of Advent which consider it a time of waiting seem out of sync, almost abstract. For example: there is more movement here because of the warmer days.

Having said this,  the summer also enhances our chances of appreciating the themes of waiting and anticipation. This is because of the anticipation of cooler temperatures which arise when clouds announce potential storms.

New Testament scholar, Joel Green, considers Luke’s record of the geographical and geo-political to be unique markers of significance; features, among others, that ‘contribute to the dramatic movement of the Advent story and to the sense of perpetual motion within the story‘ (1997:50)[i].

Perpetual motion is considered impossible in practice. So it is a term, that properly understood and applied in a theological context, helps to identify the paradox, the potential and the actual participation of God and those He called. There, heartfelt tensions must have shifted between an overwhelming mix of bewilderment with doubt, and the knowledge that these strange events was God fulfilling His promise. People whose feet appear to us covered in dust, as they embarked on a wild and nervous journey, became not only participants of the impossible, but also witnesses of that which has become possible.

As we enter a season that places more demands on our time and creativity, Advent should call to us to a remembrance of God’s freedom and invitation to relationship. In Jesus the Christ, son of Mary, step-son of Joseph we encounter Him as fully human, fully God. On the cross and outside the empty tomb, we encounter Him as Saviour.

Yet, before a manger, straw and the scent of farm animals we encounter Him as a baby, in a strange event that implies God became vulnerable and dependent for our sake. Displaying the length to which the Creator chose to go in order to rescue His Creation. As Karl Barth stated: ‘Jesus is not an idea. He is a person. It is the truth of the real the reality of the true which here enters the field: ‘God speaks. God acts. God is in the midst’ (CD. Outline 1949:58)

Hildegard of Bingen [ii] said, that by the Spirit we are:

‘awakened, called by the resounding melody; God’s invocation of the word’.

Like a fire pouring forth from God’s heart, bursting through our despair and obliterating it (1 Jn.5). Almost every reminder of this birth narrative brings with it a light that pierces the darkened areas of our lives (Jn.5:35).

For: ‘in His light we see light and in this light our darkness’ (Ps.36:9) [iii].

Over the next 8 weeks most Australians will slow down.

Schools will begin a 5 week summer break. Shops will trade until Christmas eve, opening Boxing Day, coming to life with fanfare, discounts and line-ups. Human activity is likely to distract from the meaning and purpose before us.

However, it doesn’t have to. Advent is a journey about embracing ‘the dramatic movement of the Advent story by, marking the event where the impossible became possible’ (1997:50). Any understanding of waiting as a kind of static stillness cannot be drawn from the texts. There is waiting, but there is also movement. Like Mary and Joseph who did their best to ”trust God without borders” (United, Oceans), we ‘look and march towards God’s appearing and revelation, the world’s redemption and God’s fulfilment of His promise in Advent’ [iv].

‘We are the object of divine compassion[v]

Sources:


[i]  Green, J.B 1997 NICNT: The Gospel of Luke Wm.B Eerdmans Publishing US/UK
[ii] Hildegard of Bingen Selected writings, Penguin Books (London 2001) Kindle for PC Ed.
[iii] Barth, K 1949 CD Outline, pp.62 & 75
[iv] Barth, K. Church Dogmatics IV:3, Henderickson Publishers p.322 & CD Outline, 1949:62 & 75
[v] Barth, K 1949 CD Outline, pp.62 & 75

(I was introduced to the song ‘Oceans’ by the Blog, Found. The lyrics seemed fitting.)

RL2013