Recently......in the news....
I am so happy Fireplace Girl joined the sound bite collections presented by Monday Morning news networks. I am also so happy Manning broke and increased the TD record on Sunday Night, that was great news (I was actually watching that one). The story about the comments made by Pastor Brian Houston of Hillsong Church in Australia, as covered by select news organizations, both mainstream Secular and Christian, was less exciting. It was said that Pastor Brian, other Hillsong Pastors and the Church would not take a stance on Homosexuality or Homosexual Marriage.
Here are my reasons for being unimpressed by the "news" regarding Hillsong Church, even repulsed.
1. Reporting In Part: When secular organizations interview Christian leaders, they often take phrases, words or ideas out of context or at least represent them in a way that will create unnecessary controversy, all in attempts to up ratings. I have no problem, actually, with a secular journalist trying to boost ratings. I believe it is intellectual compromise and journalistic sabotage to bait and switch Christian leaders, but I understand their motivation and hope these leaders are prepared when opening up to these kinds of interviews. However, I am extremely unimpressed with those in and around the church world who jump on a sound bite band wagon, with reporting that is done "in part" and not comprehensively or even responsibly. They flipidly propagate negative opinions or ideas in response to a comment or partial truth from an un-trusted source, which sounds like what I call, media driven gossip.
2. Fails The Test: The test of "first hand knowledge" is very important when passing judgment in the church world. If we do not have first hand knowledge of the situation at hand, we should leave it alone all together. Anyone in the position Hillsong Church and it's leaders are in, with the amount of people they impact each week, must deal with the issue of homosexuality, from every angle, every week. They cannot avoid having a position on the issues. There is no way this high profile ministry would have stayed out of the headlines if they pushed aside the homosexual community and were less than authentic in their ability to interpret and live out scripture in daily life, within the boundaries most church leaders would find appropriate. Unfortunately, many sectors of journalism, activism and church leadership would have already made headlines with their shock and awe tactics against any organization who attempts to show respect to ALL people who might come through their doors. (sarcasm could not be avoided) So, I cannot conclude that the Hillsong position on homosexuality is completely scriptural, but I can assume it stays close enough to most mainstream bible preachers to have kept them out of the news thus far. For those who have commented without having listened to a complete representation of what Hillsong teaches, or been part of their ministry in person, maybe they should give themselves the "first hand knowledge" test.
3. Actual Ministry & Biblical Position: The last reason I give for being saddened and unimpressed by the viral and network comments, against Pastor Houston and Hillsong, has three parts.
a) Actual Ministry b) Biblical Position c) Platform Stalking
a) The actual ministry being done to, with and around the homosexual issue at Hillsong Church is not even being asked about. I haven't read one comment that cited actual experience, research or information regarding the love, acceptance and community homosexuals find or do not find in this church community. The validity of what they say and what they do is not even being sought out. After all, shouldn't we care more about how they are impacting culture directly in day to day ministry with the Gospel Message?? Haven't heard one person explore this honestly, actually, for facts and proof.
b) The position Pastor Houston says he takes is similar to that of traditional mainstream Christian leaders, regarding Homosexual Marriage and Homosexuality. Again, I have yet to see an intellectually honest and prudent line of questions around the potential Biblical arguments the church has for or against the issues. Rather, Pastor Houston, in an interview, wanted to avoid giving a one sentence answer to a complex challenge all ministries face. Well, not all ministries. From the feedback circulating around the viral community, there are apparently many who do no ministry to the homosexual community because they have become really good at "being against" them, and summarizing that into self sanctified, one sentence statements about their "non ministry" positions of belief. I would rather hear more about what Pastor Houston actually has to say regarding his understanding of scripture and how to invade culture with that teaching. But, that question isn't being asked. I recall what Jesus said with religious leaders asked him what his "position" was on controversial, hot button topics of his day, oh wait, nothing, he did not answer their foolish, self serving questions of entrapment. (again, sarcasm needed)
c) Many of the comments I have read and heard have been weak attempts at opinion sharing. They have been what I call "Platform Stalking". This is the behavior of those in and outside of the church, who watch for someone like Joel Osteen, James Dobson, Brian Houston, T.D. Jakes, David Platt or Francis Chan, to make a potentially controversial comment, then, like sharks with blood in the water, they attack. They comment, postulate and propagate with their LITTLE platform or circle of influence. They springboard from something said by a high profile person with a LARGE platform. They do this several times a week, month or year. Journalists, celebrities, pastors, bloggers, Facebook enthusiasts and friends around the water coolers talk about something they actually know nothing about, exploiting the larger platform of the one being talked about. We make ourselves feel powerful, important or smart by associating with someone who, in this case, has worked for decades building the platform their ministry rides on. No matter if you are for or against large ministry or mega church, one things is for sure, news cycles would not even mention it if they were not able to stalk and exploit the platform built by someone else. This make the comments circulating cheap and weak.
I have my opinions about Brian Houston, Hillsong Church and what potential impact they have or do not have upon the homosexual community. I hope their day to day ministry to that community is one of love, acceptance and hope, just as it should be for any one of us. I do not actually know what they do. So, for now, I will trust Pastor Houston when he says he follows the belief of most mainline church leaders and more importantly pray he is responsible with scripture, his ministry position and those God puts in his care, which is more than I can say for those spouting random, uneducated, unfounded and unsubstantiated comments about someone doing life and ministry half way around the world.
Now, back to some good reporting - tell me about Fireplace Girl ---