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The Scapegoat

Former Hillsong New York Pastor Carl Lentz

In November 2020, the exposure of former Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz's extramarital affair became a worldwide phenomenon. For those who followed his career or watched his interviews on Oprah and The View, this revelation wasn't wholly unexpected.

It's easy to point out Lentz's faults, call him an adulterer, a liar, and a fraud. But I say, partly in his defense, he was simply the byproduct of overseers who encouraged his behavior and helped elevate him to celebrity status. Lentz was barely 30-years-old when he was appointed to lead Hillsong New York. He had no experience pastoring a large congregation and, at best, his theological understanding was that of a newborn (see 1 Tim. 3:6).

Obviously, Lentz is 100% responsible for his actions; he should be thankful his wife and family are standing with him through the ordeal. The shame, however, lies with leaders who looked the other way for years while continuing to profit from Hillsong NY. These cowards are now letting Lentz publicly take the fall for a ministry that was cursed before he was conceived.

Megachurch dream team

Brian and Bobbie Houston have no shame in their cult-like empire that is Hillsong Church. They are contemporary snake oil salesmen and they're good at what they do. So good, in fact, Brian managed to convince himself that Jesus actually likes Hillsong (he said as much in this interview). From their flagship campus in Sydney, Australia to the interior of 30 countries, Hillsong's "Jesus is my homeboy " doctrine has manifested in local gatherings, college campuses, and high-profile speaker conferences. Idolizing church culture, while promoting pulpit personalities, produced one of the most scandalous organizations in the history of the Church.

Whistleblower staff members, former congregants, and unbelieving critics alike have rendered their verdicts of disapproval and disdain and lawsuits are a dime a dozen. Reports of sexual assault, embezzlement, and religious abuse are part and parcel of the megachurch's innerworkings. It appears the Houstons have no intention of reconciling with those they've hurt or recompensing any losses. Brian Houston's calloused approach to "haters" led him to conceal one victim's accusations of rape and molestation.

Pedophile Frank Houston, Brian's father, violated several young boys in the 1960s and 1970s. Frank, who died in 2004, managed to escape prosecution entirely and continued building the Hillsong brand, eventually merging his church with Brian's in the 1980s. Brian became aware of his father's sex crimes in 1999, the same year Hillsong Church was officially founded. Brian fired his father and stripped him of all ministry privileges but never reported the crimes to law enforcement. As of August 2021, Brian was charged with covering up Frank's sexual offenses. He is set to appear in court in October 2022.

Hillsong Senior Pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston

The pot calling the kettle

Four decades have passed and Hillsong leaders worldwide are still being caught in and accused of gross sins, including stealing tithes and offerings, heretical preaching, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, and scamming tenants who lease Hillsong's rental properties. While it is possible that legitimate, devout Christians exist within the organization, this movement will never be made right in God's eyes. Given its current trajectory, unless there is mass scale repentance, mercy will eventually give way to judgment. Anyone who doesn't wish to bear Hillsong's punishment should exit the church as soon as possible.

Brian Houston has interviewed with many worldly reporters but has yet to sit down with his peers to offer an explanation for Hillsong's series of transgressions. To my knowledge, he's also never issued a sincere apology to the Christian community. In his interview with Today, Houston pretty much called Lentz a liar and a narcissist, and then said, "'[There's] a lot of things I should've known earlier, and hopefully, moving forward, we'll make sure to have better systems in place and better accountability.'"

A ministry founded in the midst of falsehoods and child sex scandals has no part in Jesus Christ. It's time everyone stops calling Hillsong a Christian church. It is far from that. If sinners can see Hillsong for what it is, those in the Body of Christ should be able to discern it as well. Oh, and if there isn't enough unveiling and negative publicity, a new documentary series called Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed is set to debut on March 24, 2022.


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