21 February 2013

Hillsong Church Scrutinized for Vast Income; Brian Houston Responds to "Same Old False Claims"

*This article originally appears here at Christian Research Network.

Australian tabloid television show, A Current Affair (ACA), recently ran a story questioning the vast income of Brian and Bobbie Houston, their Hillsong Church and its affiliated ministries. The show claims to have obtained "copies of Hillsong's most recent financial documents" that show that, in 2011, the ministry reported a tax-free revenue of $55 million between the church, the music ministry, conferences and Bible college courses. At the core of the report is the question: should non-profit entities such as Hillsong Church pay taxes on profits that do not go to charity?

This is not the first time such accusations have been levied at the Hillsong Church empire. In 2010, Brian Houston posted a lengthy letter on the Hillsong website responding to criticism about their finances and income. Houston concludes his letter by stating:
Bobbie and I are grateful to God for His blessing, have both worked hard for over 35 years and I believe it has been through wise investment and consistency that we have seen our lives grow. We are very committed to living by the same principles of giving and generosity that we teach others and one of the great blessings of LMI [Leadership Ministries Incorporated] has been to enable us each year to contribute significantly to the Hillsong Foundation and other missions, causes and outreaches that are passionately focused on helping people. We are blessed and I would want the same for anyone else in our position and stage of life. When, 27 years ago, we started Hillsong Church, the furthest thing from our mind was financial gain, in fact, we put everything on the line then and we have that same view today.
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Source)
Upon the airing of the 18 February 2013 A Current Affair report, Brian Houston was quick to respond again, both on Twitter and on the church website. He claims that the accusations are nothing more than recycled allegations from this previous investigation. In the post, "Statement from Hillsong Church Re: A Current Affair 18 Feb, 2013," Houston writes:
This story was nothing more than a rehash of the same old false claims that have been discredited in the past. It was full of misinformation and clearly had an anti-church agenda. Fortunately most Australians view stories like this on tabloid TV as void of all credibility and will rightly dismiss this for what it is – a grab at television ratings at the expense of the beliefs of millions of Christians across the nation. (Source)
Though presented in typical tabloid-TV manner, the ACA report does rightly identify some of the tactics used by some churches to convince their members to tithe 10% of their income "to God." One such teaching may be that one is "robbing God" if he does not give his tithe or that blessing necessarily will follow upon the contribution of one's 10%. These appear to be common teachings among those who teach a mandatory tithe.

Brian Houston also has faced criticism in the past for his prosperity teaching. Chris Rosebrough, Christian apologist and host of Fighting for the Faith, has said of Hillsong:
This is a church that is having profound influence and impact on American evangelicalism. But this is not a Christian church....Because they preach a false gospel. A church can call itself a Christian church all it wants, but if it doesn’t present the historic Christian faith and the biblical gospel of Christ and Him crucified for our sins, repentance and the forgiveness of sins, but gives you a different gospel, then according to God’s Word—if it preaches a different gospel, gives you a different gospel—then the pastor doing that is anathema. That means eternally condemned. Read Galatians 1. I cannot emphasize enough that Hillsong is not a church that we should embrace as full of people who are Christian brothers and sisters, especially the leaders of Hillsong. They really are instead like the TBN prosperity preachers of the United States. They are the same stripe, they are scratching itching ears, telling people what they want to hear and making a ton of money doing it. (Source)
Perhaps the more crucial question for the Christian, then, is not whether organizations such as Hillsong should pay taxes, but whether the strategies and preaching that are used to motivate members' giving are of a sound, biblical nature. In other words, is the Word of God being twisted and misused as a means of manipulative financial gain? If so, then perhaps that is the greater sin.

Further Reading
John MacArthur on the New Birth
John Mark Comer Clarifies Charges of Polytheism
Alpha Course’s Gumbel Invites Vineyard UK Founder Eleanor Mumford & Furtick, Hybels to Leadership Conference

16 comments:

  1. I watched that "report", and the part you referenced saying "if you don't tithe you're robbing God" is a quote from a woman who has not been part of Hillsong Church for many years, and left the church disgruntled. I've been to Hillsong many times, and not even once have I heard them say anything even close to that. Just to clarify

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    1. Hi Troy,

      That may be, but this is a teaching that is common in seeker-driven churches that teach a mandatory tithe.

      Appreciate the clarification from your own experience, though.

      Delete
  2. It just kills me the reasoning and logic people use.

    I bet the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons who rack in lots of money and are successful give all the credit to "God" "blessing" them also.

    Making large sums of money and being successful does NOT mean God is blessing anyone at all. In fact God allows some people to become very wealthy and successful as a curse and a snare to their soul.

    Does it ever dawn on some of these people that they are actually being scammed, manipulated, played and lied to by Hillsong?
    ---------

    Pro 18:11 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall.

    Pro 22:16 He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich--both come to poverty.

    Pro 28:11 A rich man may be wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has discernment sees through him.

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  3. Good response, Linda!

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  4. Yet, King Solomon was the richest man that ever lived...God blessed. Your post is a fraudulent, unproven internet attack, an assumption that Hillsong is guilty of some scandal. Weak and un-Biblical. Repent.
    Erin Benziger, you are guilty of broadcasting mis-truths and flat-out lies.
    Jesus does not do business that way, aren't YOU supposed to be representing Him?

    jen

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    1. Jen,

      All that's been done here is a reporting that ACA made these claims. Then, I actually gave more room to quoting Houston's response to the claims. No assumptions are made, simply a sharing of information. I went on to quote Rosebrough, and his opinion of Hillsong, only as a means of demonstrating that the church is not without its critics for its teachings. It seems to me that you're reading the post with far more bias than that with which it was written.

      Delete
  5. nice rebuttal, flat weak and without truth. Your broadcasts are a pitiful disgrace to members of the Body Of Christ, you are in peril of the gates of Hell, so repent. Words, in the economy of THE LORD have value, and you will be held accountable for every unprofitable word you broadcast. Please try to stay focused and concentrate on the context before you start another litany of useless words.

    Jesus speaking: The measure of Grace that you will be held accountable to:

    The Fulfillment of the Law
    17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
    Murder21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
    23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

    25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

    Adultery
    27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[e] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

    You, pretty little wolf, are running fast and furiously toward the gates of Hell.
    jen

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    1. A massive subjective isogesis Anonymous and rather troubling to see how you play Russian roulette with the Word of God to prop your personal agenda...

      A. You woud have to actually prove that Houston is being called "fool" here while he is not and in fact is a shrewd and cunning manipulator.

      B. You would have to prove that Houston is actually a true Brother in saving faith and not fallen away wolf who is devouring gullible for profit while trumping the name of God and His blood in the process which he is in his false and damning pseudo gospel and financial ponzi scheme he is running of it.

      C. You would actually have to prove that EBenz is angry with Houston which she is not.

      D. You would have to actually prove that your blanket isogesis of Matthew 5:17-23 (which you did not even bother to reference properly) is what you make of it and that is that anger is always a sin which of course is not otherwise you have "sinful" Jesus, Paul and many others. Have you read Matthew 23 or Matthew 21: 12 or Mark 3:5, Mark 10:14 or Acts 17:14? Or should I also refer you to the multitude of texts in OT where YHVH is ANGRY with sinful Israel? Think past your personal circle of likes and dislikes for the truth is not dependent on it and many times is OPPOSITE to what you allow in it...

      E. Would you also explain to us why do you abuse Matthew 5:27-29 and what is the purpose of that abuse? Are you insinuating and accusing someone here of adultery? :0) If so on what basis? Oh do tell...

      ~ Despeville

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    2. GRACE?? jen, your display of calling people names and using the bible like a hammer on people's heads in an angry frustrated way is NOT what I call grace but murder in your own heart. Before you go around judging people(hypocritically)and pronouncing condemnation-Matthew 7:1-5 you would do well to find out how God views your speech. The LORD hates perverse speech-Pr.9:15.

      jen, since you profess to be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ the standard for civil behavior is set higher, not lower. Do you pray for those you disagree with such as EBenz and love them after you've given your scathing diatribe? Jesus commands us to you know-Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27. Do you have compassion in your heart for people even though you disagree with them? This is evidence of the Love of God. If you don't then I implore you to ask the Lord to show you why you lack His love..

      I'm way more concerned about YOU jen than I am about HillSong right now because of your legalism and belief that a Christian can be in danger of the fires of hell. I'm concerned that you don't understand what it truly means to know that a Child of God does not live in fear of losing their salvation even when they have done something wrong.

      God's word teaches otherwise jen. A Christian is redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ and we are given HIS righteousness at the cross the moment we repent. Do you KNOW this or are you living in fear?

      Have you truly trusted in Jesus Christ according to Scripture? The LAW is a MIRROR jen not a brush and not a blemish remover. It merely shows us our imperfections. "The law was put in charge to lead us to CHRIST that we might be justified by faith"-Gal.3:24.. A mirror (the LAW)cannot remove anyone's sins but is merely there to show us that we have broken God's law and need to cry out to God for mercy to save us..

      Thanks for reading this jen..

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    3. pardon my error the Proverbs 9:15 is supposed to be Proverbs 8:13.

      Delete
  6. Noticed that my initial comment on Hillsong and its fleecing of people in the name of God has been censored out...

    ~ Despeville

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    1. Not intentionally, Despeville. It actually was posted to the wrong article. Feel free to repost here if you'd like.

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  7. Ok so here it is more or less...

    Hillsong "church" is nothing but a fraudulent sacam operating goat hoarding corporation designed to enrich few people at the top of it. It is a ponzi scheme that uses God and His name and His word as a lure. This is not a slander. This is a fact based on the numbers presented in the show which were not made up nor guessed but found and verified from financial statements that this ponzi scheme corporation parading as a "church" FILED with Australian Government and are part of public record...

    Do not believe me? Am I too harsh? :0) Just think Hillsong corporation pulled in 55,000,000 dollars while they gave away to poor a whooping 0.27 of ONE PERCENT... :0) Yes they gave away LESS THAN ONE THIRD OF ONE PERCENT that is 154,000 to poor... That is all anyone need to know even if you ar inoculated to the fact that Hillsong is a false gospel goat herding operation. More and entirely based on my experience in finance and I have an extensive one. Businesses like this with one propriety owner (and this is what we are looking at here) create an income stream to them in 10% to 15% of the revenue. Therefore it is actually very realistic to assume and expect that Brian Houston makes 5.5 to 8.25 million from this ponzi scheme no matter how much he hides it by different financial structures he is using. Just SHAME and ICHABOD. BTW they should be taxed and taxed fully.

    ~ Despeville

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    1. I clearly need those Gunnars ( http://shop.gunnars.com/computer-eyewear/l/100 , does anyone here uses them ?) After a week of 60 hours before computer screens I cannot clearly see what I type here... :0)
      I apologize for the typos but I will say it again, correctly and say it in bold:

      Hillsong "church" is nothing but a fraudulent SCAM operating goat hoarding corporation designed to enrich few people at the top of it.

      ~ Despeville

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    2. Despeville, you are becoming one of my heros.

      Pam:)

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