Saturday, 18 September 2010

St Augustine on Hillsong

When St Augustine visited Hillsong last week, many interested parties plied him for comment on Australia's biggest and most influential mega-church. At the time, he was strangely silent; however, through conniving and skullduggery, I have managed to obtain portions of the manuscript for his Sunday morning sermon tomorrow. Though he doesn't mention Hillsong by name, I think readers will agree that his visit has clearly made an impression, and that he has some important things to say about it to his own congregation:

What kind of men are they who, fearing to hurt those they speak to, not only do not prepare them for imminent temptations, but even promise the happiness of this world, which God did not promise to the world itself? He foretells toil upon toil, that will come upon the world right to the end; and do you wish the Christian to be exempt from these labours? Because he is a Christian, he is likely to suffer more rather than less in this world.

For the Apostle says, 'All who wish to live piously in Christ will suffer persecution.' Now if you will, you shepherd seeking your own advantage not that of Jesus Christ, let Paul say, 'All who wish to live piously in Christ will suffer persecution,' and do you say, 'If you have lived piously in Christ, all good things will be yours in abundance. And if you have not children, you will take up and nurture all men, and not one will die on your account'? Is this your way of building? Notice what you are doing, where you are placing a man. He is on sand, this man you are setting up. The rain will fall, the floods will come, the wind will blow; they will beat upon that house of yours and it will fall, and great will be the fall thereof.

Raise him up from the sand, set him upon a rock; let him whom you wish to be a Christian live in Christ. Let him note the indignities and sufferings of Christ; let him observe the sinless Christ paying for what He had not stolen; let him attend to the words of Scripture, telling him, 'The Lord chastises every son whom He accepts.' Let him prepare himself for chastisement, or else not seek to be accepted.


Matthias said...

GAB a very apt comment and
as i blogged over at schutz 's on another matter I will quote the Book of Revelations Chapter 3 verse I ,which is Christ talking to the church at Sardis ,or Hillsong or where I attend even
"” i know thy works and that thou havest a name and that thou livest ,and art dead” Revelations 3:1),then he gives His warning about coming as a Thief in the Night,then where is the Prosperity gospel ,the sacro pop music,the multi million dollar mansions,or all our plans for the rest of our lives


Matthias said...

GAB i have quoted the St Augustine comments on the blog
and showed that it was posted here originally.
The owner of that Blog is engaged in challenging Hillsong over their theology

GAB said...

Thanks for the plug and vote of confidence, Matthias.

Matthias said...

Not a problem GAB. I told the blog owner-an Aussie living in Denmark and an ardent Pentecostal that you were a Evangelical catholic and he invited me to put the comments on his blog,especially as he is currently calling for Hillsong to become more orthodox

Anonymous said...

Well, interesting take on Hillsong. However, a search of your blog discovers that you worship Mary. I respect Mary the mother of Jesus, as she was a special person. But to create another Mary in the Blessed Virgin Mary and pray to her, ask her for healing and intervention is wrong and against the Gospel of Jesus.

Your own quote from St Augustine says: "let him whom you wish to be a Christian live in Christ." Live in Jesus ... not His mother.

From what he wrote, I think St Augustine visited St Mary's Cathedral while Cardinal George Pell was saying Mass, not Hillsong.

GAB said...

"However, a search of your blog discovers that you worship Mary."

Hello, Newtaste. You have been very forthright, so I shall be likewise.

1. Firstly, and most importantly, a search of my blog didn't discover anything- you did (or didn't- but I'll get to that). The word you're searching for is 'indicate'. English is my trade, I like to see it used appropriately and I make no apology for that.

2. So you discovered that I worship Mary by searching my blog. Really? Can you tell me where I said this? I'm racking my brain and can't recall having indicated such a practice on this blog or indeed in any other medium. This may or may not be because I don't worship Mary and never have. Or perhaps you know better what I believe than I do.

But it occurs to me that perhaps you have assumed that, since I am Catholic, I must worship Mary since Catholics worship Mary. Except that (quite apart from the fact that, if that is the case, it's got nothing to do with anything you read on this blog at all) we don't. Or perhaps you know what the Catholic Church believes and teaches better than it does.

There's a word for this hoary old chestnut and it's pseudoknowledge. Like the fact that everybody knows the medievals thought the Earth was flat- except they didn't (which is another good reason everybody should read Dante).

But in fact the Colyridians, the only religious group that ever did actually worship Mary, are effectively extinct. I am not a member nor do I intend to refound the movement, not least because they were condemned by the Catholic Church.

Anonymous said...

"my love of the Rosary has never stopped increasing; indeed it grows the more often I pray it)"

You say the Hail Mary ten times more than you say the Lord's Prayer and the Glory be to the Father.

The first part of the Hail Mary is straight from Luke and biblical. The second part is a prayer to Mary, not through her to Jesus or God the Father. (Read the words).

I didn't assume you worship the Virgin Mary, you 'indicated' it yourself.

I was a Catholic. Were you ever part of Hillsong?

God bless.

GAB said...


Okay, now we're getting somewhere solid. Excellent. Here are the words to which you refer - "Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death."

The first pertinent question to ask is "Pray to whom for us?" The answer is, of course, God. So your assertion that this is not a prayer prayed "through her to Jesus or God the Father" is baseless. That is precisely what it is.

The second pertinent question to ask is, "What constitutes worship?" A connected question is, "Is a request for prayers made by someone else on my behalf worship?" I would be interested in your answer to the first question (it may turn out to be a point of genuine disagreement, as opposed to this 'Mary worship' issue which I take to be a huge red herring). I think, though, that there is no particularly good reason we cannot agree on the answer to the second question. Clearly if I ask you to pray for me, whether that be now or at the hour of my death (and it is instructive to consider that the time when those two periods will be identical draws ever closer to each of us), this is not an act of worship. I do not see why the same cannot be said if I make the same request of Mary. You may reply that she is not present and that this is the crucial difference. But then I can ask for your prayers by email or text. Or perhaps it is that she has died. Well, my belief that I can ask our fathers and mothers in faith for prayers and your belief that I can't is a genuine difference and perhaps worth discussing, but it has nothing to do with worshiping someone other than God.

I have, in answer to your question, been to Hillsong on a couple of occasions, though I have never been a member. I have, however, as you would know from reading my blog, been Protestant, a Baptist at that, and am far from being unacquainted with the issues and sentiments you are voicing, having once shared them in no small measure myself.

Anonymous said...

Sister Margaret Scully taught me in 2nd Class many years ago:

"Sr Margaret, a tireless worker in the healing/counselling ministry for about 15 years, suffered from a dysfunctional oesophagus (inability to swallow) for most of her life. This meant that all her food had to be blended to liquid form allowing it to percolate, under gravity, into her stomach. In 1986, in the presence of the blessed Eucharist she was miraculously healed. Her first personal witness of this miracle (medically documented) is given below with all the associated excitement, joy and wonder. As well as organising and leading many charismatic retreats for religious and laypersons, she has led many communities in retreats of spiritual renewal in city and country, and is constantly in demand. However, her favorite location is her private prayer and ministry room where she coaxes her physically-, spiritually- and/or psychologically-wounded callers into the embrace of a loving healing God."

Her beautiful testimony is being healed by God. Proving God heals in Jesus name with the power of the Holy Spirit. Not through or with the help of anyone else in Heaven.

And I'll leave it at that.

God Bless.

GAB said...

Praise God for His blessings. It is wonderful that you should have been acquainted with a lady so blessed by God.

I'm not sure what you think Sr Margaret's healing proves. God can do whatever He likes. He can raise someone from the dead directly, as He did with Lazarus, or through one of His servants, as with Elisha and the Shunnamite woman's son. Both methods glorify Him.

I don't see God's glory as a zero-sum game. It is not a case of the more Christians do, the less God does. Isaiah says, "You have wrought for us all our works." (Isaiah 26:12) Everything we do for each other, all our prayers, acts of fellowship and charity, etc. are done in God, through the Spirit, and redound to God's glory. That goes for Christians in heaven as well as on earth.