Ever wonder what our Prime Minister Scott Morrison, as a member of an Australian Christian Churches congregation, actually believes?
As a veteran of the ACC/Hillsong/C3 movements for over thirty years, and a graduate of the ACC Bible College Alphacrusis, I’m excruciatingly aware of the theological and social belief system underpinning and overarching this particular brand of Christian denomination. And like a great many people who chose to leave, the revelations regarding just how seriously our Prime Minister takes his faith – and his affiliation with ACC – are not just cause for alert, they’re way into the level of alarm.
With it clear Prime Minister Scott Morrison has more than a passing Sunday attendance level interest in his church and the Australian Christian Churches organisation, having spoken at their recent National Conference on the Gold Coast, it’s perhaps well past time we examined the ACC culture and doctrines. Those of us who have experienced life as an ACC/Hillsong/C3 church member and chose to leave understand how intrinsic their doctrinal foundation is to their operations and expectations. Those who believe and trust Morrison will not allow his faith to override his politics simply don’t understand the culture of this particular brand of Christianity. The doctrines underpinning it are not a menu of beliefs one can pick and choose from at will. Those who will be part of the ACC and similar movements must accept all the ACC Doctrinal Basis of faith and practice, or in effect reject them all.
Abuse, corruption, nepotism, public shaming, controlling, exploitation, inappropriate and dangerous counseling and social support methods, misogyny, suppression of women and minorities, homophobia and pedophilia – the public might be surprised to learn the scope and extent of these within the ACC/Hillsong/C3 church affiliates, and what we see made public isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. What past members and survivors acutely understand, and what’s difficult to make those who’ve never been involved fully understand and appreciate, is how the doctrines, practices and culture of these denominations impacts the way one sees society and the world, and behaves towards it. The idea our Prime Minister is a Christian might be a comfort to some sectors of the Australian public, but it’s vital we understand just what kind of Christian he is. We must understand his faith is inextricable from his politics, and if we assume he’s adopted the ACC Doctrinal requisites, some serious questions must be asked of him. Scott Morrison the evangelical Christian does not view society primarily through a Prime Ministerial lens but through a fundamental pentecostal one, and despite the fact this fills ACC members with glee, the rest of us ought to be very, very concerned.
At first glance, ACC doctrines seem contextually mainstream enough as Christian dogma goes. However, we must understand these are not philosophical appendages to be worn to church on Sundays like a coat and tie. These are lifestyle expectations. These are a filter through which all thought and action must be passed. These make up the foundation the Christian’s life is built upon. These are the yardstick church members are both measured by, and measure others by. They’re a checklist of ideas and ideals members must instate in place of any ethical, morally opposing or intellectually conflicting ones, regardless of how preposterous or confusing. If you cannot accept these ideas and make them your own, at worst you are not “saved” and can’t go to Heaven, at best you can’t be a real Christian. As the movement has taken these precepts from its understanding of the Bible, and they believe the Bible is the actual, literal and immutable words (or Word) of God, these doctrines are effectively a reality one must set in place of all former realities. Church and all it’s satellites such as ministries, Bible College and mid-week study and social groups are basically cultural programming cells whereby the social implications of instating the alternative reality are enforced, and reinforced.
In a nutshell, foundational beliefs of the ACC denomination are:
The Christian/Judaic God is real, and made everything seen and unseen, read, everything physical, metaphysical and spiritual, according to the book of Genesis. It was all made in seven literal days and nights. God made the world look millions of years old, but it isn’t. It’s about 6000 to 10,000 years old.
Mary was made pregnant by an angel (not Joseph) and gave birth to Jesus, who is the actual manifestation of God on earth. Jesus was fully human and fully God at the same time, and never sinned throughout his entire lifetime.
The Bible (King James version and it’s contemporary derivatives) is not merely a collection of the pentacheuch and books and letters by various authors. It is the actual and living word of God, is complete, immutable and unquestionable in it’s authority and theological and social application. “…in reality, the complete revelation and very Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that whatever is not contained therein is not to be enjoined as an article of faith.” Basically, if it’s not in the Bible, then it’s to be considered as ephemera and open to debate. But if it’s in the Bible, God said it and that’s the final word. The Bible does not contradict itself.
The Devil as a person and personality is real, and was created by God as an angel. He is actively controlling the World since being thrown out of Heaven for mounting a rebellion. The Devil seeks constantly to undermine the activities of Christians doing God’s work, and people who either resist Christianity or oppose it and/or the Church are known to be his instruments.
Adam and Eve were actual people who lived in the Garden of Eden. Due to Eve’s succumbing to temptation by the Devil in the form of a serpent, they were ejected from Gods presence and sent into exile. As such, all human beings born since then have been in a state of separation from God (sin) and the breach was unable to to be repaired. God’s requirement for the breach to be repaired was a blood sacrifice and so sent Jesus to earth to live and die as that blood sacrifice so human beings could be reconciled to God. This reconciliation however is not universal, but reserved for those who perform an act of acknowledgment of the verses of Christian doctrine through a specific prayer (The Sinners Prayer), allowing them to be in relationship with God therewith, and gain entry into Heaven after they die.
The Holy Spirit is one of the persons of the Triune God, the others being the Father and the Son, Jesus. The Holy Spirit is active and moving to inspire human beings who have “accepted” Christ (the name for Jesus after his death and resurrection, itself a literal and factual event) to seek forgiveness for their sins and be guided in their lives through their thoughts, desires and aspirations. The Holy Spirit is also responsible for causing people to “speak in tongues” (a “heavenly language” of unintelligible words spoken during spiritual ecstasy, usually during prayer or worship) at a second baptism, the first being baptism in water. The act of water baptism is a symbolic representation of Jesus’ death and resurrection for the believer, and is to be a one time event. The ability to “speak in tongues” is said to be evidence of residence of the Holy Spirit, and those who can’t, won’t or don’t are treated with suspicion. It’s common to be required to say out loud the words “Jesus is Lord” to prove the Devil isn’t trying to stop you speaking in tongues, or that you’re a false Christian. (1 Corinthians 12:3)
Church on Sundays is not to be confused with The Church, capital T capital C. Church uncapitalized is the obligatory congregational gathering where denominational culture and theology are taught both overtly and subversively. The Church is the denomination, and everything that comes with it. It’s literally the Bride of Christ, and members are to behave in a way befitting a good Christian betrothed wife in waiting – with purity, unquestioning devotion and doe-eyed adoration, silent, submissive and obedient to her Master.
If you have enough “faith” (done the mental gymnastics required to replace commonsense and intellect with Church theology and teachings) you can get, be and do anything, like be healed from sickness and injury, obtain protection from harm and accidents, and receive promotion, favour and elevation to power. Everyone with power has it because God wants them to. Prime Ministers, dictators, judges, Presidents, politicians, lawmakers; all appointed by God whether they’re Christian or not. Funnily enough, most of these positions are occupied by men.
Abortions are wrong, because God is in charge of women’s fertility and bodies generally, Because of Eve’s wrongdoing and proving how deceitful and unreliable women are by nature, God put men as the boss of everything to do with them. The Church has a responsibility to stop abortions, but none to directly assist in the support of a child a mother is incapable of taking care of. The Church allows women to become ministers, but they must never forget they’ve been allowed to become ministers. Women are designed by God to be a husbands helpmeet, and women with no husband either did something wrong or have something wrong with them. Domestic violence and adultery are wrong, but God HATES divorce, so choose whether you’re prepared to suffer temporarily (heaven remember?) or provoke the very wrath of God by perpetrating a violation of what is basically an earthly metaphor for the relationship between God and The Church. Chin up, honey.
Being gay is wrong, because (sound of intelligible mumbling) The Bible. We can, however, hate the sin and love the sinner. This means vilifying sexual acts between persons of the same gender, despite the fact consenting adult heterosexual persons also perform these acts between them without God apparently having a problem with that. Hating the sin but loving the sinner means being nice to gay people, letting them come to church even, but not letting them do anything which might be construed as condoning who they are, such as ministry, or conducting their marriages, because Christians are the boss of marriage. It’s okay to take gay people’s tithes though.
Congregants are obliged to contribute 10% of their income as a tithe to the church. This is different from offerings, which are financial contributions over and above tithes. You can pay by direct debit, eftpos, and credit card. Regular contributors receive special privileges such as being invited to special events, considered “partners” with the church, and even invited to become elders and board members. If you’re a woman and you contribute regularly, you’ll be thanked, have the scripture about the Widow’s Mite (Luke 21:1-4) recited at you periodically, and asked to return to your seat and pray for a husband.
The Church practices communion with the eating of bread fragments and grape juice during church services and on other important occasions. They believe not only does this represent a commemoration of Christs death and resurrection, and their introducing symbolic elements of his flesh and blood into their person, but also represents the Last Supper of the disciples, and Jesus’ promise he would return to the earth again. Frequent communion is a way of staying ready spiritually and metaphysically for this real and imminent return.
This is where is gets interesting.
Jesus is coming back to the earth again, any day now. He’s been coming back any day now for several thousand years. But he is, because he said he would. Nobody knows the day or time, but many Pentecostal prophets have pinpointed supposed dates which have come and gone, much to their embarrassment.
When Jesus comes back (The Second Coming) it will be physically as a manifestation in the atmosphere above the earth. Everyone will see it and know that it’s Jesus, and bow down to either worship, or acknowledge him for the first time. Jesus will take all the real Christians up in the sky in their physical form (The Rapture) and the rest of us will be left behind to fend for ourselves. The earth will go to shit, society at large will fall into ruin and we will fight amongst ourselves in a global apocalypse. In the meantime, all the Christians will be in Heaven with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and any opportunity to be a Christian and go to Heaven will have expired. By the time the Anti-Christ (a real person, probably alive right now and walking amongst us) will have risen up and will be wreaking his (we assume it’s a man, because could someone so influential and powerful possibly be a woman?) demonic havoc throughout society. The earth, in effect, is doomed, and so are all the unchurched people. Why bother with climate change or environmental protection when the planet is about to be inherited by the unbelievers, and become the stage for Armageddon? What a waste of time and energy, pardon the pun. This is known colloquially as evacuation theology.
Summarily, the mission of Christians and The Church is to make some more Christians while there’s time left by proselyting, to protect the church from the unclean world around it, and to live a life that will convince Jesus at the end – either when we die, or when he comes back – we’re a real Christian and ought to go to Heaven. Christians names are written in Gods’ Book Of Life, and we can’t know if our names are there, but we hope they are. Much debate continues regarding whether names can be written in later, or crossed out, because the Bible doesn’t make this explicit. But in the meantime, it’s beholden upon The Church to decide who is a real Christian, who needs a bit of work, and who definitely doesn’t make the cut. It’s also important to silence any critics of The Church or gossip about it, because their activity is the work of the Anti-Christ. The Evil One, to quote Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
It’s also beholden on The Church to support and back any leader in society who professes Christianity, sociopathy notwithstanding, and to vote for them regardless of their agenda or obvious propensity for narcissism. It’s also important to retain close links with said leaders to ensure they’re pushing the agenda of The Church, however thinly veiled. Pulling them back into the ranks from time to time to reassure members and leaders they can still speak the lingo and go through the appropriate motions is important, however, discretion is advised. The odd picture in the media at a church service with hands raised in worship, or standing in front of a church noticeboard with a thumbs up or holding a Bible ought to suffice.
Despite any adherence or subscription to the aforementioned, it’s vital our PM as chief political officer retain religious neutrality. However, the expectation from fellow church members is he need not, indeed cannot, do any such thing. In discussion on social media after the conference, one delegate who attended commented, “The PM can no more separate his beliefs from politics as he could take off his right arm and leave it at the door.” Which door – that of the conference, or the door of his parliamentary workplace, perhaps needs to be clarified in this case. But indications that ACC members expect him to do neither is indicative of their aspirations certainly. It remains to be seen if, as the Australian public might rightly expect, Morrison is leaving that right arm at the door when he’s on the clock as our head of State.
Addresses to Church events such as denominational conferences by our ACC affiliated PM are disconcerting for the general public, and problematic for the Church, because they open our eyes to the inner workings of these organisations which have for the most part conducted their activities behind closed doors and only shown us what they wanted us to see. In reading the transcript of his address, and viewing the video footage of the event, any amusement, curiosity or dissonance on the part of the Australian general public concerning ACC beliefs, behaviour and practices will be interpreted by the ACC and it’s affiliates as a fault in perception of unbelieving society at large, and not as a reflection of their peculiarity. What we see and hear might seem a novel approach to Christian faith expression, but we err in assuming it’s largely benign and they should be left to it. What lies beneath is a fast moving undercurrent of alternative reality and perception, secret and separatist social and cultural commentary and practice, and a way of looking at the world that’s frankly quite scary. We observe them and think they’re just us with a Bible and a cringeworthy Christianese vocabulary. But be assured, they don’t see themselves as us, not even like us. These Christians are working hard to widen the divide between who they see as them, and the rest of us. In many ways, they don’t actually want us to get “saved”, because in their minds, the unchurched are the enemy, inspired by the Devil, and opposed everything they hold near and dear. Their agenda is to eliminate the unchurched unChristian either by assimilation, or termination by apocalyptic default. Either way, we are not safe from them, because their overarching plan is to literally spread their movement worldwide and reach every human being with their brand of religion, one way or another. Oh, that, and make as much money and gain as much power as they can doing it.
We ignore the ACC/Hillsong/C3 demi-cults and their agenda at our peril. Their beliefs are dangerous because they impact the way believers see those outside the church and the world generally, and because of the way they play out within the congregations themselves. Their history of maltreatment, abuse and corruption belies their benevolent appearances. And whilst a great many of their pastors, leaders and congregants are good people with genuinely altruistic intentions and excellent methodology, the theology at the core of ACC and similar denominations, as well as their organisational structures, policies and politics, must be examined more closely, particularly considering the active involvement of Prime Minister Scott Morrison. If not now, then when? Because The Church is following their agenda, and it’s time for us to make ours – as voters in a secular society – crystal clear.