Pentecostalism is all about power, the power God gives man. They preach the power and personality of OT prophets. Their concepts of salvation are linked to “what man must do to maintain relationship with God and mankind”. No matter how hard they try to practice and preach grace they eventually have to say: God look at me, bless what I do, prosper me. In essence they cannot understand that offering anything of ourselves to be rewarded by God is to step away from grace and to step back into works. No wonder there are a host of tragic failures… anything that remotely looks like human fraility exposes the whole system to failure. Only those who are able to maintain their “awesomness” can continue to be confident of God’s “blessing”. It is blind to the reality of our universal sinfullness, our humanity. They see sin as an issue that we can do away with rather than a condition, a state of being that God alone must overcome. The cross was mankind refusing to admit the pointlessness of anything we do for God. We simply cannot do away with the power and prestige of measuring our worth by works. Jesus was not good enough for this system, for his message demanded us to admit our spiritual poverty and to receive “heaven” as gift rather to acheive as a reward. A gift leaves us speachless with the size of God’s generosity whilst a reward makes us boast. A gift says humble yourself, offer your brokeness to a shattered world that has lost hope, and speak of the grace that gives us hope to start again, whilst always stricken by imperfection. A reward says empower yourself, offer your diciplines to a world that simply refuses to believe that they can climb into heaven with you. A reward allows us to wash our hands and walk away, if people fail, they simply didn’t try hard enough, sing loud enough or give enough. But teaching “reward” gives us the power to make demands of our followers and to enforce a corporate mentality that prospers the “system” through the sacrifices of it’s “saints”. Great idea if you are enthroned on top of the system, no wonder Houston preaches prosperity, but absolutely lousy for all those who are “called” to support the “throne room”. Totally irrelvant to anyone who is stricken by their spiritual poverty, those who Jesus promises the “Kingdom of heaven” to, as a gift… if only they could accept the beauty of it… trouble is, the gospel of rewards gets in the way and condemns them to excomunication, isolation and failure.. they have been made deaf and blind to grace. Totally gives me the shits. If only the church could stop singing and dancing and attending conferences. I’ve said enough, I’m now really angry again.
- Geoff Bullock, former worship pastor at Hillsong Church in Sydney.