Thinking Out Loud

December 7, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Hark how the links, sweet silver links, all seem to say, “Throw cares away!”

  • Gonna do something I’ve done here before and make the first link one from this very blog.  I’m getting a ton of hits for a piece I wrote here last year dealing with the burning question, Should Audiences Still Stand for the Hallelujah Chorus?  But with only eleven comments, there’s still room for yours, and it will get viewed many times over the next few days.
  • Just when think you’ve seen all the weird churches in the world, you discover this one, which has major parking problems, not to mention severe access issues.  Check out this mini photo essay from our old friend Abraham Piper at 22 Words.
  • It’s rare in the Christian blogosphere that you see someone give a Christian book a really bad review. Perhaps that’s what makes this review at the blog Supermoms Are Fake, in some ways, so refreshing.
  • Some of you remember Hermant Mehta at the blog, The Friendly Atheist, from his book I Sold My Soul on E-Bay.  Sometimes I check back to see how he’s doing, whereupon I found this one: Why Are This Many Atheist Scientists Taking Their Children To Church?
  • Leaders are readers. So begins a concise, 7-point piece by Dave Kraft at Leadership from the Heart, I Would Love to Read More, But…
  • Music video department: Enjoy a free taste of fourteen updated hymns at Indelible Grace III – For All The Saints.
  • …which got me poking around YouTube where I ended up listening to this updated version of Jesus I Come (which I know as Out of My Bondage) by the Shelly Moore Band.
  • Christianity Today music guy Mark Moring talks to Chris Tomlin aka the “worship song machine.” Tomlin just doesn’t see himself writing any other kind of music. Which I suppose suits us just fine.
  • Philanthropy meets good business sense as a Toronto group puts together winter survival kits for the homeless.
  • Canadian Charismatic Evangelist Todd Bentley is in the UK, but a Member of Parliament is telling Brits to beware the tattoo preacher.   The Sunday Express reports. (HT: Rick and Bene.)
  • The newest blog at Alltop Christian is called Slow Running Honey, another blog which seems to exist for the purpose of promoting a book. That’s fine, I guess, but the Christian blogosphere didn’t start out that way. (Though it got there quickly.)
  • Newest blog at Alltop Church is Nate Fietzer‘s which is a KidMin blog, meaning children’s ministry and leadership.  It’s him we also thank for the Life graphic below. Did you design that, Nate?

  • I think Justin and Tricia attend Pete Wilson’s church; I know Justin filled in for Pete once during the summer. Here’s an article that could revolutionize your marriage, and the concept is so simple, it revolves around one little three-letter word.
  • After a few days in Sick Bay, Rev. Billy Graham is now back home.
  • Okay, so you go to a church where women don’t teach, but they do scripture readings. But isn’t the public reading of scripture a type of teaching ministry? Or is it? What about soloists? Jesse Johnson wades into a thorny topic.
  • Sounds of the season: Drummer Sean Quigley is the latest to offer a fresh take on a classic, in this case The Little Drummer Boy.
  • Lots of videos this week, but you don’t want to miss this one: Bethlehemian Rhapsody, which was actually posted in 2009, but is still being discovered. (The sheep steal their scenes each time!)
  • Like all good link lists, we have another t-shirt for you. This is from Amanda at Faith in The Journey a tumblr blog packed with great graphic ideas. The shirt is from zazzle.com

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April 3, 2010

Crystal Cathedral: Is This The End?

FOR THE MOST RECENT UPDATE — THE RESIGNATION OF SHEILA COLEMAN, as of THURSDAY, MARCH 15th, 2012, CLICK HERE

FOR THE STORY REGARDING THE SALE OF THE CATHEDRAL, as of FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18th, 2011, CLICK HERE

Google can’t keep up with this continually evolving story, and keeps sending people to this 22-month old post.  For the full saga, use the search bar in the upper right hand corner of this blog and type “Crystal Cathedral” and hit “enter” and all the items related will appear in REVERSE chronological order (newest to oldest).

DID GOOGLE SEND YOU HERE? GOOGLE CAN’T KEEP UP WITH THE UPDATES ON THIS STORY SO IT SENDS EVERYONE HERE.  FOR MORE CURRENT INFORMATION TRY THESE UPDATES:

UPDATE (NOVEMBER 18, 2011) — In the end, the CC board switches horses in midstream and back the Roman Catholic bid, to which the judge agrees.  Confused?  We were, and so were the church members.  See top of this item (above the picture) for link.

UPDATE (OCTOBER 28, 2011) — The property is sold to Chapman University.  The church continues to use the cathedral on Sundays, and hopes some day to buy it back.  Update to the update:  Two weeks later, that’s not how the story ended!!  (See above)

UPDATE (JULY 9, 2011) — The story on the potential purchase by the local Roman Catholic diocese is located here

UPDATE (JULY 5, 2011) — For those of you being directed here by a search engine, the recent story on Robert H. Schuller being removed from the board is located here.

UPDATE (MAY 28, 2011) — For those of you directed here looking for the story of the sale of the property, that story is located here.

UPDATE (OCTOBER 20, 2010) — For those of you being referred here by online searches, the story on the chapter 11 filing is located here.


The money just isn’t there.

The week started out almost humorously with the suppliers of the camels, sheep and goats (oh my!) for the Crystal Cathedral’s annual Christmas production looking for the church to settle a bill for around $56,000 US.

The Orange County Register, which keeps close tabs on events at the large glass church reported earlier this week:

Kristina Oliver, who owns Oliver Livestock Co. in Hemet, says the cathedral owes her more than $56,000. For 29 years, her family has been supplying the pageants with live animals – camels, goats, sheep, horses and donkeys – a much-touted feature of the Glory pageants.

Oliver sent a letter to Sheila Schuller Coleman, founder Robert H. Schuller’s daughter, who is now the head of Crystal Cathedral Ministries. In the letter, she talked about her daughters ages 3 and 1, her husband who has been battling cancer and the danger of her losing their home if she doesn’t receive the payment.

“I’ve been completely ignored without so much as a courtesy of a response or explanation,” Oliver said. “I understand the church has been hurting for cash…but the way I’ve been treated, with no courtesy or professionalism, is unacceptable.”

But like a snowball rolling downhill, the story — and the amount of indebtedness — kept growing as the week went on, with the San Jose Mercury News reporting this on Thursday:

Three businesses have sued the Crystal Cathedral megachurch for more than $2 million combined in unpaid bills.

The church has a $55 million budget deficit and recently conducted layoffs, sold church property and reduced the number of TV stations airing the “Hour of Power” telecast.

From concerns of $56,000 on Monday to $2 million by Thursday.

Is it possible that it’s all over?  And what would a trustee or receiver do with a large glass church?   The church campus, in Garden Grove, California is on a scale that makes this story reminiscent of the collapse of Heritage Village in Charlotte a decade ago.    That was the property belonging to Jim Bakker and the PTL Club, now belonging to Rick Joyner’s Morningstar Ministries and the current home of former Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley.

Right now the church needs a savior — in both senses of that word.   It needs someone to walk onto the stage who can rescue the facility and the ministry from financial demise.   Is such a person out there?

It’s ironic that it could end this way; that this could be Robert H. Schuller’s legacy.   Google his name and you find countless news stories, testimonials and bloggers quoting his pithy sayings as though they were the Word of God itself.    Perhaps building his ministry on God’s sayings — the Bible — might have brought a better ending.

From this perspective, the possibility-thinking church is running out of possibilities.

See updates above for links to more recent information, including the two most recent ones above the title.

February 20, 2010

My Day With Tiger Woods and Benny Hinn

I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that a married couple should live by. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find them.

I was wrong. I was foolish. I don’t get to play by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me. I brought this shame on myself. ~ from the text of Tiger Woods comments at 11 AM EST, 19/02/10

At this point we don’t know any of the particulars surrounding the announcement on Thursday that Suzanne Hinn, wife of Benny Hinn was filing for divorce.    So please don’t think I am inferring any — absolutely any — parallels between Tiger Woods and Benny.

However, I did not check the “religious news wire” before heading out of town on Friday, so it was against the backdrop of the Tiger Woods press conference that I read the news about Benny and Suzanne Hinn around suppertime.

Benny Hinn and I are not friends or even true acquaintances, but our paths did cross many years ago.   The original crusades he conducted in Toronto, Canada were held in the church that was the base for the mail order business I operated.   The Joyful Noise Record Club had customers across Canada, and later became Searchlight Music, a company I still own in another form.

The head of another ministry based in the building was about to be married, and people from various ministries operating in the Toronto church were invited to the wedding.   Some of us apparently were invited at the last minute.   I had no date for the wedding, and as I remember it, neither did Benny Hinn.   We talked briefly waiting for the door for the reception to open, but I was terrified he would suddenly lay hands on me, cause me to fall over, or announce to everyone some great secret sin — probably lust — that I was harboring at the time.

Fortunately, we were seated at different tables.

Benny’s ministry in Toronto was somewhat high profile — at least among Charismatics — but nothing compared to the size and scope of it when he moved to Orlando and married the daughter of Charismatic pastor Roy Harthern.   The website Precious Daily Devotions tells the story:

In the summer of 1978, on a flight returning from a conference in Singapore, Benny Hinn met Roy Harthern, an Englishman who was pastoring the Calvary Assembly of God in Orlando, Florida. They got to know one another on the long flight. Roy showed Benny pictures of his family. When he came to the photo of Roy’s daughter, Suzanne, Benny heard a voice inside him saying, “She’s going to be your wife.”

Roy Harthern invited Pastor Benny Hinn to come to his home for Christmas, he accepted. When he met Suzanne, Benny remembers jokingly, “I looked into her beautiful bluish-green eyes and my knees became weak”. When his friend Maxine LaDuke met Suzanne, she took Benny aside and confirmed that this was his wife.

Benny knew she was the one. He took Pauline Harthern aside to “ask her something.” Pauline thought he wanted to ask her permission to date Suzanne, but instead, he said “I want to marry Suzanne; I am in love with her.” “Well, well,” Pauline replied, “you really need to speak to her father.” When Roy gave his approval, Benny Hinn immediately went to find Suzanne. Suzanne accepted and Pastor Benny Hinn and Suzanne tied the knot on August 4, 1979.

The rest, as they say, is history.   Hinn catapulted to fame and infamy, as Wikipedia reminds us:

By far the most controversial aspect of Hinn’s ministry is his claim to have the “anointing”, the special power given to him by God to heal the sick. At Hinn’s Miracle Crusades, he has allegedly healed attendees of blindness, deafness, cancer, AIDS, and severe physical injuries. Since 1993, however, investigative news reports by programs such as Inside Edition, Dateline NBC, the Australian edition of 60 Minutes, and several network affiliates in the United States have called these claims into question.

Hinn made a number of unfulfilled (religious) prophecies for the 90s, such as God destroying America’s homosexual community in 1995, the death of Fidel Castro, the election of the first female president of the USA, the East Coast of the United States being devastated by earthquakes, etc., all before the third millennium. Hinn also appeared on the Trinity Broadcasting Network in October 1999 to claim that God had given him a vision that thousands of dead people would be resurrected after watching the network—laying out a scenario of people placing their dead loved ones’ hands on TV screens tuned into the station—and that TBN would be “an extension of Heaven to Earth.”

Again, I have no reason to link the divorce announcement to anything to do with Tiger Woods except to say that it was against that context that I heard the news.   But maybe that’s not it at all, maybe I’m also reading into this story against the backdrop of the post I wrote last week about Todd Bentley.  (But again, there’s been no inference of infidelity, the grounds for divorce filed are irreconcilable differences.)   Another celebrity.  Another Charismatic evangelist.   Another divorce.

There are two sides to every story, and Hinn’s people have allegedly already started going into damage control mode, and not everyone is buying it.

It’s all so very sad.

To those of you who are just starting out in your journey of faith, or building a ministry, remember:  You are responsible for the depth of your ministry; God is responsible for the breadth of your ministry.   Don’t aim for crowds, respect, praise or what some would consider success.     Because success and praise always come at a cost; the adulation of the crowds always comes at a price; and then, if you fail, you take down all the people who worshiped you.

Additional sources USAToday; Bene Diction Blogs On. Picture:  The Daily Show. Update: Confirmation at Benny Hinn Ministries website.

February 16, 2010

Confronting Todd Bentley

Todd Bentley announced his separation from his wife, Shonnah, in August 2008,  and resigned from the Board of Fresh Fire. A statement released by the remaining Board members said ‘Todd Bentley has entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff’, and that he will ‘refrain from all public ministry for a season to receive counsel in his personal life’. ~Wikipedia entry on Todd Bentley

Several months ago, this blog crossed paths with the blog, Bene Diction Blogs On (BDBO) because of my personal history with the individual behind the Ponzi scheme that affected several of the staff at Crossroads Christian Communications.

For awhile, I had BDBO on the blogroll here, but was reminded by a reader that just as many bloggers won’t post anonymous comments, so also is it difficult when a blog host is an unknown commodity.   I shared a number of off-blog e-mails with Bene at the time, but if I’ve ever actually known who Bene is, the name now escapes me.   I have no idea who I’m dealing with when we correspond.

Not so anonymous however are a series of copyrighted posts on BDBO by reporterRick Hiebert.

Rick has been following the career of charismatic (in more ways than one) evangelist and faith-healer Todd Bentley.   Rick’s posts are lengthy, and I don’t read them all, but a recent one led me to the website Confronting Todd Bentley, which in turn led me to a series of videos posted on YouTube.

The videos consisted of a number of scriptural rebukes made during one of Bentley’s meetings at Morningstar in Charlotte, NC.    Yes, this interrupted the meeting, and yes, that’s not the ideal way to bring confrontation; but given what these men have come to learn, they could not be silent.   Because of this, many more of Bentley’s followers have an opportunity to hear the other side of the story online.

But will they?   Probably not.   In Pentecostal and Charismatic circles, the person who occupies the stage, who holds the microphone, whose name is on the marquee; that person owns all the marbles and  commands all the respect.  “Touch not the Lord’s anointed;” is an oft-repeated phrase in this particular church culture.    Even in small, rural churches, the Pentecostal minister can be revered in a way that rivals Catholicism’s papacy.

So it was no surprise that the many rebukes against Todd did nothing to sway the people in the audience.    The website also carries the text of a pamphlet the protesters distributed that day.    Even if only half of their allegations are true,  all of this raises the question of Bentley’s mentor, author Rick Joyner.

Joyner purchased the former Heritage Village (PTL Club) property in Charlotte once operated by Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.    A number of apologetics ministries such as Apologetics Index find theological problems with his various writings.   But his endorsement of a “restored” Todd Bentley certainly clouds his credibility further.

In a recent, lengthy “Special Bulletin” from Morningstar Ministries, Rick Joyner gives reasons why he felt it was right to release Bentley back into limited “Local Church” ministry prior to the end of the restoration process.   Much of his argument makes a razor sharp distinction which separates the qualifications for “being an elder” from the manifestations of  “having a ministry.”

The oldest post by Hiebert at BDBO is 19 months ago (BDBO posts are sadly undated) and is a reprint from a publication, The Report Magazine supposedly dated April 30th, 2001.   If this dating is correct, Hiebert has been following Bentley’s career for a long, long time.

In the Bible we’re instructed to worship God with the Spirit and with understanding.   Our faith is at times emotional, and there are things in the realm of the Kingdom of God that — as the Apostle Paul, a superb intellectual said so clearly — are seen by the world as foolishness.   But our faith also has to be grounded in the Word of God and our lives have to maintain an internal cohesiveness to give credibility to the work of Christ in our lives.

My personal belief is that Todd Bentley represents the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements at their worst.   Like the ones who disrupted Bentley’s recent North Carolina meetings, I find there are times when one simply cannot be silent.

You’re invited to follow Rick Hiebert’s writings at BDBO, and can also find some of the earlier posts at The Shotgun Blog at WesternStandard.ca You may also wish to read a recent article (with video link) wherein Bentley’s current wife, Jessa, claims to have communicated with the deceased, in particular one Oral Roberts.

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