Street Church: In the name of God, stop rebuking Influencers Church!
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Because of the continued and unbiblical behaviour of Street Church, I feel necessary to "rebuke and correct" (2 Tim 3:16) this organisation, so that they can become a "man of God" (supra passage). I am doing so publicly, so others may take warning (1 Tim 5:20).
Street Church Australia's has made numerous accusations about Influencers Church Australia (formerly known as Paradise Community Church, led by Ps Ashley Evans), outlined in bold, to which I provide counter-rebuke forthwith:
* Influencers only focuses on love, and commits the heresy of neglecting "sin": This is false. This statement just shows how misinformed Street Church is, and their willingness to straight out lie. On the official Influencers site, it states that "We believe… that sin separated… Jesus died… for our sins" (http://www.paradise.asn.au/aboutus/?ContentID=15). Influencers' view on sin is on public docrinal record. How about repentance? In Mark 1:15 and elsewhere, the bible talks about "repent" with the Greek word "metanoia" (i.e. 180 degree turn around), and in their belief statement, Influencers also talks about "being conformed to the image of Christ", which is just that. So Street Church - your facts, and thus your rebuke is wrong. This means your fruit is wrong (as we should judge all things by their fruits - Luke 6:44), and you must re-discern whether what you are doing is of the Lord - because if it isn't, your discernment can only be of the Enemy. In the Old Testament, being a false prophet would lead to being burnt at stake - how easy it is in comparison today! Matt 7:22 makes it clear that there will be Christians who say "Lord, Lord, do you know me?", saying they did things in His name - but he will reply "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!". I would strongly challenge whether people at Street Church "know" God - and not in the Greek conceptual way, but in the Hebrewic relational know. Because even the devil believes God - and shudders! (James 2:19) But to be Christian is to have a relationship with Christ, and become more like Him.
* Influencers acted un-biblically taking a fellow Christian to court: Influencers Church first rebuked and reasoned these individuals - but as these individuals had not received their rebuke, these individuals were per Matt 18:15-17 "treat[ed] as you would a pagan". Treated as unbelievers, the court system took over. Something should also be said about using the "rights" of one to make it a "stumbling block" to another (1 Cor 8:9).
* Influencers forces tithing: This is false. Influencers has always prefaced sermons on tithing, with not recommending it legalistically, but as a personal testimony of why the speaker tithes. Perhaps it is unsurprising then, that Calvinistic Baptist theologian John Piper, utilizes this very method himself (http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/toward-the-tithe-and-beyond) (John Piper holds a B.Div from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a PhD in New Testament). In his theological piece, he explains why he honors the Old Testament principle, and deals with Jesus' seemingly contrary statement in Matt 23:23, to which Piper summarizes "So Jesus endorses tithing: don't neglect it. It is not as essential as justice, love and mercy; but it is to be done"
* Influencers is all about "show": The bible puts forward a precedence of being "all things unto all men" (1 Cor 9:22). The question is what method is most effective. With the large reach (i.e. "fruit") of Influencers' ministry, it is difficult to contest that they are indeed doing just that - being "all things unto all men". The rebuke provided by Street Church about "big bands" being non-biblical is to revert to an old church heresy - the "Gnostic heresy" - which is the false belief of a dichotomy between flesh and Spirit - this is why they believed Jesus was not fully human (which is doctrinally false) - because the more human He was, the less Spirit he was; and the more spirit He is, the less human He is. This is a heresy. God created music, and we should use it. As Prof. C.S. Lewis (Oxford University) states in the Screwtape Letters, the devil needs to "twist" anything to make any use of it, for God created all things. God created music, and we use it not for our benefit, but the benefit of unbelievers who we can bring to Christ, by being "all things unto all men".
* Influencers not preaching to know the "terror of the Lord": Regarding the fear of God, 1 John 4:18 says "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear… The one who fears is not made perfect in love". Therefore, to have Christ in you means to no longer fear. So for Street Church to think that to preach fear, means they do not know Christ. Given the false theology promulgated by Street Church, perhaps they should not be teaching, for already awaiting them is "stricter judgment" (James 3:1).
* Influencers teaches to "not judge": This is false. Influencers preaches to discern, which is to judge other Christians (1 Cor 5:12-13). In fact, Influencers is considered by the public to be so judgmental, the Family First Party has been accused by other Christians, of judging non-Christians. So Influencers definitely biblically adjudicates.
* Influencers having rich pastors: This is false. Pastors having BMW's etc, is outright false. Everybody knows you don't enter into ministry for the money. Wider church statistics also shows that pastor burn out rate (even among Anglicans, etc) is something like 70%. It is also useful to remember The Advertiser's Peter Goers accusing Rostrevor Baptist Church's Dennis Hood of wearing clothes like he walked out of a fashion magazine, and having a sports vehicle - it was later revealed that the "fashion magazine clothes" were purchased from the Salvation Army second hand for $20 or so odd, and the "sports vehicle" was a second hand car which he purchased for $500. Facts matter.
* Influencers teaches to "follow Ashley Evans": This is false. Influencers teaches to have a "relationship with Jesus by obeying God's Word", and have adopted sola scripture doctrine. Matt 23:8-10 teaches not to call another "rabbi" or "father" or "teacher". Influencers is not a church that does this; hence the term "pastor".
* Influencers commits financial fraud: This is false. In sermons regarding giving, Influencers Church reiterates 2 Cor 9:7, which is that giving should be done out of a "heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver".
* Influencers commits sexual fraud: This must be most definitely false. In response to Caleb Corneloup's statement there is "[statutory] rape" at Influencers - Apart from the judge finding no evidence for this, why does Street Church not take these matters, if they exist, to the SA Police? If it exists, it is a Police matter. And where are the victims? Why don't they speak up? If Stephan Kruszewski really has "first-hand knowledge" of assault by the Influencers Church board, he should speak to Police: and not participate in the so-called cover up. Does this not infer then that under the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA), Stephan has then himself admitted to aiding and abbeting a crime, by his resounding silence? In the absence of SAPOL procedures working, they could discuss these matters with the Anti-Corruption branch of SAPOL. Evidently, they have not, because it is not happening. Street Church should be aware what the Bible states about "gossips" and "slanderers" - it states that because of their sin, God "gave them over" (i.e. essentially gave up on them) (Romans 1:30), and these people will definitely "not inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor 6:9-10).
I also want to make separate rebuke about the way in which the Street Church goes about some of its activities. 1 Cor 9:22 talks about being "all things unto all men"; the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) talks about "peace" and "gentleness". Street Church has some serious questions to answer about depicting Christianity is an aggressive religion, that isn't "coming around" people to help them - but rather, preaching a message of hate. Their depiction in the media as hatemonger is obvious; but their argument with non-Christians in Rundle Mall is even more disconcerting; they mustn't have read Titus 3:9-11 about "dissension" and "division" as being "sinful". In fact, Galatians 5:20 says "the acts of the sinful nature are obvious", enlisting factions as one of them, warning these people "will not inherit the kingdom of God". Yes, we must tell people to repent and believe, and repentance must accompany belief (Mark 1:15), but we must do it gently. Not yell in people's face with megaphones in Rundle Mall. That shows a lack thereof, of the fruit of the Spirit - and those without the Spirit, are not of Christ (Romans 8:9).
As for why I provide such elaborate counter-rebuke: Street Church's intentional and targeted release of content targeting Google and YouTube key words such as "Influencers Church" and "Paradise Church" shows their commitment to their own "rebuke" - hence I release my counter rebuke, so this false teaching would not stumble young Christians. Although most in Influencers Church would shy away from this style of counterargument, I do this because I wish to be "all things unto all men" (1 Cor 9:22), and it is only by this methodology can I respond to these people. My intention also, is for this to reduce the flames between SA churches and the Street Church. As for the Street Church's battle with the Adelaide City Council, I think their work in upholding freedom of political communication (there is no such thing as "religious" free speech) is exemplary. I do this also only because some of the material Street Church Australia references, such as Lee Strobel is quite good. I do see these people as former fellow Christians, who have strayed from the truth, and hence I help them with gentle rebuke. I think I'm probably also correct that they were hurt at Paradise Community Church (now Influencers Church); an example being Florence Corneloup who states of being "upset" after 25 years of being with Influencers Church. I'm not saying Influencers Church is perfect - we ourselves here at Influencers must be willing to accept correct and rebuke, so we can become better men of God (2 Timothy 3:16). But for those at Street Church, as Billy Graham famously stated, "if you find a perfect church, don't join it - because you'll ruin it".
What is sad to me, is even worse than the sinner who knows they are sinning (most churches) - is the sinner who doesn't know they are sinning. There are aspects of Street Church's theology that is so misguided, that they are not even aware of it. These are the very types of people that need to be aware of pointing out the speck in someone else's eye, whilst they have a plank in their own (Matt 7:3-5). Point after point above, I have outlined how many in this church are engaging in conduct that "will not inherit the Kingdom of God" (i.e. not go to Heaven - and thus by inference, go to Hell), in addition to being un-biblical. This is made public so that "itching ears" won't be misled by these gossips and liars (2 Tim 4:3), but that Street Church would repent, and come to Christ.
This publication has been authored on Change.org to prevent StreetChurchMedia from censoring this content. I hope they do not, for they make the very claim about Influencers trying to censor political/religious freedom. That would be another instance of noting the speck in another's eye, whilst having a plank in your own (Matt 7:3-5) if that were to eventuate.
~ A resident Theologian @ Influencers Church Australia
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