Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Woe to you . . . Matthew 23

As I have not signed the covenant, I am still free to publically disagree with Bishop Brian Tamaki, even if I risk getting a visit from the Tamaki Protection Squad.

There is no self-respecting Christ-centred religious organisation that could possibly take Destiny Church's Protocols and Requirements Between Spiritual Father and His Spiritual Sons seriously. If there ever was a devil, it is entrenched in the details of this blashpemous covenant.

I should state that I think BBT has done some great things. He's turned around lives, and there's a hint in Scripture that it doesn't necessarily hurt how or by whom Christ is preached, it can still acheive good things. One can also argue, however, that Adolf Hitler took the down and out and turned many of them into clean living, excellent Stormtroopers. The residents of the People's Temple in Guyana were also clean living, seemingly happy people.

BBT has done something no other New Zealand religious leader has done. He has successfully modelled the glitzy, corrupt health and wealth preaching American televangelists so popular in the the 80s and 90s. And of whom only a handful remain who have not succumbed to the temptations of their success. Yet.

Many New Zealand men of God are deeply envious of the empire BBT is creating.

Nevertheless, BBT's empire is built, like so many of the 1980s US ones, on the backs of the low-incomed, poorly educated, easily manipulated. Nothing is more true than while many of Destiny's members struggle to feed their family, the Tamakis eat very well on the balcony of their 1.2 million dollar cliff-top house.

Jesus saved his harshest condemnation for two groups of people: those who abused the little guy, and those who sought to honour themselves above all else. BBT is both.

I don't know what BBT is like behind closed doors. He's probably a nice guy. All those charismatic church leaders are. At least to your face. You cannot get 7000, or even 700 loyal followers without being a likeable person.

But I don't have to know what BBT is like behind closed doors. I can make a judgement from what he's like outside closed doors. He's arrogant. He's profligate. He's condescending. He's rude. He's controlling. He's slick. He's sleazy. He's narcissistic. And he's not a very good public speaker.

If reports in the media are true, he is the antithesis of what a man of God should be. He is profoundly guilty of the two things Jesus criticised most harshly.

Of course, it's hard, if not impossible, to draw parallels with men of God from of old. If you use the New Testament as an authoritative guide (or even the Old Testament), BBT fails on all accounts. If you don't hold up the NT as authoritative, then anything goes. But there's no middle ground. Most people know hypocrisy when they see it.

BBT may have turned some lives around. Good for him, even if the long term cost may be his subjects' freedom, and their soul - and I don't mean that in a salvific way. I mean it in a humanistic, philoshical kind of way.

If I put my Christian minister's hat on for a moment, I applaud some of what BBT is doing. I always thought the church can never be a democracy. It cannot be a PC, wishy-washy body. Individual congregations should be ruled firmly by a spiritual man with Godly wisdom, and a counter-intuitive humility who genuinely has his spiritual children's best interests at heart.

And that's where BBT has crossed the line. Such a man as above, ministering in South Auckland, simply cannot live in a $1.2m house; drive a 150K car, and ride a Harley down to the marina on weekends to spend the day on his boat. No amount of justification - he wants to model success to his children - can overlook such wanton excess.

Such a man cannot command his spiritual children to stand when he walks into the room; to wait until he starts eating before they do; to even accept let alone demand a half million dollar "first fruits" offering, in addition to an as yet undisclosed annual salary, and special "gifts" on his birthday; or to excuse or hide his indescretions.

When Jesus said some church leaders make their converts twice as much the sons of hell as they, I'm pretty sure he was thinking of BBT.

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