Rick Warren on the lineup for Hillsong Conference 2015.

A friend on Facebook posted this today:

"Mark Driscoll is appearing at Hillsong along with Rick Warren, Jentezen Franklin, and Joseph Prince. Are you still wondering if there is a problem?"

I wasn't sure what he was referring to but a 1 minute search on Google brought up the Hillsong Sydney 2015 conference:

Why yes, there is definitely a problem. Each of these men pictured above who lead churches have demonstrated non-orthodoxy either with their conduct and/or their theology.

But first let's start with the venue, Hillsong Church.

Erin Benziger sums up the issue with Hillsong in this way:
Hillsong Church has been the subject of criticism not just for its seeker-sensitive, pragmatic methods of ministry, but also for its promotion of a form of the false Word Faith gospel. It is not unusual, in fact, for Hillsong's massive conferences to feature prominent Word Faith leaders such as T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen. Below can be heard a critique of Brian Houston teaching earlier this year on the text of Matthew 7:13–14. This clearly demonstrates Houston's ability to twist God's Word beyond recognition:
And after the colon above there is a video demonstrating non-orthodox interpretations of the Matthew text.

Hillsong has also been the focus of financial scrutiny and official investigation.

Hillsong teaches word faith doctrines, prosperity gospels, and more. The church itself is not a solid church in that it can be said they consistently handle scripture incorrectly and teach unorthodox, non-evangelical teachings.

Todd Friel of Wretched Radio said, Be Careful of Hillsong. But he also said that if he was extended an invitation to go, would he go? He said if he was assured he could preach anything he wanted, and after telling the Hillsong organizers what he planned to preach if they still wanted him to come, he would. Why? Because Hillsong people need the Gospel. So are the preachers listed for the 2015 lineup solid preachers going with an intent to share the Gospel to a lost and wandering herd of sheep? No. Given the track record and long-term pattern of Franklin, Prince, Warren, and Driscoll, we cannot give that benefit of the doubt. Let's take a look.

Joseph Prince is just purely, out and out, a false teacher. (source)

Rick Warren is a pragmatist, indeed, the description under his photo above lists him first and foremost as "a global strategist." Warren is driven by fads and leads his church that way, prays to false gods, and fails to give the Gospel either totally, or at least clearly.

The issues with Mark Driscoll are so numerous they'd be impossible to list here on a short form, or even to list them all in one blog post. What I find most egregious about Driscoll's unregenerate life are his demon trials, spiritual abuse, pornographic visions, plagiarism, and fiscal secrecy. To name just a very, very few.

There are problems with what Jentezen Franklin teaches and also with his approach to pastoring. In addition there are issues with who he associates with.

I posted the above about the men Hillsong has invited to their conference to show that is not about a wayward word-faith church trying to correct its course by inviting good men to preach, it is about an unregenerate church inviting unregenerate men to unite their rebellious hearts and minds in darkness.

To this end, a series of scriptures came to mind that to me seem linked.

False Christians are proactive in their self-delusion. The seek out and purposely find false teachers who preach a message that appeals to their craven hearts.

The false Christians with itching ears heap up teachers to themselves so their itching ears can be scratched. (2 Timothy 4:3)

And the false teachers are not innocent bystanders either. They do what they do because they are greedy. (2 Pet. 2:14, 1 Tim. 6:5).

And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:3)

Therefore, seeing an opportunity for dishonest gain, the false teachers and false prophets seek out and gather the false Christians with itching ears who are rushing toward them.

They meet.

"And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” (Luke 17:37)

Now, the Luke verse and its parallel in Matthew 24:28 is a difficult one to exactly interpret. The context is the Tribulation. Jesus is preaching the signs of the times and the coming of the Kingdom. It cannot be specifically applied to a situation of false Christians heaping up false teachers who in turn exploit the false Christians who are happy to buy their false products and listen to their false message. The Expositor's Greek Testament says of the vultures verse, "If we connect it with Matthew 24:27 the idea will be that Messiah’s judicial function will be as universal as His appearance (Meyer and Weiss)." That seems to be the general meaning.

But what I picture in my mind when envisioning such a conference as Hillsong 2015, is a lot of dead people being picked over by vultures.

Sermon Bible Commentary explains the parallel Matthew 24:28 verse:

The Law of Divine Judgment.
I. When a wild beast falls in the desert, or a beast of burden on the highway, there is no stir in the heavens [skies] for a time. But, far above human ken, the vulture is floating poised on his wings; and looking downwards his eye soon distinguishes the motionless thing—for he hunts by an eyesight unequalled in power among all living things, and like a stone he drops through miles of air. Others floating in the same upper region, see their brother's descent and know its meaning. One dark speck after another grows swiftly from the horizon, and in a few minutes fifty vultures are round the carrion. That illustrates—and with astonishing power and sharpness—for the disciples had often witnessed such a scene—the suddenness, the usefulness and the necessity of judgment. Inevitable, swift, unerring, as the vulture's descent on the carcase is the judgment-coming of the Son of Man to corrupt communities and corrupted men.

II. From all this we now infer the law of judgment. It is this: Wherever there is entire moral corruption then there is final punishment; wherever there is partial corruption, there is remedial punishment. God in His capacity as Governor of the world, as Educator of mankind, is bound to destroy corruption. It is necessary that the vultures should devour the carcase, lest it pollute the air and breed a pestilence. It is necessary that corrupted nations should be blotted out, lest they infect the world with evil which may delay the whole progress of mankind. And our own sense of justice goes with the destruction. Nor, when we are wise, do we think that such justice shows want of love. We know that the weak man who shrinks from exacting deserved punishment is often the most cruel when his own interests are touched; and we can trust ourselves in the hour of our trouble best to One whose justice we are so sure of, that we know that if our trouble was caused by wrong-doing He would make us feel that wrongness before He would relieve the trouble. S. A. Brooke, The Spirit of the Christian Life, p. 57.

It is hard to say who is more alive and who is more dead, this ever descending cycle of false Christians who are dead being the provision for the false teachers to feed on them, or the false teachers selling what the dead Christians want. It is hard to say where the vulture begins and their food ends or where the food begins and the vulture ends.

In Hosea 13:1 Hosea prophesies that Ephraim (Israel) used to be alive and exalted, "but he incurred guilt through Baal and died."

In the New Testament we read of a similarly tragic situation.

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead." (Revelation 3:1)

They look alive. But they are dead. They live, move, and breathe, but they are DEAD. The word dead in the Revelation verse is nekros, "unresponsive to life-giving influences (opportunities); inoperative to the things of God."

So we see that an entire bunch of people can gather, sing praises to God, move, worship, wave hands, applaud approvingly, and be dead tot he things of God.

labeled for reuse, source
And what do vultures do, but feed on the dead.

A warning to us all:

Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16)


  1. I had studied the vultures verse in one other context: CARM's Matt Slick did an exposition of it, and showed that whereas the passage about "one will be taken, one will be left" is often used to refer to the Rapture, it cannot be, because those that are taken ("where, Lord?" to which the answer is the vultures verse) is a place of death. Those that are taken, in that passage, are the damned.

    Now that I came across it on your blog, it further clicked. At first, with that background, it didn't make a lot of sense to see that verse applied to false teacher conferences, as you mentioned (fun when I think something, and then as soon as I read further, it's addressed). But in thinking about it, whereas the passage is describing the judgment of the wicked at the end, the identification of the vultures in a symbolic sense was not something I'd considered.

    In a literal sense, there will indeed be many birds, vultures included, who will eat the flesh of those that God destroys at the end of the Tribulation. You've written on that before. But if the passage can validly be interpreted in more than one way --nuanced exegesis, not eisegesis-- then it makes sense that those on their way to destruction NOW are identified by human 'vultures,' aka false preachers. This doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know, with regard to the "itching ears" passage, but that would support the contention that the vultures are false preachers.

    Where the false preachers gather, there you will find the lost.

    Instructive illustration, and I thank you for the insight.

    1. Hi Hakan Adam,

      You're welcome. I'm so glad you picked up on the more abstruse cponcepts here. Sometimes I don't know if what is in my mind always comes out clearly. You're right, the actual exegesis can't really be applied, because the passages in Like & Mt are speaking of end of time judgment.

      But in another sense false teachers ARE a judgment. And as the Hosea and Revelation passages show, there can be large bodies of false believers gathered who think they are alive but are in fact dead. I melded those two concepts, vultures in as a judgment coming to exploit the dead 'believers' offering false worship.

    2. "There can be large bodies of false believers gathered who think they are alive but are in fact dead."
      a frightening thought....

    3. It is, Jennifer. It is somehow different than the hordes of Catholics in a church who think they are alive bur are dead. And it's different from all the Mormons in a church thinking they are alive but are dead. When Jesus comes and He reveals just how many were actually on the broad road, ("Many" enter through it, Mt 7:13) it will be frightening but also glorious. Frightening to see how fully and completely sin can blind us, and glorious that while we were still blind and depraved, Jesus died for us.

    4. I agree, it is different than RCC or LDS. Maybe because from our perspective, they are "so close". On that note, it is likewise much more difficult to witness to those who believe they are saved, rather than those who are athiest or even RCC or LDS. I think I am in a situation like that now with someone I love. I wish they were just flat out unbelievers, it would be easier. I will get lots of practice praying....

  2. Warren just keeps going farther and farther astray.

  3. Elizabeth, I'm sick and tired of reading your stuff; really, when are you going to write something with which I disagree? It's getting b-o-r-i-n-g. Smiles, nah, great piece yet again.


  4. AAAAAAACK!!!!!!!!!!! I just read the Throckmorton article about Driscoll's 'demon trials'. WHAT?!?!?!?!??!?! Driscoll is such a creep.

    And Rick Warren - of course he keeps going farther and farther astray. He never started out soundly in the first place. Saddleback was created to appeal to unbelievers. Wrong. Wrong.

    Hillsong 2015 - Unclean Birds of a Feather Fleecing the Flock Together


    1. Mr Throckmorton is doing a wonderful job of chronicling the issues at Mark Driscoll's church. I think that Driscoll's porn visions and demon trials are creepy but I'm stop short of calling him a creep...I want to stay away from direct name calling. It is always surprising to me that more people don't figure out what you did, Rick Warren's pragmatism was evident from the very beginning...I agree with you that it is wrong to create a church for the unchurched. Church is for believers. What a congregation Jesus is making, we will all worship Him together n HIS church in heaven when the Day comes! And you will not be suffering anymore attacks of evil!! I can't wait for that and for all my brethren to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually sound.

    2. "I think that Driscoll's porn visions and demon trials are creepy but I'm stop short of calling him a creep...I want to stay away from direct name calling."

      Thank you for the gentle correction.

      "I can't wait for that and for all my brethren to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually sound."

      Me too. And thank you, for the comforting words that in that Day, we won't be suffering any more evil attacks anymore.


  5. Hey Elizabeth.....I was doing my normal facebook checking and replying messages from friends!!! I'm INLOVE with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit!!! How I found myself on your blog...im not quite sure!! I have so many questions for you....thing is...i'm not disagreeing with you...you know I have come to realize something....everyone TALKS!!! and only the Holy spirit will guide and point you to what is BIBILICALLY true! Something in my heart so deeply is connecting with you and what you write...mainly on the false teachers.....I have a question though....which of these pastors are true believers of God...I don't have a specific pastor I listen to and is like obsessed with....okay um....my boyfriend just introduced me to mark driscoll and I agree with him only when it comes to how like the men should respect women and also the same for the women...cause here in Africa the men are quite disrespectful and tend to treat there wives as slaves....so like I tend to pick out some messages that might help and like leave out what is not true in the Bible. then....okay I have said many things but I just have one more concern...I fell in love with Jesus Culture...I had never had someone who worships like kim....I mean in a way that she is different...different meaning it could be bad or good....maybe I don't have that gift yet to tell what God has revealed to you...im a worship leader to in my home church...and it's not an easy job...when you battle with sin..and then the next thing you know you have been chosen to lead a song...and how I just eel so UN WORTHY to be up there singing truths about God..playing the keys and my fingers are full of sin...it's hard Elizabeth it's really hard..and we of course admire the jesus cultures and hillsong...they have everything..the best sound..lights...voices...great band....gosh we struggle with our sound....our sound guys are so rude...it's like as if they are doing it for themselves and not God....knowing we are one body..only here to serve and glorify Him...then maybe the issue of the choir not being prayerful...or committed or just trying to get through a song during rehearsal....BUT LET ME TELL YOU THE FUNNY THING....for the past few sundays we have been praying a lot about these issues....and honestly it's not like the spiritual fights have stopped BUT God is faithful....I know, I know, I know...He sees our hearts.....anyway I have so many things I could say...but I just want to thank you because I thought I was not normal...cause I know even those who say Jesus...are not really true believers..Thanks Liz

    1. This will be two parts

      Hi Liz,

      Well, I don’t know how you found yourself at my blog either but thank you for coming. Thank you also for asking the questions. I’ll do my best to answer, or point you toward resources I have found useful and credible in the past.

      You said you’ve discovered that “everyone TALKS!!! and only the Holy spirit will guide and point you to what is BIBILICALLY true!” That is very wise. Talk is cheap, the proof is when you compare what they have said to scripture, and the proof is also when you see it bearing fruit. Psalm 55:21 says “His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.”

      You asked about Mark Driscoll. You also asked whether he is a true believer of God. I can’t read their heart, only God knows who are His. However, God gave us scriptures an in them are ways to determine who are the wolves and whether what someone is saying is consistent in word and in spirit with His precepts.

      You’d said that you were attracted to Driscoll’s sermons that discuss how men should treat women, with respect etc. Yes, there are lots of verses that discuss how we should treat others. However, there is a huge and growing body of evidence that Mr Driscoll does not practice what he preaches. He has been documented to be a plagiarist, mishandling his church’s money, abusive toward women, seeing pornographic “visions” that he claims are from Jesus, berating women badly in public and private, not handing the Word rightly, so much so that a renowned pastor tried to discipline Driscoll, and more. Driscoll has shown by his actions and by the fact that over 40 elders and many others have fled his church this month alone and many more previously, that he is not in the faith. I would avoid Driscoll and all that he stands for.

      Warren Throckmorton is reporting on the sins coming out of Mars Hill. He has been following the controversies for a while. I don’t recommend the Patheos site in general but Throckmorton’s reporting is good. Here is Throckmorton’s page on Mars Hill Church:
      Tim Challies cited one typical example of Driscoll's vulgar flippancy from Confessions of a Reformission Rev. here http://www.challies.com/archives/001863.php
      Phil Johnson critiqued Driscoll’s "Vintage Jesus" series here, http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2006/10/fed-up.html

      If you are looking for good sermons that teach the word in spirit and in truth, I would recommend John MacArthur (www.gty.org), S. Lewis Johnson (www.sljinstitute.net) Steven J. Lawson, http://www.onepassionministries.org/resources, Phil Johnson (http://www.thegracelifepulpit.com/PhilJohnson.aspx) and Conrad Mbewe. Mbewe is a Baptist preacher in Zambia. He has a blog here www.conradmbewe.com and his church is at http://www.kabwatabaptistchurch.org/. His sermon audio page is here http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?SpeakerOnly=true&currSection=sermonsspeaker&Keyword=Conrad^Mbewe

      You said, “....so like I tend to pick out some messages that might help and like leave out what is not true in the Bible”

      If it is not true it won’t help. Do not pick and choose. If a preacher is preaching part truth and sometimes not truth the whole thing is bad. Do you not know a little leaven spoils the whole lump? (Galatians 5:9). Satan said some good things and some false things in the Garden of Eden. Only follow those whose message IN ITS ENTIRETY is consistent with the bible, and that consistency must not only be in total during that one message, but consistent with the bible over their entire lifespan of being a preacher, week in and week out.


    2. Part 2

      I am sorry you fell in love with Jesus Culture because I must inform you they are against Jesus. They are preaching and singing VERY BAD things. They are not orthodox and their doctrine and their behavior are not consistent with what Jesus told us in the bible. Jesus Culture is bad for you. Do not listen or follow them

      Kim Smith’s “visions” are from the devil. I will post some links so you can read for yourself. Scriptures are with the linked essays.

      For music you can listen to Getty Music, http://www.youtube.com/keithandkristyngetty or gettymusic.com; Stuart Townend (stuarttownend.co.uk), Matthew Smith, http://matthewsmith.us/ and Indelible Grace http://www.igracemusic.com/ig3/; Red Mountain Church, http://www.redmountainchurch.org and Page CXVI, pagecxvi.com.

      Please heed these warnings about Mark Driscoll and Jesus Culture. Read the material, check the scriptures, and pray for discernment. There is plenty of evidence to support these charges against them.

      You said you are “a worship leader to in my home church...and it's not an easy job...when you battle with sin..and then the next thing you know you have been chosen to lead a song...and how I just eel so UN WORTHY to be up there singing truths about God..playing the keys and my fingers are full of sin”

      You are unworthy. Your fingers are full of sin. The point is, Jesus justifies us, it is HIS worthiness we have coursing through our veins. It is His blood that makes us righteous. He absorbed all of God’s wrath for our sins and then took His own righteousness and put it on us. So when you play, play knowing the joy of HIS work has made it possible to play, to send worship up to Him, and that He is accepting that worship as a fragrance, 2 Cor 2:15, “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,”

      “...it's like as if they are doing it for themselves and not God”

      Most of them ARE doing for themselves and not God. You discern correctly there. I feel bad for you that the current culture has removed choir and hymns and installed an entertainment-driven culture which you must battle the flesh against performing instead of just playing.

      “for the past few sundays we have been praying a lot about these issues”

      Good for you!!! Jesus has given you some discernment and you are using that discernment to go back to Him and pray for more wisdom in these matters! This is excellent.

      and if any of you do lack wisdom, let him ask from God, who is giving to all liberally, and not reproaching, and it . James 1:5

      Keep reading your bible and do not seek the Charismatic gifts. Keep praying and seeking His word, It is the word that renews the mind and heart

      to put off your old self,f which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

      Let me know how it’s going from time to time. Write me at elizabethprata at gmail dot com

  6. it's false christians like you who give true christians a bad name...I just attended
    the Hillsong 2015 conference and it was awesome and blessed me heaps......not
    sure what your agenda is but it's not based on any biblical principles as far as I
    can tell.....

    1. Hello Anonymous,

      The statement of purpose for this blog is written out for you above. What you call my "agenda".

      As for what is written here not being based on any biblical principles as far as you can tell, I have to say, did you read the piece? Because the fllowing bible verses were used to support what is written:

      Matthew 7:13–14, 2 Timothy 4:3, 2 Pet. 2:14, 1 Tim. 6:5, 2 Peter 2:3, Luke 17:37, Matthew 24:28, Hosea 13:1, Revelation 3:1, 1 Timothy 4:16

      And the following biblical principles were posted, explained or linked to:

      The Law of Divine Judgment, a video explaining non-orthodox interpretations, problems with word-faith, and pragmatism.

      As far as determining whether a teacher or teachers are bearing fruit and worth listening to, "awesomeness" and "personally receiving heaps of blessings" are not the barometer for testing these things. We test them against the word of God. Or, at least, *I* do.

  7. This youtube video became available in Sept 2014. It is a lengthy video but packed with so much about Rick Warren. I learned so much in this one video about his ministry. It is not good. Just wanted to share. It is called Church of Tares: Purpose Driven, Seeker Sensitive. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9y9ly6YvCw

  8. We love you Elizabeth Prata. I pray that God will help you understand the word. I see you really have an honest zeal for God but without knowledge. Keep on studying the word and focus more on preaching the gospel so that many would be saved. I am sure the Holy Spirit will help you.

    It's this amazing love of Jesus in us that compels us to reach out to the dark world and shine the gospel of our loving God to them. This is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to die for our sins, not for ours only but also for the whole world. Now we stand righteous, justified because of this wonderful love of the Father towards us.

    I pray that God would open our hearts and give us strength to understand what is the height , the depth and the breath of the love of God that passes knowledge ; that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.

    You are loved by God Elizabeth Prata and God loves Pastor Joseph Prince, Pastor Rick Warren, Pastor Franklin and Mark Driscoll.

    1. Thank you for assuring me of God's love. I appreciate it. We can never have too much of that, can we?

      You made an assertion. An allegation. You said I have zeal but no knowledge. Can you show me from scripture where I misused the bible or in other ways failed to understand scripture?

      No, God does not love heretics who preach falsely and who lie in His name. The pastors you mention, sad to say, are heretics, and God most assuredly does not love that. He has a special heat ready for them in hell. (Mt 7:19)

      In speaking about Gospel truth v. lies from wolves, we ARE sharing the Gospel. If it's not, then Paul, Peter, John, James, &Jude, would also be as you say, 'zealous but without knowledge'. When John write that 'MANY deceivers have gone out into the world' (2 John 1:7) are you naive enough to believe that they don't exist *now*? Or that we are not to warn about them? Would you rather let a brother continue on the path of following a false teacher to his own destruction? Then you have no love, and you sin (James 4:1).

  9. I believe the comment was more towards the point of not waisting your time, zeal, and passion in pointing fingers at other, but instead on taking the good news to every other aching heart. There are thousands out there who need Jesus. Of course we are all human, and the Church on Earth will never be perfect, for it is made with flawed and broken humans like us, but nevertheless, God touches people and talks to them, even when we don't do things right. I'm not encouraging false teachings or anything, but thousand of people have been guided through Jesus that way.. Isnt' that what matters? Doctrine passes to a second term when people receive salvation and peace from Jesus... -Gaby

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Your comment seems like it is touching and sensitive but it is actually teaching gross error. Yes we all are flawed human beings, but that has nothing to do with the fact that we are called to point out error when it arises. These are two entirely different things.

      God uses people "even when they dont' do things right," this is true. But sadly you put heresy and false teaching into the lesser category of "not doing things right." This is a low view of Jesus. How can we take the Godspel to aching hearts as yo urge when we allow so much pollution that the aching hearts don't know what to believe and we don't stand for anything? Yes people have been guided by the Holy Spirit, but only if the know the TRUTH. Failing to proclaim it and allowing false lies is a harm, not a good. ere are some verses for you--

      I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. Rom 16:17

      In that verse above, Paul uses the word "urge". He is making a strong appeal, and the word urge here means in the Greek:
      refers to believers offering up evidence that stands up in God's court.

      Marking and warning about false teachers is serious business, one that the writer of Romans urged us to do. In this next verse Jesus is doing the urging

      Matthew 7:15
      "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."

      What do wolves do? Eat their prey.

      Here are a few more verses
      2 Thessalonians 3:6, In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.

      1 Timothy 1:3
      As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer.

      Titus 3:10
      Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.

      2 John 1:10
      If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them.

      So you asked what matters. Truth matters. Speak it convincingly and point out the lies urgently. We need both sides. Consider these things.


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