Quick Thoughts: The Church of the Highlands and Chris Hodges

Boy oh boy.

I am asked about stuff all the time and don’t have time to do the amount of research or study necessary to give to properly deal with some of the stuff that comes across my plate, but I wanted to toss something online on an upcoming church that appears to be very dangerous.  One of the fastest growing churches in North America is the Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama.

Highlands - Main campus

It’s not necessarily in the limelight yet, but Church of the Highlands is a 15 year old church that has grown to be a multi-site church of 14 locations with over 32,000 people.  In fact, it’s grown so fast that it wasn’t even on the Outreach top 50 back in 2013 when I went through the top 50 churches on there.

They’ve been doing the growth thing with bells on, and they’re a good example of tight packaging and excellence in presentation.  There’s a whole lot of design, architecture and presentation genius in Highlands that many churches could benefit from.  Their buildings look great and their presentation is amazing…but beautiful architecture, great media, slickly-produced programs and fantastic music don’t make a good church. But what about Highlands as a church?  What about their doctrine and practice?

Judging from their web presence, they’re incredibly polished and understand the importance of being subtle about much of their doctrine and practice.  Still, on a surface look at their web presence, alarm bells should be going off.  They’re overseen by a council of apostles that includes none other than noted prosperity preacher Robert  Morris.  That should set off a few alarm bells, as should their statement of purpose (namely due to the two rather interesting verses that they derive their purpose from: Matt. 22:36-40 and Mark 16:15-17…?!?).  They run a Bible College that offers more training options in church lighting than bible.  Their entire corpus of bible-related classes is six, including overview, hermeneutics, theology, historical theology and preaching.  That doesn’t exactly say good things about the theological education they offer in their Bible College.

shallow

Go look at their academic catalogue for yourself.

Their doctrinal statement isn’t that subtle; they’re not very articulate about spiritual gifts but they openly state that physical healing “is given as a sign, which is to follow believers.”  That’s a seriously concerning statement, but that’s not the only one.  They also teach that “it is the Father’s will for believers to become whole, healthy and successful in all areas of life,” and they specifically label financial prosperity as God’s will for believers.  For an understanding of Word of Faith teaching and the prosperity gospel, read this.

Now their doctrinal statement is admittedly a little cryptic and I’d bet dollars to donuts that they’ve made it cryptic on purpose.  Chris Hodges is far less cryptic from the pulpit.  If you watch the message here, start at 9:13 and you’ll hear Chris Hodges speak about 2 Cor. 8:9 & 9:11 and say:

“Why does God want me rich? Why does he want me in that condition? And the next chapter actually says it.  God wants to make you not only rich monetarily, he wants to make you rich in every way. So make you rich in your marriage, make you rich in your emotions, make you rich in a lot of ways, in your gifts, your ideas…why?  So that you can be generous with it.”

And then, knowing what it sounds like he just said, he immediately confronts the accusation that he teaches “prosperity theology” and denies it by saying…well, I don’t want to spoil the surprise.  Let’s just say that his explanation is unconvincing.

armed robbery 2

Beyond that, Hodges has some very interesting history.  The notorious Ted Haggard was Hodges’ youth pastor back in Louisiana, and Hodges later worked for Haggard in Colorado for seven years (Hodges copied Haggard’s “hire a kid in your youth group to youth pastor for you” pattern with Layne Schranz; current youth pastor at Highlands and ex-student of Hodges).  Haggard considers Hodges one of the faithful friends who supported him all through his insane scandal back in 2007.  It’s interesting that Hodges only talks about his ministry career as if it started in 2001, subtly distancing himself from his ties with Haggard.  He never openly connects himself with Ted Haggard (who he worked with from 1987-1994) for obvious reasons, and Hodges also doesn’t seem to openly mention the Bethany World Prayer Center (the wingnut church in Baton Rouge, LA where he worked from 1994-2001, after he left Colorado).

So is Chris Hodges a false teacher?

I will say the following:

– He’s definitely exegetically wrong about what the bible says about God’s will for our finances.  Wrong as in “damnably wrong” (if he believes what he’s saying).  The prosperity gospel is a counterfeit Gospel that cannot save.  He teaches a sophisticated prosperity gospel, and he tries to escape the accusations of “heretic” on technicalities, but he doesn’t come anywhere close.  In the sermon I linked, he actually states that “God needs you to have more than you need.”  If you’re not rich, people will go to hell because the great commission enterprise won’t have rich Christians funding it.

That’s right.  Your lack of accessing the wealth that Christ has made available for you will result in the damnation of lost people.

Let that simmer for a second.

– He’s definitely one of the new-wave of charismatic life coaches who pretend that they’re pastors.  They’re not, but they don’t have much a biblical understanding of anything, let alone the nature, requisite character and duties of a “pastor”.  This breed of Osteen knockoffs are so utterly unqualified for ministry that it would be funny if it wasn’t real.

Dougal

– He mentored under an unregenerate pseudo-pastor who was a homosexual meth-head…which breeds a lot of rather serious questions.  Not questions about his sexuality or anything, but rather what sort of theological sewage he was being fed during his formative years.  Being mentored by Ted Haggard doesn’t automatically make him a heretic but teaching heresy does.  Also, if he learned proper biblical theology and practice, the question becomes where and when he would have picked that up…and why he neither teaches said “good theology” nor acts in accord with it.

At the end of the day, he may not be a false teacher but he sure does a convincing impression of one.  Besides that, You don’t get points for confidently figuring out if a person is a false teacher or discerning with certainty if they’re unbelievers.  God alone can speak definitively on whether a man is spiritually dead or just theologically brain dead.  What you need to do is obey Christ’s commands on how to respond to someone who teaches falsehood in his name.  A guy like Chris Hodges needs to be ignored (Rom. 16:17-18; Gal. 1:8-9; 2 John 10-11).  Failure to do so will almost certainly end in upheaval and trouble for you (1 Tim. 1:18-19; Tit. 1:10-11).

Listening to Chris Hodges or attending Church of the Highlands will almost certainly be a spiritual fatal decision.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “Consider yourself warned” Unger

**April 13th Update – I’m going to be gone due to my job until next week so I won’t have time to interact with the numerous comments on this post, but I hope to do so when I return.**

***Update – October 2016*** – Seeing that it’s six months later and people are still finding this post so utterly offensive that they’re morally obligated to show up and attempt to put me in my place with incoherent arguments, rhetorical bed-wetting, and assorted yet abysmal efforts at biblical reasoning, I’ve decided to shut down the comments.  I’m sure you think Chris Hodges is the greatest pastor since Jesus himself, and every single thing I said and meticulously documented is somehow absolutely untrue and totally fabricated.  That’s great.  I’m glad for you.  I also don’t care about your emotional vomiting, will not fly to Alabama to meet whoever it is you think will change my mind with their emotional vomiting, and have moved on several months ago.

After 130+ comments, every curse that could be called down on me has been called down on me.

If you comment somewhere else on this blog about Chris Hodges or the Church of the Highlands, I’ll simply erase your comment.

Save

Advertisements

131 thoughts on “Quick Thoughts: The Church of the Highlands and Chris Hodges

  1. Wow, very sad really.
    I poked through the course descriptions you linked to; how’s this for a “Lead Pastor Practicum”?

    “The lead pastor practicum is designed to train students in how to build and lead teams,
    communicate effectively, and lead an organization or department within the church. This
    practicum is for anyone who desires to be a church planter, campus pastor, or associate
    pastor.
    Leadership
    Team Building
    Communication
    Organizational leadership
    Project management
    Pastoral Care”

    A suppose at least they have pastoral care on there, but it’s kind of striking all that is not in that description.

  2. Thank you for posting this. Tucked away to share with those who are willing to hear. Sadly, not many!!

  3. Perhaps more important is the fact that Chris Hodges co-founded the Association of Related Churches (ARC) and he is responsible for planting and training hundreds of churches all over the globe to be just like him. If you look at the light money green logo for the sermon Lyndon linked to: “Life, Money, Hope” you can see that series just finished being preached in the Netherlands at the Thousand Hills International Church. Thousand Hills featured the Robert Morris’ heretical Principles of the First sermon in that series http://www.thousandhills.cc/life-money-hope-sermon-series/ ARC makes these series and the artwork fully available to all ARC churches to spread the false teaching faster and to normalize it. If it is preached on every major continent, it can’t be false, right?

    Gateway paid to send out Senior Pastor Randy Cochran plus some worship leaders a couple of weeks ago to make sure this Dutch ARC church masters the art of spiritual extortion. Gateway is sending such people out all over the globe every week of the year for the precise purpose of monetizing Jesus Christ. And they are really good at it. Their mere five campus church monetized Jesus in 2015 to the tune of almost $150M dollars, collecting an average of $15,500 from each attending Gateway couple last year. Many families are facing serious financial struggles as a result of believing that giving 10-25% of their gross annual income to Gateway is necessary to repel curses and receive God’s blessings. Churches can’t sign up for what Chris and Robert are selling fast enough.

    That ARC church, Thousand Hills International in Holland, also runs its own European Conference that Gateway Church of Texas and Church of the Highlands also supported and helped out on. Highlands sent their “Highlands Worship” band to perform and featured Highlands Pastor and ARC Co-founder Dino Rizzo as their keynote speaker. So this garbage is being exported to every corner of the globe and quickly.

    This leads to the next point. The fact that Dino Rizzo is teaching all these churches how to be mega businesses. For those readers not familiar with Dino, he was the head pastor of The Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, LA until it was discovered that he had an affair with a gorgeous young staff member at his church named Kaycee Smith. Kaycee worked in the HPC highly creative video department and allegedly also served as an assistant to Dino’s wife DeLynn Rizzo. Dino and his pastor wife resigned after the affair was discovered although he adamantly stated it was just an inappropriate relationship consisting of merely a few overly-friendly texts, that were caused by his working so hard and being physically and emotionally depleted. One has to wonder if Dino’s exhaustion caused him to friendly text others or just strikingly beautiful staff members in their early 20’s.

    Dino and the HPC continued to cover-up the affair despite the resignation, but after the truth came out it was later discovered that the church had to pay out a settlement to Kaycee and help her with expenses related to relocating her back to her home state of OK. To be clear, in the State of Texas (about 180 miles west of Baton Rouge) when a pastor has sex with a congregant or staff member that they are ministering to, that is a class 2 felony, regardless of the degree of consent given. That means it is legally the equivalent to forcibly raping a stranger. Pastors are considered to have that much superior advantageous power and influence over the people they shepherd and minister to in confidence. Thus they are appropriately tasked with stewarding that power responsibly. It’s a third degree felony in the state of AR right above LA. So this abuse of spiritual authority is considered a pretty serious issue by many, including law makers.

    The main thing that stuck in many people’s craws was that Dino still refuses to take responsibility for what he did to that young woman, his wife, his family and his church. He minimizes his bad behavior stating that he was simply depleted and needed a “season of rest and restoration” which is why he resigned, but he owns no serious wrong doing. Why does this matter to this story? Because Chris Hodges immediately took in his good ole Cajun boy friend at the Church of the Highlands. He allowed Rizzo to return to ARC and start teaching pastors how to pastor churches. A man who was still lying and covering up what was not just an egregious sin, but something that is considered a major felony in other adjoining states. That is WHO Chris Hodges is. Chris also restored the unrepentant Dino to the pulpit allowing him to preach to his large church and via broadcast to the world just 14 months after Dino’s resignation.

    I am not sure how repentance and restoration even works when one refuses to admit to their sins/bad decisions-behavior/crimes. How exactly does that work? It reminds me of Sean Penn in Dead Man Walking. He could not receive true forgiveness until he admitted to his role in what he had done. It looks like Dino and Chris have no real interest in forgiveness or reconciliation. They are interested in keeping their hundreds of millions of dollars a year ARC machine moving. Dino and Chris strut about, literally all over the globe, telling the world how “to do authentic community and run super-excellent churches” employing Leadnet techniques and infecting the world with “churches” whose primary motivation is that incredible tax free bottom line.

    And why wouldn’t they? Chris isn’t a preacher by trade. He is a business major who worked in business and has a background in financial planning. He confirms this in the link Lyndon gives above. He is also a skilled orator. He is a gifted comedian who can work a crowd as well as any of the pros on the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour”. Watch the pauses, the punchlines, the expressions, the playful raising of eyebrows and reactions for comedic affect timed to comedic perfection. Chris is the master of spiritual entertainment for cash. He is a hardcore businessman who realized he could make more money in Christian entertainment than he could in business. Then he realized that calling it “church” guaranteed ZERO financial oversight and no taxes. Now he has created a muti-million dollar dynasty that he is grooming his children to take over regardless of whether they are called to ministry or not.

    FTR Robert Morris of Gateway Church also has extremely strong ties to Ted Haggard. Gateway Apostolic Elder Jack Hayford was one of the men who put Ted’s 6 figure settlement package into place and then was charged with oversight for Ted’s failed restoration. GW Senior Pastor Robert Morris and GW Apostolic Elder Jimmy Evans were on the selection committee to find Ted’s replacement and they placed former Gateway Pastor Brady Boyd into New Life in Colorado Springs as Head Pastor. Brady is another Louisiana good ole boy who was an Amarillo school teacher and low level local sports caster when Jimmy ordained him at his then Trinity Fellowship Church in Amarillo. Then Brady was transferred to Gateway shortly after it opened in order to work for Robert Morris. New Life also has a “World Prayer Center” under Brady Boyd. Jimmy Evans is the man who planted Gateway Church in the first place. FTR New Life was fraught with sexual misconduct and associated with pedophile pastors, beyond Ted’s three year tryst with the male prostitute. Chris Hodges also has ties to misconduct in his youth department regarding Amanda White, the wife of his former Youth Pastor Les White and her alleged sex crimes with a minor as well as Hodge’s partnership with Matt Pitt who was arrested on two separate occasions for impersonating a police officer.

    Hodges likable character and comedy skills make him very popular with the masses and he and his false doctrine will continue to grow. I am grateful that Lyndon is shining a light on this man, and in turn ARC. These are also the guys helping to resurrect Mark Driscoll btw. Their doctrine is dangerous and the speed with which they are spreading it is toxic.

    • Amazing. But not a surprise. I’ve gone to this church in Tuscaloosa for 2 years as a new believer. I knew nothing of what you speak of but can tell you something didn’t sit right with the preaching and guest speakers Chris would bring in. As I grew in my faith and became more discerning I concluded Hodges is an entertainer and his church is a giant entertainment gathering for unrepentant nonbelievers. That is why I left. Now I realize there is much more to it. Unfortunately my ex wife loves this church and takes my children there. I listen to the online sermons and unteach my children of Hodge’s bad teaching.

    • Lyndon-

      As you know, I live in Baton Rouge and keep up with what’s going on, church-wise, in my area. I just wanted to confirm that everything LT says in his comment above about Dino Rizzo and Healing Place “Church” is correct, as well as your assessment of Bethany (If, by “wingnut” you mean a run of the mill, nondenominational, charismatic, Word of Faith, megachurch that’s generally respected in the community. Bethany and Healing Place are more along the lines of Lakewood or Hillsong than an NAR “church.”).

      Helpful article. Thanks :0)

    • Omg you have entirely too much time on your hands lol. And btw, Dino openly apologized. I watched him and agonized over how hard6jt m ust have been to admit to such a wrong in front of thousands of people. In fact they talked about it so much in such great detail that the non Christian guest I invited talked lax znaz9non stop about how Dino almost seemed to be begging for forgiveness. And btw, if we were all perfect we wouldn’t need God or church. Findsomething else to talk about.

    • This is complete and utter nonsense. I have been at highlands for 7 years and I am as conservative theologically as anyone. (Former Southern Baptist) I have never heard anything from the pulpit that is contrary to scripture. Don’t take my word for it listen to this message on money and you will see that anyone that claims Highlands preaches a Prosperity Gospel is simply misleading you. As for Pastor Dino, he admitted the relationship he had, and went through a 14 month restoration and and accountability process. (See link posted below this.) There is not any secret agenda other than seeing people come to Christ and find their calling in life. That is what people are drawn to. The Church budget is 60% of last year’s income, they pay for everything with Cash, they will give 8 million dollars to missions this year. (All without having a “Capital Campaign”)They support countless church plants every year. They host a conference (Grow) that is designed to help smaller churches to achieve their potential. They make all of their resources, media, graphics, sermon outlines, everything available to them. Last year the goal was to help 1000 churches, reach 1000 people in attendance. Most importantly thousands are coming to Christ. We had 1500 first time decisions for Christ in Tuscaloosa on Easter Alone!. (11,000+ statewide.) When was the last time you saw a line of adults 30 people deep waiting to get baptized at another church? You can see that at happening at every baptism service monthly here. I could go on and on, but people really should not comment on what they don’t know anything about. If you want to say “its too big for me”, “The music is too loud”…or “I have to walk too far in the parking lot” fine, but don’t make stuff up.

      https://www.churchofthehighlands.com/…/beyond-the-numbers1

      • Who ever this is…THANK YOU. My family has been going to Church of the Highlands for several months now. We are craving Gods word because we are leaving every Sunday with Gods word to chew on and can’t wait until the next Sunday to come. We want more. This has truly been a breath of fresh air. Can you remember leaving a church and remembering what was preach on Monday much less the next Saturday?? Well this is definitely for our family a wonderful place to be because God is preached. PERIOD. I pray for those that feel this church is anything other than what it is, a church after God.

      • I have been going to Highlands for two years and couldn’t agree more. I come from a PCA background and have heard nothing of the sort coming out of Chris Hodges nor any of the guest speakers. The tone of this article says it all. Please come to COTH to see for yourself.

      • This whole thing is completely nuts. I was raised In a Lutheran Church and was baptized in 2000 after joining the Church of Christ.

        Three years ago, my wife and I joined the COTH. My life was a complete wreck filled with alcoholism, adultery, debauchery and massive debt.

        Through this church, I have been alcohol free for almost a year, my wife and I reconsiled and saved my marriage, we have restructured our debt and for the first time in my entire life of 46 years of age – I am truly free! I know what my spiritual gifts are because of COTH. God has transformed ME, something that three years ago I truly believed could not be done.

        So the OP of this article can quote whatever nonsense he wants to, but he clearly does not understand this church, its leadership or what is really happening in the body of Christ.

  4. Pingback: Things I have read on the internet – 27 | clydeherrin

  5. Until you experience COTH for yourself your opinion is an uneducated judgement and it seems like you need a reminder that Jesus loves you and do not judge or you to will be judged. As a member for 5 years everything you have said is incorrect and invalidates this article. I will be in pray for you.

    • Sorry, what?

      Well, I have experienced the teaching portion for myself, via the online sermon. I don’t need to be there in person to address the propositional claims made by the person behind the pulpit.

      Being there in person doesn’t magically make error turn into truth, or vice versa.

      Also, “judge not”?

      Really?

      You responded to my article with the popular (and blatantly wrong) understanding of the most misunderstood passage in Scripture, and announced that you’ve been a member there for FIVE years.

      I couldn’t have asked for a better validation of this article.

    • Absolutely agree with you, First Last. This article has taken snippets of messages and manipulated their meaning…The part addressing “wealth” and “being rich” is completely taken out of context. As with many verses in the bible, statements in a sermon that are taken out of context can be extremely misleading. This post definitely needs more research before making such absurd claims…

      • Okay. I’m not above being wrong.

        I AM in another country, looking at the statements of a church that is in a foreign culture to my own. That will inevitably lead to reasonable misunderstandings.

        Could you explain to me what the context was?

        How did I manipulate the meaning of the part addressing wealth and being rich?

        I would honestly love to be wrong.

        Discovering that a big church like COTH is a bastion of orthodoxy would be a welcome, and highly celebrated revelation.

    • The Rizzo information is correct in what occurred. He went through a restoration program before he was allowed to preach again which is good.

        • Are you now judge? I see you are a great stone thrower. Read Galations 6:1 better yet why don’t you live it out?

        • Why don’t you ask him, instead of insinuating that there is not?…
          What I DO know because I AM there, is this; my family has grown in their knowledge and passion for the Lord and His Word, because of godly leadership. God is doing amazing things in the lives of people!!! My children have vibrant and passionate relationships with Jesus, because the Word is made relevant. If that is false teaching BRING IT ON! I love being apart of the church; and I trust in the integrity of the pastor. I am in love with Jesus, and it is a great place to serve, and minister, as well as be served and ministered to. I read Matthew 23 today ; maybe you should go and read it ,as well

        • Thanks for your thoughts Cat.

          I’m glad your family has grown, but I’m afraid for you if you think that something is true because of how it makes you feel or changes your life.

          I read Matthew 23. It was interesting how Jesus condemned the Pharisees for preaching a false gospel and then judging the validity of their teaching on the basis of how many people “got saved” (Matt. 23:13-15).

          Is that what I was supposed to get from Matthew 23 or did you have something else in mind for me?

    • I’ve experienced it for 2 yrs at Tuscaloosa campus and what Lyndon says is true. Wake up and take your blinders off. Do some research and actually use the bible to judge. It’s commanded to you as a true believer. Emotional experiences do not validate a church or a pastor.

  6. Let me guess. You are in a dead church? None of what you said is true about the church or Pastor Chris. I have been a member there for 8 years and have attended Highlands college. I learned more about ministry in 2 years than in the 35 years I was in the baptist church. Why don’t you write about how we gave over 8 million dollars and are currently helping over 1600 churches world wide to reach people for Jesus through the Grow Network? The cost is absolutely free. Does this sound like a mont hungry church or pastor? Not that it matters but Pastor Chris drives a Hyndai. Be careful as you bash God’s anointed. You are treading on dangerous ground. God called Pastor Chris anointed him and you have no idea what your talking about. Come to the Tuscaloosa campus and ask to see John Jones. I will answer any question you may have concerning what Church of the Highlands does for the lost and outcast. I know first hand I was one of them.

    • Okay. I’ll ignore your silly suggestion that I attend a spiritually dead church. That’s just anger coming out because you’re protective of your pastor.

      I’m sad to hear that you were in some sort of weak-sauce Baptist church for 35 years and didn’t learn a thing.

      I’m not surprised.

      I’m also glad that you were lost/outcast and found acceptance in COTH. That’s wonderful for you.

      And your church gave 8 millions dollars to some sort of evangelism network?

      Good for you guys.

      The Mormons do a whole LOT more than that, but it doesn’t change their doctrinal errors.

      Also, were you evangelizing them with a gospel that included talk about prosperity?

      But come on now: “touch not God’s anointed?”

      You’ve got to be kidding me.

      1 Chron. 16:22 and Ps. 105:15 aren’t talking about what you think they’re talking about…namely Chris Hodges. He’s neither a prophet nor an Israelite king.

      • Actually we gave 8 million to missions. Instead of writing about other churches why not spend your time trying to reach lost people? I’m guessing because the more controversial you are the more money you make from word press. And yes I am protective of my pastor. I honor him he has raised 5 great children and loves people where they are. I forgot to mention that we are in 12 of Alabama state prisons every week literally thousands of Highlands members giving their time to make a difference. If you are so interested in seeing what we do watch the baptisms in the state prisons that happen every month. Thousands of inmates give their lives to Jesus every year because of the generosity of COH and Pastor Chris. I never said he was a king or profit but he is defiantly one of God’s anointed.

        • I don’t make a cent from WordPress.

          I’ve never made a cent from any writing I do on here at all.

          I also shared the gospel with several people tonight, and I’m sitting in a KFC at 9:51, typing this on my phone, waiting for my supper after a night of evangelism.

          You’re not the only one walking the walk buddy…and you’re still not dealing with the issues at hand.

          Does Chris Hodges, in the sermon I linked, teach a prosperity gospel?

          He knows it sound like it because he addresses the objection in the sermon. What do you make of his response?

    • John, I don’t know Lyndon other than enjoying and appreciating his writing. I am from Tuscaloosa and would love to sit down with you at City Cafe or Taco Casa and talk about your experiences with the Baptist church and Church of the Highlands, then spend some time looking at God’s word together to see what God has said about the gospel, the church, and the role and responsibilities of a pastor. I’ll even go to a service at CotH with you so we can discuss the specifics of whatever is done and said at the church that day.

      I live in Indonesia now, but will be in Tuscaloosa from mid-June through mid-July. Please reply if you’re interested.

  7. I have been to church of the highlands many times, though it is not my home church, I just go because I’ve heard only good things about it. I’m 18 years old and I’m a senior in high school. Reading this post made me very upset because I have many friends who attend highlands regularly and I see the post about how several lives are being dedicated to Chirst through baptism. And isn’t that the main goal?? To live for Him and serve and to worship. On Thursday nights, they offer a service called ONE in my town, Tuscaloosa, at highlands. It is FILLED with college students worshipping their hearts out and that would not want to be anywhere else. If this isn’t one of the most amazing achievements in a college town then I don’t know what is. Anyway, what I’m getting to is that whether you believe his teachings are right or wrong, he’s being HUNDREDS of lives to Chirst. So who are you to bash him publicly this way, he has no evil intentions, he’s serving the Lord and teaching the way that he has understood.

    • Tempie,

      I appreciate the sentiment.

      I’m glad that you’re a high schooler who appreciates COTH and has been blessed by them.

      It is great that you’re involved in regular worship and evangelism.

      I’m in no way suggesting anything negative about you for going to COTH.

      But you said that “whether you believe his teachings are right or wrong, he’s leading HUNDREDS of lives to Christ.”

      There’s the problem in a nutshell. If his teaching about the Gospel is wrong, then he’s proclaiming a gospel that doesn’t save and whoever IS coming to know the Lord is doing so in spite of his teaching.

      I don’t doubt that people are being saved there. I’m sure there are many Christians at the COTH…but if there is a false gospel (like the prosperity gospel) being preached, there are likely an equal number of people who think they’re saved but are not.

      That’s why the gospel is so important.

        • It’s simple Ashley. They’re claiming something that isn’t true.

          It’s like in Mark 4:13-20 when Jesus explains the parable of the sower. There are 4 categories of people who hear the gospel.

          Category 1 hears and then ignores/forgets it (4:13-15).

          Category 2 accepts (meaning they claim to be Christians) but then fall away when life gets difficult (4:16-17).

          Category 3 accepts (again claim to be Christians) but the gospel has no impact in their lives because they wander away, after the things of the world (4:18-19).

          Category 4 accepts and then the gospel takes root and produces exponential fruit (meaning righteousness) in their lives.

          So in Jesus’ parable, 3/4 of the people who hear the Gospel aren’t real believers, and 1/2 of them claim to be.

          There’s lots of false Christians out there, and that’s with people who actually encounter the real gospel message. If someone encounters a counterfeit gospel, they can claim many things (i.e. I know of multiple cults where their members claim to be “real” Christians), but claiming something doesn’t make it true.

          I can claim that I’m the fastest runner in Iceland, but that’s just a hollow claim. It means absolutely nothing.

        • Mennoknight, you gave a very accurate description of the parable of the sower with one crucial error. This parable is not meant to say that only 1/4 of professing Christians are actually saved. They are simply what you called them, categories of hearers of the Word. I agree with what you’re trying to get at with most of the commentors on here about a gospel message focused primarily on prosperity being a false gospel. Without being a regular attendor of the church, it makes it hard to make dogmatic claims about the doctrine they teach. Prosperity SHOULD be taught in every church, but not as the primary message. We should definitely judge teachings against the clear teachings in the Bible, but we also must give due diligence to a church’s teaching as a whole. We are not perfect beings and are easily capable of advancing doctrinal errors. The important thing is repentance and confession when these errors take place. This would be a great time for you to reach out to the church in question to ask them about their doctrine. If you have any issue with what they teach, ask if they would be willing to hold a theological debate in the spirit of knowledge and wisdom. Above all else we need to keep talking to each other. If we find a brother or sister in error, it is up to us to correct them with the mirror of the Scriptures.

        • Matthew,

          I wasn’t trying to give fractions of who is “really” saved. I was only pointing out that Jesus spoke of people who heard and accepted the Gospel message as being fraudulent believers. They professed faith, but that profession was illegitimate.

          The prosperity gospel isn’t a false gospel because it’s a message that focuses on “prosperity.” It’s a false gospel because it’s not the same gospel as in the Bible.

          I’ll respond to the other comments in a broad-scoping post in the future.

  8. Please look at some facts. Don’t just make your judgement call based off of listening to a few sermons and picking out a few points from just the messages he spoke about “prosperity”. Here are a couple of links that you can see where our “prosperity” lies.
    http://www.highlandslegacy.com/#slide-5
    https://www.churchofthehighlands.com/give/accountability
    It lies in the souls won for Jesus Christ. Let’s not be naive. Everything costs money. Pastor Chris may focus 10% of his messages out of the year on finances. It’s how we manage what God has given us that is the key. We would not have what we have if we were not good stewards of the money God has blessed us with. Our staff salaries are 22% of the budget given. Money talk is such a fickle thing. Let’s focus on spreading the love of Christ and His Gospel. This is what pastor Chris teaches.

    • So…I already knew that the church was huge.

      Showing me the fact that the church claims that 22,550 people have “made decisions for Christ” doesn’t mean much if they’re doing so in response to a false gospel.

      People convert to Mormonism all the time too, but that doesn’t make it true.

      You’ve provided absolutely nothing to rebut the charges that Chris Hodges preaches a prosperity gospel message. In fact, you’ve kinda agreed that he does…but only around 10% of the time. 10% preaching of false gospel is still someone preaching a false gospel. I mean, would you tolerate it if 10% of the food served in a local restaurant included some sort of serious poison? Of course not. You’d never eat there. Ever.

      I want to spread the Gospel too…not A Gospel, but THE Gospel.

      I’d love you to look at the same sermon I looked at and explain where I’m wrong.

      So far, none of the fine people at COTH seem able to do that. That’s really, REALLY telling.

  9. I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you visit Church of the Highlands. Meet with one of our pastors and put all of your concerns with our church out on the table. You realize that true research involves seeing it from all sides, right? You realize that effective journalism is factual and accurate, right? A little research into accuracy goes a long way into being effective, you know, instead of presenting dangerous misinformation to the masses. Reading opinions such as yours reinforces my belief in the Holy Bible as my source for understanding God and deepening my relationship with Him.

    • Sure. I’d love to go visit the Church of the Highlands.

      I only live 2,700 miles away in Canada. If I spend the several thousand dollars that it would cost to travel internationally to visit, do you think one of your pastors would have the time of day for some random Canadian blogger?

      Uh oh.

      I should probably make an appointment or something, huh?

      And Rebecca, this isn’t journalism. This is a blog, and I’ve done a little factual research. Primary sources from the official web presence of the party in question.

      It’s interesting to me how there’s been a whole army of people flaming my blog all day and yet NONE of them seem to have even paid much attention to what I wrote.

      I haven’t had anyone document any errors I’ve made either.

      All I’ve got was the typical “touch not the Lord’s anointed” and “you haven’t been here so you shouldn’t have an opinion.”

      Not exactly a stellar defense.

      • I will pay for you to travel the 2700 miles if the money is a problem. Come sit down with one of our pastors as Rebecca has suggested. Property preachers don’t give money away. Pastor Chris and Robert Morris for that matter only teach that generosity is part of the walk of a believer. They are not peaching that only if you give will you get. Do you believe that when believers give that the bible teaches that he will bless us ? That is what both of those men teach. Read the blessed life by Robert Morris and tell me where he is preaching a prosperity gospel. Again I will pay for you trip here. You can email me and I will line everything up. Travel, hotel rental car and food. It will cost you nothing. If you really want the truth come see for yourself. Don’t just give an opinion on any church or Pastor just from what you have read or seen online. The Gospel is to important to damage with ignorance. My email is John.tfp@gmail.com. Email me and you can come see for yourself if you are interested in the truth.

        • Thanks for the kind offer John.

          I work a seasonal job and don’t have the option to take time off, at least until November. By then, this will all have blown over and I don’t fancy spending my holidays going to Alabama to sort out a misunderstanding due to an old and forgotten blog article.

          Someone else has graciously offered to get together with you in lieu of myself. Did you see that above?

          In response to your question, I don’t believe that the Bible teaches that giving will result in blessing…if you were meaning “financial” blessing.

          Do those men teach the law of sowing and reaping? Well, Morris sure as bean soup does. I’ve got his book “The Blessed Life” and it’s a straight up buffet of prosperity gospel cliches. I’ll eventually have a review of it on here at some point. Possibly a few months.

          Nobody teaches “Jesus died to make you rich” or anything that blatant or silly. The prosperity gospel involves more subtle ideas like:

          The universal law of Firstfruits/tithing

          The universal law of Sowing and Reaping/multiplication

          The power of the tongue/positive confession.

          And so on. Prosperity preachers utilize the Scripture to get to those points as well; they utilize scripture, but wrongly. You may think that arguing about Bible interpretation is more or less academic if people are “getting saved,” but if you’re proclaiming a false gospel based on the twisting of scripture, nobody’s ever “getting saved” in the first place.

      • I’ll put it this way, within 8 months of attending Highlands and going “all in” (growth track, dream team, tithing) I had a true emergency situation with my teenager. Immediately feeling like I needed some spiritual guidance before I addressed the situation I called my church I felt so invested in. I was given a complete run around and transferred several times. After waiting hours (at which time I had to deal with the emergency while waiting) I had a fellow dream team member who works under the pastors call me back and offer to pray over the phone. I live less than 10 miles from 4 of the churches and this was the best I could get?

        So no, I do not believe flying in from Canada will get you a meet and greet with a COTH pastor.

        • Don’t worry Julie. I have absolutely no intention of wasting someone’s money (and several days of my time) flying 2,700+ miles with the hopes that anyone will have the time of day for me.

          The people who somehow expect me to fly south and meet with a pastor, or Chris Hodges for that matter, don’t have much of a clue how a church that big operates.

  10. I’ve never once been asked for money. Never once has he said oh you should give this percentage. No, never. I’ve been attending for 16 months and don’t have money to give and never got the impression that we have to. He said only give if you can . It’s definitely not a money hungry church. I’ve also learned more about Jesus and the bible. Explained in an easily learned way. For people that didn’t grow up in church and don’t feel comfortable in a small church and feeling judged, this is the church for them. Ive seen an outpouring of young high school and college students on fire for God and its truley inspirational !

    • Great Sonya.

      I’m glad you haven’t been asked for money. I’m also glad that you don’t feel judged at church…although that makes me somewhat nervous for you.

      Church is a place where we come under the teaching of Christ via his word, and that always involves confronting the places where we need to change. That means church is a place where we do sometimes feel judged, but in a necessary way that is from God, not people.

      I’m also glad that you see lots of young people “on fire” for God. I don’t think any people from COTH have yet been clear as to what I’m saying in this article.

      • What mennonknight and others have said here is that sound doctrine is important. A little yeast works is way and can corrupt a whole batch of dough. Has anyone heard of a little church called Mars Hill in Seattle? It was a very large fast growing church and the pastor Mark Driscoll made some poor decisions and it hurt A LOT of people.

        Be like the Bereans and carefully examine and test what is being taught. Just because a place makes you feel good doesn’t mean it is healthy. I don’t know the church but I do know mennonknight and he is very thorough, intelligent and sincere. No one wants to hear their home being insulted but maybe take a pause and ask why this is being said. Maybe some examination is in order.

        There have been very concerning statements on here from attendees. The Lord’s anointed? Small churches that make people feel judged? Wait, isn’t that statement in and of itself a judgmental statement? Think about these things prayerfully.

      • Mennoknight,

        Thank you for deligence in looking at what Chris Hodges is telling the congregation at Highlands. I believe even Paul said that we should carefully examine even his teachings to ensure that they line up with the word of God. I have a few questions I would like you to further explain for me however. In your blog you stated that alarm bells should be going off for because of the statement of purpose Matt 22:36-40 and Mark 16:15-17 can you please explain to me why you think there is something wrong with those verses or rather how Highlands may be using them out of context with what you believe is the correct context.

        Next, can you please expand on how you believe this sermon to be about the prosperity gospel when Chris Hodges nor Highlands ever says that it is a sin to be poor or you are poor because you are lacking in faith. The message I heard from him in that video you gave for your example appeared to me that he was saying God wants to give us more than we need here at this church so that we can turn around and give to those in need in order that they might be reached in Christ. If you examine the text of 2 Corinthians 9 further than just the verse Chris highlighted in the sermon Paul stated a few other things before and after basically saying God loves cheerful givers and will give you everything in abundance in order to bless those less fortunate around you.

        Last, you mention that the prosperity gospel doesn’t save and with that I fully agree with you. However, I have never once heard nor did I hear in the message that you provided that if you are not rich you will go to hell or you’re a sinner or you lack faith. The only gospel I’ve ever heard from any of his teachings is that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation through his death that when we believe and ask for his forgiveness we are saved.

        I do want to make it clear that I am in no way trying to attack you or say you are wrong just that I would love for you to expand further for my own understanding. I truly desire to see exactly what it is that you have an issue with explain further that we can have an intelligent and biblical discussion about the issues you have and the issues I have as well.

        Thank you

        • I would love to hear the author’s thoughts on this as well. I too didn’t understand the contention with the statement of purpose verses. I would like to know more, sincerely, of how you think they are being taken out of context.

          I also did not hear in that message anywhere that it says hell is waiting for those who are poor. You mention his pull quote: “Why does God want me rich? Why does he want me in that condition? And the next chapter actually says it. God wants to make you not only rich monetarily, he wants to make you rich in every way. So make you rich in your marriage, make you rich in your emotions, make you rich in a lot of ways, in your gifts, your ideas…why? So that you can be generous with it.” I think I might be missing the part where this is prosperity gospel…I get your point above that it is subtle and never is blatantly “God wants you to be rich.” But it does seem in 2 Corinthians 9:11 to say “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” It seems that is what Pastor Chris Hodges is saying in that pull quote, that God wants us to be blessed so we can in turn bless others — again, I don’t think that means all Christians are rich in money, but potentially they are rich in love, forgiveness, joy, patience and the other fruits of the spirit. I also am not attacking you or saying you are wrong. I just don’t fully get the conclusion you are jumping to and would love for you to further break it down based on the sermon you linked to. I am a member of Highlands, and while the church is not perfect, I do think it’s biblical. This is coming from someone who values the word, grapples with the word, and when I don’t understand go to people who better do understand the word (in my instance a family member that went to seminary). As the person above me stated “The only gospel I’ve ever heard from any of his teachings is that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation through his death that when we believe and ask for his forgiveness we are saved.” This is true…and made clear in every sermon taught.

          Which leads me to your thoughts on Highlands College — in this point I could not agree with you more. However, I don’t think Highlands College pretends to be a seminary in any way. I see it as a next steps for people who want to be on staff at church. Their catalogue states that Highlands College could aid in “…potentially leading to the occupational pursuit of a full-time or part-time position on a ministry staff.” I don’t see that is people who are seeking out to become head pastors, but rather organizational leaders, which associate ‘pastors’ at these types of churches are. Highlands uses the word pastor very loosely and I think that’s something to take into consideration.

          I agree that all church leaders need to be CAREFULLY examined. Especially a church that is ministering to thousands of people a week. I appreciate your thoughts and critiques because I think through tension we grow as individuals. I just don’t see to understand some of your conclusions, and I’d love for you to break it down a little further based upon my commentary and the one above.

        • Marine,

          Thanks for the candor and questions.

          – The Mark 16:15-17 passage sets off alarm bells for two reasons:

          a. It’s non-canonical, meaning it’s not part of the inspired Scripture. If that shocks or alarms you, I understand. That’s relatively new information to many people.

          b. It’s standard boiler plate Charismatic “purpose” verse that they never take seriously. They say “Mark 16:15-17, 20” when they quote the verse, which leaves out all the signs that “will accompany those who believe…” But so many Charismatics want to have their cake and eat it too. Unless you’re handling snakes and drinking poison, don’t pretend that you’re living out Mark 16:15-20.

          – The prosperity gospel isn’t someone saying that it’s a sin to be poor. Rather, it’s the claim that prosperity (i.e. financial prosperity) is a covenant right for believers and a promise from the word of God.

          At around 9:30 in the video, he reads 2 Cor. 8:9 and says (after speaking about money for the first 9 minutes) that God wants Christians to be financially wealthy. Then, at around 10:15 he states that COTH isn’t a prosperity church because they teach that God wants you to be rich so that you can be generous, but prosperity theology say God wants you to be rich so that you can be rich. Hodges is subtle, but he’s not stupid. At around 31:00 he uses Psalm 92:13 to teach that if a person utilizes God’s principles of giving, they will experience exponential blessing and at 43:00 he rebukes the “devourer” (Satan) who takes away their financial blessings.

          Hodges simply speaks untruths about prosperity theology in order to place himself in a camp that he’s not really part of. NOBODY says that God wants you to be rich for the purpose of being rich. Everyone, from Robert Morris to Creflo Dollar to Benny Hinn to David Oyedepo says the same thing as Chris Hodges.

          COTH is a subtle prosperity gospel church (as far as I can see).

          God does not want you to be financially wealthy.

          God does not promise financial abundance to believers.

          God does not give a guaranteed set of principles to bring about financial abundance in the Scriptures.

          One day, I’m going to have to address 2 Corinthians 9 in depth. The take that Chris Hodges has on Habakkuk 1, 2 Cor. 8-9, 1 Tim. 6, etc. is a standard prosperity gospel take. I imagine that you, like many, have a rather caricatured misunderstanding of what the prosperity gospel entails. That’s not necessarily your fault, but it is a serious issue.

          – Now, nobody in the prosperity gospel circles teaches that a person goes to hell if they’re not rich. I don’t have a clue why you’d even think that. I also don’t know why you’d think that any prosperity gospel teacher would suggest that poverty means a person lacks faith.

          Prosperity preachers, like Joel Osteen or Robert Morris or Fredrick Price Jr., are positive. They don’t brow-beat people in poverty by telling them that their poverty is their own fault. They only talk about all the opportunities, promises, covenant-provided blessings, etc. that God has for them.

          Chris Hodges teaches gospel plus. He teaches about Jesus, sure…though his “gospel” presentation at 38:30 is horrifying. Let God know “I belong to you?” What? He also adds prosperity to that mix…which makes it “gospel plus” and a gospel plus message is a false gospel.

          That’s not being all nitpicky about him saying what I think he should say with regards to doctrine. With the prosperity gospel, the prosperity part always chokes out the gospel part (and the “gospel” part isn’t necessarily there in the first place). Jesus talked about that in Mark 4 with the parable of the sower, among other places.

  11. I didn’t come here to throw stones. I was lost when I started attending COTH. I just loved the music and it was a church I could bare to sit thru for a little over an hour. They operated out of a conference hall and were totally portable at that time. My GF (who is now my wife) and I went just to go and say “we go to church”. I didn’t want to be involved or get into the small groups. The sermons were easy to understand and while I wasn’t completely involved or wanting to actually have a relationship with God, I did learn. Another thing I liked is Chris very rarely asked for a tithe. There is an offering of course, but never did they pump it up and pressure you to give.

    A few years later I hit rock bottom. My GF and I broke up, I stopped attending church and I began to sit and be depressed. A month later, a friend of mine got me to go out and party, drink, and do cocaine. Very early, the next morning, before the sun came up I got a call from a number I didn’t know. I didn’t pick up at first but on the 2nd I did. It was my ex and she had a bad accident. She told me her phone was lost in the wreck and she used a phone from a lady at a gas station. She also said my number was the only one she could remember. I raced to her and ended up in the hospital with her. She only had a few cuts and bruises even though her car flipped a few times. I believe God used that wreck to speak to me. He knew I was about to be headed in the wrong direction. The next day, I went to Highlands on Easter by myself. I burst into tears during his invitation and asked Jesus to come into my heart.

    Now, Highlands didn’t have a direct influence with that decision. It was God. The Highlands influence was ever so slight…but now I attend and I am involved, my heart is full, and I’m a different person. I’ve met new friends thru small groups and I love my church. I never fee pressured to give money. I get a ton out of the messages that Pastor Chris speaks because he “dumbs it down” so that someone who hasn’t ever studied the bible can understand and relate to. I’m not the only person that has been changed thru COTH and I know I sure won’t be the last. I’m proud to attend this church, and I can’t imagine going anywhere else. My heart is as pure as it’s ever been thanks to Jesus and COTH.

    As Christians, we should all come together and stop fighting with each other. Being rich doesn’t mean having $$ in your bank account. You can live in a mud hut and be rich. Rich with life, compassion, and happiness. I don’t have a whole lot of money, but I’m rich with love and joy and happiness. With God and all of MY riches, that’s all I need.

    • Praise the Lord for your story.

      I am delighted to hear that God got a hold of you and you’ve turned from your sin and called out to Christ to save you from your sin and the various consequences thereof.

      I’m quite sure that in a church as big as COTH, there’s plenty of good people and I’m quite sure that you get good things out of it. I’m glad they don’t push tithing and whatnot.

      Keep studying the scriptures and try hard to learn to interpret them properly. Learn about things like hermeneutics and exegesis and build your skill in handling the sword of the Spirit. Read the Scripture and obey it.

      If the Lord keeps you at COTH, then stay there. As you continue to grow you may also move on to somewhere else.

  12. Mennoknight,

    Thank you for deligence in looking at what Chris Hodges is telling the congregation at Highlands. I believe even Paul said that we should carefully examine even his teachings to ensure that they line up with the word of God. I have a few questions I would like you to further explain for me however. In your blog you stated that alarm bells should be going off for because of the statement of purpose Matt 22:36-40 and Mark 16:15-17 can you please explain to me why you think there is something wrong with those verses or rather how Highlands may be using them out of context with what you believe is the correct context.

    Next, can you please expand on how you believe this sermon to be about the prosperity gospel when Chris Hodges nor Highlands ever says that it is a sin to be poor or you are poor because you are lacking in faith. The message I heard from him in that video you gave for your example appeared to me that he was saying God wants to give us more than we need here at this church so that we can turn around and give to those in need in order that they might be reached in Christ. If you examine the text of 2 Corinthians 9 further than just the verse Chris highlighted in the sermon Paul stated a few other things before and after basically saying God loves cheerful givers and will give you everything in abundance in order to bless those less fortunate around you.

    Last, you mention that the prosperity gospel doesn’t save and with that I fully agree with you. However, I have never once heard nor did I hear in the message that you provided that if you are not rich you will go to hell or you’re a sinner or you lack faith. The only gospel I’ve ever heard from any of his teachings is that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation through his death that when we believe and ask for his forgiveness we are saved.

    I do want to make it clear that I am in no way trying to attack you or say you are wrong just that I would love for you to expand further for my own understanding. I truly desire to see exactly what it is that you have an issue with explain further that we can have an intelligent and biblical discussion about the issues you have and the issues I have as well.

    Thank you

  13. Mennoknight, I would say that your criticisms of COTH are spot-on. My wife and I attended, one time, a COTH campus in suburban Birmingham. It was everything I’ve come to hate about the modern American church-as-a-business.
    Everything was slickly packaged. The people were as nice as they could be. BUT.
    BUT.
    I couldn’t find any reason to be there. My wife and I, after handing off our children to childcare, were given keyring cards to reclaim them. There was no room for us to sit in the sanctuary. As a matter of fact, there was no sanctuary at all. There was, however, an “auditorium.” My wife and I sat outside one of the coffee bars and watched a monitor display of the service inside.
    It’s a performance. Church as pop art. American church-as-business. I’ll never go back.

    • Thanks Bob.

      I’m glad that at least one commenter doesn’t think I’m barking mad or speaking out of some need to express hatred at a church that’s bigger than mine.

      It’s regretful that you had such an experience. That’s definitely not what “church” should be; watching the service on a monitor at a coffee bar.

  14. Why don’t you sir, instead of attending an online service, come on in to one of our many campuses and let one of us show you the love that Christ wants every single human to receive. And why should he reference Pastor Haggard as frequently as it seems you sound to think he should. I want to hear what Pastor Chris has to say about me serving the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father God. The creator of all things. I’m certainly not mad at you for your thoughts or opinions, for this is a free country and you have those rights. The Holy Spirit does an AMAZING job of “getting the point across” from God our father. Pastor Chris is very realistic and very down to earth. He teaches straight from the Bible and gives more biblical references in one sermon than I have EVER hear Osteen mention in the multiple times I have watched him on t.v. He backs everything he teaches us up with scripture. Therefore I think you have not done your research very well. Had you truly researched for you derogatory opinionated article of a body of Christ who loves you and every single person in this world, you would have maybe made an appointment with him or one of the associate pastors that hold him accountable. Or perhaps if this article were truly important to present proper information, maybe you would have joined us for service in person. There are definitely people who disagree and even say they hate our church. And that’s ok. Ya know why? Because we still love you and them. And we welcome you to any of our campuses anytime. We would be honored to welcome you, serve you, and pray for you in any way that you needed. Again, I hold nothing but love for you but you have gotten every aspect of your article in presenting it to the public wrong. God bless you and have a blessed and prosperous day and life! 😊

    • Thanks for the invite Jenle, but I’m not flying internationally to experience the love. I have a fantastically loving church up here that I’m already heavily invested in.

      I don’t think Hodges needs to mention Haggard. I only find it interesting that his CV doesn’t mention his experience in Colorado at all.

      If you think Hodges is a great preacher because he has more biblical references than Osteen, you’re making a rather confused judgment. I can have 1 biblical reference in a sermon and if I properly interpret and explain that reference, I’m preaching as I should.

      I’m sure you don’t think I’ve done my research well. Looking at the logical argument that lead you to that conclusion, as well as your utterly ludicrous plan of action, I’m not terribly worried about your opinion.

      Have a blessed day too!

    • Traveling to another country won’t make errant statements all of a sudden become true. None of you COTH people seem to even have a clue what is going on here.

      I’m not flying 2,700 miles and taking several days off work with the hopes of meeting someone who’s likely highly inaccessible because a bunch of offended people think that’s the necessary course of action.

      • I mean, I’m not offended. It makes no sense to get offended at someone who doesn’t know what’s really going on. However, if you actually wanted to find out the truth about the place and the person you have blogged about then you would take him up on his offer, it costs you nothing. I think the real reason you don’t want to take the trip is because you’re fearful of being proven wrong, which is ok, everyone hates to be proven wrong. However, to proclaim Christ and then bash a church and person with little knowledge of the church or person is just as wrong of a representation of who Christ is as the allegations you made in your blog. Nothing in this blog says come follow Jesus. Nothing here has helped people come to know Christ and that’s the point.
        I’m sorry that you have a wrong idea and I’m sorry your only outlet is on your blog. However, it would be wise to think and research before you speak.

  15. I am going to have to disagree with you on this one. I listened to the sermon you linked, and it seems to me like you took one statement from that sermon and used it out of context. That sermon was not a presentation of the prosperity gospel. If anything it was a presentation of a generosity gospel. Never once did Chris Hodges say God wants us wealthy for our benefit. That message was all about being a good steward of whatever God blesses you with for the sole purpose of having excess so that you can bless others. For scripture on living in the margin and being a good steward of Gods money, see Proverbs. And it is true not only of our finances but also of our time, our emotions, or energy, etc. This is the same promise God gave to Abraham in Genesis- you will be blessed so that you may be a blessing to others; use the blessings to fulfill the Great Commission. Jesus tells us that he came to earth to give us a full life. He didn’t come only that we may live in misery. That is the opposite extreme to the prosperity gospel, and neither are accurate. In that sermon, Chris Hodges dos not preach from either extreme. In fact, his focus was not even on what God could give us but rather what we should do with what He gives us. God is joy, freedom, blessing, and goodness. To say He wants something less than that for his children is to deny Him the glory He deserves by being a good Father who goes above and beyond for His beloved. Now, Jesus does say to take up your cross and follow him, to deny yourself of your wants in order to place Gods wants first. But that doesn’t mean God never gives us our wants. It just means we must be prepared and willing to lay aside our desires and suffer through persecution if that is what it takes to put God first.

    To call someone a false teacher because he says God wants to bless us and then in turn use us through that blessing to fulfill the Great Commission…well, that is a little extreme to me. I feel that this sermon, this pastor, and this church was misrepresented. Further, to claim that attending a church and listening to a pastor will certainly lead to spiritual death is a very bold and potentially damaging thing to say. Especially when you have done the minimal amount of research on the place. I am not trying to say you did anything malicious, but I am arguing that you spoke on things you know very little about. Everything you mentioned could be found out through a quick google search of personal blogs and Reddit threads, and we all know how factually sound those things are. I think you made some very dangerous claims that could potentially harm the body of Christ. And that should never be taken lightly.

    • You’re free to disagree with me. See the comment to Marine07 above where I address the prosperity gospel issues in the message.

      You’re also letting your emotions get the best of you in wrongfully placing a bunch of damning judgments in my mouth.

      I didn’t call Chris Hodges a false teacher.

      I didn’t say that listening to Chris Hodges would lead to spiritual death.

      Don’t lecture me on doing minimal research when you didn’t even pay attention to the very article upon which you’re commenting.

  16. As someone who has been a member of Highlands for over 6 years, and a vehement opponent of the classic prosperity doctrine, I’m troubled you’ve come to the conclusions you came to. Though, I’m not surprised, as it seems you’re desperately seeking confirmation bias. It’s easy to take shots from the back row and lump Highlands in with any of the other hackneyed stereotypes of “mega churches” you’ve come to know.

    But let me tell you, Highlands ain’t about money. In their entire 15 years as a church, they’ve never had a special building fund, they’ve never asked for anyone to give to any specific cause – except once a year when they take a Legacy offering that is distributed among the community to organizations in need. I tithe more to Highlands than my 30 years prior in church – at any church, because this is the first church I’ve been in that truly focuses on those in need. Prosperity doctrine ministries don’t operate on 0 debt, they don’t build hospitals and inner-city youth centers. They don’t spend Saturdays in the summer bringing 30,000 people out to mow poor people’s lawns and repair homes.

    I’ve also heard him speak against the prosperity doctrine on MANY occasions. I’ve also heard him give the sermon you’ve cherry picked in various forms a number of times. And the point (which you clearly missed) was that it’s not a biblical requirement that you live in poverty as a martyr for Christ. And one shouldn’t be ashamed of wealth, but those who have it are called to a certain responsibility for God.

    Do you realize his definition of “prosperity” was ANYONE who lives in the United States? He starts that sermon off with an explanation that by virtue of living here, we’re already in the 1% in the world. So we have a calling to honor Christ through that good fortune. I’m sure you either missed that, or conveniently left it out.

    I’ve been a Christian for almost my entire life. I’ve never seen a church do more for broken people, for marriages, for youth, and for a community in need – all with an adherence to biblical teaching as I’ve seen at Highlands.

    I encourage you to explore all the messages instead of seeking a confirmation bias so you can pat yourself on the back for fighting the good Pharisee fight.

    • Sure. Explain it away with my desperation for confirmation bias. That’s probably it.

      Prosperity churches aren’t all the same, and there are many that operate in the black and do tons of social outreach activities (including starting medical centers).

      You claim to have heard Hodges speak out against prosperity theology. That means you watched the same link that I did. He cleverly mis-defined prosperity theology by sticking to the purpose of the prosperity (being rich for its own sake). No prosperity teacher says such things. They all talk about being generous and giving.

      His definition of prosperity was having a combined household income of >$45,000/yr.

      That’s utterly irrelevant. Prosperity theology doesn’t become true if you define “prosperity” with a low enough number.

      I’ll watch all the teaching that COTH has online if you read all the articles on my blog so you can understand me a little better. See? I can make irrational demands of you too.

      Thanks for calling me a Pharisee: it’s ironic how all these COTH people talk about how loving they are but yet cannot help but insult me.

  17. I find it interesting that you state that Pastor Chris is misleading people by not accurately sharing the Gospel yet you have never attended a service and you indicate that you’ve watched a sermon or two online.

    I’m sure that you have never taken the opportunity to speak to Pastor Chris directly but you find it easy to spew your words of spite and obvious bitterness towards an amazing man of God who seeks to please God in everything he does. I am glad that God blessed my wife and I by giving us Church of the Highlands as our church home.

    I pray that God will bless your ministry and that you will find it in your heart to honor churches who are trying to help the lost come to Christ and help those people discover their purpose and to put that purpose to use for the purpose of serving others. You have a great platform that you should use to speak well of others instead of tearing people down.

    • So if I was physically present for the sermon I’ve critiqued, then my critique of the content would all of a sudden have validity?

      How exactly does a change in geography make a propositional statement change from falsehood to truth?

      I’d love any of you COTH folks to explain that one to me.

      Also, thanks for the judgments of the heart and motives, on the basis of a single blog post, of a person you haven’t even traveled to speak with or offered to meet.

      That pain you feel is the irony slapping you in the face.

  18. For the record, I am a Baptist pastor in Alabama who happens to think the Lord may be sending revival through Highland’s ministry, bypassing thousands of hidebound congregations of all denominations who are more in love with their past, their traditions and their sacred cow programs than with Jesus.

    So I am saddened to see such libelous words coming from a self-appointed critic in another country, who would not have an opportunity to take such a shot a Chris Hodges and Highlands except for the existence of the internet. But, that being the case, I’ll go ahead and capitalize on the venue and say a few words myself.

    Picking up on John’s post, let me invite you to come on down here to Tuscaloosa and sit face to face with some real people and talk about it. In other words, stop hiding behind your computer screen and the distance and man up to your accusations. I am pretty sure I know John, and he can even afford to bless you with a round trip ticket.

    But I don’t anticipate that happening, because my experience growing up in the streets of Tuscaloosa, spending several years in military service, and then working my way through college doing construction work is that people who spout off like this from 2,700 miles away are not the type of people willing to back up their assertions – or to be held accountable for them. But enough with the sideshow, and to the main topic –

    For those who know Pastor Hodges teachings, it is obvious that mennoknight has no concept of a “tree of life” approach to walking daily with Christ and living life in the Spirit. Rather, mennoknight’s perspective is anchored in the “knowledge of good and evil” or what the Apostle Paul called the “law of sin and death” view of life. It is the way of the Pharisee, and as we read the Scriptures we find the strongest words of rebuke in the New Testament are Jesus’ words of rebuke to the Scribes and Pharisees. “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites…”

    The Pharisees were obsessed with doctrinal purity and the posturing that comes from so-called scholarly knowledge. Yet we find the New Testament was written largely in the common Greek vernacular of the day – in other words, the language of the people of the street. Their bond was not in doctrinal purity or scholarly bodies of knowledge, but in a living, vital relationship with the risen Lord and a passionate desire to see “all men saved and brought to knowledge of the truth.” The leadership of Highlands, and the members who have grasped that message and impetus, understand that like the early disciples, simply living every day out a passionate love for the Lord Jesus Christ is at the heart of Christianity.

    Imagine that – ordinary people doing extraordinary things as led by Christ and empowered by the living God. But enough – the Kingdom work of the day calls …

    • I’m an Evangelical Free Pastor who thinks you’re wrong.

      Also, how about you take a week off work and fly up here to Canada to man up and face me? I’ll pay for the flight and put you up and feed you and everything. Then you can have a few days to tear a strip off me…in Christian love.

      Are you going to do that? Of course not. You’re just talking big as if you’re some honorable defender of righteousness and I’m some sort of mouthy teenage kid hiding behind anonymity. I blog under my real name, “Rick.” If you would have read the article, you wouldn’t be calling me “mennoknight”.

      Good luck with your “tree of life” approach “to walking daily with Christ and living life in the Spirit” as opposed to the “knowledge of good and evil” approach. I don’t want to know what sort of insane metaphors you find in the rest of Genesis.

      And if the Lord is bringing a revival (and you’re a part of it), why can’t you control your tongue? Is everyone who disagrees with you (in an article you clearly didn’t really pay attention to) a Pharisee?

      • Lyndon,

        Please find that this is not Rick’s grose metaphor of Genesis, rather, it is Chris Hodge’s teaching. Members of COTH tend to justify their positions with further false ideas apart from the Bible which are taught by Chris.

        Here’s the link to Chris’ message, one that is a “cornerstone” of the church’s mission, their “LIFE groups.”

        Better yet, it’s being perpetuated (6 months ago at another church):

        • Wow.

          That’s a frightening amount of theological confusion and wicked twisting of Scripture in a short message:

          – There are “different brands” of Christianity with different gospels…and some of the options are legitimate but others are true?

          – The Judaizers were authentic Christians?

          – The difference between Judaizers and the apostles was “works based” salvation rather than “relationship based” salvation?

          – The gospel is, at its core, about surrendering your life to God?

          – The “bedrock teaching” of all scripture is in the second story of the bible in Genesis 2:9, which is a metaphor for “God’s way” and “the way of sin”?

          – The “death” involved in eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in 2:17 is “hating church” and experiencing “death” in your marriage?

          – He wanted to punch an old woman in the face when she joked about critiquing him?

          – The Hebrew and Greek words for “Spirit” (ruach/pneuma) both mean “a breath of fresh air”? WHAT?

          – He makes a good distinction between “internal” and “external” change, but he doesn’t understand that the Bible doesn’t divorce those two. One leads to the other, rather than them being in opposition.

          – The single greatest biblical revelation he ever received was when he read John 14:15 and learned that you can’t get your act together first so that God will receive you…but if you love God, “you won’t have to even think about it”…we need to fall in love with Jesus and then we’ll just naturally do everything he wants us to do?

          – He thinks that Christianity is about “getting to heaven”…?!?

          – Matthew 7:21-23 is about having a relationship rather than outward obedience?

          – The secret to Christianity is “fall in love” with Jesus?

          – The gospel is “do you love me?” God sings that song to his creation?

          So close, and yet so far.

          I fear for the amount of inoculation against the actual gospel that Christ Hodges will have to give account for when he faces Jesus.

  19. Mennoknight,
    You have some very grave misunderstandings of the teachings over our church. Every day there are broadcasts of a certain pastor teaching ‘prosperity gospel’ he is a very famous pastor and I have listened to a few of his sermons to only be disappointed that he is so influential to so many people. I am familiar with ‘prosperity gospel’ but your claims that Church of the Highlands in any way preaches this kind of gospel is wrong. All it would take is you actually listening with an open mind to the messages preached by pastor Chris. Yes he taught about being rich and having more than you need. He wasn’t talking about money in particular. He was talking about multiple things in life. To be rich in love, family, experiences in life, giving (and not just money). Be rich in all things in life so that you can share your wealth (not just money) with the world. His need to clarify his meaning is due to the use of the word rich. As obviously you needed the clarification but did not pay attention. I was in attendance for that sermon and not one time did I ever feel the obligation to give money. We do an offering every year that is the legacy offering. This is the only offering that Pastor Chris ever really preaches about. But guess what? The legacy offering does not stay in the church. It goes out into our community. we are able to give to women’s shelters, assist the elderly and disabled with it, our church goes into the neighborhoods that no other churches will go (and we have some bad ones here, since you are from Canada you probably are not familiar). We have a team of volunteers that are in our outreach. A few times a month these people volunteer their time and effort to go out in our community and make it a better place. They pray with people and spread the love and word of God. Also, you misunderstand the idea of not being judged. I went to a southern baptist church when I was younger and understand the feeling of being judged and feeling that I was not good enough for God’s love. Pastor Chris in no way tells you that if it feels good that it is right. He preaches to live your life through the bible. To follow God’s way and not the way of the world. He very clearly lays out what is right and what is wrong. However he does so in a way that clearly says that God loves all his children, including sinners, for we are ALL sinners. Pastor Chris is also not ashamed that he deals with things and struggles at times as well. Which is the truth and nice to hear from a pastor because anyone who says that they do not struggle at times is only lying. (By the way, this is why the church has a council of pastors that oversee the church and Pastor Chris. Who does a pastor go to when he needs council? That is the reason they are in place). And while we are on that subject yes, Dino Rizzo is a friend of the church. Why? Because if we do not forgive as Christians how can we expect to be forgiven as followers of Christ? Dino has repented and has repaired his marriage through Christ. Anyway, I could go on and on, however unless you are actually willing to listen to Pastor Chris’s messages without having preconceived notions then it is pointless. I don’t understand how someone so far away could judge a place you have never been.

    • Michelle,

      I too am very familiar with the prosperity gospel. I’ve written several posts about that specifically and have spoken at church conferences about it. I’ve read 100+ books on the topic and have done as much research as I know how, analyzing the works of all the major players in the movement.

      Hodges teaches a subtle form of prosperity theology.

      The fact that you don’t recognize it as such doesn’t mean it’s not there.

      The problem wasn’t with the definition of “rich”, but rather that God has an active will for a person to have prosperity (in all areas, but including finances) and that will is accessed and realized by means of the promises regarding prosperity found in the Scripture.

      Maybe I wasn’t the one not paying close enough attention?

      I’m glad your church does great things in your community.

      I understand all about being judged. I was/am a Mennonite and grew up in a highly legalistic church where everything I did was judged and God would only love me if I acted a certain way (since you are from America you probably are not familiar).

      I never mentioned Dino Rizzo and have no knowledge of that topic.

  20. Here’s my two cents on the topic…. if you follow the model of COH all the way to its end you have one global church congregation connected by social/mass media and ONE pastor/teacher, aka Chris Hodges. And no one sees a problem with that? Campus pastors are the day to day operations managers… teaching & preaching is limited to CH and whoever he invites to speak. So I guess that means God doesnt need to call as many pastor/teachers as He once did, seeing now that social media has made it possible for millions to be shepherded by ONE. Wow. Does anyone who attends COH have a ballpark figure on how many is too many? One pastor and 32,000 isnt it… so what is? Anyone?
    The model is fundamentally and biblically flawed. It is a set up for a colossal melt down. All its going to take is for Chris Hodges to fall and 14 “campus” churches and multiple thousands of people are out a pastor. Who’s gonna run the show then? You talking about a power struggle! It will make the 2016 election look like a Cub Scout Den Mother election.

    • The highlands model isn’t going to stretch to the ends of the earth though. It’s only going to stay in Alabama. Highlands believes in the local church. They’re a massive advocate for community. Do you think pastor Chris expected highlands to get this big? Absolutely not. He’s mentioned that before. Nowhere in the bible does it give a limit to the amount of people one person can shepherd. and for a mega church, the entire system is designed extremely well with individual campus pastors overseeing their respective campus. Not all mega churches are bad because they are big. I am not trying to stir up argument in any way but I just want you to see that a church doesn’t have to be small to be sincere. Jesus himself spoke to massive crowds and said we would do greater things because we have the Holy Spirit.

  21. Lyndon,

    I agree with many comments that say that you should visit the church and ask questions directly to the staff that can give you answers and insight to your accusations and concerns.
    However, I am going to assume you will not choose to visit a campus service in person and that is okay.

    I am not going to angrily argue with you like I easily could, but instead I want to encourage you to concern yourself less with judgement of other and more with Christ and the Gospel.The cross has brought an offer of atonement to all who seek redemption and we are clearly instructed not to pass judgement on other, especially their past which is paid for ( hence why you should study the Gospel).

    I wish the best,

    Rachael

    • Rachel,

      I have a job, a family, etc. I cannot and will not take a week of my holiday time off to fly to Alabama just because a bunch of people on my blog got angry that I critiqued their pastor.

      Can you assure me that I’d even get a chance to talk with Hodges? Of course not. It’s not like a guy of Hodges’ stature would be busy with anything.

      As for no passing judgment, I’m wondering what you make of this:

      “The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.” – 1 Cor. 2:15.

      So am I supposed to judge all things or nothing?

      Also, do you think I have the ability to pass eternal judgment on ANYONE?

      • I’ve noticed you mention not travelling a vast distance to visit the church several times. You could simply call and plan something for the future. With technology today, you can easily set up a phone conference or video conference. I don’t think these people expect you to just show up.

        Let me leave you with some Scripture and a piece of advice, if you’re even willing to accept it if it doesn’t agree with your current mindset.

        2 Timothy 2:23-26
        But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correct those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

        My advice: Shut down the blog until you have reached out to the men of God that you have found fault in. If you humbly correct their doctrine and they still are in opposition to sound biblical doctrine… crank the blog back up and expose them. But I’m making an assumption here, that you have yet to reach out to any of the people you are trying to expose here.

        • Sure. Instead of flying internationally with the wild pipe-dream of getting an audience with someone from COTH, I’ll just stop blogging until I can jump through some nonsense and arbitrary hoop established by a random person on the internet.

          Wow. Talk about arrogant assumptions of authority.

          Here’s a passage for you:

          Gal. 2:11-14.

          Public error is allowed a public response.

          Here’s another passage for you:

          1 Tim. 1:3-7.

          Paul condemned several individuals with a blanket condemnation, without even mentioning their names (though he also named names on several occasions – 2 Tim. 2:17).

          Paul didn’t attempt to reach out to the false teachers in Ephesus…most likely BECAUSE they were false teachers teachers. False teachers don’t listen to the Scriptures, but rather twist it ad a means of gaining financial benefit…kinda like…oh no. I won’t say it. That’s just low hanging fruit.

          Seeing that you brought up 2 Tim. 2:23-26, that applies to Chris Hodges in this case. Verse 25 says “in humility correct those in opposition…”

          That means that the Lord’s servant must correct those that oppose them. I’m opposing Chris Hodges. He is the one who is “the Lord’s servant” in this case.

          I wonder if he’s going to fly up here to interact with me?

          I’ll hold my breath.

          Why don’t you pass this scripture on to him and ask him if he believes the Bible…if you can accept it in your…what was it you said again?

          Oh yeah.

          “if you’re even willing to accept it if it doesn’t agree with your current mindset.”

        • Excellent passage for proving my point. “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face.” I have suggested that you reach out to the men you are finding fault with, not condemning them on a blog that they will likely never see. An indirect public response is not what Paul did here with Peter.
          1 Timothy 1:3-7…thank you again. Paul is urging Timothy to remain at Ephesus so that he could make the charges. Paul did not write a letter and post it in a public place where his target may or may not ever read it.
          Why are you asking me to talk to Mr. Hodges? I am not the one publicly condemning his teachings or his actions.

        • Thanks for your thoughts.

          You see “to his face” and read that as if I need to physically travel to the proximity of the church that I’m addressing.

          That’s not even really a possibility, and Paul didn’t do that. The very fact that Paul describes the whole situation in an epistle written to secondary parties should provide a little hint of allowance for public refutation of publicly offered errors.

          I will continue to make public critiques of publicly available information that is presented to the public.

          Changing whether or not you see that allowance for that in Scripture is beyond my ability.

        • No, sir. I see “to his face” and read that as if you should “reach out to the men you are finding fault with.” Paul wrote about this instance after the fact and would have wrote it however the situation ended. But the important thing here is that he actually confronted Peter. He did not announce it to a public forum in an indirect manner. If you don’t see the need to speak to your target before condemning them, that’s your choice. I’ve said my piece. Have a good one.

        • You’re setting a rather impossible standard; one that you yourself couldn’t ever possibly meet…nor do you even try.

          Case in point: you haven’t even tried to reach out to me. You just showed up, guns blazing and demanding that I meet an arbitrary standard that a random person declared as necessary and is completely absurd.

        • Ha! You’re ridiculous man. I haven’t demanded anything of you. I have given you my suggestions and advice for dealing with people you find fault with concerning biblical doctrine. You even gave Scriptural evidence that supported my position.

          I haven’t even tried reaching out to you? I am literally having a discussion with you right now…

  22. Lyndon,

    A few quick questions. Did you watch the message that you linked in its entirety? Have you watched any other Church of the Highlands messages? And lastly, in your own personal life do you think that God is pleased when you assist others that He brings to your awareness that are in need (financial or otherwise)?

  23. Would like to forward you another article in this subject. I think you would find helpful.
    How can I do that privately?

  24. “Judge not lest thou believest someone else is judging first, then thou shalt judge that person hypocritically.” 1 Opinions 2:4

    I just thought I would sum up the comments on this thread with a “verse” 🙂

  25. The part that angers me the most is where the author says attending highlands is almost certainly going to be a spiritually fatal decision. This just isn’t true. The enemy is going to speak that to someone and give them a negative picture of highlands when in reality they are a phenomenal, gospel centered church. Are they perfect? No. But no church/person is. We all fall short of the glory of God. I’m a student at Auburn University and I attended highlands for close to 4 years. I actually don’t go there anymore, but mostly bc God led me somewhere else. I used to be the biggest skeptic of highlands. But I remember the day I felt God tell me to stop being so skeptical bc He is doing something special there. He truly is! I consider myself to have sound, conservative theology. I was raised southern baptist and I plan to attend a SB seminary in the future. But I have not grown more at a church than at highlands. My life was forever changed. Does highlands college need more theology classes? yes. Is Robert morris a little iffy? yes. But I trust pastor Chris’ leadership. Also, if you go on to read in the highlands statement of faith the writer left out a detail. It goes on to say “But because of the fall, many may not receive the full benefits of God’s will while on Earth.” Highlands is not a prosperity gospel church. Money is not the object of their devotion and its evident in that entire series, which you should watch as a whole. It’s also funny to me that the writer chose the one sermon about money that we do all year. There’s more to highlands than that sermon. Watch a different sermon from a different series and then make a judgement. Jesus is the clear center of the church. Clear. Like it’s hard to miss. My goal is not to cause arguments. But to point people to Jesus. Its all about God. and I believe without a doubt the Lord is well pleased with highlands and the true life change and revival is happening there. I’m a testimony of it. God bless you all.

  26. Hello,
    In response to your comments, directly across from the Church of the Highlands on the opposite of Irondale, AL., on Old Leeds Road is the EWTN Global Television Network (Eternal Word Television Network), Truth in Broadcasting. They do not have telethons but only ask that you “remember us between your gas and electric bill.” It is the largest Christian television network in the world. It was established by Our Lord through Mother Mary Angelica in 1981. She died and gained Heaven Easter 2016 age 92. EWTN is on all media sites, and you can watch it on your computer live in all seven continents – Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia/Oceania, Europe, North America, and South America.
    http://www.ewtn.com, click on television, LIVE. Everyday at 5pm Central Time they have nightly news. EWTN also has a newspaper called the National Catholic Register.

    I do not work for EWTN but I have been blessed by this network and I believe you would also.
    I am a member of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Homewood and I invite everyone to come
    and experience The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass where Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. You are also welcome to attend the Daily LIVE Mass at EWTN in the Chapel at 7am that is broadcast all over the world. I can testify that when I lived in Pennsylvania in 2004, I was bedridden and going paralyzed from an accident, my husband left me and through the great compassion and love of Our Lord, He healed me through the intercession of very holy Catholic priest who had a healing ministry who prayed over me. And then in 2012, diagnosed with lymphoma, was healed by Our Dear Lord through the intercession and prayers of a very holy Catholic priest that was from India. Besides myself, two others were healed, one with a brain tumor and one of cancer.
    So if you are looking for something deeper, a closer and more meaningful relationship with Jesus
    Christ and to be united with Him in the Eucharist, then I invite you to look into our local Catholic church.
    Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. May the Good Lord shower you with many abundant graces and blessings. In Christ always,

    t

  27. The Great Commission is being fulfilled through Chris Hodges’ ministry and the Church of the Highlands. And by this shallow critique the disvalue placed upon the purpose of Christ’s church is revealed via the same Pharisee like mindset that Jesus dealt with. If you’re gutsy enough and organize it, I’d be honored to formally debate you regarding your BLOG. May Jesus be lifted up.

    • What do I need to organize?

      Write a response to me. Feel free to post it somewhere. I’ll try to interact with you, as long as you pick a few concise points and don’t post some sort of 2,000+ word screed.

      I’m not sure why you’d want to argue with someone who you see as a Pharisee…?!?

      But come on now:

      “If your gutsy enough?”

      Trent, please. Talk is cheap.

  28. I haven’t read all the comments, but I did watch the sermon and will watch a few more. I’m in Alabama and have been around Highlands for some time. I have friends who go there (my brother used to go there when he lived in-state) and I’ve often wondered about the teaching. I knew from my brother that it was somewhat “seeker sensitive” from the pulpit.

    I definitely see your concerns. One that I’d like to add is this: it is horrifying how Hodges completely dismisses suffering in the Christian life. While I think I understand what his point is (that you don’t have to live ascetically to please God), suffering for Christ is a holy endeavor as Scripture makes clear on numerous occasions: Matt. 5:10-12, Matt. 24:9, Acts 5:41, Acts 7:54-60, 2 Timothy 2:8-13, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:6-9, and the whole book of Revelation. Yes, not all suffering is holy, but suffering for Christ is. Yes, asceticism can lead to works righteousness, but God does call us to give up everything in pursuit of him, even the American dream, and sometimes that looks like suffering to suburban Christianity.

    I’m reminded of C. S. Lewis’ comment on charity from Mere Christianity, “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc, is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.”

    I am also interested to know what Hodges believes are needs. Foxes have holes and birds have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. We are far too wealthy in America, yet we often cannot see it.

    One final comment: Just from what I’ve seen, I would say that Hodges is not exegetically precise. He takes an axe to a text he ought to take a scalpel to. There’s an awful lot of ground between 2 Cor. 8:9 and 9:11 that doesn’t get addressed. And furthermore, the whole discussion on giving in that passage is based on Paul’s description of the Macedonians giving to the offering for the Jerusalem Christians out of their financial poverty, not out of their financial abundance. That’s in direct contradiction to Hodges’ point that God intends to bless us with more than we need financially so that we can be a blessing to others. What is the only thing Paul says the Macedonians have an abundance of? Joy. It is because of the joy they have in Christ that they give generously to their Jerusalem brethren. Here’s a modern day story to illustrate this: One of my seminary professors was in Africa for a conference some years ago and noticed that one of the conference attendees was quite impoverished. This man (we’ll call him Ken) had walked from several hundred miles away to attend the conference. Ken was an itinerant preacher who ministered to several villages in the outlying areas. Seeing a way to help Ken, my professor and another man decided to give Ken several hundred dollars to buy a bus ticket back to his village so he didn’t have to walk the several hundred miles back. Upon receiving this gift, Ken, with tears in his eyes, said, “Thank you so much! The people who will receive this money need it so badly. I know exactly who to give this to!” That’s Christian generosity.

  29. I have felt it is impossible to get a response from COTH. I have e-mailed them three times at info@churchofthehighlands.com. I have also posted a tweet to Chris Hodges asking him how COTH defines the Gospel.
    Mr. Corbin obviously has never tried to contact COTH as he is suggesting Rick should.

    • A church is not a place where you need to expect that everything will be fed to you; a church should be a supplement to what you are learning on your own with your own relationship with God through prayer, reading the Bible, serving, and other practical ways of growing as a Christian. It breaks my heart that we have so much controversy over pastors of churches that are so large. People, we aren’t perfect. We’re all trying to get to the same place. Young adults have just as much potential as the elderly. Why do we throw our worthless opinions over the Internet?? Why don’t one of us try starting a church or go ask our pastor to serve on a church committee?? I rest my case.

  30. Dear Pastor Hodges,
    I am writing you because I saw you today at my church in C3 central campus. You mentioned you are a one year bible reader. I am still trying to learn the bible from front to back myself. I need to known is there a particular chapter or testamentstart with ? Do you have any suggestions? Or should I just start from the beginning. I already know Genesis…. By the,way you gave a amazing sermon today… GOD BLESS YOU THANKS SO MUCH….SHANTAL…

  31. CHRIS IS AN AMAZING PREACHER. HE IS THE MOST INNOCENT, MOST BEAUTIFUL PERSON i HAVE EVER, EVER MET IN MY LIFE. IT DOESN’T GET ANY BETTER THAN HODGES. HE IS A WONDERFUL PREACHER, AND RESPECTS EVERYONE IN THE CHURCH. CHURCH OF THE HIGHLANDS IS A CHURCH FOR THE NONBELIEVERS SO THAT GOD’S LOST LAMBS MAY COME HOME TO JESUS. COTH MERELY PRESENTS A NEW WAY OF MAKING THEIR GUESTS FEEL COMFORTABLE AND DOES NOT CONDEMN ANYONE FOR THEIR WRONGS, BUT SHOWS THEM THE RIGHT WAY AND GOD’S PATH.

    • Thanks for your heartfelt comments.

      I don’t doubt that you love your pastor. Nobody is suggesting that making anyone feel uncomfortable is beneficial in and of itself, or that COTH doesn’t attempt to evangelize.

      The problem isn’t with the motivation, but the message.

      The prosperity gospel isn’t the gospel preached by the apostles. That’s the problem.

  32. What a sad sad use of your time. All this church does is welcome anyone and everyone, and even reaches out the prisons to minister them. AND NO , COTH doesn’t ‘teach the bible wrong’, he explains things in such a way so that everyone can understand, and he pulls out the basic principles of each idea so that he doesn’t sound like he is Superior to anyone. Chris Hodges is the most beautiful person i’ve ever met. Go see things for yourself next time. I know that he has made my life so much easier, and has explained so many things with so much clarity. MAYBE, just MAYBE the church is growing fast because God is in charge and he is helping it grow?! Literally so many people have turned their lives around because of this church. If you don’t like him you obviously have something shoved up your butt, and whatever it is, it’s sideways.

    • The irony of someone defending the biblical soundness and fidelity of a ministry by condemning my lack of first-hand personal witness, along with insinuating that I have some sort of vague item inserted betwixt my cheeks, actually illustrates my point.

      People who are well instructed in the Bible tend to utilize it to defend accusations regarding wrongful handling of it…and don’t usually make subtle suggestions of such a vulgar nature.

      “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” – Col. 4:5-6

      “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” – Rom. 12:14-18

      “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Eph. 4:29-32

      Just a little hint for your future interactions with naysayers.

  33. mennoknight,

    Just found your blog and came across this article. Perhaps you and I should team up one week and critique word for word, line by line a sermon by Hodges at COTH (or any of its other pastors), or a sermon of someone’s choice. I think doing it this way can only show others the errant teachings of COTH. It is not exegetical; rather, it is narcissgetical and eisegetical at a minimum. I have attended COTH numerous times, and you know one of the most surprising things I found? Very few attending carry a Bible.

    • Thanks for the kind words Vexor. I’m not surprised that people don’t carry a bible to COTH and I’m not impressed with the sermons there, at least of what I’ve heard. Exegesis isn’t exactly their focus.

      That being said, I don’t really have any interest in doing some sort of weekly sermon critique. I’m not blogging at all these days (I’m currently in between jobs and am trying to land some options) and I have many other things that interest me exponentially more.

      Maybe one day I’ll address the criticisms that I’ve received over my COTH post, but that’s many months off and will be a single post.

      Feel free to do whatever it is that you feel needs to be done.

  34. You should be very careful about what you are saying about God’s anointed. To make a blanketed a statement about Chris Hodges being a false prophet and to ignore everything he says is very unfair.

    I really hope people will not take your word for it and research for themselves. Your statements could not be further from the truth.

    • Kelly, I agree.

      You should not speak against God’s anointed…but Chris Hodges isn’t God’s anointed. He’s not a prophet or an apostle, and as far as I know, God hasn’t specifically chosen him for a special mission. In fact, he has never claimed that such is the case.

      To make blanket statements about someone being a false prophet and ignore everything he says IS unfair…but I was responding to one specific message and publicly available information on the church website. Also, I don’t believe I suggested that Hodges WAS a false teacher. He sure talks like one, but I cannot be sure.

      I do hope people will research for themselves. I don’t want anyone to take my word for it…which is why I link to primary source documents and firsthand information. Those blue words are hyperlinks so that people CAN check for out for themselves.

      If my statements are totally wrong,id love to learn how I’ve missed the mark by such a wild margin.

      Please help me understand.

  35. Sorry. You’ve been misinformed on many levels. Have been attending COTH for 2.5 years. They don’t teach prosperity but they do teach financial responsibility. The church operates on zero debt. They don’t build a new campus until they have the cash. And they don’t push for money or promises. Because they are debt free they constantly use the resources for their congregations and the communities they serve. It’s so good to be part of a congregation where they aren’t constantly nickel and diming for everything. Having grown up in a very strict legalistic church the teaching we’ve found to be both balanced and harder than fluff. In no way does this mean follow blindly. We should always be testing and proving that what we are hearing lines up to scripture.

    • Well, you’ve attended the church for almost 3 years. Clearly showing up at a building means that you understand the nuances of a whole theological stream of thought.

      Or not.

      You’ve been misinformed and manipulated by skillful men of deception. It’s been a few months since I wrote this, and in the in between time I’ve more than confirmed that COTH is a prosperity gospel church. That’s not even a question.

      Now I’m glad that COTH is a financially responsible church. I’m glad that you left a legalistic church.

      I’m glad that you think you should test what you hear by Scripture…but such a test is only as helpful as your ability to apply the right Scriptural tests.

      The tests involve things like figuring out the relation of prosperity to the Christian life, the nature of faith, the Scriptural teaching of the tongue and the power of spoken words, etc.

      I would love to try to help, but something tells me that you’re not exactly here with the possibility of ever being taught anything.

  36. Must be nice to be a judge. Think Jesus called those kind of Judges (Pharisees) pit vipers so maybe it’s not such a nice thing. Maybe you should be the one doing the microscopic examination of the heart??? Just sayin’

  37. It’s soo amazing how blinded you truly truth of Gods word. “He” said some will say “Lord, Lord!” And “He” will say, “depart from me, I never knew you!”

  38. Thanks J.

    It’s interesting how you didn’t fully quote Matthew 7:21-23…I’m just curious as to why that is. I mean, what do those people, you know the ones who Jesus claims to not know, claim to have done?

    “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ ” – Matthew 7:22

    Am I claiming to do any of those three? Nope. I’m outspoken about false prophecy, exorcism and false miracles.

    Is Chris Hodges claiming to do any of those three? Yup. All three, in fact!

    Make of that what you will…

  39. For starters, you don’t know ANYTHING about Chris Hodges, he mentions Bethany AND his time in Colorado ALL the time (how many times did you visit? Once? Twice?).

    Also, he will tell you (or anyone) that he is not perfect. Newsflash- No one is!

    And, without picking apart your post which speaks volumes about you from a psychological standpoint, let me just say you OBVIOUSLY have some axe to grind with Christians or the church in generally.
    Get help dude! You will never be truley happy until that happens.

    • Thanks for your encouragements!

      This is what you had to say:

      Nobody’s perfect, so an influential pastor is allowed to get a pass on getting the gospel wrong…

      That’s called a “non sequitur” in logic, just fyi. That means that your conclusion doesn’t rationally follow from your premise(s).

      But you’re no logician, are you? You’re a psychologist!

      What exactly does my post reveal psychologically?

      Are you *really* a psychologist?

      Do all my problems stem from my relationship to my mother?

      Do I need a woobie?

      Do I need to avoid gluten?

      Do tell!

  40. Thank you, and BE BLESSED! This would make sense as to why they refused to help me when I was evicted from my apartment and my daughter and I were forced to sleep in our van. God helped me through my friends who bought me an older model RV to stay in. I’m so grateful for that. Thanks for posting this…these facts are eye opening. We loved it there at first, until when we really needed help from our church, there was NONE to be had. Now we have been in our RV for over a year now and are believing God for bigger and better things. If you would like to bless someone, and receive a really awesome shirt to wear on Election Day this year, hop on over and buy this Tshirt. The idea came to me the morning after a day of fasting and prayer over my housing situation. I feel like the widow who sold the oil in the OT. Thanks guys! No mega church can stop God’s plan on this earth, only serves to fulfill the Scriptures! ❤

    Here's the link to the fundraising campaign…HURRY, it only lasts until OCTOBER 14, 2016!!! http://www.booster.com/show-your-love-2016?ref=copy-link_social_desktop-campaign-page-share-top-v2&utm_campaign=desktop-campaign-page-share-top-v2&utm_content=show-your-love-2016&utm_medium=social&utm_source=copy-link&type=1&side=front

  41. I did not receive help as a MEMBER of COTH when I became homeless. I asked them for help, not even one soul invited me into their home! And I was in a SMALL group to boot! My daughter and I had to sleep in our van until my FRIENDS who ARE CHRISTIANS raised up enough money to purchase an older RV for us to stay in. That was over a year ago, and we are still in it, headed towards our 2nd winter in it. We would really APPRECIATE getting to spread out now into a REAL house. I got the idea for this Tshirt the morning after a day of fasting and prayer over our housing situation. I hope you and your entire congregations LOVE this shirt as much as I do! God bless you, Click on the link NOW!

    https://www.booster.com/show-your-love-2016

  42. I read your article and have been researching many of your allegations and it’s amazing to me that you gather your findings after reading this very scripture. The poorest person can be rich in Christ and can bless the richest person with the riches that God has blessed them with. Do you live your life in the tree of good and evil or the tree of life? Have you been blessed only with David with the gift to judge others. Oh yeah and when David was given that gift what else was he blessed with? I’m sure you know. Maybe we should bless the people of the world and give them the benefit that God has called them to start a revival across the world so those who are lost would be found in Christ and saved. In my research of Church of the Highlands they teach to love God and love people. They are one of the most generous churches I’ve ever looked in to. These Christians love God and their communities and serve people not their pastor. God heals and forgives us so if Jesus paid the ultimate price for us as sinners why do we need to constantly judge others for their past sins or relive them. I believe that is a slap in the face to God that you think you have dominion over these churches. Jesus saved a thief on the cross as he was being torched who are you to judge the works of any Christian trying to follow and teach God’s word. Also found out that highlands college offers those classes for people that want to know more about the teachings in the Bible not that they are going to preach a mega church but so maybe they will know how to respond to someone that can get as lost in the word as someone as educated as yourself can. You’re words and actions could be devastating to a new Believer. People are taught to have a personal relationship with God to seek his face not the pastor’s face or your’s. Why don’t we try to lift up God for a change and not ourselves. This particular church promotes humility, serving others, and giving. Maybe listen to more than one sermon and maybe you may get a better overview I’m trying to look st more of your work to do the same thing. We are all on the same team maybe pray for our enemies and those who follow in sin nature whether it be a former pastor or not we are all human flesh right now and we live in sin. I just feel like someone that falls from the pulpit in the public eye you feel like you have less sin than they do. Try to find that in scripture. Forgiveness is a strong virtue so let’s all make God proud to lead and teach us. In Jesus name, Amen one last thought the Bible tells us to give our first and 10% and it will return 7 fold. I take that as I give and I will receive not necessarily money but blessings in many forms. Quit think like the world and start thinking like servants of God. I’ve seen people set on church pues for thirty years and not move to do one thing. I’ve seen that same person go to this church and start serving God and serving people like never before. We all have spiritual gifts that God gave us please try to find them instead of following along to try and prove society right and desecrating religious leaders especially by righting an article based off of minimal research. Please pay attention to God and not this world. I’m praying for you all to find a restoration and healing to your faith and spirit.

  43. Bringing non- believers to Christ is what Chris does and how anyone can say that THAT is dangerous is preposterous! You sound like a jeolous person ….. bottom line is helping people find Jesus … power in His name , Jesus!! Jesus saves us ! I have learned more about Jesus this past year from Chris hodges services than I have my entire life . I am 49 and grew up in a Baptist church with Sunday school that constantly made me feel like death was always just around the corner and that He’ll was awaiting me! No ….. I wouldn’t go back to those types of teachings if my life depended on it! Hodges sermons provide education and healing and hope and above all reaches non- christians in a dynamic and powerful way! Thank you Jesus for Chris Hodges!

Comments are closed.