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? Continue reading

Words, Faith and Prosperity – Part 2

Today I’m going to be posting up the the second part of my notes from the fourth and final talk I gave at the Last Days Bible Conference.  That talk was about the Prosperity Gospel.  Last post, I gave an overview of Word of Faith theology and attempted to show how it set the stage for Prosperity Gospel theology.  In this post, I’m going to be posting the notes that engage many of the standard proof texts of the Prosperity Gospel Movement.

Now in the talk I gave, I had hard time limits so I was only able to deal with some of the main Scriptures that are used in defending Word of Faith and Prosperity Gospel theology.  Still, if you have any exposure to informed Biblical exegesis, I’m hoping that my explanations will make sense to you.  If you have any actual education in Biblical exegesis, I’d only encourage you to look up the passages used by Word of Faith or Prosperity Gospel teachers and read them in context, since the popular “Biblical” arguments put forth by the Word of Faith and Prosperity Gospel folks don’t exactly hold much water.

broken bucket

Here are the notes:

Continue reading

Words, Faith and Prosperity – Part 1

Today I’m going to be posting up the the first part of my notes from the fourth and final talk I gave at the Last Days Bible Conference.  That talk was about the Prosperity Gospel.  Today, I’m going to be posting the notes about the Word of Faith movement and how it sets the theological stage for the Prosperity Gospel.

I hope to make things clear and I want to help people understand the theology (as best I can) of the Prosperity Gospel.  Just to be clear, not all people in Word of Faith circles believe or teach the Prosperity Gospel.  Jim Bakker is a prime example of someone who holds to Word of Faith theology but doesn’t take it to the extent of embracing the Prosperity Gospel (and in the 1980’s he was the prince of Prosperity Gospel preachers; it’s amazing what a decade alone with a Bible in prison will do for a person…).  Sadly, Jim Bakker doesn’t speak for all people who are part of the Word of Faith Movement.

Prosperity

That being said, the Prosperity Gospel doesn’t really make much sense outside of a Word of Faith framework, though I’m well aware that there are people peddling the Prosperity Gospel in many churches that aren’t part of Word of Faith denominations or organizations. Still, I’d actually suggest that the Word of Faith Movement isn’t much better than the Prosperity Gospel.  My research will help you understand why I’ve come to that conclusion.

Here are the notes:

Continue reading

Quick Thoughts: Two Short Updates:

Thinking-Man

Before the Strange Fire conference in 2013, I did a rather extensive primer on the Charismatic Movement as represented in the top 50 largest churches in the US as represented by Outreach Magazine.  Here’s the links in case you have a few hours to burn going over what was hundreds of hours of research and writing:

The New Apostolic Reformation
The Outreach Top 50: #1-5
The Outreach Top 50: #6-10
The Outreach Top 50: #11-15
The Outreach Top 50: #16-20
The Outreach Top 50: #21-25
The Outreach Top 50: #26-30
The Outreach Top 50: #31-35
The Outreach Top 50: #36-40
The Outreach Top 50: #41-45
The Outreach Top 50 #46-50
The Largest Churches in Africa
Only a few of the Largest Churches in Asia Continue reading

So what exactly is the prosperity gospel?

I’m obviously not blogging much these days.  The reason is two-fold:

1.  I’m editing a book and that is taking up all my available energy.

2.  I’m in my final two weeks of Hepatitis treatment and as the drugs accumulate in my system, life is getting rougher.  My energy levels are super low and don’t seem to get restored (due to the fact that I have very little hemoglobin, among other things).  I simply cannot sleep at night either (last night between 10pm and 8am I managed a little less than 4 hours of sleep).  I have a constant headache that never goes anywhere.  It’s going to get worse as the drugs build in my system, but then on about Dec. 22nd I’ll be done and they’ll slowly dissipate out of my system over the next six months.  I’m surviving well enough and don’t really have anything to complain about; all those things I mentioned are at the level of “inconvenience”.

inconvenience-store Continue reading