MACHO PRINCE OR MACHOVILLAIN PRINCE?
The bible talks about false teachers. What do they look like? Jesus offers us help in Matthew 7:15 on this issue. While this helps us identify the wolves disguised as Christian pastors, it is still hard to spot them in today’s churches.
However, one way to spot a wolf is to see if they are peddling a worldly ideology of philosophy by wrapping it in biblical language. And one philosophy that has been barely identified in the church but has been refuted in places is Consequentialism.
This article will focusing on the type of leader we think Consequentialism produces – someone we call the “Macho Prince”. (However, Machovillain Prince sounds more appropriate.)
MACHIAVELLI’S PRINCE- THE LIAR TO WATCH OUT FOR
Ever seen a “pastor”/”apostle”/”prophet” (PAP) operate from the philosophy of consequentialism?
A “pastor” or “apostle”operating from consequentialist thought will stress that “a morally right act (or omission from acting) is one that will produce a good outcome, or consequence”. In an extreme form, the idea of consequentialism is commonly encapsulated in the English saying, “the end justifies the means”. [Source]
In other words, this (PAP) uses result-driven tactics to give people the impression that the (PAP) is morally good, virtuous or legitimate, even if they have been exposed for lacking any moral integrity or proper biblical qualification to minister at all.
So if you hear followers justifying their (PAP) by their works to suppress other Christians who are exposing unbiblical, immoral or illegal conduct – you know they are being lead by consequentialism.
Scholars have observed that consequentialist thought can be traced back to a controversial European figure just before the Reformation: Niccolò Machiavelli. And it has been traced back to him for a very good reason.
Niccolò Machiavelli is an Italian Renaissance historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist, and writer. One of his best known works is called ‘The Prince’, where Machiavelli constructs a non-traditional prince that Europe is familiar with. Instead, he invents a “new prince” that retains power and that “must carefully balance the interests of a variety of institutions to which the people are accustomed”.
Furthermore, this “new prince”:
“must stabilize his newfound power in order to build an enduring political structure. Machiavelli suggests that the social benefits of stability and security can be achieved in the face of moral corruption. Machiavelli believed that public and private morality had to be understood as two different things in order to rule well. As a result, a ruler must be concerned not only with reputation, but also must be positively willing to act immorally at the right times.”
His work and philosophy made him infamous. You can go to any dictionary to find a definition like the one below:
1. cunning, scheming, and unscrupulous, especially in politics.
THE TOP 5 POPULAR MACHO PRINCE’S WE HAVE SEEN
We bring this up because we see this behaviour and philosophy exhibited in church pastors today. So how do you spot a Macho Prince? There are a few “pastors” that come to mind who fits the profile of Machiavelli’s Prince.
- Frank Houston of Hillsong Church.
Not only did Frank Houston know he was not qualified to preach because he covered up the pregnancy of his daughter who got pregnant out of wedlock; not only did he claim that God called him to pioneer a church in Australia to flee to and cover up his pedophilia crimes in New Zealand; he was concerned only with building his reputation as an Apostle and Prophet of God around the world. He even used PAP offices to threaten an AOG minister to death if they dare investigate his circumstances in New Zealand.
- Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church.
Who could forget how Mark Driscoll justified how he was going to build his church in spite of people who would disagree with him? If they did not comply to his vision, he was happy to run them over by the Mars Hill bus and throw them on the pile of dead bodies behind his church. He was being the ruler that was “concerned not only with reputation, but also must be positively willing to act immorally at the right times”.
- Brian Houston of Hillsong Church.
Not only did he cover up the crimes of his father, he deliberately used his father’s victims as an excuse to not go to the police (see AHA scandal). Why? If Brian Houston went to the police, his father, who merged his church with Brian’s, would have been incarcerated and Hillsong would not have been successful as it is today. He not only deliberately mishandled the victims, the victims supporters were unfairly handled by Brian Houston as well, one telling a Royal Commission that next time they would definitely go straight to the police. As a result of this cover-up, Brian Houston deliberately misled the AOG Executive, deliberately misled Hillsong Church in 2002 and 2003 over his father’s “serious moral failure” and deliberately misled the media. Fifteen years later at a Royal Commission, Hillsong and the rest of the world learned that Frank Houston had sexually abused boys in Australia and that Brian Houston covered it up. Brian Houston put it, his family weren’t happy how Brian put the church first. It appeared that even Frank Houston was mistreated by Brian Houston. And this is just one incident where Brian Houston was “positively willing to act immorally at the right times”.
- Kong Hee of City Harvest Church.
When asked in court whether Kong Hee tithed to the Building Fund his answer was, “I tithe to the MPA” (multi-purpose account). However, Kong revealed that, “MPA, it is more for the livelihood of me and Sun… and for other non-music production expenses in the US because we are off the church’s salary.” So for all the drama Kong showcased onstage, all the challenges he’s thrown to the floor, all the bible verses quoted, asking people to downgrade their lives, sell their houses, give up medical treatment, give everything, make painful sacrifices, and all the evidence and testimonies of 30, 60, 100 fold rewards of tithing, Kong himself did not tithe. Instead, Kong bought himself a nice house in Sentosa Cove. Furthmore, Kong Hee dipped his hands into the Building Fund which he asked everyone to give to, to finance his wife’s music career. He was off the church’s salary to look morally good while acting immorally at the right times to successfully further his church.
- Yonggi Cho of Yoido Full Gospel Church (YFGC). When Cho’s elders were not able to address Cho privately over his mishandling of church funds, they went public. YFGC then suspended/expelled 28 elders for not withdrawing legal accusations against senior pastor David Yonggi Cho. The elders were punished for blowing the whistle on alleged misdeeds by Cho and his son Hee-jun. Cho’s apostolic and authoritative bullying and threats did not stop there. Although the allegations from the elders were true, the Assemblies of God of Korea (a church affiliated with YFGC), and the Christian Council of Korea said that anyone who did not withdraw their accusations against Cho would be dismissed according to church code. Hostility only grew against the elders who stood together. The elders actions resulted in Cho being exposed for financial mismanagement and tax evasion. It appears that the attempts of the whistleblowing elders have attracted the Korean ‘National Tax Service ‘ to audit the Yoido Full Gospel Church, targeting pastor David Yonggi Cho who is suspected of embezzling $67 million and much more.
To this list we also add Phil Pringle of C3 Church, Perry Noble of NewSpring Church, Steven Furtick of Elevation, as all these types of churches have three things in common:
These Macho Prince’s:
- Like to maintain power and have their organisations live forever.
- Can challenge you to change to serve them and their vision – you can’t challenge them.
- Only they can “misbehave” and get away with it
The result of a Machovillain’s Church is that they have members that defend their successes and achievements above their leaders lies, false visions/prophecies, false doctrine and abusive behaviour.
How did these “churches” become like this?
Today, many church PAPs have analysed the business world to apply leadership ideas to ministry. We have received various material from Hillsong, C3 and other churches promoting how to be effective leaders in the best way to lead your churches basing it off CEO and business strategies. (See one example here.)
The material and resources we have accumulated from such colleges, seminars, pastoral sessions or equipping resources is frightening (such as a leadership technique we call “open hand policy”).
Essentially these Macho Princes are creating more Macho Princes: It’s not about caring for God’s sheep, it’s about God’s sheep looking after the Prince and giving more power to the Prince.
Unfortunately, Machiavellian models are in the business world. Fortunately, there has been a new model introduced to identify Machiavellian models. This model consists of 3 factors:
- maintaining power
- harsh management tactics
- manipulative behaviors
But how do you spot a Macho Prince? How can you recognise if you attend a church with a MachoVillian model?
Easy. Counter it in the way the Reformationists did.
- Start bringing a bible to church and tell people that you submit to God’s Word before anyone else. Encourage others to do the same. (This counters Point 1.)
- Encourage people to read the verses in context so that the Prince does not manipulate the bible and the behaviors of people.
- When the Prince openly challenges people publicly from the pulpit – point out to people that the Prince can challenge everyone else but none can challenge the Prince.
We hope this article has helped you in your discernment.
NOTE 1: Quoted information is from Wikipedia. This article is not meant to by considered scholarly or as gospel-truth in anyway. We simply wish to explore and suggest the idea that the type of leader we are seeing in the church today is a type of Machiavelli Prince.
NOTE 2: See YoidoFullGospelChurchWatch, CHCChurchWatch, C3ChurchWatch, HillsongChurchWatch and ChurchWatchCentral archives to research our claims on these Machiavelli Princes.