Many people assume that the origins of Hillsong originated from Charismaticism, Pentecostalism or the Salvation Army – however this is not true.
This series of articles looks at the history of the New Order of the Latter Rain (NOLR) and how it overtook the AOG in NZ, the AOG in Australia and how Frank Houston, the founder of Hillsong/Christian Life Center, was instrumental in spreading Latter Rain influences throughout New Zealand and Australian churches.
In this article we will report on what Wagner had to say about the NAR taking over the Australian AOG.
To understand the backdrop of the situation so far, it’s important to familiarize what Frank Houston embraced and practiced in New Zealand regarding the New Order of the Latter Rain cult. Read here:
The origins of Hillsong (Part 1): The New Order of the Latter Rain
The origins of Hillsong (Part 2): Hillsong founder under the “New Order” cult
The origins of Hillsong (Part 3): Frank Houston’s takeover and makeover of NZ AOG
The origins of Hillsong (Part 4): Like dictator, like son
The origins of Hillsong (Part 5): Hillsong founded by John the Baptist?
The origins of Hillsong (Part 6): Latter Rain theology in Hillsong worship
Below we have an excerpt from Wagner’s book ‘Churchquake!’, which gives an overview of the New Order of the Latter Rain pushing the Charismatic Renewal on the Australian AOG in an attempt to establish its ‘endtime’ governing Apostles and Prophets.
Wagner even pointed out that his friend David Cartledge was “perhaps tinged with Latter Rain influence” and that this affected the AOG geographically where Cartledge was located. This Latter Rain influence was the heresy of governing Apostles and prophets, one of the major influences, as mentioned by Wagner, were “New Zealand churches.” That being the New Zealand AOG churches which were already converted through Frank Houston’s Latter Rain heresy.
Remember, by this stage Frank Houston already gutted Pentecostalism in the NZ AOG and revolutionized it with his New Apostolic regime. Andrew Evans, Reginald Klimionok and David Cartledge among others wanted this type of new ‘spirit’ and new church model established in the Australian AOG. And as even Wagner and Cartledge point out, Pentecostal as early as 1972 attempted “to stem the tide.” The AOG found more of their churches “being renewed.” Wagner even pointed out that AOG leaders then at “the next national conference … introduced to attempt to expel all pastors of the renewed churches from the denomination.”
The point is this – the NAR Apostles, Prophets and leaders were hostile. They defied the AOG leadership and eventually performed a mutiny where they unethically obtained control of the denomination, attempting to destroy Pentecostalism and rolling out their Apostolic regime throughout all AOG churches in Australia.
Since then they have their ‘henchmen’ running around Australia, conditioning members to bend the knee to their infallible regimes, new teachings and prophecies. The names in bold in the below excerpt are Apostles of a core team that were crucial in overpowering the Australian AOG through brutal means.
You will note towards the end of this excerpt, Wagner suggests and later acknowledges that Frank Houston and Brian Houston are of this Apostolic Network and that they are Apostles simply because they were in Apostolic positions in the NAR-controlled Australian AOG.
C. Peter Wagner writes (emphasis ours),
CAN DENOMINATIONS CHANGE?
A major question, and a legitimate one, that will be raised by many readers of this book is whether routinized denominations can reverse the trend and become apostolic networks. Another way of phrasing the question could relate to whether old wineskins can be reconditioned in order to hold the new wine. My understanding of the culture in New Testament times is that many old wineskins could be and were treated in a special way by soaking them in brine, rubbing in oil and restoring their flexibility so that they could contain new wine. Of course, certain old wineskins were so cracked or decomposed that they had seen their day. Some old ones could be made useful with effort, but the wineskins of preference were the new ones being used for the first time.
Some of today’s apostolic networks are aware of this, and they strive to keep their wineskin flexible so that it will not become cracked and useless. Don Atkin describes Antioch Churches and Ministries in this light:
John Kelly, our Overseeing Apostle, is a wise strategist. God is seeing that Apostle Kelly is surrounded by quality people with the necessary expertise to continually “work the oil of the Holy Spirit” into our wineskin. This assures us that the wine, or the ministry, will continually dictate the shape of the ministry. It ain’t the way it used to be. And, it ain’t the way it’s gonna be! But we have chosen to “go with the flow” of wine, and make daily, weekly and monthly adjustments in the wineskin. In this way we will remain contemporary, on the cutting edge of the move of God.
THE ASSEMBLIES OF GOD
IN AUSTRALIA: IT CAN BE DONE!
Especially since the 1960s, denominational “renewal movements” have proliferated in almost every traditional denomination. They have all sensed a call of God to remain in their denomination in order to pray for and work for renewal. None that I am aware of has been successful. The denominational leaders, true to their ideal of pluralism, have tolerated them, but the problems of control, power, and particularly management of ﬁnancial resources have caused them to domesticate the renewal movements, a skill at which they are rather competent. What renewal might have taken place is largely cosmetic.
Other denominations have restructured organizationally to be relieved of the cumbersome bureaucracies and agencies that have multiplied through the years. However, when all the study commissions have reported, when the consultants have been paid, when the often emotionally charged conventions and assemblies have ended and when the new structure is announced, little has usually changed. The old wineskin may look a bit different, but it is still the old wineskin. The denomination has not become an apostolic network, and usually the growth rate of the denomination has not changed.
Given this background, you can imagine my delight when my friend David Cartledge began informing me that the Assemblies of God in Australia, clearly an old wineskin, had actually done it. They had made the transition from a traditional denomination to an apostolic network. The fruit of the change is dramatically depicted in the denominational graph of growth.
Let’s begin with the graph:
The process that took place is documented in a paper by David Cartledge, president of Southern Cross College, titled, “The Apostolic Revolution in the Assemblies of God in Australia.” The Assemblies of God in Australia began in 1937 and functioned for forty years as a typical denomination. “Most conferences from 1937 to 1977 were characterized by adding rules, changing the constitution, and eroding the autonomy of the churches.” The growth pattern reflected this with a lackluster increase from 50 churches in 1937 to 150 in 1977, an average of two to three churches being added a year.
A crisis arose in the early 1970s when some Assembly of God leaders intuitively observed their movement’s charisma being routinized, and they launched an aggressive effort to return to their roots. This overt, and somewhat primitive, Pentecostalism, perhaps tinged with “Latter Rain” influence, took root, among many other places, in David Cartledge’s Townsville Assembly of God. Within a short time, the church had become the largest church in the city. This caused a great deal of concern among Assemblies of God denominational officials, particularly when new worship styles, a product of some New Zealand churches, began spreading to other assemblies outside of Townsville.
Cartledge reports: “A special and unprecedented Presbytery conference was called in 1972 to try to stem the tide. The controversy continued unabated with more churches being renewed and ﬁnding themselves at odds with the Executive leaders who opposed both the manifestations and the ministries that the renewed churches invited to preach.” In the next national conference, motions were (unsuccessfully) introduced to attempt to expel all pastors of the renewed churches from the denomination.
Cartledge says, “In reality, the debate on the manifestations of the Spirit was quite superficial. The real issue that emerged at that conference was the autonomy of the churches and their rights to engage in forms of worship that were not approved by the Executive. The other major issues were the recognition of ministry gifts beyond the pastor, teacher, and evangelist.” Keep in mind that the implication of this last statement was that the Assemblies of God had persisted in refusing to recognize and encourage the ministry of prophets and apostles within their churches.
The change came at the national conference of 1977, when voices crying “We want apostolic ministries to lead us” began to be heard by the delegates. Cartledge says, “Although there was no rule made about the type of ministers that should comprise the Executive, each conference since that time had always appointed proven apostolic and prophetic ministries as the national leadership of the movement.”
LEADERSHIP FROM MEGACHURCH PASTORS
Who were these new leaders? Just as we have observed in the case study of Calvary Chapel, they were the megachurch pastors. Previously, the Assemblies of God had no megachurches, and pastors normally moved to a new pastorate every few years. Reginald Klimionok, for example, changed the pattern by staying at Garden City Christian Church in Brisbane for 20 years, and built it from 100 to 3,000 members.
Andrew Evans went to Paradise Assembly in Adelaide in 1970 having a congregation of 150, and has 4,000 today. David Cartledge built his church in Townsville from 60 to more than 152 1,000 members. Frank Houston planted the Christian Life Centre in Sydney and now has 2,500 members. His son, Brian, started a daughter church from Christian Life Centre, and now has 5,000 members, the largest church in Australia. These kinds of charismatic leaders form the leadership of the renewed Assemblies of God in Australia. Brian Houston is currently the national superintendent.
Remarkable changes have occurred. For example, the Australian Assemblies now allow their pastors to plant churches and develop apostolic networks that can choose not to affiliate with the Assemblies of God, if they so desire. Cartledge says, “This created movements within the Movement, but to this point it has not been a negative value, and has contributed to the Assemblies of God’s rapid growth.”
The denomination also allows its ministers to establish and operate their own itinerant parachurch-type organizations, and many of them are advertised as having prophetic and apostolic ministries, something that would have been impossible prior to 1977. For example, Brian Houston, the national superintendent, holds his own national conference each year and draws more participants than the Assemblies of God national conference itself. It is possible, therefore, for old wineskins to be massaged enough by the oil of the Holy Spirit so they can receive the new wine God desires to pour out. If other denominations could take some of the bold and decisive steps that the Australian Assemblies of God have taken, the future would look bright. How many will actually choose to do so remains to be seen.
Source: C. Peter Wagner, Churchquake, Publisher: Regal Books, (Ventura, California, USA: 1999), pg. 148-152.
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