Fighting for the Faith – Chris Rosebrough – Interview With Tanya Levin re: Her Exposure to Hillsong Church


[Below is a transcript taken from Chris Rosebrough’s radio show podcast Fighting For The Faith Radio podcast which was originally broadcast on Monday January 6th 2014, which you can subscribe to on iTunes. I highly recommend you do this if you want to develop discernment.]

You can watch Tanya Levin’s Interview > http://youtu.be/PuU-MlywCs8

Here is the video link for this transcript > http://youtu.be/MMk2ASGGqQs

Fighting for the Faith
Interview of Tanya Levin re: her expose of Hillsong

[Segment One – 00:14:53 – 00:17:39]

Introduction

Chris Rosebrough, “Let’s talk about what we are going to do on today’s episode of Fighting for the Faith. There is a theme by the way. There is a theological theme for today’s programme. But let’s just put it this way I spread the theological butter really thin. Okay really thin so if you are trying to figure out the theme I am not going to tell you. This will be one of those ones where you can try to figure out. It is not a popery episode. Although it might feel that way. Just want to say that.

We will switch gears after that and we will be doing a Steven Furtick update and this is kind of a weird one. Steven Furtick and Elevation church have put out a new spoken word song kind of thing that is kind of supposed to be super motivational and the name of it is I Will Fight and we will be listening to Steven Furtick’s latest audio inspirational Rocky Balboa type songish thing and then after that we will take a break.

When we come back from the break, we are going to be listening to an extended interview, and a portion of an extended interview done a few years ago from a gal who left Hillsong church in Sydney Australia and she has since written a book and the name of her book is People in Glass Houses and we are going to be listening to her. Her name is Tanya Levin and we will be listening to interview she did a couple of years ago after her book was published called People in Glass Houses and the reason we will be listening to her is because I want you to hear for yourself somebody who has been involved with Hillsong church in Sydney, Australia and has subsequently left.

Why they left, what was the problem, what were the things they were concerned about and in listening to her story and I don’t want to say testimony because in listening to her interview. It doesn’t sound like Tanya has remained in Christianity. I can’t tell for sure if she has you know joined up with a you know a different Christian church or left Christianity altogether I can’t tell. Clearly her time at Hillsong she considers it to have been toxic, abusive and that there are some significant problems there and I will be passing portions of her interview onto you.

So that you can hear for yourself from somebody who was involved in Hillsong, who became disillusioned with Hillsong and saw the light and left Hillsong and hear from her as to why she left and what the problems were and I think this is significant because her critiques, her problems that she is having with Hillsong sound a lot like the same kind of problems that we hear from people who have left Mars Hill. Mark Driscoll’s church or who have left Perry Noble’s church or who have left Steven Furtick’s church.

Same kind of syndrome, people who are she refers to them and funnily enough I use the same term. The walking wounded. Those who have been absolutely battered and beaten by abusive vision casting pastor types. You know in this case it is Brian Houston and of course this isn’t accidental. The reason why I wanted to throw this in there is because I think this piece is important for those people who are joining Fighting for the Faith listening audience as a result of seeing the video podcast regarding Carl Lance so that they can understand there is some deep problems with Hillsong and then speaking about Hillsong.

[Segment Two – 00:50:57 – 01:02:24]

Chris Rosebrough, “Alright we are back. Warning listening to Fighting for the Faith could cause you to become supremely dissatisfied with your celebrity pastor. Especially if they have anything to do with Hillsong, vision casting or anything like that….

Anyway moving along we have got to finish up here. We have got an update from Hillsong to end out hour number two which requires me to do this.

[Plays music]

“Hungry Like The Wolf”

In touch with the ground
I’m on the hunt I’m after you
Smell like I sound, I’m lost in a crowd
And I’m hungry like the wolf
Straddle the line in discord and rhyme
I’m on the hunt I’m after you
Mouth is alive with juices like wine
And I’m hungry like the wolf

That is right. Hungry Like The Wolf. That is our from Hillsong and we are going to be listening to a portion of an interview done a couple of years ago from a gal who spent quite a bit of time at Hillsong in Sydney, Australia. Her name is Tanya Levin and she ended up writing a book that you can purchase by the way at Amazon. The name of the book is People in Glass Houses and she is going to talk about her time and some of the history of Hillsong and what she considered to be the problems there. See if you can note some of the reoccurring themes that we talk about here at Fighting for the Faith. Despite the fact that this interview took place in August 2007. Here we go….

Tanya Levin, “And Hillsong was very much geared
towards money, recruitment, and fundraising….”

Chris Rosebrough, “That is cult behaviour by the way. Any organization that is geared towards money, recruitment and fundraising, that is one of the classic signs you are dealing with a cult mentality.

Interviewer, “I want to show a bit of Brian Houston.
This is from an Australian Story in 2005….

[plays clip]

Church congregation sings, “How great is our God, sing with me how great is….”

Brian Houston, “I really have this belief that church should be enjoyed and not endured. Sadly I think it is possible for church to be a very long hour. I want people to be able to be animated about their worship.

And I love walking into the 6:00pm service and then bam getting hit by the presence of God. It is cool. Tell someone next to it is cool…”

Interviewer, “And you write in the book that even today when hear Brian’s voice it makes you feel better. How does Brian do it for you?”

Tanya Levin, “That is funny when you go to Bible college apparently you learn that when you say tell the person next to you. It is just a way forward when the pastor has lost his thought train. So turn to the person next to you and say you look great. He is a very powerful speaker. His content is not very heavy. But…”

Chris Rosebrough, “Powerful speaker, lots of image and delivery. No substance is what she is talking about there. If you haven’t seen the Fighting for the Faith video blog episode yet you need to….”

Tanya Levin, “He is very charismatic and you know he is a voice of my childhood. He is a voice of you know leadership in my upbringing….so and you know he always sounds so happy and so pleased to be where he is and so proud of you that you are doing this thing with him. That you almost want to be a part of it all over again….”

Chris Rosebrough, “Okay so that is kind of her talking about you know the inside scoop and how it made her feel when she was a part of it. But she is not a part of it anymore. We continue with the interview….”

Interviewer, “It was 2002 and in fact it was a speech Brian made to the congregation and an important speech which really started your I think it is fair to say your path to disillusionment. Can you talk us through that?”

Tayna Levin, “I went to see pastor Brian talk about his father having been removed from ministry and he presented to talk about you know having to have confronted his father over a serious – over serious what he called a moral failure. These were serious allegations.”

Chris Rosebrough, “Now wait until you hear what the serious moral failure was. So this was going back in the history of Hillsong. Apparently it was planted by Brian Houston’s father and there was a moral failing on the part of Brian Houston’s father and it was discussed in a way that it wasn’t actually – the substance of that moral failing really wasn’t talked about much at Hillsong. Let me back this up and I want you to hear exactly what the moral failing of Brian Houston’s father was. Here we go….”

Tanya Levin, “Having to have confronted his father over a serious – over serious what he called a moral failure. These were allegations of sexual offences against teenage boys which was never actually named on the day. So this is a serious moral failure. He had to confront his father about it. His father had confessed. The national executive had then taken away his credentials. Investigated and taken away Houston senior’s credentials and that Brian Houston himself was crushed and he asked for the congregation to pray for his family, for his wife and his children and the congregation did. They stood up and they applauded him and that was the end of that speech….”

Interviewer, “There was no reference to the people that had been abused or whose lives had been damaged….”

Tanya Levin, “Absolutely no reference to the victims. There was no stance taken on child sexual assault or child abuse of any form or care for children. There was no standing up and saying, ‘Look we will not tolerate this in our congregation,” and in fact what it made me wonder was if this is how they treat these kinds of issues on the most public level that they have got. How are they treating them on smaller more in you know more private arenas?”

Chris Rosebrough, “Great question. If this is how they are going to handle a serious moral failing like sexually assaulting teenage boys and just kind of not talk about it openly and sweep it under the carpet and it all goes away – what are they doing with less offences? Great question Tayna – great question!”

Interviewer, “You raise a number of questions about Hillsong Church and one of those is about prosperity theology. Which is probably best summed up in the title of this book by Brian Houston – You Need More Money…..”

Chris Rosebrough, “That is right. The name of a book, a popular book written by Brian Houston. The name of the book is You Need More Money. Uh huh you need more money. Now keep in mind Tanya Levin she grew up in Hillsong. She was part of it. She knew it from the inside out. Not from the outside in. So he is going to ask her about this book and the prosperity gospel and what it is that she learned. Listen in….”

Interviewer, “Can you explain to us what prosperity theology is?”

Tanya Levin, “Prosperity theology is the belief the absolute belief that according to The Bible according to the verses in The Bible God wants you to be rich. He wants you to have prosperity, in every area of your life, particularly your finances and to not be that way is to be disobedient to the word of God.”

Interviewer, “Why would God want you to be rich? What does that achieve?”

Tanya Levin, “You know if the Christians can have all the wealth then they can redistribute it as they wish to you know the areas of poverty that they want to distribute it to. The areas of need that they see fit…”

Interviewer, “Well Hillsong has a strong record of distributing to charity. This is what Brian Houston said on Australian Story about where some of their money goes.”

Brian Houston, “There is various ways that we are able to fund the British projects and community programmes that we are involved in and they include everything from private enterprise to the churches own resources to members of the congregation, to government grants. Sixty percent of the total income goes toward helping directly.”

Interviewer, “From your viewpoint is that the whole picture?”

Tanya Levin, “It is very abstract. Sixty percent of their money goes towards helping people directly. That could mean any number of things.”

Interviewer, “Do you suspect that under closer scrutiny that there is something questionable about the way Hillsong operate?”

Tanya Levin, “I can’t argue that there is anything questionable. What I can argue that is questionable is the lack of transparency. So as much as they might you know say their books are open. Everybody that I have interviewed who has asked to have a look at the books has been told they have got a bad attitude or they have got doubts….”

Chris Rosebrough, “Uh huh yeah this sounds familiar to the Steven Furtick story. You know oh they claim to be transparent. But yet no one has been actually able to see the books. Huh weird….”

Interviewer, “So you are suggesting that Hillsong is primarily setup for recruitment.

Tanya Levin, “…and fundraising…”

Interviewer, “…and fundraising for itself. Which would imply the faith is apparently at its core is not necessarily genuinely a faith. Is this more a question of you having lost your faith – rather than the church having lost its faith…”

Tanya Levin, “It took a very long time to take my faith away from me. It was really the last thing I wanted to do was to admit that all this stuff was true. My opinions have changed again since I have been researching and I have met so many people negatively affected by churches like this. That it just added up to be you know too many people with the same kinds of stories.

Interviewer, “You referred to them as the walking wounded. Why are they wounded?”

Tanya Levin, “I found a very strong pattern in what happens when people show resistance. So everything is happy and everything is fine when you don’t show any kind of resistance. If you show resistance to the pastors, the leadership, the programme, the teaching, you are dealt with very severely.”

Interviewer, “What does severely mean?”

Tanya Levin, “Well you know in cases there are people who have been told that they are demonic and generally what has happened is that once people are showing enough resistance that is going to need to be quelled immediately. They are often ostracized and other congregants are told not to have anything to do with them. Because they have got doubts you know. They are not for us. They must be against us. It is a very fundamentalist polarized point of view.

Interviewer, “Okay when you told Brian and Bobbie that you wanted to write this book. Because you did, what happened – what was the response that you got?”

Tanya Levin, “Well I got a response from the general manager of Hillsong who had said that I had caused significant disruption. That I was never to go on Hillsong premises again and that no they won’t be helping me with the book….”

Chris Rosebrough, “There you go. Information from a former insider at Hillsong. Sounds like the same stuff that we hear from Perry Noble, Steven Furtick, Rick Warren and others. Something is seriously wrong in the Christian church with these celebrity pastors don’t you think?

Alright we are up on our second break. If you would like to email me regarding anything you have heard on this edition or any previous editions of Fighting for the Faith. You can do so my email address is talkback@fightingforthefaith.com or subscribe on Facebook – facebook.com/piratechristian. Follow me on Twitter my name is @piratechristian.

 

 

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