Monday, August 25, 2008

Guglielmucci tragedy

I read with great sadness the tragic story of Mike Guglielmucci, having only heard about it thanks to Tim's post/links. Like it or not, Hillsong and Planetshakers are hugely influential, and I suppose you could even say they do more to shape the underlying beliefs and worldview of Christians around the world (including Malaysia) through their songs than most Bible teachers could ever hope to achieve. I had actually watched Guglielmucci tell the story of his song and the oxygen-tank performance a month or two back, and while frankly, I was hesitant about the song itself, I had no reason to doubt the authenticity and force of his testimony. In truth, I was quite moved myself. I suppose, to quote inexactly from J.I Packer, I simply thought that his experience was better than his theology.

And it wasn't.

And I do feel for many young people who are shaken by this turn of events. I saw comments along the lines of "How could such a song of truth come from such a pack of lies?" and "I'm feeling so hurt right now, this is a huge act of betrayal that my friends and I aren't sure we can recover from." And though sin is sin and we shouldn't downplay it, I do have some sympathy for Guglielmucci as well. I can see how his deception of others could conceivably have started with self-deception. I am willing to believe he truly wanted healing, just not from cancer; he truly wanted to will himself to trust in God, but the very act of doing so prevented him from doing so. And that we're all capable of self-deception as well. Nonetheless, people are right to question how this was all concealed from everyone, including his own family; the so-called "healings"; etc.

I'm sure there's more than enough commentary flying around and I don't want to add words unnecessarily. Mark Sayers, whom Tim linked to, has an excellent reflection, as does Eugene Cho. I hope people affected will benefit from reading both of them. I am a bit of a wimp, and partly because Hillsong was a big part of my youth and that many of my friends are part of the particular Hillsong/Planetshakers stream of charismatic Christianity, I have been loathe to critique them publicly here on my blog, but maybe this will help people reflect more critically on the shortcomings of that tradition.

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