Garth George: Destiny must be treated as a cult

84 comments
Bishop Brian Tamaki's 'doctrinal bombshells' mean churchgoers are now isolated from the religious mainstream.

Brian Tamaki denies the bodily resurrection of Christ. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Brian Tamaki denies the bodily resurrection of Christ. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Destiny Church's self-styled bishop Brian Tamaki has appalled the Christian community by denying the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, an essential fundamental tenet of Christian faith.

A comprehensive dossier compiled by Mark Vrankovich, founding director of the Auckland-based international organisation Cultwatch, reveals that Mr Tamaki dropped this inexplicable heresy on his congregation in sermons beginning in May last year.

Cultwatch in 2004 designated Destiny Church as an 'emerging mind-control cult'. It has now, as a result of Mr Tamaki's rejection of an absolute of Christianity, "reluctantly" classified Destiny Church as a cult.

And Cultwatch has recommended that no Destiny Church leader or member be permitted any leadership role in any orthodox Christian organisations or programmes outside its own sphere.

Destiny doesn't surprise me. In my view, it is a natural progression for an organisation in which the leader is seen as infallible to develop a theology of its own.

And Mr Tamaki really needed something to bolster his position. In October 2003 at a Destiny Church conference, Mr Tamaki received cheers and a standing ovation when he told the gathering: "I predict, in the next five years by the time we hit our tenth anniversary, and I don't say this lightly, but we will be ruling the nation."

He went on: "... I feel very strongly in my heart that the word of the Lord came to me very strong ... that this will actually be the first nation historically in the world to be under the governance of God."

That time has long passed. All that needs to be said is that the Destiny Party received a handful of votes in the 2008 election.

Then, in late 2009, came his declaration that he was the church's "spiritual father" and the binding of male members of the church to him as "spiritual sons" by a "covenant oath". The section entitled "Protocols towards our spiritual father" took 1300 words to describe in cringe-making detail how the "spiritual sons" should behave towards their "spiritual father".

"Bishop is the tangible expression of God", it said. "Bishop carries our vision and our anointing for the future and hope of our families and offspring ..." The covenant became a national story. Much of the reaction verged on contempt for the self-glorifying message which claimed that Mr Tamaki is God's special and unique representative on Earth.

So, in my opinion, it is natural that after a failed prophesy of political power, and within a few months of chaining his followers to him, Mr Tamaki would feel the need to announce an astounding revelation in order to prove all that he has claimed for himself - and keep the money flowing in.

Yet, according to the Cultwatch dossier, he obviously knew that he was breaking with orthodox Christianity when he admitted he had been softening up his congregation for a year. The sermon was part of a series called "Activating Christ Within You". "In this sermon he dropped the two doctrinal bombshells, blasting Destiny Church off its orthodox foundations and landing it firmly in the realm of the cults," says Cultwatch.

He taught that God had revealed to him that Jesus did not have a bodily resurrection, and that all Christians are actually Jesus.

He said: "This is, this is something that you have to get by revelation because you will never be convinced enough by your natural understanding."

"You will doubt it. So revelation has to hold this. Hence, I've been for the last year preparing you so that you could be a people who could receive revelation, so you could get and understand what the Bible is really saying."

And: "You must get out of your mind that, that Jesus Christ is now, ah, is still Jesus of Nazareth.

To whom he was. But Jesus of Nazareth did not come out of the tomb. The flesh Jesus died in the tomb ... So, so Jesus of Nazareth had to put off his flesh body, so the Christ that was always there could now be a life-giving spirit."

As Cultwatch points out, "revelation in the context of Destiny Church is what comes out of Brian Tamaki's mouth".

In a later sermon Mr Tamaki admits: "Theologians would have great difficulty with me."

Well, I don't know about theologians, but even I, a Christian layman, consider that the claim that Jesus did not rise bodily from the dead on the third day after he was crucified is utterly preposterous. The scriptural evidence is absolutely clear.

Luke tells us that Jesus appeared to some disciples who, thinking he was a ghost, became frightened. He invited them to look at his hands and feet and said, "It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have".

When they were still unconvinced, he asked them if they had something to eat and they gave him a piece of broiled fish, which he ate.

John's gospel tells us that Jesus appeared in the midst of his disciples and showed them the nail holes in his hands and his feet and the spear wound in his side suffered on the Cross.

John also tells the story of Thomas, who was elsewhere when Jesus first appeared to the disciples and wouldn't believe them. Later Jesus invited him to place his fingers in the holes in his hands and his hand into the wound in his side and told him, "Stop doubting and believe".

And there are all the epistles in which the bodily resurrection of Christ is referred to and it is made perfectly plain that, in the words of Paul, "... if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile".

Says Mr Vrankovich: "Some readers may be thinking that they have heard Tamaki's teaching somewhere before. They are right. Denying Jesus' bodily resurrection is a central teaching of the Jehovah's Witnesses, one of the most established cults.

"By denying the resurrection Mr Tamaki has moved camp from orthodox Christianity and is now in the camp of the cults.

Elsewhere in his sermons Mr Tamaki insists, in effect, that we are all God.

"They are many Christs of the one Christ, so they are all portions of Christ, because Christ is in them and we are in Him."

I can only conclude that Mr Tamaki has become so persuaded that he is the messianic voice of God that he has become irrational.

Says Mr Vrankovich: "Destiny Church needs to be treated the same way Christians treat other cults."

And I agree that when Destiny Church and its leaders claim to speak for Christians, then Christians need to point out that Brian Tamaki no longer represents Christianity in this country.

- NZ Herald

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 20 Dec 2014 15:38:57 Processing Time: 547ms