No laughing matter: it's about one thing larger than the arrest of Rodney Howard-Browne

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Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne is the leader of the Revival International Ministries and the River at Tampa Bay Church in Tampa, Florida(Photo: Facebook / River at Tampa Bay Church)

I don't think the state should be able to close churches. And I shudder to think that a pastor in the United States is being arrested for refusing to close his church.

Rodney Howard-Browne, director of the Revival International Ministries and River Church in Tampa, Florida, is one such man. He was arrested for violating a "safe at home" regulation that prohibits major worship meetings during the current Covid 19 pandemic.

Howard-Browne may be better known as the instigator of the "Blessing of Toronto" and its special emphasis on "holy laughter". He even has the self-designation "The Holy Ghost Bartender".

The news of his arrest initially made me despair. "Oh no, not another embarrassing & # 39; evangelical & # 39; that mocks the gospel and blasphemes the name of Christ among the Gentiles!" It was bad enough to deal with Kenneth Copeland, who said he had driven the corona virus out of the United States.

But I thought maybe that's not fair? Perhaps, as some of my Christian friends will argue, shouldn't we "judge" a Christian brother or sister? Maybe I should find out for myself and give him a fair hearing instead of believing what the "MSM" are saying about Rodney Howard-Browne?

And so you really sat down in wonderful social isolation to watch Rodney for several hours talk about the end of days.

When we deal with such a serious topic, it was surprising how trivial and flat the whole show was. Covid-19, the Word of God, death and eternity were all for entertainment. For example, the idea that using the term "testicle" to interview people who were unwilling to oppose the government was somehow "daring" was something you could expect from a 13-year-old teenager, who is not a mature preacher of God Word.

I tend to think that a preacher of God's Word should preach God's Word. But instead we have a mix of political statements, conspiracy theories, and internal, homemade jokes that make fun of anyone who disagrees. I think his language was blasphemous – he used the name of God as an exclamation / curse rather than a prayer to the Almighty. The last thing that God's name is in this circus is "holy".

Like a poor stand-up comedian, he made no emotion about those who fear death. It was terrifying to hear a preacher in Christ's name ask if someone was really infected because they didn't know one, and then suggested that they were just Hollywood stars and politicians. In other words, it's all a conspiracy.

Just as bad was his advice to people that they should judge by their hearts (although the Bible tells us that our hearts are desperately angry and fraudulent about everything) and what God says to people – which he does not mean Bible, but what God tells him.

Jesus and the Bible hardly got any insight. The Word of God is reduced to what the Lord supposedly said to Howard Browne, which he then passes on. Forget the Bible. Forget the words of Christ. Rodney apparently has a direct word. A fire came into the room and hit his stomach.

"I'm just telling you what God said to me – the hype will not last that long, but the Lord's word will persist. Either God is still talking to his people or he is not."

"I asked the gentleman what he thought about it (Covid 19) and he said that he didn't worry about it."

What a strange view of God Rodney has. The Bible already tells us that Almighty God is not "worried" about anything – as if surprising or defeating him.

Keep listening and you'll find that if you take Communion, at least in Rodney's Church, you don't seem to get Covid-19. And God & # 39; said & # 39; Rodney said that he is screening his people in response to this crisis, with the result that the wheat will defy the authorities that the chaff will close at their Sunday gatherings (although he has now finally decided to suspend the service).

We even know how long it will take because God Rodney said it was the end of the world (hence the title of his sermon series) – "within three years, maximum seven".

Again I wondered why the gentleman was so vague … didn't he know? Or won't Rodney retire for seven years?

In terms of eternity, those hours I've spent watching this excruciating, embarrassing, banal, and blasphemous sucker are nothing – in terms of my life, they're hours that I'll never get back, and I hope you know appreciating that I'm taking a bullet for the team! It was really terrible (not terrible).

But I think Howard-Browne is working against Christ and His Word in at least three ways. First, it is a direct contradiction to Romans 13: 1-2, where we are exhorted to be subject to "the governmental agencies set by God." Secondly, as Christians, we are obliged to love our neighbors – to gather in a large group and possibly be the cause of the spread of a virus that kills people, can under no circumstances be considered loving.

Third, Howard-Browne not only rebels against the Bible, does not obey Christ, and is an appalling "witness," he also attacks Christ's precious bride, the Church. Just as Covid-19 poses a serious threat to the health of the nations, Howard-Browne's teaching is a virus that poses a serious threat to the health of the Church. He said he visited 10 cities in Australia and more than 40 in Europe. May the Lord save us from our own stupidity to finance and support this nonsense! The teaching described above is toxic and harmful in many ways.

Some Christians still want to say weakly, "Well, I don't agree with his teaching, but we shouldn't go public against a" brother in Christ. " The Bible says it differently. "What does it have to do with me to judge those outside the church? Shouldn't you judge those inside the church?" (1 Corinthians 5:12).

When a preacher undermines the Church through his words and actions and endangers the life and souls of those inside and outside, it is up to others who are teachers in the Church (the pillar and the basis of truth) to point out their mistakes and thus warn as much as possible from the damage they cause.

Rodney Howard-Browne deserved to be arrested, not because of his appalling teaching about God – which the Church has to deal with – but because of his apparent disregard for the law of the country and his peril to human life. There may have been many jokes in his sermon, but it's not a laughing matter.

David Robertson is director of Third Space in Sydney and blogs at

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