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Review: Brian Houston's "You Need More Money"

Posted by Gary Labels: , ,

Brian Houston, the lead pastor of the Hillsong mega-church in Australia, published You Need More Money in 1999 through his own ministry, Brian Houston Ministries. First, I must ask: who names a ministry after himself? Really?

Second question: why is this book not on his own website? [Update: he no longer endorses it, as this article shows.] I found it on Amazon by searching for "Hillsong" in my last note on Hillsong. Now that I've actually ordered this book, I have physical evidence in my hands of his teachings. Let the reader note that I bought this paperback used through Amazon for less than a dollar (before shipping).

The purpose of this book is to re-frame your understanding of money. "One of the enemy's greatest strategies is to stop God's people desiring more money" (17). Brian says that if you tell yourself all you need is enough money to put food on the table, then you're being selfish. You could try to gain money so you could put food on hundreds of tables. If you say you only need a car that gets you from A to B, then that's selfish too; what if God wants you to go to C, D, E, and F, but you only have a car that gets you from A to B?

Brian wants you to get comfortable with wealth. One exercise to help in doing this is to put on your best clothes and go to a nice restaurant to buy a cup of coffee. Just get comfortable with the thought of luxury. Though the book later develops the theme of how wealth can lead to making a real impact on the world (see below), this suggestion only breeds private comfort with having wealth and does not in any way connect to how one can use wealth for God's purposes.

The mindset Brian seeks to implant in the reader is one of grandiose ambition, in which by making more money one can impact hundreds of lives instead of a few. He stresses the necessity of money in a missionary's line of work, and applauds a missionary couple who went to China, because they started a small business in Australia and made enough money to finance their mission work. (Behold, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers need to wait 20 years to fund themselves!)

He tries to re-frame one's understanding of money as that of a neutral tool that can be good or evil, depending on its use. While there is some truth to that, money is actually a power of this world and not of God. Not just does he frame it as a neutral and necessary tool, but sees it as God's divine promise to us. Page 8 says it clearly:

Money can accomplish tremendous things for the Kingdom of God. In order to do this, we have to become comfortable with wealth, and break the bondage, guilt and condemnation of impoverished thinking. Poverty is definitely not God's will for His people. In fact, all His promises talk of blessing and prosperity.
How is the reader to respond? This reader would respond with Matthew 24:3-14, or even the Discipleship Guide (Matthew 10). Following Jesus is not a way to worldly success; indeed, properly done, such discipleship may lead to a very uncomfortable death.

Page 12 interprets 2 Cor 8:9 as saying that Jesus forsook his heavenly wealth and came to earth to be poor so that Christians may be rich, i.e. free of poverty. This is, without a doubt, another gospel. I cannot stomach this teaching.

If I were to thoroughly explain every misuse of Scripture in this book, I would have to write a book of at least equal length. In short: Brian Houston, the lead pastor of Hillsong, is an excellent motivational speaker. His church offers extravagant tithes at Mammon's altar, but what does a book like this do for the Kingdom? It fulfills Matthew 24:11.

What should our reaction be to Hillsong? There's no doubt that their songs, such as "Shout to the Lord" are popular. Ousting their low-on-theology, high-on-excitement pop songs is a rather difficult task; but what can we do to stop feeding this ravenous lion funding this ministry? A Christian cannot, in good conscience, support this ministry in any way, shape, or form.

If you do not believe me that this guy is a con artist, you can currently buy a copy of the book on Amazon used for 52 cents (American) plus shipping. I am happy to discuss further if anyone wants details.

10 comments:

  1. Troy

    You might find the first few lines of this article interesting. Brian Houston is a very wise man who loves the Lord. It's sad to come across blogs that just tear other Christians down and not talk about love.

  1. Troy

    sorry here's the link:

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/next-stop-secular-europe-says-hillsong-founder-20090524-bjj1.html

  1. Gary

    It's not particularly my goal to tear anybody down. I just don't know how to respond in a positive way to this book.

    Anybody who teaches that money is power, and that money makes the world go 'round, is not someone I could trust.

    If you search my blog, you'll find that pretty much nothing else I've written comes close to being vehement.

    Money is nothing compared to gaining wisdom. His book may make a mention of the necessity of wisdom, but Brian is clearly putting money as the center of how one impacts the world, at least in this book.

    Troy, I'm sorry if you find my review harsh or disheartening. It is not my way to be fierce, but being on guard against false teachings is one of the most common subjects in the entire New Testament.

    I stand by what I've written, regardless of whether he still endorses the book. You can read it for yourself.

    Unity is crucial in Christianity, but not at the expense of orthodoxy.

    Jesus did not promise that we would gain material prosperity by following Him. He said we would be hated and killed.

    The Gospel of Mark (from which Brian draws his "Rich Young Man" text) does not emphasize inward attitudes; Mark is only concerned with simple, outward obedience. When Jesus told the man to sell everything he had and come follow Jesus with not a dime to his name, that is what Jesus meant.

    This idea that Jesus was concerned only with inward spiritual attitude simply does not cut it.

  1. 7drizzles7

    Thank you Gary. Truth must never be sacrificed in the name of maintaining artificial unity.Some of these teachings are popular but aberrant and at best laced with heresy.

  1. phydEaux

    Good call Gary. I live in Australia and have watched Hillsong or as it is affectionately known over here as 'Hellsong' deliver a gospel that is so far from The Gospel I don't understand how Christians no longer engage their minds and discern the lies they promote through this sensual christianity they are promoting.

    For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV)

  1. Marshal Jose

    Poor Jesus, Paul, Peter ....... they did't had this idea. He would have born in 1st century and write this book.

  1. Tyler Perkins

    100% true. Prosperity gospel at its finest. The title of his book says it all.

  1. Stu

    Hi Gary,

    I'm against prosperity gospel as much as you are, but I think Brian Houston has gone some way to recognising his teaching in this area was wrong since he wrote the book (15yrs ago now).

    I don't have a reference sorry, but may be worth following through.

    In Him

  1. harrywwc

    Interestingly, in a recent (July 2014) interview, BH states he 'has never believed in a “prosperity gospel”...' - and yet, there is this book, and the general tone of the whole HillSongs movement over the last 3 decades or so.
    SDG, harrywwwc
    (interview reference at:
    http://www.biblesociety.org.au/news/brian-houston-theres-huge-difference-living-rich-living-blessed )

  1. Happy Riches

    Interesting comments, Gary. I suppose what we write is a reflection of ourselves. I note there are a number who find Hillsong repulsive.

    One thing that Jesus told his disciples about others who were preaching about HIM was that they were to leave them alone because those who are not against HIM, are for HIM.

    The saddest fact concerning too many people who claim the name of Christ is they are always pointing the finger at other people because they do not believe like them.

    If we have found the way to the truth and have walked through the Door of Life, our happiness would be like a magnet.