In for a Penny - In for a Pound
Editorial Insert: - By way of introduction here’s an extract from Steve Penny’s blog - http://cetf.co/tF4acj It reveals much about the man, who has called himself the Prophet of Prosperity for the rebranded Assemblies of God in Australia (ACC) group of churches. Note his humility “great men of God”—self praise is no recommendation; his willingness to deceive—“try another entrance”, “take our place among the dignitaries”; and there is more receiving benefit for masquerading as being someone whom he wasn’t—“amazing amounts of food and wine laid on for all the city greats”. You be the judge.“Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean and I will receive you" – 2 Corinthians 6:17– plp.
One of the highlights of my time in Cape Town occurred last night. We had been out to dinner – three of us – all Great men of God. On the way home at about 9pm we noticed the brand new soccer stadium yet to be opened was all lit and a huge number of cars in the car park. It was obviously a very big occasion with many dignitaries present – the security people told us as they directed us to leave the area. Being great men of faith we all declared the faith mantra as we left the scene. “If at first you don’t succeed – try another entrance.” So this time we went to another gate and acted boldly as though we belonged. The night was planned for us. This time we were ushered right into the inner car park and then shown the way right into the stadium. As we entered the stadium the symphony orchestra whipped itself into a frenzy and rose to an absolute crescendo as we climbed the stairs to take out place among the dignitaries of the city. It was like God had arranged this amazing night so that His humble servant could be one of the first people to put his foot upon the hallowed pitch of the coming world cup. And I got to share the moment with two of the greats of the Hillsong church here in Cape Town. And there is more. One item after we arrived they announced intermission with amazing amounts of food and wine laid on for all the city greats. I felt like I was hosting a party for the Elders of the city. When you watch the world Cup on 2010 remember God allowed us to bless the pitch and be there before it was opened.
Moral of the story – there is always a way. If you don’t succeed at first – try another entrance. SJP
On the 10th July 2011, I had reason to find myself in the evening service of Church 180 in Newcastle, where Phil Camden is the senior pastor. As advertised, Steve Penny (SP) was to preach at this service and I thought it would be interesting to hear if this Assemblies of God heavyweight had changed his methods or message over recent years. Sadly, Penny lost a son, Andrew, to cancer in 2003, and I wondered if as a result he had departed from the health and wealthheresies he held to so strongly for all the years overseeing AOG churches (ACC 1) ‘mega-churches’ in Brisbane, Sydney, and the Sunshine Coast.
Following the Hillsong “rock concert” that passes as a worship service in ACC churches these days, Camden introduced Steve Penny with a great deal of pomp and praise. Mr Penny spent the first few minutes arrogantly spouting about how wonderful his denomination is and he was not backwards about his own contributions to the growth of ACC. Proud Pennythen spent at least ten minutes explaining how great he is in Poland and Europe at the moment and the opportunities that continue to open up for him to ‘minister’ internationally.
‘Prophet’ Penny’s introduction started with a lofty declaration that this was going to be a powerfully prophetic message that would change the way Church 180 ministered to the Newcastle community. He based his sermon on Ezekiel 37:1-14 and made five points about the Christian’s potential to raise the dead ‘non-Christian’ back to life, without at any time placing his message in the context of the passage. If any person attending, including this writer, was expecting the Word of God to be expounded and taught from a biblical/theological perspective, disappointment would be the only result. The sermon contained very little reference to the Scripture, and God hardly got a mention. Rather, the content was mostly a lesson in pop psychology with some “life-style principles” thrown in.
Perhaps the most disturbing content was the total disregard of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and SP’s intentional digression from biblical doctrine in relation to repentance and salvation. Penny stated very clearly that he considered the clear teaching of Scripture was wrongly interpreted and that if the body of Christ was to reach the upcoming generation and raise up young leaders for future ministry then ‘we’ had to come away from the old ways of doing things and reach this current generation a different way. Penny based his tirade around the Four Spiritual Laws, stating that these were wrong and that when Christians witness to non-Christians by starting with repentance that the method is backwards; that our witness should start with the love of God and convince the person that God has a great plan and purpose for their life, and that eventually they would get to being ‘sorry’ for their past “mistakes”.
At no time did the preacher refer to any Bible verse to back his theory and the clear teaching of New Testament passages such as Matthew 3:1-12, Luke 5:29-32, Luke 24:46-48, Acts 2:32-41, Romans 2:4-10, 2 Corinthians 7:9-10, and 2 Peter 3:8-10 found no place in his discourse; he chose to completely ignore the biblical doctrine of repentance to suit the “god of relevance” that is pervading modern churches. SP said several times that the Church has got it wrong in preaching repentance – when the Bible simply declares this as the initial step to our being found “in Christ”.
Another point that was terribly disturbing about Steve Penny that night was that he did not mention the name of Jesus in his message. Originally, I thought the distress I felt may have been subjective and that I was simply responding emotionally to a “hard night of heresy”, but upon further reflection I realised that Penny resisted the mention of Jesus’ name in his sermon intentionally because he somehow perceives that the mention of this most precious name will cause offence to the non-Christian listener. This idea ate away at my thinking for two nights and I decided a good way to deal with this was to check Steve Penny’s web site. Ten pages on http://www.stevepenny.org/ were researched and I found not one mention of the name of Jesus.
As a prominent leader of the modern Pentecostal movement, Steve Penny is promoting a false gospel, and a false path to God. His teaching has not improved or become more Bible based; rather his message is more steeped in the godless lie of prosperity and health and wealth. Further, Steve Penny is preaching a different Jesus to the Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed in the Holy Bible. The Saviour we proclaim through standard biblical doctrine is not the weak god of plans and purposes and money proclaimed by Steve Penny and those whom he follows and leads.
About The Author
Anthony Sargent was saved in 1983, and has served the Lord in full time ministry for 25 years, pastoring AOG, COC, Churches of Christ in Australia (not the same as the Independent Churches of Christ cult), and the Baptist Union (NSW) churches in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and New Zealand. Anthony is a Bible student with a passion for theology, history, politics and current affairs. He did his ministry training with the Australian College of Ministries (ACOM), Rhema Bible College (QLD), and the Southern Cross Bible College (Katoomba, NSW). Anthony, and Michelle, his wife of 24 years, live in Port Stephens NSW. They have three sons, who love the Lord.