Ostentatious B and the Clique of Destiny

I usually don’t dig Garth George, but he has excelled himself this time. A fantastic piece of reporting. He’s probably the first mainstream media person to (at last) identify Destiny as a Cult.

Summary of the report: (from Wikipedia — more here)
About 700 male members of the church swore a “covenant oath” of loyalty and obedience to Mr Tamaki and were given a “covenant ring” to wear on their right hands. A document entitled “Protocols and Requirements Between Spiritual Father & His Spiritual Sons” contains the oath:

“ Above all, we stand here today in the presence of God to enter into this sacred covenant with our man of God, Bishop Brian Tamaki”

and:

“To you Bishop we pledge our allegiance, our faithfulness and loyalty. We pledge to serve the cause that is in your heart and to finish that work. Success to you and success to those who help you – for God is with you. ”

The document asserts Tamaki’s authority as “Bishop” and “spiritual father” of the church he founded. Another section, “Conduct Towards Bishop”, states that “Bishop is the tangible expression of God”, instructs the “sons” to follow numerous protocols, to defer to Tamaki with unquestioning loyalty and obedience, to follow his dress code, and to never tolerate criticism.

Garth also wrote a brief apologetic comparing Tamaki with the Pope, but I think a comparison with the teachings of Christ would have been more effective. Tamaki is a malevolent whacko preying on the poor. An oath of loyalty to a fallible human being is essentially replacing Christ as the Shepherd of the church, and treating this bloke like God’s mouthpiece is a sad indictment on the value of Bible study in this shameful outfit. Deferring all Bible interpretation to an obviously unschooled guy who relies on charisma and emotional tactics is an abrogation of the responsibility each believer has to learn the basics of their faith.

The Bible says “Test everything, hold fast to the good”, “Do not believe every spirit”, “Watch out for false teachers”. The Bereans were commended by Paul for testing the teachings of Apollos against the Hebrew scriptures. The doubts of Thomas were not disdained, but treated seriously and patiently. Peter was corrected about holding to Jewish rituals, and admitted he was wrong. Even in the Old Testament God routinely humbled arrogant kings. God responded graciously to many idiotic prayers (Gideon’s fleece, Elisha’s axe, reluctant Moses) because he doesn’t run a giant hierarchy based on fear, but a community of people freely choosing to follow him.

Church history is filled with schisms and dissensions over theology, but I think religions should propound values that enhance human existence, and freedom of thought/speech/opinion is an important, fundamental value.

The Sermon on the Mount shows a stark difference between the teachings of Tamaki and the teachings of Christ. Emphasis added.

Matthew 5:
How blessed are the poor in spirit: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
Blessed are the gentle: they shall have the earth as inheritance.
Blessed are those who mourn: they shall be comforted.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for uprightness: they shall have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them.
Blessed are the pure in heart: they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: they shall be recognised as children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness: the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

Matthew 6:
Do not store up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moth and woodworm destroy them and thieves can break in and steal.
But store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor woodworm destroys them and thieves cannot break in and steal.

No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.

And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin;
yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his royal robes was clothed like one of these.

Matthew 7:
Do not judge, and you will not be judged;
because the judgements you give are the judgements you will get, and the standard you use will be the standard used for you.
Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the great log in your own?
And how dare you say to your brother, “Let me take that splinter out of your eye,” when, look, there is a great log in your own?
Hypocrite! Take the log out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.

So always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the Law and the Prophets.

Beware of false prophets who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves.
You will be able to tell them by their fruits. Can people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?
In the same way, a sound tree produces good fruit but a rotten tree bad fruit.
A sound tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a rotten tree bear good fruit.
Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown on the fire.
I repeat, you will be able to tell them by their fruits.
It is not anyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven.
When the day comes many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?”
Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, all evil doers!

It’s good to hear that Destiny still does some good things, but Tamaki has a lot to answer for:

  • Why is an oath of allegiance necessary?
  • Shouldn’t a Christian’s first loyalty be to Jesus?
  • What happened to the $2 million raised for a “Destiny City” ?
  • How do you line up your life of luxury with the servant ministry of Jesus Christ and his disciples?
  • Why are the enormous posters of yourself far more visible than any crosses in the church?
  • Did God send Jesus to Earth and death on a cross to make Brian Tamaki have an easy life?
  • Are you serving the flock or exploiting them?
  • Have you ever studied theology or been to Bible college? (the answer is no)
  • When you rule New Zealand, would a theocracy be headed by God or yourself?
  • How did you become God’s mouthpiece?

Unfortunately his followers are not allowed to question him.

More bible refs here.

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3 thoughts on “Ostentatious B and the Clique of Destiny

  1. Good post Ropata. Thank you.

    I think there has been a fear (or perhaps that not the right word) within the broader church of criticising Destiny/Brian.

    I think there is a belief that the church shouldn’t criticise it’s own, and that what constitutes it’s own is interpreted very widely. If Destiny is doing well in terms of good deeds, then they must be doing something right etc.

    Also, and this is again supposition, there may have been a feeling within the broader evangelical and ‘fundamentalist’ branches of the church that criticising Brian in public would somehow damage the ‘brand’ in the broader community. I think that this has been a mistake. Destiny now is the brand as far as the secular community sees it. If the church wants to change that, it’s up to them, and taking him to task on the churches terms is exactly the way to go about it.

    I can’t seem to find it on line, but didn’t Tamaki explicitly claim, as prophecy, to be in charge of things in NZ by now? As he is making some fairly extraordinary claims for himself, I think other church leaders should go on the record. It shouldn’t just be up to the laity to try and distinguish themselves from destiny.

  2. I just listened to Jackson and Tamihere on Radio Live today. Willie Jackson in particular is a staunch defender of Tamaki based on his record of community work especially amongst troubled Maori.

    The church does have a “robust” image, and being slammed in the media probably helps with their particular demographic. who already feel alienated from (Pakeha) society.

    Participating in a cult does change people’s behaviour and possibly helps to prevent criminality. Doesn’t lessen the fact that it is straying from Christian norms with some worrying cultish tendencies.

    Yes, according to Tamaki’s false prophecy, Destiny should be “ruling the nation” by now.

    NB: Pasta Tamariki of Density Church has just made a comeback too!

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