ARISE CHURCH REVIEW – Josh Barley Interview

Josh Barley – former Arise Church member

Josh Barley was raised in a devout Christian family. He eventually left the faith and became an atheist. He felt so strongly about how his former church, “Arise Church” targeted young people was wrong, that he created a blog about them to expose their agenda, methods and goals.

Were you you raised in a religious family?

Both of my parents are committed Christians so this had a substantial effect on the way in which they raised myself and my two siblings. Many of the ways in which our family functioned were driven by Christian principles. Ever since I can remember our family attended church most Sundays, typically Pentecostal type ones, and usually mornings but sometimes evenings. I think my parents were attracted to the charismatic personalities that often grace the pulpits of these churches. For our family, going to church was a priority and considered a necessary commitment to God as well as an opportunity to socialize. We prayed over our meal during every dinner time and sometimes one of us kids was asked to take the prayer. The “rod” was not spared and was used quite liberally for disciplinary actions. Watching PG rated TV programs was generally permitted, but AO programs and “M” rated movies were prohibited even during our teen years. On some Sunday evenings we would be instructed in a Bible study by Dad. This consisted of reading a passage and then asking us questions or listening to him talk about some theological aspect of the Christian faith. I had my own Bible to read and my parents provided a steady supply of Christian literature. I was brought up to believe in a literal six-day creation and a six-thousand year old earth (my Dad, however, was trained in geology at university so I think he has an interpretation of Genesis that allows for billions of years). I can remember the Creation: Ex Nihilo magazine (Ken Ham‘s Creationist propaganda) my parents got my subscription, which I read intently as a curious child does. One time my mum thought it would be instructive for her to give my Year 6 primary school teacher some copies, which my teacher politely accepted. Swearing was prohibited and Christian morality, especially regarding sex, was inculcated in all of us when we were teens. My Nana on my Dad’s side of the family is also extremely religious and so most of my extended family on his side are deeply Christian as well.

Did you go to a Christian Primary School or a State Primary School?

I attended state primary schools throughout my childhood, both in Australia and New Zealand. The most religious school that I went to was actually Wellington College. There we had assemblies where, usually, all the pupils and teachers recited The Lord’s Prayer and sung a hymn which often was one with a Christian theme.

Did you have non-Christian friends as a kid?

I had friends who were raised in Christian families and were part of the local church community (whether they genuinely considered themselves to be Christian or not I’m not sure. If a kid genuinely considers themselves to be a Christian before the age of ten, then that isn’t something that they deliberately determined for themselves but rather it’s an indication of indoctrination). I also had some friends I made through playing sports (cricket, soccer, touch rugby). I was also friends with the neighbours kids, although I can remember my parents slight disapproval of us hanging out. After moving to New Zealand when I was eight, most of my friends were made through sport. When I got to the age of about eleven, I remember being aware that I had my friends from school and sport and I had some church friends and that they were distinct non-overlapping groups.

How did you and your Christian friends view other non-Christian kids?

I would like to think that I was impartial in how I viewed other kids in regards to whether they were Christian or not. I definitely don’t remember being discriminatory just because a kid didn’t come from a Christian family. My whole upbringing, I remember my parents being a touch averse to me hanging out with “rougher” kids who might have picked up certain behaviours which my parents disapproved of, e.g. a propensity to swear or to act aggressively. I think this dim view that my parents held of these kids was passed somewhat on to me. Up until the age of eight or so, I think that if I did have a negative view of particular kids, it wasn’t because it was what I thought it but because it was what my parents thought. After this age I think I started to make judgements of the character of kids to discern whether or not they were someone that I should be friends with. By the time I was eleven, most, if not all of the friends who attended my birthdays were from non-Christian families.

As for how my Christian friends viewed non-Christian kids, I don’t recall any instances of there being any bullying or picking on someone or teasing because they were non-Christian. I vaguely remember having an awareness since I was young that being a Christian kid in a public school meant that you were in the minority and what one did when in this situation was not piss off anyone in the majority. I wouldn’t be surprised if my Christian peers at the time had a similar awareness.

In regards to how I was viewed by other kids: I was sometimes bullied at school for being boastful and my inclination is that my Christian upbringing instilled a certain self-importance in me and that this was exuded at school. This is probably what made me a target for teasing at a young age.

In your “Arise Church Notice” blog, you talk about being a former attendee.
How long were you a member and what made you decide to leave?

In 2004 when I was eighteen and at uni (in Christchurch) for the first time, my parents changed churches, from The Rock Church to ARISE Church (which was called City Church Wellington prior to 2008). Between 2004 and 2006 I attended ARISE Church only when I was visiting my parents while I lived in Christchurch. I moved home at the end of 2006 and in 2007 through to 2009, I attended ARISE Church on a semi-regular basis, although my interest was rather dwindling during this period and I would often excuse myself during a service pretending to need a comfort break and just leave entirely; or sometimes I would pretend to be asleep during the sermon. It was during this period that I read “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins and this significantly shifted my position regarding religion. After reading it, my recollection is that I rejected Christianity but I still couldn’t shake the belief in some sort of divine designer due to finding certain aspects of nature to be rather persuasive arguments in favour of it’s existence, i.e. the apparent complexity of life, the improbability of the existence of Earth as a life-bearing planet, and the immensity of the universe being some. At this point I guess I subscribed to some sort of deistic world view in which life was intelligently designed and not evolved.

A few things during this period also happened in the church which started to turn me away from Christianity. I started to notice some of the rhetoric coming from the pulpit was rather disturbing in nature. I remember Gillian Cameron (pastor and wife of John Cameron) talking about buying a nice new flat screen TV and proclaiming that it’s OK to want nice things and also that it’s OK to pray to God and ask God for nice things because God actually wants to bless you and prosper you if you subordinate yourself sufficiently to his “will” (which is a convenient reason one can use to justify one’s materialistic disposition). And when God metaphorically “gives” one something, it’s also OK to revel in feelings of being blessed and favoured by God. I remember finding this unsettling as well as simultaneously being amazed that this kind of rhetoric received positive feedback from the congregation. This showed me that one can use Christianity to support ones own narcissism and desire for material gain as opposed to striving for modesty and humility akin to the example that Jesus set. One other incident was when I attended a boys night and we watched the Jason Stratham movie “Crank” which has quite a bit of violence, sexual references, and a ridiculous story line. This made me realise the moral hypocrisy that existed in other church members; that they only subscribed to Christian morality when it was convenient; that their piety exhibited during church services and other meet-ups was phony, and in some cases, deliberately put on so as to ideally position themselves within the existing social dynamics in their desire to appear favourable to certain members of the opposite sex.

I went back to live in Christchurch between 2010 to 2014 and so during this time my attendance at ARISE was just when I was visiting my parents and only as a courtesy to them.

Over the summer of 2014 to 2015, I did some serious investigation into evolution vs intelligent design and this period also exposed me to the devastating critiques of Christianity made by two other prominent atheists, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. I must also credit the website ex-christian.net for helping me to completely shift my beliefs. I remember Google searching “ex Christians”, finding this website, and reading testimonial after testimonial of people who had had similar experiences to what I had, who had also had an internal struggle in their minds trying to make the Christian world view coherent and rational. These testimonials told of things like trying to resolve logical inconsistencies, grappling with moral and ethical dilemmas, struggling with having many unanswered questions, and being plagued by cognitive dissonance. Reading these testimonials triggered something in me where I realized that it was normal to be a non-believer and that many people had exactly the same issues with Christianity that I had. After this period I considered myself an atheist but I still hadn’t admitted this to my parents. That all changed when I reluctantly went to the Easter Sunday service at ARISE Church in 2015. I walked out after about ten minutes and later that night I told my parents exactly what I believed. I have never attended a service since (although I have been recording their online services so as to compile some of the disturbing rhetoric for my blog)

If your parents are still religious, have you been able to maintain a relationship with them?

My parent’s are still very much religious. After my admission to them of my true beliefs, my parents were supportive and they said that they would love me no matter what. This didn’t stop us having a few arguments though. Once, my dad objected to me reading atheist literature in his home and things got a bit heated for an hour or so. When I provided an unfavourable opinion to Stuff regarding the Reggie Dabbs tour in 2016, my parents weren’t too happy although they conceded that I have a right to my own opinions and my ability to express them. Today we remain on good terms and have a mutual respect for each others beliefs. However, I sometimes get emails from my Dad with links to Christian/intelligent design internet articles or videos, so I don’t think he will give up on me so easily.

How do you feel about Arise Church’s approach to recruitment of young people?

Young people are impressionable, emotionally vulnerable, have an innate desire for community and fellowship, and often have internal questioning about purpose and existence. ARISE exploits these traits of young people to rather lucrative effect. They deliberately target youth because they know that is the best opportunity they will have to reach people, when their minds are more open and aren’t sufficiently developed to guard against specious teachings. To this end much of their recruitment efforts are directed at high schools and universities, but they also target primary schools. ARISE Church makes no secret of their intentions to infiltrate educational establishments. In fact, John Cameron has explicitly stated his desire for ARISE Church to win entire high-schools and universities to Jesus Christ. Whatever that means in practice however is not stated.

ARISE Church have done their research and know how to get access to young people at all levels of education. In regards to primary schools, ARISE Church helps provide the “Champions” Christian Religious Education programme in partnership with the Churches Education Commission in schools throughout Christchurch, Wellington and Hamilton. They also run “breakfast clubs” in some primary schools around Wellington. The motivation to provide food for hungry kids is a laudable one but they use this opportunity to evangelize to young children, tell them about the “love of God” and encourage them to attend church. This evangelism gets a free pass by school staff because it is smuggled in under the guise of charity. This kind of behaviour undermines the requirement of state primary schools to be secular but also demonstrates something more sinister, which is the lengths that ARISE Church will go to for evangelism; that they are willing to exploit the most vulnerable of society (hungry children) so as to inculcate them in to a belief in ARISE Church’s flavour of Christianity.

ARISE Church has a particular message which they have crafted to be appealing to young people. It could best be described as positive self-help through Jesus. They focus on positive thinking and deliberately emphasize certain ideas meant to take advantage of one’s own perceived flaws, deficiencies, and failures. Some of these ideas are:

  • All humans including oneself have been deliberately made by God. You are special and unique because God made you that way.
  • There exists a God-given purpose inherent within everyone which is discoverable through a relationship with Jesus.
  • God doesn’t see your flaws but sees your potential.
  • Faith in Jesus will prosper you in every facet of ones life. This includes health, finances, employment, marriage, relationships, and personal goals.
  • If one has faith in Jesus, then one will triumph over any adversity, which will provide a demonstration to others of the “truth” of Jesus and the benefits being a Christian.

ARISE Church endeavours to provide an upbeat, vibrant atmosphere in the public sphere and at it’s services. They want to be viewed as a place that is fun and exciting because this appeals more to young people. Everyone is happy and smiling; everyone is pleased to see you, and to an impartial observer this behaviour is uncanny as it feels like a superficial veneer put on for purely appearance purposes.

The ARISE church services follow a particular recipe that has been refined and employed to great effect by other churches (I’m talking about mega-Churches like Hillsong in Australia). Services are manufactured to give the illusion of a legitimate divine encounter. That’s the hook. What you are required to believe regarding the beliefs and doctrines of Christianity and various events in the Bible is only partially revealed this point. It’s all about a personal relationship with Jesus.

The service begins with a “praise and worship” session which is crafted to invoke feelings of euphoria and transcendence. The use of suggestion is employed here, with a pastor pronouncing during the music a phrase like “God’s presence is here in this room right now” or something similar. The praise and worship prepares the emotional ground and puts one in a receptive mood. Then there is the sermon where the congregation is given a rhetorical masterclass expounding the ideas and themes mentioned in the bullet points above. The use of seeking the affirmations of the congregation is liberally employed (e.g. the phrase “and if you believe it then give me an ‘amen'”). At the end of the service, the congregation is subjected to an emotional appeal to non-Christians to receive Christ as the greatest gift they will ever receive. The combination of the three sections of the service has a powerful and profound effect on some people, especially young people. They are helplessly tethered to their emotions and any cognitive barriers which are in place are effectively overcome. This leads to the forfeit of the intellect and the surrender of the self to allow Jesus into their heart. ARISE Church has explicitly stated that their primary motivator is persuading as many people as possible to come to faith in Jesus. (Other phrases that are used in place of “come to faith in Jesus” are “have a relationship with Jesus” or “follow Jesus”)

For new converts, ones perception of Christianity is based on the initial emotional experience. This experience is what gives the belief in Christianity validation and reinforces the truth of its claims. After that, ARISE progressively introduce you to the Bible. You are told about sin being the reason Jesus died so that he could redeem mankind; about heaven, hell, prayer, miracles, and God’s will. Gradually you are introduced to weirder parts like baptism, Adam and Eve, talking snakes, talking donkeys, angels, demons, and Noah Ark, just to name a few.

ARISE Church runs a youth service on a Friday night called “Elevate” and they have tailored it so that it is more appealing to young people. The music is more upbeat and the atmosphere is cultivated so that it feels like a “party”. The design and format of the service is similar to the one as described above including at the end, an appeal being made to a captive audience of young people to give their hearts to Jesus.

I think the methods that ARISE Church uses for outreaching to and engaging young people are clever, creative, but also sneaky, and at times dishonest and deceptive. They employ emotional manipulation as a way to accomplish the recruitment of new members. They deliberately exploit young peoples innocence and credulity, take advantage of their other cognitive traits already mentioned, with the goal to foist upon their impressionable minds a biblical worldview of sin and salvation by Jesus as well as give them a spiritual self-help toolkit that ultimately delivers false hope and false promises.


Have you had experience of Arise Church? Has your school been targeted by them? Please comment below. Do you have a story to tell?  please get in touch

Save

20 Comments

  1. Two very good points that Josh manages to touch on are: 1. The use of the congregation for affirmation is powerful. It is a technique exploited time and again by those who wish to convince masses of people that their ‘warcry’ is just – if everyone else is affirming it then it must be right. You only have to start with a small handful of followers and slowly ‘ingroup’ the outsiders, a few at a time to make this work. 2. Those who are now part of the ‘in group’ are not normally truly and deeply changed or committed individually. Their affirmation of the leaders warcry is often only when they participate in the group. Outside of this shared ‘truth’ they act out their own true core beliefs. Josh gave this as the example of him and friends watching the violent and slightly deranged movie Crank. In short: Groupthink.

    • I think you’re right. The need to belong to a group seems to override individual common sense sometimes. There’s a sort of a blind spot that develops with regard to the group beliefs that is ignored in day to day life.

  2. Lol, how dare that arise church or any church feed hungry kids in the name of Jesus, hypocrites, where does the bible say anything about helping people in need? They should get out of schools so the hungry kids can be fed by the atheist breakfast programmes, oh wait, there are none. I’m all for critique, but criticizing a church for doing actual practical charity work is a bit lame, particularly when they’re fulfilling a need that literally nobody else is.

    • Atheists aren’t as likely to gather for the purpose of spreading their views as religious people are. However, there are plenty of non-religious (secular) organisations who do good work. I’m sure that there’s an atheist or two in there somewhere. I don’t feel the need to hunt them down and identify them though. Ever heard of KidsCan? https://www.kidscan.org.nz

    • The one and only time I went to ARISE was for a friend’s baptism and they spent the whole time talking about building a massive church worth millions of dollars, and then raising money to build more churches. All about the money, absolute cult

  3. Lol I’m sorry, but this whole article is ridiculous. I have been involved in Arise as a member for many years – and you can’t deny the miracles and wonders I have seen take place while at this church. Prophesies coming to life, and immediate physical healings that doctors can’t even explain. Literally bones moving and bodies reconstructing right before my eyes..

    God is real. Humanity is real. I understand that people get hurt and offended by the church as humanity is still at the forefront, working out how to do it when we are naturally inclined to sin – but amongst it all God wants to move and has already moved in wonders that one can’t deny. Church is built by people: Ps John and Gillian aren’t perfect, they are human too, but I have so much respect for them. You can’t say they’re all about materialistic gain when they literally sold everything they had and moved to Wellington with nothing to set up this Church. They are the most generous, kind and genuine people I know. Sorry if you have been hurt by our church, and I hope one day you will find the room to forgive any hurt you have towards us.

    • It doesn’t seem particularly “Christian” to call an article about Josh’s experiences in Arise Church “ridiculous”. I’ve asked him if he would like to respond.

      Despite your claims about “miracles and wonders”, there seems to be no independent verification of these. I wonder why?

    • Hi Charlotte,

      Thanks for your comments. I would like to address the points that you raise.

      I’ll be charitable and assume that you didn’t really intend to label my Christian upbringing and my personal struggles with faith as ridiculous, but were in fact reacting to my unfavourable critique of ARISE Church.

      You go on to describe that you have been a member of ARISE for a number of years and that while there you have seen “miracles and wonders take place”. I don’t deny that you have had experiences that you interpret to be both miraculous and an attestation to the existence (“God is real”) and divine power (“moved in wonders”) of the Christian god. But could there be an alternative explanation for what you experienced?

      Here is how I think about claims of miracles. I am hesitant to accept the veracity of your claims of miracles for the same reasons that you presumably are hesitant to accept the veracity of the claims of miracles of other religions.

      Miracle claims are a commonality across many religions. Do you also accept the testimonies of people in other religions who claim to have experienced or directly witnessed miracles similar to the ones you described? Do their claims of miracles also attest to the existence and divine power of their god/s? Can someone’s subjective experience determine or ascertain the objective nature of the supernatural realm (or lack of it)?

      And in anticipation of the inevitable objection, being that a priori the god of scripture is the one true god and Christianity is the one true religion and that all other religions are false teachings, I say: well isn’t it convenient that you were born into the right culture that just happened to have the right religion. Christianity is a system which arbitrates the eternal destinies of people based on what they believe. Yet people’s beliefs are suspiciously contingent upon geographical circumstances. If you were born into a non-Christian culture saturated with it’s own religion, how would you figure out that it was all wrong? Is a system that punishes people for the bad luck of being born in the wrong place a just system?

      I’m puzzled as to how you can think that god can “want to move”. To “want” means to desire a certain outcome. God is omniscient, meaning that god knows everything. God knows all past and future events. God knows his own thinking on all matters that have occurred in the past and will occur in the future. This includes knowing how he intends to intervene in human affairs. Saying that god “wants to move” implies that he’s waiting for something to happen first. But as has already been established, god knows everything, so he already knows what decision he has made and how he intends to intervene.

      So god can’t “want to move” because he’s already decided. God is helplessly tethered to his own perfect knowledge of everything. You can’t change god’s mind, god’s mind is already made up. Whatever happens must occur because god intended it to happen. God doesn’t want, god intends.

      Regarding material gain of the lead pastors of Arise. I have no problem with people who are wealthy. What I do have a problem with is how people obtain their wealth and what claim they make on their wealth.

      If your wealth is made by telling people to give up their intellect, to subordinate their will to the will of god, to surrender to god their own dreams and ambitions, to give god complete control over everything in their life, and to live out a financial commitment to your church as an act of obedience to god, then this is wealth obtained by means of psychological manipulation. And then to pretend that the church finances are evidence of “a move of god” and also that your personal take-home slice of the pie is due to the blessing and favour of god. Hang on, the money just didn’t appear out of no-where, it was wholly acquired by the real and personal sacrifices of the congregation. At no stage in the whole process could you point and say, “Aha, this where god worked his magic”. But of course the rationalization is that congregants are “lead by god to give”. But is it really being “lead by god to give” or is it pure persuasion by animated and charismatic leaders who have a knack of appealing to people’s sense of self and sense of personal identity and manipulating these for their own ends.

      God is omniscient. Everything that happens was intended by god. So god intended for the Cameron’s to profit from their racket no more than he intended for millions of children to suffer and die in agony every year, and then to suffer for eternity because, by no fault of their own, they were born into the wrong part of the world and didn’t know Jesus.

      It’s truly wonderful to know that there is not a single shred of evidence to suggest that any of the supernatural claims of Christianity are actually true.

  4. I am horrified by this young man becoming an athiest after being raised in a Christian home and blaming the Church for his views! He is one voice among many voices of that particular Church. What do others think? I personally was an atheist myself until I was almost 30 years old. I understand that this young man has missed the whole point of, yes, having a personal relationship with Jesus. He loves ALL people and he loves Josh. The Bible also talks about Jesus loving the Church. Teenage years are known for rebellion and this interview speaks to me of a young man seeking his own identity. Normal I would think. There will be many praying for this young man and his belief system. I am who I am, as a Christian, because believers prayed for me. A Christian for 26 years, my life has been anything but perfect! Galatians 5: Fruits of the Spirit and Romans 8:28 come to mind. I’m writing a book about how God heals. If I hadn’t lived what I have, I couldn’t Minister as I do. To those who have lost loved ones, the grieving. Love and compassion, Grace are qualities that come from trials overcome. God Bless all who read this. He is Real, salvation is possible for ALL sinners, and we are ALL sinners and fall short of the glory of God BUT John 3:16 speaks of Jesus dying and that ‘whosoever’ believes in Him- Jesus, God shall not perish, but have eternal life. My loss of a loved one motivates me to Joy in the reunion that Heaven offers. We don’t know Josh’s struggles as he enters adult life. This interview reeks of ‘ let’s bash ‘ a successful Church and use a rebellious teenager/ young adult to do it. When living in York in England in the 1980’s, a Church Minister/ Priest (perhaps a Methodist?) went public with his belief that God didn’t exist. Or was it The Holy Spirit? I forget, it’s been many years. What I don’t forget is that within a month of this Priest’s television/newspaper appearence, a real lightening bolt hit and burnt down that Church! I was an atheist at the time. Even I thought that God had replied. The world is full of believers and unbelievers. Rowan Atkinson said it well in a scit he did once. He was dressed in religious garments and sending New arrivals to different areas ( to be processed). He eyeballs the atheists and told them they must be feeling very silly about now! (ish). Something to think about. God Bless all who read this comment. Hope to see you in heaven. Robyn Bateman of Christchurch, New Zealand

    • Hi Robyn,

      Thanks for your comments. I don’t think it is fair to dismiss Josh’s views simply because he is younger than you. There are young fools and old fools and age doesn’t always correspond to wisdom. Josh is also now in his late 20’s so has had plenty of time to refine his views.

      If you’re writing a book about how god heals, presumably, you have already proven the existence of god? Something no one has ever been able to do! I await your proofs with great anticipation!

      When the lightning hit York Minster in 1984, it didn’t burn it down, it burnt some of the roof. It happened a few days after the Bishop of Durham questioned the literal truth of the virgin birth and other aspects of the bible. You’d have to be incredibly superstitious or gullible to believe that the two were connected. Apparently, god can aim a lightning bolt with great precision to burn a church roof but in the same year was unable to prevent the assassination of Indira Ghandi, the bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton, the horrific famines in Africa and a serial killer of beauty queens in the USA. Don’t tell me… god works in mysterious ways! If you were actually an atheist, you obviously wouldn’t have thought god had replied. You would have thought it was a funny coincidence.

      The Rowan Atkinson sketch is funny. Here’s a quote from him…
      “What is wrong with inciting intense dislike of a religion if the activities or teachings of that religion are so outrageous, irrational or abusive of human rights that they deserve to be intensely disliked?”
      (Rowan Atkinson speaking against blasphemy laws)

  5. Hi Dave. In response to your comment on my previous post. Rather than criticizing Josh for being young, I was concerned about the ethics of the interview itself. Young people are known to take time to transition from youth to adulthood. Finding our own belief system after being raised a certain way is a rite of passage I would think. Teens are not robots and should be encouraged to form their own view of the world. Asking me to prove the existence of God. Huge ask! Personal experience is, in my view, the only true test of whether God exists. God introduces Himself through the Bible, people who have a personal relationship with Him and by His Holy Spirit. I’m sure there are more ways. I became a born again Christian 26 years ago. Thanks for clarifying that it was York Minster Church that was struck by lightening 30 years ago, when I lived in York England. As a newly Wed Kiwi atheist, I didn’t pay much attention to that event as it was Church related and didn’t affect me as a (back then) non-believer. I see now that the fire damage to York Minster cost £ 2.55 million British pounds to repair- 30 years ago. Back then, that was around $6 -7 million NZ dollars. I have no idea how much that would be in today’s money. Yes, it was roof damage. It was reported back then that churchgoers feared the fire was a sign from God in response to the consecration at York Minster Church 3 days earlier of the Bishop of Durham, David Jenkins. He did not believe in the physical resurrection of Christ, or the virgin birth and had the nickname of the unbelieving Bishop. This man was 1 voice within the wider Church. His views did not catch on. 1st Corinthians 2:14 New Testament for Everyone Bible translation says: Someone living at the merely human level doesn’t accept the things of God’s Spirit. They are foolishness to such people, you see, and they can’t understand them because they need to be discerned Spiritually. When you compared acts of evil to a weather phenomenon, I was perplexed. When people perpetuate evil, they either choose to or have mental health issues. Often God gets blamed when people do things wrong. I wish we lived in a perfect world, but we don’t. Finding a Faith in God has not made my life perfect. It enables me to deal with bad experiences. Those at Arise Church who have faith should not be ridiculed by unbelieving people who don’t understand the things of God. Millions of people the world over have faith in God. Not all believe the same things. It’s up to God to explain himself to those who enquire of Him.

    • Hi Robyn. Like I said, Josh is in his late 20’s.

      “Feelings” are not reliable evidence. There’s a long and tragic history of religious cults who achieved what they did because… feelings.

      As I understand it, everything that happens is part of god’s plan. So there is no such thing as a “weather phenomenon” that isn’t part of his plan. That goes for human actions as well. After all… according to the bible, god did create evil.

      If you’re claiming that millions of people believing in god gives them something they lack, that may be true but truth is not a popularity contest.

  6. Arise church teach false doctrine and deceive hundreds of people. It is a very dangerous place, they also manipulate people into giving money to follow the vision and not the Word of God. If you attend it’s time to run.

    • Si Ed, sorry ,son but you are talking a lot of shite, and clearly have “issues” ! i suggest you read the bible and have an open mind and an open heart to receive Jesus as your Lord, and saviour and redeemer !

  7. I attended ARISE for the first time recently, and I loved it, it was quite different to what I have experienced in Church prior, but only in specifics – volume, preaching “style” (I’m talking more of cadence, and outward enthusiasm) but in essence it was Church. There were many people there, some of which were Christian, others who probably weren’t and that’s ok. My wife and I learned a lot, and were really happy to know our friends x who had moved on from going to church with us – were in a place where people valued the bible, and each other.

    It seems like this entire article is aimed at destroying belief rather than educating. It speaks on one individual’s experience, his “feelings” about the motives and methods, and why he is no longer a believer, which Dave appears to be right on board with, and yet when other people mention feelings, they are deemed as insufficient evidence, and unreliable in making a determination like the existence of God. That’s just an observation, or perhaps it’s my feelings and they’re unreliable in determining that. With regard to “proving the existence of God” it appears as if there is always the burden of proof on the believer, I’d be interested in seeing someone disprove His existence – I know, it’s cliche, and an atheist would see that as a weak attempt to hold on to something, but when all the believers evidence is aggressively explained away with words like “feelings” or when a healing takes place and the response is “the doctors must have messed up in the first place” what is left? Ultimately, I’m certain we would end up right back at a “he says, she says” point, and ultimately it will come down to faith, faith in God, or faith in self. That is the way it has always been, and will always be.

    Anyway, I find it disappointing that one bad experience (as a whole, even in lots of little things) with a Church – a group of people who can be flawed in behaviour despite belief – would be enough to sway someone toward abandonment of faith. That bad experience led to a wealth of investment in trying to disprove the existence of God for himself, and to then go public and demonise a church and its leaders is unfortunate and sad (I’m not calling the author sad, but the situation). I really hope that readers don’t get this article and make major decisions based on it, and I also hope that the author can at least reconcile with the church in the sense that he doesn’t continue to harbour this sentiment despite a different faith view.

    • Hi Micah,

      If you re-read the interview with Josh, you’ll see that he had carefully researched reasons for turning away from religion. I don’t think that anyone can seriously claim that feelings are a good pathway to finding the truth of anything, let alone the existence of a creator.

      The burden of proof is on the person making the claim. It is not for someone who finds no reason to believe in something to prove otherwise. For example, I could tell you that I can fly and you should just have faith in that. I’m not going to prove it to you. So is it true unless you can prove me wrong? Of course not.

      Regarding “healing”, the power of the placebo effect is certainly strong. Give me proof of someone regrowing an amputated limb and then we can talk about healing. Or is faith healing limited to effects that can’t be proven?

      I’d question how much effort you’ve put into researching reasons for the existence of any gods. If all you read are sources that promote faith, you’re not going to be able to make an informed decision. The investment is not in “disproving god” because gods have never been proven to exist. The investment is in finding out if there are actually any good reasons to believe gods exist. Like Josh, I have looked and found none. If you’ve never really asked the hard questions, you are right in saying that all you have is faith, not knowledge.

      • These so called churches are a dangerous abomination to God Josh. I made a decision to follow Jesus Christ 26 yrs ago when I was 15 yrs old. I’m a way stronger Christian in my faith today. I’ve seen it all mate, from the crazy roll around on the floor charismaniacs , to the crooked money hungry false teachers like Benny Hinn, and the modern ones like Rich Warren and Hillsong. The early Christians were humble authentic generous hard working people that were respected because of the persecution that was dealt out to them.
        My wife and I attended a great little church in Qld several yrs ago, where the Paster had come out of a Church similar to Arise. This guy had the courage to leave that church and expose it for what is was. We were taught how to actually study our Bible, and what we realised was that what these apostate churches were teaching was basically just narcissistic New Age philosophy. The people that run these Churches are false teachers who are there to make merchandise out of you like the Apostle Paul warned. Tithing for example is pushed in these false churches but in actual fact it was a Jewish law only for the Jews, and it was not money, but produce and livestock that was to be given to the Levites as that particular tribe was not given land as they were the Priests etc. But they won’t tell you that though.
        Most of these so called Christians in these Churches , are so Biblically illiterate it’s not funny.
        If you want to know God’s will for your life, open the Bible and start reading.
        These Churches like Arise will lead you on claiming they have a direct line to God, and they know how to manipulate you for their own agenda.Basically these pseudo churches are nothing more than businesses with a thin veneer of Christianity. My Wife and I stay away from these churches , but we have small home church and meet with other down to earth genuine people who take their faith seriously. Josh, I would challenge and encourage you to study your Bible, and look up rightly dividing , dispensation on the net and what it means.
        Jesus never promised those that put their faith in Him material prosperity, health and a “Your best life now” Jesus said, “ you will have many tribulations, but have heart, I have overcome the world”. The fact is that we are all sinners, God sent his Son Jesus Christ to die on the Cross and pay the price of sin in our place. There will be a Judgement Day Josh, but if we accept Jesus Christ as Lord of our life and Saviour , and turn and repent from our sins, we will not face Gods Judgement.
        Jesus is our robe of righteousness, It’s the righteousness of Christ that God sees.

        There is a great websit called fighting for the faith, it will give you a lot of perspective.

        Regards,

        Evan

  8. I had attended arise for 6 and a half years and was a devoted member. I had served in their church, given to the building of the new church as mentioned in joshs article as i wanted to raise my family there. But I recently had something terrible happen in my life which involved a criminal investigation. This church who preach love obviously helped me and supported me right? Nope they couldn’t be seen supporting me, it might’ve tainted their precious name! Completely shunned.

Leave a Reply