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Vanguard 16 at the Christian Witness Ministries Web Site
Christian Witness Ministries

Donning the Mask Again
the “restoration” of the fallen

IN view of the number of high pro-file scandals that have arisen in Christian circles over the past few years, it is not surprising that this issue has finally surfaced.

Indeed, we are surprised it has not come up sooner. Of course, what we are referring to is the treatment of those scandalous fellows who, having been exposed and disciplined as frauds or sexual predators or false teachers, or men guilty of immorality, decide that they want their ministries back.

There are two things that we would like to make clear right away. Firstly, in view of the unreasonably high salaries that some international ministers have commanded, it is not surprising that they should seek to stage a “come-back”. Secondly, it gives us no pleasure to publish this sort of article and we only do it because of a sense of responsibility to the body of Christ. Scripture instructs us to

“have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove (expose) them”
Eph 5:11

Restoration, like any other process is open to abuse. We at CWM are fully committed to the restoration of the fallen. This is an entirely honourable aim. So let us first establish some clear Bible based principles by which we can proceed.

Firstly, one who has sinned and been disciplined by the church and restored through sincere and proven repentance is welcomed back into fellowship.

"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in an offence, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted"
Galatians 6:1

"Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted by many. So that on the contrary you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps he should be swallowed up with too much sorrow.?? 2 Corinthians 2:6,7 Secondly, we differentiate between fellowship (ministry) and leadership (authority). Thus, any leader should meet the requirements listed in Timothy and Titus etc. in respect of conduct and reputation ? especially the one about reproach. Some, who have fallen may find repentance but may have forfeited their right to a position of leadership because their reputation is not beyond reproach. ?Do not receive an accusation against an elder, except before two or three witnesses. Those that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I charge you before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that you observe these things outside preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.? ? 1 Timothy 5:19-21 ?Moreover he (an elder) must have a good report from outsiders; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil?? 1 Timothy 3:7 Thirdly, because we differentiate be-tween the exercise of spiritual gifts and the exercise of authority in the church, if one who has sinned and been restored to fellowship has a recognised gift of teaching, then the oversight may choose to let him bring the word under their auspices and in full knowledge of his past. ?Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry,let us wait on our ministering: or he that teaches, on teaching; Or he that exhorts, on exhortation:?? Romans 12:6-8 Fourthly, acceptance by the congregation is important ? serious and consistent sin may render an individual, in the opinion of the oversight and the congregation, not fit to minister. Even if the person is thus re-stored to fellowship, the question of acceptance by the congregation is still important, as the congregation will not accept the ministry of one who is considered unworthy to minister. ?Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called?? Ephesians 4:1 ?That you might walk worthy of the Lord to all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God?? Colossians 1:10 Finally, the issue of reparations is important. Thus forgiveness by Christ and acceptance by the Body of Christ are not sufficient in the restoration of the individual. If one has stolen, that which was stolen must be returned. If one has sexually abused, there will be a penalty to pay under criminal or civil proceedings. If one has hurt another by one?s sin, there will be the need to compensate, again possibly through civil proceedings. Such reparations are essential, but often ignored under the false idea that they are made unnecessary by the work of the cross. ?Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loves another has fulfilled the law?? Romans 13:8 Having established these principles, albeit in a brief manner, let us proceed to analyse some case studies. In this article, we shall look at the following examples of discipline in the context of restoration: Ian Bilby, Roberts Liardon, Clark Taylor, Jim Williams and Frank Houston. While a good case can be made for the fact that each of the named is guilty of serious false teaching, or false prophecy, which should have excluded them long ago, the one ?sin? common to each is sexual immorality, which the Bible says is different from all other sins. It also carries with it social stigma which reflects upon the issues of reputation and ministerial acceptance: ?Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is outside the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body?? 1 Corinthians 6:18

Ian Bilby
Ian Bilby used to be the senior pastor of Auckland City Elim Church, and head of Elim in New Zealand. Bilby was found to be a serial adulterer over a period of at least two decades, while establishing his international ministerial reputation. This is the same per-son who, together with Gerald Coates (Pioneer - UK), predicted great earthquakes in Taupo, New Zealand and, in a fit of stupidity, placed a date for the prophecy to be fulfilled. This prophecy turned out to be false (quelle surprise!), a fact happily highlighted by the New Zealand national media thus discrediting many believers and the Church in general. On a personal note, Lisa Bhayro, wife of Vanguard’s editor, questioned Gerald Coates about false prophecy at Spring Harvest following this debacle. Coates’ response was that there is no such thing as false prophecy and he was, by all accounts, rather displeased at this line of questioning! Click HERE for the first part of our unmasked on Gerald Coates, in which this shameful episode is mentioned).

We are shocked that Bilby, having had so many affairs that a precise number can only be estimated (between ten and twenty), and having left a trail of hurt and emotional carnage in his wake, is angling to get back into the ministry. Here’s a report from New Zealand’s Challenge Weekly42 after which comes our analysis.
Former senior pastor of Auckland City Elim Church Ian Bilby, who resigned due to seasons of immorality, is coming back to an Auckland church. In 1998 Challenge Weekly published a statement from Auckland City Elim saying that he stepped back from all ministry due to a moral failure in his life. The damage was done to his spouse, to himself, his children, to the church, the cause of Christ and against the Lord God. An ex-work colleague and other sources close to the Bilby family told Challenge Weekly that there were between 10–20 women who had an affair with Mr Bilby or were preyed upon over some 20 years. Sin has a way of tripping up the best of men, even to the extent that a comeback seems impossible. What happens when a nationally well-known Christian church leader confesses to a moral failure in his life, even though he has a reputation for preaching on what is right and wrong, and decrying the breakdown of today’s marriages and family life? How does God respond to a good man who falls into a flagrant sin? Has God any use for such a person again?
Now, four years later, after a divorce, counselling in the US and living in Northland, reliable sources contacted Challenge Weekly saying that Mr Bilby is coming back on the Auckland church scene. Just over a year ago, Mr Bilby married Sophia, the former youth pastor of Auckland City Elim, and has been attending the Kaitaia Elim Church. Since February it has become a Destiny Church. Senior pastors Brian and Hannah Tamaki told Challenge Weekly that when the Kaitaia Destiny Church was launched, to their surprise they saw Ian amongst the congregation. He was going along there as part of his four years of sitting back. “That’s how we made the initial contact. I believe it was no coincidence. If there is a church that can start to restore what was done wrong, that was broken and fallen, that is us! It is from then onwards that Hannah and I have had frequent time with Ian and Sophia. That rekindled a relationship which goes way back,” explains Brian.
Brian has invited Ian and his new wife, to come to their Auckland Destiny Church. “He’s coming in here and being part of this ministry but not in a leadership role. He has totally submitted himself to Destiny Church. We will draw from his resources and he will be working directly with me. He is accountable to me, and one of my senior pastors as well. We want to begin to bring a process of full restoration. I think personally the full deal of restoration is not just repenting and counselling, and proving this is right over a period of time, but also to be restored back to ministry. To whatever that level is. To disqualify somebody forever, even after having repented, and shown the fruit over a number of years, that is not right.” Another chance “I think a lot of the problem is not whether or not he has properly repented and been restored, but with those who feel robbed or betrayed. That is more the issue, I think. Of course someone can be forgiven and given another chance. The fact that he got married again to this person from his past, I’ve come to terms with. I wouldn’t have accepted them here at Destiny, if I didn’t think there wasn’t something there between them and God. To the end of my probing him, I came to a point where I was reasonably satisfied. I know that some people will comment and that is their freedom. I’m big enough to take that. The criticism is fine but I’ve got to trust God that somehow I’m involved in a restoration process that I haven’t walked before either.”
Deep concern
Pastor Luke Brough from Auckland East City Elim Church, and president of the Elim National Executive, commented that the Elim Church of NZ has not been consulted regarding the return of Ian Bilby to ministry. “Our position at this time would be one of deep concern, particularly as there has never been any expression of sorrow or regret from Ian to the Elim National Leader-ship Team for his actions. Church leadership is a position of trust, and although there is certainly forgiveness for those who repent, when that trust has been broken, it is not necessarily wise to place that person back into a leadership position. Consideration must also be given to the people and families that were affected by Ian’s actions,” says Mr Brough.
Brian Tamaki says he is aware of the sensitive nature of bringing back Mr Bilby to where he came from. “Do you think I would jeopardise the presence of this church by bringing in someone who I thought, hadn’t done the work of repentance? At the same time, I believe there are very few churches who have the ability or depth, to be able to properly restore broken and fallen ministries in this country. I’m not saying it is the fault of the church in NZ, but somewhere a church has to begin to make some steps towards that reconciliation and the full process of recovering and restoring a broken and fallen ministry. Who is to know that after six months Ian trusts me enough, and the time has come for him to face Auckland City Elim and do what he needs to do,” says Mr Tamaki.

But the big question remains, what does the immediate family think of all this, and all those other people involved who were terribly hurt and had to go through the worst couple of years in their lives? They are alarmed and mortified by the idea that Mr Bilby and his new wife are coming back to the scene where it all began four years ago.

Brian Tamaki, the man responsible for bringing Bilby back, is a New Zealand televangelist whose organisation is experiencing impressive rates of growth. He is getting much media attention, thus making him a perfect “target” for another shameful scandal. But that aside the basic question remains, “Is the discipline and proposed ‘restoration’ of Ian Bilby biblical?” In trying to provide a reasonable answer to that question two others suggest themselves, based on the Scriptures listed above:

1. Did the Elim authorities act biblically when they instituted the discipline of Bilby in the first place and did their role and responsibility cease at that point?

“Those that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear”
1 Timothy 5: 20

This question and the quoted Bible text take us right back to the start of the process after Bilby was found guilty. There seems to be no doubt that he was guilty. The Weekly Challenge article refers to a period when Bilby was “sitting back” as “part of his four years” discipline. It seems clear that Tamaki, the man who is now initiating the “restoration” of Bilby did recognise the required period of discipline, which presumably was instituted by Elim – certainly not by Tamaki. The primary question remains: Was Bilby publicly rebuked? If so, was the rebuke in the terms and before those whom Paul had in mind in his instruction to Timothy?

The context of 1 Tim 5:20 relates to leaders (elders) within the local church. Paul the apostle is instructing Timothy in his Church planting and pastoral work how to deal with the sins and failures of local Church leaders (elders). In view of the fact that God in-spires all scripture, and we do not have any other guideline in relation to leaders on this matter in the Bible, this text is pertinent and vitally important to what we are discussing. If the start of the process is faulty then everything that proceeds will be flawed.

From our knowledge of the case (Philip Powell was in New Zealand when Ian Bilby was exposed and disciplined) Bilby was not “rebuked before all.” It would appear at best he was rebuked before his colleagues and not in front of his local church congregation. Paul had the local church in view when he told Timothy to rebuke a leader who had sinned, “before all” and he had the local church in mind when he spoke about restoration in 2 Cor 2:6, 7. Now that we live in a “global village”, in which some Church leaders, such as Bilby, operate internationally, to “rebuke before all” means more than the local church congregation, but it MUST include the local church congregation other-wise the instruction is meaningless. The end result “that others may fear” is completely lost.

Are we in danger of missing something that is crucial in the entire disciplining and restoration process if we fail to do what Paul told Timothy must be done? I think we are.

Take the case of Bilby. If at the outset he had been rebuked in front of his congregation with the details of his sin and the terms of his discipline being spelled out and that information had been given to “all” on the national and international scene where he was known and had “ministered” would we be facing the scenario that Brian Tamaki has created in this so called “restoration” process? I think not. Would we by doing as Paul requires contribute to an atmosphere of the “fear of the Lord”? I think so.

The rightful disciplining body is the local church and the rightful restoring agency must of necessity be that same local church. To depart from this is to depart from biblical procedure and to endanger the intrusion of cronyism and nepotism, which have invaded the Christian Church to the point where impartiality in judgement has been jettisoned. This ultimately incurs the wrath of God almighty.

I am not suggesting that denominational “hierarchies” should not be involved, but I am suggesting that the local church must be involved both in the discipline and in the restoration. Indeed, such denominational hierarchies did not exist in the New Testament church, so the entire process was meant to be conducted by the local church. If it was true then, I can see no biblical reason for it not to be true today.

2. How do Elim and Destiny measure repentance and forgiveness? Who deter-mines the ground rules and decides where the goal posts are?

“You shall not commit adultery”
Exodus 20:14

“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is outside the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body”
1 Corinthians 6:18

“And I say to you, Whoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marryanother, commits adultery: and whoever marries her which was put away commits adultery”
Matthew 19:9

“Moreover he (an elder) must have a good report among those who are outside; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil’
1 Timothy 3:7

Ian Bilby is a divorced and remarried man. He was a high profile church leader, pastor of the largest Elim Church in New Zealand at that time, and president of the Elim movement in that country. He failed to observe the instruction (command) of 1 Cor 6: 18 and as a result “sinned” against his own body repeatedly.

In the light of his undisputed numerous incidents of “adultery” it is impossible that he should claim the exceptive clause of Matt 19: 9, which means that biblically he is living in a state of continuous “adultery”. Can he in any sense of 1 Tim 3:7 “have a good report” of anyone, within or outside the Church?

So in summary — this entire sad scenario of Ian Bilby reflects in the first instance on ELIM. Did they act biblically? Secondly, it reflects on this comparatively new denomination called DESTINY and on Brian Tamaki. Is Tamaki biblically correct to initiate or even think of restoring Bilby to ministry?

Sadly like so many church leaders it would appear that Tamaki mixes forgiveness, which only God can grant, with standards of leadership, which God has provided in the Bible.

Thirdly, it reflects hugely on Bilby himself who, having brought disgrace upon himself, his family, his former local church and de-nomination, is now allowing himself to be put forward for reinstatement into the “ministry” from which on a number of causes he is biblically excluded.

We can imagine the awful shame that Ian’s first wife, their family, those other women, families and the Auckland and New Zealand Elim must feel at the reopening of this deep wound and we can only wonder that any man would want to put anyone through that.
Roberts Liardon
Roberts Liardon is a prominent Charismatic leader based in California, who “confessed” to a homosexual relationship and “stepped down” from the ministry. He was “disciplined” in December 2001 and was back ministering by March 2002 — three months later — to a standing ovation of those who remained in the Church. Just in case you think I have spelt Liardon’s first name incorrectly, I should point out that he is called Roberts in honour of Oral Roberts, from whose “University” he graduated.

He claims to have been taken to heaven as a boy, where he had a water fight with Jesus in the River of Life (see William Alnor’s Heaven Can’t Wait: A Survey of Alleged Trips to the Other Side).

Vanguard previously published published an analysis of Liardon as part of our Unmasked series on Colin Dye

The following report comes from the Charisma News Serviceweb pages and is dated Monday, March 11th, 2002 (http://

Pastor and writer Roberts Liardon preached yesterday at his church for the first time since he stepped down three months ago after admitting to a “moral failure.” The founder of Embassy Christian Centre in Irvine, Calif., gave a 30-minute message on keeping the faith. In December, Liardon confessed to a short-term homosexual relation-ship with the church’s youth pastor, John Carrette.

“Those around me asked me to come,” Liardon said yesterday. He received a 30-second standing ovation from about 650 people. Liardon, 36, told the Embassy congregation that his appearance was “just for one Sunday. I am still working with my counselling.”

While not addressing any specific situation, Liardon said: “[We have] gone through some great dramatics in the last few months...Our church has gone through a crisis...but it is [going to be] OK. God is in charge...He does not come to destroy. He comes to lift you.”

Liardon later told “Charisma” that his counsellors, particularly El Paso, Texas, pastor Charles Nieman, had encouraged him to preach, and it fit the schedule to do so at this time. Liardon made the announcements and took an offering at previous services, but yesterday’s was his first sermon.

About one-quarter of Embassy members, as well as Bible college students and missionaries, have left the church since Liardon’s admission.

Okay – this raises some interesting questions. Let us assume that Liardon has truly repented and demonstrated a new life over the three months of his exclusion from ministry. We would not in principle want to exclude him from ministering, so long as it is under the authority of godly elders, on account of a “moral failure”, but we would certainly urge that he is excluded from minis-try on account that he is a false teacher.

But then again, why should an American Charismatic movement steeped in heresy do this? The question of acceptability comes into play here, and it is clear that at least a quarter of Liardon’s former followers no longer find him acceptable.

It is a shame that they find his homo-sexuality unacceptable, but not his blasphemy – if we accept that some sins are worse than others, which do you think is worse?
Clark Taylor, Jim Williams, Frank Houston
CWM has referred to these names before*1 so we won’t labour the matter, but give some brief background detail followed by a few comments on issues of biblical discipline. Those who wish to investigate further should contact the Australian CWM office — see front cover — for the publications’ date of the proposed booklet about the Houstons and Hillsong.

All three cases underscore the fact that if things are not dealt with biblically at the start they will fester and become ugly. Each reflects on church leadership at the highest level. None of the three men was rebuked in front of his congregation and there was no provision for the local church to be involved in any restoration process. Only the denominational hierarchy and the local church leadership at most were in any way involved. This is not biblical discipline.

The cases of Williams and Houston are somewhat unusual in terms of the past, as they involve two different countries, New Zealand and Australia, and four different local churches – Hamilton and Brisbane in the case of Williams and Lower Hutt and Sydney in that of Houston. This scenario could become more common as travel in-creases. Clark Taylor has passed through various disciplines and at least two at-tempted restorations. He appears to be a law unto himself having made another come back as a twice divorced and remarried man who has returned to his first wife and now ‘pastors’ a large independent congregation in South Brisbane.

Jim Williams succeeded Frank Houston as General Superintendent of Assemblies of God in New Zealand, a position which each held for a number of years. Williams was a friend and close confidante of Ian Bilby. The Australian AoG has disciplined both Williams and Houston for admitted serious sexual immorality, which occurred when they held high office in their denominations. Official letters written on 15 November 1993, 21 December 2001 and 24 December 2001 make this abundantly clear.

There are disparities and contradictions in each of these two cases, which exacerbate an already very bad situation and these reflect on the biblical requirement regarding discipline in both cases and restoration in one. First let’s have a look at the case of Clark Taylor.
Clark Taylor (CT)
CWM published a short article headed DISGRACED PASTOR SETS UP CHURCH. Quoting Brisbane’s Courier Mail we informed our readers that Clark Taylor former head of Christian Outreach Centres (COC), who was deposed in 1990 for admitted “multiple acts of adultery”was back with a congregation of 750 in South Brisbane’s Bible belt. Since then his church has continued to grow to a claimed 1,000 strong congregation each Sunday and another church plant on the Sunshine Coast.

Mr Taylor is a twice divorced and remarried man who has on advice returned to and remarried his first wife. Rumour has it that he was told that if he returned to his first wife God would restore his ministry. It is also alleged that a large sum of money was given to him to start again.

CWM has in its files a number of news-paper cuttings, which tell the Clark Taylor story. He commenced COC in 1974 in the lounge of a Brisbane home. He claims that he was converted when he cried out to God to save him as he dangled on the horns of a bull while mustering cattle in the outback. “Right then an Aboriginal stockman caught the bull and saved his bacon.”

A former Methodist minister Taylor teamed up with Trevor Chandler who formed Christian Life Centres International (CLCI). When he got the run of things Clark left Trevor to start his own church and denomination, which grew to a point where it was known as the largest “fundamentalist church” in Australia. The local COC in Brisbane boasted a congregation of 5,000 in its heyday (pardon the pun, with all that about the “bull”).

Brisbane’s Sunday Mail (November 11, 1990) featured a story about Clark Taylor’s change of “calling”. “FROM LORD OF PSALMS TO KING OF PALMS, WITH A FLOCK THAT KEEPS ON GROWING” is the catchy headline. The opening reads thus:

“THE disgraced former leader of Queens-land’s fastest growing hot-gospel church has swapped singing psalms to become the State’s undisputed King of Palms. Former Christian Outreach Centre head Mr Clark Taylor, who resigned earlier this year when a series of sex scandals came to light, has shrugged the setback by setting up a vast wholesale nursery selling exotic plants around Australia.”

This is the article that reports the story of the Aboriginal who saved Taylor’s bacon from the horns of his dilemma, but that was not his only dilemma by all accounts.

Brisbane’s Courier Mail (Saturday, February 20, 1993) features a story about Clark under the heading NEW CHURCH FOR SHAMED TV MINISTER. We are told in this article that Clark Taylor who resigned in “disgrace after revelations of an extra-marital affair with a member of his flock” three years previous is “back behind the pulpit” as “head pastor of the Victory Christian Centre with a congregation of more than 200.” In respect of the original discipline three years previous the newspaper explains, “Mr Taylor did not confront his Mansfield Congregation when he resigned; instead his brother, Max, read out a letter of resignation to the shocked followers.” It also reports “Church officials” as confirming that Mr Taylor had a previous “sex scandal” in 1979 when he was cautioned by “senior pastors” and for which he asked his congregation “for forgiveness at the time”. According to the newspaper report Taylor was preaching regularly at his Mansfield congregation and appearing on television in the Church’s A New Way of Living programme when the affair happened. Okay – so in this case study what we see is a series of disciplines and “restorations”. One newspaper reports a Church official Mr Myers as saying, “The first matter was considered by the Oversight (senior pastors) who unanimously agreed to allow Clark, who had sought forgiveness to continue preaching.” That was the 1979 incident. Later when he resigned in 1990 Clark’s brother read a letter of resignation in Clark’s absence. He made some sort of a come back in 1993 and then again fell by the way side. Now since May 2001 he is back with a congregation of 1000 and once more he is appearing on Television with all his false teaching and manifestations associated with being “slain in the spirit” and “words of knowledge” etc. Obviously Clark Taylor is getting older which may affect his life style, but he’s still continuing his heretical “word of knowledge” and “slaying in the spirit” activity.
Jim Williams (JW):
In the case of Williams the letter of notice (15/11/93) states that suspension from all forms of ministry for two years was, “Because of the serious nature and pattern of sin, the high profile and responsibility he (JW) has held, the long term concealment of his sin, and the requirement for discipline as set down by the Conference …”. Amazingly the only condition for a “return to ministry” was that JW should not disturb his former congregation in any way. There is no reference to real fruit of repentance, just the simple requirement that he did not disturb (whatever that means) the congregation of the church of which he was formerly the Senior Pastor.

Philip Powell, National General Secretary of AoG in Australia from 1989 to 1992 and a contributor to this article recalls that during his time in office a two-year suspension was seen as one of the lowest forms of discipline that was supposed to be imposed on anyone in ministry who committed immorality. The most severe was expulsion from the ministry in which connection it was explicitly stated that anyone guilty of multiple offences could be removed from the ministry permanently. Powell comments, “There appears to be a clear case of cronyism here. The judgment in my view was not impartial and therefore it was not biblical. In addition the condition imposed for a return to ministry, though absurd and totally inadequate could not possibly have been met seeing that JW, on reinstatement to the ministry became pastor of a break-away assembly just five or six miles distant from his previous local church, which was actually formed by those who left the Garden City Christian Churchat or about the time of his discipline.”

Bad as this is the matter gets worse. On 21 December 2001, eight years after the first official letter of discipline relating to JW, R Wayne Hughes then General Superintendent of AoG in New Zealand issued a letter in which he referred to Frank Houston (see below) and to Jim Williams, of whom he wrote: “Although he has been disciplined, stood down for two years, and reinstated by Australian A/G, he is not released to minister in our New Zealand churches because of the number of offences over a lengthy period of time in our country, and the fact that some of his victims would have difficulty in seeing him in a position of trust.”

Wayne Hughes’ use of the word “victims” has ominous overtones, which are bound to raise questions as to what future disclosures may occur.

If you read the letter at the above URL you will see that it effectively bans Williams and Houston, both former AoG General Superintendents, from public ministry in New Zealand Assemblies of God for life. The situation is very different in Australia where Williams was banned (suspended) for only two years and where he has been ministering in a large AoG in South Brisbane since his reinstatement to ministry. Confusion reigns.

A major default in this process is the non-involvement of the local church in any rebuke of JW before his congregation (start of discipline) and in any restoration. If leaders do not follow the biblical model of the discipline of erring leaders it is inevitable that conjecture and gossip will ensue. A clear public rebuke “before all”, stating the basic details at the outset, will avoid much of this. We cannot be wiser than the Bible.
Frank Houston (FH):
While disagreeing with their New Zealand counterparts in respect of Jim Williams the Australian AoG agree in respect of Frank Houston and have banned him from ministry for life (see letter 24/12/2001 written by John Lewis Vice President AoG Australia).

Frank Houston, from a biblical perspective should have been rebuked in front of the Sydney Christian Life Centre (CLC) congregation and also in front of the Lower Hutt Assembly of God at the time of his discipline, towards the end of 1999. He was not. As a result shocking information about the nature of his sin has gradually seeped through. The letter of notice written by John Lewis on 24/12/2001, more than twelve months after the imposition of discipline (why the delay?) failed to disclose the nature of the sin and the reason for the severe discipline, which was in effect expulsion from the ministry though it is not stated as such. The letter is couched in terms of cronyism which is a denial of the clear teaching of Scripture e.g. Ezekiel 18: 24-26

Sadly what is now emerging in the case of Frank Houston are allegations of paedophilia. The latest is a new charge from a certain Peter Fowler who for almost twelve months has been trying to meet with the AoG hierarchies in New Zealand and Australia. Fowler alleges that he has discovered others who allege sexual abuse by FH. At the time of going to press we understand that Peter Fowler has met the NZ AoG but the Houstons are refusing to meet him. We also understand that the AoG in New Zealand have agreed that Peter Fowler’s allegations against FH are valid.

Okay – so Frank Houston the highflying church planter who was touted an apostle by David Cartledge*2 and other of the National AoG Executive members in Australia has been permanently removed from ministry. So why are we commenting seeing this is not a case of restoration?

For two reasons: Firstly because this case again demonstrates the wisdom of the biblical instruction about disciplining a leader. If FH had been rebuked before all at the outset many would have been saved from the shock of the later discoveries as to the nature of his sin. Secondly the on-going influence of Frank Houston’s false teaching contained on tapes and in his books would have been reduced. Re-cently Philip Powell asked the Koorong Bookshop in Brisbane if they stocked any books byFrank Houston. The assistant manager check-ed on her computer and discovered his “Release of the Human Spirit”. She knew nothing of the recent disclosures about the author and was quite shocked at the information.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?

Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you shall know them”
Matt 7:15-20
In summary
These cases, with the possible exception of that of Roberts Liardon, demonstrate that the basic fault was failure to carry out the biblical requirement to rebuke a sinning leader (elder) “before all that others also may fear”(1 Tim 5:20). This should apply to both immorality and heresy. All of the above case studies reflect on the basic biblical requirement that a Christian leader be above reproach in matters of conduct and character. They also reflect on the question of marital status, especially in the cases of Ian Bilby and Clark Taylor.

“Don't you know that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid. What? Don’t you know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body? For two, said he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is outside the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body. What? Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, which you have from God, and you are not your own? For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s”
1 Cor 7:15-20

“For this cause I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed you: If anyone is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused dissoluteness or insubordination. For an overseer must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not quick tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, self control-led; Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the contrary”
Titus 1:4-9

“When a man has taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he has found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorce, and give it into her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she has departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorce, and give it into her hand, and send her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and you shall not bring sin to the land, which the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance”
Deuteronomy 24:1-4

It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness”
Proverbs 16:12

Gloria Deo.
*1 Jim Williams see
http://www/c-w-m/aog/ pf_emails.html Frank Houston see
http://www/c-w-m/aog/ pf_emails.html;
http://www/c-w-m/archives/ cetf2002/accd02.html;
http://www/c-w-m/archives/ van2002/houston2_15.html;
http://www/c-w-m/ archives/cetf1995/ezekiel.html;
http://www/c-w-m/ aog/hillsong0.html;
http://www/c-w-m/aog/ db_art.
html; http://www/c-w-m/aog/hillsong3.html;
http://www/c-w-m/archives/cetf2000/ aust00tour.html;
http://www/c-w-m/archives/ van2000/houston1.html Clark Taylor see
http://www.c-w-m/archives/cetf2001 /tongues01.html

OR use the SEARCH Field

* 2 See The Apostolic Revolution © David Cartledge 2000.
Published by Paraclete Institute, pp125-128, 140-153 (especially 145 — quote “Most people within the entire Penetecostal movement in Australia and New Zealand, and in many other parts of the world recognise Frank Houston as a proven apostle.”)
The latter statement is monstrously untrue

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Appeared in Issue 16 Vanguard - May 2003
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