An Open Letter to the Church
from Tony Dean
Former Producer / Host of The Sounds of Sunday - 107.9 Life FM
Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
It is with deep
sorrow that I issue this Open Letter to the Church collective. Sadly it has
become necessary to do so in order that the truth, which some seem determined
to conceal, be revealed. Effective
2 Timothy 4:1 I solemnly call on you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge those who are living and those who are dead. I do this because Christ Jesus will come to rule the world.
2 Timothy 4:2 Be ready to spread the word whether or not the time is right. Point out errors, warn people, and encourage them. Be very patient when you teach.
2 Timothy 4:3 A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear.
2 Timothy 4:4 People will refuse to listen to the truth and turn to myths.
2 Timothy 4:5 But you must keep a clear head in everything. Endure suffering. Do the work of a missionary. Devote yourself completely to your work.
As most of you already know I have never supported the “Idol” music series Australian or otherwise. I firmly contend that the exercise was at best little more than a huge money spinner for promoters and telecommunication companies alike with net profits from SMS calls ALONE raking in over $A9 million. At worst I contend it was and continues to be an ostentatious violation of the second commandment. Added to that, the competition, because of its multiple vote facility was always open to exploitation and corruption from self interested groups as is evidenced in other countries which host such programs. Sadly a large portion of these self-interested parties (with the Australian Idol series at least) were professing believers. I am sure Satan is in hysterics.
I maintained from the outset that the program was an illegitimate format for determining a national talent and I stand by that affirmation. What disturbs me most however is the unethical behaviour of so many professing believers in their voting for Guy Sabastian on the basis of his faith rather than his talent. The fact remains that only one twentieth of the Australian population participated in the voting process making the conclusion an overwhelming minority view, however it was always the agenda of certain groups which by far disturbed me the most. It has been my stand against this series and the behaviour of some of its “hangers on”, which has brought about the cessation of my ministry to the Father through 107.9 Life FM, the details of which follow in this Open Letter.
I caution the following is not edifying reading. It is ugly and disturbing but nonetheless factual. I am issuing it because I care about the truth and desire you to know it - nothing more. I am not soliciting a revolt against my detractors by proxy, nor am I seeking sympathy. My sole objective herein is to reveal the truth. What you do with that is for your own prayerful consideration.
In mid November 2003, I received several bulk mailed letters from the Paradise Community Church (PCC) promoting and very much supporting Guy Sabastian's Australian Idol quest for secular stardom. It galls me to inform you that one of those letters (from the Senior Pastor) might as well have been a fan club flyer because Guy's name appeared in almost every paragraph. In that particular letter, members of the PCC were urged to tell all they came in contact with that this, (the PCC) was “Guy's church”, quote: “It is imperative that you tell everyone this is Guy's church.” At this point I must stress that not all at the PCC share that affirmation. I wholeheartedly applaud one youth leader in particular at the PCC who stood before the gathered teen throng and proclaimed, “This is NOT Guy's church, it's God's church”. Thankfully sanity prevailed in the midst of the all the dizzying, stupefying hysteria.
About a week or so after the Guy “fan mail”, I received an email from a mature aged student of the PCC's bible college informing me that they (the bible college students) were all spending class time “frantically sending SMS votes in for Guy to win”. Suddenly a quest for musical talent became one for philosophical supremacy. I received several other emails from “Christians” calling for me to support Guy's efforts on my program. I flatly refused to do so because frankly, I find such behaviour ethically dishonest.
It was saturation advertising for the PCC who were unashamedly capitalizing on the occasion to promote themselves, ostensibly with a view to getting people through their doors to hear the . . . mmmm “gospel”. To that end I don't really have much of a problem except for some foundational issues.
Please note what I'm about to say is a general statement based on long term observations in a variety of so called “Christian” denominations, I don't wish to indict any particular fellowship . . . because frankly, they'd violate Scripture more than they already have and sue me - but I have to say that I am VERY deeply disturbed at the direction the “church” is taking in these last days. Folks . . it is DRUNK with vanity! Instead of GOING into the world to preach the gospel, it took the lazy option of opening its doors TO the world and in the process - BECAME LIKE IT!
I fear the “church collective” is offering a cheap gospel, which affords little thought of the preparation of the soil as outlined in Matthew 13. I understand that will raise the ire in some but I ask you hear me out. In some circles “conversion” has most assuredly become little more than an assembly line with new converts walking out of services with a crossed finger kind of faith. Enduring a garish gospel about a cotton candy christ. To some, the Lord of Hosts appears to be more of a buddy or pal rather than the Sovereign Creator. The reverence is gone.
Contrary to the opinion of many it would seem, it is difficult to be saved. It is far more complicated than merely raising a hand and praying a prayer. There needs to be a deep soul conviction, a genuine penitence and a faithful, sacrificial following thereafter - a longing to perform His will and obey His law. For this to happen there needs to first be a sound teaching of the doctrine of sin and the need for sincere repentance from a contrite heart. The soul needs preparation, serious spade work, the cost of discipleship must be counted as one counts the cost for building a house, not a wham, bam thank you ma'am quicky conversion. I fear many are labouring under a delusion of a false salvation and it grieves my heart.
Soon after these letters there came an email from the PCC promoting an upcoming service. The email, with a picture of Guy on it read . . . “Come and listen to Guy songs, Guy film clips, Guy this, Guy that, an awesome band featuring Guy's brother Ollie, etc, etc”
That was the straw that broke the camel's back. Folks, the church (that is the collective body of believers worldwide) is commanded to be a restraining influence against sin in the world, instead in many ways the church has joined the world, adopting its methods, priorities and even desires. The Bible calls this behaviour “Trimming Their Ways” (Jeremiah 2:33) and it is sin - SIN. That Australian Idol was and continues to be the embodiment of biblical idolatry is beyond refutation. That witless Christians are so willing to openly participate in such a gluttonous violation of the second commandment is absolutely unbelievable!
I replied to the email saying (in as many words) that the PCC's collective obsession with Guy Sabastian's rise to secular stardom was bordering on idolatry and was at the very least a demonstration of partiality and that its stand could not be defended from Scripture.
It is important to remember from this point onward that at NO time was I speaking on behalf of Life FM, or in any “official” capacity thereabouts. It was a private email of protest sent from my private email address. And it really shouldn't have mattered either way, after all this is still a democracy is it not? Well, apparently there are those who think otherwise.
During the week that followed a concert was held in the City featuring Guy Sebastian. Despite the questionable intelligence of some parents who allowed their unsupervised 12 year old daughters to queue in Rundle Mall from 3 am that morning (and in some cases earlier) to see their “Idol”, and despite the 40 plus degree temperatures on the day which saw in excess of 60 kids treated for heat exhaustion and more importantly one hospitalised on life support, the concert went ahead and so did the promotion of the PCC. The irony of the fact that a literal life was very nearly sacrificed to a literal “idol” seems to have escaped the attention of most. How tragic that liberalism makes light of the fundamental and blinds itself to the obvious in the process! Folks, this is how apostasy is made possible - through arrogance and pride!
Two weeks later I received an email from the PCC in response to my protest. Without going into detail the email was rather condescending with the writer seemingly oblivious to any wrongdoing. I sent a lengthy reply outlining the Scriptural basis for my contentions. I pointed out that the message they (PCC) were sending was that they were a church who recognised and respected persons of prominence and standing. I went on to point out that partiality of any kind is expressly forbidden biblically. The Father is no respecter of persons and neither should His children be. With regard to the evangelisation aspect I stated that the end does not justify the means and that they (in this instance) had misused Paul's proclamation to become all things to all men that he might win some for the gospel, because the same Paul commanded believers to flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:14). I also invited the pastor concerned along with the senior pastor of the PCC to discuss the issue with me over coffee. There came no reply.
Two weeks later I received a rather curt email from the then CEO of Life FM, Wendy Rush demanding to discuss with me my correspondence with the PCC. It would appear an unidentified person had taken my private communication with this pastor and secreted it to her.
I phoned Wendy the
following day (December 13, 2003) and expressed my concern that she was
involved in the issue emphasizing my comments were private and not at
any time representative of Life FM. She did not appear to be interested in my
explanation nor in pointing out where she felt I was in error Scripturally concerning my protest of Australian Idol and
the PCC's over indulgence in it. She simply stated that the Station did not
agree with my views, that I had no right to express such views (funny, last
time I looked this was a democracy) and that the PCC was now, “reviewing
their financial relationship with Life FM”. She said, “I
can't trust you so I'm taking you off air indefinitely”.
Just as a footnote to that, I found it rather intriguing that immediately following Wendy's decision to suspend my broadcasts, all incoming correspondence to me, both written and electronic ceased and links to my private email address from the Life FM website became inactive. It would appear someone had a vested interest in cutting me off and keeping me quiet.
The following day I phoned the pastor concerned and asked him how we could resolve the issue. It became very clear very quickly that a resolution could only be achieved if I recanted and towed the “party line”. He declined to argue his point from Scripture preferring rather to underscore his stand with comments such as, "we've always done it that way" and “your comments were a minority view and mere negative stuff”. How tragic when tradition nullifies the Word of God! (Mark 7:13) How sad when we are unable or unwilling to accept correction because of our assumed popularity (Proverbs 15:10). And here's where it gets curious. During the course of our conversation Mark made mention of the fact that one person in particular was particularly peeved with my criticism of the PCC - in fact Mark's description of this particular individual's reaction to my comments to them was that of “ropeability”. What you may find interesting is that that person was the Chairman of Life FM's Board of Directors, a wealthy property developer by the name of Peter Harris, also Chairman of the Family First Party and wait for it . . . faithful member of the Paradise Community Church. Pew . . is that an odor of conflict of interests I smell??? You'll never know folks because one thing the AOG do exceedingly well is close ranks and make like sanctified bike racks! - Kind of an out of sight, out of mind deal - and they've been doing it for years!
For a second time I invited him to meet with me to discuss the issue face to face - 6 months later I am yet to hear from him. I heard nothing more from Wendy for 5 and a half months, not a single word! After receiving many emails from listeners complaining about the current content of the Sounds of Sunday and curious as to what was happening (many of whom said their emails and letters to the Station had not been replied to), I wrote to Wendy asking her how much longer she intended enforcing my exile. She responded with a list of demands which essentially required me to be unfaithful to the Father and to His calling on my life - to compromise the truth for the sake of ecumenical unity and to not say or do anything which would either cause “conflict” or be harmful to Life FM's financial livelihood.
I pointed out to Wendy that in the Father's economy it is unacceptable for obstinacy to follow an accusation of error. Scripturally, when one is supposedly taken in a fault those identifying the transgression (assuming they are indeed spiritual) are commanded to restore the one in error. (Galatians 6:1), of course that presupposes the defining of such an error. Because no such definition has been forthcoming in my case I am forced to conclude that I am not in error and, that among those who opposed me there are none spiritual.
Please feel free to quote me on this . . . “Safe” Christianity is not Christianity at all, it is cowardice and I refuse to be part of an army that is marching in retreat to the enemy's drum! So I invoked Matthew 10:14-15 against both Wendy personally and those who supported her decision - who, it would appear, are many. I am still waiting for her to explain to me from the Father's Word where my supposed error lies.
On the 20th of May
How tragic that the Lord's Church (across denominations) seems to be more concerned with her image than her heart. This is the hallmark of apostasy!
I am stunned by the rudeness, the ignorance and arrogance of those involved. It is a large stretch for me to believe I have actually been dealing with believers. I grieve for those who are no longer being fed, those for whom the Sounds of Sunday was church, and I was hurting personally that not one of those at Life FM with whom I worked for nearly 11 years have bothered to say a word to me - not a single word until I learned recently that my departure had been shrouded in a cloak of silence with most there absolutely unaware of the details. There has been a closing of the ranks and frankly I am absolutely stunned by it all.
I do not intend launching a campaign against Life FM. By their compromise, worldliness and failure to follow biblical dispute resolution protocols I believe they have sealed their own fate.
So in closing, may I take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your unfailing support over these many years, your prayers and kind words have been of great comfort to my children and myself. Words cannot adequately express my gratitude to each of you individually. I commend you to His grace and pray His abundant blessings upon you one and all. May the Father carry you in His own everlasting arms unto that great day when our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ returns for His own.
Until such time I remain yours,
In His Everlasting Embrace
Read Resignation Notification HERE