If there is one thing I believe the Church as a whole would benefit from, it is open dialogue. Too often, the Church finds itself shutting down debate on important issues. Those who have been prepared to speak out against the status quo have been branded trouble-makers, malcontents and even heretics. Throughout the centuries, many of these "heretics" have put to death merely for the crime of calling for accountability.
If one looks at the history of the Church, freedom of thought and speech has often been prevented when the Church was at its most powerful. It is interesting to note that while the Reformation was just starting to develop, John Calvin led the charge for religious freedom. However, as the Reformed community in Geneva grew in influence and power, the same John Calvin used the full weight of his influence to prevent the freedom of individuals to express opinions about the Bible that disagreed with his understanding. As is well documented, Calvin even played a pivotal role in the execution of the dissident Michael Servetus. Many of his followers even today have embraced similarly censorious approaches to opinions that conflict with their own. If nothing else, it is good to see that they are carrying on the family tradition!
In the pursuit of promoting open and honest dialogue, a friend of mine has creating Critiquing Hillsong, a site dedicated to encourage transparency in financial and leadership matters at Hillsong - which I shall also place on my links page. My friend has had extensive experience within Hillsong and has already attempted to look at their financial records - unfortunately without success. This has occurred despite the fact that Hillsong has previously claimed that all of its financial records are openly available to the public.
Now, I should point out that even while the openly expressed agenda of Hillsong grates against my values, I haven't personally taken the lead in pushing for transparency in the affairs of Hillsong. The primary reason for this is because I haven't had any significant degree of involvement in Hillsong and thus my testimony contributes relatively little weight to the cause. However, I am willing to promote Critiquing Hillson - firstly, because I believe my friend to be a trustworthy individual with integrity and secondly, because I believe heavily in the pursuit of transparency and honesty. Quite simply, I believe that an organisation that is meant to represent truth has no business in embracing censorship.
Short of comments defaming the character of others or otherwise creating messy legal implications, I have made the very conscious decision to encourage open discussion on my blog. It is an incredibly defensive strategy to censor comments and shows a real lack of faith in one's position. My rationale has always been that if my position cannot withstand attack, it is not worth having. And what do I fear from transparency, apart from that which will come to light eventually anyway? I can only hope that Hillsong and others will adopt a similar approach.