I do not feel able to state my stance on Destiny or Brian Tamaki based on my personal lack of knowledge of his actualy ministry being a cult or church.
At the same time, I do believe that the NZ herald article attacked him somewhat unfairly today.
Two initial suggestions from an outsider looking in:
1. Don’t take the NZ herald as always completely objective. I have received a lot of flack for bias news reporting in the US, but it surprised me on the flipside how easily accepting some of my friends were of the NZherald's article and criticism against the church as being objective and not possibly slanted.
2. Don’t underestimate the multicultural setting in NZ. Even though the different cultures have to mix at school and work and in NZ life, people still often underestimate the strong personal differences in beliefs and lifestyle that are determined by their cultural background.
European descent= more industial culture
Maori/Polynesian=more tribal culture
Although this chart does not clear up all of Tamaki’s teachings or sayings, I believe it says a lot. (it may look tedious but its worth the read!) If you realize the writer and probably you as a reader come from an industrial background and that Destiny church seems to be mainly a tribal culture with elements of the peasant culture your opinion might change a little. If you reread the NZ herald article after reading this cultural differences chart, a lot of the issues in question at least partially involve cultural differences and the actions don’t seem so much cultish but rather a different culture that we may not completely understand. It looks to me like the NZherald reporter is criticizing a more tribal culture model based on his industrial point of view.
In light of Destiny Church being predominantly Māori and Polynesian and Māori at heart it is probably coming from a more tribal culture. Do you know what a large church based more on a tribal model would even look like? Whelp, Destiny church just might be it.
Let me pose a few questions:
1. How easy would it be for an nzherald reporter from an industrial mindset to express his cultural point of view against a tribal culture church to a country that has around 78% European descent coming from a predominantly industrial culture?
2. Could it be that there are NZ churches who have formed their beliefs about church and their interpretations of the Bible based from their industrial cultural point of view and projected it universally unfairly to churches around the world or even a tribal church model on their backdoorstep?
No culture is perfect and it is obvious cultures have theological issues, but the rule of thumb in in cultural studies seems to be that no one culture is good, evil, inferior, or superior in and of itself. Its a given that you can’t completely separate yourself from your culture so this doesn’t undermine having an opinion coming from your own cultural point of view, but I do think it brings into question the legitimacy of one judging another culture's way of doing church from your different cultural point of view of God. It would be very easy to work on the assumption that your way is right and that other cultures can't be different and as equally right.
Please once again note that I am not as much invested for or against Tamaki in this conversation as much as the possibly slanted media coverage that is being treated as objective.