Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.Revelation 2:20-21
It is our inherent biases and tendencies that can sway our behavior from one way or another. When several persons act in concerted effort to drive us toward a particular action, you have this thing called a “Lollapalooza effect”. The said effect is capable of creating large-scale drivers of human behavior, but often towards error.
Charlie Munger, an American businessman, coined the term “Lollapalooza effect” during a 1995 speech at Harvard, in which he reviewed numerous causes of human misjudgment.
So what does this term actually mean, and why is it important for us to understand what this is? Munger, while explaining the faults in our thinking, invokes the following quote; to the man with only a hammer, every problem will look like a nail.
And instead of blindly wielding hammers and thinking only of nails, our quest should be to stop allowing the automated flow in our thought process, of inclining to only one given option or one given direction, but to question, ask and explore, for our own greater good.
The Lollapalooza Effect In Churches
So often we see in our churches, tendencies to reject our rationality, and turning our brains into mush. In Sunday services, there’s this common desire among believers to reciprocate to the preacher, who leads the crowd to a spiritual commitment of sorts, regardless of value. Usually, this example involves a crowd and is effective if we have a very big crowd. And the setup is often the same, as found in larger evangelical Sunday church services.
It’s like preachers shouting out, “do you want to hear from God, raise your right hands!”, and everyone would raise their hands without asking what he is doing. Or false preachers such as Paul Ang training the crowd to respond to him by saying, “I receive!” or “repeat after me and say Amen!”, and people would say I receive or Amen, withour any second thought.
The Lollapalooza effect, as defined by Munger, explains the distortion of our God-given rationality, or the right frame of mind to think correctly, when we are present among a crowd. The preacher repeatedly speaks of the problematic “nail” and suddenly everyone is told that they are each given a “hammer”. What happens next, is self-explanatory. Munger calls it a “confluence of psychological tendencies in favor of a particular outcome”.
This effect does not work unless the host is addressing a sizable crowd. Therefore, you won’t be able to find any Lollapalooza effect examples in smaller churches, where a single pastor speaks to barely a handful of members. As in the case of David Lee and Grace Tsen, they don’t have the clout to use clever speech to domineer over their handful of members in the City of Praise Church in Rawang, as opposed to the ways Paul and Christina Ang do to a crowd of, say, several hundred believers.
Christina Ang: God Miraculously Saved My Son
The setup was at the New Life Community Church in Subang Jaya, on November 13th, 2023, and Christina Ang was apparently invited there to speak. She wasn’t exactly giving a sermon or preaching in context, but she spent most of the entire session talking about how God miraculously saved her son from near death, and using the case of her son’s battle with malaria infection, to stir the crowd.
Christina Ang, well known for her oratory skills, began by drawing empathy from the crowd. She literally illustrated how her son contracted malaria, had low levels of oxygen in his lungs, almost died in the hospital, etc. Then she spoke of the intercession from her friends, how church believers prayed, and how God delivered her son from death. Indeed, she is skillful, and her session at the Subang church, was dramatic due to her expertise in public speaking.
Her ordeal starkly reminded me of my own, when I had to go through a similar harrowing near-death experience; my wife almost died nearly ten years ago, from a brain tumor. My account had been described, in detail, at this link.
In my case, after God delivered my wife from death, immediately I descended into a state of self-inquiry, sort of like conducting my own “post-mortem”, why what happen to our family, had happened. And I wrote more than a year ago, “It was a moment that was never for any of us in our family to be proud of, let alone to even have any bragging rights over anything we did. The progress was more of a case of God had to strike us down with calamity, made us take a good look at our sins, and thereafter He gave us two choices; one that leads to death and the other to Life. YES, THERE’S NO TYPOGRAPHIC ERROR WHEN I STATED THAT I NEVER WENT BACK TO CHURCH TO DECLARE GOD HEALED MY WIFE. More than just healing, the truth is God spared us our lives. And for this reason, after coming out from a very embarrassing episode in life, we decided to acknowledge this fact and made significant changes to our ways and conduct. Then our journey to sanctification began.”
As for Christina Ang, it was entirely the opposite. Her son’s victory in battling malaria infection, turned into an overnight success story for her and her husband to tell the world. In her speech at the New Life Community church, Christina specifically stated and blamed the devil for causing a mosquito to bite her son, and infecting him with malaria. Now, I’m very curious as I always do, whenever someone makes any statement without factual reasoning, and passes it on as the truth. This is where the rubber meets the road, how did Christina Ang arrive at the conclusion that it was the devil who sent a mosquito to bite her son? Is the devil really that powerful, that he has been given authority over all insects and creepy crawlies in this world? Where in Scripture does it say that the devil has such authority to command insects?
But far from just the devil and insects alone, is Christina implying that anything which causes a person to die, is attributed to the devil? I’m no fan of the devil, but let’s be logical here, and I need some evidence. Because, now we have a preacher claiming that the devil sent a mosquito to bite her son and caused him to land in the hospital for weeks. This is a very serious claim.
So, what about other malaria infected patients in the past? Or what about dengue fever, or COVID-19 patients? And also, from this line of reasoning given by Christina Ang, what about the score of believers who died from vaccine injuries recently, as a result of being told by their pastors to obey the authorities, and to take the jabs? Did the devil sent our pastors and preachers too, to instruct people to take the shots, that eventually resulted in their deaths?
Preachers from a church that I attended when I was still a little boy, told their members that they have to obey the authorities and be vaccinated, on the account found in Romans 13. And they are told to obey, because their preachers said the Bible told them to obey. Although no one in that church had died yet, but many are already suffering from vaccine related injuries. So how do I deal with this given scenario? Should I blame it on the rain, or sunshine? Who shall I hold accountable for all these undesired outcomes?
They Thought They Are Winning, But Win What?
To Christina and Paul Ang, it must have been a massive victory. Well, it can only be victory or defeat because they have always been preaching spiritual victory throughout the entire course of their ministry. Whether it be health or wealth, their brand of gospel is never short of featuring winning and prosperity at the epicenter of their spiritual objectives. Of course, it must be victory, her son is still alive. What else can it be? To Christina Ang and her husband, it is victory as opposed to God exercising His mercy on them, and sparing the life of their only son.
And if they cannot win, it will always be the devil’s fault. If they fall sick, they’ll insist that their family have done no ill to deserve any dying. Therefore, don’t even mention the word repentance in their presence. In their context of Christianity, repentance is non-existent.
Just as in how she describes the devil being responsible, by sending a mosquito to bite her son and caused him to become infected with a deadly disease, Christina Ang is also directly implying that the devil is a very powerful being, and like God, the devil has authority over life and death. And the devil need not send anyone to commit real murder in order to kill, because according to Christina Ang, apparently mosquitoes obey the instructions of the devil, and will kill or destroy at his wimps and fancies. To Christina Ang, God is not in real control, but have to struggle to save her son from the devil’s attack. This implication is nothing less than another one of her big lie.
Tell me, is there any logical reason or explanation to such beliefs, that the devil himself is as powerful as God is? And where do I find evidence, to point the mosquito trail back to Satan? For goodness’s sake, do we even allow commonsense to prevail anymore? Please don’t preach things that are not written in the Bible, and subsequently dishing them off the pulpit, as the holy truth.
Groaning Their Way To God
Allow me to quote unquote what Christina Ang said yesterday, at the New Life Community Church in Subang Jaya, and this is the part where Christina Ang got it right, or partially right, that is.
“Now, praying in the Holy Spirit is very powerful. Because praying in the Holy Spirit … who is the Holy Spirit? Holy Spirit is God. He is God the Holy Spirit. In Romans 8:26, the Bible said in our weaknesses … we do not know how to pray for as we ought. … You ask me how to pray, but I do not know how to pray. I do not know what is going on. I’m limited, but I know one thing, God, God praying with me. Look at Romans 8:26 … it says what? In our weaknesses, we do not know how to pray … as we ought. But the Spirit, Himself, makes intercession for us. Who makes intercession? Which Spirit? God the Holy Spirit … makes an intercession for us .. I tell you, if the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us, it is the best prayer.”
And she went on to describe in vivid detail, the groaning of the Holy Spirit, when He intercedes for us in prayer:-
“Look at how He makes an intercession. … He makes the intercession with groaning, that cannot be uttered. The groaning that cannot be uttered that goes in the depths of your innermost being. AND BRINGS OUT A LANGUAGE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT TO GOD, A LANGUAGE BEYOND CHINESE, MANDARIN OR ENGLISH, OR WHATEVER LANGUAGES OF THE EARTH, BEYOND EVERY HUMAN LANGUAGE THAT TOUCHES THE HEART OF GOD, ARE GIVEN THE WORDS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT TO THE FATHER.”
The first part on the groaning of the Holy Spirit is Scriptural. But the second part of Christina Ang’s statement is not. Nowhere in Romans chapter 8 describes the transition from the Holy Spirit’s groaning to a language beyond our human languages, or any language for that matter.
Romans 8:26 states the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us WITH GROANING WHICH CANNOT BE UTTERED. Therefore, am I correct to say that the Bible said it clearly, the groaning of the Holy Spirit cannot be uttered or spoken? As such, what language is Christina Ang claiming that the Holy Spirit brings out from His groaning? Or is this how charismatic evangelicals arrive at their apparent God-given authorization, to speak nonsensical garbage, and passing them off as authentic praying in tongues?
Is this the groaning of the Holy Spirit that cannot be uttered that goes in the depths of our innermost being, AND BRINGS OUT A LANGUAGE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT TO GOD? What Christina Ang preached is called half-truths, she camouflaged her lies with a little bit of truth, to make the whole of her entire statement, convincing.
I’m not sure how she’s capable of hearing things which cannot be uttered, but during the period of her son’s hospitalization, their public display of fear and futility all over social media, reminds me of how the false prophets of Jezebel pleaded with their gods to hear them in the book of 1st Kings. They leaped, they cried out aloud, and cut themselves up to get their gods’ attention. This description appears to be more identical to what both Christina Ang and her husband were doing with their dramatic display on social media, rather than crying out in languages that emerges from the Holy Spirit’s groaning. I may be wrong, but I could only call a spade, a spade.
In essence, this is Christina Ang and her “Lollapalooza effect”, straight from the pulpit of a Christian church. She’s akin to a person being given the microphone during a Tupperware party, and she cleverly steers the crowd with her oratory skills to achieve certain results, making people believe in the things said by her, that is not written in Scripture.
Our Futile, Human Testimonials
No believer is alien to incidences of hearing good testimonies from other believers. We have all been through such experiences. We all heard it before, someone said something in the presence of a group of people, of how God help him, or God performed a miracle in their lives.
But, our preachers today are redefining the meaning of giving testimony, by bringing them straight to be heard from the pulpits. Therefore, instead solid preaching of God’s Word, our churches are now filled with pastors preaching about their own testimonies. What was once the rostrum to spread the true gospel, and to command people to repent before His impending return, these preachers have turned our churches into places for them to speak about themselves.
As such, the Scripture and what God commanded in it, no longer becomes the foundation for men’s salvation. Our churches became like gathering spots for extroverts, for them to express themselves, and by using their own examples in lives, to convince others to attend church services and convert to become like one of them. Similarly, as in Christina Ang’s case abovementioned, she is indirectly telling the crowd how well she emerged victorious and how she defeated death and the devil. By using her testimony as her basis of her preaching, she encourages people to look to her instead of looking towards God.
Therefore, to be alive according to Christina Ang’s playbook, is to follow her cryptic methods of understanding the groaning of the Holy Spirit, mixed with her own dose of indiscernible languages. Death is no longer the wages of sin. Death becomes an enemy that needs to be defeated by our own human achievements.
The same is also rampant elsewhere. In the Diakonia Christian Church in Rawang, their elder Kenneth Hiew once suggested to its members, that their church need members to step forward with good testimonies, in order for them to share with the rest. It is like as though these pastors can no longer find any more solid reason to preach from what is written in the Bible, that they have to use human storytelling as their basis to moving forward, to convince people to turn to Christ. Allow me to call this, the gospel of I, me and myself.
There’s nothing wrong with sharing testimonies to encourage one another. But if you are a preacher from God, and if you are speaking from the pulpit, you are expected to preach with a certain amount of God-given authority. And nothing is more powerful than those who preach directly from the Word of God, and not with human testimonies. Here is where the fine line is drawn, between God’s real power and our human flaws.
God came to this world in the form of Christ Jesus, and He commanded repentance, for the coming of His kingdom is near. This means, we are commanded to turn from our old ways, and follow His ways of truth, righteousness and holiness. And because of His love, God had been very patient with us, eagerly waiting for us to change, before He rains His wrath on this earth. But His love is by no means the excuse or basis for us to continue with our sinful ways, business as usual. The wages of sin is death and will always be death. And those who refuse to change, will die. According to the Bible, this is an absolute certainty!
These preachers ought to stop diluting the true gospel and true salvation, by side stepping what is written in the Bible, and replacing it with their own storytelling. “See, God saved my son from malaria, if I can win, so can you.” What message is this that even carries any weight at saving any soul? Following Christina Ang’s opinions is like following a crooked hedge fund manager, and believing that you are doing the right thing because everyone else is doing the same. And after you lose money, he’ll tell you it’s okay, better luck next time. Only that in Christina Ang’s case, if you end up on the death bed and counting your days, she’ll tell you, it’s okay, if you die surely you will go to heaven.
May God give us real preachers with real messages from heaven above, and may God send these Lollapalooza preachers back into their holes, and may their voices never be heard again. Amen.