Howard Carter (evangelist)

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Pastor Howard Carter (died 28 July 1992) was a fundamentalist Pentecostal Christian religious leader, possibly best known for his creation of Logos Foundation in 1969,[1] which in the mid-1980s established the Covenant Evangelical Church. Carter, originally a Baptist pastor, moved his family from New Zealand to Australia in 1969. He earned a L.Th.(NZ Baptist Theological College) and a M.A. degree (unknown alma mater).

Biography[edit]

1968-1979[edit]

In the late 1960s and 1970s decade he was influential in the charismatic movement's growth in the mainstream churches in Australia and regularly organised "Holy Spirit Teaching Seminars" in Sydney. His teaching was centred on themes of Christ's authority, victorious living, and charismatic gifts. The majority of his teachings were distributed through the "Logos/Restore magazine" and short books.[2] Carter was a charismatic leader, who became involved with a number of fundamentalist Authoritarian Protestant religious groups and churches in Australia and the South Pacific.

In the mid-1970s he was instrumental in introducing the Shepherding Movement and associated discipleship from the "Fort Lauderdale Five" of Christian Growth Ministries U.S.A. (CGM) to Oceania. This teaching promoted a pyramid-like authoritarian hierarchy in which each disciple was accountable to a personal pastor (usually the "cell group" leader) for whole-of-life direction and personal decisions, and written covenants were encouraged - aspects that theologically distanced the Logos movement from the New Testament's "priesthood of believers" as understood by the majority of mainstream Protestant Christians.

Doctrines of submission to God's delegated authorities in order to provide "covering" and complete spiritual protection were regularly promoted and were narrowly applied to wives obeying husbands, children obeying parents, and disciples obeying leaders. This concept gained momentum over time and was eventually exercised in an almost cult-like manner.[3] Leaders in the movement were required to be addressed by titles "Brother" and "Sister", Carter taught, which had a side effect of distancing them socially even further from the ordinary members in the movement. 'Brother Howard' announced that he was in "a submitted relationship" to the apostolic group at CGM of Bob Mumford, Ern Baxter, Charles Simpson, Derek Prince and Don Basham. This inferred that he was being discipled in the same way he was discipling his followers, although subsequent events would prove this to be a shallow claim. While the teachings appeared to be biblical and promoting disciplined living, the result for non-leaders was a disempowering of their abilities and a neglect of utilisation of their individual gifts and insights - focusing on "star" leaders rather than developing the unique ministries of every believer.[4]

1980-1992[edit]

The Logos-related churches in 1980 became the Australian Fellowship of Covenant Communities and in the mid-80s were renamed the Covenant Evangelical Church. In the early 1980s Howard Carter led the Logos movement through a shift in eschatology from pre-millennialism (which was described as a theology of defeat) to post-millennialism (a theology of victory) of the specific stream of Dominionist, Reconstructionist Theology. Some of his leadership team, including Pastor David Jackson of Christian Faith Centre Sydney, left the movement owing to doctrinal concerns as Carter's interpretations and teaching became more extreme and his style more cultish and authoritarian.[5] A key member at this time, Colin Shaw, believed that Pastor Howard Carter was an "anointed man of God" and Shaw later became the "right-hand" man of Carter in his "outreach and missionary works" in Quezon City, Philippines. Logos used this Filipino church, the Christian Renewal Center (a moderate Pentecostal/Charismatic church) as their base to advance and promote the teachings of the Shepherding Movement and the specific teaching of Carter's Logos Foundation (Australia). With local assistance in the Philippines, Colin Shaw coordinated and sponsored under the Christian Renewal Centre's name, conferences featuring Carter as the lead speaker. Many poorly educated and sincere Filipino pastors and locals, usually from small churches were influenced to support the Logos Foundation (Australia) and to begin tithing from their limited funds into it. However, soon after the revelation of Howard Carter's scandalous immorality and corrupt lifestyle broke,[6] the Filipino wing of Logos dissolved and dispersed back into established local churches. Colin Shaw was said to abandon the Shepherding movement at this time and engaged in soul searching and self exile for a time due to the extreme guilt he felt over the way the Filipino poor were abused.

During this period, unknown to his followers, Carter was living an extravagant lifestyle which frequently involved first class air travel to North American and other international locations, five-star hotels and many other luxuries that were beyond the means of his loyal supporters. Carter drove a Mercedes Benz and lived in opulent luxury in a large mansion with magnificent views from the Toowoomba escarpment.[7] The Logos Foundation even owned and operated with Australian staff, a motel in Canada. The financial affairs of the Logos Foundation were shrouded in secrecy from most followers with little or no true accountability regarding the vast sums of money that were now involved.[8][9]

Carter is arguably most infamous for the Logos Foundation's political campaign in the 1989 Queensland State election where he pushed the position that adherence to fundamentalist Christian doctrine was a more important consideration than opposition to the widespread corruption in the conservative Queensland government that had been exposed by the Fitzgerald Inquiry. The campaign was vehemently anti-homosexual and Carter actively encouraged his followers to support appalling statements of bigotry and ignorance. At times the death penalty for homosexuals was advocated, in accordance with Old Testament Law.[10][11] The Sydney Morning Herald later described part of this campaign when they published, "Homosexuality and censorship should determine your vote, the electorate was told; corruption was not the major concern."[12] The same article quoted Carter from a letter he had written to supporters at the time, "The greenies, the gays and the greedy are marching. Now the Christians, the conservatives and the concerned must march also". These views were not new. An earlier article published in the Herald quoted a Logos spokesman in reference to the call for the death penalty for homosexuals in order to rid Queensland of such people, who stated "the fact a law is on the statutes is the best safeguard for society".[13]

At the peak of his power towards the end of this period, Carter was virtually unquestioned in authority. He used his so-called 'personal revelations from God' to exert enormous influence over the lives of his followers and the direction of the organization. His 'personal revelations' were put on a par with scripture by his followers and at times, were effectively treated as over and above scripture. This was in practice an effective shift from being solely a fundamentalist religion into the realm of overt traits of a cult.[14] [15] The Sydney Morning Herald published an article in October 1990 which quoted several disillusioned followers, including the statement, "...we felt we had lost control over our lives. It was all dictated to us from above and that was very oppressive. Everything centered around Howard Carter; he had all the power"[16]

1990-1991[edit]

In 1990 Carter lost control of Logos Foundation as a result of a very public adultery scandal. Carter's alleged submission and accountability to the Ft. Lauderdale Five, who were purported to provide a fail-safe discipleship that would in part protect him from personal failures, ostensibly, was a farce.[17] When Carter was exposed as immoral and corrupt it became known that he had engaged in "sexual affairs that dated back many years" [18]

Death and legacy[edit]

Carter died in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia from eye cancer in 1992. Some still regard him with cult-like devotion as a significant prophet and leader of Christianity in Australia and New Zealand. Carter reportedly confessed his sins and repented on his death bed, expressing deep regret for his actions and dedicating himself anew to Jesus Christ. He was led through this repentance by Rev. Dr. Colin Warren of the Rangeville Uniting Church in Toowoomba.[citation needed]

What remained of the Shepherding movement worldwide by the late 1980s, had descended into a cult of Christianity characterized by manipulative relationships, abuse of power and dubious financial arrangements. It had been an attempt by mostly sincere people, to free Christianity of the entrenched reductions of traditional and consumerist religion.[19] However, with its emphasis on authority and submissive accountability, the movement was open to abuse. This, combined with spiritual hunger, biblical literalism, an early measure of success and growth, mixed motives, extreme fundamentalism, end-times thinking and the inexperience of new leaders all coalesced to form a dangerous and volatile mix. Carter played these factors skillfully to entrench his own position and ensure the continuation of the Logos Foundation. Hey (2010) identified in his thesis, "Suggested reasons for Carter's failure have included insecurity, an inability to open up to others, arrogance and over confidence in his own ability" [20]

The Logos Foundation collapsed quickly, although many members reformed as the Toowoomba City Church. Others joined the Rangeville Uniting Church, now separated from the Uniting Church and known as Rangeville Community Church, a few joined other fundamentalist Christian movements, The Range Christian Fellowship and Shiloh Centre Revival Ministries of Australia. Some walked away from active involvement in religious organizations forever. All of these churches have experienced problems with former Logos members displaying control-motivated authoritarian spiritual elitism. There has been a lasting impact from Carter's influence over his follower's lives on them individually and on the churches they chose to join afterwards.

He left a long legacy, still felt to this day, of disillusionment, psychological harm, disappointment and ill-feeling in his followers. Some have lost their faith altogether.

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:8027/HARRISON_eprint_.pdf, p.2
  2. ^ https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:8027/HARRISON_eprint_.pdf, p.6
  3. ^ http://www.lifemessenger.org/html/AboutUs/TheMessenger/TheStory.php
  4. ^ http://www.lifemessenger.org/html/AboutUs/TheMessenger/TheStory.php
  5. ^ http://www.lifemessenger.org/html/AboutUs/TheMessenger/TheStory.php
  6. ^ https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:8027/HARRISON_eprint_.pdf,p.11
  7. ^ Roberts, G., Sex Scandal Divides Bible Belt, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 October 1990
  8. ^ Courier-Mail Newspaper, 9 August 1990
  9. ^ https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:8027/HARRISON_eprint_.pdf, p.11
  10. ^ https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:8027/HARRISON_eprint_.pdf, p.3
  11. ^ "Sex Scandal - Bible Belt", Sydney Morning Herald, 13 October 1990, p.74
  12. ^ Roberts, G., Sex Scandal Divides Bible Belt, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 October 1990
  13. ^ Lyons, J., God Remains an Issue in Queensland, Sydney Morning Herald, 18 November 1989
  14. ^ https://c3churchwatch.com/2014/09/04/how-the-c3-church-movement-came-to-be/
  15. ^ https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:8027/HARRISON_eprint_.pdf
  16. ^ Roberts, G., Sex Scandal Divides Bible Belt, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 October 1990
  17. ^ https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:8027/HARRISON_eprint_.pdf
  18. ^ https://www120.secure.griffith.edu.au/rch/file/cb4cc218-5145-a604-f5ec-180d9177971d/1/Hey_2011_02Thesis.pdf
  19. ^ http://www.lifemessenger.org/html/AboutUs/TheMessenger/TheStory.php
  20. ^ https://www120.secure.griffith.edu.au/rch/file/cb4cc218-5145-a604-f5ec-180d9177971d/1/Hey_2011_02Thesis.pdf