“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” -John 15:18-20a
“The greater danger to evangelicals in this generation is that they believe that the culture is too important. And I think the great danger right now is that many evangelicals right now feel like if we are just clever enough, if we are just sophisticated enough, then we can make peace with this culture and be fully at home. I just want to remind you, that is profoundly at odds with Scripture and it has been profoundly at odds with Scripture since Jesus spoke to His own disciples.” -Dr. Albert Mohler
We have dug ourselves in so deep with the world in American Christianity that many have difficulty differentiating between where the world stops and the Church starts. When we have men like Tim Keller who say, “The Church needs artists because without art we cannot reach the world.” and our local churches eat it up thinking wow we really need to step it up and become more relevant to the culture around us, we have lost sight of what Scripture commands us to be as the bride of Christ.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” -Romans 12:2
“Do not love the world or things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him.” -1 John 2:15
“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” -James 4:4
How prideful have we become where we now all of sudden think that the gospel is lacking in allure, and the Holy Spirit is now somehow not powerful enough to reach the people in our culture without the help of human beings making the Church more attractive to the unregenerate? How can we not see that this is folly in the highest degree and a hardening of our hearts by no longer trusting in the sovereignty of the most high God? We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jew and foolishness to the Gentile! Scripture tells us that the world will hate us, just as it hated Christ. Do you have some strange affliction by which you somehow think that you are more clever than the one, true, and holy God, creator of the universe? Somehow you have now figured out the way to more effectively reach people for Christ after 2,000 years of the gospel being preached in the same manner and fashion?
Our only responsibility on this earth with regards to the spread of the gospel, is to remain faithful in our command to take the gospel to the ends of the earth and in doing so to clearly, accurately, and boldly proclaim Scripture from an open Bible and not from some story you have concocted about Jesus to help soften the implications of sin in an unbelievers life. It is the Spirit of God who convicts man’s heart of sin. You are severely mistaken if you believe that genuine salvation in Christ needs to be assisted by popularity, emotion invoking moralistic stories, or cultural acceptance.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” -Hebrews 4:12
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” -Romans 10:17
“And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgement: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgement, because the ruler of this world is judged.” -John 16: 8-11
With this is mind, I want to examine the extremely popular organization Hillsong and some of their beliefs and practices. Hillsong, like the myriads of other questionable teachings, individuals, and groups in our world today, has been widely accepted and praised for the music they are exporting out to local churches around the world. This is not an organization that is focused on glorifying God and preaching the gospel clearly, it is abundantly clear that the desire for fame and wealth, attained through the entertainment of the masses is what drives them.
Sydney Christian Life Center was founded in Darlinghurst, Australia in 1977 by Frank Houston and and his son Brian Houston, who were both previously from New Zealand. In 1980 Brian Houston broke off to form his own church, The Hills Christian Life Center in Sydney’s northwestern suburbs. In 2000 Frank Houston, after allegations came to light, admitted to sexually abusing underage male members of his previous congregation in New Zealand. He stepped aside and was reportedly paid a retirement by the church. At that point Brian Houston took control of his fathers church and merged the two together to form what is now known as Hillsong. Frank Houston died in 2004; however, in 2007 more allegations came out regarding the molestation of a training pastor by Houston in the 1980’s. Brian Houston was subsequently investigated by the Royal Commission for allegations involving the cover up of his fathers scandal and in 2014 they found that while he reportedly did confront his father over the allegations, Brian failed to report them to police as well as to the congregation over certain conflicts of interest.
Hillsong has exemplified a string of other questionable behaviors over the years including Hillsong NYC having an openly gay choir director at one point, Selena Gomez leading worship at Hillsong NYC, a women’s conference with an appearance by British character and sexual pervert Austin Powers, Hillsong United front-man Joel Houston responding that it is refreshing to hear “Christian” author Jen Hatmaker’s statement that same sex marriages can be holy and she would happily attend a same sex wedding, Joel Houston praising the book and subsequent heretical movie The Shack saying that it is “perfect for right now, is because people are searching for something real. And something true.” Houston encouraged his audience to see the movie because “it helps people see why they’re here, what they’re made for and has the potential to change your life.” As if all that wasn’t enough, Hillsong NYC youth pastor Diego Similia, paraded on stage as the “naked cowboy” with nothing on but boots, underwear, a cowboy hat, and a guitar during a women’s conference. This is behavior coming out of an organization who claims to be a part of the body of Christ.
Jeff Maples of Pulpit and Pen writes this in an article addressing why bringing Hillsong music into your church is dangerous:
“Hillsong Church does not exist to preach the Word of God, and to draw people to Christ, bringing glory to His holy name–it exists to draw people to their music, making them money, and giving them power, and giving glory to their man-centered, man-built pseudo-spiritual empire. Brian Houston clearly preaches a false gospel. Southern Baptist leader, Albert Mohler stated: [Hillsong is] “a prosperity movement for the millennials, in which the polyester and middle-class associations of Oral Roberts have given way to ripped jeans and sophisticated rock music…What has made Hillsong distinctive is a minimization of the actual content of the Gospel, and a far more diffuse presentation of spirituality.”
Further, it [Hillsong] exists to convert existing churches, including biblical churches, into churches that conform to their ideology. Hillsong, while having similarities with charismatic and pentecostal churches, was actually founded on latter rain ideology, now known as the New Apostolic Reformation, and uses aggressive and unscrupulous tactics to take over churches.”
The practices and teachings of this organization are far from what Scripture commands our life to look like as slaves of Christ. This kind of behavior is clearly contradictory to what the Bible teaches and is an offense to a holy God. Hillsong is not interested in conforming to Scripture, it is interested in conforming Scripture to itself in order to assist in the spread of their movement. Do not be deceived by these people, do not bend your knee to conformity with the world, and stop bringing this pagan religiosity into Christ’s Church by means of the music which Hillsong produces.
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” -1 Corinthians 6:9-10
“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” Romans 16:17-18