New Episode of Docuseries Describes Hillsong’s ‘Spectacular Implosion’

"To close out another rough year for Hillsong Church, [last] week a fourth episode dropped in the Discovery+ docuseries 'Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed.'" - C.Leaders

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Mark_Smith's picture

Thousands or Tens of Thousands of Evangelical churches sing Hillsong music every week with little analysis of the theology in the songs (heavily charismatic with an emphasis on experience/emotion over the Bible/doctrine/theology), the culture of the creators of the music, the impact of the near bottomless amount of money they receive from their success, the worldliness of the musicians and leaders, and no concern that somehow charismatic Christianity like this is now seen as "normal" Christianity over more traditional forms.Truly sad.

Mark_Smith's picture

Most of you here at SI probably attend churches that heavily sing traditional music (hymns and spiritual songs from the past). If you do sing contemporary music it is likely the kind from the Getty's and other like-minded publishers. But realize that MOST Evangelical churches are singing almost exclusively "radio" worship music. That is Hillsong, Bethel, Chris Tomlin, etc... type music. The music is catchy. People hear it on the radio so they know it (assuming they listen to Christian radio/streaming). But there is a problem. The theology, doctrine, and lifestyle it teaches. If you have no idea what I am talking about I beg you to go to http://air1.com (I pick them because they are free and common and typical) and listen for a few hours.

Here are some of my concerns with contemporary worship music:

1- Most music is, as pop/rock is, written from a youth perspective. If you know pop/rock "love" is a fleeting feeling. That idea carries into worship music of this type. Jesus isn't Lord and the Mature master of the church. He's a 19 year old boyfriend you want to date.

2- The music represents an immature Christian experience. Most is written like I just got saved last week and all this is new... great, but I am a 50-year-old who has been a Christian for 31 years! I didn't spend last week partying it up and just found Jesus...

3- Too much of the music has lyrics that suggest I lived a largely worldly life for years and somehow found Jesus just now... I didn't. By the grace of God I have never used drugs. I've never been drunk. I have never kissed a woman other than a relative (mom, aunt, grandma) and my wife. I have no sexual partners other than my wife... I didn't party it up in college or the military! My wife was saved at 6 years of age. Me 19. Again we give all the glory to God.

4- The theology of the music, to the extent that there is any, tends to focus on experience. I didn't know there was a God until I "felt" him... note not that I found him in the word of God, or prayer, etc. Feelings. Feelings. Feelings.

5- Charismatic theology is rampant in contemporary music because for some reason only Charismatics write songs nowadays... If you spent a decade + lost in Charismaticism you spot it instantly in the music. I suspect most of you don't even see it. You especially see this in Bethel and Jesus Culture music. Dominionism. Speaking things into existence.

6- You are supporting a style of worship that you do not practice. I know a lot of you condemn what I am writing as "guilt by association". But have you watched a Bethel Church service? Have you seen a Fire Tunnel? Do you know what the Father Ladder is? This music goes with that style of worship and not what most evangelicals believe and practice.

I'll stop here for time's sake.

dgszweda's picture

I would say that most contemporary church music is problematic, but I tend to approach it all with discernment, and not just necessarily cancel out whole groups.  All Creatures of our God and King was written by a mystic Catholic priest who experienced the stigmata.  You read much of his writings and it gets a bit scary.  But in the end the music is theologically sound, based on Psalm 148 and any negative connotation has been long lost to the cloud of history in relation to those who sit in our pews.

Mark_Smith's picture

dgszweda wrote:

I would say that most contemporary church music is problematic, but I tend to approach it all with discernment, and not just necessarily cancel out whole groups.  All Creatures of our God and King was written by a mystic Catholic priest who experienced the stigmata.  You read much of his writings and it gets a bit scary.  But in the end the music is theologically sound, based on Psalm 148 and any negative connotation has been long lost to the cloud of history in relation to those who sit in our pews.

This is usually what you get when you try to warn people about Hillsong and Bethel. But some song 300 years ago was written by so-and-so...

Here is the problem. Hillsong and Bethel are infecting our churches TODAY with an improper form of Christianity. The people think feelings are primary. They think emotion trumps all. All they hear about is love, how God loves everyone. No mention of wrath. Of judgment. of the fear of the Lord, etc.

Bert Perry's picture

What strikes me is that if I were charismatic in theology, there are any number of charismatic churches in my area that I could attend.  You might need to drive a bit if you're in a rural area, but overall, most people can find a good charismatic church (we'll ignore my differences with their theology for the moment) close to home.

So we then have the question of why Hillsong became so big when there are other viable alternatives--instead of staying a niche player in music like, say, Majesty Music or the like.  The answer that comes to mind for me is that it appears that HIllsong has been a charismatic-evangelical "flavor of the month"--a fad if you like--and hence it has the excesses that you will find with other fads.

Except this fad is worse.  Here, it's not like finding old pictures of yourself with a "white afro" and a leisure suit or bell bottoms and platform shoes, but rather adherents are faddishly binding themselves to spiritual authority, and that tends to get far worse than ordinary fads like those in attire.

Overall, I think a lot of the love of Hillsong/Christian "light rock" would fade if people actually asked themselves "does this set of song lyrics actually tell us anything about who Jesus is?".  Others would drop off with the question "If I changed 5-10 words from this song, could it be an Air Supply love song?".  But that noted, the big deal is flavor of the month and faddism, IMO.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

from PraiseCharts, which is the company you have to buy music from to play contemporary worship music.

 

#1- "I Speak Jesus" from Charity Gayle. This is the type of thing I mean by #5 in my list. A non-charismatic hears "I speak Jesus" and thinks all is ok. She is merely praising Jesus. No. She is "speaking" Jesus into the atmosphere and by spiritual power he will overcome the things listed in the song, depression, need, lack, sickness, etc. This is not "praise" but incantation.

 #2- All Glory Be to Christ by Kings Kaleidoscope. I have never heard this song. It seems to be a holiday mish-mash of traditional hymn verses.

#3- Same God by Elevation Worship. Elevation... that's the heretic Steven Furtick out in Charlotte, NC who masquerades as a Southern Baptist. If you want to support him go ahead... This song is addressed something I left off the list. Claiming verses for the elect like they apply to everyone. This is bad theology. Promises to Jacob or the elect are not promises to unbelievers. We have to be careful about this. Then the song sings we need God to do some miracle for us. It is not a praise song but an expectation that God will part seas, or raise the dead. Etc.  Is that bad per se? I suppose not. But in light of the SOURCE of the music being a sketchy church with sketchy theology, RUN, don't walk from this.

#4- Goodness of God by Bethel Music. Again this category is #5. To you as an evangelical, this is just a praise song. But at BETHEL this is a DECLARATION that God will only do good to you. You cling to it and bad things will be dismissed. It is a Charismatic/ Dominionist anthem, not a praise song.

#5- House of the Lord by Phil Wickham. Wickham is from Bethel. Notice all these praise songs focus on miracles? They are invoking them like that is everyday Christian experience and how God acts today. He doesn't do that anymore by and large. But God still "rolls stones away", i.e. is still doing resurrections... You see that as metaphor. Wickham means resurrections are happening literally!!

 

I'll stop there.

 

dgszweda's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

 

dgszweda wrote:

 

I would say that most contemporary church music is problematic, but I tend to approach it all with discernment, and not just necessarily cancel out whole groups.  All Creatures of our God and King was written by a mystic Catholic priest who experienced the stigmata.  You read much of his writings and it gets a bit scary.  But in the end the music is theologically sound, based on Psalm 148 and any negative connotation has been long lost to the cloud of history in relation to those who sit in our pews.

 

 

This is usually what you get when you try to warn people about Hillsong and Bethel. But some song 300 years ago was written by so-and-so...

Here is the problem. Hillsong and Bethel are infecting our churches TODAY with an improper form of Christianity. The people think feelings are primary. They think emotion trumps all. All they hear about is love, how God loves everyone. No mention of wrath. Of judgment. of the fear of the Lord, etc.

Well they are not infecting my church, maybe they are at your church.  My point was that it is a lot more than just Hillsong and Bethel, and whether they are or are not infecting your church, the theology behind music and discernment is more important than chasing the Top 5 gospel music songs on Pandora.

Mark_Smith's picture

dgszweda wrote:

 

Mark_Smith wrote:

 

 

dgszweda wrote:

 

I would say that most contemporary church music is problematic, but I tend to approach it all with discernment, and not just necessarily cancel out whole groups.  All Creatures of our God and King was written by a mystic Catholic priest who experienced the stigmata.  You read much of his writings and it gets a bit scary.  But in the end the music is theologically sound, based on Psalm 148 and any negative connotation has been long lost to the cloud of history in relation to those who sit in our pews.

 

 

This is usually what you get when you try to warn people about Hillsong and Bethel. But some song 300 years ago was written by so-and-so...

Here is the problem. Hillsong and Bethel are infecting our churches TODAY with an improper form of Christianity. The people think feelings are primary. They think emotion trumps all. All they hear about is love, how God loves everyone. No mention of wrath. Of judgment. of the fear of the Lord, etc.

 

 

Well they are not infecting my church, maybe they are at your church.  My point was that it is a lot more than just Hillsong and Bethel, and whether they are or are not infecting your church, the theology behind music and discernment is more important than chasing the Top 5 gospel music songs on Pandora.

For the record, you likely are not aware of it, but PraiseCharts, where I got the Top 20 list from, is "THE" list of songs that are used in WORSHIP at churches. They know this because to use contemporary music in church you are supposed to buy the sheet music from official sources only to have a legal copyright use... that source is PrasieCharts. So this is not some list, it is THE list of music used lasts week at evangelical churches across America.

I fully realize the average SI reader does not have this problem. I am trying to inform you.