Hillsong manipulates its audience with their music, false teaching and mysticism
" And she proceeded to pray a long and emotional prayer about obstacles in people’s lives, and how she sensed a Spirit of overcoming in this place this day that would lead us to freedom, and on in the same vein for five minutes or so, the music behind her words all the time, swelling and fading, swelling and fading. To us, it all seemed so transparently staged and emotionally manipulative. But were they conscious of this? Or were they so used to doing things this way that it just seemed natural?"
"This sense that we can be led into God’s presence, and experience him, via music and similar activities was a constantly recurring theme of the conference. It came out in numerous heart-revealing idle words—like those just mentioned—but also, with an interesting twist"
The Hillsong ‘worship experience’ throughout the week was a massive production, an artifact of incredible human ingenuity and skill.
And yet it was also an act of mysticism. It was predicated on a rejection of rational, mechanistic approaches to God—as if we simply read his words in a book and automatically come to know him. The music was meant to be the language of the heart that lifts us to immediate experience of God.
" when sin is spoken about, which is not often, it is usually in terms of immorality in the world or else negative thinking and attitudes that destroy God’s purpose in our lives, and limit our potential;3 there is no concept that we are under God’s wrath or condemnation because of our personal rebellion against him, or that there is a connection between sin, death and judgement;4
it is asserted that Jesus is God’s perfect Son and even that he died ‘for us’ or ‘in our place’, but what this means is not explained; not a single example was found expounding Jesus’ death as taking the penalty for sin on our behalf so that we might avoid God’s wrath on judgement day; instead, Jesus’ death and resurrection is usually quoted either as an example (of overcoming difficulty and living with purpose),5 or explained as the source of healing and empowerment for living an abundant and healthy life;6
our response to the Christian message focuses heavily on the power of choice God has given us, on the need to change mental attitudes and thought patterns so as to live in the blessing God has for us, and on the biblical ‘law of cause and effect’— that if we obey Bible principles we will succeed and flourish in life, as God intended.7"
" In their understanding of humanity and sin, Hillsong distorts the diagnosis: it’s not so much that we’re sinful rebels against God our creator, and therefore objects of his righteous anger and judgement, under the sentence of death; it’s more that we have allowed all kinds of bad choices and negative thinking to get in the way of reaching the purpose and potential God has in store for us.
This means that although Hillsong still believes in and proclaims the historical events of Jesus’ death and resurrection, they understand these events differently. They do not proclaim Jesus’ death as a substitutionary atonement, turning aside God’s wrath so that I can receive forgiveness and be saved on the day of judgement—rather, Jesus’ death and resurrection function as an undefined entry point into the life of blessing that God has for us, and serve as an example of what a fully devoted life in tune with God’s purposes looks like (effectively a ‘moral influence’ view of the atonement).
And because they have twisted both the problem and the solution in Christ out of shape, their account of how we should respond to the gospel is also badly flawed. It’s not about clinging to Christ in faith for forgiveness of sins, and pursuing holiness through the work of the Spirit—it’s about choosing to change how you think, and obeying the Bible’s principles, so that you can move into a period of success and flourishing in every area of life.8
A package that focuses on uplifting music to connect me to God, relevant messages that will help me to flourish in life, and social and community action to alleviate poverty is exactly what one would expect to find if the gospel of future judgement has been abandoned. The focus shifts from judgement and the coming kingdom to living an awesome life now; a life of personal flourishing and growing impact upon society.
Over all: The gospel is not preached. Its content is not expounded. Its great terms and concepts are not taught or explained. Whatever is driving the bus, it’s not the gospel. A package that focuses on uplifting music to connect me to God, relevant messages that will help me to flourish in life, and social and community action to alleviate poverty is exactly what one would expect to find if the gospel of future judgement has been abandoned. The focus shifts from judgement and the coming kingdom to living an awesome life now; a life of personal flourishing and growing impact upon society. On all the evidence of that week, backed up by our other investigations, this was not a platform or organization that we could support or recommend to anyone. It did not faithfully and clearly teach the gospel of Christ—and this was not through denial or outright heresy, but through distortion, replacement and omission. For all the hype and hoopla, we were not directed to the narrow gate and the difficult way that leads to salvation. Instead, we found ourselves being beckoned down a broader and far more "awesome" road; a road paved with promises of blessing and divine purpose; a road with inspiring tour-guides, thousands of warm and enthusiastic fellow-travellers, and a soundtrack to die for.
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