If you’ve paid any attention to the news lately, you’re probably aware of Hillsong’s latest sex scandal, this time, involving its founder and CEO, Brian Houston. In 2020, the pastor of Hillsong’s New York City branch, Carl Lentz, was fired after revelations of an affair he had with a Muslim woman. Referring to the scandal at the time as “moral failures,” it wasn’t until after he was fired that Lentz publicly admitted to the affair.
Shortly after these revelations, another sex scandal involving a New Jersey location pastor, Darrell Barett, a married man and father of two, resigned after he was caught posting explicit pictures of himself on social media after workouts.
By this time, Houston already announced that he would be stepping down as the CEO of the organization. Brian Houston, at the time, said he was aware of ongoing “leadership issues” with Lentz and that he regretted not dealing with them sooner. Little did we know, at the time, his own personal scandal was already brewing.
Despite these ongoing scandals with Hillsong, churches around the world that are engulfed in the movement will continue to play Hillsong’s music. None of this will phase them—and even for those who are aware of these scandals, shallow worship leaders and pastors will attempt to write it off and separate Hillsong’s music from the movement itself. It’s just how the spiritually shallow work.
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The global organization known as Hillsong is a popular, worldly organization that really only masquerades as a church but attracts celebrities and carnal-minded people who would rather not have to deal with the “mundane,” such as biblical theology and actual Christian teaching, and would rather just be entertained. Hillsong has found a niche; they’ve figured out how to produce a product and sell it. That’s exactly what they do. Hillsong’s business model understands that the vast majority of the professing Church wants entertainment, and to be able to produce a product that fills that niche is exactly how Hillsong became so rich and famous, to begin with.
So, what is so attractive about the music at Hillsong? For one thing, it is as the title of this article implies, shallow. It is theologically shallow and most of it does not reflect on the true nature and character of God. Hillsong music is not designed to glorify God, it is designed to garner a response from a larger clientele that desires more. The global Church is largely apostate, and apostate music is what the global Church wants. They do not want music that focuses on God’s good mercy because of our sin. Why, because most of them have not actually received that mercy. They simply want music that makes them feel good.
Listen to the words of the music. When compared to Scripture, it becomes very clear that the Hillsong music industry is fully executing its mission to fulfill the senior pastor’s theologically shallow “vision” of a worldly, theologically shallow church that’s tolerant of sin, and conforms to the lost. The music tends to carry an almost universalist theology, in that in Christ, we’re all free, and free to do as we please without fear of God’s wrath. But in Christ, we aren’t free to continue sinning, we are freed from sin and practice ongoing repentance. The Bible says that God is not in those who love the things of the world.
If the sappy, emotional music were removed, and only the lyrics of the songs you love were spoken, rather than sung, would you get the same warm, fuzzy feeling, the same emotional high? Would you be “moved” all the same? Would you be able to discern the truth from the “almost truth?” Or is it the music that you worship, rather than God, through his eternal Word? Examine yourself to see that you are truly in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Are you led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14), or are you led by the lusts of the world (1 John 2:16)?
If your church is still using Hillsong music, you need to urge them to stop. You should point out that this isn’t actual worship of God, it is in many ways a form of idolatry. The Church doesn’t need Hillsong or any other celebrity outfit to produce music for them; the Church’s music must be held to the same standards as any other form of teaching because the singing is a form of teaching. And teaching false or shallow theology does not edify the body or bring glory to God.