I am often asked about Hillsong church in Australia pastored by Brian Houston. To Americans, and most others outside of Australia, the church is known almost exclusively for their very popular "worship music". Their CDs are marked by outstanding musicianship, high quality vocal performances, and excellent production values. It is one of those rare places where Australians have become the benchmark in mainstream evangelicalism.
To Australians, Hillsong represents far more than music. It is the flagship congregation of the Pentecostal churches within Australia. It has spawned other Hillsong "franchises" both in Australia and around the world. Their success at drawing large numbers of people, coupled with their affluence, has caused nearly every other Christian denomination (or movement) to sit up and pay close attention. It is a testimony to their influence that so many churches around Australia, Pentecostal or not, aspire to Hillsong's prestige and success.
They have had their share of scandals due to the moral failures of three high profile figures. However, far and away most of the criticism aimed at the Hillsong empire centres around their financial dealings - some of this criticism is warranted and some is seemingly driven by jealousy. But what grieves me most, as an Australian, is the almost total lack of debate on the gospel they preach. This augers poorly for the future of Christian denominations in Australia when the purity of the Gospel is not the central agenda - it doesn't even seem to be on the agenda! I have had many years of bewilderment living in Australia because of the sheer lack of interest in discussing this issue among both clergy and laymen.
We have just had a summit in Copenhagen by a bunch of guys worried that their car exhaust is melting the polar ice caps when there is no way of knowing if they are having any effect whatsoever. How much more should Christians be concerned about creating a climate where false teaching can flourish. And this is precisely what happens when the purity of the Gospel is not actively contended for.
This post has been delayed due to finishing my previous series "The Anatomy Of The Gospel" and also because of my ongoing private correspondance with Hillsong church. There is much to discuss and much to be revealed over the coming days. But for now I want to ask you, the reader, to take on my discernment challenge. I will now present Hillsong's gospel presentation as found in their "Live - Mighty To Save" CD. What I want you to do is measure it against my "Anatomy of the Gospel" series where I established the following "five pillars" of presenting the Christian Gospel - The Holiness of God, The Depravity of Man, The Necessity of Judgment, The Work of Christ (Atonement and Resurrection), and the Human Response that this Demands (Repentance and Faith). You can also measure the "gospel according to Hillsong" against their very own (hard to find) faith statement (click here).
The gospel according to Hillsong:
Our prayer is that you would discover the Author of Love . . . Jesus. His life and death represent the greatest gift of love the world will ever see . . . a gift for you. All you need to do is accept it . . . a brand new start to a life lived in relationship with God. Meeting God is as simple as praying a prayer . . . asking Jesus to meet you right where you are. If you are not sure that you know God, and that you are going to heaven, then make this your prayer today . . .
Dear Lord Jesus
I need You . . . I need Your grace to forgive me and I need your love to change me. Thank You for your amazing love. Thank You for giving me life and eternity. But above all, thank you for dying on the cross for me.
I accept You as my Lord and Saviour. Now I'm a Christian, which means You live in me.
I belong to You. I will live my life for You and I will love You forever . . . Amen.
So how do you think that stacks up against the biblical Gospel? And one final thing for today - that same CD has the Bible verse 2 Chronicles 7:14 quoted on the back page . . . but something is not quite right. See if you can figure out what is wrong with this Bible quotation:
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Stay tuned for Friday where I will give my verdict!