Is Hillsong Church New Age?

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I’ve gotten so tired of the polarities in the body of Christ. God seems to have enough patience for all of us (including a lot of folks I honestly maybe wouldn’t like). And truth be known, the whole “Hillsong Church is new age” mantra feels so tired and worn.

Let me clarify. I do understand why some take issue with the doctrines of Hillsong Church. It’s just that saying they are “new age” is going way to far.

And I’m not talking about their other potential issues here.

There is a WHOLE LOT going on right now that regards Hillsong. I want to be careful not to defend things that should not be defended.

Polarities that arise over doctrinal differences in the body of Christ are inevitable. The issues are complex. We all bring different presuppositions and experiences to how we try to make sense of what is true and false doctrinally.

Hillsong is like any other church in this regard: doctrinal positions they take tend to be rather polarizing. But it isn’t really the “doctrinal polarization” that I’m concerned about.

My concern is more with the polarizing attitudes in the body of Christ that cause so many to shout “antichrist” about so many other believers who have nothing but good intentions and might just be a little misinformed.

Please understand: Hillsong “Theology Problems” bug me, too.

But If you’re going to hold yourself out to be a voice to the people to lead them from error, then be compassionate. Be compassionate enough to not be angry with those who do not yet hear what you think you have to say.

Be honest enough to recognize when your anger is just about others not acknowledging that you’re right.

It doesn’t do a lot of good to merely take shots at our “doctrinal enemies” simply over doctrinal differences. I’ve learned to speak to ungodly attitudes and separate those from false doctrinal beliefs.

I wish other people could learn to do this.

Look. I get it. I’m definitely not thrilled with all of what they seem to embrace doctrinally, either. I’m just not bothered by everything they say and do, contrary to what seems to come from some of their biggest critics.

And if you want to know specifically what theology they hold to that is “problematic” for me, I’m not going to tell you.

If that is the first place you’re going to go in your head – to try to get a radar-fix on what my doctrinal position is, then I might have a problem with you, too.

If you’re reading with your main focus to see if I’m “on your side” doctrinally, you’re still missing what I’m trying to say here.

There shouldn’t be “sides” in the body of Christ.

We could pretty much avoid doctrine altogether and still have an unfortunate look at what bugs me here about the Hillsong Church phenomenon.

Others have already listed all the “problems” with Hillsong Theology. And I would probably say most of the lists get it wrong anyway.

Besides, I have experienced much in my Christian walk that lines up with what I’ve personally heard in the teachings of Hillsong Church. I’ve also seen their words twisted and butchered before. And THAT is why the whole Hillsong Church controversy just bugs me.

In my opinion, the rest of the church is sometimes the biggest problem with Hillsong church.

Perhaps the fact that I tend to align doctrinally somewhat with them predisposes me to be sensitive to some of their critics.

The fact is that even if I was baptistic-leaning in my beliefs (which I’m not, but rather charismatic) I would still be annoyed with so much of what I see written about Hillsong (and Bethel, and so many churches like them).

So, what are the problems with Hillsong church, anyway?

Do the search for ‘Hillsong church new age’ and see what comes up.

And then ask yourself: does it make you angry? If so, why? Maybe the results make you angry because you have a passion for truth. And “New Age Theology” sure ain’t truth.

The links that come up that annoy me are “The World Finally Seeing Hillsong as new age” and “Why Hillsong Music Is Dangerous For Your Church,” just to name a few.

My issue isn’t that I think they Hillsong is “new age” (because I’m not convinced of that at all, yet). My issue is with so much of these sometimes false accusations about what Hillsong really teaches.

The reason these links bug me is because when I look at the articles that come up in the search, I don’t see much charity there.

Jesus said, “the truth will make you free.” And if you have a prophetic nature about you, you too may be zealous for pointing out the “non-truths” you see and hear to warn people not to be led astray into darkness.

But we are also called to love everyone – especially those of the household of faith.

Does this sound like that? Does this article from “Pulpit and Pen” look loving and kind? Here, they quote from the Hillsong creative team talking about how they try to function harmoniously within the framework of their church leadership, and their response to the idea.

It is so important that as amazing as our creative ideas might be, if they don’t ultimately line up with what our Senior Pastor and leaders want, then we happily put them aside.The church doesn’t exist to build our worship teams… our worship teams exist to build the Church!!

Douglass has made it clear who the Hillsong worship program exists to serve. (Hint: It isn’t Jesus.)

Pulpit and pen

Is this speaking truth in love? (How do you know?)

I’ve been involved with many a baptist church in the past that promotes the idea that God doesn’t appoint boards or committees; He appoints MEN. And if you don’t get in line with the pastor’s vision, get out.

But I’m not sure that “Pulpit and Pen” supports a “brethren model” of the church. So is this about the model, or is this a mixed motive of criticizing the man, and bending theology momentarily to support the prejudice?

I don’t know. And I won’t automatically take shots at the writers at “Pulpit and Pen” because I don’t know their hearts. I’m just not too sure I see them exercising the same kind of tolerance and suspending judgement. It feels like they claim to know other’s hearts in a way that I’m not sure I can.

Or what about this one?

Clearly Houston has no idea what the purpose and function of the church is. While he twists a passage out of Acts 8 in a sorry attempt to prove the church is made up of wicked people, he then states how he loves the fact that his church is full of broken, unrepentant people.

Pulpit and Pen

Maybe this is the way we are called to judge each other? Can we point out what we think are theology issues without crucifying the theologians?

Or how about this one?

While Christians worship Jesus, many people who claim to be Christian today worship what is coined as a ‘moralistic, therapeutic deity’. This ever-changing deity is whatever Hillsong wants this god to be at any given time. Slapping the word ‘Jesus’ on it and claiming to the world they are Christian does not make them Christian, nor a church. It is no wonder why people in their own movement cannot explain what Christianity is nor tell you what the gospel is.

Hillsong Church Watch

You can type in any – any – bible teacher into a google search window with their name followed by the words “false teacher” and see all kinds of bible-thumping, angry church goers taking them to task for being anti-christ.

Charismatics take issue with R. C. Sproul and John MacArthur. Baptist take issue with Joyce Meyers, Joel Osteen and Kenneth Copeland. Some baptists even take issue with R. C. Sproul!!

And flat-earthers take issue with all of them, based on bible references – even though a lot of flat-earthers don’t even believe a lot of what the bible says about Jesus.

However…

If I can rationalize that the people I have trouble with aren’t Christians, it makes it easier to pick a fight with their doctrine without having to love them while I do.

I get this, too. We all want to be sure we are “doctrinally sound.” Paul spoke of the need for solid doctrine and warned against “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” “false teachers” and “doctrines that tickle the ear.”

Regarding the whole problem of corruption in the leadership of Hillsong Church, I’m not qualified (yet) to speak to whether or not this is the case. Perhaps there are some among the leadership and staff at Hillsong who are corrupt.

But…

If we don’t learn to separate our differences over doctrines from our differences with those who teach those doctrines, we might do more damage than good to the body of Christ.

Again, I’m not defending everything that might be going on with the leadership at Hillsong Church.

But having people in your church who “cannot explain what Christianity is nor tell you what the gospel is” – who cannot (yet) clearly articulate their understanding of the nature of God or the trinity – doesn’t automatically mean that the church is teaching “whatever Hillsong wants this god to be at any given time.”

It might mean that your church is growing and full of new members who have encountered Jesus and just haven’t learned to articulate all of what that means yet.

And that might just be a good thing. It just might mean your church is actually growing and that you’re not just preaching to the choir anymore. You’re actually preaching to new believers who aren’t going to get it all in the first 72 hours.

You see, when Paul spoke against false teachers as wolves in sheep’s clothing, he was talking about people who “knew better,” who he plainly knew to be in it for selfish gain; people whose gods were their bellies, and their appetites their shame.

Maybe you think you can read people’s hearts and motives like that. I know I need to allow more benefit of the doubt before I decide whether this is all about “selfish gain” in the hearts of Hillsong staff.

But maybe you’re more prophetic than I am. Whatever.

Quite frankly, I that the charges of Hillsong Church being “New Age” are ridiculous and overblown.

Now, maybe I’m wrong.

I know I’ve been wrong before. But so have you.

And that’s ok. We all grow and (hopefully) change our opinions over time. Even if the core ideas remain the same over time, our perspectives should become richer as we age.

And, hopefully, our attitudes become more charitable toward others who we think are messed up and confused. It’s not what I see on some of the websites I read on some of these posts.

You might be wrong now, too.

Do you keep this reality in mind as you interact with others who believe differently than you?

We all have to start somewhere. And as iron sharpens iron, as I see things with the openness to having my beliefs challenged by others who think differently, I’ve learned a lot and changed my views, SPECIFICALLY because I was open to the idea that I might be wrong.

And do you correct those you see as wrong in love? Can you say you are “on your knees in your heart” for those you criticize, praying for them to see truth as you do? Or do you enjoy being critical of them?

Are you guilty of wanting to rain down fire and brimstone from heaven to consume these “false teachers” you’re so bent about?

Thirty years ago, the Hillsong Theology problems that I see now would have creeped me out.

But then, thirty years ago, I thought I knew everything.

Thirty years ago, I would have been downright annoyed with some of the teachers at Hillsong because of what I consider “bad doctrine.”

But thirty years ago, my truth might not have had much “love” in it.

I would like to think that with my age comes some wisdom. Among the things I’ve come to see is the reality that doctrine shouldn’t be a contact sport within the church. I see so many of these articles written with unnecessary roughness toward other people who only mean well but might be a little misguided on some things.

The brother or sister in Christ who has wonky theology is not your enemy.

Yeah. I suppose there are a few things I might take exception to with HIllsong Church when it comes to their theology. But to be honest, I think that I, like you, probably find I don’t agree doctrinally with ANYONE 100%.

Part of our problem as believers is that as we hang out with like-minded people. I guess that’s not the problem, in and of itself. But what comes as a result of doing that is that we tend to avoid hanging out with (and INTERACTING) with people think differently than we do.

Do yourself (and the doctrinal “other guy”) a favour and get to really know someone you disagree with.

If you’re a good, solid bible-believing Baptist, get to know someone who is a fan of Hillsong Church, or Bethel, or some other similar church. And learn to listen to them. Give them room to share their experiences with you and hear their heart.

Our human nature is to want to avoid conflict and to avoid conversations that make us angry. But sometimes, we need to have our ideas challenged to discover WHY we believe as we do. And if we only hang out with people who think like us, there are some vast areas in our ways of thinking that never get challenged with any “mental fibre,” so to speak, to help us examine ourselves to see if we are aligned with what is true.

And if you’re a fan of Hillsong Church, try to get to know a good Baptist or Presbyterian and do the same.

You just might be amazed at just how much passion and how much “Holy Spirit” you find in that “mainline denominational Christian” person you’ve always thought to be spiritually lifeless and stiff.

You might actually find that you still think those people who were wrong before are wrong now. But they might still teach you a thing or two, too.

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