Before reading the article, please read the following:
HILLSONG: WHERE WERE THE CREEDS?
Our family attended Hillsong back in the early days of CLC.
During our entire time at CLC/Hillsong, we never heard about creeds. If you mentioned the word ‘creed’ to us back then, we would have no idea what you were talking about. In the very early years, people we knew didn’t remember any creeds – even as far back as the late 70s.
HILLSONG TODAY: TRYING TO LOOK ORTHODOX AND CREEDAL.
Move forward to 2014, I am disgusted to see Hillsong trying to appear orthodox. They’re not! Marketing themselves as ‘orthodox’ when they’re aren’t. That’s dishonest!
It was noticable this year that Hillsong, in their marketing, was trying to look as though they are part of the historic Christian faith, appearing to be orthodox. However, the attached video actually reveals the fact that leaders and members of Hillsong, to this day, are unaware of the creeds and still do not recite them in their church. (Listening to the dialogue you can tell they don’t know why the creeds were written.)
At Hillsong Conference 2014, this interview was streamed from their Hillsong conference website.
Rich Langton: So the creed. The apostle’s creed. I can remember as I think probably others will as well in high school reciting that week on week- week in, week out. And um, it was always meaningful because of the exactly what was on the video we just saw. But Ben, for you, did you know about the Apostle’s creed? What did you know about it before writing this song?
Ben Fielding: Well I did know it. I actually went to an Anglican school. Ans so we recited the Apostle’s creed, And so I knew of it. It had been a few years since I had revisited it. And so I probably couldn’t have recited verbatim, like so many people can throughout the church.
And what I did know of it, is that it was an incredibly unifying body of text and that it was a core statement of belief that literally you know, pushes aside all the other things that might divide us and distract us from the main thing. And it just goes and states all the things that we hold to be most true. And um, there is an incredible power when we can come to together in agreement and in unity. And the creed brings that and our hope is that this song brings that.
Rich Langton: That’s great. And so Ben again, we’re not really a credal denomination.
Ben Fielding: No.
Rich Langton: So then what place do songs hold for us and churches like ours?
Ben Fielding: Yeah. Well I mean I guess in many respects songs are the contemporary creed. And they don’t replace the creed or the creeds but they become our theology contained in song. And I think as a song writer, I mean I hold that responsibility with great value and I don’t want to treat likely the responsibility that we have because we’re stewards of the truth of the gospel. And we put words in the mouths of our church and potentially churches outside of our church. So it is imperative that what we’re singing is true. And that we’re singing the kinds of things that would hold up for centuries upon centuries. And I think that challenge is a great challenge.
Source: Interview, Hillsong Conference 2014.
What makes me angry is how, in the past, Hillsong had always portrayed a bias against churches that are traditional. It was infused into my thinking that I was involved in something that was Spirit-filled and divinely relevant. I was told to think of traditional churches, like the Anglican or Baptist churches, as religious, spiritually dead, white-washed tombs, dull, boring, lifeless, full of religious spirits and so on.
I’m now seeing how Hillsong has changed tactics. They are introducing their false theology and influence into those same ‘traditional’ churches (those same apparently ‘dead, white-washed tombs’ etc) through their music. They’re trying to impact on all denominations by pushing their all-inclusive ‘Jesus’, that same ‘Jesus’ who lacks any form of biblical integrity, with Hillsong leadership showing a total absence of sound doctrine pointing to Him.
Looking back, I can see why. The Hillsong movement’s ‘theology’ keeps evolving. I can now identify times when we were exposed to Word of Faith, Latter Rain and even when they started emphasising Church Growth teaching (Yonggi Cho with his cell groups). It is a movement that is tossed by every wind and wave of doctrine, based on the most popular teaching or the most popular preacher. It’s sad for me to reflect on the fact that these teachings weren’t Christian. If I knew then what I know now, I would have approached my relationships with friends in other denominations, in a more biblical way.
MY JOURNEY OUT.
Did anything really ‘bad’ happen to me at Hillsong? Well, without realizing it, something bad was happening – at the time I just didn’t understand how dangerous their theology was. However, when I found myself ‘stumbling’ across resources on the internet; when I started studying and learning about the Christian faith, I felt completely violated.
Christianity was so much more than what Hillsong offered me. From my discovery, I ‘felt’ that these Hillsong thieves robbed me of so much over the years. And I say thieves, because they robbed me of discovering the riches of a glorious God and His saving grace, and the amazing heritage of the Christian faith that I have come to love and appreciate. I have so much catching up to do. All these truths I should have received if they actually bothered to preach the bible faithfully!
I felt all ‘hacked up’ with no place to go. For years, Hillsong had deliberately cut themselves off from the rest of the body of Christ because they always wanted to be in the so-called will of God doing the next “new thing”. Looking back, my experience at Hillsong reminds me of Mormonism. It’s kinda like I got that ‘warm feeling’ (also described as ‘burning in the bosom’ in Mormonism) in my chest – that God ‘wanted’ me to know that Hillsong and their ‘prophet’ were truly of God, that the rest of Christianity needs to keep up with us.
The mainstream church needed to change with us or die without us.
When I left Hillsong, I felt like a complete alien. I am about to step into a ‘dead’ church? What would I see? Would I like it? Is the ‘Spirit’ there? What does the ‘Spirit’ look like now?
I left Hillsong with a bunch of people because we were so sick of what we felt was a very shallow, plastic, exhausting, religious environment. I’m grateful to have found more freedom and depth in my local church. Yes, we do recite and appreciate the spiritual depth of the creeds, yes, we do go through some of the confessions and yes, we learn about church history. Most importantly, I hear a biblical gospel and hear God’s Word rightly handled.
MY GROWTH IN CHRIST.
After all the songs I had sung, after all the sermons I heard, after all the conferences I attended and all the guest speakers I ‘idolized’, I’m still growing in my ‘new’ faith. Before, I sadly confess, I was ‘always learning but never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth’ (2 Timothy 3:7).
I am now someone who Hillsong would probably call ‘religious’, or label a Pharisee. But I would say this: it was me they were shutting out of the Kingdom of Heaven. It was the Hillsong leadership who were denying me access to our God through their lack of faithful preaching of His gospel and His Word and their integrity.
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.” Matt 23:13
Hillsong tried to make me feel ‘good’ but I felt plastic and insulated. I was never sure if I was good enough for God, or if I was what He wanted me to be. When someone actually asked me the gospel because they needed Jesus, I didn’t even know what to say! That was the start of my journey out of Hillsong. I’m ashamed to say that I was a Christless, creedless, and clueless Christian in Hillsong.
But not any more. I find myself evangelizing more effectively, and know how to present my faith honourably before God and friends.
I thank God I am out.