I am so aware that blogs can very quickly become a pile of the blogger’s rants about everything they see, and I know that I very easily fall into this trap. That being said, I am now going to rant a little bit.
I seem to have (unfairly?) inherited a classification as one who does not like Hillsong. This is not the case, but I would like to state now what I feel uneasy about. Apart from what is stated here I actually think that I quite like Hillsong. Their songs are catchy, and their churches are growing. Good on them.
This one’s the biggy. I’m not sure that I could say with any authority exactly what Hillsong’s doctrinal statement is, but anyone who has heard of Hillsong knows their music, so that’s what this impression is based on:
1. The fact that the music is so prominent means that the authoritative preaching of the Word of God is pushed back to a time filler; it’s not particularly challenging and doesn’t, in my opinion, present a very high opinion of Scripture. I don’t really like that.
2. Nearly all of their songs are responses – let me explain. Have a look through Hillsong lyrics; while most of it is fine (see below) pretty much every song is a declaration of ‘I’m going to shout’ ‘I’m going to run’ ‘We’ll dance’ ‘I love you’ ‘I live my life for you’…it’s all about how much we love God and what we’re going to do. Not enough, in my opinion, is sung about what God has already done for us, and that should always be the starting point!
This is my other bugbear. To say that Hillsong produce such a lot of very good music it seems that their quality assurance process is not very good. Consider this verse from the excellent song, Mighty to Save:
So take me as you find me
With all my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender
1. ‘So take me as you find me’? To my mind that sounds like an arrogant child, unwilling to change: ‘God, I don’t care what you say so take me as you find me’. A far better line would be what my church would have opted for: ‘You take me as you find me’. Now this is a humble recognition of the fact that God does not demand anything of us, yet he takes us as he finds us. Far better, far more biblical, far more humble.
2. ‘I give my life to follow/Everything I believe in’ – this is just clumsy; anyone of any faith anywhere could, and indeed should sing this line! An atheist could absolutely sing that with full conviction, and that’s just wrong. Be clear about what you believe, don’t be ashamed of the gospel. We would change that line to ‘I give my life to follow/The glorious King of heaven’ – yes, a definite declaration about this is who I’m following.
I think that Hillsong are good at what they do in general, but I’m not sure they appreciate the influence they have. A wise person once said that people take their theology from the songs they sing, and that is absolutely correct; churchgoers sing the songs from Sunday throughout the week, so we should be doing our utmost to make sure they’re singing good stuff!
I’d far any Christian was caught singing, ‘Nothing can separate me from the love of God’ rather than ‘So take me as you find me’.