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But first, an introduction from The Narrowing Path…

This is the first article in a series written by Cameron Buettel of The Bottom Line blog back in 2010. These articles challenge the false teachings of Brian Houston’s ‘Hillsong Church’ in Sydney, Australia (now expanding around the world), and document Cameron’s efforts to address his concerns directly with Hillsong Church and its leadership.

The spiritually poisonous prosperity/word of faith/new age gospel, preached by Brian Houston and many of the illustrious pastors who speak at his Church and annual conferences, is spreading relentlessly throughout the world. The powerful influence of such churches on average, everyday churches and their pastors in Australia and abroad is often underestimated. There are countless churches whose pastors have modeled themselves and their preaching on Brian Houston (and for the ladies, Bobbie Houston).

Brian Houston, and the other church leaders he endorses, are leading many into a ‘spirituality’ that promotes unity at the expense of God’s truth. Regularly claiming direct revelation from God, such pastors also promote mystical and occult experiences and practices, humanistic self-development, ecumenical/interfaith activities including shared prayer and worship, and an ever increasing rejection of foundational Christian doctrines and biblical Christianity. The problems with Hillsong Church have nothing to do with a preferred worship style or favourite pulpit personality, but rather rest primarily on the continued presence of heretical teaching and deceiving spirits.

All articles in the series will be posted here in full (thanks Cameron!), however I also encourage you to go to The Bottom Line  to read more excellent articles on issues facing the Body of Christ.

Blessings in Christ, Sherryn

The False Gospel Of Hillsong (Part 1) – Houston We Have A Problem

Hillsong church in Australia is one of the largest, if not the largest, distributor of “worship music” in the world and have multiple “worship conferences” each year with tens of thousands in attendance. Pastored by Brian Houston, their message is far reaching. And as I found by reading their message – it is no cause for celebration.

In my previous post, I discussed the content of the “CD liner notes” found in a Hillsong CD. As an Australian, I am sorry for the scale and scope of the gospel according to Hillsong – for it is a gospel with no saving power.

I have attempted to engage in a private dialogue with the “powers that be” in Hillsong church but to no avail. One of their main preachers did write back to me (you will hear more about that on Wednesday), but suffice to say that his e-mails were full of diplomacy and lacking in theology.

This post is not about grinding an axe or discussing the scandals of moral failures. Nor is it a discussion on the financial activities of Hillsong church, though there are those who contend that the economics are a by-product of a false gospel. What follows is my inititial correspondence with Hillsong in the attempt and hope that maybe we could engage in a productive discussion on the purity of the Gospel. So please read on with a heart for those who are lost and deceived, and a desire for the Gospel to thunder once more in pulpits around Australia.

To whom it may concern at Hillsong church,

I recently read through the CD liner notes of your “Hillsong Live – Mighty To Save” CD. In it I found an explanation on how to become a Christian.

Here is what it said:

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.

Now I am concerned about several things lacking in this presentation including Who God is, defining what sin is, that we must all be judged, and why Christ needed to die on the cross. These all give me great cause for concern with the gospel you are proclaiming. But I want to zero in on one particular issue. On your website you have a statement of “what we believe” which says this:

We believe that in order to receive forgiveness and the ‘new birth’ we must repent of our sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and submit to His will for our lives. (http://myhillsong.com/what-we-believe)

Can you please explain to me why repentance is never mentioned in the gospel presentation in the CDs you sell but your website says that “in order to receive forgiveness and the ‘new birth’ we must repent of our sins”? Can you tell me which one version is the correct one?

Adding to this I noticed on the back cover of the CD liner notes a quotation of 2 Chronicles 7:14 which says:

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.

By checking in my Bible I found this verse to be incomplete and is missing the words in bold print:

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Can you explain to me why you deleted the line from that verse that speaks specifically about repentance? I hope you agree that it is very serious indeed to add to or delete information from sacred Scripture.

I am very concerned about this. I’m sure you would agree that the stakes are high and it is imperative that we get the Gospel right. Eternal destinies hang in the balance. The Apostle Paul said:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8-9).

I would appreciate your response as to where Hillsong church actually stands on repentance, and that you would promptly ammend your website or the CD liner notes that you publish. I am writing to you first to give you opportunity to clarify your position before I discuss this publicly on my blog.

Cameron Buettel

They did write back, and so did I, and you’ll hear all about that on Wednesday in Part 2.

Go On To Part 2

Related Articles:

A Tale of Three Churches

The Gospel According to Hillsong

Should Brian Houston “Never Ever Be Allowed to Preach the Gospel Again”?

Fighting For The Faith Sermon Review: Brian Houston

Hillsong NYC: Cult of Celebrity

ABC’s Australian Story Interview with Bobbie Houston (transcript)