Hellsong - The Music of Hillsong - In Praise of Folly
By Lance Goodall
Christian Nightclubs - Thou shalt party
Back in 2003, Time Magazine ran the story on a new phenomenon, The Christian Nightclub. Club Three Degrees in Minneapolis, Minn., boasted all the nightlife staples, like pool tables, DJs and live bands. But a few things were missing, like alcohol, cigarette smoke and music with racy lyrics. That's because the club, was the city's first downtown Christian nightclub. Previously it was housed in an out-of-the-way spot that used to be a rock'n'roll bar.
"We see this as a mission," said the Rev. Nancy Aleksuk, who had managed the club's move to its new $3 million venue with a capacity of 1,700.
The relocation came as Christian entertainment was and is increasing in popularity and visibility across the U.S and the world including Australia. Russell David Hobbs, founder of "The Door", Christian nightclubs in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, says his clubs have done so well he is opening a third, in Plano, Texas.
In Hallandale Beach, Fla., more than 600 people attended the opening of Club Mighty, a once a month Christian nightclub created by insurance agent Sheldon Bland. "We get believers and nonbelievers," said Bland. "People are looking for an alternative to the typical club scene."
The controversial Hobbs describes how he took some time out, and received a greater revelation of God's character, and a vision to bridge the gap between the church and the "secular" world.
Hobbs had a new revelation of God and a new vision, to mix the world and the church, like some alcoholic beverage that he doesn't currently serve in his nightclubs. Has he forgotten that Christ and Belial have no agreement? - cf. 2 Corinthians 6:14 15. We are called to separation, from the world's ways, the world's pleasures, and the world's lifestyle.
This is the new kind of thinking. This is the new breed of religious convert.
The room is black, the coloured lights flash all around. The atmosphere is electric, the laser lights glide through the room. All the youth are pumping! There is noise and hollering. The MC on stage shouts out, (just being heard) over the beat, the clamour, and cymbals; Oh yeah....this is good....this is good....you're dancing crazy.... I'm excited to be here --- That was crazy!! What was he saying? I don't think he even knew what was coming next.
What I just described to you was not on Sunset Strip, LA, or in a discotheque in Manhattan.
This was an in house event in August 2010, held at Hillsong Brisbane City Campus, for the young people at Powerhouse, just 18 months after Hillsong, Sydney took over the church there.
The nightclub has been brought right into what was once the House of God!
And it is all through the channel of music. There is no longer any difference between the Church and the World. The devil has won? This type of ministry is appalling. Youth being lead by youth, cf. Isaiah 3:4 & 12
These same young people come to church with alcohol on their breath from the night before, while the little ones are allowed to dress up in Halloween costumes, during the October vigil.
Meanwhile the adults are making sure they are catered to by having a "rekindle the romance" dinner this September, called, Wine Night Stand. This theme links the event to drunkenness, and debauchery, even if it isn't. The Bible says that such things should not even be named among you cf. Ephesians 5:3
Such carnality is unacceptable to God, and as we shall see, is totally incongruous with the true worship of God.
Unfortunately the sins of the world are now wholly approved by an increasing number of professing Christians. A W Tozer declared:
Young Christians take as their models from the rankest kind of worldlings, and try to be like them as much as possible.
Just to show you how significant the downgrade is, on two or three occasions members of Hillsong Brisbane told me that the walls have been painted black inside the "sanctuary", and I know from my own experience that they placed black paper over the windows of the doors of the main entrance. I remember coming into the auditorium one Sunday morning just before 10:30 am. The auditorium was so dark, like the low mood lighting of a nightclub. As I walked down one of the aisles I was asking myself, "What have they done? Why is it so dark in here?" Two minutes before, I was walking in the car park in bright sunshine!
I and my wife no longer attend that "church". They are being slowly poisoned, or to use another metaphor, like the lobster in the pot, the water temperature is slowly increased til it's all too late. This tidal wave of profanity and corruption, is seeking to carry away every hint of genuine Christian community. These people are swayed by the fashion of Hollywood, and not the inner life of Christ.
Rick's Rock Rhetoric Saints of Los Angeles
There has been much concern voiced over the dangers and errors of contemporary Christian music, and its refusal to separate from secular party music, such as rock and rap. This is evident at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in Southern California.
In chapter 8, of The Purpose Driven Life, Warren said:
God loves all kinds of music because he invented it all--fast and slow, loud and soft, old and new. You probably don't like it all, but God does! ... Christians often disagree over the style of music used in worship, passionately defending their preferred style as the most biblical or God-honouring. But there is no biblical style! ... God likes variety and enjoys it all. There is no such thing as 'Christian' music; there are only Christian lyrics. It is the words that make a song sacred, not the tune. There are no spiritual tunes (pp. 65, 66).
When Warren says that God loves all kinds of music, he means ALL kinds.
Saddleback Church features eight to nine different "worship venues on the property." There is a worship style to suit every worldly taste.
On April 17, 2005, when Warren announced his P.E.A.C.E.programme to Saddleback Church at Angel Baseball Stadium, he began by singing part of Jimi Hendrix's drug-drenched song Purple Haze to the congregation, accompanied by his "praise and worship" band. He said he had wanted to do that for a long time.
Though he is long dead, Jimi Hendrix's influence lives on, but it is an evil influence that should be reproved rather than encouraged. His music and his life epitomized the rock and roll philosophy, which is live as you please. Music was Jimi Hendrix's god. He attended church in his youth, but later he testified: "I used to go to Sunday School, but the only thing I believe in now is music" (cited by Curtis Knight, Jimi).
Hendrix understood the mystical and hypnotic power of rock music. He said:
Atmospheres are going to come through music, because the music is a spiritual thing of its own. ... I can explain everything better through music. You hypnotize people to where they go right back to their natural state, which is pure positive-like childhood when you got natural highs. And when you get people at [their] weakest point, you can preach into the subconscious what we want to say. That's why the name 'electric church' flashes in and out. (Hendrix, interview with Robin Richman" An Infinity of Jimis,- Life magazine, Oct. 3, 1969).
Once you have some type of rhythm, like it can get hypnotic if you keep repeating it over and over again. You do that say for three or four or even five minutes if you can stand it, and then it releases a certain thing inside of a person's head. It releases a certain thing in there so you can put anything you want right inside that, you know. I always like to take people on trips. That's why music is magic. (Hendrix, cited by Henderson, p. 356).
Rick Warren clearly agrees with the communicative construct of music like that of Hendrix,
A song can often touch people in ways a sermon can't. Music can bypass intellectual barriers and take the message straight to the heart. It's a potent tool for evangelism.
These are observations, and warnings that should be taken seriously by Christians. Though Hendrix was a licentious drug user, he was also a brilliant and gifted musician and he understood the nature of rock music as few men have. Those who think that there is no spiritual danger in rock music are deceiving themselves and are leading others down the primrose path of delusion. Observe that Hendrix was referring to the power of the music itself without the words.
It is therefore inexcusable for Rick Warren and his "worship" team to perform any Jimi Hendrix song on any occasion whatsoever. The use of the song was inappropriate, and says a lot about Warren on a number of levels.
There is a long history of no separation from the world at Saddleback Church. Any sorry piece of rock or rap music is fine as long as it is accompanied by a thin veneer of religiosity.
Under the Worship section of Saddleback Church's web site there is a "School of Music and Arts," where you can learn to play in a band. "The best way to learn is to play with other "rockers" like you! "
This is "worship", Rick Warren style'
The Celebrity Driven Church Sold Out Jesus
Hillsong Music is "christian" music produced by Hillsong Church in Sydney Australia. Their albums are released and distributed by Hillsong Music Australia, the resource arm of Hillsong Church. Hillsong is one of the world's fastest-growing ministries, with a 25,000-plus strong congregation in Australia, as well as one of the largest evangelical churches in London, Cape Town and Kiev. Hillsong also has churches in Stockholm and Paris, and recently established a new church in New York City.
For the past twenty years Hillsong worship music has been a global phenomenon. The songs from Hillsong church in Sydney, Australia their quirky punk rhythms and euro pop harmonies sung around the world. You can even find HillsongCDs in small town Lutheran bookstores, as I did recently.
Hillsong popularity in Christian praise and worship music stems from the inauguration of their conferences, in the late 1980s, and the first publication of choruses written by Hills CLC members, especially Darlene Zschech. Their first live worship CD The Power of your Love was released in 1992. Since then, live praise and worship albums have been produced each year. Other music series include the Worship series, United, Youth Alive, Hillsong Kids and Instrumental series, as two Christmas albums and several compilation albums.
Since its first release in 1988, Hillsong has recorded more than 60 albums, including live worship, and kids and youth CDs. They have been distributed in 80 countries and collected more than 30 gold and platinum awards in Australia and the U.S. Total revenue of Christian music in Australia in 2004: $30.2 million. Ok, actually it's pretty obvious: the people in the band and all their fans are gorgeous and hip! They spend time in airports and travel the world looking cool, wearing shades and sporting The Clash t-shirts. Image is the name of the game.
The Hillsong United band is a praise and worship band that originated as a part of Hillsong. The band tours the world, performing at the various Hillsong church locations as well as general concert venues. The music style now is known as 'Hard Worship' or 'Rock Worship'.
Dr. Mark Evans (Macquarie University) states in his Ph. D thesis:
A youth band was formed from the Hillsong music team, which took what was happening in the church musically and played it louder and rockier, appealing directly to a youth demographic.
The Christian music industry is celebrity driven, now more than ever. The song is irrelevant. The focus is on the person, and the songs have become disposable. Most of our ills can be directed at this circus of Christian entertainment which is giving a generation a palatable Christianity, a people who know nothing of seeking after God. This has produced a crisis amongst today's Christian youth.
Much of this error is flooding into the church under the guise of "relevance". In the name of 'relevance' they are rushing around desperately trying to make their music, their leadership, their gospel, and their youth events "cool"in an effort to attract the world on its terms. Instead of "holier than thou", they are "cooler than thou". Their entire effort is aimed at proving to the world that Christianity is just as cool, just as much fun, just as much of a party, as the world has to offer.
These organisations and their followers think they have to become just like the world, in order to impress the world. Thus they now need to be seen in fashionable (or better-still, 'hip' or alternative) clothes; and their youth events become an excuse for a "party"; and their presentations become entertaining multi-media extravaganzas.
This is all in an effort to be equal to, or to "out-cool" the world. Which is why you now see 'moshing' heads, slam-dancing, and stage-diving at their youth concerts, - matching the world's mindless hedonistic ways. They have become "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God" cf. 2nd Timothy 3:4, being cool, yet full of pride, worldliness, and rebellion - all in the name of "relevance".
There is a real danger of the emergence of the 'Concert Christian', the semi-converted, shallow committed teenager whose Christianity means little more than that he enjoys "festival-going", and the tragic fact is, that such 'Concert Christians' are now found in their multiplied thousands, around the globe. It is not just the large festivals, and concerts, that have succumbed to this spirit of entertainment.
We now find this 'entertain-them-at-all-costs' approach to youth ministry almost everywhere in the western world, from local church youth right up to large regional gatherings. This spirit has pervaded almost everything, particularly those areas in the church that are connected with young people. In fact, it has become increasingly rare to find gatherings of Christian youth now in which these attitudes do not prevail.
Many Christians do not realize that in America, every one of the major Christian music companies is now owned by a secular corporation. EMI owns Sparrow, Starsong, Forefront and Gospocentric, Gaylord Entertainment owns Word Records, and the Zomba Group owns Benson Music, Brentwood Music and the Reunion Label.
You cannot serve God and EMI - Takin' care of Business
Hillsong's Music Industry (HMI) has joined forces with EMI. In April 2010 EMI CMG Label Group and its Sparrow Records Label started marketing and developing Hillsong Music's annual releases, including the best-selling Hillsong LIVE, Hillsong UNITED, and Hillsong Kids recordings, as well as their other music and video products. The plan is to extend its reach into North and South America.
It raises the all-important question as to whether these Christian labels are now essentially profit-driven or ministry-driven entities; and it also gives a pointer to just how much MONEY is involved in the Christian music industry today.
Today the largest Christian publishers are owned by secular corporations or have shares held by Wall Street investors. As ministries turn into big businesses, theological integrity all too easily gives way to marketing considerations... The Christian marketplace thus follows the lead of the world's pop culture. A common saying in the industry is:
Whenever a trend emerges in the secular arena, wait six months and a Christianized version will appear in the religious bookstores.
The early songs of Hillsong such as Power Of Your Love (1992) covered some basic Christian themes. An acknowledgment of God, the need to change, our weaknesses, God's Grace, our need for Him, the power of God's love to forgive and overcome in our lives. But in this past decade, we have seen a steady well-orchestrated decline into the worship of entertainment.
Hillsong United Break Free (Abridged) 2007'
Would you believe me, would you listen if I told you that?
There is a love that makes a way and never holds you back?
So won't you break free, won't you break free
Get up and dance in his love (repeat)
Who would have thought that God would give His one and only Son?
Taking a stand up on the cross to show his perfect love?
Now we have a Christ, whose love doesn't hold us back, and a love that is "taking a stand" on the cross. When you look at the importance of songs in conveying a message, this song falls far short of the traditional Christian canon. In fact, it is downright repugnant!
Christ paid our price on the cross. He took our place. He took our penalty for sin, and received the very wrath of God poured out on Him. He died a physical death, as the Eternal God in human flesh. He who had no beginning, ever present with the Father, was cut off for the first time from God.
For He (God) has made Him (Christ) to be sin for us, (He) who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him - 2 Corinthians 5:21.
He endured agony, emotionally, physically and spiritually. All for us!!
Not quite the same as "making a stand", to show His love.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us - Romans 5:8.
For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live to themselves, but to him who died for them, and rose again- 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15.
To be continued ..........
NEXT - The Cross and the Phoenix - Talking up the cross
Hillsong United have just released a new studio album called "Aftermath" 15 Feb 2011
When I read this title, I was disturbed, and questioned the name with a great deal of unease. You can read the full article https://www.cwmf.org.au/cetf-magazines/the-music-of-hillsong-part-2
About the author
Lance Goodall and his wife Norilyn left the Australian church growth movement in 2009. They both have a concern for the knowledge of God and His glory. They carry in their heart, a love for God's honour, for His Word, and for the salvation of the lost. Lance can be contacted via email firstname.lastname@example.org
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