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Wait. Hillsong is a church, not a band...?

Posted by Gary Labels: , ,

For the longest time, I thought Hillsong was a band -- an extremely prolific one -- but little did I realize that Hillsong is in fact a church in Australia with an independent record label. I've done a little research on them, and truthfully I find myself concerned with the findings.

Michael Guglielmucci faked terminal cancer and wrote a song of hope called "Healer" for those with terminal illness. He apparently fooled even his own family. If I had cancer, I would want my family to go with me to the doctor for emotional support. Note that in this live youtube video, he even has an oxygen tube in his nose.

His song was included in a Hillsong album, but it was promptly (and rightly) removed from any further copies of that CD after his deception was discovered. Now, to my understanding, Mr. Guglielmucci is not a member of Hillsong itself, and I do not hold Hillsong personally accountable for this incident. However, it's still worth mentioning.

As The Thinking Theologian puts it, this conversation should not stop simply at saying there's grace and forgiveness for him, despite his misbehavior. Rather, we must go on to ascertain just how this man managed to be given a position of influence over thousands, millions, even. Accountability is necessary. We must put checks into place to ensure that this doesn't happen again, and make sure that no one else is doing this and still getting away with it now. The Thinking Theologian continues on this subject to give comment into how poorly this reflects on the leadership for choosing such a person and being so completely oblivious to his true character. My thought: scammers protect their own.

Triple-T was himself a member of Hillsong for seven years, even becoming a paid staff member. He also affirms that Hillsong is financially chaotic, if not outright corrupt. Now, I encourage you to read the rest of his blog and his forum (as I have done), but I'm going to not refer so strictly to him anymore. I'm not a single-source reporter.

As I look once more at the store page and peruse the products, I see many things on "building the kingdom/church." Yet, the Kingdom is not the same as the church. The Kingdom of God exists wherever justice (i.e. MERCY) reigns. The more that mercy reigns in our lives and in our community, the more fully God's kingdom is manifest among us. Many of the products are so focused on finances, such as Bobbie Houston's She is a Force on Earth! teaching CD, which is part of a series on the woman of God is. This series says (among other things) that she, the woman of God: 1. Has a big, beautiful heart, 2. Is confident (Part I and II), 3. Makes mince meat of her enemies, and 4. Loves and values her sexuality [A woman of God can be CELIBATE, actually.] I'll treat one particular book now and not burden myself with looking for every single book that seems off theologically.

Here is a pdf of a response to Brian Houston's You Need More Money: Discovering God's Amazing Financial Plan for Your Life, which I could not find through the store website, but could find on Amazon. I've reviewed the book here. There were two ratings, both one-star. What's more, there are exactly two reviews, both quite negative and following the same rationale as the scholarly response above. While I do not own a copy of the book in question, I will tell you that the scholarly response is Biblically valid. That scholar knows what he's talking about, and has my stamp of approval. Both he and the second reviewer on Amazon say that Brian did not even cite a single commentator throughout the book, and claim several hermeneutical (=interpretive) problems with how Brian uses scripture. The scholarly response impresses me by noting that Ecclesiastes is extremely sarcastic (which is true), and even using the proper Hebrew name for the book.

After thoroughly perusing 1. the list of products, 2. a review of a book by Brian Houston (which conspicuously doesn't show up on searches on his website but does show up on Amazon), 3. Parliament's mentions of Hillsong, 4. Australian newspaper articles, and 5. Comments of current/former members of Hillsong, as seen through the newspaper citations and Triple-T's blog, I have come to the conclusion that Hillsong is indeed a proponent of a prosperity gospel mentality that says that God intends for us to be rich in an economic sense. None of the products I've viewed on their website, which includes every teaching series and book by Brian or Bobbie, makes any mention of the Christian need to sacrifice, be strong through persecution, and even give in to death, if it comes to that. In contrast, "For This I Was Born" by Brian on page 5 speaks of Jesus coming to the cross with conviction that it was His purpose in life to do that [i.e. die on a cross for sins, though Brian doesn't say that]. Then pages 5-6 say "God does not want you and me to die full of potential. He wants you to live for something worth dying for." Page 5 also quotes the proverb that "everyone who is born dies, but not everyone who dies has truly lived." Interestingly, Jesus had a saying on that topic. Here's what JESUS said: "If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matt 16:24-26).