Robert Griffith | 21 June 2023
Robert Griffith
21 June 2023


You would have to be hiding under a rock somewhere not to know about the troubles which have engulfed the Hillsong Church worldwide in recent days. The founding Pastor kicked out; his wife sacked via text message; a leading Hillsong Pastor in the USA also gone after revelations of moral failure in his life; multiple damaging documentaries and hatchet jobs on television; not to mention the tens of thousands of Hillsong congregation members who have left in only the last few months and many more in the last few years. It’s huge and it’s very sad.

Now the ‘Christian cancel culture’ warriors have started their latest campaign calling for a ban on all Hillsong worship songs in our services. They are suggesting that if I select a Hillsong worship song for my Congregation to sing next Sunday, I am somehow sanctioning the actions of those who have ‘sinned’ or worse still, I am supporting the alleged financial mismanagement of one of the largest Christian ‘businesses’ in the world.

If Hillsong wrote books and not worship songs, there would be bonfires in town squares all over the world!

Of course, I am concerned about the alleged problems within Hillsong and I don’t support anything which may have taken place which does not serve the gospel and honour God. However, this pile-on against our own brothers and sisters in Christ is actually far worse and far more damaging to the Christian ‘brand’ than anything which may or may not have happened within the ranks of one of our own Churches. It reveals far more about the jealously, hatred and pharisaic spirit within the wider Church and it must break our Father’s heart … again.

Some of the most worshipful, theologically sound, beautifully written worship songs of the last twenty years have come from the Hillsong teams. I don’t sing all their songs and I don’t think all their songs are spot on, but then there are many much loved hymns from our early days which should never have been included in our Sunday services, in my humble opinion. But I am not about to burn my hymn book or refuse to sing all the other great songs by the same writers!  That would just be dumb.

I happen to believe that a good worship song which helps us come before the throne of grace and exalt our Lord and God, is a gift to the Church from the Holy Spirit. I don’t care who the human writer was or what Church they were aligned to at the time. If the words are Truth and the tune is good and it’s not too hard to teach a congregation, then LET’S WORSHIP and thank God for all the great worship songs!

At the centre of this new ‘Christian cancel culture’ lies the evil in people’s hearts and a completely warped view of sin and God’s grace in using sinners for anything at all in the Church. Let me give you some other examples which might drive my point home.

Why is Amazing Grace still the most loved and most sung Christian song of all time? I think the answer is clear – it’s a beautiful, inspired, theologically sound, powerful summation of the Gospel. But surely, we can’t keep singing a song which was written by a man who was still involved in slavery when the song was written, and was sleeping with his female slaves, as a Christian. Of course we can! We sing Amazing Grace because it’s an awesome song, gifted to the world by God – not because we are supporting or sanctioning the flawed actions of John Newton at the time.

I love the writings of Karl Barth – whom I think was one of the greatest theological minds this world has ever seen. As part of a Theology degree I completed many years ago, I did a course just on Barth and saturated myself with his writings for a whole year. It was quite a ride, I can assure you! Does my interest in his work have anything to do with him personally? No, not at all. In fact, this brilliant man lived in open adultery, torturing his wife’s very soul with his insistence that his lover share their house. If Barth lived today, he would have been kicked out of the Church and all his books would have been burned by those who supposedly are his brothers and sisters in Christ.

What about the Bible? We cherish this incredible compilation of works which we believe were inspired by the Holy Spirit and preserved for us down through the centuries. Christians stand on this ancient text as the final, objective authority in matters of faith and practice. But have you looked into the personal lives of some of the writers of the Biblical text? If you want some juicy gossip for your cancel culture narrative, why have you not gone back to the foundational document of the entire Church?  You will find so much material there in the fallen, broken, flawed lives of those whom God has used to write the Bible – and yet it remains the highest selling and most respected book in the world!

By far the most glaring example would have to be David. If Amazing Grace is the most sung and most loved Christian song, then surely Psalm 23 is the most loved and read chapter in the Bible!  But do you know that the man who wrote these words we revere so much and read so often was a murderer and an adulterer? His sins were arguably worse than anything that’s been allegedly happening in Hillsong, and yet nobody that I know within the Church is calling for a ban on everything David wrote.  Why is that? You know why, don’t you?

The call for us to stop singing Hillsong songs has nothing to do with the songs; it has nothing to do with their words or their tunes or even their individual writers.

This international Hillsong-bashing campaign has something far more sinister at its core and I am not going to spell it out for you. If you don’t already know what causes the Church to turn on itself with such vitriol and poisonous hatred, then I guess it will just keep happening … while the world watches on and wonders why anyone in their right mind would ever want to be a Christian!

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
( Mahatma Ghandi )

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