Joel Houston with Hillsong UNITED performs during the Outcry Tour 2015 at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre on Saturday, August 1, 2015, in Atlanta. (Photo by Robb D. Cohen/Invision/AP)

Why I Won’t Play Hillsong On The Radio

For those outside the church, Hillsong is a megachurch with roots in Australia and New York City, among other places. It also has terrific worship music. Hillsong UNITED is popular among the hipster Christian set and has some great songs.

I have played Hillsong’s music on my radio show over the past several years. I do special programming for Good Friday and Christmas every year and during those seasons play more Christian groups than secular groups. I phased out Hillsong, though, and deleted their songs altogether from the music carts pertaining to my show.

I love a lot of alt-rock music sung by a lot of liberals. Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam is a pro-abortion, atheist leftist who I think is one of the most talented people on the planet. If I chose what music I listened to based on ideology, I’d be stuck listening to Beethoven exclusively. I listen to Beethoven, but also to Atlas Genius, Foals, Awolnation, Fitz & The Tantrums, etc. I even took my 11 year old to see Adele on Saturday night after Adele endorsed Clinton. She is a wonderful singer and I do not care about her politics. Again, I couldn’t care less about a singer’s politics. I presume they are all of the left unless I know otherwise.

But music and Christian music are not the same. If a band holds itself out as a Christian band I expect that they will adhere to orthodoxy on the things that matter, including the first things of the church. Among the non-negotiables of Christianity is the Christian sexual ethic. While there are a bunch of liberal Christians who have tried to claim the Bible condones gay marriage and homosexuality, I have more respect for those who admit it does not, but have decided to go along with the world anyway.

At Hillsong Church in New York City, Pastor Carl Lentz decided to give up even talking about the sexual ethics of Christianity because he claims Jesus never talked about it. The lead pastor, Brian Houston, also has refused to be honest on the issue, choosing instead to obfuscate on the subject.

Now Joel Houston, Brian Houston’s son and the co-pastor at Hillsong NYC and head of the Hillsong band, seems to have cast his lot with Jen Hatmaker. Hatmaker made news last week by deciding, contrary ot scripture and Biblical orthodoxy, that homosexual relationships can be holy. This prompted Lifeway to remove her books from their stores. Hatmaker, in expressing her belief that homosexual relationships can be holy, runs contrary to scripture and contrary to the idea that God does not change. In several tweets since deleted, Houston referred to a Hatmaker interview as “enacting a gospel of love over hate/fear” and called it “refreshing.”

In scripture, God created mankind in his image as male and female. The first institution of human relations God created was marriage between one man and one woman. In the New Testament, Jesus affirms the institution as between one man and one woman. To suggest otherwise is to suggest that God can change, which is to fall outside 2000 years of Christian orthodoxy. To presume a Christian sexual ethic involves hate and fear is worldly, not godly.

If Hillsong wants to be just another band, I’d gladly play their music on my radio show. They’re a good band. But by claiming to be a Christian band while deviating from the fundamentals of Christian orthodoxy means I cannot in good conscience recommend their music or play it at times I set aside to play Christian music.

I don’t doubt the convictions of the leaders at Hillsong, but I think Christians who cannot stand fully for orthodoxy for risk of losing an audience ultimately do more harm than good. I wouldn’t change the radio if a Hillsong song came on and won’t go purging my iPod of their songs. But I also don’t want to promote their music to my listeners either.

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Erick Erickson

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