Should we use Bethel, Hillsong, or Jesus Culture for Worship? (debate)

I had a friendly debate/discussion with Jarett on the subject of whether or not we should use Bethel, Hillsong, or Jesus Culture for congregational worship. Below is a dropbox link with the debate audio for download or feel free to use the audio player below!

Note: This debate presupposes the reality that these groups are theological cults associated with the Prosperity/Word of Faith/NAR movement.

I hope it is edifying and answers any questions one may have on this subject.

Here is the link to access the file: https://www.dropbox.com/s/j223sn09o0pl6or/Debate%20audio.m4a?dl=0

To just listen to the debate – listen here:

Debate audio (cuts out at end, however that was the end of the discussion)

For other resources on Bethel in particular click here and here

Here is an article by Costi Hinn on this subject here

Justin Peters discusses Hillsong in worship here

Both Costi Hinn and Justin Peter’s should be referred to for a lot of solid material on these groups and subjects.

17 thoughts on “Should we use Bethel, Hillsong, or Jesus Culture for Worship? (debate)

  1. This debate was nothing short of brilliant. .
    Nick carefully, respectfully and theologically laid out all of the points on why we should avoid playing this music from these heretical teachers and churches.

  2. The debate is well done. Just a couple of points that need to be clarified. “It is Well With My Soul” is in the public domain. I am 90% certain that no one gets any money when we play that song in our churches. And while I agree that the financial aspect of it is very important, I do think it is even more important that we avoid the possibility of causing someone to stumble. Sadly I know far too many people in my own circle who believe that Bethel must be okay because their music is so wonderful, who end up listening to Bill Johnson because his church is the source of this wonderful music, and ultimately are led to there.

    1. Thank you for those points! I had thought it was public domain but wasn’t certain so I didn’t bring it up. I think the financial aspect is important too, but like you I’m more worried by endorsements. Why even risk someone getting into their doctrine? It’s the same for me, where people assume bethel is okay because they hear their songs at church. That really is the primary tragedy of it all.

    2. Good, I’m glad someone brought up this point. “It is Well” is public domain, so nobody gets money for it anymore. I also agree that reducing the argument to the factor of money is not wise b/c the issue of people being led astray and the Gospel of Christ being misrepresented is a much bigger issue. Bethel doesn’t just have some false theology. They are flat out dabbling in new age/occult practices, which is seriously dangerous! Check out “The Physics of Heaven” and you’ll see just how non-Biblical they are!

  3. Great non-divisive debate. I do think we need to draw the line especially with Bethel, although I am getting to the point of drawing the line with Hillsong and Elevation as well. Even though we knew much of the heresies of Bethel, it took us months to finally decide about a year ago that we needed to completely remove them from our home playlists and make sure our church leaders were aware of the dangers of playing Bethel Music. At first they were unwilling to “divide” over the issue, but we received a letter two weeks ago from them saying that after becoming more aware of the heresies and dangers the music poses to God’s sheep that they would be removing their music from all future worship sets.

    If I may also add, Bethel Music’s mission statement is this: “Bethel Music is a ministry of Bethel Church that facilitates and administrates the creation and exportation of worship songs, events, teachings, resources and technology. Bethel Music consists of four divisions that serve our mission.” The key phrase I want to highlight is that its goal is to facilitate, administrate, and export the TEACHINGS of Bethel by way of their music. They are not just innocently creating music that sometimes hits the mark. They are creating this music in order to promote their false teachings and agendas.

    AGAIN, GREAT DEBATE!

    1. Thank you for the feedback! What was the “tipping” point for your congregation? And that is a GREAT observation and point regarding the mission statement. Thank you for pointing that out, because it is an extremely important factor on this subject.

  4. Way too much division and deception has occurred through music generally. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find a biblical church that uses the time & doctrinally tested hymns? Music distraction has been occurring since the early 70s.

  5. How about if you use a song, the person or group that owns the song deserves to be paid for their music. I don’t agree with several theological views that have no connection to NAR cultish churches, including Calvinism. So the question begs why should I or anyone that doesn’t agree with the systematic of Calvinism play a song by someone who does?

    1. It’s a solid question, but the big distinction is music coming from false teachers and heretics. That’s really what this discussion is about. Not secondary theological issues, but groups that break essential theological issues. You don’t have to play a song you don’t want to nor does a church, they make that decision every week (to exclude certain songs). The question is, should we allow false teachers and heretics into our churches via the music?

      1. I understand that. I guess I’m agreeing with you. I look at it this way, if ‘A Day In The Life’ by the Beatles somehow is worshipful, which would take a huge rabbit trail to convince me that it is, then use it. I get it that these “churches” are spreading heretical theology, I’m the very first person to notice it no matter what church I’m attending on any given Sunday. I get disgusted at songs such as, ‘Who You Say I Am,’ because of who it elevates. Theologically sound? Yeah kinda, but it elevates the singer to a’ “yo, look at me,” status. If that song song said something to the effect that I’m a child of God because He has done this for me and I believe Him, then I would have no issue with it. Bill Johnson has definitely used the music coming out of his “church” to advance his brand of theology. It’s like using the Passion Translation to push his agenda. TPT adds to the scripture because IT HAS TO so support this agenda. Now I’m talking myself out of using cultish music. 😉

        1. Yeah, actually, another great observation is Bethel Music’s mission statement which includes the exportation of “teachings” as well as songs. Katie above mentioned it and it’s easily found on their website. Just goes to show, they know what they are doing

  6. A few things:
    1. Would you sing a song from the Mormon church that’s theologically sound? – Another to say what you were saying…. I think it goes the same with all churches that are leaders in false teaching/cults…. these songs are written out of a worshipful heart to a FALSE CHRIST. How is it any different than singing an adoring song written to Buddha and then singing it to Christ?
    2. I personally was willing to join a bible study led by a Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry graduate because we sang their sangs at church so they must be a safe. If I had heard my pastor tell me to avoid Bethel church due to the danger of falling into false teaching, I would not have thought that it was ok to sing the song and would have been wondering about it while singing the song.
    3. Despite even the money issue, when it comes to Horatio Spafford, he does not currently have a world-wide influence on social media, through concerts, books, youtube videos, etc., where people will be at risk of falling into the false teaching. That Lindsay Davis post (which she amended after coming to Christ) where she was talking about “God Thoughts” was posted and reposted by MANY people on my friends list that were not church goers and were nominally spiritual.
    4. I can see where I sang these songs to the one true God with a clear conscience before I knew any better, and I hope that the Lord would find it acceptable. But now that I know….. I cannot do it in good conscience. And I think that we’d be surprised that the songs that could be called “theologically sound” are actually VERY far off when we know the definition of the terms that the writers had actually meant. Many times, the same word has very different meanings between a biblical meaning and the false church’s definition.
    5. I also agree that SOLE reason that we use the “doctrinally sound” songs is emotional. I don’t think we can say that these songs actually add to our understanding of the Lord or doctrine more than any other ones. We want to sing them because we like the way the music moves us. We like to sway and belt it out. We like how that adds to our emotion and helps us feel closer to God….. feel, feel, feel.

  7. The best thing to do would be for the congregation to write their own music which would be in alignment with their beliefs. I know it’s not an easy thing, but there’s always someone anointed and spirit filled that can do it!

  8. I’ve been pondering this for awhile…here’s a quote on the power of music to affect our emotions:

    “Music affects deep emotional centers in the brain,“ says Valorie Salimpoor, a neuroscientist at McGill University who studies the effects music has on the human brain….Research by the Arts and Humanities Research Council has found that music is also an emotional contagion: Participants show more positive associations with images of people from two different cultural groups after listening to music explicitly belonging to that cultural group. The researchers suggest that the participants’ brainwaves and physiology were aligning in measurable ways—what scientists call “entrainment.” With music, this entrainment is not just an alignment to the rhythmic and melodic components of the music, but there is also an emotional entrainment that occurs at the same time. This creates a quantifiable connection and positive affect.

    https://qz.com/quartzy/1274667/neuroscience-shows-listening-to-music-has-kind-of-the-same-effect-as-meditation/

    According to this, are churches conditioning people to be more receptive to the culture of Bethel by playing Bethel music? Are they partly responsible, then, if parishioners start looking to Bethel as a source for teaching? Will this lead people down the rabbit hole into the New Age that Bethel is promoting here: http://heavensphysics.com/invitation/?

  9. Somebody needs to do a better job of informing us as to what are acceptable, Biblically sound, good songs. It’s easier to clean house it you have something good to fill it back with. Otherwise they will just fill it with 7 more demons.

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