One of the biggest heretics of Church History was a scholar in the 200s named Arius. Arius’s heresy was a denial of the divinity of Jesus. He taught that only the Father was God and that Jesus was merely a creation of God. This heresy was clear and is one of the most blatant examples of heresy throughout the entire history of heresy. Arius has been described as an Arch-Heretic and is an icon for historical false teachers. How was it, then, that Arius spread his doctrine if it was as clearly venomous as it is? Photius of Constantinople wrote, “Arius, after his secession from the church, composed several songs to be sung by sailors, and by millers, and by travellers along the high road, and others of the same kind, which he adapted to certain tunes, as he thought suitable in each separate case, and thus by degrees seduced the minds of the unlearned by the attractiveness of his songs to the adoption of his own impiety.” (Ecclesiastical History of Philostorgius, Epitome of Book 2, Chapter 2) As Photius recorded, many of those who were seduced by the Arian heresy were enchanted by the songs that were written by Arius’s pleasant-sounding music. Arius used music that people enjoyed singing and listening to in order to have his teaching spread like a blazing wildfire, burning up any poor soul who would dare approach it.
Fast forward 1800 years to modern times. Hillsong music is one of the most popular forms of music that exist. Hillsong is almost always in the top 25 of Christian music and as of 2011, Hillsong sold more than 12,000,000 albums worldwide. The popularity of their music can’t be overstated. Such hits as “Oceans” and “Mighty To Save” are about as normative in Churches as the practice of singing songs in general. Through their music system, Hillsong Church has expanded exponentially. At one point, they reported 30,000 people appearing at their services in Australia alone. They have opened up satellite churches in New York, London, Moscow, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Kiev, and many other places. They have also made plans to open up in Phoenix, Arizona. It is no question that their music has caused them to expand and outspread.
This expansion is problematic, as Hillsong teaches such dangerous doctrines as the Prosperity Gospel and what appears to be a Universalist view of the Atonement. They have scandalously compromised with homosexuals and provided shamefully immodest entertainment on their stages. Hillsong is a dangerous cult that should not be trusted to write songs for their own church, let alone songs that people sing worldwide.
Like Arius, Hillsong uses music that is pleasing to the ears as bait to ensnare the hearers further into their false doctrine. Hillsong isn’t the only cult that does this, though. Bethel Church in Redding, CA has written many songs like “One Thing Remains” that have been major hits, and their band Jesus Culture is a big hit in Contemporary Christian Music. However, once people are drawn in, they are taught that to believe in Biblical Sufficiency is Idolatry and introduced to a less-than-stellar view of the Trinity.
Be discerning with your music. Every song you sing, every hymn you utter on the Lord’s Day, every single lyric that you use at any time – either in congregational worship or in personal worship – test it all against Scripture. Be like the Church in Berea, who “were more noble” because they, “[Examined] the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11, ESV). Put all things on trial lest you find yourself trapped by an Arian Snare, and suddenly get drawn into a cult by music that sounded pleasing to the ear.
[Contributed by Brandon Hines]