Should Christians Listen to Bethel, Hillsong, and Elevation Music?
Updated: Oct 6, 2022
So that you may be able to discern what is best and
may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ
You may be wondering why I would pose such a question. Believe it or not, many Christians are asking. I am asking. The question is subjective, and the Bible doesn't specifically address it, so whatever I think is simply my opinion.
I listened to a video by Allen Parr that really helped me, and I have linked it below. He gives ten statements to consider when trying to answer this question for yourself. I would encourage you to listen to the video because he expands on each statement more than I do.
TEN STATEMENTS TO CONSIDER
Every article, video, and blog post, including this one, on this topic, is subjective. It is someone's opinion. Since the Bible doesn't address this subject, the following points may help you form an opinion or at least give you something to think about regardless of where you fall on the issue.
Some of the teachings in these churches promote heresy or false teaching. If you didn't know this, you might wonder what I'm talking about. Bethel teaches a different Jesus than the one taught throughout history, and Hillsong and Elevation teach a prosperity gospel. There are numerous other teachings in these churches that are false, which I hope to write about in future posts.
Some of the practices of these churches are unbiblical. Allen Parr talks about grave soaking, and I'm thinking about fire tunnels and gold dust on the more extreme end, but there are other less extreme practices in these churches that are also unbiblical. The less extreme and the ones that have infiltrated the evangelical church is what I want to focus on in future blog posts.
Teach people how to think theologically and stop trying to be the Holy Spirit for them. I agree with this statement but have also found it tricky. We are told to expose what is false (Eph 5:11). If we teach what is true, that is one way to help people to be able to recognize for themselves what is false. Asking questions that make Christians think is another way.
A younger, inexperienced Christian could be drawn into their church through their music. Think about it; you like a certain worship song, so you google it. You find out the song is associated with a particular church and assume that everything the church teaches is biblical. You then began to look into what they teach, not realizing some of it is false, and before you know it, you are swept away.
Their statements of faith primarily line up with the core tenets of the Christian faith. This statement means these churches claim to teach the gospel, and people can and will be saved through their ministry. But many will also be led astray because what they hear sounds good (2 Tim 4:3), and they will not take the time to see if it lines up with the Bible.
The writers of these songs could very well love the same Jesus we serve even though their church promotes false teaching. This statement is a good reminder that God judges people's hearts and intentions, not us. (1 Cor 4:5). If we see words or some teaching that is false in the song, we can expose that without assigning motive, but we should never assume the writer isn't saved because of the church they attend.
By purchasing, downloading, and streaming their music, you are financially supporting their ministry. Indirectly supporting these churches' ministries is a personal decision one must make even if they like singing the music. Many evangelical churches sing, and Christian radio stations play songs from all three of these groups. Still it's another step to then purchase, download, or stream their music, knowing you support the very churches that teach error.
Evaluate every song for its theological accuracy, not the writer of that song. Even hymns of old have false teaching or promote heresy if you look at them for their theological accuracy. I will just say this is a monumental task, and many will not do it. But some will, and therefore it's an option to consider.
If your conscience convicts you about listening to this music after reading this, then don't listen to it. There is no right or wrong answer to this question, but it is important to pay attention to the Holy Spirit's conviction, and if He is convicting you to stop listening or singing their music, then that is what you need to do. For example, I was convicted about not drinking for a long time before I finally had to admit that it wasn't wrong according to the Bible, but it was still wrong for me.
Allen Parr ends his video by giving his opinion, and I will end this post by providing mine. I've been working through this issue for over two years. I immediately stopped streaming their music from my computer once I realized I was supporting false teaching indirectly, but I still went to a church that sang their songs. In the end and where I now stand is, I will continue to listen to and sing their songs when they come on the radio or when I'm at church. I am paying attention to the words, and sometimes the words in the song do not line up with what I believe, and I don't sing it. Sometimes the words give me pause, and I go home and look into what the song is teaching. I've never walked out of the church service, but that's not to say I never will. If a song with words I disagreed with came on the radio, I would probably change the channel to a different station. Beyond that, I am convicted that I should not be supporting these three churches financially in any way, and I am concerned that the music will lead many Christians astray because they will embrace the false teachings of the churches associated with the music. Or that young Christians will leave home and go into a church that promotes the same false teachings that one of these three churches teaches. And that's why I write about it. It is my belief that if you know what the Bible teaches in its context, the less likely you will be to fall into error or be easily swept away by the doctrines of men (Mt 15:8-9).
Since this is my opinion and one that you might not share, I can only hope you have a "thought-out" reason for what you believe. As I continue to work through this issue, I know I may change my mind again.