Cameron Buettel & Jeremiah Johnson of Grace to You offer examples of “the doctrinal maladies that plague most of the Hillsong catalogue—malpractice, man-centeredness, and missing information.” According to Buettel and Johnson a man-centered worldview permeates almost all of Hillsong’s music and they illustrate just how bad it is. The duo admits that “Hillsong has probably done a better job than anyone else in filling the musical void that many modern churches have experienced. Their songs are catchy, their musicians are excellent, and their songwriters know how to ‘sound Christian’ enough to salve the consciences of all in attendance.” However, they stated in a postscript that there’s “an unhealthy emphasis on the experience of their performances over the substance of what they’re proclaiming through their songs.”
In this piece they begin with the lyrics to “Only Wanna Sing” to show Hillsong’s “confused doctrinal perspective”:
This is no performance Lord, I pray it’s worship Empty words I can’t afford I’m not chasing feelings That’s not why I’m singing You’re the reason for my song
And I only wanna sing If I sing with everything If I sing for you, my King
I can’t imagine why I would do this all for hype Cause it’s all to lift You high
At this point in the song—titled “Only Wanna Sing”—the music soars, the strobe lights fire up, and everyone on stage and in the crowd begins to dance with reckless abandon.
The irony is hard to miss.
That song—by the band Hillsong Young and Free—epitomizes many of the issues with much of Hillsong’s worship music: vague lyrical content, confused doctrinal perspectives, and an emphasis on style over substance.