On the way to work today I spotted that the Bulletin has done another article on Hillsong.
The article, Book of Revelations, is an expose of life in Hillsong from the perspective of a former member:
“Tanya Levin spent her formative years at Hillsong. Disillusioned, she began to question its gospel of wealth. We present her exclusive account of life inside Australia’s most influential evangelical church.”
Now, although I am no great fan of prosperity theology and have launched a few critiques myself over the years, a number of things concern me with this Bulletin article.
Firstly, there is no explanation (in the online version at least) as to who Tanya Levin actually is. What was her role within the church? What was her relationship to the Heuson’s? Does she actually qualify as an informed commentator of its inner workings or was she just a disgruntled auditorium seat warmer?
I will seek further information from those I know who go to Hillsong but all I have found so far is an article about a canceled book, “People in Glass Houses: How Hillsong became an assembly of gods,” but again no enlightenment on her qualifications to comment.
Secondly, it has been my impression that Hillsong has been toning down, or at least balancing out, its prosperity preaching a little better in recent years. I visit maybe one or two times a year to keep myself informed and over the last two visits I’ve been surprised and somewhat chastened by the amount of charity work they are now doing. There are still tithing calls that go longer than alter calls and Gloria Jeans coffee carts next to the auditorium. But despite all that they are doing more charity work than ever and make a point of saying Jesus is the greatest blessing you can ever have. In the article Tanya makes it sound like it’s gone from bad to worse.
In summary, this sounds just a bit too sensationalist for me to buy into just yet.
4 thoughts on “Hillsong: The Bulletin Report”
interesting how when something is sucessful we instictively want to pull it down- like you I am and have been more than a little concerned about prosperity teaching- but always go with it they are not against us they are for us, trouble is we’re not too great at telling which is which!
I agree that Hillsongs gets slammed left, right and centre. The Sydney Anglican mouthpiece “The Briefing” did an article which attempted to be balanced but soon seemed to lose its way in Evangelical academic posturing.
I am no great supporter of Hillsongs but I do appreciate the good qualities. I know the brother of one of the main songwriters and so had quite a lot of inside perspective as my friend was heading up children’s ministry before heading to plant a church in Melbourne.
In Australia there is the tall poppy syndrome where we try to cut something down when it gets too big. I am so thankful for the times when Hillsongs music has helped me to express my adoration to God. It doesn’t happen all the time but I know that I appreciate it when it does.
I believe you will find that the ex-church member profiled in the Bulletin is identical with a woman previously interviewed in The Australian newspaper last year (an article that featured about 6 ex-members including Geoff Bullock). However, if it is the lady in question that I am thinking of, she has written a book about Hillsong that Allen & Unwin were going to publish but have subsequently decided against proceeding with (and there was a news item about that in the past month). The news item I recall found it a bit odd given that Allen & Unwin jumped at the bidding opportunity to pick up Chris Master’s book Jonestown that the ABC pulled out from publishing.
I agree that Hillsong have “toned down” and are doing a huge amount of charity work. I recently wrote about it myself: http://jen-reed-candid.blogspot.com/2007/03/i-have-two-hillsong-t-shirts.html
BTW, I wouldn’t be surprised if a top Sydney Anglican didn’t own part of the Sydney newspaper industry! 😉 LOL