For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. 2 Timothy 4:3
In the words of my editor, Hillsong Church is a hot mess. Unfortunately, their hot mess is being swallowed hook, line, and sinker by throngs of deceived seekers. Preying on the hurt, confusion, and longing that swirls around people attempting to navigate these uncertain times, Hillsong has managed to make the broad path even wider and smoother. Among other major errors, Hillsong has created a toxic religiosity that slurps on a heretical soup seasoned with Word of Faith teaching (the prosperity gospel) and a rejection of the Bible’s teaching on sexuality.
For those unfamiliar with the global church network, Hillsong Church began in Australia in 1983 and quickly grew into a multi-site church. Since its Australian beginnings, Hillsong has spread its tentacles throughout the world. With churches in fifteen countries, Hillsong’s impact and influence is large. Add their weekly church attendees to the millions who love Hillsong’s platinum-selling music ministry, and criticizing Hillsong steps on many toes, generating rousing defenses of the ministry that “has blessed me greatly.” Hopefully, Hillsong New York City’s recent action will begin to open people’s eyes to the dangerous apostasy that is Hillsong Church.
At a recent women’s Colour Conference, the brain trust at Hillsong NYC put on a performance celebrating New York City. The performance featured people holding American flags, men dressed as firefighters, and a variety of iconic NYC images, all dancing to a cover of Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” So far, it sounds silly and not really edifying, but not worth writing an article about. However, one of the iconic NYC images prancing on Hillsong’s stage was the Times Square Naked Cowboy.
To be clear, the actual Times Square Naked Cowboy, Robert John Burck, was not in attendance at the Hillsong women’s Colour Conference. Instead, one of the church’s youth pastors stripped down to his skivvies, donned a cowboy hat and boots, and danced on the stage in front of a large crowd of shrieking women. Yes, you read that correctly. A youth pastor, wearing nothing but his underwear, danced on the Hillsong stage for the enjoyment of those attending the Hillsong New York City women’s Colour Conference.
A youth pastor dancing in his underwear on the stage of a women’s conference shouldn’t need any editorializing, but I’m aware that many are going to tell me to “lighten up, you puritanical legalist.” For those people, imagine this: instead of a women’s conference, it’s a men’s conference. And instead of a youth pastor dressed (or rather, undressed) as the Times Square Naked Cowboy, imagine that it’s a female staff member dressed (or rather, undressed) as a Victoria’s Secret model.
I have a hard time believing that any individual who claims to be a Christian would be ok with my imagined scenario. To be fair, although I know that it exists and may be headed in my direction, any defense of what actually happened boggles my mind.
It should be pointed out that the actual Times Square Naked Cowboy was offended by the performance at the Hillsong NYC women’s Colour Conference. According to a post at Church Watch Central by Todd Rubenstein, who represents the Naked Cowboy, Robert John Burck:
…is an Ordained Minister & would NEVER attend church in the house of the Lord in his Trade Dress and is EXTREMELY offended by this activity due to his deep Christian beliefs and respect for the process of gathering in the name of Jesus Christ and in the presence of God to worship and praise the Holy Father.
The absurdity aside, it’s incredibly disheartening to watch an increasing number of people embrace apostasy. From churches performing “Purple Rain” as part of the worship service to an almost nude youth pastor dancing for the enjoyment of a crowd of women, it’s obvious that what many of today’s churchgoers want is not the truth of God’s Word. Happy to oblige them, Hillsong Church is in the business of tickling the ears of people while keeping them distracted with elaborate performances that fulfill the lust of the flesh. Quoting the apostle Paul, “such men [Hillsong] are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ … Their end will correspond to their deeds.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15