The world finally seeing Hillsong as a New Age cult

While Hillsong are protesting too much to the world that they are a “church” and a “global movement,” media organisations are starting to call Hillsong for what it is: a New Age cult.

The fact is this: Hillsong is a dangerous New Age cult. And although the world would have difficulty understanding the difference between a church and a cult, they are starting to see that Hillsong is New Age. By doing this, media are doing Christianity a favor by isolating a counterfeit christian movement that is badly infecting Christianity.

hillsong new age occult gnostic

It doesn’t take much to see other religions being integrated within the Hillsong movement. For instance.

  • their Word of Faith heresy is straight from the New Age and metaphysical cult movemetns (see Rondha Byrne author of The Secret);
  • their secret Prosperity heresy and rites stem not from Christianity but from the New Age movement, witchcraft and ancient pagan idolatry (around Abraham’s day);
  • their leadership and teaching model reflect gurus from Hindu sects and metaphysical cults (between the 19th and 20th century);
  • their god they preach is more related to the Hindu deity who is unlimited and cannot be limited; compared to the Christian God who is limited; (i.e. God cannot lie, God cannot murder, etc).
  • their utopian and totalitarian ideology of church growth and community reflects the philosophies of the volk and the fuhrerprinzip prior to Nazi Germany (visionary leadership);
  • their worship reflect the ideas of ancient Greece and their pagan festivals, believing the experiences they create are glimpses into the divine (a form of pagan mysticism/spiritism/gnosticism which Jesus clearly spoke against).
  • their teaching on the Holy Spirit (what they call the anointing) is more akin to the ‘Third Eye’ sense of the New Age movement, a teaching that bypasses the mind and calls thing that are not physical into being or seeing into the future.
  • their teaching on purpose and destiny reflects New Age and Buddhist thought on self-actualisation/enlightenment philosophies.
  • their general teachings reflecting not Christianity but the world’s latest ideas repackaged, twisting the Christian bible to sell the idea where Hillsong needs to go (see their Vision Sunday broadcasts).

While Christians worship Jesus, many people who claim to be Christian today worship what is coined as a ‘moralistic, therapeutic deity’. This ever-changing deity is whatever Hillsong wants this god to be at any given time. Slapping the word ‘Jesus’ on it and claiming to the world they are Christian does not make them Christian, nor a church. It is no wonder why people in their own movement cannot explain what Christianity is nor tell you what the gospel is.

It is not uncommon for people to encounter Hillsong members that cannot present their beliefs coherently. And as you will read below in one of these articles, their response to criticism is that you’re just a hater, a poor attempt in contending for the Christian faith, “once and for all delivered to the saints.”

This article is a collection of media stories that label Hillsong as such:

The Daily Mail reports (images and captions removed),

Hillsong’s hottest couple: The tattooed pastor and his VERY glamorous wife who have become Justin Bieber’s spiritual guides – and the dark family secret plaguing the new-age Sydney church

  • Brazilian model Esther Lima is the wife of Hillsong church’s global director
  • Her husband Joel Houston is in charge of the Hillsong church’s expansion
  • Born in Australia, Joel is the son of the church’s founder Brian Houston
  • The guitar playing Aussie lives a glamorous life in New York with his wife
  • The couple have been seen with celebrity friends, including Justin Bieber
  • Hillsong church blends modern marketing with ancient religious customs

They are a glamour couple at the top of a global empire who rub shoulders with celebrities like Justin Bieber, enjoy the New York high life and have tens of thousands of followers on social media.

They are also the face of the Hillsong Church, a Christian movement that has grown in the space of fewer than 20 years from humble beginnings in the suburbs of Sydney to a multimillion dollar global phenomenon whose services attract rock concert-sized crowds every week.

Esther Lima Houston is an exotic Brazilian model who loves designer labels and sharing photos of herself wearing and holding them with her thousands of social media followers.

She’s married to Joel Houston, Hillsong Australia’s guitar-playing global creative director who is in charge of running the international expansion of the church, which was founded by his father Brian Houston and is now a global operation with millions of followers.

Hillsong is in the spotlight this week as it holds its annual conference in Sydney with celebrity guests like pop idol Justin Bieber, who is reportedly a friend of Joel and Esther Houston.

Ms Houston is a long-legged beauty who posts dozens of photographs on her social media pages of herself draped in Hermes, Chanel and her other favourite designer label clothes.

In other photos she carries the kind of coveted brand handbags that can only be bought by buying onto a waiting list, and sports what appears to be a yellow diamond the size of a quail’s egg on her ring finger

Hillsong is a charismatic Pentecost ‘megachurch’ founded in 1982 that now has eight Australian churches and has set up in London, New York, Los Angeles, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Argentina, Brazil. South Africa, Russia and France each have two Hillsong churches.

Hillsong has high profile supporters in Australia. They include several Parramatta Eels players, and former NRL turned American gridiron player Jarryd Hayne.

Esther Houston and baby Zion says on her blog that ‘giving is more satisfying than receiving’

Federal Social Services Minister Scott Morrison is a onetime parishioner, and former prime minister John Howard opened the church’s new centre in the Hills district in 2002.

Ms Houston’s father-in-law, who also favours designer clothes, such as Valentino suits, and flies around the world first class, is credited with the brilliant commercialisation of born-again Christianity.

Esther Houston’s designer image is a classy asset to the church where her mother-in-law Bobbie Houston encourages young female followers to be glamorous and have perfect hair and teeth.

As the former worship manager and the musical genius behind Hillsong’s lucrative Christian song business, Geoff Bullock told The Australian, ‘I came to think that the patron saint of Hillsong was Gianni Versace’

Mr Bullock, who is now estranged from the church said ‘Hillsong’s … got this feeling that God smiles a bit more when we’re singing our songs, and we’ve got good hairdressers, dentists, cosmetic surgeons.’

But a child sexual assault scandal hangs over the church’s first family.

Joel Houston’s grandfather, Frank Houston, was an Assemblies of God pastor who co-founded Hillsong. He continued to preach and deliver televised sermons despite being suspended by his own church for molesting a seven-year-old boy.

A complaint about Frank Houston, who died while living in a church-owned home in 2004, was made in 1998, when Brian Houston was the national president of the Assemblies of God, now known as Australian Christian Churches.

Last October, Brian Houston was called before the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which heard further claims that Frank Houston molested six young boys in New Zealand in the 1960s.

While Brian Houston told of how he cried the day he found out his father was a paedophile, he said ‘at no stage did I attempt to hide or cover up the allegations against my father’.

In the same month, The Saturday Paper reported, Hillsong Australia’s latest concert DVD sold out Madison Square Garden in New York City and the church band of Hillsong United NYC, led by Joel Houston, won five Dove Awards, the American gospel music equivalent of a Grammy.

Warner Bros made a feature film about the band, which Joel Houston promotes on his website as having sold more than 16 million albums.

He says on the site that his mission is to ‘travel the globe with Hillsong United who desire to see a generation across the earth awakened to real love, rise up with hearts as one and find value in the broken, hurting and lost’.

He says the proceeds from the albums are used for ‘feeding and educating children in the slums of India, holistic community development in Africa, rescuing and rehabilitating victims of human trafficking and sponsoring children living in poverty around the world’.

Joel and his wife, Esther have a young son named Zion – a Biblical name meaning ‘promised land’ – and live in a Manhattan apartment.

Esther Lima has enjoyed a mid-range modelling career, although nowhere nearly as successful as her fellow Brazilian and namesake, the Victoria’s Secret model, Adriana Lima.

The couple married in 2012, when Joel was more of a bare-footed guitar playing surfie from Australia who had launched the youth worship brand at Hillsong and had been working as co-pastor at Hillsong NYC since 2010.

On her Facebook, Instagram and lifestyle blog ‘eswhooisstunning’, Esther Houston describes herself as ‘stunning’.

On her page Miss Whoo.com, which she says is ‘an unfiltered lifestyle platform for the modern woman’ is a statement about her business acumen.

‘Esther Houston is a classic woman with a modern approach,’ the blog says, ‘She is an entrepreneur and business owner with an incredible creative eye, business mind and impressive network.’

The young couple is friends with a list of celebrities and high profile evangelists. The list includes former Disney star turned stage performer, Vanessa Hudgens, ‘Pretty Little Liars’ actress, Ashley Benson and the preacher who married Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, Pastor Rich Wilkinson Jnr.

TMZ reported that Justin Bieber was spotted this month with Joel Houston leaving the Hyde nightclub in Hollywood together.

Joel and co-pastor Carl Lentz, who baptised Bieber at Hillsong NYC last December, are reportedly spiritual advisers to a number of celebrities.

Joel and Esther and baby Zion jet around the world from New York to Los Angeles and Sydney. Ms Houston’s says on her blog that ‘giving is more satisfying than receiving’.

She says ‘I am no feminist, I don’t believe that men and women should be equal. Simply because we aren’t. Men and women are different, physically and mentally, so that we can fulfill different roles and carry different responsibilities in life’

Ms Houston also says ‘I’m not willing to forever sacrifice passions, work and career just to fit into the mold of what the “perfect woman” should be. I’m ambitious. I’m passionate. I want to grow in all areas of my life.

But she also talks on her Facebook page about people knocking her on Instagram or others who are ‘haters’.

In one Facebook post she says, ‘While people are busy judging on Instagram I’m busy living life and having a great time with friends. YOLO.’

In another she writes ‘Good day haters’ to which a friend responds, ‘When you’re in the spotlight unfortunately that’s what happens.You attract judgment. The saddest part of all is the haters are usually from people who believe they’re doing the hating for God.’

Ms Houston also posts messages which appear to be about religious faith, along with photographs of her with her parents-in-law Bobbie and Brian Houston.

It is unclear whether she is a Catholic who converted to the Hillsong born-again style of Christianity, but affectionate posts from friends about her son Zion ‘inheriting the Hillsong empire’ suggest there will be a fourth generation of Houston men as church pastors.

The empire Joel is due to inherit, is based on the millions of dollars gathered from the church’s system of ‘tithing’ its congregation, the ancient custom of taxing worshippers a fee of ten per cent of their income.

Under every seat in its churches it places an envelope and credit card form for believers to donate their pre-tax 10 per cent salary, which Hillsong then banks as tax free money under its charity status as a religion.

Esther Lima Houston is an exotic Brazilian model who loves designer labels and sharing photos of herself wearing and holding them with her thousands of social media followers.

She’s married to Joel Houston, Hillsong Australia’s guitar-playing global creative director who is in charge of running the international expansion of the church, which was founded by his father Brian Houston and is now a global operation with millions of followers.

Hillsong is in the spotlight this week as it holds its annual conference in Sydney with celebrity guests like pop idol Justin Bieber, who is reportedly a friend of Joel and Esther Houston.

Ms Houston also says ‘I’m not willing to forever sacrifice passions, work and career just to fit into the mold of what the “perfect woman” should be. I’m ambitious. I’m passionate. I want to grow in all areas of my life.

But she also talks on her Facebook page about people knocking her on Instagram or others who are ‘haters’.

In one Facebook post she says, ‘While people are busy judging on Instagram I’m busy living life and having a great time with friends. YOLO.’

In another she writes ‘Good day haters’ to which a friend responds, ‘When you’re in the spotlight unfortunately that’s what happens.You attract judgment. The saddest part of all is the haters are usually from people who believe they’re doing the hating for God.’

Ms Houston also posts messages which appear to be about religious faith, along with photographs of her with her parents-in-law Bobbie and Brian Houston.

It is unclear whether she is a Catholic who converted to the Hillsong born-again style of Christianity, but affectionate posts from friends about her son Zion ‘inheriting the Hillsong empire’ suggest there will be a fourth generation of Houston men as church pastors.

The empire Joel is due to inherit, is based on the millions of dollars gathered from the church’s system of ‘tithing’ its congregation, the ancient custom of taxing worshippers a fee of ten per cent of their income.

Under every seat in its churches it places an envelope and credit card form for believers to donate their pre-tax 10 per cent salary, which Hillsong then banks as tax free money under its charity status as a religion. 

Source: By Candice Sutton & Penelope Kilby, Hillsong’s hottest couple: The tattooed pastor and his VERY glamorous wife who have become Justin Bieber’s spiritual guides – and the dark family secret plaguing the new-age Sydney church, Daily Mail / Australia, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3143901/Hillsong-s-hottest-couple-tattooed-Australian-pastor-glamorous-wife-Justin-Bieber-s-spiritual-guides-dark-family-secret-plaguing-new-age-church.html, Published 01/07/2015, Updated 02/07/2015. (Accessed 15/07/2015.)

TMZ reports,

Justin Bieber
I Play Second Banana to My Pastor!!!

Justin Bieber awesomely took second seat to the pastor of his new-age church … and it’s so fun.

The Biebs and Pastor Joel Houston were leaving Hyde nightclub in Hollywood Friday night when our photog tried jawboning with Justin.  But when J.B. wanted the pastor of Hillsong Church to get some face time, our photog obliged and the convo turned to surfing.

Houston — who also fronts the band Hillsong United — along with his co-pastor, Carl Lentz, are the spiritual advisers to lots of celebs. Lentz Baptized Biebs back in December.

Source: By TMZ Staff, Justin Bieber I Play Second Banana to My Pastor!!!, TMZ, http://www.tmz.com/2015/06/27/justin-bieber-pastor-joel-houston-hillsong-church-carl-lentz-video?adid=TMZ_Search_Results, Published 27/06/2015. (Accessed 15/07/2015.)

ShowBiz411 reports,

Justin Bieber Says He’s Even Deeper in with Cult-Like Australian Church

Justin Bieber just spent 5 days in Australia with Hillsong church. He took Stephen Baldwin’s daughter Hailey with him, and sang the church’s praises. Bieber is short several cards of a full deck and not exactly a member of Mensa. Maybe he’ll join this cult in the making and be their Tom Cruise or John Travolta. It just goes on and on.

I wrote about all this last fall. Scooter Braun should pay attention. These people want Bieb’s money.

From November 11, 2014
You cannot make this up. Justin Bieber, not exactly the brightest bulb in any lamp, is a follower of a sketchy Virginia man who calls himself a pastor and runs a church every Sunday at the Manhattan Center on West 34th St. Carl Lentz portrays himself as the Punk Pastor, and says he’s Pentacostal. His latest iteration is called Hillsong NYC church. But what his American, Canadian followers– and Bieber– may not know is Hillsong NYC is a branch of Hillsong Australia. That organization is considered by many in that country to be a cult.

Hillsong’s founder, Frank Houston, had to resign in 2000 after confessing to having molesting a 7 year old boy in 1969. He was never prosecuted, and the case haunts Hillsong and the Houstons, and now Lentz to this day. Even though Frank Houston is now dead. the story isn’t over. A recent hearing in Australia revealed that Frank’s son Brian, who now runs Hillsong. trivialized the incident and let his father continue to preach as part of their church, albeit surreptitiously. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11339319 He is also accused of trying to bribe the victim.

Bieber’s pastor, Carl Lentz, only became involved with Hillsong four years ago. In the video above, he explains how he hooked up with the Houstons– that’s Frank Houston’s grandson Joel with Lentz in the video, looking like Jay from “Silent Bob and Jay.” These two are supposed to be religious leaders; they are Justin Bieber’s spiritual guides. Joel has been running Hillsong NYC with Lentz since 2010.

Before he hooked up with the Houstons, Lentz operated Cal Lentz Ministries out of Washington state. The IRS recently revoked the 501 c 3 status of that outfit after Carl Lentz Ministries failed to file tax returns for three years. Lentz runs Hillsong in New York as a straight ahead business with no tax free standing. He’s registered Hillsong out of his father’s law office in Virginia, but hasn’t filed any paperwork. There is no transparency at all.

The connection between Lentz and the Houstons, and the history of Houston’s father, finally came to a boiling point in October in New York at a Madison Square Garden conference of Hillsong followers. Not only was Frank Houston’s molestation case examined, but also multiple scandals about finances at Hillsong and the cult’s attitude toward homosexuality. Brian Houston’s sidestepping has caused a lot of controversy among the followers.

I spoke to Carl Lentz’s father, Stephen Lentz, an attorney in Virginia Beach. He couldn’t have been nicer. Mr. Lentz explained that churches don’t have to file Form 990s, so nothing is amiss. He said he knew nothing about Hillsong Australia, and very graciously invited me to the Manhattan Center. Entrance to the services, which run all day long every Sunday, he says, is free. You donate what you want. But the Manhattan Center isn’t free. They charge $17,000 a day for the Grand Ballroom where the Hillsong services take place. Someone is paying for that, most likely Hillsong Australia.

Watch this video about Hillsong Australia:

Source: By Roger Friedman, Justin Bieber Says He’s Even Deeper in with Cult-Like Australian Church, ShowBiz 411, http://www.showbiz411.com/2015/06/30/justin-bieber-says-hes-even-deeper-in-with-cult-like-australian-church, Published 30/06/2015. (Accessed 20/09/2015.)



Categories: Hillsong

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9 replies

  1. Wow. This is so off the mark. But I am not going to bother arguing or defending God. He is bigger than everyone and everything He doesn’t need defending. He is either revealed to you or He is not. LOVE HIM (Jesus) with a passion . And daily look to and ask the Lord, Am I Saul? Or am I Paul?

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  2. Disturbing… in the 80’s & throughout most of the 90’s was involved with Richmond AoG in Melbourne ..similar tactics were use RE Youth Alive … the Youth Group at the time was run by Ps Bruce Hills.. I left ages ago; the last time I went back to Richmond was very briefly in 2001. Not al ot had changed Ps Hills – his father, was still running the church but the tithing was m main gripe- nothing had changed at all in that area and it was on the way if not already a mega-church. I don’t know who runs it now.. & its only recently I believe it has become ACC instead of The Pentecostal Movement/ AoG in Australia) Several names for essentially the same thing. Re tithing it was always big on it & I decided to put them to the test one day as it state is ACTS of the early church they sold possessions & gave equally.. As far am i’m aware Richmond AoG has NEVER done this yet I remember being on welfare and coming home with not much change from $100, maybe $10.00 if I was lucky. There was not even a food pantry operating in the 80’s when I went (or it wasn’t advertised).I certainly never heard about it, and I was an avid member, basically was involved in all the activities at the time. It did do the Faith & Prosperity Gospel- they just never called it that, but they did say each Sunday give so that the lord may give generously to you that Malachi requests 10% of your earnings that was pretty much a given in their Article of Faith, they still do that today. I wont go into detail b/c I’ve written on another blog-site, (the Watchman) I think that blog is called. What I found interesting on the videos here is how one person went into detail even showing an EG graph about how one’s brainwaves change, through the lighting that is used during their concerts etc and even though i’m not involved in any church any more, I could easily from that programme how Hillsong use demonic/New Age symbolism in all of their stageshows. Take away all that music and you wont have a mega-organization any more. The same tactics but on a smaller scale were being used at Richmond AoG when I was an active member. Pure marketing strategy! So was the Faith & Prosperity gospel which incidentally did not work for me, no matter how I tried… So according to them I was still maybe not a sinner as such – ie I had Salvation( the Sinner’s Prayer) but I lacked Faith, certainly not money as I had that down pat, but nothing was happening , but if I did a Compare & Contrast now they were using the same tactics as the televangelists in the USA. Copeland is a sickening case in point! So nothing much has changed and only now am I doing my research… But I thought for a long time that Jesus would be mortified! The temple scene accounts for that. After that I went New Age , maybe not fully but away from the church nonetheless and i’m drawn to it to a degree , even though I kind of know on intellectual level that it is (maybe) not true.

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  3. I think Joel Houston started out honestly loving the Lord and excited to spread his word around the world. I only hope Esther hasn’t changed that. It appears that since marrying her he has definitely taken a different path.

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  4. I wonder why your so obsessed with Esther and not more obsessed with her creator? This article reaks of jealousy and envy without concrete facts to support you. Does Joel marrying a former model hinder your spiritual growth in any way? Does anyone at Hillsong or Hillsong for that matter hinder your spiritual growth? Does it not say in the bible to keep your eyes on the Lord and He will fight your battles, as you clearly see Esther Houstons love of designer clothing and handbags as a battle. Wouldn’t that energy be better served fighting a stronger battle, poverty, homelessness, sextrafficking? Such a waste of good energy for something is really none of our business

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  5. Have you ever been to a Hillsong Service or been to one of their concerts? A new age cult? Maybe a new age movement but adding the tag of cult is quite disturbing. Instead of writing ignorant articles why don’t you work on advancing the kingdom of God like Hillsong is. I attended their last show of their tour this weekend in Chicago and it was nothing but uplifting and Gods presence was felt by everyone. We are living in a time where cilivians and police officers are dying senselessly. Your gonna get mad at someone is preaching the good word because they have a supermodel wife, or our friends with Justin Beiber? Or better yet may inherit a lucrative business from their Father? I think you should look for a career outside of journalism because you are a million miles off the mark.

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  6. This reminds me of the pharisees in the Bible. I bet you would be thrilled if Hillsong church refused to embrace a ‘sinner’ like Justin Beiber.How would you suggest the church reach out to those in captivity? Jesus came to save the lost and last time I checked Jesus hang out with prostitutes and thieves.He even stated that it’s the sick who need a doctor not the well. I really pray that whoever wrote this article will one day understand that Christianity is not about religion, it is about an intimate relationship with God. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that people get gradually transformed, not by might or power. Ours is to spread His word.All of us are sinners and have fallen short of God’s glory,no one has a right to judge.Remember the same measure you use to pass judgement is the same measure that God will judge you with on that day. I suggest you stop meddling with people who are doing God’s work and maybe start reading your Bible.

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    • Thanks for commenting Tina – we suggest you (and Hillsong) stop meddling with God’s Word and start reading it.

      2 Timothy 4:2-4 “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and encourage with every form of patient instruction. For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires. So they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

      Cheers, Team ChurchWatch.

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  7. I like the disclaimer at the bottom of this page… Opinions… Well These are quite judgmental opinions…

    The article brings to mind Todd White… I wonder what you would have to say about him. Hmmm! How about Shawn Boltz? He loves L.A and meets celebrities all the time. He even met head of states labelled “tyrans”… What say you?

    Whenever i google Hillsong and read through the links the search engines brings up, your website is there as the fierce critic… What’s the root cause?
    “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3 (NKJV – Bible Gateway)

    Just my two cents.

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