In an informational and at times off-topic book spanning 49 chapters, Lance Goodall uses a lot of sources in explaining the dangers of Hillsong, a megachurch influencing millions with its music. While he gives good information, he also discusses seemingly random topics without connecting them to Hillsong itself. Does that prevent his book from being a credible read? This book review attempts to answer that question.
SOMETHING TO NOTE
This book was read at a time in which it was available for purchase only via the “Gumroad” app (April-May 2017). It has been released via a legit book form (paperback, etc.) since that time.
Philip L. Powell, pastor of the church that Goodall attends, writes the foreward to this book. He writes the foreward “with a deep concern on two fronts” (p. xi). First, he explains that Hillsong is both a “hireling Shepherd” of a church and a church focused primarily on rewards in the here and now instead of when Christ appears (pp. xi-xii; he has a point in light of this Brian Houston “sermon” here). Powell’s second concern is that people are following the false shepherd (Hillsong) instead of the True Shepherd (Christ). Powell’s prayer for this book is “that this book will amplify the voice of the True Shepherd and that many will heed it and return from the field of the corporate church to the field of the Chief Shepherd before it is too late” (p. xii). He also prays the book “will introduce a measure of self-examination to and accountability for individual Christians and congregations mesmerized by Hillsong’s music, any discernment about which, until Lance’s writing, has sadly been lacking” (p. xiii). While Powell’s intentions are good, to say that the discernment about Hillsong has sadly been lacking until Lance’s writing is simply inaccurate in terms of the big picture. Groups that include but are not limited to Berean Research, Pirate Christian Radio, Gotquestions.org, Pulpit & Pen and Churchwatch Central exercise more than a fair share of discernment in examining Hillsong. However, they have never done so in a book format. Goodall’s book appears to be the first examination of Hillsong in book form. Perhaps it will not be the last.
Without ever mentioning the word “Hillsong” or any term alluding to it, Goodall explains that his book “shows the modern-day Christian church has taken this very same path” (p. xvi). What path is he referring to, you ask? He’s referring to the path Jeroboam took in 1 Kings 12. Essentially, Jeroboam broke the second commandment by making idols in the likeness of God (vv. 25-33). While Goodall’s citation of 1 Kings 12 is important, his failure to connect that point to Hillsong (which is what his book is about, per the title) becomes an unfortunate habit in the rest of his book.
Goodall starts his book with some excellent factual information about Hillsong in the first chapter (pp. 1-4). In the next four chapters, he devotes more time to stuff not of Hillsong than Hillsong itself (pp. 5-16). Goodall then discusses a few of the Hillsong locations around the world (pp. 17-25). In chapter 8, one of the book’s better chapters, Goodall gives information about Brian Houston, explains why he (Goodall) left Hillsong, lists some of Hillsong’s main problems and argues that Hillsong is a corporation (as opposed to a church) that follows the seeker-sensitive model (pp. 26-36). In chapters 9-18, Goodall mostly writes about the topic of music in relation to Hillsong but mostly other people such as Sonny and Cher, Calvary Chapel, Rick Warren, Larry Norman, etc. (pp. 37-102). In doing so he mentions a glaring fact; Hillsong omitted the following words (in bold) in 2 Chronicles 7:14, a verse used on the back cover of its album Mighty To Save:
and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Aside from the fact the verse was quoted out of context, Hillsong omits important words from an awesome verse. Furthermore, the way it omitted them is pretty dangerous given what God’s Word says about adding to or subtracting from His Word (Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 21:19; Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32).
In chapter 19, Goodall spends extended time examining Hillsong’s use of the word “aftermath” in relation to the phoenix (pp. 103-115). Chapter 20 examines Hillsong’s tattoo culture (pp. 116-119). Goodall discusses nothing of Hillsong in chapter 21 (instead talking mostly of Perry Noble’s usage of “Highway to Hell” during an Easter “sermon”) before focusing back on Hillsong with an examination focusing mostly on Carl Lentz and other Hillsong “hell raisers” (pp. 120-140). Chapter 23, titled “Jesus Christ Superstar”, examines Hillsong’s mission statement and other miscellaneous items (pp. 141-151). One of these miscellaneous items is “Prince”:
The shocking truth is Hillsong and the other counterfeits like Warren, Prince, and Osteen are promoting health, wealth, prosperity and human potential—the antithesis to true biblical Christianity! The true church is composed of those who have signed up for slavery and death (see Phil. 2:5–10; 2 Cor. 5:14,15; Matt 6:24; 2 Cor. 6:3–10).
By this point in the book, Goodall has already discussed Rick Warren and Joel Osteen. However, this is the first mentioning of “Prince” (and here he is only mentioned in passing by last name only). Why is this significant, you ask? Well, what “Prince” is he talking about? Is he talking about the singer? One can easily misunderstand this. This type of glaring error should not happen.
Thankfully, one can understand what Prince he is talking about by checking the context of this book. In the context of this book, he’s obviously talking about the false teacher, Joseph Prince (for currently there is no other popular false teacher by the name of “Prince”, be it first or last). One could confirm this by seeing Joseph Prince’s full name mentioned in chapter 30, SEVEN chapters after the first mentioning of him (and again, the mentioning was by last name only). At this point, it should be noted that Goodall often is either unclear or off-topic (bordering on seemingly random) at various points in this book (with the “Prince” confusion possibly being the most glaring mistake of them all). In fact, in chapters 3, 4, 11, 13, 21, 26, 27, 33, and 34, he either does not mention Hillsong by name or fails to connect the chapter material (be it Christian nightclubs, Larry Norman, Rick Warren, Jimi Hendrix, Perry Noble, Stryper, Michael W. Smith, worship, his assertion that various musical artists [Amy Grant, MercyMe and Smith] would never preach Christ as the only way to heaven, or the masonic influence at Steven Furtick’s Elevation “Church”) with Hillsong in some way, shape or form. While one can assume or infer that Hillsong is connected with the aforementioned subjects in some way, shape or form, Goodall’s inability to explicitly connect those dots is easily noticed. This is not a good thing. After all, if the book is about Hillsong, why does it have chapters that are seemingly independent of Hillsong? Where are the connections?
Thankfully for Goodall, he somewhat offsets the inability to connect the dots with his plethora of research. Goodall clearly spent much time gathering various sources for this book. These sources include but are not limited to websites, books, videos, periodicals and sermon transcripts. It is this mass amount of research that prevents this book from being a disappointment.
Although off-topic at times, Lance Goodall gives excellent, thorough research in his explanations about the dangers of Hillsong. Because of that, this book is a credible read. Furthermore, the research saves the book from being a total letdown. Although he could have definitely done a better job at connecting some information to Hillsong, he explains Hillsong’s dangers nonetheless, thus making this book a helpful and informational resource for one’s library.