A Reformed charismatic pastor is addressing a popular anthem from Hillsong amid controversy that it contains heresy because it says Jesus “didn’t want Heaven without us,” lyrics some have called unbiblical and “doctrinal malpractice.”
Writing on his website Thursday, Sam Storms, lead pastor of Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, unpacked the second verse of “What A Beautiful Name It Is” by Hillsong songwriters Ben Fielding and Brooke Ligertwood which reads: “You didn’t want heaven without us, So Jesus, you brought heaven down. My sin was great, your love was greater, What could separate us now?”
“At Bridgeway we love [this] song,” Storms said, while noting that some have argued that the line in question “suggests that Jesus is needy, that he is, in himself, somehow deficient and less than complete and only we, his people can fill up what he lacks.”
He explained, referencing several scriptures, that “we know from numerous biblical texts that God needs nothing, that as Creator and Providential Lord over the entire universe, he is altogether self-sufficient and independent.”
“I don’t know what the thinking of its composers was when they wrote it. But we must ask the question: ‘Why did Jesus not want heaven without us?’ If the answer is, because he was lonely or needed us or because he was in some way incomplete without our presence, then we have heresy,” Storms said.
“But that doesn’t necessarily follow from the statement that Jesus ‘didn’t want heaven without us.'”
Storms concluded that he will continue singing the song “with the understanding that it is because Jesus desired to supply us with what will bring to our hearts the greatest imaginable joy: the sight and savoring of his own eternal and majestic glory.”
The Oklahoma pastor identifies himself theologically as “Amillennial, Calvinistic, charismatic, credo-baptistic, complementarian, Christian Hedonist” on his website.
His words were likely in response to sentiment from others who did not give the songwriters the benefit of the doubt and have, given the song’s popularity, spoken out against it.
“The writer of ‘What a Beautiful Name’ would have us believe that the reason for Christ’s life, death, and resurrection was because He ‘didn’t want heaven without us,’ wrote Cameron Buettel and Jeremiah Johnson on the website of Grace To You, the ministry of pastor John MacArthur last November.
“That’s a nice sentiment, but it’s not remotely biblical. In fact, it’s doctrinal malpractice by people who should know better.”