A mountain out of a Hemphill

Well, the hills are alive with the sound of Joel Hemphill claiming that Jesus was not God in the flesh. Quelle scandal. I’ve been traveling and haven’t had time to sort through all of this sufficient for a post of its own. But in the meantime, let’s put to rest an idea that was succinctly floated by revpaul and will probably tend to gather more steam if this thing comes to a boil (and I suspect it will, if history is any teacher around here):

I love Joel and Labreeska both, but I think he has seriously damaged his own career with this work.

Damaged his career? If we’re talking about any time since 1990, when the Hemphills came off the road, what career was that exactly? The one where he and Labreeksa and her hair sat in the third row, off to the right of Donnie Sumner and Ladye Smith in the Gaither videos? The Hemphills haven’t exactly been selling out nationwide for some time now, and while Hemphill has continued to write songs since the family stopped touring, even that part of his gospel career has fallen off sharply from his heyday in the 70s and 80s (The Gaither Vocal Band’s “Jesus Said It’s Enough” is the last major song I can recall Hemphill having written, though correct me if I’m wrong). Thus I find it hard to believe that this book or whatever theological controversies (or “controversies”) it may contain will damage his gospel music career (as opposed to his reputation), since that’s more or less over even if he and his wife still book dates that may include some singing. 


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  1. SouthernGospelBlog.com » Does anyone consider songwriters to be theologians? on 30 Jul 2008 at 7:30 am

    […] at Averyfineline, frequent commenter CVH comments on a current story, but starts an interesting rabbit trail: Really, with the possible exception of […]


  1. Jason Miller wrote:

    Heh. If Jesus wasn’t divine, kinda makes it useless to “claim the blood.”

  2. Leebob wrote:

    It causes me to take a 2nd look before singing his songs. If he is that far off on the trinity and all that that implies, where else is he off?

  3. Jimmy Warsing wrote:

    I would have to diasgree with out moderator on this one. His present, past and any hope of a future career will be crippled extensively.

  4. Scott wrote:

    But can the flesh really be divine, at least in the sense that we know it? But most certainly I am out of my league in this discussion.

    I do know that Joel Hemphill is one of the great theologians in our present day and this revelation is bound to send reverberations throughtout the world of Christianity.

    I hear the Vatican will hold a press conference concerning this sometime tomorrow.

  5. Revpaul wrote:

    What I meant by Joel’s “career” is not so much his current meager singing schedule but the preaching and revival dates which he still takes. Whatever income he may still have from his songwriting might also begin to dwindle. Maybe he’s hoping book sales will make up for the losses. I for one would have to think long and hard before having him as a guest preacher, and I’d check his lyrics carefully before recording or buying one of his songs.

  6. Revpaul wrote:

    Your cheek is bulging with your tongue implanted in it so deeply.

  7. JM wrote:


    Respectfully, I believe you’re incorrect on this issue. The subtitle of this blog suggests that it deals with both SGM and culture. Therefore, despite Mr. Hemphill’s sinking SGM profile, his identity is still within the SGM culture. Additionally, I believe he still does a considerable amount of business within the SGM community. I could recall the names of some ministries in the evangelical community that effectively ceased operations over a decade ago; however, when the secular press wants to “rub our noses in the dirt,” they are quick to recall the name of Jim Bakker. So too, whether we like it or not, Mr. Hemphill’s theological positions may bring more reproach and ridicule upon the Church. Therefore, even if it doesn’t effect a change in his stage seating at the Las Vegas Homecoming session, it is appropriate that he be rebuked for this stark departure from sound Scriptural theology.

  8. CVH wrote:

    Our moderator is correct. Damage to Hemphill’s legacy is one possible outcome but what’s the downside? He’s made his money, does what he wants, fancies himself an armchair theologian. Really, with the possible exception of Michael Card, does anyone consider songwriters to be theologians? Most are nothing more than conveyors of truth as they
    understand it.

    And you can’t damage a career that is largely non-existent. With all due respect to their past success, the Hemphills are in that phase of their career where, if there was a SG version of The Hollywood Squares, they’d be on the right center row next to Paul Lynde. (Or would that be Mark Lowry?)

  9. Joe wrote:

    Rodney Griffin’s theology is pretty sound. So was Gordon Jensen’s and Neil Enloe’s.

    IF Joel Hemphill really believes this, then he has relegated his Homecoming status to buying a ticket as close to the stage as he can get.

    Seems as if we are having a veritable explosion of voices, from many directions “Christian”, that are now loudly proclaiming Scripture to not be what it has been all along, and to not say what it has always said.

    Here’s what it really is, folks. It is just perhaps one more example of the many different voices that the apostle John called the “spirit of antichrist”, that we see proliferating before our very eyes, on a daily basis.

  10. gc wrote:

    Someone posted that Phillips,Craig and Dean had the same belief as Hemphill. Where can that be verified? I would like to know more info about that statement.

  11. Bubba wrote:

    Here you go gc.


  12. Rev. Clarence Driver wrote:

    Joe said, “Rodney Griffin’s theology is pretty sound. So was Gordon Jensen’s and Neil Enloe’s.”

    Sound, only if you are Southern Baptist!

  13. David Bruce Murray wrote:

    I agree with Doug that what no longer exists (Hemphill’s SG career) can’t be harmed.

    Since he’s written a book and defended his position on public websites, he should be prepared for people to react. The publicity may help him sell more books…who knows?

    At some point, argument over doctrine ceases to be useful. A topic like this, though…to me any way…is a greater cause for concern than, say, whether or not immersion is the only proper way to be baptized.

  14. Alan wrote:

    Hey Joe - yeah, their theology is sound. So is the theology of a lot of other songwriters. And I’m not even a Southern Baptist. Just a Christian who believes the Bible! Anyone else here wonder when it happened that denominations became the determining factor in whether songs are accurate to Scripture or not?!

  15. mp3guy wrote:

    not too sure about that, but them Nazarenes sure can sing!!

  16. Harry Peters wrote:

    If Joel Hemphill said that “Jesus is not God in the flesh,” he makes a mockery out of the basic tennants of the Christian Church for over 2000 years and insults and desecrates the memory of all of the martyrs of the faith. I’ll grant that it is hard to get your arms around a concept like the Holy Trinity, but I don’t see how you could claim Jesus as your savior, if you did not believe that He was God in the flesh. Dear God, the Catholics, Anglicans and all other Protestants claim Jesus as God in the flesh as one of their most basic beliefs. How does Joel explain the first chapter of St. John?

    Old Harry Peters is up in arms about this, and my wife, Fonda, is egging me on to preach on this one.

  17. Kyle wrote:

    Okay, I just have to wonder….all of this is coming to light just as Gold City’s new single, “I Cast My Bread Upon The Water,” hits the airwaves. Guess who wrote the song…..

  18. CVH wrote:

    I’m typing this with latex gloves on, fearing that my post may back up to Harry Peters. Ewww….

    Anyway, I had posted the comment about PC&D on the open thread and Bubba has given a reference already to the origins of the ‘Oneness’ doctrine. If you want to look at it as it relates to PC&D, simply Google “Philips Craig and Dean theology” and a number of websites will come up that have discussed their theological stands. It’s nothing new.

  19. dd wrote:

    The father declared from the throne as Jesus was baptized by John…”This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, just so there was no mistaking it, lighted on Jesus. All three specific individuals of the Trinity took part. i dont care if PC&D, Mr. Hemphill or anyone says otherwise. Jesus, God’s beloved Son, and my Savior was God in the flesh lived a sinless life, became sin and died for the sins of the world, past, present and future but rose victorious on the third day from the grave. Went back to heaven and presented to the Father his blood as atonement for us. and sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us, even now. Praise his HOLY name.

    ok, there, i had to get that off of me. i’ll keep my eyes on Jesus, not any person.

  20. thamp wrote:

    Joel Hemphill’s doctrine is different than that of One God or Jesus Name beliefs. Jesus Name believers believe that there is one God and Jesus was God from the beginning.

    Joel Hemphill did come from a Jesus Name family, but now he has moved onto something completely different. To my knowledge PCD does not hold to his beliefs.

  21. Eric Melton wrote:

    Rev. Clarence Driver wrote:

    Joe said, “Rodney Griffin’s theology is pretty sound. So was Gordon Jensen’s and Neil Enloe’s.”

    Sound, only if you are Southern Baptist!

    Rev Driver,

    Actually none of these men are of the Baptist belief. Gordon Jensen and Neil Enloe like myself all attend Assembly of God churches. The couriers were part of First Assembly of God in Harrisburg PA for years. Gordon who is a good friend and who operates in a very prophetic anointing attends The Church at Indian Lake which is an AG church in Hendersonville, TN. I am not sure as to why their doctrine would only apply to Southern Baptists.

    I don’t agree with all of my brothers and sisters in the Pentecostal churches on everything, but I do believe that we should all be about the Father’s business and preach and sing the gospel that God has called us to do. Disagreement on doctrine has been why so many in the world are turned off to the church. There is much farce and inaccuracy in the kingdom of God. Many people say “God told me” and it was just bad pizza the night before. People need to make sure they really heard from God before saying that God told them. What God tells us will never be contradictory to the word.

  22. BKA wrote:

    This is an example of “man’s wisdom being foolishness to God” run amuck. Eric, I agree that silly theological disagreements has caused the “church” to lose credibility (along with ungodly living among the people of the church), however, this is not just some silly theological disagreement. If Jesus Christ is not God, then none of us have any hope!!!! This is huge, because, believe it or not, there will be some people that will be impressed, simply because it is “Joel Hemphill”, and they have loved his music for “years”. The average sg fan doesn’t have a clue about scripture. Most don’t know the difference between the Bible and the Readers Digest. Sad but true. It is important that the “true” church know the truth about a man like Joel Hemphill, so they can make an informed decision on whether to invite him to their church. I pray for Mr. Hemphill and for his salvation.

  23. Bubba wrote:

    Joel may not be pure Oneness, but his views are not even close to orthodox Christianity. Check out some of the links on this site and what appears to be Joel’s own words.


  24. thamp wrote:

    Wow… It looks like he has created his own gospel very few can agree with.

    It’s amazing what people can see when they pick the meaning of scripture that meets their needs.

  25. JW wrote:

    C’mon, BKA #22, “The average sg fan doesn’t have a clue about scripture. “???

    I agree many and myself! need to be better educated about backing up our beliefs, but saying they “don’t have a clue”? Most I know have a good grasp of The Bible and the basics.

    Joel Hemphill can’t say whatever he wants. I, and most, can read “The Word became flesh…”

    Big deal. There are billions of Joel Hemphills out there and this is nothing new. The Bible explicitly says this will happen.

    Let’s just keep reading and studying.

  26. Angie M wrote:

    #11: Hemphill’s belief is not Oneness Pentecostalism, which is what your link takes us to.

  27. BKA wrote:

    I do not say this with pride, JW, however, it is true about the scriptural ignorance of the AVERAGE sg fan. There are always exceptions to every rule, however, most sg fans are more faithful to sg than they are the work of the “church”. How many sg fans would go to the average sg concert if there was a sermon stuck right between the “major” groups. I, myself, love music. I love southern, contemporary, praise and worship. As long is God is glorified, and the person singing is abased, I enjoy it. Unfortunately, most of the time (and yes, more in sg than in any other form based on my experience) the singer is the one getting the praise. This is directly because of the scriptural ignorance of the AVERAGE sg fan. Without a few people in this forum with some God given wisdom about scripture, most sg fans would not see the problem with J. Hemphill believing what he believes. As long as the song has a good beat, a few catchy words, and presented in an entertaining way, the AVERAGE sg fan couldn’t care less whether the song is scriptural. (I am not yelling when I say average, I just want to make sure everyone knows that I know there are exceptions to every rule) I grew up in southern gospel. I still “prefer” the sg sound. But, over the years, I have become increasingly distressed over the lack of concern about how the sg artist present the “Gospel” in song. For the most part, sg has become a joke. This is because the AVERAGE sg fan doesn’t hold the artist to much of a biblical standard. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we saw lives changed based on the biblical presentation during sg concerts, and was less interested in who was more “entertaining”.

  28. Robin wrote:

    Joel Hemphill is right on the money. The trinitarian doctrine was a post biblical invention that was forced into doctrine through the Nicene and Chalcedonian councils of the 4th century. Neither Jesus, the apostles, or the new testament church ever believed that Jesus was a pre-existent member of an eternal godhead. There are hundereds of new testament verses alone that are very clear about this, and only a few grammatically ambiguous and misinterpreted/translated texts to the contrary. Hopefully Joel will stir up some folks to blow the dust off their bibles and quit trusting in greek philosophy and traditions of men for truth.

  29. Servetus wrote:

    Joel Hemphill is exactly right. Jesus never claimed to be God. He told people he was the way to the Father, who is the only God. See John 17.3; Eph 4.6; 1 Cor 8.6. And see my new book on it, The Restitution of Jesus Christ (2008), available at my webiste–servetustheevangelical.com. This book may be the most formidable, biblically in-depth book to ever challenge the church dogma that Jesus is God.

  30. james wrote:

    I now see Joel Hemphill’s material denying the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ on 4 anti-Deity of Christ sites. One is a former high ranking leader with The Way International. Another Southern Gospel artist who also denies the Deity of Christ, and the Holy Trinity, is Jerry Bennett. He is on one of the anti-Deity of Christ sites, along with Joel. It’s not hard to see where Jerry is coming from. Just read his statement of faith. It’s only 3 lines. How these artists can perform concerts in Christian churches, while denying the Deity of the savior they sing about is a real shame. If you really want to know what Joel teaches about our Lord Jesus, you don’t have to buy his book, you can go to your local kingdom hall of JW’sS, and read for free where Joel and Jerry are coming from. Matter of fact at least the JW’s believe in the pre-existance of Jesus(even thought is’s unorthodox), Joel and Jerry do not. If both of these artists would inform pastors, and leaders where they stood on the nature of jesus, they would not be getting into Evangelical churches as easily.

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