When it comes to music, the philosophy coming into ascendance among IB churches is this: as long as the words are right we should relax and be edified and not be critical.
Recent West Coast graduate: “The music was a lot more of a concern to me when I first started to hear it and think of the fact that it was CCM artists that perform it. But seriously, are the words evil? Can a Christian not be edified by these songs? Is it not more important for a person to be edified than it is to be approved by men?”
Recent Hyles Anderson graduate: “I am not against new songs that are theo-centric and doctrinally correct. Who the writer is is not my concern. Any music that promotes God for who He is or what He has done without emphasizing the flesh, I am for.”
This philosophy allows the churches to “adapt” CCM by selecting songs that have Scriptural lyrics and toning down the rhythm. It is an attempt to take the “rock” out of Christian rock and to turn charismatic praise music into fundamentalist praise music.
Following are some of the reasons why this philosophy is unscriptural and dangerous:
1. THIS PHILOSOPHY DISREGARDS THE BIBLE’S CLEAR COMMANDS TO SEPARATE FROM HERESY AND END-TIMES APOSTASY.
Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
1 Timothy 6:3-5 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
2 Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
Revelation 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
All of these commandments pertain to associations.
The Contemporary Christian Music movement is permeated with heresy and is committed wholesale to a philosophy of ecumenism that is plainly building the end-times Harlot Church. Rome has a very prominent role in the CCM movement, and there is not one out of 1000 of the CCM artists that issue any sort of warning about that whatsoever. They talk about Christ and sing His praises, but they are spiritually blind at a truly fundamental level.
If they were indeed filled with the Holy Spirit, which they so frequently and earnestly sing about, they would do as Paul did when he encountered a false teacher trying to lead people away from the truth:
“Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, and said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:9-10).
I have been to some large, influential charismatic ecumenical conferences with press credentials and I have thus witnessed with my own eyes and ears those places where CCM is birthed and where it is most at home. Never have I seen reproof of error after the fashion of what the Spirit-filled Paul did in Acts 13. All of those conferences (New Orleans 1987, Indianapolis 1990, St. Louis 2000, etc.) featured an ecumenical mixed multitude that included large numbers of Roman Catholics. And not one of the charismatic leaders or popular CCM “artists” (including Bill Gaither and his outfit who performed at one of these) lifted even a finger of protest and warning. They are practically all in bed with the vile, wretched end-times apostasy. You might be able to find some exception somewhere, but it is only that -- an exception. (For reports on these conferences see “Strange Things in New Orleans,” “Charismatic Confusion in Evangelism,” and “End Times Confusion in St. Louis,” at the Way of Life web site. Use the search engine or consult the Charismatic section of the Topical Listing from the tab at the top of the web site’s home page.)
I attended with press credentials the New Baptist Covenant Celebration in 2008, with speakers like Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Tony Campolo, and that great Baptist giant Bill Clinton. The very liberal Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Baptist World Alliance and American Baptist Churches USA were participants. The music was CCM and the theme was ecumenism. In his opening message Jimmy Carter said that it is impossible to agree on doctrines and issues so we should unite rather on the “gospel,” but the gospel was never defined, and the “gospel” that was actually preached was a social gospel. Carter mentioned the “fundamentals” but no one said what they were, because doctrinal purity was not on the table. There were “ministries” represented at the Celebration such as Affirming and Welcoming Baptists who are trying to get churches to receive unrepentant homosexuals as members and workers. We interviewed the representative of this organization and she told us that she believes the early chapters of Genesis are not literal history, marriage is a man-made institution, and there is no such thing as sexual sin. (For a report on this conference see “The New Baptist Covenant: A Celebration of Liberalism,” FBIS, Feb. 25, 2008, at the Way of Life Literature web site. Use the search engine or consult the Ecumenism section of the Topical Listing from the tab at the top of the web site’s home page.)
I attended the National Pastor’s Fellowship in 2009 sponsored by Zondervan and InterVarsity Press (with speakers such as Brian McLaren, Bill Hybels, Paul Young, author of The Shack, Shane Claiborne, John Ortberg, Christopher Wright, Scot McKnight, Alex McManus, J.P. Moreland, Andy Crouch of Christianity Today, and Billy Graham’s brother-in-law Leighton Ford, to name a few). (For a report on this see “The Emerging Church Is Coming,” FBIS, March 3, 2009, at the Way of Life Literature web site. Use the search engine or consult the Emerging Church section of the Topical Listing from the tab at the top of the web site’s home page.)
All of these large influential conferences are committed to the ecumenical philosophy. None of them would dream of reproving Roman Catholicism. They are far too busy with other agendas to do anything like that. These conferences throw men together of all doctrinal persuasions, from Leighton Ford’s “evangelical conservatism” to Brian McLaren’s universalism and rejection of hell to Paul Young’s non-judgmental female God as taught in his book The Shack.
These are the types of forums in which CCM is birthed and where it is most at home. The music at these forums was “real” Christian rock. They pulled out all the stops. No messing around with this silly business of trying to remove the rock” from Christian rock. There was even colored lights and smoke. No holds barred CCM. The real stuff.
It is really pathetic to see once old-fashioned Baptist churches like Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, or Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, trying to use CCM, like they have been doing for a couple of decades. They have the “worship leader” and the band but the people just stand there stiffly, mouthing the words on the big screen without the foggiest idea of what to do with such music. Hey, that music is created to “connect” you to God, to enable you to “experience” God. It’s all about “feeling” something. You’re supposed to yield to it, move to it, dance, man! Independent Baptist churches that want to use CCM need to bring in some charismatic ecumenists to teach them how to do it or they need to go to some of the charismatic churches and conferences and observe how it is done so they can do right by it. If you want to use charismatic stuff, you ought to at least make an effort to know what it is and how it should be used.
For nearly four decades I have researched the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement, beginning from when I was led to Christ by an old-line Pentecostal and visited Pentecostal churches as a new Christian seeking God’s will about “who” to join. The 317-page book The Pentecostal-Charismatic Movements: The History and the Error is packed with documentation of the apostasy and spiritual danger represented by this movement, which also represents the very heart and soul of Contemporary Christian Music. We also have a photo-packed DVD series on that subject.
I have visited for research purposes influential churches that represent the heart and soul of CCM and its philosophy, such as Mars Hill Church in Seattle (Mark Driscoll), Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, California, Vineyard Fellowship in Anaheim, Carpenter’s Home Church of Lakeland, Florida, Christ Church in Nashville, City Harvest Church in Singapore, Without Walls in Florida, Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul (supposedly the world’s biggest church), Bill Hybel’s Willowcreek Community Church west of Chicago, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in California, First Baptist in Atlanta, Hills Christian Life Centre in Sydney, and schools such as Oral Roberts University, Regent College in Vancouver, B.C., Wheaton College, and Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville.
I do have some unique personal experiences and have done some serious research into the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement and ecumenism and CCM. In 1998, when I published the first edition of Contemporary Christian Music Under the Spotlight, the use and “adaptation” of CMM was still rare among IB churches, but that is no longer the case.
Paul warned that evil communications corrupt good manners. If anything is evil today, it is the charismatic ecumenical movement which is producing the vast bulk of contemporary worship music. It has a name that it lives, but when judged biblically, it is found to be dead. It has zeal without knowledge. It has a form of godliness but it denies the power thereof, which is absolute truth.
There is widespread confusion about the gospel itself within this movement. At the North American Congress on the Holy Spirit and World Evangelization in 1987, which I attended with press credentials, a large percentage of the participants and many of the speakers were Roman Catholic. The two leaders were a Pentecostal and a Roman Catholic who bragged about how wonderful it was that they could be so united and what a great thing God is doing today. Each evening featured about an hour of contemporary worship music, which united that mixed multitude in fervent “praise.” But then one evening a large percentage of the 35,000 or so participants raised their hands to indicate that they weren’t sure of their salvation. At a press conference the next day, Dennis Costella of Foundation magazine asked why the conference didn’t address the matter of salvation plainly and publicly in order to clear up the obvious confusion. A Pentecostal leader replied, “We don’t have time for that.” The more honest answer would have been as follows:
“We are a mixed multitude. This conference represents 40 different denominations, and we have different ideas about that. Our Catholic brethren have one idea and our Lutheran brethren another and there are differences of opinion even among us Pentecostals. In the context of the ecumenical movement, some believe baptism is necessary for salvation; some believe you can’t be saved without tongues; some believe baptism regenerates; some believe cooing infants can be saved; some believe salvation must be nurtured through sacraments; some believe you can lose your salvation; some believe salvation is a mere sinner’s prayer; some believe in ‘Four Spiritual Laws,’ etc. So it is impossible to be doctrinally precise on that or practically any other issue and still keep our unity. As you know, doctrine divides; love unites, and love is what really matters. We can’t judge someone else, you know.”
That would have been the honest answer.
And the fact that the vast majority of CCM “artists” have bought into this wretchedly unscriptural ecumenical doctrine is why their music should be rejected wholesale--lock, stock, and barrel--by Bible-believing churches.
Thus, the first reason why the associations of CCM and not just the words must be considered is that the Bible commands us to separate from heresy and even more particularly from end-times apostasy.
John Styll, the publisher of Worship Leader magazine, made the following telling observation:
“You can have a pretty straight-laced but theologically liberal Presbyterian church using the same songs that are being sung at a wild and crazy charismatic church, but they use different arrangements and adapt the songs to their unique settings” (Styll, quoted by Steve Rabey, “The Profits of Praise,” Christianity Today, July 12, 1999).
Observe that he said that churches “use different arrangements and adapt their songs to their unique settings.”
My friends, that is EXACTLY what Lancaster Baptist Church in California and a rapidly growing number of other IB churches are doing. Styll, who is totally committed to ecumenism and who delights in the fact that CCM is bringing all churches together, understands this matter much better than the average IB pastor who is allowing his people to mess around with CCM. Styll understands the power of music. He knows that if churches dabble around with CCM they will be hooked and they will be drawn gradually closer to the ecumenical thinking and orb and its multitude of heresies and fables.
In an interview with Christianity Today, Don Moen of Integrity Music said: “I’ve discovered that worship [music] is transdenominational, transcultural. IT BRIDGES ANY DENOMINATION. Twenty years ago there were many huge divisions between denominations. Today I think the walls are coming down. In any concert that I do, I will have 30-50 different churches represented.”
Styll and Moen know that they are talking about. They know the power of music and the deception of ecumenism. Forty years ago, who would have thought that fundamental Baptist churches would be using CCM on a wide basis in the early 21st century? But they are, and if they don’t set their houses in order they will be swept along by the flood of compromise and apostasy. The typical pragmatic IB thinking and the refusal to listen to “criticism” on the part of the average IB pastor, won’t get the job done.
2. THE CCM CROWD IS ACTIVELY TARGETING “OLD FASHIONED” CHURCHES TO MOVE THEM FROM SACRED TO CONTEMPORARY
These people are real proselytizers. There are TRANSITION SONGS and BRIDGE SONGS designed to move traditional churches along the contemporary path toward Christian rock. From the perspective of the CCM artists involved in this, they aren’t doing anything sinister. They are simply and sincerely trying to “feed” the “broader church.” But from a fundamentalist Bible-believing position, the effect is to draw “old-fashioned” Bible churches into the contemporary orb, and that is most sinister.
Bridge songs include “How Deep the Father's Love for Us” by Stuart Townend and “In Christ Alone” by Townend and Keith Getty.
These songs are doctrinally sound and hymn-like as opposed to out-and-out rock & roll in style, so they are considered “safe” by traditional churches. But by using this music a church is brought into association with the contemporary world that Townsend represents.
Townend is a Christian rocker. He is charismatic in theology and radically ecumenical in philosophy, supporting the Alpha program which bridges charismatic, Protestant, and Roman Catholic churches. He is a member of the charismatic Church of Christ the King in Brighton, U.K. and supports the “extraordinary manifestations of the Spirit (S4W.com). This refers, of course, to the demonic/fleshly charismatic mysticism such as spirit slaying, holy laughter, and shaking.
Townend is holding hands with the “broader church” in all of its facets and heresies and end-time apostasies, and Townend’s objective in writing the “hymn-like” contemporary songs is ecumenism. Consider the following statement:
“‘How Deep the Father’s Love’ was the first hymn-like song I had written; before that point I had only written modern worship songs in a more contemporary style. ... This melody just kinda popped out of my head one day. ... It had a kind of classic hymn-like element to it. I thought I should just tell the story of Christ on the cross, but tell it perhaps from the point of view of what it cost the Father to give the Son. ... There is lot of talk about the wrath of God and is that right to think that the Father’s wrath was poured out on Christ, and I think that is right to say that. But that is not to say that God is a vengeful God; actually it cost him to give up His son. ... It’s been interesting to see the response. It’s quite useful not only in the more modern contemporary churches, but in traditional churches as well because of the style. And I’m kind of exited about that; I am excited about the fact that you can write something that actually feeds the broader church rather than just particular musical pockets of the church. That’s something that motivates me and probably why I’ve thought more and more about writing hymns, is I would like to try and feed the whole church and not just part of it” (Stuart Townend, “Mission: Worship, The Story Behind the Song”).
The first comment we would make is that Townend openly states that his objective is to bridge “traditional” churches with contemporary ones. After “How Deep the Father’s Love” popped into his mind and he turned the “hymn-like” tune into a soft “modern hymn,” he realized that this type of music could be a powerful bridge. In his own blog he says “I don’t go home at the end of a busy day and put on a hymns album! So I don’t think of hymns as where I’m at musically at all!” (http://blog.stuarttownend.co.uk/2010/05/how-deep-fathers-love.html). He is a rock & roller, pure and simple. He wants to use the soft CCM to bring together the “broader church.”
What he does not say is that the contemporary churches aren’t very interested in soft CCM hymns. It is only the “traditional” churches that are interested in “soft” CCM, and by using it they are the ones that are in danger of being influenced and changed. When “traditional” churches borrow Townend’s “soft” CCM, the contemporary churches are in no danger of being “traditionalized,” but the traditional churches are most definitely in danger of being contemporarized.
The second observation is that Townend is committed to serious heresy. He states that God is not vengeful, whereas the Bible plainly, repeatedly, and forcefully states that God is vengeful. The Psalmist says that God will “execute vengeance upon the heathen” (Psa. 149:7). The prophets warn of the coming of the “day of the Lord’s vengeance” (Isa. 34:8; Jer. 46:10; Mic. 5:15; Nahum 1:2). It was God’s holy vengeance that fell upon Christ, and it is His vengeance that will fall upon every sinner outside of Christ. The apostle Paul said that Christ will exercise God’s vengeance on all who obey not the gospel (2 Thess. 1:8).
One concerned pastor wrote:
“Keith and Kristyn Getty advertise themselves as ‘Modern Hymn Writers’ and are deceiving many into the Rock Genre by this very innocent title and the more conservative Praise Soft Rock music. But the fact is, that they are not modern hymn writers because they are putting out Rock Music which is not spiritual at all but carnal and thereby, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and not the spirit (spiritual part of us yielding to the Holy Spirit).”
The frightful thing is that the average Independent Baptist pastor and music people don’t have the foggiest idea that they are being manipulated and that they are walking on a BRIDGE that leads to a place they say they are against, which is full blown CCM and its enticing philosophy of “don’t be so strict and uptight; relax; enjoy life; live the grace.”
3. THIS PHILOSOPHY WILL EFFECTIVELY STOP CLEAR WARNINGS.
How are the pastors and teachers going to give clear warnings about CCM and that crowd if they are using their music? (It is one thing to warn in generalities, which doesn’t offend people but also doesn’t get the job done, and it is quite another to warn in a plain manner so that the people who visit the music section of a typical Christian bookstore will know what music to avoid -- which is almost all of it!)
I can’t figure out how this would work at any practical level.
Consider a church that is using music of the likes of Jack Hayford, Darlene Zschech, Michael W. Smith, Twila Paris, Michael English, Brian Doerksen, Graham Kendrick, Rick Founds, Marty Nystrom, Michael Ledner, Marty Sampson, Steve Green, Jonathan Stockstill, Chris Tomlin, Stuart Townend, Casting Crowns, and other mainstream CCM musicians.
How can the pastor of such a church or visiting preachers effectively lift a word of clear warning against this crowd?
Knowing human nature as I do and knowing the preaching ministry as I do, I don’t believe this would ever work, and the longer the situation is allowed to continue the quieter the pulpit will be about CCM in an effective sense.
The pastor of the church that allows his people to dabble around in CCM in search of “good” stuff has effectively been stopped from giving the clear warnings that he should be giving about music.
Oh, he might be able to say, “Beware of Contemporary Christian Music, folks,” in a general, vague fashion, but he won’t be able to be precise in the way that is required today to make people understand the real danger. He will hesitate and probably decide against bringing in a preacher who might deal with these matters plainly, knowing that his people would be confused and probably offended.
If such a pastor becomes convicted that he has allowed the church to go down a wrong path and tries to turn it around by issuing clear warnings himself, he will quickly learn that addicted people (in this case, addicted to sensual music) fervently defend their addictions.
4. THIS PHILOSOPHY MEANS THE CHURCH IS ACTUALLY PROMOTING CCM ARTISTS, AND THE CHURCH MEMBERS WILL DOUBTLESS BE LULLED INTO LISTENING TO THE “REAL STUFF.”
When church members see that CCM is “adapted” in their services, at least some of them will doubtless obtain the full-blown stuff to listen to in private.
When they visit Christian bookstores and browse the music section they will see the same songs that they hear on Sunday and they will buy the stuff and before long they will see that real Christian rock is more fun, more powerful, more enticing than “adapted” Christian rock.
More likely these days they will go home and do a Google search for the titles of the adapted CCM songs they hear at church, perhaps some Hillsong numbers, and the top returns will be the “real” Christian rock and they will be drawn farther and farther into the CCM world.
One lady left the following comment at a YouTube clip featuring an “adapted” CCM song. The title is “We Will Remember” by Tommy Walker.
“I fell in love with this song when it was sang in our church today. I then got home to find the lyrics on the Internet. It’s a wonderful song.”
You can be sure that she found more than the mere “lyrics.”
In this way the appetite for the “real” CCM will spread throughout the church, and this type of thing doesn’t happen slowly.
When Lancaster Baptist Church, home of West Coast Baptist College, performed “Shout to the Lord” in a Sunday service, Cary Schmidt, one of the leaders, said, “Most of you have heard this song or know the words to this song.” He knew that many of the church members were familiar with Hillsong and their music, and I do not believe that they listen only to the toned down soft rock versions played in church.
A pastor described to me a scene at a fundamental Baptist preachers meeting in which Hillsong numbers were sung as specials by a pastor’s wife. He said, “One session when she was performing, I was looking across the auditorium and just happened to see a young pastor coming out of the toilet with a big smile, and he was miming the words of the Hillsong junk she was singing. So I said to myself, ‘You are not only familiar with this song, but you have memorized it, and that means it is the music you listen to with enjoyment.’” Exactly, and he is probably not listening to the toned down “adapted” editions!
5. IF A CHURCH IS “ADAPTING” CCM, SOMEONE IS LISTENING TO “FULL-BLOWN” CCM IN ORDER TO FIND AND ADAPT “ACCEPTABLE” PIECES.
Typically, if musicians are “adapting” CCM for use in a conservative church that doesn’t yet allow full-blown rock & roll, those musicians are listening to “the real stuff” in order to find something to adapt.
Since rock & roll, even “soft rock,” is highly addictive and sensual, we know that these musicians rapidly lose their spiritual sensitivity and appetite for truly sacred music and become lulled into accepting an increasingly wider range of CCM.
Sun Records founder Sam Phillips, who recorded some of the first rock & roll hits, including Elvis’ first recording in 1954, knew the power of rock. Reminiscing many years later about why rock became such a social phenomenon, he said, “It all came out of THAT INFECTIOUS BEAT and those young people wanting to FEEL GOOD by listening to some records” (“Rock ‘n’ Roll Pioneer Sam Phillips Dies,” USA Today, July 30, 2003).
Janis Joplin, who died young from the rock & roll lifestyle, describes her first big concert in these words: “I couldn’t believe it, all that rhythm and power. I got stoned just feeling it, like IT WAS THE BEST DOPE IN THE WORLD. It was SO SENSUAL, so vibrant, loud, crazy” (Joel Dreyfuss, “Janis Joplin Followed the Script,” Wichita Eagle, Oct. 6, 1970, p. 7A).
I can concur with that. Rock & roll reached into the Christian home and church in which I grew up and absolutely captivated my heart and soul with I was a kid, and it taught me the path of rebellion and godlessness. Thousands upon thousands have the same testimony.
Are you pastors who are letting your churches dabble with “adapted” CCM and its soft rock willing to take the chance that your carelessness in the matter of music will cause some young people to offend and go the way of the world, the flesh, and the devil? Is it not better and wiser to err on the side of safety?
Rock can be hard or soft, fast or slow, loud or quiet, and it is still rock because it still has a sensual, heavily syncopated swing rhythm that moves the body, and it is still “infectious” and it still makes people “feel good.”
With the musicians being influenced by “real” CCM, their influence spreads throughout the church body.
A typical private conversation will be, “Hey, listen to this new cut by Darlene Zschech! Hey, you won’t believe this new Vineyard CD! Cool stuff!”
6. THE ATTEMPT TO REMOVE THE “ROCK” FROM CHRISTIAN ROCK TYPICALLY RESULTS IN MERELY TONING DOWN THE MUSIC FROM HARD ROCK TO SOFT ROCK.
Those who adapt CCM do so because that particular church still says it is opposed to CCM so they can’t use it full blown. They have to tone down the rhythm. They have to try to take the rock out of Christian rock. The pastor won’t allow a rock band on stage and is afraid of thumping bass guitars and drums, so the music people “adapt” it to whatever model is acceptable.
Typically, though, this is done merely by replacing hard rock with soft rock, and since it isn’t loud and boisterous and doesn’t have a heavy thump and the singers aren’t shaking around and there is no light show or smoke, everyone is satisfied that they are avoiding CCM.
The problem is that the back beat and other elements of soft rock are still there but it is much more subtle and the soft rock rhythm is created by the pianists and perhaps other musicians rather than guitarists and a drummer with a trap set.
It’s soft rock or Southern Gospel honky tonk, and it is just as sensual and addictive to the flesh as hard rock. And it creates an appetite for such music that is never satisfied.
7. THIS PHILOSOPHY RESULTS IN THE SAME OLD SLIPPERY SLOPE.
For the previous reasons, the “adaptation” of CCM launches a church down the slippery contemporary slope as surely as if they had brought in a pure rock band.
It results in the gradual acceptance of and increasing use of CCM, a gradual allowance for sensual rhythms, the continual pushing of the boundaries.
We repeat the warning that many discerning men have issued about this slippery slope and its outcome:
“When the standard of music is LOWERED, then the standard of dress is also lowered. When the standard of dress is lowered, then the standard of conduct is also lowered. When the standard of conduct is lowered, then the sense of value in God’s truth is lowered” (Evangelist Gordon Sears, Songfest newsletter, April 2001).
The late Gordon Sears, who I had the privilege of meeting the day before he died, loved the Lord and loved the Lord’s churches, and he was deeply concerned about what is happening among fundamental Baptists. In the 1990s the number of his meetings dropped significantly because so many churches had changed their music standards, and they didn’t want an evangelist to come in and shake the boat. Notice that Sears said that the standard of music doesn’t have to be radically changed. It just has to be lowered, and that leads to a downward progression that will ultimately result in a lowering of the sense of the value of truth itself. A church can hold to truth, to doctrinal soundness, without truly valuing it or deeply caring for it, and this happens when it buys into the CCM philosophy that “love” and “unity” are more important than doctrinal purity.
“If a church starts using CCM, it will eventually lose all other standards” (Dr. Frank Garlock, Bob Jones University, chapel, March 12, 2001).
Dr. Garlock is dogmatic here and doesn’t allow for any exceptions. I hope he has warned West Coast about this, because to “adapt” CCM is doubtless the same as “using CCM.”
“Perhaps nothing precipitates a slide toward New Evangelicalism more than the introduction of Contemporary Christian Music. This inevitably leads toward a gradual slide in other areas as well until the entire church is infiltrated by ideas and programs alien to the original position of the church” (Dr. Ernest Pickering, The Tragedy of Compromise: The Origin and Impact of the New Evangelicalism, Bob Jones University Press, 1994).
The late Dr. Pickering warned that the introduction of CCM precipitates a slide toward New Evangelicalism more than anything else. That is a powerful statement. And observe that he said this slide is initiated by the mere “INTRODUCTION” of CCM. It doesn’t have to be a full blown reception. CCM just has to be introduced, and the church is on its way to New Evangelicalism. This is because the “introduction” of CCM at any level and in any way brings the church into intimate association with the world of CCM which is totally, passionately committed to the New Evangelical philosophy at best, and to “ideas and programs alien” to the position of an old-fashioned Baptist church.
“Good fundamental Baptists and others that refuse the teachings of the charismatic crowd concerning tongues, signs, miracles, and so forth are NOW SINGING THEIR MUSIC in our churches and preparing our people for the world, the flesh and the Devil. It is the new Trojan Horse move ... to deaden our churches to spiritual truth” (Victor Sears, Baptist Bible Tribune, 1981).
This amazing warning was given 30 years ago! That was before CCM began to sweep into IB churches. But Victor Sears saw it as “the new Trojan Horse move ... to deaden our churches to spiritual truth.” He knew that that the contemporary music brings a contemporary philosophy, and he was deeply concerned. Sears was a leader in the Baptist Bible Fellowship International, and this was the first group of Independent Baptists that “introduced” CCM. It started with the use of contemporary background tapes for singing specials. I recall attending a BBFI preacher’s conference in the 1980s. The music was CCM even then. In light of these warnings, it is not surprising that the BBFI today has capitulated entirely to the New Evangelical philosophy. Victor Sears predicted it, and the men of real conviction and moral courage left long ago.
WEREN’T MANY OLD HYMNS IN BAPTIST HYMNALS WRITTEN BY NON-BAPTISTS? WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN USING THOSE AND USING CCM WITH GOOD LYRICS?
What is the difference between using a song by someone in the past like Fanny Crosby (“He Hideth My Soul,” Methodist) or James Gray (“Only a Sinner Saved by Grace,” evangelical Reformed Episcopal) or Martin Luther (“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” Lutheran) as opposed to using CCW artists today as long as the lyrics are Scriptural and we don’t use the rock music?
To compare the use of Contemporary Christian Worship (CCW) songs to the use of hymns from the past that present a sound theology but were written by people from non-Baptist denominations is to compare apples with oranges. I offer the following simple reasons why it is improper to compare the two. Many others could be mentioned.
First, the difference between using a song by old-time Protestants as opposed to CCW artists today is that the entire milieu of CCW represents a philosophy that is geared toward creating a one-world church. CCW represents the ecumenical judge-not philosophy. It is one of the chief things that are bringing all churches together. I have documented this extensively in my books, and I do not see how it cannot be disputed. (See chapter 3 of this book.) Further, CCW could be called Contemporary Charismatic Worship, because it overwhelmingly represents the charismatic doctrine and perspective. It is promoting the charismatic position of experiential worship rather than faith worship centered on God’s Word. We have documented this in the previously mentioned book.
For an Independent Baptist or a fundamentalist Bible church to use biblically sound hymns of the faith from the past will not destroy that church’s principles and character, will not change it from a separatist church to a non-separatist one, but using CCW will definitely do that.
The reason for this is that CCW is not just music; it is a philosophy of Christianity that is opposed to what biblicist fundamentalist churches stand for. It is opposed to a staunch doctrinal stance, opposed to strict separation from the world, opposed to ecclesiastical separation.
The writers of the old hymns, though they were not all Baptist in theology, did not represent a movement that is opposed to old-fashioned Biblicist, separatist Christianity, whereas the CCW crowd most definitely does.
I have never heard of a member of an Independent Baptist church becoming a Lutheran because of singing “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” or becoming a Methodist by singing Fanny Crosby’s hymns, but I know of many that have gone down the path of the contemporary philosophy because of listening to CCW.
Prior to the onslaught of the ecumenical movement, the Protestants were still protesting error. They still considered Rome a religious whore. All of that type of thing has been rejected by the CCW movement. Conservative Baptists today are far, far closer doctrinally and spiritually to the old-line Protestants than they are to the charismatic-ecumenical crowd.
Dan Lucarini, author of Why I Left the Contemporary Christian Music Movement: Confessions of a Former Worship Leader (which I highly recommend), says:
“No one should deny the power of music to proselytize! Pastors in particular must defend their flocks from false teaching, heresies and ‘ear ticklers’ who bring worldly sensuality into the congregation; you are right to point out how easily this comes into a church through worship music. It seems wiser to decline the use of what seems to be a perfectly good song, rather than to give any honor and hint of endorsement to the composer and his/her mission” (e-mail, May 24, 2009).
Another difference between the old Protestant hymns in a standard Baptist hymnal and the songs coming from CCW is that CCW is experience oriented. It is designed to create a sensual emotional experience.
The mission of Integrity Music and Integrity Worship Ministries is “helping people worldwide EXPERIENCE THE MANIFEST PRESENCE OF GOD” (integritymusic.com). Graham Kendrick, one of the biggest names in CCW, says, “The old way of preaching and singing began to give way to an expectation that ... God would visit us, and we’d EXPERIENCE HIS PRESENCE IN A TANGIBLE SORT OF WAY” (interview June 11, 2002 with Chris Davidson of Integrity Music). Secret Place Ministries exemplifies the CCW philosophy in that they “long for an encounter with the presence of God” and their worship music is said to “bring down the presence of God” (SecretPlaceMinistries.org).
It is important to understand that CCW is all about a feeling, and that is why the heavy syncopation, such as the back beat and anticipated beat, suits it so well. That type of rhythm is physically sensual and stimulating, even in the “soft rock” form. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith testified that rock music “is the strongest drug in the world” (Rock Beat, Spring 1987, p. 23).
The experience orientation of CCW is also why it tends to be characterized by repetitiveness. It has been called 7/11 music (7 words sung 11 times). This creates a hypnotic effect, particularly when accompanied by a strongly syncopated rhythm and non-resolving chording.
Another difference between the old-line Protestant hymns in a standard Baptist hymnal and the songs coming from CCW is that CCW songs typically are doctrinally vague. This is one reason why it is so broadly appealing and ecumenically successful. For example, one of the songs mentioned in your question is “Holy Ground.” It was written by Geron Davis, a “Jesus Only” Pentecostal who denies the Trinity and baptizes only in Jesus’ name. If we consider the lyrics, the reason for its broad appeal (as the No. 2 best-selling contemporary praise song) becomes obvious.
“As I walked through the door/ I sensed His presence/ And I knew this was the place/ Where love abounds/ For this is the temple/ Jehovah God abides here/ And we are standing in His presence/ on Holy Ground./ We are standing on holy ground/ And I know that there are angels all around/ Let us praise Jesus now/ We are standing in His presence on holy ground/ In His presence there is joy beyond measure/ At His feet, peace of mind can still be found/ If you have a need, I know He has the answer/ Reach out and claim it/ For you are standing on holy ground.”
In light of the incredibly vague message, it is not surprising that this CCW song is popular in ecumenical Protestant, theologically modernist, and Roman Catholic churches. In fact, it is popular with New Agers. Barbra Streisand, who is not a Christian, included the song on her 1997 New Age inspirational album “Higher Ground.” She says that she first heard “Higher Ground” at Clinton’s mother’s funeral in 1994 and that it was “an electrifying moment.” Streisand applied the lyrics to her New Age philosophy that “God is everywhere “and “every square inch of this planet is holy ground.” When asked how he felt about Streisand being electrified by “Holy Ground,” Davis replied, “The presence of God has the same effect on everybody. It doesn’t matter how powerful, how wealthy, how well known you are. When you come into God’s presence, friend, we’re all on level ground” (Phil Christensen, “Holy Ground by Geron Davis,” http://www.ccli.com/worshipresources/SongStories.cfm?itemID=6). His gross lack of spiritual discernment is evident in that he didn’t mention anything about the necessity of being born again in order to have a personal relationship with God, and he did not warn that the devil appears as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11).
This illustrates how that CCW is at home ANYWHERE, and that is a loud warning to those who believe what the Bible says about end-time apostasy (e.g., 2 Timothy 4:3-4)!
And the doctrinal vagueness is not limited to a few CCW songs. It is one of this genre’s hallmarks. There are exceptions, of course, but vagueness tends to be the rule.
Another difference between the old-line Protestant hymns in a standard Baptist hymnal and the songs coming from CCW is that the Contemporary Christian Music field is permeated with false christs and false gods.
Whatever doctrinal differences a Baptist would have with Martin Luther or John Wesley or Fanny Crosby, we share the same God, but that is often not true for Contemporary Christian Worship.
Many of the influential CCW artists worship A NON-TRINITARIAN GOD. For example, Geron Davis, Joel Hemphill, Mark Carouthers, Lanny Wolfe, and Phillips, Craig and Dean are “Jesus Only” Pentecostals who deny the Trinity. To deny the Trinity is to worship a false God.
Other CCW artists worship A NON-VENGEFUL GOD. Stuart Townend, for example, denies that God is vengeful, which is a brazen rejection of the very God of the Bible (Stuart Townend, “Mission: Worship, The Story Behind the Song”, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdVQNyQmdM4).
A great many of the CCM artists worship A NON-JUDGMENTAL GOD. Consider the popularity of The Shack among CCM artists. It has been directly endorsed by Michael W. Smith and has been well received in prominent CCM circles such as Calvary Chapels, Vineyard churches, and Hillsong. It was promoted at the 2009 National Pastor’s Convention in San Diego, which was sponsored by Zondervan and InterVarsity Fellowship. Young was one of the speakers and a survey found that 57% had read the novel. Young was enthusiastically received, and in an interview with Andy Crouch, a senior editor of Christianity Today, there was not a hint of condemnation for his false god. Crouch is a CCM musician in his own right and led one of the praise and worship sessions in San Diego.
The Shack is all about redefining God. It is about a man who becomes bitter at God after his daughter is murdered and has a life-changing experience with God in the very shack where the murder occurred; but the God he encounters is most definitely not the God of the Bible.
Young says the book is for those with “a longing that God is as kind and loving as we wish he was” (interview with Sherman Hu, Dec. 4, 2007). What he is referring to is the desire on the part of the natural man for a God who loves “unconditionally” and does not require obedience, does not require repentance, does not judge sin, and does not make men feel guilty for what they do.
In that same interview, Young said that a woman wrote to him and said that her 22-year-old daughter came to her after reading the book and asked, “IS IT ALRIGHT IF I DIVORCE THE OLD GOD AND MARRY THE NEW ONE?”
This is precisely what a large portion of the Contemporary Christian Music generation is doing.
Young admits that the God of “The Shack” is different from the traditional God of Bible-believing Christianity and blasphemously says that the God who “watches from a distance and judges sin” is “a Christianized version of Zeus.”
This reminds me of the modernist G. Bromley Oxnam, who called the God of the Old Testament “a dirty bully” in his 1944 book “Preaching in a Revolutionary Age.”
Young depicts the triune God as a young Asian woman named “Sarayu” * (supposedly the Holy Spirit), an oriental carpenter who loves to have a good time (supposedly Jesus), and an older black woman named “Elousia” (supposedly God the Father). God the Father is also depicted as a guy with a ponytail and a goatee. (* The name “Sarayu” is from the Hindu scriptures and represents a mythical river in India on the shores of which the Hindu god Rama was born.)
Young’s god is the god of the emerging church. He is cool, loves rock & roll, is non-judgmental, does not exercise wrath toward sin, does not send unbelievers to an eternal fiery hell, does not require repentance and the new birth, puts no obligations on people, doesn’t like traditional Bible churches, does not accept the Bible as the infallible Word of God, and does not mind if the early chapters of the Bible are interpreted as “myth.” (See “The Shack’s Cool God” at the Way of Life web site, www.wayoflife.org.)
The false CCM non-judgmental, universalistic god is represented by emerging church leaders Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, both of whom are very popular with CCM artists.
McLaren calls the God who punished Jesus on the cross for man’s sin “a God who is incapable of forgiving, unless he kicks somebody else” (McLaren, http://www.understandthetimes.org/mclarentrans.shtml and http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2006/01/brian_mclaren_p.html). He presents the traditional God of the Bible as a tyrant who “gets his way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination. McLaren says that the “power of the blood” gospel “raises some questions about the goodness of God.”
Rob Bell, author of the extremely popular and influential book Velvet Elvis, claims that the God who would allow multitudes to go to eternal hell is not great or mighty (Love Wins, location 1189-1229). He says that such God is not loving and calls the preaching of eternal hell “misguided and toxic.” says there is something wrong with this God and calls Him “terrifying and traumatizing and unbearable” (Love Wins, location 47-60, 1273-1287, 2098-2113). He even says that if an earthly father acted like the God who sends people to hell “we could contact child protection services immediately” (Love Wins, location 2085-2098).
It is obvious that Bell worships a different God than the One we worship in “traditional” Baptist churches.
Bell’s God is more akin to New Age panentheism than the God of the Bible. He describes God as “a force, an energy, a being calling out to us in many languages, using a variety of methods and events” (Love Wins, location 1710-1724).
“There is an energy in the world, a spark, an electricity that everything is plugged into. The Greeks called it zoe, the mystics call it ‘Spirit,’ and Obi-Wan called it ‘the Force’” (Love Wins, location 1749-1762).
Bell worships a false christ. His Jesus is “supracultural ... present within all cultures ... refuses to be co-opted or owned by any one culture ... He doesn’t even state that those coming to the Father through him will even now that they are coming exclusively through him ... there is only mountain, but many paths. ... People come to Jesus in all sorts of ways ... Sometimes people use his name; other times they don’t” (Love Wins, location 1827-1840, 1865-1878, 1918-1933).
Many of the CCM artists worship A REBEL CHRIST, which is certainly a false christ. Mark Stuart of Audio Adrenaline says, “Jesus Christ is the biggest rebel to ever walk the face of the earth” (Pensacola News Journal, Pensacola, Fla., March 1, 1998, pp. 1, 6E). Sonny of P.O.D. says, “We believe that Jesus was the first rebel; the first punk rocker” (http://www.shoutweb.com/interviews/pod0700.phtml). This is absolute blasphemy. The Bible says rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (1 Sam. 15:23). A rebel is a lawbreaker, but Christ was the lawgiver who He came to earth to fulfill the requirements of His own law (Matt. 5:17-19). Christ was not crucified for rebellion; He was crucified for testifying that He is God (John 10:33).
Many of the CCM artists worship A ROCK & ROLL PARTY CHRIST. In his Live ... Radically Saved video Carman says, “Jesus is always cool; He’s got his thing together.” In Resurrection Rap Carman portrays Jesus as a street hippie; in The Standard he calls Jesus “J.C.”; and in Addicted to Jesus he speaks of “Jammin’ with the Lamb.” Robert Sweet of the Christian rock band Stryper had “Jesus Christ Rocks” painted on the back of his drummer chair. Petra claims that “God gave rock and roll to you/ Put it in the soul of every one.” In “Party in Heaven” the Daniel Band sing, “The Lamb and I are drinkin’ new wine.” Phil Driscoll says, “God is the King of Soul; He’s the King of all rhythm” (quoted by Tim Fisher, Battle for Christian Music, p. 82). Messiah Prophet Band says, “Jesus is the Master of Metal,” and Barren Cross says, “Better than pot, Jesus rocks.” John Fischer described God as puffing on a cigar and swaying to rock music (CCM Magazine, July 1984, p. 20), while J. Lee Grady says Jesus enjoys dancing with the angels and “grooving to the sound of Christian R&B pumped out of a boom box” (Charisma, July 2000).
The fact that the CCM crowd typically worships a different kind of God than the “old-fashioned” Biblicist, is why they are perfectly comfortable using music that has been identified as sexy by the secular world.
“... that is what rock is all about--sex with a 100-megaton bomb, the beat” (Gene Simmons of KISS, Entertainment Tonight, ABC, Dec. 10, 1987).
Note that Simmons was not referring to the words of rock music; he was referring only to its backbeat rhythm.
Music researchers Daniel and Bernadette Skubik, in their study on the neurophysiology of rock music, warned:
“Whether the words are evil, innocuous, or based in Holy Scripture, the overall neurophysiological effects generated by rock music remain the same. There is simply no such thing as Christian rock that is substantively different in its impact” (“The Neurophysiology of Rock,” an Appendix to Ken Blanchard, Pop Goes the Gospel. pp. 187ff).
The reason that statement doesn’t bother a CCM defender is because he sees Jesus as a rock & roll party Dude who loves a good time.
“Those who envision God as a special friend, a kind of lover, with whom they can have fun, see no problem in worshipping him by means of physically stimulating music. On the other hand, those who perceive God as a majestic, holy, and almighty Being to be approached with awe and reverence will only use the music that elevates them spiritually” (Samuele Bacchiocchi, The Christian and Rock Music).
By the way, we urge churches to be careful even with older hymns. We have never said that if a hymn is old it is good or if it is new it is bad. We must examine all hymns as to musical character and doctrinal purity. In my estimation, there are hymns in the standard hymnals used by Independent Baptist churches that shouldn’t be used (e.g., “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations”).
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