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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
wayoflife.org, June 2104
We are witnessing a wholesale collapse among fundamental Baptists in regard to the conviction that contemporary worship music is wrong and dangerous.
Whereas this was the overwhelming consensus just a few years ago, the consensus now has formed around the position that CCM can be used in moderation, that it is OK to “adapt” it to a more traditional sacred sound and presentation technique.
The more “conservative” contemporary worship artists such as the Gettys are considered safe and their music is sung in churches and included in new hymnals published by independent Baptists.
As usual, the driving force behind this change is the example set by prominent leaders, churches, and schools, including the following:
Lancaster Baptist Church
Lancaster Baptist Church, Lancaster, California, is the home of West Coast Baptist College, one of the largest independent Baptist schools. It is led by Paul Chappell.
A couple of years ago, Ed Stetzer commented in his blog that “Pastor Chappell is arguably the most influential IFB pastor in America.”
The adaptation of contemporary music at Lancaster/West Coast is far reaching and extends back many years. Following are some examples of contemporary worship songs that have been used there, and to my knowledge this practice has never been publicly renounced.
“Hallelujah to the Lamb” by Don Moen has been performed at Lancaster. Moen is a one-world church builder who thinks God is the author of the weird charismatic “laughing revival.”
“In Christ Alone” by Getty/Townend has been performed at Lancaster. The Gettys are one-world church builders; in July 2012 they joined Roman Catholic Matt Maher on NewsongCafe to promote ecumenical unity.
“Stronger” by Darlene Zschech/Hillsong was performed by Lancaster’s high school mixed ensemble in 2011, and Hillsong’s “Mighty to Save” was performed in February 2012. Hillsong are one-world church builders who have performed for Catholic Youth Day and Pope Benedict.
“Majesty, Worship His Majesty” by Jack Hayford has been performed at Lancaster. “Majesty” is a Pentecostal “Kingdom Now” anthem; Hayford is a one-world church builder who says God personally told him not to preach against the Roman Catholic church.
“Great Is the Lord” and “How Majestic Is Your Name” by Michael W. Smith have been performed at Lancaster. Smith is a one-world church builder who has performed for the pope and a charismatic who has been “slain in the Spirit” and “laughed uncontrollably, rolling on the floor ... hyperventilating.”
“Faithful Men” by Twila Paris has been performed at Lancaster. Paris works with Kathy Troccoli, a Roman Catholic musician, and with ecumenist Robert Webber, who promoted unity between evangelicals and Catholics.
“In Christ Alone” by Michael English was performed at Lancaster. English is an ecumenist who spent the 1990s and early 2000s committing adultery with another man’s wife, bar hopping, dating a stripper, and undergoing “rehab” for drug addiction.
Songs by Steven Curtis Chapman have been performed at Lancaster. Chapman is the most honored “high energy Christian rocker” of the 1990s who says he doesn’t preach “fire and brimstone” and describes God as “Lord of the Dance.”
Songs by Geron Davis have been performed at Lancaster. Davis is an ecumenist and “Jesus Only” Pentecostal who denies the Trinity.
“I Will Rise” and “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” by Chris Tomlin were performed at Lancaster. Tomlin is an ecumenist and member of an emerging church that seeks to build the kingdom in this present world; Tomlin, a one-world church builder, says “Music unites.” He has a close ministry relationship with Roman Catholics Audrey Assad and Matt Maher. The latter’s goal is to unite “evangelicalism” with Roman Catholicism.
“Word of God Speak” by MercyMe was performed at Lancaster in 2011. MercyMe is a hard-rocking contemporary band that is both ecumenical and charismatic; in early 2011 MercyMe included Roman Catholic Matt Maher on its Rock & Worship Roadshow.
Songs by Graham Kendrick have been sung by Lancaster. Kendrick is a charismatic who says he was baptized with the Holy Spirit while brushing his teeth. A one-world church builder, he is co-founder of the radically ecumenical Jesus March that unites everyone from Roman Catholics to Mormons.
Casting Crowns “Prayer for a Friend” was performed at Lancaster in 2011 and “Always Enough” in 2012. Casting Crowns is a one-world church building contemporary band that preaches against biblical separatism and mocks fundamentalists. In July 2012, Casting Crowns joined LifeFest in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where participants could choose from three worship services, including a Catholic mass led by Bishop David Ricken who officially approves of “Marian Apparitions.”
“Not Guilty” by the jazz CCM artist Mandisa was performed at Lancaster’s 2011 Leadership Conference. She says her musical influences “run the gamut from Whitney Houston to Def Leppard.”
“Above All Things” by Rebecca St. James was covered on West Coast Baptist College’s For the Faith of the Gospel CD. St. James is a hard-rocking ecumenist who performed for Pope John Paul II in 1999 and recommends books by the New Ager M. Scott Peck.
“Glorify You Alone” by Gateway Worship was performed at Lancaster in March 2012. Gateway Worship is a radically charismatic outfit whose objective is to bring people into a “sense and experience of God’s presence.” William Young, author of The Shack, which depicts God as a non-judgmental female entity, spoke at Gateway’s Father’s Heart Seminar in 2012.
“Step by Step” by Rich Mullins was performed at Lancaster’s Youth Conference 2012. Mullins was a one-world church builder and was reported to have been near to converting to Catholicism when he was killed in an automobile crash.
It is obvious that Lancaster Baptist Church is committed to using Contemporary Worship Music.
Majesty Music’s newest hymnal, Rejoice Hymns, features about 10 songs by Getty/Townend, as well as ones by David Clydesdale, Scott Wesley Brown, Steve Amerson, Bob Kilpatrick, and Chris Christensen, all of whom are out-and-out Christian rockers and radical ecumenists who are using music to build the end-time, one-world “church.”
The inclusion of a contemporary song or two in a hymnbook in itself is not evidence of capitulation to the contemporary path. Exceptions aren’t rules, but the commitment to building bridges to contemporary worship on the part of many prominent music people among fundamental Baptists is quickly becoming the rule.
Ignorance is one thing, but when people are informed of how dangerous contemporary worship music is and how that even the most “conservative” contemporary “hymn writers” are using their music as an ecumenical bridge to connect “traditional” churches with “the broader church,” as Getty/Townend have admitted, and instead of repenting of using it, they become defensive and justify their actions, THAT IS CLEAR EVIDENCE OF DEEP SPIRITUAL COMPROMISE.
Justifying the use of contemporary worship is a loud warning that a ministry is heading in the wrong direction, yea, a most dangerous direction.
If you justify contemporary worship music, you are justifying the end-time apostasy that ALL of the mainstream contemporary worship musicians represent. You are justifying the breakdown in biblical separatism.
If you justify it, you will use more and more of it, and you will give your family and church an appetite for it, and you will build bridges to that extremely dangerous world: bridges over which your family and church will eventually walk.
Those who are justifying the use of contemporary worship music are playing with fire.
Bob Jones University
Long a bastion for truly sacred music, Bob Jones University and her associates are quickly capitulating to the siren song of contemporary worship music.
Hymns Modern and Ancient contains 16 songs by Keith Getty, nine by Stuart Townend, and 13 co-written by both men. The compiler and copyright holder of this hymnal, Fred Coleman, heads up Bob Jones University’s Department of Church Music. The hymnal is published by Heart Publications, a ministry of Steve Pettit Evangelistic Association. Pettit became president of BJU in May 2014.
Getty/Townend, as we have seen, are unapologetic one-world church builders who have ministry associations with Roman Catholics. Townend was with the Gettys in July 2012 when they appeared on WorshipTogether.com’s NewsongCafe with Roman Catholic Matt Maher to promote ecumenical unity.
Townend supports the Alpha program which bridges charismatic, Protestant, and Roman Catholic churches. He is a member of the Church of Christ the King in Brighton, U.K. and supports the “extraordinary manifestations of the Spirit,” which refers to the demonic/fleshly charismatic mysticism such as meaningless gibberish wrongfully labeled “tongues,” spirit slaying, holy laughter, and holy shaking Townend believes that contemporary worshipers can hear a “full blown ‘thus saith the Lord’ prophecy” during worship times (Townend, “Preparing to Worship,” Oct. 1, 2012, stuwarttownend.co.uk).
Townend is at the forefront of producing TRANSITION SONGS and BRIDGE SONGS designed to move traditional churches along a contemporary path. 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 Townend’s “How Deep the Father's Love for Us” and “In Christ Alone” by Townend/Getty.
The lyrics are doctrinally sound and the music is a soft rock ballad style as opposed to out-and-out rock & roll, so they are considered “safe” by traditional churches. But by using this music a fundamentalist type church is brought into association with the contemporary world that Townsend represents and the contemporary hymns become a bridge to influences that are contrary to and very dangerous to the church’s original stance.
Steve Pettit’s For You Now album features “Shout to the North” by the very worldly, one-world church building band Delirious (Martin Smith).
Southforth’s 2013 Spring Selections preview CD contains four Getty/Townend numbers out of 19 songs.
In 2012, Brian Fuller, Senior Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, Concord, New Hampshire, defended the use of contemporary worship hymns in his blog. This church has been called “the flagship of BJU-FBF (Bob Jones University-Fundamental Baptist Fellowship) in New England.” The church’s Christian Leadership Conference on March 31 featured Jim Berg of BJU and Matt and Christy Taylor of the Wilds.
Pastor Fuller writes:
“If I recall correctly, it was at our 2003 New England Leadership Conference that Dr. David Parker sang How Deep the Father’s Love for Us to a capacity crowd of New England fundamentalists. A chorus of hearty ‘amens’ followed this theologically robust text and appropriate tune by Stuart Townend. That was 2003. This is 2012. You see, 2003 was a somewhat blissful time when the ‘association’ or ‘source’ question of the original style of modern hymns wasn’t being necessarily fingerprinted. That benevolent spirit of heartily affirming the truths of these modern hymns has all but evaporated, unfortunately.
“Frankly, as a believer I feel a little ‘robbed’ that the spiritual gift I received in hearing that hymn back in 2003 has now been flagged as a potential stumbling block to other believers. Beyond the ‘offense’ objection, I have discovered that there seems to be a political element to this issue. In attending conferences and fellowships, I have noticed the ‘source and association’ issue of modern hymnody is raised with rapidity and frequency. If not stated explicitly, the attitudinal implications of some of the discussions are that there is little room at the table for a difference of opinion.
“A pastor’s ‘true-blue’ separatism might be questioned if he discerningly embraces these modern hymns. There is a definitive suspicion that is detected from others about your teetering on the ‘slippery slope’ if you view the source and association elements as mostly irrelevant, illogical or extra-biblical” (“Of Modern Hymnody at Trinity,” Feb. 13, 2012).
Pastor Fuller went on to defend the Getty/Townend “contemporary hymn movement” as being (allegedly) different in character than the Contemporary Christian Music field.
In this he is dead wrong. As we have documented in The Directory of Christian Worship Musicians, Stuart Townend is an out-and-out Christian rocker, a radical charismatic, and a rabid ecumenist who associates with Rome and promotes the Alpha program and is therefore building the one-world church. By their intimate and non-critical association with Townend and with Roman Catholics such as Matt Maherm the Gettys have demonstrated that they are one in spirit.
The people who are writing the “contemporary hymns” are not separated from the wider field of CCM. They are ALL holding hands. They are ALL the same spirit. NONE of them are friends of a Biblicist position. ALL of them are avowed enemies of biblical separation. ALL of them have an ecumenical, charismatic mystical agenda.
This is not mere opinion. We have studied these things “from the horse’s mouth” for 40 years and have carefully documented our warnings.
To not consider “the source” of the contemporary music is unscriptural foolishness. God’s Word forbids us to associate with end-time apostasy. We are to touch not the unclean thing. To be careful about associations is the very heart and soul of biblical separatism.
“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
The use of CCM is definitely a “slippery slope” toward compromise and error, and those who are playing with it are playing with fire.
This warning has nothing to do with “politics.” I can’t speak for others, but I know that my motive in warning against the slippery slope of CCM is a passion for the truth that I have found in Christ.
CCM is the sound-track of end-time apostasy. It is a bridge to the “broader church” with all of its ancient and end-time heresies.
The aforementioned thinking by Bob Jones University associate Brian Fuller is dangerous and ill-informed, but it probably represents the majority position today.
It is obvious that a corner has been turned in regard to fundamental Baptists and Contemporary Christian Music.
Why the Adaptation of Contemporary Worship Music Is Wrong and Dangerous
Most independent Baptist preachers today seem to consider the adaptation of contemporary worship songs a fairly minor issue, a tempest in a teapot. They think we are making a mountain out of a molehill.
They are of the opinion that if the music is not out-and-out rock & roll and the lyrics are biblical and the people are blessed and the churches are still “fundamental,” all is well. They think, “Let’s just keep the focus on winning souls and world missions.”
This view could not be more wrong for the following two reasons:
1. The adaption of Contemporary Worship Music is wrong and dangerous because it is a capitulation to soft rock and to its addictive nature.
Bible-believing churches that are adapting Contemporary Worship Music are modifying the rhythm and presentation style to conform it to their current “traditional” and “sacred music” position. They are trying to take the rock out of Christian rock.
But what they are doing, more typically, is turning hard rock into soft rock. And by so doing, they are addicting their people to the soft rock sound, which is not a sacred sound.
Sacred music is not sensual or addictive in character, but soft rock is.
Sacred music will never give you an appetite for the world’s music, but soft rock will.
Consider the example of “Prayer For a Friend” by Casting Crowns, “Word of God Speak” by MercyMe, and “Stronger” by Hillsong United. These were sung as specials in Lancaster Baptist Church in 2011.
The pieces, as performed by Lancaster Baptist, are not hard rock but they retain the seductive soft rock rhythm, the sensual scooping and sliding voice technique, and the non-resolving chording cadence.
It’s soft rock and it’s addictive. The people will want more and more of it and will be increasingly dissatisfied with the sacred sound that is void of any type of rock rhythm.
I asked Pastor Graham West of Tamworth Bible Baptist Church in Australia and director of Music Education Ministries to comment on Lancaster’s rendition of “Prayer for a Friend.” He has a background in writing and recording pop music and he understands the rhythm of pop music as well as anyone I know.
“This piece is loaded with Beat Anticipation. Eight of the 10 phrases of the piece end in Beat Anticipation. [As he explains in his video presentation The Rhythm of Rock, beat anticipation is a type of syncopation that falls at the end of a phrase and is unresolved; it is as much a major element of rock as the backbeat.]
“Taken together with the other forms of syncopation we have a very common contemporary style in which the basis of the rock feel is achieved by the Beat Anticipation, and the other forms of syncopation simply take on board that rock feel because it is used within a context of the more dominating forms.
“Music exhibiting this kind of highly syncopated rhythmic pattern will always promote sensual body movements. Too many studies by people on both sides of the issue have been done to deny this. The compulsion to move the body when this kind of music is played is very great.
“It appears that the vocalists in this example have successfully suppressed sensual body movements, which may be due either to a keen awareness of their being inappropriate or coaching. In my opinion this is dangerous spiritually because it masks the true spiritual nature of the music. If the body tends to move sensually [to a piece of music], the answer is not to suppress the movement, but to reject the music.
“If we accept that music is not neutral in its spiritual direction, then we dare not turn our backs on the warnings of so many godly men of the past and the testimony of so many wicked musicians that it is the rhythm above all other features of contemporary music that promotes rebellion and sensuality.
“The essential spiritual character of fleshly music does not change if we dress nicely, or suppress sensual bodily movements, nor if we play on classical instruments, nor if we do it sincerely as an offering to God, nor if we do it with all our hearts, nor if the words are Biblical and edifying (in this case they are quite shallow).
“These are outward trimmings and do not change the spiritual character of the music itself, and the consequences of that character will inevitably surface. ‘Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?’ (Prov. 6:27-28).
“In my opinion, West Coast is heading in the wrong direction musically and has been for some time and if it continues in this direction it will pay a high price for not listening to the musicians, the prophets, the men of God who have been warning God’s people about these things for 20 and 30 years” (Graham West, e-mail to D. Cloud dated March 5, 2011).
Churches that adapt contemporary worship songs by toning down the rhythm are enticing their people to look into the “real stuff.” With the Internet today, it is only a matter of a simple Google search and a couple of clicks of the mouse to find MercyMe or Hillsong or Casting Crowns or the Gettys or whoever performing their music in the “real” rock & roll contemporary style.
And once the people, especially the young people, taste the real contemporary music in all of its rock & roll glory, they will eventually get a full-blown addiction and the repercussions will be far-reaching.
And it will be the fault of the unwise pastors and youth leaders and song leaders who are dabbling in this and who are refusing to heed the warnings. They think they can tame the contemporary cobra and keep it safe in its basket, but they are deceived, and by the time they wake up, assuming they ever do, it will be too late to do anything about it.
2. The adaption of Contemporary Worship Music is wrong and dangerous because it is a bridge to the one-world church.
Contemporary Worship Music is a bridge to the one-world “church.” This cannot be refuted.
Even the most “conservative” of the contemporary worship musicians, such as the Gettys, represent the one-world church in philosophy and action.
In October 2012, the Gettys yoked together at the National Worship Leader Conference with emerging heretics, such as Leonard Sweet, who is a universalist and a New Age promoter. And in July 2012, the Gettys joined Roman Catholic Matt Maher on NewsongCafe in promoting ecumenical unity. If that is not one-world “church” building, I don’t know what is.
Yet at least eight of the Getty’s songs are included in Majesty Music’s Rejoice Hymns, and 29 of their songs are featured in Hymns Modern and Ancient, published by Heart Publications, a ministry of Steve Pettit Evangelistic Association and compiled by Fred Coleman who heads up Bob Jones University’s Department of Church Music. Both Crown Baptist College and West Coast Baptist College, the two largest independent Baptist Bible schools, perform Getty material in their services.
This is why we have called the Getty’s “The Pied Pipers of Contemporary Worship Music.” (See the report by this title at www.wayoflife.org.)
Yet ALL of the contemporary worship musicians become pied pipers when their music is “adapted” by Bible-believing churches and schools.
Those who borrow from the field of Contemporary Worship Music are building bridges to these people and beyond to the people they are associated with.
This is a clear rejection of God’s command of biblical separation, and the fruit will be exactly what the Bible says it will be.
“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17).
“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6).
Those who think that they can adapt the music created by today’s contemporary worship crowd and keep the people from listening to the “real stuff” are deceived.
Full-blown contemporary music is just too powerful, too enticing, too exciting. And it’s just a mouse-click away in this day and age.
Church leaders who are “adapting” CCM are creating a bridge to the ecumenical-charismatic world that many people will cross and the influence will be dramatic. And the influence will gradually permeate the churches and change their fundamental character.
This has been happening for 20 years, and those who have spiritual eyes can see the fruit of it.
It is popularly argued that if we are to be “picky” about musical associations then we would have to discard Luther’s or Wesley’s hymns, but that holds no water.
The old Protestant hymns were exceedingly different in character from contemporary worship music. The old Protestants weren’t building the end-time one-world church, but the CCM crowd most definitely is. The old Protestants condemned Rome boldly and were separated from her, but the CCM crowd is rushing to embrace her or, at the very least, flirting with her from a distance.
The world represented by Townend/Getty is the world of rock & roll, charismatic mysticism, C.S. Lewis, The Shack, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the emerging church, The Message, Brennan Manning, “Christian homosexuality,” Leonard Sweet, Rick Warren, contemplative prayer, unity with Rome.
We live in a different world today because of technology, and the technology allows people to easily communicate with and associate with musicians.
Even when Luther or Wesley or Fanny Crosby were alive, if you sang their music in a church the members had no way to develop an intimate association with the hymn writers so that they could sit at their feet and be influenced by everything they believed and represented.
That is not true today. We can read their blogs, browse their Facebook pages, follow their Twitter accounts, listen to their music on YouTube. We can surf the links from these musicians to their friends and associates and be influenced by the whole broad, dangerous world of contemporary music.
There is no doubt that this is happening in churches everywhere because of the carelessness and ignorance and lack of wisdom on the part of so many leaders.
Contemporary worship music is a bridge to many dangerous things. It has transformational power.
If the influence doesn’t come overnight, it will come eventually.
If the influence doesn’t change the older people, it will change the younger ones.
If the contemporary philosophy doesn’t permeate the church in this generation, it will in the next.
For those of us who still believe in biblical separation and therefore agree that lines must be drawn, why can’t we agree that the lines should be drawn at the safest place? Why not “approve things that are excellent” as opposed to borderline and questionable (Phil. 1:10)?
Why try to find something good within the dangerous world of contemporary worship music?
What is the motive for that? Is that the wise and godly position?
For the sake of the next generation, we need to keep all contemporary influences out of our churches and homes to every possible extent, and we need to do the work of serious education that will protect the Lord’s people.
Instead of mocking and sidelining and blacklisting those who are warning about these things and who are providing documentation to back up the warnings, we need to listen to them and treat them as friends of the truth rather than fools and enemies.
Every independent Baptist church that doesn’t take this matter seriously and doesn’t educate itself seriously and doesn’t take a strict stand will be well down the emerging road within a decade.
Contemporary music is that powerful and it is that much at the heart of end-times apostasy.
Pastors must face this issue and make the effort to educate both themselves and the people. To leave it up to a music director is to abdicate responsibility. Materials are available. You don’t need a master’s degree in sacred music to understand this issue at a practical, fundamental level.
We suggest as a starting point our video series Music for Good or Evil which is the product of many decades of experience and research into this subject.
We must establish godly standards of music and be CONSISTENT! To condemn “CCM” and use contemporary Southern Gospel is not consistent. To say you are opposed to Contemporary Christian Music while you use soft rock and “adapted” CCM is not consistent.
It is better to err on the side of being too careful and too “strict” than too tolerant. No one will be hurt by a music standard that is too strict, but there is plenty of spiritual danger in being too loose.