Worship

In My Humble Opinion…The One with the Modernized Hymns

I don’t often share my personal, completely subjective opinions with y’all. I figure there’s enough of that in the world and what’s sorely lacking is unambiguous biblical truth. So that’s what I try to share instead.

But today, I have an opinion. I’m sure it’ll be wildly unpopular and generate a bunch of hate mail, but that’s in my wheelhouse, so here goes:

I don’t really like most modernizations of hymns.

I didn’t say, “I don’t like modern hymns.” There are several of those I like, and contemporary hymn writers like the Gettys are doing a bang up job of writing lovely new, doctrinally sound hymns. Frankly, we need more theologically rich contemporary hymns.

What I mean is that I don’t like some well-meaning hipster to pick up How Great Thou Art and go, “Hey, those words – most of them anyway…or…at least a few of them – are cool, but that melody, harmony, tempo, and syncopation? Haul out the mothballs! We can’t be singing THAT in church! It’s gotta sound like something on CCM radio! Relevant! Fresh! Cutting edge!”. And then they proceed to put their grubby little paws all over someone else’s hard work and mangle it into something barely reminiscent of the work of art it once was.

It’s kind of the same reason I hate modern remakes of movies of yesteryear. It takes something that was great the way it was and ends up diminishing it to make it palatable and marketable to today’s consumer.

Hymn modernizers are often melody driven. They take a melody they like and force the original hymn lyrics to fit it – leading to awkward phrasing or the need to change words – rather than letting the lyrics lead and crafting a melody around them.

What’s wrong with the original music? I mean it. What on earth is wrong with the original music to the hymn? Nobody’s clamoring for the modernization of Gregorian chant or classical music or big band or 50’s rock, or 60’s folk music, or disco. People listen to those genres and appreciate them for what they are, and if they want to listen to a different genre, they switch genres, they don’t play musical Silly Putty with the current genre. If every generation of people had taken the hymn modernizers’ approach, we’d currently be listening to the 21st century version of Nebuchadnezzar’s horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, and bagpipe.

To me, it’s functionally musical plagiarism even if it doesn’t fit the technical legal definition. They take an existing piece of someone else’s work, change at least 50% of it (sometimes more if they change some of the lyrics in addition to the music) and popularize it under their own name. Whatever happened to “Keep your eyes on your own paper and do your own work.”?

Most of the hymns now being modernized were written at a time when people sang like normal human beings, which nobody seems to know how to do any more. Today, when listening to modernized hymns, you have two choices of “artists”: the wispy, breathy ones who sound like a stiff breeze would knock them over, or the moany, growly ones whose vocalizations are more fit for a Barry White ditty (let the reader understand) than a hymn.

But…but…but…

Yes, I know all the exceptions to everything I’ve just said. I know various hymns have been modernized from time immemorial. I know lyrics of songs are often changed to fit existing melodies. I know some people like modernized hymns and growly or wispy singers.

But that’s kind of the point of why I posted an opinion today. This is my personal preference. I get to like what I like and dislike what I dislike as long as I’m within the confines of Scripture. So do you. So does everybody in the Body. And that’s OK.

Varied personal opinions and preferences – not biblical truth, mind you; we have to know the difference – are not things to divide over. We need to make sure we’re listening to each other, understanding each other, and valuing the unique quirks and characteristics God created in each other. God put each of us together differently for His glory. Those differences show the kind of creativity and diversity He is capable of.

So you have your subjective opinion and I’ll have mine, and we’ll love each other and have those opinions to the glory of God.

Just keep your mitts off How Great Thou Art, if you please.

Discernment, Guest Posts

Guest Post: Lauren Daigle and the Fruit of “Losing her Religion”

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com, and let’s chat about it.

 

Lauren Daigle and the Fruit of “Losing Her Religion”
by Laura M.

“It would be a sad dishonor for a child of God to be the world’s favorite. It is a very bad sign to hear a wicked world clap its hands and shout, “Well done!” to the Christian…Far be it from us to seek a crown of honor where the Lord found a crown of thorns.”  CH Spurgeon

Lauren Daigle is a 28 year old Grammy award winner. In her short career she has won many awards, secular and Christian. She has four number one songs to date and many more at the top of the billboard charts. She has over 1 million Facebook followers, and an abundance of world tour dates that she alone headlines. Her Look Up Child album just reached double platinum. She is wildly popular in the church and on Christian radio stations.

The secular world is now also paying attention. What have they learned? This is an interview with Billboard.com 

“’My home church is right here,’ [Lauren] says, gesturing toward the stage.It’s right here, every night.'”

“Daigle doesn’t preach, onstage or off. In between songs at the show, she told goofy stories — like one about her misadventures in physical therapy — but never mentioned Jesus.” 

That one interview said a lot –no church, means no pastor, no teaching, no growing…no obedience.

Sure, she is fun and cool and trendy and sincere in her desire to use her talents, but is that enough to be labeled a Christian artist? Even she does not want to be described that way, having determined to drop the word “Christian”. Yet, Christians have her at the top of their “worship” playlists.

Should we consider her as purely secular entertainment? Christian words and a great voice filled with sincerity do not make worship acceptable before God.

“When we talk about worship, we’re talking about something very specific, very objective, revelatory, unfolded for us on the pages of Scripture. It is not private, it is not personal in the sense that you define it yourself. It doesn’t rise out of your intuition. It doesn’t rise out of your experience. It doesn’t rise out of your imagination. It isn’t the invention from your own mind of what you want it to be. True worship is simply treating God in the way that God has commanded us to treat Him. That’s what it is.” The Kind of Worship God Desires, John MacArthur

We should have a great concern about the platform and influence that many so called “worship leaders” have in the church today.  Many Christians incorrectly assume that if the words are not heretical and make them “feel” good, it must be acceptable worship. Lauren Daigle is growing in her platform and influence and we should take a discerning look at whether this is a wise choice for Christians. Is the fruit of Lauren’s “Religion” good or bad?

Her Partnerships

Here are just a few, Stephen Furtick and Jesus CultureJoyce Meyer , Hillsong, Bethel Church and here Lauren is leading “worship” at Bethel.

Michelle has already written much about these false teachers and churches.

Her Testimony

Can you tell what is missing? She does not start with Christ.  Does she finish with Him? She was interviewed by the Young Salvationist here (it seems they have removed it since we copied the text). 

The interviewer asked her, “Please share with our readers how you came into a relationship with Jesus Christ?”

When I was 15 years–old I was diagnosed with a debilitating virus. It’s kind of funny how God sets things up, as I was super busy. I was in high school running all over the place and God stopped me – He stopped me in my tracks. I was placed on homebound rest for two years with this illness. It was during that season when I truly began to know God and His character. He gave me hope the entire time; I wasn’t going through this for any reason. This wasn’t just the lot I was handed in life. No, I knew, I could tell, God was setting me up for something and I needed to stay focused.

So, every morning I would get up and read my devotionals and every night before bed. Soon I started making my own devotionals. The Word was filling me up so much and during a season when I was completely alone… During that time, God would give me visions and dreams of the season that I’m walking through now! He affirmed me and who I was in Him. He showed me that my placement had to be with Him and He began to teach me that He was my comforter, He was my portion and He was my foundation. I was baptized when I was a little girl, raised in the church, and a part of a Christian family; but it changed from that to God being my source, my Savior.”

This is typical of many who have their own personal dream and attach God’s name to it. She did not say how she was changed and she did not once mention Christ or sin or the Cross. Did she mention reading the Bible? A Scripture perhaps? No, only visions.

Her website would surely have a larger testimony for us to read. However, I did not find one. The most “spiritual” she got was stating,

“It’s about remembering what it’s like to be a child again and to look up and see the clouds, the sunset, and the stars. It’s about having hope once more. You can always come back to yourself. You can come back to the things you thought were lost. You can always come back to redemption.”

She doesn’t say anything about Christ. Instead she is pointing to childhood memories, the clouds, the sunset, stars. What is the basis of renewed hope? How does one come back to yourself?

In another interview, she says, (of her teen years)

“And I kept having all of these dreams about tours, awards, charts and all of these different stages I’d be on. And I was like, ‘God what is this about? … Then He affirmed me...” 

From fear and uncertainty sprang resistance as Daigle made the personal decision to not pursue Christian music, despite messages from God telling her otherwise. “I told the Lord—yes I told Him, ‘I’m not going to do Christian music! I’ll sing whatever You want me to sing, I’ll do whatever you want me to do in the mainstream world, but I’m not doing Christian music.’”

She took her personal dream of stardom and attributed it to God.  There is much danger in this kind of mystical dream interpretation. It may have come to pass, but God does not affirm pursuit of the praise of men and I cannot say this is anything more than her pursuit of a personal desire.

The Praise of the World and Views on Sin

“The most effective servant of the Gospel of Christ crucified is crucified to the world and its applause.”  Mike Riccardi

Lauren said, “she will not compromise her faith while traveling the world ministering to those outside of the church…She vowed that her testimony would not be destroyed in any way.”

However, this is her response to being criticized for being on the Ellen DeGeneres show. Ellen is an open and proudly lesbian woman.

“I think the second we start drawing lines around which people are able to be approached and which aren’t, we’ve already completely missed the heart of God,” Daigle said during a recent interview with WAY-FM Radio.

Lauren missed the point, this is not about kindness it’s about being foolishly and sinfully drawn to the world and then affirming them because they have affirmed her. Jesus clearly drew lines in Matt 7.

And yet…after being on the Ellen DeGeneres show, she capitulated on her conviction not to compromise.

“Do you feel that homosexuality is a sin?”

After a pause, she responded: “You know I can’t honestly answer on that…I have too many people that I love that, they are homosexual, I don’t know. I actually had a conversation with someone last night about it and I was like ‘I can’t say one way or the other, I’m not God’

Pastor Gabe Hughes responds to this interview in a short video titled, Lauren Daigle doesn’t know if homosexuality is a sin?

And now, not surprisingly, Lauren Daigle Takes Issue with the Label ‘Christian Artist’

“After being in a spotlight of controversy for weeks regarding her stance on homosexuality, well-known Christian artist Lauren Daigle is now saying she doesn’t consider herself a Christian artist, but simply an “artist”….Interestingly enough, the young artist did not mention Jesus or God throughout the interview, sticking to general phrases like “faith,” while placing a large emphasis on the importance of love.”

It is not acceptable to equivocate on sins that Christ died to save us from.  He died for us to be reconciled to the Father, because we are without hope of saving ourselves, not for everyone to “feel” loved.

A 2019 article states,

“She admits the transition from a majority Christian audience to a more secular one has already been a “ride” and hints at the negative comments she’s been receiving from fans and others who are concerned the singer is leaving her Christian roots. Daigle seems unphased by the pushback, though. Risk is the best. Risk is the most beautiful thing,” she says with a smile.” source

And yet 4 years before in 2015, she said, 

God’s not a God of risks. He just says, ‘Trust me,’ because He has it all under control. To us, in our human life, it looks like a risk, but He’s like, ‘No, I’m God. I got this.’” source

This Christian Post article interviews her as well, sharing,

“Daigle went on to share a story about a megachurch pastor which was asked to step down from his ministry and lost his church, after having an affair with his secretary.

Lauren said,

I could see privately that he had some things to reconcile and I just thought about the nature of the church, to push out someone that operated in humanity,” she explained. “It’s so easy to push those people away or to build the white picket fence around our ideologies that create this counterculture that completely denies just the love of Christ, the grace of Christ, the mercy of Christ, and rejects the relationship with Christ.”

Lauren has an unbiblical view of sin, it is not in her testimony, it is not calling homosexuality the abomination that the Bible does, and it sympathizes with the poor pastor who disqualified himself by the most egregious sin against his wife. These are not the words of someone who submits to the authority of Scripture.

The Bible does not mince words (1 Cor 6:11) and neither should anyone who has been washed of the sins we have been so graciously forgiven and desire this to be true of others.

She also provocatively named a song, Losing My Religion and then comments

“This is an age where I am learning, what I believe in. We have a song on there that record called ‘Losing My Religion’ and I think one of the things that I’ve learned and one of the things that I’m embracing is the freedom of taking off the checked boxes, the rules, and all those things that kind of muddy up what faith actually is

Unfortunately, she has muddied her faith and is influencing many who flock to her and find the same muddy waters. This is exactly what we would expect from someone who claims that her church is her “stage”.

She excuses her decision to crossover by pointing to Avril Lavigne, Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin because they sing a few gospel songs as well. “There’s all these people from back in the day that did this thing as well, where they had both. And I feel like history always repeats itself.” Billboard interview  Not great role models.

Remember, it is OK to be fruit inspectors, not just of false teachers but of everyone, fruit always gives evidence of the source of life. (Matt 16:17-20) We rejoice when we find good fruit and we warn when it is bad.

Lauren is leading worship to the masses she has before her. She seems to love the world, clings to false teachers and obfuscates clear Biblical teaching when given opportunity to proclaim it. As Christians, would it not be better to stop supporting her and so give her the wakeup call she needs rather than the praise and attention she is getting for bad fruit? If she does have a clear testimony of saving faith why is it not front and center for us to see?  

Let’s pray she would get off the stage and into a Biblical church to be taught well how to worship in “spirit and truth.” (John 4:23), and give opportunity for a pastor and church family to care for her soul. (Heb 13:17)


Laura and her husband Scott have been married 25 years and have three children. They live in a suburb of Philadelphia and NYC, where they have recently planted a church. She also writes with a few friends at Where Ordinary Life Meets Divine Truth as a ministry to the local women they are privileged to disciple.

Mailbag, New Apostolic Reformation

The Mailbag: Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”?

For the next couple of weeks I’ll be preparing to speak at the Cruciform
conference, so I’ll be re-running some popular articles from the archives.
I hope you’ll enjoy this one.

Originally published May 28, 2018

 

Should Christians listen to the song Reckless Love? Should churches use this song in their worship services or other activities? Aren’t songs like this OK if they point people to Jesus and the lyrics don’t blatantly contradict Scripture?

Goodness, I have never seen so much buzz over whether or not a particular song is OK to listen to or use at church. Regardless of your opinion of the song itself, I think we could all agree that one awesome thing that has come out of the Reckless Love debate is that it has encouraged Christians to actually look at the lyrics of, and think theologically about, the songs they listen to on the radio or sing in their worship services.

That’s phenomenal. We should be analyzing every song we sing that way whether it comes to us via a dusty antique hymnal or Pandora. There are hymns, and gospel songs, and CCM songs, and CHH songs that need to be thrown out because they contain poor, or outright heretical, theology. Here’s hoping we will continue to be as meticulous in examining every song we hear as we have been about examining Reckless Love.

So what about the song itself? Is it OK?

I’m going to start off my answer by drawing from a previous article, God’s Not Like “Whatever, Dude,” About The Way He’s Approached in Worship:

Such was the case recently when Christian social media was up in arms (and rightly so) about Cory Asbury’s worship song Reckless Love, and whether or not churches should use it in their worship services. Discussion centered around the use of the word “reckless” to describe God’s love for us and whether or not that was a semantically and theologically appropriate adjective. “Relentless” was suggested as an alternative lyric. “Reckless” was defended as an appropriate lyric. And then Cory Asbury’s explanation of the song came to light and did further injury to his doctrinal cause…

…Focusing on the word “reckless” missed the point – at least the big picture point. You see, Reckless Love was produced by Bethel Music. And Cory Asbury is a “worship leader, songwriter and pastor” with the Bethel Music Collective. Prior to joining Bethel, he spent eight years as a worship leader with the International House of Prayer (IHOP).

Why is this important? Because Bethel “Church” in Redding, California, and IHOP are, functionally, ground zero for the New Apostolic Reformation  heresy. Heresy. Not, “They just have a more expressive, contemporary style of worship,”. Not, “It’s a secondary theological issue we can agree to disagree on.” Heresy. Denial of the deity of Christ. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Demonstrably false prophecy that the head of IHOP, Mike Bickle, has publicly rejoiced in (He estimates that 80% of IHOP’s “prophecies” are false.) And that’s just the tip of our metaphorical ice berg when it comes to the NAR.

If you claim to be a Christian, and denying the deity of Christ (saying that Christ was only human, not God) and blaspheming the Holy Spirit aren’t enough for you, please take a moment right now to do some soul searching and ask yourself why that is. These people are blaspheming your Savior and you’re going to defend them? Denying the deity of Christ alone is enough to put a “church” outside the camp of Christianity. It is one of the damnable “another gospels” Paul refers to in Galatians 1:6-9.

But maybe seeing more of the fruit of the poisonous NAR tree will help:

“Holy” Laughter. The NAR blasphemously attributes this to the Holy Spirit, disregarding the fact that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control and that God demonstrates throughout Scripture that He is not a God of chaos, craziness, and confusion, but of orderliness and peace.

 

Fake and delusional prophecies. Pick any biblical prophet and read his prophecies in comparison with this. And don’t forget what the Bible says about false prophets.

 

Fake “glory clouds” of “gold dust” and “angel feathers” (glitter and feathers placed into the ventilation system) released during the worship service as a supposed sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit. I guess Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit and the many promises of His presence in the New Testament aren’t good enough.

 

Raising the dead. Oddly enough in this age of everyone making videos of everything and cutting edge medical technology, there’s never been a single medically verified, video evidenced resurrection.

 

Being “drunk in the Spirit”. This is not how you do Acts 2:13-21 or Ephesians 5:18-19, two of the passages the NAR mangles to support this demonic activity, which they blasphemously attribute to the Holy Spirit. (By the way, the guy in this video, Todd Bentley, was commissioned as an “apostle” by Bill Johnson, lead “pastor” of Bethel. And shortly after Todd cheated on his first wife, divorced her, and married the woman he was cheating with, Bill Johnson “restored” him to ministry. You can see video evidence of both of these things here and here.)

 

And if that’s still not enough for you, there’s fake faith healing (language warning- this was written by a non-Christian who, by the way, did not hear the gospel when she went to Bethel) including kicking people in the face and other forms of assault to “heal” people, grave sucking, and demonic tremoring. Then there are the incidents from overseas that you hear of from time to time such as the South African “pastor” who made his congregation crawl around on the lawn eating grass and drink gasoline to be closer to God, or the Kenyan “pastor” who ordered women to remove their bras and panties before coming to church so God could enter their bodies more easily, or the Zambian prophet who took it a step further and removed a woman’s panties in front of the entire congregation so he could pray over them for her infertility, or the South African woman who died because her “pastor” placed a heavy speaker on top of her and then sat on it to demonstrate God’s power.

You may not see this kind of craziness in every service at every NAR “church” but every single one of these incidents and practices (and so many more) springs from the same unbiblical theology of the New Apostolic Reformation.

Including Cory Asbury’s choice of the word “reckless” when he wrote the song Reckless Love. Cory is a product of the theology he’s been immersed in for so many years.

And that’s the main problem with churches using songs in their worship services from groups like Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, and Hillsong, which teach “another gospel”. In the same way that marijuana use can serve as a “gateway drug” to more dangerous and addictive narcotics, Reckless Love itself might not do too much damage, but…well, as I explained to another reader in a previous Mailbag article False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music:

It’s imperative for churches to be discerning about the CCM they use in worship. If Jane Churchmember hears a CCM song in church and likes it, she’s likely to Google the song (probably right there in church- I’ve done it!), find out who sings it, and begin following that artist. Worship pastors who use CCM have a responsibility to vet the artists who perform the songs they select for the worship service to make sure they’re not sending Jane into the arms of a heretic. Additionally, music costs money, and you don’t want your church’s offerings supporting false doctrine.

A common objection I see Christians make to this concept is:

Well, [insert name of hymn writer here] wrote lots of perfectly biblical hymns, but he had some theological problems too, and you’re not recommending we get rid of all of his hymns.

Well, first of all, maybe we should more closely examine the theology of some of our most prolific hymnists and stop using their music because of what they believed. Quick – off the top of your head, name the three we should start with…

…And that’s what separates the errant hymnist from Bethel, et al. Most Christians, even those who prefer hymns over CCM, could probably not name three people who wrote hymns, let alone tell you anything about their theology. But if you ask the average Christian to name three top Christian artists, she could rattle them off in a second.

Most hymn writers have been dead for up to hundreds of years. They don’t have Facebook pages you can follow, nobody’s playing their stuff on KLOVE, they’re not on tour to promote their latest album, and they don’t have thousands of followers worldwide. If you wanted to follow their errant theology, you’d have to hit the books to research and study it. The NAR musicians’ theology is only a click away on YouTube, social media, live streamed concerts and conferences, and on their web sites. Nobody is following dead hymnists’ false doctrine, but hordes are following NAR musicians’ heresy.

And as for music that springs from heretical theology pointing people to Jesus? Ask this wiccan young lady who went to Bethel and was told by someone “prophesying” (supposedly speaking what she heard God say) over her:

“I feel the Lord saying to you that He is very pleased with you. You have been so faithful to Him. You have been faithful to His Word, even when though there are many people telling you that you are now going the wrong way. But God knows it isn’t true. He wants you to know that He is proud of you. God knows that you are walking with Him and He is so proud of your faithfulness.”

She wasn’t pointed to Jesus. Nobody explained the gospel to her or told her she needed to repent of her sin. Instead, she was affirmed in her sin and told that she was, in fact, “walking with God” and “faithful” to Him when she was living in witchcraft (which earned the death penalty in the Old Testament) and had never put her faith and trust in Christ for salvation. And all of this by someone who was claiming to speak for God Himself. The Bible says it’s impossible to please God without faith in Christ.

This kind of music doesn’t point people to Jesus. It points them to the NAR version of Jesus, which, as evidenced above, is not the Jesus of the Bible. If someone puts her faith in the NAR version of Jesus, she’s not going to be saved, and she’s going to spend an eternity in hell. The Jesus of the Bible said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Nobody is getting to Heaven through any other version of Jesus except the Jesus of the Bible.

OK, now I’m aware of what the NAR teaches and I’m definitely not getting sucked into any of that! What about just listening to Reckless Love when I’m alone in the car? I believe what Cory said about why he used the word “reckless” and I’m OK with that.

That’s between you and God, but let me ask you a question as you prayerfully consider what would be pleasing to Him. What if, instead of the word “reckless”, Cory had chosen the words, “f—ing awesome”? And what if he had explained that, to him, that phrase just meant “really awesome” or “super duper awesome”? That, in his song, it didn’t have the vulgar meaning most people think of when they hear the f-word? Would you, based on his explanation, still sing that song?

Of course not. Because words mean what they mean, not what we want them to mean.

Cory can offer explanations about what he intended by the word “reckless” until he’s blue in the face. That doesn’t change the actual meaning of the word, which is what most people understand it to mean when they hear it. And, furthermore, Cory isn’t following the song around to every single person who hears it and explaining what he meant by it, so most people will hear “reckless” and assume it means what it actually means, not that Cory used the word “reckless” and meant something else by it. That’s not how human language works.

In considering whether or not to listen to this song, spend some time in God’s Word studying the way God wants to be approached by people (rather than how you want to approach Him) and how He reacted when they approached Him improperly. Remember, everything we do should be governed by Scripture, not our opinions and preferences, or whether we happen to like a particular song or not.

The NAR is a dangerous heresy that is sending people to an eternity in hell. People are getting saved out of “churches” like Bethel, not getting saved by them. Consider carefully, prayerfully, and according to Scripture whether God would be pleased by you having anything to do with NAR organizations. “What partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds ~ August 27, 2019

Oh my! We haven’t had a Favorite Finds article in far too long! Here are a few of my favorite recent online finds…

Image result for cbmwIt’s a frequent accusation about Scripture’s treatment of women. But is it really what the Bible says? Does the Old Testament actually sanction rape by mandating that a woman marry the man who forcibly raped her? CBMW examines this fascinating biblical conundrum (which isn’t really a conundrum at all once you study it carefully) in Did Old Testament Law Force a Woman to Marry Her Rapist?

 

Love broccoli or hate it, I think you’re really going to enjoy this little parable about salvation from our friend Allen Nelson over at the Things Above Us blog. Allen’s article, Brittany the Broccoli Hater, talks about the spiritual transformation that has to take place to turn us from “broccoli haters” to “broccoli lovers.” (And if you like this article, be sure to check out the reviews of his books, From Death to Life and Before the Throne.)

 

Image result for grace to youHere’s something fun and informative over at Grace to You– an article series: Frequently Abused Verses. What Is the Eye of a Needle? Can We Really Do All Things Through Christ? On Whose Door Is Christ Knocking? This series straightens out the confusion over commonly mishandled or perplexing passages. (To read the remainder of the articles in the series, you will need to enter “Frequently Abused Verses” in the GTY search bar.)

 

Autism, Awareness, Puzzle, Heart, Love, AutisticTry to imagine what it’s like to attend worship service and other church functions if you have Autism Spectrum Disorder. Helpfully explaining his own experiences, David Delgado gives practical tips to people with ASD on preparing for and navigating church events, as well as advice for Christians wishing to better serve those with ASD in their own churches in his article Doing Church with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

 

The aptly named David Wesley gives us a lovely medley of a capella hymns and worship songs down through the ages. Those of you who are around my age will have fond (or terrible) flashbacks of youth camp at David’s 1969 offering. :0) He lost me somewhere in the neighborhood of 2010, but I believe there’s at least one Hillsong song, and probably some other doctrinally unsound artists, around that time period. So, if you don’t already know that you and your church shouldn’t be using Hillsong, Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, Elevation Worship music or music by anybody else who’s doctrinally unsound, let me just take this opportunity to say, don’t.

Mailbag, New Apostolic Reformation

The Mailbag: Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”?

 

Should Christians listen to the song Reckless Love? Should churches use this song in their worship services or other activities? Aren’t songs like this OK if they point people to Jesus and the lyrics don’t blatantly contradict Scripture?

Goodness, I have never seen so much buzz over whether or not a particular song is OK to listen to or use at church. Regardless of your opinion of the song itself, I think we could all agree that one awesome thing that has come out of the Reckless Love debate is that it has encouraged Christians to actually look at the lyrics of, and think theologically about, the songs they listen to on the radio or sing in their worship services.

That’s phenomenal. We should be analyzing every song we sing that way whether it comes to us via a dusty antique hymnal or Pandora. There are hymns, and gospel songs, and CCM songs, and CHH songs that need to be thrown out because they contain poor, or outright heretical, theology. Here’s hoping we will continue to be as meticulous in examining every song we hear as we have been about examining Reckless Love.

So what about the song itself? Is it OK?

I’m going to start off my answer by drawing from a previous article, God’s Not Like “Whatever, Dude,” About The Way He’s Approached in Worship:

Such was the case recently when Christian social media was up in arms (and rightly so) about Cory Asbury’s worship song Reckless Love, and whether or not churches should use it in their worship services. Discussion centered around the use of the word “reckless” to describe God’s love for us and whether or not that was a semantically and theologically appropriate adjective. “Relentless” was suggested as an alternative lyric. “Reckless” was defended as an appropriate lyric. And then Cory Asbury’s explanation of the song came to light and did further injury to his doctrinal cause…

…Focusing on the word “reckless” missed the point – at least the big picture point. You see, Reckless Love was produced by Bethel Music. And Cory Asbury is a “worship leader, songwriter and pastor” with the Bethel Music Collective. Prior to joining Bethel, he spent eight years as a worship leader with the International House of Prayer (IHOP).

Why is this important? Because Bethel “Church” in Redding, California, and IHOP are, functionally, ground zero for the New Apostolic Reformation  heresy. Heresy. Not, “They just have a more expressive, contemporary style of worship,”. Not, “It’s a secondary theological issue we can agree to disagree on.” Heresy. Denial of the deity of Christ. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Demonstrably false prophecy that the head of IHOP, Mike Bickle, has publicly rejoiced in (He estimates that 80% of IHOP’s “prophecies” are false.) And that’s just the tip of our metaphorical ice berg when it comes to the NAR.

If you claim to be a Christian, and denying the deity of Christ (saying that Christ was only human, not God) and blaspheming the Holy Spirit aren’t enough for you, please take a moment right now to do some soul searching and ask yourself why that is. These people are blaspheming your Savior and you’re going to defend them? Denying the deity of Christ alone is enough to put a “church” outside the camp of Christianity. It is one of the damnable “another gospels” Paul refers to in Galatians 1:6-9.

But maybe seeing more of the fruit of the poisonous NAR tree will help:

“Holy” Laughter. The NAR blasphemously attributes this to the Holy Spirit, disregarding the fact that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control and that God demonstrates throughout Scripture that He is not a God of chaos, craziness, and confusion, but of orderliness and peace.

 

Fake and delusional prophecies. Pick any biblical prophet and read his prophecies in comparison with this. And don’t forget what the Bible says about false prophets.

 

Fake “glory clouds” of “gold dust” and “angel feathers” (glitter and feathers placed into the ventilation system) released during the worship service as a supposed sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit. I guess Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit and the many promises of His presence in the New Testament aren’t good enough.

 

Raising the dead. Oddly enough in this age of everyone making videos of everything and cutting edge medical technology, there’s never been a single medically verified, video evidenced resurrection.

 

Being “drunk in the Spirit”. This is not how you do Acts 2:13-21 or Ephesians 5:18-19, two of the passages the NAR mangles to support this demonic activity, which they blasphemously attribute to the Holy Spirit. (By the way, the guy in this video, Todd Bentley, was commissioned as an “apostle” by Bill Johnson, lead “pastor” of Bethel. And shortly after Todd cheated on his first wife, divorced her, and married the woman he was cheating with, Bill Johnson “restored” him to ministry. You can see video evidence of both of these things here and here.)

 

And if that’s still not enough for you, there’s fake faith healing (language warning- this was written by a non-Christian who, by the way, did not hear the gospel when she went to Bethel) including kicking people in the face and other forms of assault to “heal” people, grave sucking, and demonic tremoring. Then there are the incidents from overseas that you hear of from time to time such as the South African “pastor” who made his congregation crawl around on the lawn eating grass and drink gasoline to be closer to God, or the Kenyan “pastor” who ordered women to remove their bras and panties before coming to church so God could enter their bodies more easily, or the Zambian prophet who took it a step further and removed a woman’s panties in front of the entire congregation so he could pray over them for her infertility, or the South African woman who died because her “pastor” placed a heavy speaker on top of her and then sat on it to demonstrate God’s power.

You may not see this kind of craziness in every service at every NAR “church” but every single one of these incidents and practices (and so many more) springs from the same unbiblical theology of the New Apostolic Reformation.

Including Cory Asbury’s choice of the word “reckless” when he wrote the song Reckless Love. Cory is a product of the theology he’s been immersed in for so many years.

And that’s the main problem with churches using songs in their worship services from groups like Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, and Hillsong, which teach “another gospel”. In the same way that marijuana use can serve as a “gateway drug” to more dangerous and addictive narcotics, Reckless Love itself might not do too much damage, but…well, as I explained to another reader in a previous Mailbag article False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music:

It’s imperative for churches to be discerning about the CCM they use in worship. If Jane Churchmember hears a CCM song in church and likes it, she’s likely to Google the song (probably right there in church- I’ve done it!), find out who sings it, and begin following that artist. Worship pastors who use CCM have a responsibility to vet the artists who perform the songs they select for the worship service to make sure they’re not sending Jane into the arms of a heretic. Additionally, music costs money, and you don’t want your church’s offerings supporting false doctrine.

A common objection I see Christians make to this concept is:

Well, [insert name of hymn writer here] wrote lots of perfectly biblical hymns, but he had some theological problems too, and you’re not recommending we get rid of all of his hymns.

Well, first of all, maybe we should more closely examine the theology of some of our most prolific hymnists and stop using their music because of what they believed. Quick – off the top of your head, name the three we should start with…

…And that’s what separates the errant hymnist from Bethel, et al. Most Christians, even those who prefer hymns over CCM, could probably not name three people who wrote hymns, let alone tell you anything about their theology. But if you ask the average Christian to name three top Christian artists, she could rattle them off in a second.

Most hymn writers have been dead for up to hundreds of years. They don’t have Facebook pages you can follow, nobody’s playing their stuff on KLOVE, they’re not on tour to promote their latest album, and they don’t have thousands of followers worldwide. If you wanted to follow their errant theology, you’d have to hit the books to research and study it. The NAR musicians’ theology is only a click away on YouTube, social media, live streamed concerts and conferences, and on their web sites. Nobody is following dead hymnists’ false doctrine, but hordes are following NAR musicians’ heresy.

And as for music that springs from heretical theology pointing people to Jesus? Ask this wiccan young lady who went to Bethel and was told by someone “prophesying” (supposedly speaking what she heard God say) over her:

“I feel the Lord saying to you that He is very pleased with you. You have been so faithful to Him. You have been faithful to His Word, even when though there are many people telling you that you are now going the wrong way. But God knows it isn’t true. He wants you to know that He is proud of you. God knows that you are walking with Him and He is so proud of your faithfulness.”

She wasn’t pointed to Jesus. Nobody explained the gospel to her or told her she needed to repent of her sin. Instead, she was affirmed in her sin and told that she was, in fact, “walking with God” and “faithful” to Him when she was living in witchcraft (which earned the death penalty in the Old Testament) and had never put her faith and trust in Christ for salvation. And all of this by someone who was claiming to speak for God Himself. The Bible says it’s impossible to please God without faith in Christ.

This kind of music doesn’t point people to Jesus. It points them to the NAR version of Jesus, which, as evidenced above, is not the Jesus of the Bible. If someone puts her faith in the NAR version of Jesus, she’s not going to be saved, and she’s going to spend an eternity in hell. The Jesus of the Bible said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Nobody is getting to Heaven through any other version of Jesus except the Jesus of the Bible.

OK, now I’m aware of what the NAR teaches and I’m definitely not getting sucked into any of that! What about just listening to Reckless Love when I’m alone in the car? I believe what Cory said about why he used the word “reckless” and I’m OK with that.

That’s between you and God, but let me ask you a question as you prayerfully consider what would be pleasing to Him. What if, instead of the word “reckless”, Cory had chosen the words, “f—ing awesome”? And what if he had explained that, to him, that phrase just meant “really awesome” or “super duper awesome”? That, in his song, it didn’t have the vulgar meaning most people think of when they hear the f-word? Would you, based on his explanation, still sing that song?

Of course not. Because words mean what they mean, not what we want them to mean.

Cory can offer explanations about what he intended by the word “reckless” until he’s blue in the face. That doesn’t change the actual meaning of the word, which is what most people understand it to mean when they hear it. And, furthermore, Cory isn’t following the song around to every single person who hears it and explaining what he meant by it, so most people will hear “reckless” and assume it means what it actually means, not that Cory used the word “reckless” and meant something else by it. That’s not how human language works.

In considering whether or not to listen to this song, spend some time in God’s Word studying the way God wants to be approached by people (rather than how you want to approach Him) and how He reacted when they approached Him improperly. Remember, everything we do should be governed by Scripture, not our opinions and preferences, or whether we happen to like a particular song or not.

The NAR is a dangerous heresy that is sending people to an eternity in hell. People are getting saved out of “churches” like Bethel, not getting saved by them. Consider carefully, prayerfully, and according to Scripture whether God would be pleased by you having anything to do with NAR organizations. “What partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.