We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Discernment Needed For Worship Songs


One of the things about the modern technology being used in our worship service is that when the lyrics are projected to the assembly, the copyright line will always show the author and publisher.  Think about that for a moment.

Let’s say there was a Mormon who wrote a hymn which actually had orthodox theology, and the “worship leader” thought it would be a good one for the congregation to sing.  So the lyrics go up on the screen and the copyright says, “Latter-day Saints.”  Should this song be used?

What if the song was written by a Jehovah’s Witness, and the copyright line projected with the lyrics said, “Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.”  Should this song be used?

The answer to both of these should be, “NO!”  As the congregation looks at the lyrics, they see where the lyrics came from, and it would appear that the leaders are giving tacit approval to these cults by using their material.

Now let’s get to the point.  Vineyard.  What does the Vineyard movement teach?  Signs and wonders.  False revivals.  Emotionalism.  Singing certain lyrics over and over to get into an almost altered state of consciousness.  Aberrant “strategic level spiritual warfare.”  Etc.

The founder of the Vineyard movement was John Wimber, who taught that he lived for extended periods of time without sinning.  When it came to his preaching, Wimber stated, when challenged on unbiblical points, that “God is above His Word” and “God is not limited by His Word.”  His whole paradigm of teaching was “Power Evangelism” - i.e., the preaching of the gospel MUST be combined with signs and wonders.  When challenged on his teachings about modern prophets, Wimber stated, “Many if not most personal prophetic words given today are conditional, and as such are invitational, not certainties.”  Yeah, I can see the kingdom of Israel accepting that, can’t you? Wimber even taught “psychic healing.”  And who can forget “holy laughter” - which spread into other charismatic groups?  Wimber also invited the Kansas City “prophets” to teach Vineyard pastors at a special conference.

Since there is much false teaching and charismania in the Vineyard movement, should we be promoting their songs in the assembly?  The answer should be, “NO.”  By doing so the copyright line is advertised to the congregation along with the tacit approval of the Vineyard movement.

Virtually all Vineyard songs I’ve seen the lyrics for are lacking in solid theology and are directed to stir the emotions — and they usually have some odd charismatic terminology.  Here are two songs which are too often sung in the church at which I attend; I will first show the lyrics and then I will comment on them. 

Hungry, by Kathryn Scott

Hungry, I come to you
For I know You satisfy
I am empty, but I know
Your love does not run dry

So I wait for you
So I wait for You
I’m falling on my knees
Offering all of me
Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for

Broken, I run to You
For Your arms are open wide
I am weary, but I know
Your touch restores my life

So I wait for you
So I wait for You
I’m falling on my knees
Offering all of me
Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for.

Well, I think this song borders on the “Jesus is my boyfriend” genre.  But leaving that aside, how can one sing “I’m falling on my knees” while standing singing?  Just what is the theology here?  Or IS there any theology here? And is Jesus all we should live for or should we be living for God the Father through Jesus as our mediator?

All who are thirsty, by Kutless

All who are thirsty
All who are weak
Come to the fountain
Dip your heart in the stream of life
Let the pain and the sorrow
Be washed away
In the waves of his mercy
As deep cries out to deep (we sing)

Come Lord Jesus come
[repeat 3 times]

Holy Spirit come
[repeat 3 times]

As deep cries out to deep
[repeat 2 times]

This is another one of those songs with lots of repetition so as to work up emotions and get the congregation swinging to and fro before they start speaking in “tongues” or other such emotional nonsense.

So, just how does one “dip” their “heart in the stream of life”?  What is the “stream of life”?  Is this supposed to be Jesus? Or, as I’ve heard from many charismatics, is it the “river” of the Holy Spirit?”  And why are we asking for the Holy Spirit to “come” when He dwells inside each believer? I can answer that one — all one has to do is look at the false revivals as they yell for the Holy Spirit to come and bring more “fire.”  

Where is the “meat” of biblical teachings in these songs?  Where is coherent teaching? Why must they be so esoteric in their terminology so that no one is really sure what is being said?

These examples of Vineyard songs are just to show how lacking in substance Vineyard music can be, let alone that they are really the net result of the type of teaching found with the Vineyard churches.

Let’s quit bringing such pap into our assemblies, and quit advertising for, and giving tacit approval to, the Vineyard!

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Absolutely correct, Glenn!

We can also add songs from Hillsong, Jesus Culture, and IHOP to this list.

Christian musician, CAN

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I knew the Vineyard movement was charismatic, but didn't put 2+2 together regarding their music... I typically do not pay attention to the by-lines of worship songs. Usually the vapid lyrical content of many CCM songs is enough for me to reject them. (Ex: the unfamiliar song you posted "as deep cries out to deep"...? No thank you.)

However, the other song you posted (Hungry) looked familiar. Sure enough, I found that song in my CD collection - it's on a Vineyard album. I had never heard of them before; the CD was a gift. I haven't listened to that CD in a long, long time, and honestly don't remember much about it.

So I thumbed through the CD insert, to investigate these songs and their respective artists. In doing so, I found most of the songs lacking in substance and doctrine. I also came across a name which rang a bell but I couldn't remember why - Vicky Beeching. A quick search of your blog revealed that you addressed her in RAAH posts on 8/19 and 8/24... ah, that's why her name seemed familiar...

I'm getting more and more disenchanted with CCM. Lately, many popular CCM musicians are being revealed as seriously straying from the truth, or even being exposed as completely unregenerate... we are finding out they are questioning/mocking Scripture, are living in open immorality, or are flat out atheists...

Vineyard album pitched. Thanks Glenn!

-Carolyn

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Anonymous,

You are also absolutely correct!

castiron said...

Recently, we had a service with that boyfriend song "Hungry", followed by a song "To Our God". Which god are they worshipping? They may as well be singing to the god of this world:

Our God is greater
Our God is stronger
God, You are higher than any other
Our God is healer
Awesome in power
Our God, our God

Into the darkness, You shine
Out of the ashes, we rise
There's no one like You
None like You

Out of the ashes, where is that in the Bible? The world really likes that phoenix terminology but I don't recall it in Scripture.

Half the songs our church uses, I just can't sing. First, I can't "sing" it. I don't listen to the music at home, so I don't recognize the melody. With just the words on the screen, I have no idea how the song is sung. There are all these vocal tricks, with unnatural starts and stops, a line will stop halfway in a sentence. Some words will be sung fast, some slow. So I just stand there and read the lyrics.

One song we had this week has "holy" repeated. Not like the classic hymn, but the holy is pronounced, "ho-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-leeeee" or something. I can never figure it out. The congregation can't either. It sounded awful. It sounds like Santa's ho-ho-ho. I'm not joking. How is God being worshiped by such horrible songs?

And then when I do read the lyrics, I'm aghast and upset. The afore-mentioned, "out of the ashes" or "And the funny thing is it's okay." Unless I'm at a campfire with a bunch of kids, I'm not going to sing slang "okay," "hey," "yeah" to my Creator God in worship. Nor will I sing a boyfriend song, songs with new-age or occultic references.

I'm not a scholar, just an ordinary mom. Why can I see all these problems with the music, but when I approach the worship team, they are so flippant. "That's not what that means to me" or "I feel God's Spirit." type of arguments. Ugh. I am so discouraged.

I see this in all the mainline churches. Some more traditional churches use the hymns, which are better, but to be honest, some of those traditional hymns and spirituals have the same problems. Corny lyrics, unBiblical lyrics, war propaganda (look into the background of The Battle Hymn of the Republic for instance), etc.

I think each church body needs an discerning person to go over the song selections. Someone who isn't tied to "I love this song" because of the uplifting sound or gimmicks. Someone who can discern if the lyrics are Biblical, solid, edifying. Someone who can determine if this type of song is appropriate for Sunday morning worship. Someone to determine if this song is even singable by ordinary people in the congregation, not just the ones who have heard it on the radio over and over, who memorized all those tricks and stops and starts and such. I'd volunteer but the worship team won't have me, I'm not spiritual like them : (

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Anonymous,

You've touched on some of the same complaints I have had over and over. If you look at some I review under the "Hymns/songs" label on the right, you can see a few more of this ilk.

A lot of those CCM songs may be good for personal devotion but not for corporate use, simply because their tunes are so difficult. Too many songs are used in Church just because they are popular, but there are too many of us who don't listen to the "radio tunes"' and yet we are expected to know the music! DON'T rely on radio tunes!

Yes, there are many old hymns which also need to be out. The "Battle Hymn" is one of those because of its militaristic flavor, but when you look at the lyrics most of it CAN be pointing to the return of Christ -- until you hit the verses which are obviously about the Civil War. NOT a proper worship hymn.

"In the Garden" can be called the original "Jesus is my boyfriend" song, yet it seems to be a big favorite.

Unfortunately, people are more interested in feeling good and nostalgia than they are in discernment.

Anonymous said...

Hi Glenn,

Commenter "Castiron" made a very good point. Many of the CCM songs are simply not meant for congregational singing. They are written for performance. On top of having generally empty lyrics, the melodies are very difficult. Frankly those songs are just flat out musically AWKWARD.

Adding to that, the song lyrics that are projected on the wall/screen do not provide any melodic assistance to the congregation. Even for people who cannot read music, being able to see sheet music in hymnals is helpful.

Of course all hymns aren't perfect, example - as Castiron and Glenn said, the Battle Hymn isn't fitting for worship. But content-wise, as a category, there's more doctrinal meat in hymnody.

Just for humor - I recently took one of the CCM songs from church and sung it to the tune of a common hymn, rather than trying to sing it to the choppy, awkward melody with which it came. Even though the lyrics were still lacking, the melody from the hymn made the song orders of magnitude easier to sing.

-Carolyn

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Carolyn,

Thanks for both your comments. Very well said!

Ralph M. Petersen-Always Right; Sometimes Wrong! said...

Just a few scattered thoughts here.

For lack of a music minister, the task of selecting all the music for our Sunday services has fallen to me. Although I have been singing in choirs and solos most of my adult life, I am not a "skilled" director or worship leader. I simply lead our congregation in the singing.

The process of selecting appropriate music is not easy for me. I receive my pastor's selected scripture text and sermon outline early each week. Then I try to find doctrinally sound songs and hymns that support the message and underscore the text. Your concern about tacit support for the questionable doctrines of authors is legitimate although I think that can be mitigated. The frustrating thing is that almost every song in the book has some questionable phrasing. But I recognize that none of it is inspired and I allow for some reasonable artistic freedom to make the lyrics singable.

We use Power Point to project the words on a screen (primarily because the lighting is poor and there is a significant number of older people who cannot see well enough to read the hymnbooks) but we do not print the author's name; we just note our license to reprint the lyrics from our books. By the way, the authors' names are printed in the hymn books so people can see them there too. Sometimes I introduce songs with some background information or underlying hymn story. There have been times that I have made verbal disclaimers regarding the author's doctrines or associations. At times like those, I focus on the specific doctrinal truths that are in the songs and sometimes, if necessary, I will delete errant verses and tell the people why.

One of my favorite hymns is "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." I have serious problems with the heretical doctrines of the Catholic Church and, by extension, the priests who propagate them. But I have no problem with the fact that, in this song, Martin Luther wrote a great tribute to the Power and Supremacy of God. We never ask, "Whose God?" We just attribute those word to our God.

Sometimes genuine Christians are errant and occasionally heretics stumble onto some correct doctrines.

I tend to look, first, at the content.

I have looked at the content of both songs you referenced here and I can assure you that I probably could never find a reason to use either one of them.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Ralph,

I have yet to find a hymnal which has Vineyard, IHOP or other aberrant groups' music. Perhaps you will find those in the song books of said groups! But never in any hymnal have I seen authors who were apostate, aberrant, or heretical. It is the newer stuff which isn't in normal hymnals which are always found on the projection.

Handling the music's lyrics as you describe seems quite appropriate to me.

After throwing out anything by the "bad" groups, lyrics are the most important thing to look at.

Steve Bricker said...

One of our music team members lamented the lack of good choruses available through CCLI—surprising someone else noticed. I immediately thought of something I read, perhaps through you, that the CCM industry is self-propagating, intent on driving the public to what sells rather than what edifies. My solution would be to ditch CCLI entirely, but then there would be an uprising from those addicted to the drivel. But then, an intervention may be in order.

Anonymous said...

Glenn,

I was once attended a Baptist Church with an Assembly of God pastor who was an attendee of what they call "The Toronto Blessing (not sure why they call it a blessing, though.) This church is filled with men and women who believe in extra Biblical revelation and I too, was swept away by the current of their river, desiring to be loved and accepted. I attended another local Assembly of God church for "Revival night" in which a "prophetic man" came out from the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, area with special words from God that only he could ever know. His website states that god (a god, not the God of our Bible) gives him words of knowledge especially designed for each individual who attends his so called revival.

I attended this meeting desiring to be closer to our LORD in craving to hear the Word of God preached and to "experience" Him more intimately. Also, I will publicly confess, that I was hearing all of these "thrilling" stories from the women around me of their visits to the "third heaven", of their wild dreams and visions, of getting "drunk" in the spirit, barking and birthing in the spirit, and hearing the audible voices of god, in which several women wrote down the messages they were receiving from these voices.

Since I have never had any of these experiences in my Christian faith, I thought that maybe I was not saved, or that our Heavenly Father did not care and love me as much as these other women....and some of their husbands were also boasting of these "extra experiences." It appeared that I was a nothing and a nobody to our LORD and I was fed the line that I needed a "spiritual mother" and the men needed a "spiritual father" in order to be "accountable and saved."

continued

Anonymous said...

I was trying to be acceptable to our LORD and I desired to fit in with these super spiritual women, so I began a journey on purchasing the books by the authors they read. I purchased Joel Osteen books, Joyce Meyer books, Beth Moore books, Henry Blackaby books, Larry Huck devotionals, Paula White CDs, Pat Robertson and Oral Roberts books, and I got caught up with the ministry of Todd Bentley and Sid Roth.

I wanted so much to be accepted by the people of this church.

I did end up having a drunk in a spirit experience at the Assembly of God revival that night and believed that it was from our LORD. A woman approached me as I stood in the front of this church waiting for a "word of knowledge" from the preacher man, and with her fist clenched she touched my forehead right inbetween my eyes...this is called the "third eye" in Hinduism.

Immediately my legs buckled beneath me and I hit the floor and began to laugh and laugh and laugh. While laughing hysterically, I saw colored lights swirl in front of my eyes, like a kaleidoscope. I laughed until I experience abdominal pains while tears were streaming out of my eyes. I was hurting and I wanted to get up and go back to the pew, but I could not.

continued

Anonymous said...

There was some kind of force holding me down and I could not get up. I tried several times until finally that heaviness was gone and I got up and went back to the pew. During this whole experience, I was in ecstatic euphoria-like peace, which I have never felt before....until I began to experience pain and strange sensation of not being able to rise when I chose too. Yet, I believed this was from god (not the God of our Bible).

I had finally "arrived" and could boast and brag of my personal spiritual experience with the "big guns" now and no longer could they look down on me. My husband said "This is NOT a fruit of God, the Holy Spirit" and condemned my experience as heresy.
This resulted in marital tension in our marriage as I believed I was now more spiritual than he.

We never went back to that Assembly of God church, nor have I gone back to this so called pastor's revival when he visits our rural area.

I began to read the Bible for myself and repented of my sins, and by God's mercy and grace, through the power of God, the Holy Spirit, He gave me ability to understand His Word without the extra Biblical revelations and sensations.

continued

Anonymous said...

I began to question these experiences and as a result was told point blank, "We have been Christians far longer than you, so we know more than you." I asked for Scripture verses to back up their extra Biblical revelations and "Charisma Magazine" was quoted often, but no accountable Scripture verses.

I eventually left this church as I believe with everything that is in me, that this church is actually a cult. In addition to their "lying signs and wonders" teachings, they promote tithing and living under the law (stating we are to still practice the feasts, complete with dietary regulations and practicing the Jewish Sabbath.

When we first arrived, the love bombing was highly effective and we enjoyed all of the extra attention our family was receiving. We were hooked....until the time came when some serious questions needed to be answered. Then came the remarks, the put downs, the lying and slandering of my character in particular, followed by a sermon from the pastor on the "Jezebel spirit." What is a jezebel spirit pray tell?

Two weeks following this man's "jezebel spirit" sermon, this man was relieved of his duties in this church for soliciting the favors of women.

I came out of a spiritually abusive church system and have been in the healing process for several years. Because of this experience, I do not trust "the churched" for all of that "love bombing" came to an abrupt end when the questions came; "Is this Scriptural, where do you find that in the Word of God?", "Are we really little gods here on earth?", "Did Jesus really go to hell and come out as the first "born again believer?", etc. etc. etc.

Praise God, His mercy is sufficient for me as I continue to heal and ask for the prayers of those who are saved, outside of the religious system man has created to praise himself. Please pray for me and all of those who have been abused spiritually by a wicked system. In the Name of Jesus, amen.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Anonymous,

What a testimony of a trip through false teachings. I have had many people tell similar stories.

Unfortunately, this is because false teaching is so tantalizing - ear candy.

Spiritual abuse can often begin with the sort of songs I discuss in this article. The more they can make people feel good, get emotional, and think what they are doing is somehow pleasing to God, the more they can exercise their hold on the people.

Yes, we need to pray for those who have been spiritually abused, and that they may find a Christ honoring assembly.

Anonymous said...

Thank-you Glenn for allowing me to post as many of us who have come out of this type of charismatic/Pentecostal system still experience hurt and doubt.

I did fail to mention that these local small town type of revivals embrace the very same music you are speaking of here and the manipulation is always, always, always the same. The "praise (?)" band begins with lively, upbeat music that makes one want to dance. Then after a few of these types of songs, the music becomes moderate, then finally, the slow, almost mystical type of songs with the repeat of phrases or words. My former neighbor called these types of songs "7-11" songs, which I had to have her explain to me what she meant....."the people sing the same 7 words 11 times over." She definitely had a valid point.

We did sing the same word or phrase over and over as the back ground instrumentals lulled us into a hypnotic state. Here I will boldly state that this IS A FORM OF HYPNOTISM, basically no different than the hypnotist that visits our children's high school proms for a handsome fee. Once an individual embraces this hypnotic state inside the church, the leadership then has the power over your mind (because you have emptied it during their so called worship phase) and can manipulate individuals by the power of suggestion. Giving in to peer pressure also increases their power over you to conform to the mysticism/Gnosticism/experiential physical outcomes they desire you to manifest.

Yes, you are correct in addressing the fact that "worship music" can actually be used to manipulate the masses. Adolph Hitler knew of the power music can have over the souls of men, and used it to his advantage in brainwashing the masses.

Glenn, I grew up in the church with my parents, and not once, was our faithful organist of many, many years, ever given any notoriety whatsoever, let alone a hand clap. She served our LORD faithfully all of those years, and at times with soured chords as she gracefully aged, but we sang our hymns in unison with our heads held low in reading the words from our hymnals....and we worshipped our LORD faithfully, because it was all about Him and all for Him....not about any of us. And during that time of my childhood, I was and still am thankful for that simple little church where I knew the love of our LORD. Psalm 150.

Thanks for listening, Glenn. God bless you and your.

Joe said...

Steve Bricker mentioned CCLI. While I understand the intent of copyright laws and I know that the law is the law, I have some issues with people who write music for worship requiring that they be acknowledged when people perform
them. In my feeble little mind, all of the attention and credit needs to be focused on the person of God through Jesus and not on the composer.

I use as much public domain music as I can, and I have retyped the CCLI licence information on each song that requires it so it is unobtrusive (we use overhead projection in our church, to my frequent dismay).

More worship leaders need to spend a lot more time concerned with the meaning of songs' lyrics. Some, of the Vineyard/Hillsong persuasion, couldn't care less, as long as it entertains.