Music and the False Gospel of Ecumenical Music

By COGwriter

In the modern world, music is almost everywhere.

It is not only on the radio and television, but also on the internet (including cell phones), in stores, and even in elevators.

There are secular and non-secular songs.

Here is a link to a related sermon: Music, Hillsong, and the False Gospel.

Many Protestants (and some Catholics) like to hear what is considered to be modern gospel music--known now as "Contemporary Christian Music" or CCM.

Various ones have claimed that this helps bring young people to the faith.

But what faith?

Jude wrote:

3 ... to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3, NKJV throughout, except as otherwise noted)

Is that what much so-called gospel or Contemporary Christian Music music promotes?

Or might it be more of a false gospel?

What about secular music?

Secular Music

Before going further, let's consider some things about secular music.

First, it was in place since the Book of Genesis:

20 And Adah bore Jabal. He was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. 21 His brother's name was Jubal. He was the father of all those who play the harp and flute. (Genesis 4:20-21)

Because the Bible does not indicate that Jubal was part of a God fearing family, it is reasonable to conclude that Jubal had instruments for secular music. Thus, from this, one should not conclude that all playing from a flute or harp is somehow has God's blessing.

Second it appears, to a great degree, music preferences come from cultures and personal prefence.

So, I am not going to try to claim that one genre of music, like classical must be superior to, let's say, country music.

Some people like jazz, many like pop music (which makes sense as pop stands for popular), some like rock & roll, some like opera, some like hip hop, some folk music, some soul, etc.

Third, however, while some lyrics can be fine, some are more than distasteful, they are blasphemous.

Since we are not to take God's name in vain (third commandment) or blaspheme, Christians should not sing such lyrics.

Nor should Christians want to listen to such lyrics:

33 Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits." (1 Corinthians 15:33, NKJV)

33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (1 Corinthians 15:33, KJV)

So, be careful what you put into your mind.

The Bible teaches:

8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

While some secular music can help you do that, much of it does not.

Many secular lyrics are vulgar or otherwise inappropriate. The Apostle Paul wrote:

29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29)

Do not mindlessly sing inappropriate lyrics. Obviously, Christians should not do that at all.

Thirdly, do not think you cannot be affected by it. Notice something from the old (pre-Tkach) Worldwide Church of God:

The POWER of Music

   It is a scientific FACT that music directly affects the nervous system, the circulatory system, the digestive system, the muscles, the glands — virtually every part of the human body!
   There is an outstanding book on this subject. It is Doctor Prescribes Music, by Podolsky. The author states that because the roots of the auditory nerves — the nerves of the ear — are "more widely distributed and have more extensive connections than those of any other nerves in the body... there is SCARCELY A FUNCTION OF THE HUMAN BODY WHICH MAY NOT BE AFFECTED BY MUSICAL TONES" (p. 18).
   That is a strong statement! But Podolsky backs it up with an entire book of solid proof. Music can temporarily CHANGE the pulse rate and blood pressure. It can increase the secretions of the adrenals and other energy-producing and pain-fighting glands. It can affect the outpouring of gastric juice, thereby having a bearing on digestion. It can reduce and delay muscular fatigue and increase muscular strength.
   Emotions and moods have a biological basis. Music, by its tremendous effect on the body processes, becomes an important factor in determining these moods. If certain feelings and emotions are present — either good or bad — music can give them strength and direction. It can cause them to crystallize into a mood.
   Dr. Schoen in The Psychology of Music makes this remarkable statement: "Music is made of a stuff which is in and of itself the most powerful stimulant known among the perceptual processes... Music operates on our emotional faculty with greater intensiveness and rapidity than the product of any other act" (p. 39).
   Music is POWERFUL! And like all power, it can be put to a good use or to a bad and wrong use. Music can either leave an uplifting, wholesome emotional impact, or a restless, UN-wholesome impact. ...

The Purpose of Music

   The Bible reveals the purpose of music. It is for enjoyment and the expression of wholesome emotions.
   The book of Psalms in the Bible is a collection of the words of inspired sacred songs. The music for these Psalms has been lost, making it impossible for us to know how they sounded. But by looking at the words, we can see what emotions they expressed. Joy, praise, adoration and happiness are perhaps the most frequent. Majesty, love, awe, respect and reverence toward God are also expressed.
   Other parts of the Bible mention music in similar contexts. James says, "Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms" (James 5:13).
   When the prodigal son of Luke 15 returned home, his father said, "Let us eat and be merry." How was this merriment expressed? By good music and right dancing (verse 25)!
   God intends that MOST music express positive, joyous emotions.
   But at times, sadness, longing and other heavy-hearted emotions can be wholesome, too. Some of the Psalms express these emotions. Even when music expresses sadness and sorrow, however, it gives a certain satisfaction — and in that sense enjoyment — in serving as an emotional outlet.
   Music is to be ENJOYED! That is its very purpose for being! Just as knowledge is of no value except as it is put to use. So music is of no value except as it is enjoyed. Good music will be pleasurable.
   Good music will also serve as a wholesome expression of the emotions. It will leave a favorable emotional impact.

Sacred Music

   Like popular music, religious music is a large field — and quality varies greatly. It goes from so-called "gospel singing" which is just a religious form of rock 'n' roll or jazz, all the way to the stately and majestic beauty of Handel's "Messiah."
   A prime consideration for religious music is the words. If the words express a false doctrine, the words should either be changed or the song should be discarded.
   Also many religious songs have a certain syrupy, pseudo-sanctimonious, sentimental flavor in the sound of the music. Such music has a very unfavorable emotional impact. It exudes the wrong spirit or attitude. (Walter EM. What's Wrong with Today's Music? Plain Truth, November 1965)

Yes, you can be affected by music, so be careful about what you listen to.

"Gospel Music" and "Contemporary Christian Music"

Is so-called 'Christian music' always safe to listen to?

A Protestant named David Cloud reported the following in an article about what has been called "Christian music":

I’m telling you, most Independent Baptists, especially in the south, are charismatic-like in their theology. The Bible is only something to validate their experience, instead of their experience being tested by the Word of God. THEY ARE IN MANY WAYS SLAVES TO THEIR FEELINGS INSTEAD OF BOUND TO THE SCRIPTURES. (Cloud D. A Plea to Southern Gospel Music Fans. Way of Life Literature. 2016, p. 6)

Basically, the warning above is to realize that many prefer emotions to scriptural truth--so be careful about supposedly Christian music.

And while music is often emotional, we are not to be slaves to feelings that may be impacted by sin:.

6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. (Romans 6:6)

David Cloud also noted:

If error happens gradually, only a few observe it or care about it. The Bible twice warns that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9), but in practice most Christians don’t believe this. ...

What is happening today among fundamental Baptist churches is exactly what happened in evangelicalism in the 1950s when the “neo” evangelical philosophy spread through churches and para-church organizations. From its inception, the hallmark of the New Evangelicalism was the rejection of separation. Harold Ockenga, who claimed to have coined the term “neo-evangelicalism” in 1948, defined it as “A REPUDIATION OF SEPARATISM” (foreword to Harold Lindsell’s The Battle for the Bible).

The New Evangelicalism aimed at a more positive, less judgmental, more pragmatic philosophy as opposed to the “negativism and isolation” of fundamentalism. The rejection of separation is not always open rejection. Fundamentalists who are giving up on separation today are rarely as bold as Harold Ockenga. In the beginning, at least, lip service is still given to biblical separatism. But the rejection is evident in many ways, such as the following:

The rejection of separation is seen in a lack of emphasis on separation. (Cloud D. A Plea to Southern Gospel Music Fans. Way of Life Literature. 2016, p. 12)

Now the above reminds me of the first changes that the Tkach Administration made in the old Worldwide Chruch of God (WCG).

Which were?

To stop teaching that WCG represented the Philadelphia era or that Church of God, Seventh Day represented the Sardis era.

The Tkach WCG did not publicly teach against church eras, but instead edited comments about them out of the Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong it sent to all the members at the time. For details, check out the article: The 18 Restored Truths: Do You Know What the First Changes the Tkach Administration Made?

By doing so, the Tkach WCG de-emphasized separation. People forgot about church eras, and even many of the groups whose leaders were once part of WCG no longer teach church eras. Despite Jesus' warnings in Revelation 2 and 3.

Anyway, to a degree, it is true that decades ago, influential Protestants (including the late Baptist Billy Graham) de-emphasized doctrinal differences among Protestants, but also became more tolerant of Roman Catholic doctrines.

Notice the following from Todd Pruitt:

Is Your Church Worship More Pagan than Christian?

There is a great misunderstanding in churches of the purpose of music in Christian worship. Churches routinely advertise their “life-changing” or “dynamic” worship that will “bring you closer to God” or “change your life.” Certain worship CD’s promise that the music will “enable you to enter the presence of God.” Even a flyer for a recent conference for worship leaders boasted:

"Join us for dynamic teaching to set you on the right path, and inspiring worship where you can meet God and receive the energy and love you need to be a mover and shaker in today’s world…Alongside our teaching program are worship events which put you in touch with the power and love of God."

The problem with the flyer and with many church ads is that these kinds of promises reveal a significant theological error. Music is viewed as a means to facilitate an encounter with God; it will move us closer to God. In this schema, music becomes a means of mediation between God and man. But this idea is closer to ecstatic pagan practices than to Christian worship.

Jesus is the only mediator between God and man. He alone is the One who brings us to God. The popular but mistaken notions regarding worship music undermine this foundational truth of the Christian faith. https://www.christianity.com/church/worship-and-hymns/is-your-church-worship-more-pagan-than-christian.html accessed 02/20/19

And various churches and music groups push the music mediator idea.

Before going further, the Bible records that music was used to promote false worship:

4 Then a herald cried aloud: "To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5 that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; 6 and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. (Daniel 3:4-6)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego would not listen. That upset the king:

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?"

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up." (Daniel 3:13-18)

As far as the music industry goes, after WWII it became clearer to many that there was more money to be made for those who were more ecumenical. Here are some views related to that::

the vast majority of Southern Gospel singers have moved into the “progressive/ contemporary” sphere, probably because that is where the real money and prestige is, and even the most conservative people are being gradually influenced by the contemporary Southern Gospel crowd because they are letting the guard down and aren’t being careful enough about biblical separation. (Cloud D. A Plea to Southern Gospel Music Fans. Way of Life Literature. 2016, p. 8)

Stan Moser, former head of Word Records, and CEO of Star Records, was one of the pioneers and most important executives in contemporary Christian music. After 26 years in the industry, he walked away from contemporary Christian music and in an article in Christianity Today (We Have Created a Monster) Mr. Moser freely admitted:“There is a growing chasm between CCM and the Church between what’s actually happening in the real world of ministry, or even in the music ministry of the Church, and what we’re doing in Contemporary Christian Music. In fact, I would probably be more inclined to call the industry commercial Christian music rather than Contemporary Christian Music…To be candid, I look at the majority of the music I hear today and think it’s virtually meaningless…we as an industry weren’t running away from the Church at that time, but I do think we walked away…so we could still basically, get rich. Materialism, a lot of it, crept in and started affecting our values…” (Christianity Today, May 20, 1996) https://eternalevangelism.com/ccm/ accessed 02/20/19

Yes, even people who claim to be Christian can be influenced by money, etc.

That is not new:

9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

What is relatively new is that over the past several decades, many who have called themselve Christian or Gospel singers have moved more towards ecumenical music.

The point of the ecumenical movement is to blend faiths together, hoping for world peace. It is not about proclaiming the the Kingdom of God is the good news and what this planet needs. Much of what is called Contemporary Christian Music is ecumenical. The reasons tend to be financial and a disregard for the actual intervention of Jesus to fix the problems this world is facing.

That is, something that is intended for a broader audience, and one to promote unity with other faiths/religions/denominations:

Bill Gaither has influenced great numbers of Southern Gospel groups, and at the same time he has built bridges from Southern Gospel to the world of CCM by mentoring many of the popular Christian rockers, including Sandi Patty, Russ Taff, Michael English, Carman, and the members of Whiteheart (CCM Magazine, July 1998, p. 20).

Gaither has also pushed the ecumenical philosophy throughout Southern Gospel. In his autobiography, It’s More Than the Music, Gaither stated that one of the fringe benefits of playing their concerts in “neutral, non-church environments” was that people from “all church denominations” attended. “Before long, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, charismatics, Catholics, and Pentecostals were all praising the Lord together. Subtly, the walls between denominations began to crumble ...” (p. 115).

Gaither’s Hymns for the Family of God was purposefully “nondenominational” and included devotional readings from a wide variety of Christians, including heretics such as Deitrich Bonhoeffer (one of the fathers of Neo-orthodoxy), Malcolm Muggeridge (a liberal Roman Catholic who did not believe in Christ’s virgin birth or bodily resurrection), and Robert Schuller (who wickedly redefined the gospel in terms of his humanistic self-esteem theology). (Cloud D. A Plea to Southern Gospel Music Fans. Way of Life Literature. 2016, p. 22)

in 1999 ... And the National Quartet Convention philosophy is ecumenism. During the presentation of Singing News awards, one of the speakers thanked the leaders of the convention for “THEIR ABILITY TO BRING TOGETHER CHRISTIANS OF ALL DENOMINATIONAL LABELS BY THE MEANS OF MUSIC.” This unscriptural philosophy was evident on every hand. There were Baptists of all stripes, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Church of God, Nazarene, Jesus Only (who deny the Trinity), Church of Christ, and many others. It was a Southern Gospel ecumenical hodgepodge. (Cloud D. A Plea to Southern Gospel Music Fans. Way of Life Literature. 2016, p. 23)

Consider Bill Gaither’s hugely popular song “He Touched Me,” which is considered one of the “top 100 greatest songs in Christian music.” ...

Any false gospel will fit into this song, so it is entirely ecumenical, and Gaither has publicly stated that this is one of his major goals with music. ... A Roman Catholic who trusts Jesus and Mary, a Pentecostal 70 who is “holding out faithful,” a Mormon who has experienced a “burning bosom,” even a “gay Christian” such as Marsha Stevens who “feels” confident of God’s acceptance can be “blessed” by this song. The emphasis of the song is not on a sound doctrinal content, but on being touched, joy flooding the soul, shouting. The emphasis is on emotion.

This is pure Southern Gospel.

The music’s emotional emphasis and lack of strong biblical substance tend to encourage a mindset wherein the hearers don’t carefully test everything by Scripture. (Cloud D. A Plea to Southern Gospel Music Fans. Way of Life Literature. 2016, pp. 70-71)

Basically, David Cloud seems to be saying throughout his book is that since 'Southern Gospel' songs tend to not emphasize scripture, they lead to people of different faiths (who listen to it) to conclude that everyone is the same and no particular gospel message is that important.

He also pointed out:

Consider the song “Send the Rain” that was used at the Burlington Tent Revival. ...

“Regarding the Burlington Revival: This video clip is of the July 22 revival meeting which has been touted as the most successful meeting of the entire revival. There were a supposed 100 people saved that day. It is one of Burlington Revival’s most viewed clips on YouTube. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard pastors reference this specific meeting where all these people got saved in one night. ... the link I gave above has a timestamp that starts at 39:30. As this time they begin singing a song which they sing until the 1 hour mark. They sing this song over and over again for 20 minutes until everyone is worked up and in their emotions. People ‘get saved’ during this time, but this song gives no mention of the Gospel whatsoever. The song they sing is called ‘Send the Rain’ which is written by Aaron Butler of the Christian Rock band Ol’ Skool. You can visit their biography here - www.unsigned.com/olskool. I’d like to point out a quote they made from this biography regarding their own music: ‘Our music has a lot of roots in southern gospel, but with a touch of rock. We like to call it Southern Rock Gospel.’” (from a reader, Aug. 26, 2016).

Amazingly, “Send the Rain” promotes Pentecostal Latter Rain heresy. Note the following lyrics: “Send the rain/ Send the fire/ Send the wind/ Send the Holy Ghost in power/ Send the rain.’” The Independent Baptist leaders of the Burlington meeting either did not recognize this heresy or didn’t care that they were singing false teaching, so long as it “stirs people up” and gets them to the altar. (See The Pentecostal-Charismatic Movements, available from Way of Life Literature, for a study on latter rain theology.)

And yes, there are subtleties in lyrics, Protestant or otherwise, that many do not know.

As far as Latter Rain doctrine, notice:

A major theme of the Latter Rain was "unity" among the believers in the church service, the geographic region, and at large. They taught that God saw the Church organized not into denominations but along geographical lines, as in the book of Acts—one Church but in different locations. They expected that in the coming "last days," the various Christian denominations would dissolve, and the true Church would coalesce into citywide churches under the leadership of the newly restored apostles and prophets. (Latter Rain, Wikipedia, accessed 02/20/19)

The Bible does not promote the Pentecostal view "latter rain" view, but warns against it (e.g. 2 Corinthians 6:7; cf. Revelation 2-3).

As far as musical lyric being ecumenical, notice:

"United In Christ" Lyrics  
by Officer Negative | from the album Zombie Nation
 

United we stand
Divided we fall
Gotta stick together
Catching those who fall
Gotta be tough
Gotta stand fast
We gotta be the righteous
Cause the weak won't last

Unity in Christ (4x)

We're all for one
And one for all
Jesus is the one who
Lives inside us all
He pulls us together (https://www.newreleasetoday.com/lyricsdetail.php?lyrics_id=43182 accessed 02/19/19)

So, that one is blatantly ecumenical.

As the following one is as well:

Arranged by Carol Cymbala
From CD: High And Lifted Up

We are united in Jesus Christ
We are the soldiers of the light
We don't wrestle flesh and blood
But principalties of the dark
We do our marching to one beat
Crushing the enemy under our feet
We are mighty in our stand
With God's word in our hand (https://genius.com/The-brooklyn-tabernacle-choir-we-are-united-lyrics accessed 02/19/19)

It is not that the words of themselves are necessarily wrong, but we who are biblical Christians would not think that we are united with those of the Catholic or Protestant or Pentecostal (which are normally Protestant) faiths.

This is a Babylonian confusion. A blend of many religions, which is not the true one.

Notice there are end time warnings about thisl:

2 And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! 3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury."

4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. 6 Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her. 7 In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, 'I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.' 8 Therefore her plagues will come in one day — death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her. (Revelation 18:2-8)

Peter Scholtes wrote the hymn "They'll Know We Are Christians by Our Love" while he was a parish priest at St. Brendan's on the South Side of Chicago in the 1960s (https://hymnary.org/text/we_are_one_in_the_spirit accessed 02/20/19). It is a song I was taught to sing in Catholic church:

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah they'll know we are Christians by our love

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we'll guard each man's dignity and save each man's pride
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah, they'll know we are Christians by our love.

Work together, save each man's pride?

Well, I do not believe that the Catholic Church has shown itself to be Christians via love as it has often been a murderous and persecuting organization (see The Spanish Inquisition and Early Protestant Persecutions) and is also militaristic (see Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare or Encourage Violence?). Plus, its sex scandals (e.g. ‘Vatican Expels Former US Cardinal McCarrick’ and ‘Salacious new book says homosexuality is rampant at the Vatican’ and Pope speaks & CGBS attendee published about sex scandals).

So, who is a Christian?

One who has the Spirit of Christ:

9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:9-11)

Now, from the outside, we cannot actually see if someone has the Spirit of Christ.

But there are ways to tell. Notice what the Apostle John was inspired to write:

3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:3-6)

21 ... no lie is of the truth (1 John 2:21)

Jesus, Himself, taught that various ones did not worship God in truth:

21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:21-24)

Most who claim Christianity are not Christian.

Jesus kept the Ten Commandments (see also The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast):

10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:10)

Jesus also kept the Holy Days (see Should You Keep God's Holy Days or Demonic Holidays?), did not consume unclean meats (see The New Testament Church, History, and Unclean Meats), etc.

Since the Greco-Roman-Protestants do not really do that, we do not consider them our spiritual brethren.

That does NOT mean that we must avoid them, but it means we need to realize that we are to be spiritually separate from them.

Now, sometimes their religious approach seems attractive. The Apostle Paul wrote various ones boasted about being Christian when they were false:

12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:12-15)

Hence, we need to be concerned about how they worship, which means we need to also be careful about their music.

Hillsong

One of the most popular Protestant music groups is called Hillsong.

Here is some information about one who was in the group:

Darlene Zschech (pronounced check) is a prominent voice in the Contemporary Worship movement. For 25 years she was “worship pastor” at Hills Christian Life Centre, Sydney, Australia, and has published many popular worship albums under the Hillsong Music label. ...

One of Zschech’s themes is the importance of ecumenical unity. For example, she makes the following comment about the album “You Shine”: “There is a new sound and a new song being proclaimed across the earth. It’s the sound of a unified church, coming together, in one voice to magnify our magnificent Lord” (from the album cover).

She gives no warning about the fact that vast numbers of churches are apostate and that the Bible says that unity apart from doctrinal purity is wrong. The New Testament warns repeatedly that the end of the church age will be characterized by apostasy and spiritual confusion rather than faithfulness to the truth (i.e. Mat. 24:3-4, 11, 24; 1 Tim. 4:1-5; 2 Tim. 3:13; 4:3-4; 2 Pet. 2:1; Jude 3-4). That is precisely what we see when we look at Christianity today. Yet, the authors of contemporary praise music typically give no warning about apostasy.

In an interview with Christian Leader magazine, March-April 2002, Zschech said she had a vision about the importance of unity:

Q. What do you envision for the future of the contemporary worship movement?

Zschech: You know, I had this vision a few years ago of how God saw the worshippers and worship leaders, linked arm and arm – the “musos,” the production personnel and everybody that is involved in the worship of God. There were no celebrities out in front. We were all together in the line just walking together. It was how I imagined God’s heart for what we are doing. We were all in line, and we were slow, but we were all walking around and we weren’t leaving anyone behind. We were taking everyone with us. But then I saw a picture of what it is like now, and although we were arm in arm, there was a struggle going on. People were running forward in pride while others were shrinking back out of insecurity. There was very little movement because of disunity. I think that means we’ve got to become strong people so that we can stand strong together. God says he will bless us, and when God says “blessing” it’s an out-of-control blessing, but that only comes when we are bound together.

This is a vision of her own heart, because it is contrary to the Scriptures. The New Testament nowhere says that God’s blessing is out of control or that it only comes when professing Christians are “bound together.” To the contrary, the Bible says God’s blessing is always under control, always orderly, never confused. “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (1 Cor. 14:33). “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:39). Paul instructed Timothy to allow “no other doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:3). ...

Zschech participated in Harvest ’03 in Newcastle, NSW. The ecumenical rock concert, which featured U.S.-based evangelist Greg Laurie of Harvest Ministries, brought together a hodgepodge of churches, including Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, Anglican, Seventh-day Adventist, Church of Christ, and Roman Catholic. A participating Assemblies of God pastor stated,

“THE BRIDGE BUILDING GOING ON BETWEEN CHURCHES HAS BEEN AWESOME.”

In reality, it was spiritual confusion and gross disobedience to the Holy Scriptures (i.e., Mat. 7:15; Rom. 16:17; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; 2 Tim. 2:16-17; 3:5; 4:3-4; etc.). The Word of God commands us to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3), yet the aforementioned denominations hold dozens of heretical doctrines that are contrary to that faith, including the false gospels of baptismal regeneration and sacramentalism, both of which are under God’s curse in Galatians 1.

In a 2004 interview with Christianity Today, Zschech expressed her radical ecumenical philosophy:

“I’ve been in the Catholic Church, in the United Church, the Anglican Church, and in many other churches, and when worship is offered in truth, this sound emerges-regardless of the style. It’s the sound of the human heart connecting with its Maker” (quoted by Michael Herman, “Zschech, Please,” christianitytoday.com, June 4, 2004).

She doesn’t explain how worship can be “in truth” in the context of an ecumenical unity among denominations that teach doctrinal error.

Zschech and Hillsong performed for the Roman Catholic World Youth Day in Sydney on July 18, 2008. Pope Benedict XVI was present and conducted a papal mass on the last day of the extravaganza. The mass is a supposed continuation of Christ’s sacrifice. The consecrated host is said by Rome to become Christ Himself and is worshiped as such when placed in the monstrance and eventually in its own little tabernacle. Hillsong, led by Darlene Zschech, performed after the Stations of the Cross. ...

The lyrics to Zschech’s “Holy Spirit Rain Down” begin: “Holy Spirit, rain down, rain down/ Oh, Comforter and Friend/ How we need Your touch again/ Holy Spirit, rain down, rain down.” Where in Scripture are we instructed to pray to the Holy Spirit? To the contrary, the Lord Jesus Christ taught us to pray to the Father (Mat. 6:9).

(Cloud D. Darlene Zschech and Contemporary Praise Music. March 26, 2002. https://www.wayoflife.org/database/darlene_zschech_and_praise.html accessed 02/19/19)

She is no longer with Hillsong.

Darlene Joyce Zschech ... Described as a "pioneer of the modern worship movement", she is the former worship pastor of Hillsong Church and is currently a member of Compassionart, a charity founded by Martin Smith. (Darlene Joyce Zschech. Wikipedia, accessed 02/20/19)

Hillsong promotes ecumenical unity.


Hillsong album cover (Hillsong)

Notice some information about Hillsong:

The New York Times reported that Hillsong is “without a doubt the most influential producers of worship music in Christendom” (“Megachurch with a Beat Lures Young Flock,” Sept. 9, 2014).

Hillsong’s music is raucous and worldly. “In sensory stimulation, Hillsong’s productions rival any other contemporary form of entertainment” (Ed Stetzer, LifeWay Research, New York Times, Sept. 9, 2014). 

Hillsong's music remains popular among various Protestants.

Here is some information related to the founders and their church:

The co-pastors of Hills Christian Life Centre, under whom Zschech ministered for decades, are Brian Houston and his wife, Bobbie. The church features a large rock band with five back-up singers and a Word-Faith prosperity message. In 2002, the church took in $10 million in tithes alone, not to speak of the sale of music and materials. Brian Houston’s book You Need More Money teaches the way to prosperity through giving and “kingdom living.” Houston says, “If you believe in Jesus, He will reward you here as well [as in heaven]” (“The Lord's Profits,” Sydney Morning Herald, January 30, 2003). (Cloud D. Darlene Zschech and Contemporary Praise Music. March 26, 2002. https://www.wayoflife.org/database/darlene_zschech_and_praise.html accessed 02/19/19)

Of course, while the Bible has many roles for women, being a "co-pastor" is not one of them (see Women and the New Testament Church). So, that alone should send off warning signs to any who claim to get their doctrine from the Bible.

Furthermore, while God does promise to bless those that tithe (see Malachi 3:10; see also Tithing Questions and Some Answers), Brian and Bobbie Houston do not advocate biblical kingdom living. The do not understand the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Here is something that Brian Houston wrote about Hillsong on its "vision" page:

The church that I see is a global church. I see a global family: One house with many rooms, outworking a unified vision. I see a church apostolic in calling, and visionary in nature; committed to boldly impacting millions for Christ in significant cities and nations throughout the earth with the greatest of all causes – the Cause of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Brian Houston 2014 https://hillsong.com/vision/ accessed 02/20/19

His vision is both ecumenical and dangerously wrong.

Consider the following related to a professional basketball player who ended up being baptized by a Hillsong pastor:

Kevin Durant credits Pastor Carl Lentz of Hillsong New York City for teaching him that God is all about love, freeing his mind from the shackles of fear that once kept him in the dark spiritually.

In a recent interview with GQ magazine, the 27-year-old star forward of the Oklahoma City Thunder said he grew up in full fear of God and was raised to think that "If I do something wrong, I'm going to hell."

Then he bumped into Lentz, and his life was never the same again.

Before, "I felt like I had to follow the Ten Commandments," Durant said. But then Lentz taught him that "we don't live by that no more" and that "we live by the blood of Jesus," Charisma News quoted him as saying. ... Lentz even baptised Durant in 2013, an event witnessed by his grandmother and mother. (May 22, 2016. https://www.christiantoday.com/article/kevin-durant-says-hillsongs-carl-lentz-taught-him-god-is-all-about-love/86588.htm accessed 02/19/19)

Hillsong's church's "beliefs are Evangelical and Pentecostal" (Wikipedia, access 02/19/19), thus I do not believe that they know what the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is all about.

Notice also the following:

The False Gospel Of Hillsong ...

This post is not about grinding an axe or discussing the scandals of moral failures. Nor is it a discussion on the financial activities of Hillsong church, though there are those who contend that the economics are a by-product of a false gospel. What follows is my inititial correspondence with Hillsong in the attempt and hope that maybe we could engage in a productive discussion on the purity of the Gospel. So please read on with a heart for those who are lost and deceived, and a desire for the Gospel to thunder once more in pulpits around Australia.

To whom it may concern at Hillsong church,

I recently read through the CD liner notes of your "Hillsong Live - Mighty To Save" CD. In it I found an explanation on how to become a Christian.

Here is what it said:

Our prayer is that you would discover the Author of Love . . . Jesus. His life and death represent the greatest gift of love the world will ever see . . . a gift for you. All you need to do is accept it . . . a brand new start to a life lived in relationship with God. Meeting God is as simple as praying a prayer . . . asking Jesus to meet you right where you are. If you are not sure that you know God, and that you are going to heaven, then make this your prayer today . . .

Dear Lord Jesus

I need You . . . I need Your grace to forgive me and I need your love to change me. Thank You for your amazing love. Thank You for giving me life and eternity. But above all, thank you for dying on the cross for me.

I accept You as my Lord and Saviour. Now I'm a Christian, which means You live in me.

I belong to You. I will live my life for You and I will love You forever . . . Amen.


Now I am concerned about several things lacking in this presentation including Who God is, defining what sin is, that we must all be judged, and why Christ needed to die on the cross. These all give me great cause for concern with the gospel you are proclaiming. ...

Sincerely
Cameron Buettel

http://onceuponacross.blogspot.com/2010/01/false-gospel-of-hillsong-part-1-houston.html Posted in 2010, accessed 02/21/19

Yes, embracing lawlessness is part of the false gospel.

Notice also what Jesus said about people who thought they were doing the work of Christ:

21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Matthew 7:21-23).

Getting back to the song, Cameron Buettel cited, it did call Jesus "Lord," and had other issues. Heaven is one that comes to mind--and false doctrines are something to be concerned about when listening to much of the religious music from Protestants and Catholics.

Regarding heaven and music, that was a significant factor that got me to stop attending the Salem Bible Church in the 1970s. One of the last songs at their church services one day was about what we would do in heaven. After services, I called the pastor aside and said something to the effect, "Doesn't the Bible teach that the New Jerusalem will come down from heaven to the earth, so the lyrics in the song are wrong?" He agreed, but then said that people liked singing that song, so basically they would continue to do that. That was the last time I believe I attended that church.

Getting back to the founders of the church, Brian Houston and his wife:

His wife and co-pastor Bobbie published a tape set entitled Kingdom Women Love Sex, which doubtless was a top seller. (When I inquired about it at the Hills Christian Life Centre bookstore in October 2004, I learned that the name had been changed to “Kingdom Women Love & Value Their Sexuality.”) (Cloud D. Darlene Zschech and Contemporary Praise Music. March 26, 2002. https://www.wayoflife.org/database/darlene_zschech_and_praise.html accessed 02/19/19)

So, the above title was originally more risque, which was probably motivated by money and marketing. Some love money too much.

This also brought the following scripture to mind:

18 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. (2 Peter 2:18-19)

Music can be a lust of the flesh.

Anyway:

When asked by a Sydney Morning Herald reporter why the church is so successful, Brian Houston replied, “We are scratching people where they are itching” (“The Lord's Profits,” Sydney Morning Herald, January 30, 2003). That is right out of 2 Timothy 4:3, which is a warning of apostasy. (Cloud D. Darlene Zschech and Contemporary Praise Music. March 26, 2002. https://www.wayoflife.org/database/darlene_zschech_and_praise.html accessed 02/19/19)

So, let's go to 2 Timothy 4:

2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. (2 Timothy 4:2-4)

Well, one fable that many groups (and not just Hillsong) sing about has to do with Christmas. Now, although the warning in 2 Timothy 4 is directed at real Christians, understand that some who have at least affiliation with the truth have been tempted to follow those who touch their emotions, irrespective of the fact that their doctrines are not all truth.

Notice also the following warning:

9 That this is a rebellious people,
Lying children,
Children who will not hear the law of the Lord;
10 Who say to the seers, "Do not see,"
And to the prophets, "Do not prophesy to us right things;
Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.
11 Get out of the way,
Turn aside from the path,
Cause the Holy One of Israel
To cease from before us." (Isaiah 30:9-11)

Some do not want to hear about prophecy, but smooth things.

Yet the Bible also warns:

3 For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:3-7)

Here is something related to Hillsong in 2019, where Geoffrey Grider has taken exception to the Australia-based Hillsong Church:

Hillsong Church Affirms Full Pro-LGBTQ Position As They Hold Their One World Religion Alpha Conference Featuring A Roman Catholic Mass

February 15, 2019

This year, the Phoenix campus of Hillsong church hosted the apostate Alpha Conference — an ecumenical, emergent conference that seeks to unify all the various faiths under one umbrella — and it isn’t Biblical truth. According to the conference website, the event being hosted at Hillsong is featuring Mike Schmitz is a Catholic priest, author, and speaker in the Diocese of Duluth, MN who is ” the author of the Belonging study program and is the primary personality in Ascension Presents, weekly YouTube videos offering Catholic perspectives of cultural and societal issues.”

Hillsong Church is a hotbed for heresy–a celebrity-minded prosperity gospel Sunday morning entertainment venue where you can go to have your week’s fill of self-adulation with — by any discernible standard — no Biblical teaching or exhortation.

Hillsong Church has millions of followers …

February was quite the month for Hillsong Church. In the space of just two short weeks, they issued a formal statement affirming the LGBTQ, sponsored their ecumenical Alpha conference promoting a One World Religion, and had a priest hold a Roman Catholic mass. People attending this event were told that this false doctrine was “advancing the kingdom”. …

Most people know Hillsong through their swaths of ear-tickling music that’s poured out of their multiple campuses and celebrity bands throughout the world — a money-making machine for sure. Whether it be their sleazy rendition of Silent Night during Christmas, their posing of a nearly naked man on stage at a women’s conference, its cover-ups of pedophile pastors, having openly homosexual worship leadersdefending abortioncomplaining about the death penalty, or the fact that celebrities love them because they “don’t teach that book with Moses and stuff,” one thing is for sure, Hillsong is an outright dangerous threat to churches around the world. 02/15/19 https://www.nowtheendbegins.com/hillsong-church-affirms-full-pro-lgbtq-position-hold-one-world-religion-conference-featuring-a-roman-catholic-mass/

Before going further, I want to point out that Hillsong denies the pro-LGBTQ label–essentially they say they try to reach everyone while upholding “mainstream biblical values.”

But it seems to want to attain friendhsip with the world. James warned:

4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4)

However, Hillsong has had openly sexually immoral leaders they consider brethren. That goes against scripture:

9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner — not even to eat with such a person. (1 Corinthians 5:9-11)

Despite attempting to not criticize the LGBTQ community, that community has criticized Hillsong for not being willing to openly endorse things like same sex marriage (e.g. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ellen-page-chris-pratt-hillsong_us_5c5dcb1de4b0f9e1b17cf553).

Hillsong's ecumenical agenda is most certainly not “advancing the kingdom,” though it is advancing sins of this time which will result in the Great Tribulation, Day of the Lord, and then the return of Jesus and the establishment of the millennial portion of the Kingdom of God.

That being said, Hillsong Church is not the only Protestant group supporting the ecumenical agenda. But they are a voice that millions have heard and many have endorsed. Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN) has featured them in news and other programs for years.

Speaking of TBN, several years ago, my family got to visit its Holy Land Experience in Orlando Florida. One of my most vivid memories there was seeing various Catholic items, such as a collection of monstrances. A monstrance is an open or transparent receptacle in which the consecrated Host is exposed for veneration by Roman Catholics. That, and many other items in that ‘theme park’ certainly pushed the ecumenical theme.

Of course, Pope Francis, the World Council of Churches, and others are promoting an ecumenical and interfaith agenda that the Bible does not support.

And music is used to help promote it.

Jesus and the Apostle Paul Warned Against Improper Unity

Jesus DID NOT come so that the world would be ecumenically united in this age. Notice what He said:

34 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; 36 and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 10:34-39)

Religious leaders who profess Christ and the interfaith and ecumenical agendas clearly are overlooking what Jesus taught. He taught His people should be willing to stand alone, even among family members.

But shouldn't human beings try to get along with each other?

Yes. The Apostle Paul endorsed that:

18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18)

But the Apostle Paul warned about believers being yoked together with unbelievers, including idolaters:

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

"I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people."

17 Therefore

"Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you."
18 'I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty." (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

Now, that was a warning almost two thousand years ago, as it must have been a problem in the Apostle Paul's day or he would not have written about it.

Having been raised Roman Catholic, as well as having visited many Eastern Orthodox (Catholic) churches, I can testify that their places of worship are filled with idols.

Christians are to be separate from paganism. Those who accept the true God as their Father must realize that. Isaiah wrote:

11 Depart! Depart! Go out from there,
Touch no unclean thing;
Go out from the midst of her,
Be clean,
You who bear the vessels of the Lord. (Isaiah 52:11)

To depart means to separate. Notice that Isaiah's sentiments here are captured in the New Testament in Paul's writing (2 Corinthians 6:17) and the Book of Revelation (18:2-4).

Scripture does not endorse the type of coming ecumenical unity that ecumenical music promotes.

Some think that the ecumenical music must have divine blessing and/or possibly be angelic. Yet, the Apostle Paul warned:

6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. 11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. (Galatians 1:6-11)

While historically there have been a variety of false gospels, perhaps starting with Simon Magus (cf. Acts 8:5-25) and then the Gnostics, in the past few decades a new one has been pushed by various religious leaders who claim Christianity. Like other improper teachings, it is not entirely false.

The Apostle Paul aslo taught:

4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted — you may well put up with it! (2 Corinthians 11:4)

There are elements of truth in the lyrics of various religious songs, but the way the ecumenical movement is being pushed is a false gospel.

This ecumenical false gospel is one that does not involve real repentance towards God, living as Jesus did (it pushes a different Jesus), or embracing “the faith once delivered to the saints.” And it most certainly does not promote the truth about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Yet to many, the ecumenical movement seems to be the way to peace.

Twice the Bible warns:

There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25)

It will not lead to peace.

The ecumenical and interfaith movements will actually lead to the nations fighting against Jesus when He returns:

19 And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20 Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh. (Revelation 19:19-21)

That is where this is heading.

Am I saying that listening to any "Protestant/Catholic" music is going to make you fall away?

No.

But I do see music as a tool that the ecumenical movement has been using to push for the type of unity that the Bible warns against.

Biblical Music

In the Continuing Church of God, during church services, we primarily sing Pslams and other biblically-based songs.

Our songbook, The Bible Hymnal (which you can get from Amazon.com The Bible Hymnal or read online free at: http://www.ccog.org/bible-hymnal.pdf) consists primarily of Psalms and other songs that were part of the hymnal of the old Worldwide Church of God.

Over a decade ago, the January 31, 2003, issue of The Journal:News of the Churches of God, on page 22, contained a paid advertisement titled What Can We Learn From a Church Group's Selection of Hymns? The ad glosses over certain key points that I would like to address.

After being critical of the Church of God practice to attempt to distance itself from the Protestant practice of having a significant portion of songs addressed to Jesus, the ad states:

Of the 114 special songs by Dwight Armstrong appearing in the 1974 Hymnal, how many do you think contain the name Christ or Jesus? Do you think most of them, say, about 100? Surely at least half, say 57? Would you be surprised to learn that of all 114 songs, not one contains the name of our Savior.

There are two points glossed over here. The first is that in the entire Bible there are no songs/hymns/psalms that mention the name Jesus--thus I wonder if this ad intended as a criticism of the Bible (it is clearly intended as a criticism of the Church of God practice of singing Bible-based songs).

The second is that three of the songs Dwight Armstrong wrote, that are in the 1974 edition of The Bible Hymnal (otherwise referred to as the hymnal), do contain the term 'Christ' (see page numbers 54,120,121). Furthermore, terms such as "Lord"--which the New Testament oftens uses in reference to Jesus, and specific teachings of Christ are included in many of the hymns. Additionally, the hymnal contained songs written by others that do mention the name Jesus.

The ad asks:

How can a church be doing the work of God (according to John 6:29) if its very own 114 specially written hymns, hymns which are supposedly 'more scriptural' than the ones used by others, do not even contain the name Jesus Christ?

The author may wish to ask God why none of the psalmists, who wrote 150 psalms, were inspired to use the term 'Jesus Christ'.

Until that happens, I would suggest that the fact that 'Jesus Christ' is an Anglocized version of a Greek name and the psalms were written in Hebrew would be one factor.

Another fact is that the songs in the old WCG hymnal (which we in the Continuing Church of God sang from each week until getting a slightly updated/expanded replacement in late 2013) are more directly biblical than any hymnal from any non-Church of God group that I have ever seen.

The ad asks the question:

What should be the focus and center of a Bible-led, Christian church?

The obvious answer is that the Bible, the word of God, should.

So (as suggested by my son Michael) let's look at all the scriptures in the New Testament (NKJ) that use the term 'sing':

"And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, And sing to Your name' " (Romans 15:9).

This is a quote from Paul based on II Samuel 22:50; note that Paul is stating that Gentiles are to sing to God--Jesus' name is not mentioned.

"What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding" (I Corinthians 14:15).

Again no mention of Jesus. The latter half of this scripture is a quote from Psalm 47:7.

"Saying: 'I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You' " (Hebrews 2:12).

This is a quote from Paul of Psalm 22:22; it also does not mention Jesus' name.

"Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms" (James 5:13).

Psalms are what approximately 90% of the songs the 1974 WWCG hymnal are based on.

"They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: 'Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested' " (Revelation 15:3-4).

Note that the term 'Jesus Christ' is not mentioned in this particular song and the 'song of Moses' is believed to be from Exodus 15. Also, note that one song from D. Armstrong (on page 116 in the 1974 hymnal) is based on Exodus 15.

The Apostle Paul noted:

Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm (1 Corinthians 14:26).

Now who did Paul and Silas sing to? Acts 16:25 states,

"Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God."

Colossians 3:16 does mention the term 'Christ' and singing in the same verse (and is the only place in the Bible where that occurs) as it states,

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

Note that this verse does not indicate that it is necessary to sing the term 'Christ'.

Acts 13:33 is the only verse in the Bible that mentions the term 'Jesus' and 'Psalm'--but they are two separate statements, neither of which suggest using the term 'Jesus' in any psalm.

There are also several other New Testament scriptures that mention songs, psalms, and/or hymns (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26; Luke 20:42;24:44; Acts 13:35; Ephesians 5:19; Revelation 5:9;14:3;15:3), but none of them mention the term 'Jesus' or 'Christ' or 'Jesus Christ' in any of them.

After complaining none of the hymns in the 1974 edition contain the term 'Jesus Christ', the ad speculates:

Do we dare speculate? Could Herbert Armstrong's WWCG have been doomed from the beginning?

The ad implies WWCG was doomed from the beginning because of its hymnal not using the term 'Jesus Christ' in any of the songs. The answer to that speculation is, no this did not doom WWCG. For if that speculation were true, then the Bible would also have been doomed from the beginning since it does not use the term 'Jesus Christ' in any song.

The ad concludes with:

Give the only name under heaven whereby we must be saved more focus in worship services by singing most, not necessarily all, of the hymns about our Rock and Savior, Jesus the Christ.

The unnamed author of this ad is entitled to an opinion. But it is an opinion, and not a particularly biblically defendable one (perhaps it should be added that the term 'Rock' is applied to God or the Lord in the hymnal on pages 24,49,50,53,72,&117; and that "Lord" or "God" is used in almost every song).

Early Christianity

But what about early Church history? Is there are evidence outside the Bible that the early church primarily sung psalms?

The noted historian K.S. Latourette observed:

From a very early date, perhaps from the beginning, Christians employed in their services the psalms found in the Jewish Scriptures, the Christian Old Testament. Since the first Christians were predominantly Greek-speaking, these psalms were in a Greek translation. We hear of at least one form of service in which, after the reading from the Old Testament, the "hymns of David" were sung...Until the end of the fourth century, in the services of the Catholic Church only the Old Testament Psalms and the hymns or canticles from the New Testament were sung...Gradually there were prepared versical paraphrases (Latourette K.S. A History of Christianity, Volume 1: Beginnings to 1500. Harper Collins, San Francisco, 1975, pp. 206,207).

Because of fears of gnostic influence, Christians did not add outside poetic phrases or non-biblical lyrics until well after the second century (Ibid).

On the Roman date of 7 March 203, Tertullian records that while being prepared for martyrdom:

Perpetua sang psalms (Tertullian. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Here is a quote from a fourth century publication known as the Apostolic Constitutions :

Be not careless of yourselves, neither deprive your Saviour of His own members, neither divide His body nor disperse His members, neither prefer the occasions of this life to the word of God; but assemble yourselves together every day, morning and evening, singing psalms and praying in the Lord's house: in the morning saying the sixty-second Psalm, and in the evening the hundred and fortieth, but principally on the Sabbath-day.  And on the day of our Lord's resurrection, which is the Lord's day, meet more diligently, sending praise to God that made the universe by Jesus, and sent Him to us, and condescended to let Him suffer, and raised Him from the dead (Apostolic Constitutions (Book II, Chapter LIX).  Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight).

Isn't this astounding? Even in the Church that was ruled by Rome, psalms were mainly sang on the Sabbath. This is most likely due to the continuance of the practice that the early (before Rome increased its influence) church.

It appears likely that the Sunday practice of singing songs of praise to God ultimately led to the practice of shifting the primacy of psalm singing to praises towards Jesus in what we now consider to be the Protestant world (as they got Sunday from the Romans).

A recent book on early biblical and church practices states:

Modern New Testament scholarship is studying extensively the early church in its relationship to Judaism.  It is certainly without question that Judaism is Christianity's mother religion...

The Book of Psalms, as the temple hymnbook, continued to be used in Jewish congregations as well as Christian congregations (Roberts T.  From Sacral Kingship to Sacred Marriage: A Theological Analysis of Literary Borrowing.  Vantage Press.  New York, 2003, pp.138-139).

Hence evidence does support the idea that psalms were the main types of hymns that the early Christians sang on the Sabbath (as that is when the early Christians, did in fact meet--Sunday worship is not alluded to in any historical literature prior to the 2nd Century--and the first clear mention of Sunday worship was by Justin Martyr: A Saint, Heretic or Apostate?).

Singing is also part of God's Feasts:

1 Sing aloud to God our strength; Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob. 2 Raise a song and strike the timbrel, The pleasant harp with the lute. 3 Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon, At the full moon, on our solemn feast day. (Psalm 81:1-3)

4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast. (Psalm 42:4)

The Festival of Tabernacles is a 'pilgrim feast' (see also Christians are to Be Strangers and Pilgrims?) and singing pslams should be done then as well as on other Sabbaths and Holy Days.

Conclusion

Music can powerfully affect us. And it is fine to enjoy proper music.

Just because something claims to be "Christian" music, does not mean it is appropriate.

We all need to be careful that we will not be caught up in the ecumenical movement as it gains more and more influence and supporters. What is known as "Contemporary Christian Music" is often pushing the ecumenical agenda.

The ecumenical movement promotes a false gospel. The Bible does not endorse doctrinal compromise with those who are not of the true Christian faith.

As far as church music goes, Psalms were mainly traditionally sung by early and later followers of Christ.

In this article I believe I have directly quoted or referred to every scripture in the NKJ New Testament that mentions the term sing, singing, song, songs, psalm, psalms, hymn, or hymns--none use the term 'Jesus Christ.' Hopefully those citations will make this letter of assistance to the author of that ad.

Also, I have brought in some historical evidence that the early church did, in fact, primarily sing psalms on the Sabbath.

While it is also true that the Bible does not prohibit the use of the terms 'Jesus,' 'Christ,' or 'Jesus Christ' in songs, these terms are clearly not the emphasis of any songs in the Bible.

Perhaps God did not inspire songs to be written to or about the name of Jesus Christ because He wanted the focus of the true Church of God to be on the main messages of the Bible (such as Christ's Gospel of the Kingdom, love towards God and man, God's ways, etc.) and not just the person of Jesus Christ. That is what the true Church of God tries to do.

Many songs promoted by the ecumenically-oriented push a false message. Secular music often promotes false messages as well.

So, we need to be careful about what we want to listen to.

Here is a link to a related sermon: Music, Hillsong, and the False Gospel.

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Thiel B. The False Gospel of Ecumenical Music. COGwriter (c) 2019 http://www.cogwriter.com/false-gospel-music.htm 2019 0223