POPULAR CHRISTIAN MUSIC IN Our Churches:
Who Are These Bands and What Do They Believe?
Remember the days when there used to be a book on the back of the pews called a hymnal? That is a book that contains songs that are rich in theology and were sung for generations throughout the church. A book that tied many generations together as we sang the same songs, bringing to life the Psalms of the Bible to worship God. But today those books and those songs have been replaced with colorful lights, smoke, and glitter. In fact, nowadays most kids would not have a clue as to what a hymnal is or know any of the songs that are in them. It is a new fad that has gripped the evangelical church where worship now looks more like a rock concert. The songs of famous “Christian” rock bands like Jesus Culture, Bethel Music, and Hillsong are played in many churches across America giving churchgoers a new experience.
This article is not so much about the songs themselves or the manner in which most churches perform these songs, but about the bands that write these songs. What are their beliefs and who do they represent?
Let’s take a look at Jesus Culture and Bethel Music. Both are part of a church named Bethel Church in Redding, California. This church is pastored by Bill Johnson and is a part of a movement called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). In this movement, Bill Johnson tells his congregation that he has visions from God and can perform signs and wonders such as healing the sick. He teaches that we cannot fully understand or grasp what the scriptures have to say, that we must be willing to leave scripture and follow the Holy Spirit who gives us “visions” to see what God has to say. This is alarming to Christians who hold to the basic principle of Sola Scriptura, that the Bible is the only source from which God reveals himself to us. Bill Johnson also believes that Jesus was not God, that Jesus was only able to perform signs and wonders himself just because he was in a right relationship with God. In fact, Mr. Johnson believes that if Jesus were God it would only mean that we ourselves would not be able to attain such abilities as healing and having visions as he apparently does. This pastor of Bethel Church also teaches his congregation that Jesus was born again. As we have seen with so many false teachers and heretical churches, when we start to leave the word of God as our foundation, many people are led astray. What this church and many other churches do is base their theology off of their experiences rather than what the Bible says. This makes it easy for them to “create an environment” with their music that stirs up emotions and puts people in a state in which they believe that what is being felt is genuine and from God. This strategy enables people like Bill Johnson to say and do anything as a so-called “prophet” without being questioned. They are coercing their audience into having an out of body experience using music and a rock concert rather than preaching from the word of God. Convincing individuals that we to can have power just as Jesus did. To glorify ourselves and lessen the deity of Christ.
There are other concerning things going on with this church, such as people convulsing and laughing on the floor after services. They claim they are high on the Holy Spirit as if it is a drug. They also participate in and teach “grave sucking” of the dead who were “anointed”. This is where they claim that people can soak in the Holy Spirit left behind by dead Christians. Their church services have included feathers, bubbles, and gold dust (referred to as a “glory cloud”) falling from the rafters that signal to their congregation that God is present.
Both Jesus Culture and Bethel Music are “outreach ministries” from Bethel Church. Jesus Culture refers to themselves as not just a band, but a movement, drawing millions of Christians in using their songs and concerts. They even bring in the message of Bill Johnson and the beliefs of Bethel Church during the middle of their concerts.
Many would ask, “So what?” or “What’s the big deal?” The problem comes when a church whose doctrine is completely rooted in scripture wants to use these songs during worship. Many churches pay for a CCLI, which in turn pays royalties to the bands. These royalties help to enable and support the spreading of their message – a message that God’s word is not sufficient and that they have the “New Vision” spawned by their pastor Bill Johnson. When people are drawn to the music of these bands, you risk them also being drawn into the messages of these churches that back these bands.
So here are a couple of questions to all worship team leaders: are we setting a bad example for our congregation when we play music written and performed by bands from heretical churches? If we don’t want our pastors quoting heretical teachers, then should we be supporting the music of bands that come from heretical churches?
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Article by: Bryan Braddy