Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us. – Martin Luther
If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music. – Albert Einsten
Music can change the world because it can change people. – Bono
The Language of My Heart
Had you told me a year ago that I would be writing this post, I would have just laughed, and then turned up my worship music. I loved the music of Bethel, Jesus Culture, Hillsong and Elevation!
Music is, and always has been, the language of my heart. From life’s most joyous moments – to the very darkest moments – there has always been music. To say that “music is important to me” would be an understatement.
Music was actually my “gateway” into the New Age. I loved everything about the music! It was easy to surrender to. I could quickly reach altered states of consciousness by meditating through the music. It was spiritual, calming and euphoric!
And it is praise and worship – through song – that I feel most connected to God. I connect with Him through prayer and the reading of the Word, of course! But pouring my heart out, through music, has always been the most natural way of connecting, for me.
So, for years, I listened to – and worshiped God through – the music of Bethel and others who hold to New Apostolic Reformation (Modern Day Apostles and Prophets) doctrine. However, now that I have an understanding of what they truly believe, I no longer listen to them…and I no longer lift their music up to God, in worship.
An Honest Conversation
Last November, a friend, after reading a couple of posts about some concerns that I had about the “theology” of Bethel Church in Redding, CA, texted me and asked some questions concerning their music. This woman has a passionate heart for praise and worship (and a beautiful voice, I will add!), and I know that she wants to create music that is pleasing to God. For the last three months, as I have considered what I might write about no longer listening to the music of these bands…my mind always returned to the conversation we had through text, that day. So, that is what I am going to share, here. This is what she asked and how I responded:
Q: Hey Allison! I’ve been digging more into Bethel after seeing the videos you’ve posted in your last two blog posts and I was wondering if you think the music that’s coming out of them is being used to manipulate believers to strive for revival or really, just to manipulate believers in general.
A: Well, you just confirmed that I need to tackle the music issue (I was going back and forth on doing a post about it). Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do that until after Thanksgiving.
The EXTREMELY short answer is that Bethel accepts a different Jesus, a different spirit and a different gospel (and to be honest, it pains me greatly to have to say that). While I have issues with what is driving the motivation of the leadership, I don’t doubt the hearts of those who are writing the music. I believe the songs come from a genuine place. However, if our theology is not biblical, then how we view, and interact with (or even write songs to), God will not be biblically or theologically sound.
For example, I would not praise my God to Mormon worship songs because they, too, worship a different God and a different Jesus. I believe we need to become more discerning when it comes to praise and worship…to move beyond how it makes us feel (or what our itching ears want to hear) and to really scrutinize the theology of it. This, of course, requires us to be in the Word (in context!).
I do believe the leadership at Bethel is using the music to drive the “revival at any cost” movement. I believe Bill has even admitted as much. This is manipulation…whether the leadership realizes it, or not.
Music is powerful because it is so emotional. It was actually music that drew me to the New Age in the first place…which then led to my digging deeper into the beliefs and practices. I see the same thing happening, here.
We each need to take how we interact with their music, to God. But as for me, I have stopped listening to Bethel, Jesus Culture, Hillsong and Elevation. It’s not to say that all of the music is wrong or un-biblical or manipulative. But I want to be extremely discerning when it comes to what I am lifting up to God.
I hope that answers your question. If you have more questions, or need clarification on anything, let me know! I know this subject is very near and dear to your heart.
Q: Did you stop listening to all those groups because of the theology coming out of their houses?
A: Kind of.
I’ve been researching (and doing some writing about) the infiltration of new age beliefs and practices into the western church for a year, now. I’ve come to realize that many of our churches have embraced teachings that I can’t find in the Bible (when read in context and as Scripture is used to interpret Scripture). Some churches have even embraced beliefs and practices that God specifically told us NOT to follow. That theology crosses over into the music. Even when I did worship along with some of that music, I would occasionally get a check in my spirit, but because I was so emotionally invested, I just disregarded it. I’ve now learned too much to disregard it any longer. There have been certain songs, books, preachers, teachings, etc… that I have never felt right about, but couldn’t quite explain why. As I’ve been searching the Scriptures, along with some other research, I’m now understanding why I had those checks in my spirit.
I’m not saying that NONE of the songs coming out of those groups are theologically sound – some are probably fine. But because of the impact that I know music has on me, I don’t want to embrace any song that I haven’t taken the time to prayerfully and biblically consider.
Here is something to think about: most people listen to worship music far more than they read their Bibles. Today’s worship songs are well done, repetitive and catchy. Not only are many in the church getting their theology from the songs, but that theology is sticking in their heads far more than any Scripture that they might be reading. Why wouldn’t the enemy attempt to attack the music of the Church? That seems like a pretty easy “in” to change people’s perception of God.
Q: Who do you listen to for worship music now?
A: I have been revisiting hymns. I’m moving very slowly when it comes to worship songs/bands. I’m learning to look into the theology of it all, instead of just leaning on how it makes me feel.
And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. Leviticus 10:1 KJV
Aaron’s sons offered incense with “strange fire.” The word “strange” also means unauthorized or even profane. God found this offering so offensive that He consumed Aaron’s sons with fire – He killed them! Pause for a moment and think about that.
[Gotquestions.org has an article explaining the meaning of strange fire that I encourage you to read: What is the meaning of the strange fire in Leviticus 10:1? (click on title for article)]
When we sing praises to God, we are lifting up a sacrifice. That is sacred and holy. I don’t know about you, but if I am going to lift up an offering of praise to the Lord, I REALLY don’t want it to offend Him! And like I said in my text above, there were times I was singing – in church, on Sunday morning – that I had a hard check in my spirit, and felt like what I was singing wasn’t sound theologically, but I did it, anyway.
And with a broken heart, I repent.
TRUTH is TRUTH, whether we agree with it, or not. And sometimes TRUTH is hard. Sometimes it demands a sacrifice.
I recently watched a video of a sermon called: “Why Our Church No Longer Plays Bethel Or Hillsong Music” It is a truth bomb, for sure! But instead of just beating up on Bethel and Hillsong, he lays down a solid foundation of Biblical truth. It’s a message that I think I will point to when people want to understand why listening to music that grows out of false theology is dangerous. This is Pastor David Henneke from First Baptist Church Kingsland. (Grab your Bible for this one!)
I am also including the testimony of Lindsay Davis. She attended the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM), and was kicked out after she began sharing the Gospel and challenging the unbiblical beliefs of the leadership, there.
She covers a number of subjects, including the music. I include this video because it gives a broader picture of their beliefs and practices, as well as, how some of those beliefs and practices are New Age at their core.
Please take the time to watch the videos. They contain so much more information than what I can possibly write, here.
TRUTH, In Love
I hope it is understood that I do not share this post from any place other than love. My heart hurts for those blind to the deception that has made its way into the Church…deception that is being exported to the Church, worldwide – through things like music, books, false biblical “translations,” etc… And we receive it all with open arms! I know I certainly did!
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 NIV
I do not question the passion and sincerity of those who are creating the music…just like I don’t question the passion and sincerity of those who are Mormon, JW, Scientologists, etc… But we can be passionately and sincerely WRONG if our theology does not line up with what is written in the Word of God (in CONTEXT).
I do long for revival! I would LOVE to see the masses fall on their knees in complete surrender to God! I would love for the depths of their depravity to be revealed to them, causing them to fully repent – turning from their sin and turning to the One who took on our sin and paid the debt that we owed!!
But I will not sacrifice TRUTH on the altar of “revival.” I will not lift up revival as an idol. If revival comes, it will be a move of the Holy Spirit and not a “movement” from us…no matter how much we command God to do our will.
My prayer for the Church is that we would be more discerning. That we would test the spirits. That we would ask the Holy Spirit if what we offer up to God as a sacrifice of praise and worship is pleasing to Him or if it is, indeed, strange fire. And I pray that we would always be ready to repent when correction comes.
As always, please take what I have shared, here, to the Lord, in prayer.
I will close with a question and a story…
ARE WE EATING POO BROWNIES?!
The family rule was no PG-13 or R-rated movies, yet the three teenage children wanted desperately to see the newest release which was a hit with their peers. In an effort to convince their father to let them see this blockbuster, they set up a list of pros and cons. They researched and found that there were only three bad words, no explicit sex (though some implied), and the only violence was a building exploding which could be seen on TV. These teens noted that all their friends had seen it; that the movie had a great plot-line; that Hollywood’s finest actors were in it; that people at church said it wasn’t “very bad;” and that it would probably win many awards.
Their father asked to have time to think about it, and the following day, he had his reply. Calling in his teens, the father said that they could go to the movie if they would eat a brownie from the plate that he had set on the coffee table; yet he warned them that like the movie the brownies had pros and cons. The pros were that they were made with the finest chocolate and other good ingredients. They had the added special effect of yummy walnuts in them. The brownies were moist and fresh with wonderful chocolate frosting on top. He had made these fantastic brownies using an award-winning recipe. And best of all, the brownies had been made lovingly by the hand of their own father.
The brownies only had one con. The father had included a little bit of a special ingredient. The brownies also contained just a little bit of dog poop. But he had mixed the dough well he assured them, so they probably would not even be able to taste the dog poop, and he had baked it at 350 degrees so any bacteria or germs from the dog poop had probably been destroyed.
Therefore, if any of his children could stand to eat the brownies which included just a “little bit of crap” and not be effected by it, then he knew they would also be able to see the movie with “just a little bit of smut” and not be affected.
What does this story have to do with what I have been talking about? Where the story talks about the rated PG-13 movie, just replace it with “popular” worship music that has been written with just a little bad theology in it. Not only should we not be consuming it…but we certainly should not be lifting it up to GOD who, make no mistake, knows exactly what the ingredients are.