The crowd assembles and the lights are lowered. A spotlight illuminates the stage as a group of people emerge, dressed in colorful and striking costumes, smiling and waving at the audience.Music is then piped through large speakers, set on each side of the stage and a bank of stage lighting is trained on the group, as they sing and play instruments.
The singers are polished with movements and sounds calculated to entertain and stimulate their audience. The songs are easily sung by all and arranged so as to draw the audience into the experience created by the production.
Is this a Rock Concert? A Musical-Variety Show? No. It’s a Christian Music Concert, being performed by Top-Tier ‘Christian Musical Artists,’ who have capitalized on their audience’s desire and propensity for stimulating music and productions. They have thousands of dollars worth of equipment and lighting, costumes, make-up, managers and publicists, all focused on bringing people to Christ, though music?
Not Really! They, like their secular brothers and sisters, are doing it for money and fame. They look the same; sound the same; act the same. They receive Awards and are inducted Into The Christian Music Hall of Fame. Almost every genre of music is represented, from Inspirational and Adult Contemporary, to Southern Gospel and Heavy Metal Rock. All of it Christian!
Not all Gospel singers / musicians are oriented this way. There are still those who are serious about honoring God and bringing people to Christ. It’s the tools they use and the spirit in which the do it that matters. However, if they are using the contemporary Praise Tunes or borrowing from the world, it is ‘wood – hay — and stubble.’
What’s going on? What’s going on is The Church has changed! It changed when the music changed. When Christian music no longer drew the listener upward. When the music began to focus the listener inward. Spirituality began to be defined in terms of how I felt about God and what was going on, rather than by what The Bible says. When liberties began to be taken with the Word of God, in order to create a clever rhyme or emotional response.
Preachers had been doing this sort of thing for a decade or more, before the music changed. During that time, the doctrines and techniques they used were mocked and condemned. But, with music, it was different. Now, the message and the theatrics were accepted and embraced, not because they were Right and True, but because of how they made people feel.
With the music, everything about ‘church’ changed! Everything about Christianity changed! Without realizing it, Christians had been encouraged to abandon the ordinary and time-honored hermeneutic in favor of poetry and gimmicks. We could sing of things we would never preach! We could have a musical love-affair with God or with the Holy Spirit, in ways no preacher ever could.
With this, the ‘Walls’ came down! The walls between the spiritual and the demonic, the holy and the profane, the divine and the worldly crumbled before the sights and sounds of this new revolution, called Gospel Music. The high and lofty sounds and lyrics of the great Hymns of The Faith, gave way to the secular, toe-tapping, body-swaying, sensual rhythms and lyrics of the world.
At the fore-front of this attack was Contemporary Praise Music, largely produced by Hillsong, a church and, later, global publishing company in Australia. They began with soft-sounding Praise Music that incorporated the counter-rhythms of the 1950’s Rock and Roll, only in a softer way. A form of music that influenced an entire generation toward rebellion against anything “old.”
This music did the same for religion, influencing a generation to reject their parent’s form of worship and give themselves over to spiritual feelings and freedom. It wasn’t what the songs taught, but how they made people feel, that mattered. Eventually the teachings could be overtly heretical and no one would notice.
Eventually “America’s Pastor,” Rick Warren could sing a Jimi Hendrix song, in a baseball stadium filled with people, gathered to launch his P.E.A.C.E. program, in 2005. He sang a drug-drenched song, entitled: Purple Haze, [about marijuana] accompanied by his church’s Praise & worship band without anyone walking out.
Purple haze, all in my brain — Lately things they don’t seem the same
Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why — Excuse me while I kiss the sky
Purple haze, all around — Don’t know if I’m comin’ up or down
Am I happy or in misery? — What ever it is, that girl put a spell on me
Purple haze all in my eyes — Don’t know if it’s day or night
You got me blowin’, blowin’ my mind — Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?
You tell me what this has to do with a Program to reach the world for Christ? But, he said, “I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.”
Hendrix said of the rock rhythms: “It releases a certain thing inside a person, so the singer / musician can put anything he / she wants right inside…” [Book: Hendrix, Voodoo Child of The Aquarian Age, by David Henderson pg 356]
Rock musicians know and understand the power of their music. It is Christians who misunder-estimate it and mock those who warn them. Hendrix said music preached to the unconscious, through the rhythms, not the words. “It happened when people were at their weakest. A condition he and other Rock musicians could induce by repeating the chords and/or lyrics for 3 or 4 or even 5 minutes, “if you could stand it.” It was then, Hendrix said, you could put anything you wanted right inside that person. “That’s why music is magic.”
When Warren completed his ode to Hendrix, he said: “I’ve wanted to do that for a very long time.” What ‘spirit’ is that?
Millions of young people and older people are hooked on Praise and Worship Music. Not because of the power of the lyrics…but because of the power of the rhythms…without ever realizing what they are doing, or what these rhythms are doing, or where they come from.
In America, Contemporary churches are growing in number and influence, while non-contemporary churches are dying. A recent study revealed the ratio to be 80& vs 20%: contemporary to traditional. Not all traditional churches are biblically-sound churches. This means the churches that stand for the Word of God and against contemporary music forms represents a significantly smaller percentage of the whole.
This is what Jesus meant, when He said, “…when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the Earth?” [Lk 18:8].
He meant real faith will be a rare commodity on the Earth. Praise and Worship will be flourishing. Contemporary worship forms will be flourishing. Apostate religious forms will be flourishing. The Real Thing will be in short-supply, even to the extent that it will largely unknown to the majority of folks.
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