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Kari Jobe, Hillsong, Bethel Music Steeped in Pagan Idolatry

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There was something peculiar about the old hymns that churches would embrace and sing together on Sunday mornings. For the most part, they were rich in doctrine — they actually communicated something to the congregation. They were exegetical, they told us who God is and about what He has done. It was in response to this rich theology and the knowledge of God that the congregation responded in praise and worship.

It was reverent and orderly — it was not a chaotic mess. That is, until, the charismatic movement began to grow. The charismatic movement has influenced the worship in the vast majority of churches in the world today. Charismatic worship focuses much less on biblical doctrine and much more on garnering an emotional response from the worshiper.

Charismatic worship music draws its foundations from the modern culture — and that culture is a mixture of Western technological advances in music coupled with Eastern mysticism. That is, through modern musical styles, often an emotional trance-like state can be achieved through repetitive beats and choruses. With a lack of concern for the words itself, in a sense, one is “under the influence” of the music, increasing suggestibility.

This is one of the hallmarks of the charismatic movement. Their focus is much more on the Holy Spirit — what they believe to be the Holy Spirit — than it is on sound doctrine. Consider what one of the pioneers of modern charismatic worship, Jack Hayford, states in his bookWorship His Majesty,

There is an unholy propensity in human nature to secure itself in history rather than open itself to simplicity–the simple touch of God, the summoning voice of the Spirit. Just as with the Reformation, ecclesiastical and theological resistance sustains its posturing against the new, the fresh and the childlike. The effort to “keep control” breeds the forging of new instruments of doctrinaire domination over the church…

The idea is that doctrine enslaves people to an inferior form of worship and does not allow one to “experience” the Holy Spirit through their emotions. In the same chapter, Hayford, writing about the effects of the Protestant Reformation says, “the shackles of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual slavery were cast aside and a renaissance of learning and social advancement was realized.” Of course, that isn’t exactly true. It is true that Christians were set free from the spiritual bondage of the Roman Catholic Church, which is a false church filled with false doctrine. However, as the New Testament teaches, being set free from the bondage of corruption actually enslaves us to Christ Himself, which, in turn, enslaves us to good doctrine. Hayford, however, continues, “I believe a new Reformation in worship will accomplish the same thing.”

The “Reformation in worship” to which Hayford points is the watered-down charismatic emotionally-driven worship we see in our churches today. When you walk into any modern Evangelical church, the airwaves are filled with the sounds of electric guitars, drums, and a multitude of instrumental riffs that tickle the ears of hundreds, even thousands of people who stand with their hands in the air swaying back and forth. Sadly, for the most part, it isn’t God that they are worshiping, but the music. Often there is no choir, and often, the music is led by one lead singer. The focus is often on that lead singer and rather than congregational, reverent worship, it’s an entertainment show that is designed to garner an emotional state to prepare one to hear and receive whatever it is the pastor, who follows the worship service, has to say. It’s, for lack of a better way of putting it, hypnosis.

And this is exactly how the Eastern mystics have worked throughout the ages, and now repackaged with a modern snare into the New-Age movement. Entrance your audience, indoctrinate them into your religion through seduction, and keep them through their emotions. The charismatic worship movement is simply New-Age mysticism enveloped with a veneer of Christianity.

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Wayne Thomas

I believe you are correct in some of your observations, here. However, I believe you're critique of modern worship is using too broad a stroke. For instance, room must be given for modern instruments and emotional involvement in worship, so long as those things adhere to scriptural instruction or example, and as long as the the pastor is rightly dividing the Word of Truth. Any worship that sets up the delivery of the Prosperity Gospel, for example, cannot be tolerated. But emotions are involved in genuine worship. Also, I loathe the fact that the "charismatic movement" has hijacked the term… Read more »

Harry

I agree with you Wayne. The problem is Satan is more subtle than we give him credit. He weaves the good in with the bad much like the wheat with the tares, so the issue is the intent behind the program. I prefer the older hymns but there is room for newer music if the message behind it is sound. The only thing that does not change is God.

David Franklin

I'm very recently born-again, after 37 years of life, most of them being "Christian". And I sharply disagree that being enslaved to Jesus leads us to be enslaved to good doctrine. That is Pharisaism disguised as Christianity, and I know an entire "church" like that. The doctrine we need is that we are sinners in desperate need of a saviour, and there is only ONE Saviour: Jesus. I'm am no less a sinner than I was. I will remain a sinner to the day I die. If I lose that identity, I lose my need for a Saviour. Then I… Read more »

Greg

Your own point about pharisaic churches is true and well taken, but I believe you missed Jeff’s point.

jeff shull

The Pharisees were not enslaved to God. They had meshed with Roman Culture and they were enslaved to the law, who no one could follow totally. I agree that if you are enslaved to Christ that will lead us to want to follow good doctrine. The trouble comes when we see churches reinvent how you come to know Christ. Too many make Coming to Christ replete with rules and situations you must master before knowing him. That then is heresy and if you sit under that kind of church with this false salvation then yes you are following bad doctrine.… Read more »

Paul

I agree with the overall thrust of the post. There is a difference in being relevant and effective but conversely being so ‘woke’ that music overrides the message and even becomes the message. It is devious to attempt to ‘Christianize’ music to mimic the style of unbelievers’ entertainment where drowning out the often monotonous lyrics with blaring noise should not be confused with the joyful noise cited by Scripture. In fact, some of the singers I’ve heard on TV & radio may be sincere but their effort to imitate current trends looks like a cheap knockoff of worldly fashion &… Read more »

Robert Quattlebaum

I agree with you Paul, worldly attractiveness and modern worship, which much of it lacks any doctrine whatsoever, is an appeal to our flesh. I previously, used to think this way. It’s an American and consumeristic mode of worship that often, is emphasized to illicit an emotional response

Hugh McCann

What of the “good guys” ~ Tomlin, Redman, Townend, or even the vaunted Gettys?

Paul

Not familiar with these folks and God forbid we pass judgment on any individuals which God may use in spite of themselves. What we’re referring to is behavior, style, and outreach methods getting too close to the fire of worldliness. The church is better than performance art gone a muck for ‘wokeness’.

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