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 book, Worship 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.