Analyzing Lancaster Baptist Church's Music
Of course, they didn’t thank me for bringing the issue out in the open so that it had to be faced.
But the sad fact is that nothing of substance has changed even after the matter has been aired and discussed. Lancaster has come down solidly on the side of messing around with contemporary worship music and justifying it. They think they can play with fire and not get burned. They think that they can tame the cobra of contemporary worship.
They are encouraged in this by their friends at Majesty Music. Many selections from contemporary worship artists, such as Keith and Kristyn Getty, are included in Majesty Music’s latest hymnal.
That nothing has changed is evident by the March 27, 2012, YouTube posting of a Lancaster group performing “Glorify You Alone” by Gateway Worship and by the use of “Step by Step” by Rich Mullins at the Lancaster Youth Conference 2012, which was “sung and sung in an extended manner.”
Gateway Worship and Rich Mullins are radically ecumenical and are bridges to the one-world “church.” Mullins was on the verge of converting to the Roman Catholic Church when he was killed in a car crash. (See the Directory of Contemporary Worship Musicians, which is a free eBook at the Way of Life web site, for extensive documentation.)
In our new video presentation, The Foreign Spirit of Contemporary Worship Music, we offer documentation of the frightful fact that contemporary worship represents “another spirit.” There is no question about this, and Gateway Worship, led by Thomas Miller, is a prime example. Gateway Worship is the praise team at Gateway Church, a charismatic megachurch in Southlake, Texas. Miller and the other members of the worship team graduated from the charismatic Christ for the Nations Institute. Gateway’s objective is to use their powerful rock music to bring hearers into a “sense and experience [of] God’s presence” (gatewaypeople.com). This is pure mysticism created by sensual music (composed of dance rhythms, non-resolving chord sequences, the dramatic rise and fall of the sound, repetition, sensual vocal styles, and electronic distortion). If you remove the music, you remove the “experience.” Gateway Church holds heresies such as the continuation of sign gifts, prophesying, and end-time apostles. They are using music to build the one-world church through their heresy that ecumenical unity pleases God. Recent speakers at Gateway include some of the most heretical voices in the charismatic latter rain movement. These include James Goll and his “revelatory teaching” (Feb. 8, 2012), “prophet” and “apostle” Dennis Cramer (March 31, 2012), and Jaye Thomas and Corey Russell of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, part of the New Apostolic Reformation movement (April 21, 2012). Cramer, for example, operates a “School of Prophecy,” promising, “When I’m through with you you’ll be prophesying over everything that moves” (“Level One Prophetic School,” YouTube, Jan. 6, 2007). If that isn’t enough, that Gateway Worship is following “another spirit” is proven conclusively by their acceptance of “The Shack” and its cool, non-judgmental male/female god. On January 12, 2012, The Shack’s author, William Paul Young, spoke at Gateway’s Father’s Heart Seminar. Why would a Bible-believing church like Lancaster want anything whatsoever to do with music written by people like this?????? Why do they continue to use and to justify it and criticize people like me who warn about it? Their poor example is influencing large numbers of people, and they will not be able to undo the spiritual damage they are causing. (For a “mash-up” of Lancaster Baptist and Gateway’s performances of “Glorify You Alone” see http://vimeo.com/39451317)
Many fundamentalist and Independent Baptist churches are “adapting” Contemporary Christian Music by selecting songs with some sort of a biblical message and toning down the rhythm, dropping the drums and bass guitar, and such. They are trying to take the rock out of Christian rock.
In this report we will analyze three examples of this as performed in 2011 at Lancaster Baptist Church in Lancaster, California, home of West Coast Baptist College. As one of the largest and most influential Independent Baptist churches and schools, Lancaster has been leading the way in the adaptation of CCM for many years, and this influence has spread to churches in many parts of the world.
In these clips we compare the Independent Baptist “adapted” editions of CCM intercut with the “real stuff” performed by the original CCM groups. (Please note, these clips change back and forth between the CCM artists and the music recorded in the church, though in some instances, they are so close in sound and feel it may be hard to tell which is which.)
WEST COAST PERFORMING “PRAYER FOR A FRIEND” BY CASTING CROWNS
In reality, this piece as performed by Lancaster Baptist is pure CCM. It has the seductive soft rock rhythm, the sensual scooping and sliding voice technique, the cameras panning and highlighting the musicians, the non-resolving cadence, the shallow, non-convicting message, and the repetition (the full song goes on much longer than this clip).
In addition, the sound and feel of the song are melancholy and sentimental with the lyrics mostly referencing the helplessness of man. Sad songs have never been part of the musical vocabulary of traditional Christian music. Compare “Prayer for a Friend” with “It Is Well with My Soul.” The music affirms the greatness of God over all heartaches and difficulties. At the end of “Prayer for a Friend” you are left with the feeling that things are probably not going to turn out well for the friend. At the end of “It Is Well With My Soul” you know where all our hopes and longings will be met -- in God.
We put a couple seconds of Casting Crowns rocking out at the end as a reminder that these CCM groups don’t mess around much with “soft rock.” They are all full-out rock & rollers.
I asked Pastor Graham West of Tamworth Bible Baptist Church in Australia and director of Music Education Ministries to comment on this number. He has a background in writing and recording pop music and he understands the rhythm of pop music as well as anyone I know.
“This is piece is loaded with Beat Anticipation. [As he explains in his video presentation The Rhythm of Rock, Beat Anticipation is a type of syncopation that falls at the end of a phrase and is unresolved; it is as much a major element of rock as the backbeat.] Eight of the 10 phrases of the piece end in Beat Anticipation.
“Taken together with the other forms of syncopation we have a very common contemporary style in which the basis of the rock feel is achieved by the Beat Anticipation, and the other forms of syncopation simply take on board that rock feel because it is used within a context of the more dominating forms.
“Music exhibiting this kind of highly syncopated rhythmic patterns will always promote sensual body movements. Too many studies by people on both sides of the issue have been done to deny this. The compulsion to move the body when this kind of music is played is very great.
“It appears that the vocalists in this example have successfully suppressed sensual body movements, which may be due either to a keen awareness of their being inappropriate or coaching. In my opinion this is dangerous spiritually because it masks the true spiritual nature of the music. If the body tends to move sensually [to a piece of music], the answer is not to suppress the movement, but to reject the music.
“If we accept that music is not neutral in its spiritual direction, then we dare not turn our backs on the warnings of so many godly men of the past and the testimony of so many wicked musicians that it is the rhythm above all other features of contemporary music that promotes rebellion and sensuality.
“The essential spiritual character of fleshly music does not change if we dress nicely, or suppress sensual bodily movements, nor if we play on classical instruments, nor if we do it sincerely as an offering to God, nor if we do it with all our hearts, nor if the words are Biblical and edifying (in this case they are quite shallow).
“These are outward trimmings and do not change the spiritual character of the music itself and the consequences of that character will inevitably surface. ‘Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?’ (Prov. 6:27-28).
“In my opinion, West Coast is heading in the wrong direction musically and has been for some time and if it continues in this direction it will pay a high price for not listening to the musicians, the prophets, the men of God who have been warning God’s people about these things for 20 and 30 years” (Graham West, e-mail to D. Cloud dated March 5, 2011).
WEST COAST PERFORMING “STRONGER” BY HILLSONG AND DARLENE ZSCHECH
The rhythm is exactly the same in both pieces (the adapted and the “real stuff). This is rock. It’s a rock ballad. The only difference is that the original Hillsong edition emphasizes the rhythm with drums and guitars because they know what they are doing; they know their objective; and they know what to do with rock music.
If you listen carefully to the piano in the Lancaster version, you will see that it mimics the exact rhythm that the drummer is keeping in the Hillsong version. The piano, which is a percussion instrument, is taking the place of the drum.
WEST COAST PERFORMING “WORD OF GOD SPEAK” BY MERCYME
Again, this is rock & roll, pure and simple. It is rock & roll rhythm and rock & roll chording.
And consider the lyrics of “Word of God Speak”:
“Word of God speak, would you pour down like rain, washing my eyes to see your majesty. To be still and know that you’re in this place, please let me stay and rest in your holiness. ... Finding myself in the midst of you, beyond the music, beyond the noise. All that I need is to be with you and in the quiet I hear your voice.”
The “Word of God” here is not the Bible; it is a mystical feeling, a direct revelation. It is found in the “quiet,” “beyond the noise.” It is an experience of the “presence” of God. It is the same thing that is taught by the Contemplative Prayer movement that was borrowed from Rome’s dark monastic past and that is currently sweeping through evangelicalism.
This “open yourself to the flow of the Spirit” has led to all sorts of unscriptural doctrines and practices. It is this type of mysticism that led CCM song writer Jack Hayford, author of “Majesty,” to say that while he was driving past a Catholic church God told him not to criticize it and he has heeded that “voice.”
It is the same mysticism that convinces charismatics that they are communing with God through “tongues” even though it is nothing but ecstatic gibberish.
Or that they are “basking in the Spirit of God” when they are knocked to the floor.
That a CCM song should promote charismatic mysticism should come as no surprise to an informed Bible believer, because CCM has always been charismatic music to a large degree. That’s what it is all about. That’s why Jerry Huffman, editor of Calvary Contender, observed decades ago that CCM could be called Contemporary Charismatic Music.
THE NON-RESOLVING CHORD STRUCTURE IN CCM
Pastor Tim Kelly of Lewiston, Maine [firstname.lastname@example.org], who has taught music theory for almost 25 years and was previously deeply involved in the pop, rock, new country rock, rap, R&B music culture, made the following observation about the chord structure of these contemporary worship songs:
“The emphasis is on the IV chord. The major cadence points are ending on a IV chord. The V chord is always called the dominant chord in music, but in CCM it is avoided as often as possible. When you have the chord progression of I-V-IV, that is not a cadence. It doesn’t resolve. Praise and worship music takes a progression like this and repeats it over and over and over. This unresolved progression repeated so much is hypnotic. It is like a drug. You don’t even need a rhythm.
“I have taught music theory for nearly 25 years, and I have always told my students, even when I was unsaved, that our Western music always ends V chord to the I chord. Every song will end with this ‘authentic’ cadence. I would tell them that only on rare occasions would it not. In Western music the major chords of a major key are the I, IV, and V. The I chord and the V chords are used more often by far than the IV. Of the three, the IV chord is by far the weakest one, yet in these songs, the pivotal chord seems to be the IV. They don’t stay away from it very long. And they keep trying to cadence on it, whether it is I to IV, or V to IV. Again, these are not even recognized as cadences in any textbook I have ever seen, and I have seen the major ones. Also, in all these songs there is a constant use of suspended chords which never resolve. For instance, they use a chord made up of C, D, and G to replace the C chord which is C, E, and G. The D is a non-harmonic tone needing to resolve, but it never does.
“You can use exceptions (breaking of the rules) and make them work well, but only for ‘effect.’ This shouldn’t be done all of the time as a style.
“Listen to this excerpt from Music in Theory and Practice, a university text book: ‘Undoubtedly the most common and the strongest of all harmonic progressions is the circle progression -- chord roots in a descending perfect fifth (P5) pattern. This progression has the capability, more than any other, to determine a tonality, to GIVE DIRECTION AND THRUST, and to PROVIDE ORDER in a section or phrase of music. It is indeed the basis of all harmonic progression’ (Bruce Benward, Music in Theory and Practice, third edition, vol. 1, p. 139).
“Now listen to what it says about the opposite movement, the ascending 5th progression like the IV to I. ‘Compared to the pattern of descending P5s, the ascending P5s (chord progression) tend to create a feeling of TENSION and INSTABILITY as the progression moves away from the tonic [key name]’ (Ibid., p. 140).
“CCM is full of these weak progressions, which the historic music experts claim create tension and break down structure.
“This creates the oozy, feely, non-structured kind of mood, and the reason is that these type of progressions (going to the IV chord) are supposed to resolve to some cadence. But these seldom resolve, leaving a wispy mood. It is abstract, no structure. It takes away from the absolutes. It is very nebulous. It reflects an anti-God type of philosophy.
“Ending on the IV chord creates a purely emotional experience which many cults use to open up the human soul, like a drug or drum rhythm. New Age, witchcraft, Celtic pagan worship, meditative contemplative worship, charismatic, etc., all use weak chord progressions to create an emotional experience to ‘open up the human soul to the spirit world.’ It is about a mystical experience.
“It is pure emotion without the intellectual governing factor. Our emotions, feelings and experiences should always be governed by God’s Word, truth, facts, knowledge. God’s love never steps outside the bounds of His righteousness. This same philosophy needs to permeate every aspect of our lives, or else we see the consequences: fleshly, carnal.
“I am seeing that this IV chord to the I chord is a major part of contemporary Christian music. I never realized before just how unstructured, chord-wise, it is” (Tim Kelly, email@example.com).
If the leaders of Lancaster Baptist and West Coast and the churches that are following their example think that they can use this type of music and keep the people from listening to the “real stuff,” they are deceived. The real CCM is just too powerful, too enticing, too exciting.
By “adapting” CCM they are creating a bridge to the ecumenical-charismatic world that many people will most definitely cross and the influence will be dramatic. And the influence will gradually permeate the entire church and change its fundamental character.
Every independent Baptist church that doesn’t take this matter seriously and doesn’t educate itself seriously and doesn’t take a strict stand will be well down the emerging road within a decade.
Contemporary music is that powerful and it is that much at the heart of end-times apostasy.
Pastors must face this issue and make the effort to educate both themselves and the people. To leave it up to a music director is to abdicate responsibility. Materials are available. You don’t have to pursue a master’s degree in sacred music to understand this issue at a fundamental level. We suggest our new video presentation “Music for Good or Evil” which is the product of nearly 40 years of experience and research into this subject.
We must establish godly standards of music and be CONSISTENT!
To condemn “CCM” and use contemporary Southern Gospel is not consistent.
To say you are opposed to CCM while you use soft rock and “adapted” CCM is not consistent.
It is better to err on the side of being too careful and too “strict” than too tolerant. No one will be hurt by too strict, but there is plenty of spiritual danger in being too loose.
As Evangelist Alan Ives, former rock & roll band member, says:
“How do you understand what good Christian music is? It ought to sound different from the rock station, the easy listening station the entertainment music. When we sing gospel songs in the good old-fashioned way, they don’t sound like anything that the world sings. That’s the way we need to keep it.”
The adaptation of CCM at Lancaster/West Coast is far reaching and extends back many years.
Following are a few examples of CCM songs that have been used there:
“Hallelujah to the Lamb” by Don Moen (who thinks God is the author of the weird charismatic “laughing revival”)
“In Christ Alone” by Getty/Townend
“Word of God Speak” by MercyMe (a charismatic mystical song)
“Stronger” and “Shout to the Lord” by Zschech/Hillsong (performed by Lancaster’s high school mixed ensemble; Hillsong performed for Catholic Youth Day and Pope Benedict)
“Majesty, Worship His Majesty” by Jack Hayford (a Pentecostal Kingdom Now anthem; Hayford says God told him not to preach against the Roman Catholic church)
“Great Is the Lord” and “How Majestic Is Your Name” by Michael W. Smith (who has been “slain in the Spirit” and “laughed uncontrollably, “rolling on the floor ... hyperventilating”)
“Faithful Men” by Twila Paris (who works with the Roman Catholic Kathy Troccoli and with ecumenist Robert Webber, who promotes unity between evangelicals and Catholics)
“In Christ Alone” by Michael English (who spent the 1990s and early 2000s committing adultery with another man’s wife, bar hopping, dating a stripper, and undergoing “rehab” for drug addiction)
Songs by Steven Curtis Chapman (the most honored “high energy Christian rocker” of the 1990s who says he doesn’t preach “fire and brimstone” and describes God as “Lord of the Dance”)
Songs by Geron Davis (“Jesus Only” Pentecostal who denies the Trinity)
“I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin (a member of an emerging church that seeks to build the kingdom in this present world)
Songs by Graham Kendrick (charismatic founder of the radically ecumenical Jesus March that includes Catholics and Mormons)
“Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)” by Chris Tomlin was performed at Lancaster Sunday morning, Oct. 9, 2011
“Not Guilty” by the jazz artist Mandisa was performed at the 2011 Leadership Conference
“Above All Things” by Rebecca St. James (covered on West Coast Baptist College’s “For the Faith of the Gospel” CD)
“Always Enough” by Casting Crowns (February 2012)
“Glorify You Alone” by Gateway Worship (March 2012)
“Step by Step” by Rich Mullins (Youth Conference 2012)
“How Can I Keep from Singing” by Chris Tomlin (August 2012)
“Never Once” by Matt Redman (published on YouTube by Mark Rasmussen 2013)
“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong United (published on YouTube by Mark Rasmussen
“10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) by Mark Redman (published on YouTube by Mark Rasmussen 2014)
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