I realize that many independent Baptist preachers have shut their ears to anything I have to say, but that is their business, and the Lord will have the final word as to whether that is wise on their part.
I thank the Lord that many thousands of the Lord’s people are still listening, and I hear from hundreds of the these each year who urge me to keep sounding the trumpet against the contemporary trend.
As for the subject of this article, I thank the Lord for Dr. Frank Garlock. In August 2003, I published “A Salute to Frank Garlock” to make this point. As far as I know, I have read everything he has written and watched every video he has produced. I haven’t met him, but I love him in Christ. God has used him in a large way to help Bible-believing churches understand the difference between sacred and sensual music.
For decades I gave free advertising to Majesty Music by including them our list of recommend music resources. Many years ago, they gave my oldest daughter permission to include a couple of their hymns in the Nepali hymnal we publish and use in our churches. Just the other night in prayer meeting, I was blessed by Ron Hamilton’s song “Here Am I, Lord” as we sang it in Nepali.
Dr. Garlock has taught something that is obviously close to God’s heart, considering its emphasis in Scripture, which is that God’s people must learn to make “the difference between the holy and profane” (Ezekiel 44:23). This is a fundamental Scriptural principle in regard to Christian music and every other aspect of the Christian life and ministry.
Any one can have a blind side, though. In fact, I do not doubt that we all have blind sides, seeing that we “have this treasure in earthen vessels.” This is why “reproofs of instruction” are so important.
Dr. Garlock’s present defense of the “careful use” of “modern hymns” by men such as Keith Getty and Stuart Townend is a very dangerous blind side that has the potential to undo, in one generation, the good that he has done through a lifetime of godly labor.
In a statement in his daughter’s recent book Why I Don’t Listen to Contemporary Christian Music, Dr. Garlock gives a public justification for the inclusion of these and other such men’s music in Rejoice Hymns.
The following quote is excerpted from Frank Garlock’s “Postlude” to Why I Don’t Listen to Contemporary Christian Music by Shelly Hamilton, Majesty Music: 2013, pp. 95-96:
“In Rejoice Hymns, we included some songs that we did not include in Majesty Hymns. For instance, some of these songs had not been written 14 years ago when we produced Majesty Hymns. There has been some concern regarding our hymnbook Rejoice Hymns because it incorporates music from two ministries in particular: Sovereign Grace Music (SGM), led by Bob Kauflin; and the music of Keith and Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend (GTM). We do not question the motives or spiritual commitment of these ministries. Many of the texts, especially those of Getty and Townend, are biblically rich. Townend states: ‘It is so important that our lives are built not on our feelings or circumstances, but on the Word of God, and songs can really help us to meditate on and retain truth. Most of my life is spent making melodies to make truths less forgettable.’
“The biggest quandary is not in the biblical correctness of the lyrics SGM and GTM write, but in the music. Music professor Douglas Bachorik at Bob Jones Memorial Bible College in the Philippines and Rev. Ryan Weberg, pastor of Valley View Bible Church in Pennsylvania, have written An Exploration of the Music of Sovereign Grace Ministries and Getty-Townend. They say: ‘We find that SGM tends towards a heavy use of repetition, melodically, rhythmically, and sometimes textually, in the printed version, and even more so in the performances. This fits well with the (SGM) charismatic roots of their worship theology. ... Theologically, SGM describes itself as evangelical, reformed, and charismatic. ...SGM seems to be content with working exclusively in various rock styles.’
“By contrast, ‘GTM has an emphasis upon Christian doctrine over Christian experience.’ Much of GTM is written in a conservative style which has been described as the ‘modern hymn.’ Many conservative Christians think that GTM fits better in their churches than SGM because of the written style difference.
“After considering the above factors, there are a number of GTM songs and a few SGM songs that fit into a written traditional music style and also have strong biblical texts. All the GTM and SGM songs that are included in Rejoice Hymns are innately conservative in style and are strong both melodically and textually.”
The previous quote is excerpted from Frank Garlock’s “Postlude” to Why I Don’t Listen to Contemporary Christian Music by Shelly Hamilton, Majesty Music: 2013, pp. 95-96.
While Dr. Garlock makes many good statements in his longer “Postlude” to Shelly Hamilton’s book, which we have not included here, such as thoughtful warnings about worldliness in the churches and the trend away from using hymnbooks, TWO ESSENTIAL FACTS ARE GLARING IN THEIR OMISSION.
First, in practice, Getty/Townend represent the “one-world church.”
Second, to use their material is to build bridges to the extremely dangerous world that they represent. “Fundamentalists” who build these bridges will eventually bring the corruption of that world into their churches. It has been happening for two decades, and the pace of change is increasing before our very eyes.
In this age of the Internet, it is impossible to use materials by contemporary musicians without building bridges that our church members will inevitably cross, particularly young people. They are going to Google “Getty/Townend,” and many of them are going to be influenced by them, and some are going to be influenced deeply.
As I have said, I have never known of a Baptist church becoming Lutheran by singing Luther’s hymns or even becoming Roman Catholic by singing one or two old hymns written by Catholics (thought I don’t recommend the latter), but I have known of dozens of churches that have become contemporary by messing around with contemporary music, EVEN THOUGH THIS PATH INVARIABLY STARTS IN A “SMALL” AND “CAUTIOUS” MANNER.
Dr. Garlock makes the point that of the 70 songs in Rejoice Hymns, only eight are from SGM (Sovereign Grace) and GTM (Getty Townend).
True, but where will things be in five years? Ten years? Twenty years?
Dr. Garlock is justifying the crossing of an important threshold, and it will be impossible to return to a former stance once the mistake has been recognized (if it ever is).
In his “Postlude,” Dr. Garlock acknowledges that we are living in a time of rapid change. He says, “It was easier to make decisions about which hymns to include 15 years ago because the lines were drawn more definitively than they are today.” He admits that “the consensus among conservatives was also much clearer.”
That being the case, why let the Getty/Townends get their nose in the tent? Is it really time to be playing around with this stuff. Many men of God see Getty Townend as dangerous. Why push the boundaries?
Dr. Garlock says, “Some Christians have told us that they only use music from ministries with which they totally agree.”
I don’t know who says this. I certainly don’t say it. I doubt that such a standard is even possible.
What I say is that it is wise to avoid the contemporary crowd, including the Gettys, because they represent a very dangerous world.
Who are Getty/Townend? Are they really “conservative”? Do they really love sound doctrine?
Conservative-sounding statements by these men must be interpreted in the context of their lives and ministries and associations. It is a case in which “what you do speaks louder than what you say.” In my decades of research into the ecumenical movement, I have often sat in conferences with media credentials and thought to myself, “This man sounds biblically sound; why then can he hold hands with Roman Catholics and liberals and charismatics and support the heresies that he supports by his unscriptural associations?” I can’t answer to motives. I only know that even a sincere man can be very wrong, and I know that the ecumenism is wrong according to God’s Word. And it is not a light matter; it is a major part of how the “one-world church” is being built.
Consider the following statement that Dr. Garlock quotes from Stuart Townend:
“It is so important that our lives are built not on our feelings or circumstances, but on the Word of God, and songs can really help us to meditate on and retain truth”?
Most “fundamentalists” reading those words would conclude that Townend is opposed to charismatic mysticism and devoted to the truth of God’s Word. But if this is true, why is he a member of a charismatic church that supports the “extraordinary manifestations of the Spirit”? And how can he support the Alpha program which bridges charismatic, Baptist, Protestant, and Roman Catholic churches?
Like that pioneer ecumenist Billy Graham, Stuart Townend is “Mr. Facing Two Ways.” He speaks passionately about the truth at times even while holding hands with the “broader church” in all of its unscriptural facets and heresies and end-time apostasies.
In fact, Townend is very radical in his doctrinal thinking and appears to be in love with a false christ.
When asked, “What would Jesus sing?” Townend replied:
“I think he would be doing thrash metal or hip hop or something where we’d go, ‘He can’t do that!’ Because I think he would be challenging our comfortable perceptions. I don’t know what he would sing or whose songs he would sing, but I believe he would do it in a way that would surprise and probably shock us” (“What Would Jesus Sing?” from an interview with Stuart Townend, TV series Principles of Praise, 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCW0oAAna7c).
Does that sound like the statement of a man that Bible-believing Christians should be associating with? Is Townend’s thrash metal, hip-hop, “out to shock them” Jesus the Jesus that we know and serve?
Dr. Garlock, is this the Jesus you want introduced to your grandchildren and great grandchildren and to the young people in churches that you have tried to influence in a godly way?
As for the Gettys, while their doctrinal statement might be conservative, their associations are as radically one-world church as Michael W. Smith or Darlene Zschech or any other contemporary artist.
If they Gettys truly love God’s Word and sound doctrine, why did they (and Townend) join hands in July 2012, with Roman Catholic Matt Maher on NewsongCafe on WorshipTogether.com? The program promoted ecumenical unity, with Maher/Townend/Getty perfectly one in the spirit through music? In these ecumenical settings, in which Getty/Townend are comfortable, truly fundamental doctrinal differences are so meaningless that they are not even mentioned. Spiritual abominations such as the papacy, the mass, infant baptism, baptismal regeneration, and veneration of Mary were ignored. Jude 3 is despised and Romans 16:17 disobeyed for the sake of creating unity through contemporary Christian music.
In fact, the Gettys aren’t even conservative in their musical stance. Their web site tells us that they “fuse the music of their Irish heritage with the sounds of Nashville, their newly adopted home.” There is nothing conservative or spiritual about this syncretism, for Nashville represents the very heart and soul of worldly music today and the Gettys are comfortable with that.
While the Getty’s “modern hymns” are fairly conservative in rhythm, the Gettys are not opposed to rock & roll. They themselves rock out pretty hard at some venues. And while they don’t write hard rock worship songs, they don’t speak against this, either. In fact, Keith Getty recently said that he is glad for edgy, rocking renditions of his music by artists such as Newsboys, Ricky Skaggs, Owl City, Alison Krauss, and Natalie Grant, because “it is an honor” for him that popular modern musicians record them, and “it’s also interesting to hear their interpretation of it and useful for the song because it helps the song get played more” (“The Gettys Exclusive: Famed Hymn Writers Talk Irish Christmas Tour,” Christian Post, Dec. 2, 2014).
Regardless of how sincere Getty/Townend are, and regardless of how “conservative” they might appear in contrast to some of the other contemporary Christian musicians, and regardless of how fervently they speak about “the truth,” these are not friends of a Bible-believing stance.
Getty-Townend represent the exceedingly dangerous world of contemporary worship music as surely as Michael W. Smith or Graham Kendrick or Darlene Zschech. They are one in spirit.
Any bridge that Bible-believing churches build to Getty/Townend is a bridge beyond Getty/Townend to heretics such as C.S. Lewis, to worldlings such as Bono, to the Roman Catholic Church, to the charismatic movement, to the world of secular rock, even to emergents and New Agers like Leonard Sweet, and to every element of the end-time one-world “church.”
For extensive documentation of this see Keith Getty and Stuart Townend in 575-page Directory of Contemporary Worship Musicians, available as a free eBook at www.wayoflife.org.
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