SADDLEBACK CHURCH ROCKING & ROLLING
Updated February 12, 2008 (first published January 23, 2007) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, firstname.lastname@example.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -
We have often warned that one of the dangers and errors of contemporary Christian music is its refusal to separate from secular party music such as rock and rap. This is evident at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in southern California.
In chapter 8 of The Purpose Driven Life, Warren says:
“God loves all kinds of music because he invented it all--fast and slow, loud and soft, old and new. You probably don’t like it all, but God does! ... Christians often disagree over the style of music used in worship, passionately defending their preferred style as the most biblical or God-honoring. But there is no biblical style! ... God likes variety and enjoys it all. There is no such thing as ‘Christian’ music; there are only Christian lyrics. It is the words that make a song sacred, not the tune. There are no spiritual tunes” (pp. 65, 66).
When Warren says that God loves all kinds of music, he means ALL kinds.
WARREN PERFORMS PURPLE HAZE
On April 17, 2005, when Warren announced his P.E.A.C.E. program to Saddleback Church, he first sang Jimi Hendrix’s drug-drenched song “Purple Haze” to the congregation, accompanied by his “praise and worship” band. He said he had wanted to do that for a long time.
Though long dead, Jimi Hendrix’s influence lives on, but it is an evil influence that should be reproved rather than encouraged. His music and his life epitomized the rock and roll philosophy, which is live as you please; don't allow anyone to put restrictions upon you; flaunt any law that gets in your way; have fun while you can; if it feels good do it.
Music was Jimi Hendrix’s god. He attended church some in his youth, but later he testified: “I used to go to Sunday School BUT THE ONLY THING I BELIEVE IN NOW IS MUSIC” (cited by Curtis Knight, Jimi).
Hendrix flaunted an immoral lifestyle, living with a succession of women but never marrying. He said: “Marriage isn’t my scene; we just live together. Those bits of paper you call marriage certificates are only for people who feel insecure” (Henderson, p. 245).
Hendrix also promoted immorality through his music and his concerts. His song “Fire” was “basically a vehicle for shouted phrases of sexual innuendo that went as close to the borderline as possible” (Henderson, 'Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky, p. 115). Hendrix's 1968 album Electric Ladyland featured 20 nude women on the album cover.
When complaints were made about his erotic behavior onstage, he replied: "PERHAPS IT IS SEXY ... BUT WHAT MUSIC WITH A BIG BEAT ISN'T?" (Henderson, p. 117). Hendrix was more candid and honest about the character of rock than the CCM musicians who are defending it today. We would agree that rock & roll is sensual by its very nature.
Hendrix also promoted violence through his music, at times destroying his guitars and amplifiers during concerts and setting his guitar on fire. This would send the young concert-goers into a frenzy.
Hendrix abused drugs and alcohol. He took acid, smoked marijuana, used heroin and amphetamines, and drank liquor. Hendrix’ bassist, Noel Redding, testified: “Whether it was true or not, we felt we had to be stoned to play properly. Good dope equaled good music” (A Time to Rock, p. 200).
Hendrix was deeply involved in occultism and mysticism and these themes permeated his music. His song “Voodoo Chile” glorified voodoo practices such as out of body experiences.
His biographer, who spent five years researching his life, noted that “Hendrix demonstrated a high order of voodoo ... [he] showed the voodoo that related to the stars and to magical transformation” (Henderson, p. 394). Hendrix believed in numerology, UFOs, transcendental meditation, reincarnation, and a variety of pagan and New Age concepts. He thought rainbows were bridges that linked this world with the unseen spirit world.
In July 1970, Hendrix set up a performance in Maui, Hawaii, in an attempt to reach a higher level of New Age spiritual awareness. When he arrived in Hawaii, he consulted an elderly German fortune teller named Clara Schuff and was told that he descended from Egyptian and Tibetan royalty and that his next life would be concerned with the magical systems of Tibet. The performance was called “The Rainbow Bridge Vibratory Color-Sound Experiment.” Hendrix was invited to participate in this experiment by a commune called the Rainbow Bridge Occult Research Meditation Center. The Hendrix group gathered on the side of the Olowalu Volcano, revered as a very holy place and called the Crater of the Sun by native Hawaiians. For the occasion, Hendrix wore Indian medicine-man clothing and used a medicine-man tent. He and all of the participants were high on LSD, hash, and liquor during the “experiment.” (Two months later, he was dead.)
Hendrix believed his music could open his listeners to ”cosmic powers” and that people can rise through various spiritual levels through music. He believed in reincarnation and thought he was from another planet, an asteroid belt off of Mars, and that he had come to earth to show people new energy. He thought he had assumed other life forms in previous lives:
“There's no telling how many lives your spirit will go through--die and be reborn. Like my mind will be back in the days when I was a flying horse” (Hendrix, interview with Robin Richman “An Infinity of Jimis,” Life magazine, Oct. 3, 1969).
Hendrix understood the mystical and hypnotic power of rock music. He said:
"ATMOSPHERES ARE GOING TO COME THROUGH MUSIC, BECAUSE THE MUSIC IS A SPIRITUAL THING OF ITS OWN. ... I can explain everything better through music. YOU HYPNOTIZE PEOPLE to where they go right back to their natural state, which is pure positive-like childhood when you got natural highs. And when you get people at weakest point, you can preach into the subconscious what we want to say. That’s why the name ‘electric church’ flashes in and out" (Hendrix, interview with Robin Richman “An Infinity of Jimis,” Life magazine, Oct. 3, 1969).
“ONCE YOU HAVE SOME TYPE OF RHYTHM, LIKE IT CAN GET HYPNOTIC IF YOU KEEP REPEATING IT OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Most of the people will fall off by about a minute of repeating. You do that say for three or four or even five minutes if you can stand it, and then it releases a certain thing inside of a person’s head. IT RELEASES A CERTAIN THING IN THERE SO YOU CAN PUT ANYTHING YOU WANT RIGHT INSIDE THAT, YOU KNOW. So you do that for a minute and all of a sudden you can bring the rhythm down a little bit and then you say what you want to say right into that little gap. It's somethin’ to ride with, you know. You have to ride with something. I ALWAYS LIKE TO TAKE PEOPLE ON TRIPS. THAT'S WHY MUSIC IS MAGIC” (Hendrix, cited by Henderson, p. 356).
These are observations and warnings that should be taken seriously by Christians. Though Hendrix was a licentious drug user, he was also a brilliant and gifted musician and he understood the nature of rock music as few men have. He was using music to “take people on trips.” What trip? We know that his trip is actually the devil’s trip. Hendrix had a “church,” but it was not the church of Jesus Christ. Those who think that there is no spiritual danger in rock music are deceiving themselves and are leading others down the primrose path of delusion. Observe that Hendrix was referring to the power of the music itself without the words.
Hendrix believed in religion and “spirituality,” but he unhesitatingly rejected Bible-believing Christianity and considered the laws of God a form of bondage. He saw himself and other rock singers as liberators of young people from such laws:
“We’re in our little cement beehives in this society. People let a lot of old-time laws rule them. The establishment has set up the Ten Commandments for us saying don't, don't, don't. ... The walls are crumbling and the establishment doesn't want to let go. ... The establishment is so uptight about sex...” (Jimi Hendrix, quoted by Henderson, pp. 214, 215).
In January 1969, Hendrix expressed his philosophy as follows:
“When I die I want people to play my music, go wild and freak out and do anything they wanna do” (Hendrix, interview with Don Short, Daily Mirror, Jan. 11, 1969).
Hendrix believed he was possessed by the devil. Girlfriend Fayne Pridgon said:
“HE USED TO ALWAYS TALK ABOUT SOME DEVIL OR SOMETHING WAS IN HIM, you know. He didn’t know what made him act the way he acted and what made him say the things he said, and the songs and different things like that ... just came out of him. It seems to me he was so tormented and just torn apart and like he really was obsessed, you know, with something really evil. ... He said, ‘You're from Georgia ... you should know how people drive demons out’--He used to talk about us going ... and having some root lady or somebody see if she could DRIVE THIS DEMON OUT OF HIM” (sound track from film Jimi Hendrix, interview with Fayne Pridgon, side 4, cited by Heartbeat of the Dragon, p. 50).
Producer Alan Douglas stated the same thing:
“Now one of the biggest things about Jimi was. . . he believed that he was possessed by some spirit, and I got to believe it myself; and that’s what we had to deal with all the time — he really believed it and was wrestling with it constantly” (sound track from film Jimi Hendrix).
Note the two following testimonies about Hendrix by fellow rocker Carlos Santana:
“Everything was fine for the first few moments but then, Carlos remembered sadly, Hendrix started freaking out and playing some ‘wild s—-’ that had nothing to do with the song. . . ‘His eyes were all bloodshot and he was foaming at the mouth. It was like being in a room with someone having an epileptic fit...” (Marc Shapiro, Carlos Santana: Back on Top, p. 91).
“On another occasion, Santana was taken to watch Hendrix recording and what he saw frightened him, ‘The first time I was really with him was in the studio. He was overdubbing “Roomful of Mirrors” and it was a real shocker to me. He started recording and it was incredible. But within fifteen or twenty seconds he just went out. All of a sudden he was freaking out like he was having a gigantic battle in the sky with somebody. The roadies look at each other and the producer looked at him and they said, “Go get him”. They separated him from the amplifier and the guitar and it was like he was having an epileptic fit’” (Simon Leng, Soul Sacrifice: The Santana Story, p. 51).
On September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix died in London at age 27. The official cause of death was “barbiturate intoxication” and “inhalation of vomit.” He died in a Purple Haze.
It is inexcusable for Rick Warren and his “worship” team to perform any Jimi Hendrix song on any occasion whatsoever.
SADDLEBACK’S ROCK DANCES
The following information from the Saddleback website for 2005 describes their enthusiasm for rock and roll dances:
“Our dances have become some of the most anticipated of our social events with hundreds of people attending. This Summer’s Night dance in our Worship Center promises to be the same. It will begin with a light buffet style dinner followed by dancing to the sounds of our DJ on a huge 3,000 square foot ballroom competition floor. Professional lighting, effects and sound all blend together for a high-quality experience, all at an extremely reasonable price! Whether you bring a special friend, come alone or with a group, make sure you come ready to have fun! Music will consist of a wide variety providing for specific dances and freestyle. And what’s a summer night without some beach music and reggae?”
The following statement from the Extreme Theology website for December 9, 2006, describes a video on YouTube of a Saddleback “Worship” Concert that featured vulgar “pelvic thrust” rock moves:
“This is a video of a Saddleback Worship Concert. There are teenage girls doing dance moves that include Pelvic Thrusts. Is this really worship to the one true God of the Bible or is this worship to one of those pagan sex gods? You be the judge? You can go to the original YouTube post at http://youtube.com/watch?v=Gq_heSAajS0. After seeing this, Is there any wonder why Saddleback’s worship is so appealing and attractive to unbelievers? Saddleback is offering jiggly-dancing and sexual stimulation at church and calling it worship. ‘Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire’ (Matthew 7:17-19).”
Recently a Southern Baptist state association made a ruling that churches supporting homosexuality are not welcome. That is commendable, as far as it goes, but why is immoral dancing in the name of worshipping a holy God any less wicked than same-sex relations? Where is the Southern Baptist Convention when it comes to such things? The silence is deafening.
SADDLEBACK TEAM FEATURES LENNON’S ATHEISTIC SONG “IMAGINE”
Another YouTube video containing a slide show from an Argentina missionary trip by Saddleback Church members featured John Lennon’s atheistic song “Imagine.” The trip, made August 1-12, 2006, was part of Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. program. The soundtrack uses several pieces of music, including John Lennon’s original recording of Imagine. The lyrics say:
“Imagine there’s no heaven/ It’s easy if you try/ No hell below us/ Above us only sky.”
WORSHIP ANY OLD WAY YOU WANT IT
Saddleback Church features nine different “worship venues.” There is a worship style to suit every worldly taste. The Overdrive venue is “for those who like guitar-driven rock band worship in a concert-like setting that you can FEEL.” The Ohana venue comes “complete with hula and island-style music,” and on the first Saturday of every month you can take hula lessons during the potluck following the service. The Country venue features line dancing.
SADDLEBACK’S SCHOOL OF ROCK
Under the Worship section of Saddleback Church’s web site there is a “School of Rock,” where you can learn to sing “like your favorite pop artist” and play guitar “songs by legendary bands.”
This is “worship” of a holy God Rick Warren style.
The “Beyond the Blues” class “will take your blues playing to another level, along with classic blues licks by the masters.”
They forgot to say that the legendary rockers, pop stars, and classic blues artists were and are drug- and alcohol-drenched and their lives and music morally filthy.
STRANGE SADDLEBACK RAP VIDEO
A rap video prepared for Warren’s Purpose Driven Worship Conference 2006 is one of the sickest things I have ever seen, and I have been researching the spiritually sick world of CCM for many years. It is by a rapper named Smitty and is mis-titled “Filled with the Spirit.”
It featured a heavy sensual rap beat with the following lyrics:
“Ohhhhhh, I’m filled with the Spirit; come gather round so all ya’ll can hear it. Ohhhhh, I feel so amazing; can’t stop the music; got my hands raising. Ohhhh, I feel this divinity; stronger than Samson; it is the Trinity. Calm me down I need the tranquility; Satan try to stop me; you got to be kiddin’ me. ... Uuhhhhh, now break it down ya’ll; uuhhhhh, now break it down ya’ll; uuhhhh, uuhhhhh, now break it down, now break it down, Old Testament style. Do the burning bush, do the burning bush, now everybody in the crowd do the burning bush. ... The walls of Jericho, the walls of Jericho, make the booty drop like the walls of Jericho [the rapper turns around and shakes his backside to the camera]...”
Not only do the lyrics turn the things of Christ and life’s most serious issues into pure silliness and even descend into moral filthiness (e.g., rap dancing to the burning bush and shaking your booty to the falling of the walls of Jericho), but the way the words are sung are downright blasphemous. You have to see the video and hear the voices to understand just how sick and blasphemous this thing is, but I am not going to give out the link because I don’t want young people, especially, to be influenced by this vile thing.
Ingrid Schlueter of “Crosstalk Radio Talk Show” on VCY America Radio Network made the following observation:
“The sneering, mocking expressions and tones of voice in this video have to be witnessed to be understood for what they are. By his speech and manner, the rapper takes the name of the Holy Son of God in vain, but the video contains something more. There is hatred here, hatred for who God is according to the Scriptures. The spirit of this video, ironically shown at a so-called worship conference, is anti-Christ. You cannot know the Lord of glory, the living Word of God and speak of Him in this manner. ... The monstrous treatment of the name of God under the guise of worship is evidence of the hearts behind the video. The grimace when the rapper says, ewwww, I feel this divinity... is manifestly evil. The name of the Lord, by whose mercy we live and breathe and have our being, is to be revered above all earthly names. Anyone who can listen to the spirit of mockery and ridicule in this video and not feel a holy anger needs to return to the Bible and learn who God really is” (“Purpose-Driven Rapper Crosses the Line to Blasphemy”).
We agree with that assessment totally.
The next time someone tries to convince you that the Southern Baptist Convention is “conservative,” remember that you will find every worldly thing in the SBC. Worldly Christianity is not “conservative” Christianity.
There is no separation from the world at Saddleback Church. Any sorry piece of rock or rap music is fine as long as it is accompanied by a thin veneer of religiosity.
There has never been anything innocent or pure about rock and roll. From its inception, it has had two grand themes: licentiousness (sex, drugs, etc.) and rebellion (“I can do what I want to do any old time”), and this is nowhere more evident than in the music of Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles.
There is no excuse for this action on the part of an influential pastor who should set a standard of godliness instead of carnal foolishness. I want to say again publicly, Shame on Rick Warren, and shame on his fellow Southern Baptist Convention leaders for not publicly and unequivocally rebuking him for such worldly shenanigans.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11).
“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-17).
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