The Transformational Power of Contemporary Music
The Difference between Contemporary Music & Old Protestant Hymns
The Danger of the Internet
The Necessity of Education
An Effectual Vetting Process
The Power of Incrementalism
The Power of a Good Song Service
The Bounty of Sacred Music
A church that will be standing in 20 years is a church that is very careful about music.
We have mentioned music in other chapters, but we also want to include it as a separate category because it has played such a key role in the downfall of formerly sound churches.
The Transformational Power of Contemporary Music
It is impossible to use contemporary music without ruining the biblical stance of the church.
There are three reasons why this is true:
First, because this music is patterned after the world and brings the influence of the world into the congregation.
Second, because using this music builds bridges to the one-world church and brings the one-world church philosophy (e.g., judge not, be tolerant, lighten up, ecumenical fellowship is good) into the congregation.
Third, because using this music creates a fleshly addiction which changes the congregation’s musical appetite and weakens its spiritual power.
These things are clearly forbidden in Scripture. See 1 Corinthians 15:33; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 5:11; James 4:4; 1 Peter 2:11; 1 John 2:15-17.
Contemporary Christian Music is the heart and soul of the one-world church, and it is impossible to build bridges to contemporary music without bringing dramatic changes to a church’s philosophy and character.
The music itself is patterned after the world; it is worldly rather than sacred in character. As a result, it is sensual and addictive, because this is what the world’s party music is designed to be.
This is true even of the most “conservative” of contemporary musicians, such as Keith and Kristyn Getty and Stuart Townend, whose music is used widely today in fundamental Baptist churches. Their music is used in Majesty Music’s Rejoice Hymns and in Bob Jones University’s Hymns Modern and Ancient.
Getty/Townend are unapologetic one-world church builders who have ministry associations with Roman Catholics.
Keith Getty collaborated with Catholic Margaret Becker in the song “Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer.” In an interview Becker said, “One of my missions has been to say, let’s not label ourselves, let’s not put up walls between each other.” (“US singer to make an appearance at Cross Rhythms ’95,” CR Magazine, June 1, 1995). Getty also collaborated with Roman Catholic Máire [pronounced Moya] Brennan in writing “With the Early Morning.” Brennan says, “Christians fighting Christians, Catholics and Protestants! It breaks my heart, because we’re all stemming from the same rock” (“Back to the Rock of Ages: Máire Brennan Talks to Christina Rodden,” rootsworld.com).
In July 2012 the Gettys and Townend appeared on WorshipTogether.com’s NewsongCafe with Roman Catholic Matt Maher to promote ecumenical unity.
Maher ministers at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Tempe, which is devoted to Mary as the Queen of Heaven. A sign at the front of the church says, “Mary, Mother of Life, pray for us.” Maher calls himself a “musical missionary,” a missionary for Rome, that is. Christianity Today says “Maher is bringing his music--and a dream of unity into the Protestant church” (“Common Bonds,” CT, Oct. 27, 2009). He says, “I’ve had co-writing sessions with Protestants where we had that common denominator, and I’ve seen in a very radical way the real possibility of unity.” He says, “I look at it like the Catholic church is my immediate family, and all my friends from different denominations are extended family.”
Maher’s wife is Methodist, but they are raising their son “in the Catholic Church,” while also taking him to Methodist services “so he can experience both traditions” (Religion News Service, May 17, 2013).
This is the perfect recipe for building the end-time, one-world “church,” and Getty/Townend are right in the middle of it.
In these ecumenical settings, in which Getty/Townend are comfortable, fundamental doctrinal differences are so meaningless that they are not even mentioned. Spiritual abominations such as the papacy, the mass, infant baptism, baptismal regeneration, veneration of Mary, and prayers to the saints are ignored. Jude 3 is despised and Romans 16:17 disobeyed for the sake of creating unity through contemporary Christian music.
Therefore, while the Getty’s doctrinal statement might be conservative, their associations are as radically one-world church as Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, Darlene Zschech or any other contemporary artist.
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 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.
Any bridge that Bible-believing churches build to contemporary music is a bridge to the end-time one-world “church.”
Contemporary Southern Gospel Music
Contemporary Southern Gospel is just as dangerous as Contemporary Christian Music. It is the music of a large number of Independent Baptist churches in the southeastern part of America.
When we talk about “contemporary Southern Gospel,” we are not talking merely about gospel music with a country-twang or merely about a gospel quartet.
We are talking about contemporary in sound and philosophy. We are talking about the Gaithers and those who have been influenced by them.
The philosophy of contemporary Southern Gospel is the philosophy that music is neutral and the world’s music can be used for the glory of God.
During a concert tour in New England in 1986, Bill Gaither admitted that he had changed his musical style due to the influence of the “world’s culture.” This is a clear example of the Bible’s warning that “evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Co. 15:33). Gaither said he believes there is a place for Christian rock, expressing his philosophy of music in these words: “God speaks through all different kinds of art forms and musical styles and musical forms” and the “format itself is not necessarily spiritual or non-spiritual” (FBF News Bulletin, March-April 1986, p. 3).
Gaither has used every type of pop and rock in his music. During the disco craze in the late 1980s, the Gaither Trio even recorded a disco album (Calvary Contender, August 15, 1989).
Bill Gaither has mentored many of the popular Christian rockers, including Sandi Patty, Russ Taff, Michael English, Carman, and the members of Whiteheart (CCM Magazine, July 1998, p. 20).
Today, Southern Gospel is filled with rock & roll. When I attended the National Quartet Convention in 1999, the dress of the attendees was fairly conservative, but the music itself was anything but conservative. If you stripped away the words, the music is that of the world. Every quartet used a strong back beat, bass guitar, drums, and heavy dance syncopation. It is the “Nashville sound.” Some of the lyrics were Christ-honoring, but the worldly music distracted greatly from the message. It is confusion, and it is spiritually dangerous.
The philosophy of contemporary Southern Gospel is the philosophy of “judge not” and “ecumenism.”
In his autobiography It’s More Than the Music, Gaither said that one of the fringe benefits of playing their concerts in “neutral, nonchurch environments” was that people from “all church denominations” attended. “Before long, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, charismatics, Catholics, and Pentecostals were all praising the Lord together. Subtly, the walls between denominations began to crumble...” (p. 115).
Gaither’s “Hymns for the Family of God” was purposefully “nondenominational” and included devotional readings from a wide variety of Christians, including heretics such as Deitrich Bonhoeffer (one of the fathers of Neo-orthodoxy), Malcolm Muggeridge (a liberal Roman Catholic who did not believe in Christ’s virgin birth or bodily resurrection), and Robert Schuller, who has wickedly redefined the gospel in terms of his humanistic self-esteem theology.
The Gaithers provided the music one evening at Indianapolis ‘90, a large ecumenical charismatic gathering I attended with press credentials. One-half of the 25,000 participants were Roman Catholic. A Catholic mass was held each morning, and Catholic priest Tom Forrest from Rome brought the closing message. At an earlier conference in 1987, Forrest said that purgatory is necessary for salvation. Roughly 40 denominations were present in Indianapolis. The Gaithers were perfectly at home in this unscriptural gathering and entertained the mixed multitude with their jazzy music.
The ecumenical philosophy has permeated contemporary Southern Gospel. During the presentation of Singing News awards at the 1999 National Quartet Convention, one of the speakers thanked the leaders of the Convention for “THEIR ABILITY TO BRING TOGETHER CHRISTIANS OF ALL DENOMINATIONAL LABELS BY THE MEANS OF MUSIC.” I was there with press credentials and heard this statement.
There isn’t two cents worth of difference between the world of contemporary worship music and the world of contemporary Southern Gospel. It is fleshly music that gets the people emotionally addicted to honkytonk, ragtime rhythms and even pure rock & roll.
About 20 years ago I preached at a church in Cowpens, South Carolina, and the music was raucous honkytonk Southern Gospel powered by a white-haired grandmother pianist that would put any 1920s bar room rag timer to shame. After the service, the elderly pastor asked me what I thought of the music, and I replied, “It is boogie woogie.” He exclaimed, “I don’t want boogie woogie.” I said, “That’s what you’ve got, pastor.” I never heard from him again.
Southern Gospel brings a congregation into association with the likes of the Gaithers and the National Quartet Convention. Anyone who is hooked into Southern Gospel is holding hands with and playing footsie with ecumenists and is on a fast road to full-blown ecumenism.
Consider the 2016 Burlington Revival in North Carolina that was supported by large numbers of Independent Baptist churches: “C.T. Townsend’s brother, Brian, is a full-blown contemporary pastor in Georgia that C.T. has verbally supported. CT’s father-in-law married Brenda Ruppe of the Ruppe family, who were featured singers on the Gaither Homecoming specials. Her daughters formed the singing group ‘The Sisters’ and sing contemporary Southern Gospel music and have very immodest clothing in some of their photo shoots. I know we are not guilty because of family ties, but we become guilty when we promote our worldly families and their music, which C.T. has done publicly for years without any reproof of his relatives.”
Having been born and raised in the South, saved in the South, educated in the South, and begun preaching in the South, I have watched as Baptist churches there have grown ever weaker over the past 30 years, and one of the major reasons is the influence of Southern Gospel and the worldly, ecumenical baggage that it carries.
I refuse to have anything to do with it. Even 20 years ago, I wouldn’t have preached at the church in Cowpens had I known what the music was like. And I feel much stronger about this today.
The Difference between Contemporary Music and Old Protestant Hymns
The danger of contemporary music is nothing like the danger of using Protestant hymns.
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 (though 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.
The Unique Danger of the Internet
The age of the Internet has dramatically increased the danger of using the wrong music.
In the age of the Internet, it is impossible to use materials by contemporary musicians without building bridges that the church members will inevitably cross, particularly young people.
They are going to Google “Getty/Townend,” etc., and many of them are going to be influenced by them, and some are going to be influenced deeply.
The Necessity of Serious Education on the Music Issue
It is impossible to keep the church’s music safe without serious and continual education.
Pastors must be educated. There is no excuse for a pastor to be ignorant about the music issue. It’s not that difficult to learn to read music and to gain some basic understanding of music itself. But at the very least the pastor must educate himself about the basic differences between sacred and worldly music. And he must be familiar with the history and character of contemporary Christian music. A lot of education is available for those who are willing to access it, and much of it is available for free. It is not possible for a pastor to give this responsibility to someone else until he first understands the basics himself so he can check on and oversee the church’s music program in an educated manner.
We have produced the following materials on this subject and have made all of them available for free download from the Way of Life web site:
The Satanic Attack on Sacred Music. The video series consists of about 17 hours of teaching and is packed with photos, graphics, audio and video clips. One previewer commented, “The series is broad and deep with serious factual analysis according to properly interpreted Scripture.” We deal with Emotions and the Music Issue; The Spiritual Environment of the Music Issue: The Church and the Home; Bible Principles of Music; Music’s Role in the Great Changes among Fundamental Baptists; Contemporary Music as a Bridge to Dangerous Waters; Bob Jones, Majesty Music, New Reformed Calvinism, and the Gettys; The Language of Music Styles; Lancaster’s Role in the Downgrade of Fundamental Baptist Churches; A Plea to Southern Gospel Music Fans; Congregational Singing and the CCM Issue; and The Music Issue in a Nutshell. We study the Bible’s most important teachings on the issue of music. We look at the amazing changes that are happening among fundamental Baptists and the role of contemporary music in these changes. We learn about the dangers represented by Contemporary Christian Music: the Pentecostal/charismatic movement, the ecumenical movement, theological liberalism, New Evangelicalism, the Emerging Church, modern Bible versions, contemplative prayer, cultural liberalism, the encyclopedic view of the Bible, the New Reformed Calvinism, the Jesus People movement, theistic evolution, homosexual Christianity, the downgrade in hell, secular rock, Getty-Townend Music, Matt Maher the Roman Catholic apostle of unity, Hillsong, Rick Warren, Robert Webber, William Young and the Shack, C.S. Lewis, Chuck Swindoll’s heretical doctrine of grace. We show why that knowing about these movements and people is very important to your life, home, and church. We show that these things are not “out there” somewhere; they are a very near danger. We document the change in music standard at Bob Jones University and Majesty Music. We consider the soft style of Christian music vs. the more militant style. We learn how to discern the elements of the world sound of contemporary music. We learn how to discern soft rock. We learn how that chords are used in contemporary music to create an unresolving sound and “feel.” We examine why contemporary music always transforms churches. We consider why using CCM is different than using traditional Protestant hymns. We show that conservative evangelicals are not safe partners. We show that the Southern Baptist Convention is more corrupt than ever. We examine the great changes in Southern Gospel today. We consider why we should be concerned about “little” changes in music. We show that trying to deal with the music issue alone won’t work well; it won’t save the church from apostasy. Unless we have spiritual churches and spiritual homes, the battle is already lost. And we look at the role of good congregational singing in protecting a church from CCM. The course also includes a PDF book that contains the entire text. The Satanic Attack on Sacred Music: the video series and the book (255 pages) are available for FREE VIEWING and downloading at
The Baptist Music Wars. This book is an up-to-date warning about the transformational power of Contemporary Christian Music to transport Bible-believing Baptists into the sphere of the end-time one-world “church.” We don’t believe that good Christian music stopped being written when Fanny Crosby died or that rhythm is wrong or that drums and guitars are inherently evil. We believe, rather, that Contemporary Christian Music is a powerful bridge to a very dangerous spiritual and doctrinal world. The book begins by documenting the radical change in thinking that has occurred among independent Baptists. Whereas just a few years ago the overwhelming consensus was that CCM was wrong and dangerous, the consensus now has formed around the position that CCM can be used in moderation, that it is OK to “adapt” it to a more traditional sacred sound and presentation technique. The heart of the book is the section giving eight reasons for rejecting Contemporary Christian Music (it is built on the lie that music is neutral, it is worldly, it is ecumenical, it is charismatic, it is experienced-oriented, it is permeated with false christs, it is infiltrated with homosexuality, and it weakens the Biblicist stance of a church) and the section answering 39 major arguments that are used in defense of CCM. There are also chapters on the history of CCM and the author’s experience of living the rock & roll lifestyle before conversion and how the Lord dealt with him about music when he was a young Christian. 285 pages.
The Directory of Contemporary Worship Music. This directory contains information on influential contemporary worship musicians who are creating the music that is being used ever more frequently by Baptist, fundamentalist, and very conservative evangelical churches. Contemporary worship music is a dangerous bridge both to the world and to the “broader church” with all of its ancient and end-time heresies, and the Directory of Contemporary Praise Musicians contains more documentation of this than has ever before been gathered into one volume, to our knowledge. The Directory documents the history of contemporary praise music from its inception in the Jesus People movement and its intimate association with the charismatic movement in general as well as with its most radical aspect, the “latter rain apostolic miracle revival.” The documentation contained in the Directory proves that Contemporary Christian Music is a jungle of end-time apostasy and that it is controlled by “another spirit” (2 Co. 11:4). The music itself feeds the charismatic-ecumenical mystical experience. 570 pages.
What Every Christian Should Know about Rock Music. Forty years ago, we published Mom and Dad Sleep While the Children Rock in Satan’s Cradle to exhort parents and pastors to educate and protect their young people from the great spiritual enemy of rock & roll. Since then, churches have grown strangely quiet about this danger. It must be the “frog in the pot” phenomenon. Rock permeates society, and we have grown accustomed to it, even though the music and the culture it has helped create have grown ever more wicked. Today our warning about rock is just as fervent as it was 40 years ago, though the content is updated for a new generation. The power of rock to produce rebels and to build the one-world church has not lessened. Homes and churches that don’t give clear and persistent warnings about rock music in all of its forms should not be surprised if their young people are worldly and tend toward New Evangelical and emerging church thinking. This book lays out nine things that every Christian should know about rock music. 1. It represents a moral revolution. 2. It preaches a philosophy of narcissism and licentiousness. 3. It is permeated with blasphemy. 4. It is the music of false christs. 5. It is condemned by the Bible. 6. It is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. 7. It is at the heart of the one-world church. 8. It is addictive. 9. The only sure protection is to avoid it. 70 pages.
Rock & Roll’s War against God. This is an examination of rock music and its evil influence on society. Chapters include “My Experience with Rock Music” (the author’s testimony), “What Every Christian Should Know about Rock,” “The History of Rock,” “The Roots of Rock” (blues, jazz, black spirituals, and Southern Gospel), “The Pioneers of Rock” (the lives of pioneer rockers, the influence of 50s and 60s rock on society, etc.), “The Character of Rock Music,” “Rock and the Occult,” “Rock and Spirituality,” “Rock and Violence,” “Rock and Love,” “Rock and Voodoo,” “Rock and Drugs,” “Rock and Suicide,” “Rock and Insanity,” “Rock Musicians as Mediums,” “Rock and Pagan Religion,” “Death Metal Rock,” and “How Rock Rebels Are Produced.” 785 pages.
A Plea to Southern Gospel Music Fans. The book deals with this subject extensively with the most up-to-date research. It is also a multimedia report with 67 links to audio and video clips that illustrate the points, particularly the musical and vocal styles. 150 pages
The music people must also be educated. The previous materials are a good starting point for educating the church’s music people.
The whole church must be educated. Education on the music issue should permeate the church’s ministry. If only the leaders understand the issue, the church will change when the leaders change. The parents must be educated so they can lead the way in their homes. The young people must be well educated on this issue, since the character of the youth determines the future of the church.
An Effectual Vetting Process
Clear standards must be in place and all music used in the church must be vetted by someone who has been properly educated.
Contemporary music usually enters the church through the specials and the choir numbers.
The Power of Incrementalism
The move to contemporary music never happens overnight. It doesn’t come full-blown. It happens as a process of incrementalism. It happens by pushing the boundaries just a little at a time. But the pushing is always in the direction of the contemporary.
The best position on music is to draw the line at the very safest place. If it is questionable, leave it alone.
The Power of a Good Song Service
It is not enough to avoid contemporary music and to eschew charismatic praise and worship. That’s important but it is actually a minor thing.
A discipling church will work hard at using sacred music as the powerful instrument for sanctification and worship that it is.
We put a lot of work into the song services.
Training good song leaders
The song services are too important to be given into the hands of just anyone who happens to be available. Like everything else, we pray for God to raise up the right people for this ministry.
We look for those who have the spiritual qualifications required of all church workers, plus they need to understand music and, ideally, have some ability to play a musical instrument. We also look for leadership ability. The song leader must be a leader. He might not be a pastor, but he is the leader of the song service.
I spend a lot of time and effort training song leaders. The material I use for this can be found in the report “Marks of Good Song Leading” at www.wayoflife.org.
Teaching the people the purpose of the song service
One major thing we teach the song leaders is the purpose of the song service so they can in turn teach the people.
The purpose is two-fold according to Ephesians 5:18 and Colossians 3:16, which is to sing to God (worship) and to sing to one another (edification of the body).
The lyrics of the songs can be categorized by these two things.
We teach the song leaders that the songs are the message. The song leader’s job is not to preach mini messages before or after each song to explain it. His job, rather, is to draw the people’s attention to the song’s message and to teach them to sing from their hearts with understanding. Some songs are sung directly to God, and some songs are sung to themselves and to the other brethren.
The song leader will explain any words that the people might not be familiar with (such as “beulah” or “seraph”), point the people’s attention to the basic theme of the song, and then encourage the people to sing with understanding.
Concentrating on the song service
We want the people to concentrate on the song service without distraction. For this reason, we sing for a half hour or more without interruption. We open with a greeting by one of the leaders and the opening prayer, then the song leader leads the congregation in an extended song service. This way the people can get their minds and hearts in tune with the service and sing with understanding. After the song service, we have the announcements, Bible reading and memorization, offering, etc. Then we have the preaching.
A ministry of the body
The church is a body, and we do our best to include as many of the Lord’s people as possible in the ministry.
In addition to our mid-week testimony time, once a month we devote the entire song service to choices by the people. The people raise their hands and wait to be recognized, so everything is done decently and in order, and then the individual either quotes or reads a Bible verse and tells what song he wants to sing. We sing the first two stanzas of the songs so there is opportunity for more people to have a choice. This is another opportunity for the people to have more direct participation in the services.
Sometimes we have an actual worship service. In this service we only sing songs that are directed to the Lord, such as “Holy, Holy, Holy,” or songs that are partially directed to the Lord, such as the last stanza of “Day by Day” and the chorus to “Living for Jesus” and “I’m Pressing on the Upward Way.” We teach the people to meditate on the words and to direct the message of the hymn to the Lord as a prayer from their hearts.
A lot of instruction is required for these types of things to be effective.
The Bounty of Sacred Music
There is no end to the variety of sacred music available today.
There are many dozens of sacred music hymnbooks, both new and old.
Another sacred music resource is the Psalters in which the Psalms are rephrased and sung by meter.
The previous material is excerpted from THE DISCIPLING CHURCH: THE CHURCH THAT WILL STAND UNTIL JESUS COMES, 550 pages. Available in print or as a free eBook
Sharing Policy: Much of our material is available for free, such as the hundreds of articles at the Way of Life web site. Other items we sell to help fund our expensive literature and foreign church planting ministries. Way of Life's content falls into two categories: sharable and non-sharable. Things that we encourage you to share include the audio sermons, O Timothy magazine, FBIS articles, and the free eVideos and free eBooks. You are welcome to make copies of these at your own expense and share them with friends and family. You may also post parts of reports and/or entire reports to websites, blogs, etc as long as you give proper credit (citation). A link to the original report is very much appreciated as the reports are frequently updated and/or expanded. Things we do not want copied and distributed are "Store" items like the Fundamental Baptist Digital Library, print editions of our books, electronic editions of the books that we sell, the videos that we sell, etc. The items have taken years to produce at enormous expense in time and money, and we use the income from sales to help fund the ministry. We trust that your Christian honesty will preserve the integrity of this policy. "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward" (1 Timothy 5:18). Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org
Goal:Distributed by Way of Life Literature Inc., the Fundamental Baptist Information Service is an e-mail posting for Bible-believing Christians. Established in 1974, Way of Life Literature is a fundamental Baptist preaching and publishing ministry based in Bethel Baptist Church, London, Ontario, of which Wilbert Unger is the founding Pastor. Brother Cloud lives in South Asia where he has been a church planting missionary since 1979. Our primary goal with the FBIS is to provide material to assist preachers in the edification and protection of the churches.
Offering: Offerings are welcome if you care to make one. If you have been helped and/or blessed by our material offerings can be mailed or made online with with Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or Paypal. For information see: www.wayoflife.org/about/makeanoffering.html.
Way of Life Literature
Publisher of Bible Study Materials
Way of Life Literature
Publisher of Bible Study Materials