“That I might not stultify my testimony I have cut myself clear of those who err from the faith, and even from those who associate with them.’ We do great harm to the cause of Christ by appearing to condone the disobedience of those unequally yoked with unbelievers” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon during the Downgrade Controversy).
Many independent Baptist churches that still have any sort of conviction against CCM are “adapting” it by using the words while toning down the rhythm. They are trying to take the “rock” out of Christian rock. They think they can tame the beast and turn Charismatic praise music into fundamentalist praise music.
This results in the gradual acceptance of and increasing use of CCM, the gradual allowance for sensual rhythms, a continual pushing of the boundaries.
Many discerning men have issued warnings about this slippery slope and its outcome, including the following:
The first example is the late Evangelist Gordon Sears:
“When the standard of music is LOWERED, then the standard of dress is also lowered. When the standard of dress is lowered, then the standard of conduct is also lowered. When the standard of conduct is lowered, then the sense of value in God’s truth is lowered” (Evangelist Gordon Sears, Songfest newsletter, April 2001).
Brother Sears, who I had the privilege of meeting, was a gracious Christian gentleman who loved the Lord and loved the Lord’s churches, and he was deeply concerned about what is happening among fundamental Baptists. He and his talented musician children often traveled together as the Sears Family. I first heard them at Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga in the 1970s. But in the 1990s the number of Sears’ meetings dropped significantly because so many churches had changed their music standards, and they didn’t want an evangelist to come in who might shake the boat. Notice that this godly evangelist, who had decades of experience in exercising his senses to discern good and evil (Heb. 5:12), said the standard of music doesn’t have to be radically changed. It just has to be LOWERED, and that leads to a downward progression that will ultimately result in a lowering of the sense of the value of truth itself. A church can hold to truth, meaning its commitment to doctrinal soundness, without really valuing it or deeply caring for it, and this happens when it buys into the CCM philosophy that “love” and “unity” and “heart” (always wrongly defined, of course) are more important than doctrinal purity, and that philosophy gradually permeates the church.
The next example is by Dr. Frank Garlock:
“In 1 Corinthians 14:7-8 Paul is comparing language to music. Music, as language, must be distinct in its message. When God uses something for an illustration, you know it is good. Music has power; it is addictive. The world recognizes this and uses it to influence people. Thousands of young people have said that it is easier to get off drugs than rock music. The style of music you like tells whom you identify with and what your values are. It shows what kind of person you are. You must test music by the Word of God. It doesn’t matter what you like or dislike, but what is acceptable to God. The CCM movement says that music is amoral, which means that God doesn’t care one way or another. God does care (Isaiah 5:20). God wants you to have discernment in every area of your life. One of these areas is music. IF A CHURCH STARTS USING CCM IT WILL EVENTUALLY LOSE ALL OTHER STANDARDS. You need to draw a line concerning your music” (Garlock, Bob Jones University chapel, March 12, 2001).
Dr. Garlock has been instructing churches about the danger of using the world’s music for nearly many decades. He has a doctorate from BJU and has taken every graduate course in music offered by the celebrated Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, sitting under Howard Hanson.
Garlock’s first book was The Big Beat in 1971, which warned about the danger of rock & roll at a time when I was living the rock & roll lifestyle to the hilt. In 1973, Dr. Garlock published the Symphony of Life seminar on video, and it had a wide and godly influence. That was also the year that God in His great mercy saved me and changed my taste both in lifestyle and music. I turned 24 that year, and a few months later I published the first of my own books warning of the dangers of rock. It was titled “Mom and Dad Sleep While the Children Rock in Satan’s Cradle.”
Notice in the previous quote that Dr. Garlock is dogmatic, saying that if a church starts using CCM it will eventually lose all other standards, and he doesn’t allow for any exceptions. He doesn’t say that there is a way to “adapt” CCM to avoid this slide. I don’t know what he thinks of West Coast’s music (I know that he has spoken there in recent years), but to “adapt” CCM is doubtless the same as “using CCM.”
The next quote is by the late Ernest Pickering:
“Perhaps nothing precipitates a slide toward New Evangelicalism more than the introduction of Contemporary Christian Music. This inevitably leads toward a gradual slide in other areas as well until the entire church is infiltrated by ideas and programs alien to the original position of the church” (Dr. Ernest Pickering, The Tragedy of Compromise: The Origin and Impact of the New Evangelicalism, Bob Jones University Press, 1994).
Dr. Pickering, who died in 2000, was National Executive Secretary for the Independent Fundamental Churches of America, Dean of Central Baptist Theological Seminary and of Baptist Bible College, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, founder of Baptist World Mission, and pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Toledo, Ohio, and Fourth Baptist Church of Minneapolis, Minnesota. We certainly would not have agreed with him on everything, but he was a warhorse who stood for his convictions. He stood publicly against the very popular Billy Graham as early as 1957. He resigned from Northwest Baptist Seminary because the board of trustees considered his position on ecclesiastical separation “overly strict.”
Pickering did not treat New Evangelicalism lightly. Unlike many IB preachers, he understood New Evangelicalism for the great danger that it is, labeling it a compromise of tragic proportions. And it was in his book on this subject that he warned that the introduction of CCM precipitates a slide toward New Evangelicalism more than anything else. That is a powerful statement from a man who knew what he was talking about. And observe that this slide is brought about by the mere “INTRODUCTION” of CCM. It doesn’t have to be a full blown reception at first. It just has to be introduced, and the church is on its way to New Evangelicalism.
This is because the “introduction” of CCM at any level and in any way brings the church into intimate association with the world of CCM which is totally, passionately committed to the New Evangelical philosophy at best, and to “ideas and programs alien” to the position of an old-fashioned fundamental Baptist church.
The final quote is by the late Victor Sears:
“Good fundamental Baptists and others that refuse the teachings of the charismatic crowd concerning tongues, signs, miracles, and so forth are NOW SINGING THEIR MUSIC in our churches and preparing our people for the world, the flesh and the Devil. It is the new Trojan Horse move ... to deaden our churches to spiritual truth” (Sears, Baptist Bible Tribune, 1981).
Victor Sears was a old-fashioned, down-to-earth, no-nonsense, “let’s not beat around the bush” Baptist preacher. I never met the man or heard him preach in person that I can recall, but I thank God for the few things I have read from his pen.
One was a piece he wrote for the Atlantic Beacon in November 1983:
“There is much loose, unscriptural thinking and practice on the prowl today and many Christians are falling for it. The way of least-resistance becomes the philosophy of many who follow the way of compromise and disobedience in this apostate, Laodicean age. I see these things happening in a crescendo that is moving surreptitiously toward the darkness of the anti-christ. I'm moved with awe and fear as I see men who a few years ago stood for fundamentalism now falling into the insidious clutches of compromise and disobedience. What has happened to such scriptures as the following: ‘Can two walk together, except they be agreed?; Amos 3:3 ... There is no doubt in my mind that our leaders, many of them envisioning dreams of personal greatness and bit by the virus of bigness, have been led astray into unscriptural channels of compromise. ... Let's not support compromise! Let's arise to the need of the hour, pay the price whatever the cost, and ‘stand in the gap before men for the land.’ It may cost! It may hurt! We may lose some friends! I may lose meetings over the issue, but I have spent 45 years in the gospel ministry and I don't want to spend my sunset years of my life walking arm in arm with ecumenical compromise and dishonoring associations. We may not walk with the majority but we can be a fundamental minority. This was true in Christ's day as well as Paul's and it can be true of us being faithful” (“The Way of Least Resistance,” Atlantic Beacon, November 1983).
Brother Sears believed in biblical separation and believed in paying whatever price is necessary to maintain the truth. He was willing to be in the minority. He understood the “virus of bigness” and its ever-present potential to lead to compromise.
The other quote from Victor Sears that has stayed with me ever since I first read it is the previous one about the Trojan Horse character of CCM.
Sears issued this warning 30 years ago. He was definitely a prophet, because that was before CCM began to sweep into IB churches. But courageous old Victor Sears saw it as “the new Trojan Horse move ... to deaden our churches to spiritual truth.” He recognized that CCM comes predominantly from the charismatic movement with its heretically bogus, demon-inspired tongues, signs and miracles. He warned about fundamentalist churches that “SING THEIR MUSIC.” Observe that he didn’t say that a church has to sing charismatic music in exactly the same way that they sing it. They just have to sing it to whatever tune they want, toned down as much as they want, and that CCM music becomes a trojan horse to deaden the church to the truth.
Sears knew that the contemporary music brings a foreign philosophy, and he was deeply concerned about what was already beginning to happen in some IB churches. He was a leader in the Baptist Bible Fellowship International, and this was the first group of Independent Baptists that accepted the Trojan Horse. It first entered through the use of contemporary background tapes for singing specials. I recall attending a BBFI preachers conference in the 1980s. The music was CCM even then. The congregational singing was still very traditional and sacred, but when the special singers got up and they cranked up the background tape the atmosphere changed instantly from church to nightclub. The Trojan Horse also entered through the “adaption” of CCM by using the songs but toning down the rhythm.
In light of these warnings, it is not surprising that the BBFI today has capitulated to the New Evangelical philosophy. The men of real conviction and moral courage left long ago.
Consider the BBFI national conference in 2002. It was hosted by Bethlehem Baptist Church of Fairfax, Virginia. At one time this church was an old-fashioned Baptist church that believed in separation, but for many decades the church has been moving ever more gradually in a contemporary direction. By 2002 the church’s “worship team” was led by four women. That year theyalso got a new youth pastor, Rob Hoerr, who was featured in the church paper bedecked with a goatee, an earring, and a t-shirt advertising a dark Christian rock group called P.O.D. The next year the pastor, David Stokes, said in a letter to his congregation: “With regard to dress and modesty issues, we enforce NO RULE on our folks. … apparel issues are really of NO CONCERN to us” (emphasis added). They stopped using the King James Bible and moved to the New Living Translation or whatever version suits their fancy. The church’s Skate Night, which is sponsored by secular skateboarding companies, is described as an event where “Christian rock Throbs.” And, of course, having become very cool and emerging, they dropped their “brand” and changed the name of the congregation to “Fair Oaks Church.”
Victor Sears was a prophet. CCM was indeed a Trojan Horse that helped destroy the character of the BBFI. It also destroyed the character of Southwide Baptist Fellowship.
And it is destroying the character of countless IB churches that are too busy with “really important things” to care much about some “little” issue like “borderline” music.
Churches like Lancaster Baptist and schools like West Coast apparently think they can flirt around with CCM and take the “rock” out of Christian rock so that it becomes “tame” and “acceptable,” but they are deceiving themselves and leading many others astray.
This will become obvious to anyone with spiritual eyes within 10 years, but it will be far too late by then to do anything about it.
“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
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