On May 4, 2006, Bill Gaither issued a public statement “regarding misrepresentation” about his 2002 meeting with Marsha Stevens. He calls her story “a sad one” and says it is “unfortunate” that she has publicly declared herself to be a lesbian” (“Gaither Issues Statement Regarding Misrepresentation,” SingingNews.com, May 4).
He claims that false reports of what transpired at the December 2002 concert have surfaced on various web sites and says he wants to set the record straight; but in this statement he admits practically everything that Marsha Stevens had reported.
He acknowledges that he admitted her to the backstage area where she and her partner were greeted by him and Mark Lowry.
He acknowledges that he invited the crowd to sing her song later that night and that he told them that the woman who wrote it was in the crowd.
Gaither also acknowledged that his photo was taken with Stevens, but he says Stevens has “exploited the photo at her website.” We do not see how it can be called exploitation to display a photo for which someone obviously posed. The picture shows the four of them standing in front of a blue backdrop that features the words “Gaither Homecoming Concert.” From left to right the picture shows Cindy (Stevens’ lesbian partner), Marsha Stevens, Bill Gaither, and Mark Lowry. All four are bunched together shoulder to shoulder and Gaither is standing as close to Stevens as one can get. It appears that he has his arm around her. Both Gaither and Lowry are smiling broadly. It was not a candid shot, folks!
Gaither acknowledges that he made the following statement to the crowd after he had told them that the author of “For Those Tears I Died” was present:
“I then said that I love that song because someone may have seen a grownup with a Jesus that maybe is pushing you away, that wouldn’t let you in. And you were never good enough. The only Christ I know is the Christ in that song, with His arms out very wide, saying, ‘come to the water.’ That’s the only Christ I know--come as you are.”
Since Gaither didn’t say anything about repentance from sin (the sinner can come as he is but he is to turn around and walk as Jesus walked) and did not warn his Southern Gospel crowd about Stevens’ homosexuality, he actually confirmed her and her lifestyle by singing her song and making such a statement.
The Lord Jesus Christ did not die for tears; He died for sin. And Christ suffered to save men FROM their sins not in their sins. He taught us that there is no salvation without repentance. “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3, 5). To the woman caught in adultery He said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (Jn. 8:11). To the cripple man who was healed, Christ said, “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee” (Jn. 5:14).
The Bible plainly teaches that homosexuality is a grave sin. It is described in Romans 1:26-28 as “vile affections” (v. 26), “against nature” (v. 26), “unseemly” (v. 27), “a reprobate mind” (v. 28).
Any sin can be forgiven through the blood of Jesus Christ, but sin must be repented of and the sinner must be converted and regenerated so that he has a new impulse toward holiness and righteousness and a revulsion toward sin.
The believers in the wicked city of Corinth had committed every sort of sin before they were saved, but they had been changed. Paul warned them as follows:
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such WERE some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
Paul warned the church at Corinth that God does not tolerate their fornication. “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18). If a professing Christian commits fornication and refuses to repent he must be disciplined out of the church (1 Cor. 5:11). Paul told the church at Ephesus that fornication should not be “once named among you, as becometh saints” (Eph. 5:3). The Bible teaches that any sexual relationship outside of marriage is a sin. “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).
Bill Gaither and Mark Lowry and the entire contemporary Southern Gospel crowd need to heed the solemn warning from God’s Word. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived!
Paul was saying the same thing in 1 Corinthians 6 that the Lord Jesus said to Nicodemas: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3).
The grace of God does not teach men that they can live as they please and still have God’s blessing. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11-12).
Christ did not die so that the sinner can live as he pleases and still feel that God is pleased with him. Rather he “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14).
By God’s grace, any homosexual can repent of his sin and cast himself upon Jesus Christ as his or her Lord and Saviour, but he cannot continue to live in his fornication and moral perversion and pretend that all is well between him and a holy God.
Hebrews 12 says that God chastens His children when they sin, and if someone can sin with immunity he is not a child of God.
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons” (Heb. 12:6-8).
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John 1:5-6).
“He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).
Is it wrong for believers to condemn sinful practices in this world? Is that Phariseeism? Is it legalism? Certainly not!
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather REPROVE THEM. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light” (Eph. 5:11-13).
To reprove the sinful things of this world is the Christian’s solemn spiritual obligation. Reproof shines the light of God’s Word upon wickedness so that the sinner can be convicted of his sin and brought to repentance and faith.
The only part of Stevens’ report of the evening that Gaither attempts to refute in any way is her statement that he and his wife told her that they support her ministry. He says, in fact, that he does not endorse her or her current life and work, but that he does believe that “God can, and does still use this song to minister to people.” This is what he says now, but we still wonder what he actually told Stevens that night.
By the way, Gaither says nothing about the statement that Mark Lowry allegedly made to Stevens, which was that he was proud of what she is doing and that he wished “the fundamentalist would find Jesus. They’re going to have a lot to answer for, leaving out people that Jesus died for” (Marsha Stevens, “New Years Eve 2002 with Bill Gaither,” www.christiangays.com). That statement rings true to everything we know about Lowry and his vicious anti-fundamentalist stance.
BILL GAITHER AND ROME: THE ECUMENICAL PHILOSOPHY
Bill Gaither has had an ecumenical philosophy from the beginning of his musical career. In his autobiography “It’s More Than the Music,” he states 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).
The Gaither hymnal “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 that I attended with press credentials. One-half of the 25,000 participants were Roman Catholics. A Catholic mass was held each morning during this conference, and Catholic priest Tom Forrest from Rome brought the closing message. Roughly 40 other denominations were present. The Gaithers were perfectly at home in this unscriptural gathering and entertained the mixed multitude with their jazzy music.
The Gaither Vocal Band performed at the Promise Keepers’ second major men’s conference in Boulder, Colorado, in 1994. Promise Keepers is radically ecumenical. In an interview with the Catholic publication Our Sunday Visitor, Promise Keepers founder Bill McCartney said that full Catholic participation was his intention from the start. “Back in 1992, at our first stadium event, we very clearly stated from the podium that we eagerly welcomed the participation of Roman Catholics, and we’ve had scores of Roman Catholics attend and go back to their churches excited” (Our Sunday Visitor, July 20, 1997, p. 10). Roman Catholic paper The Tidings (March 31, 1995) stated that Promise Keepers is “being expanded to include Catholic congregations.” Catholics were encouraged to participate in Promise Keepers because “there is no doctrinal issue which should cause concern to the Catholic Church” and “there is no attempt at proselytizing or drawing men away from their [Catholic] faith to another church.” Catholic priest John Salazar spoke at a Promise Keepers meeting in Plainview, Texas, in December 1995 (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, December 3, 1995). The Promise Keepers field representative for the upper Midwest at that time, Steve Jenkins, was a Roman Catholic. A Promise Keepers Wake Up Call brochure distributed in San Louis Obispo, California, urged pastors, churches and their men to attend special rallies during March 1996, one of which was held at the St. Rose Catholic Church in Paso Robles. In 1997 Promise Keepers appointed a Roman Catholic, Mike Timmis, to its Board of Directors. One of the speakers at several of 1997 PK rallies was Roman Catholic “evangelist” Jim Berlucchi (“Making New Catholic Men?” Our Sunday Visitor, July 20, 1997, p. 10). In June 1997, Promise Keepers hosted a Catholic Summit at its headquarters in Denver, “sounding out Catholic volunteers and leaders from around the world” (Ibid.). In June 1997, Promise Keepers organized a Roman Catholic mass as part of its Rich Stadium conference in Buffalo, New York (The Humanist, Sept. 19, 1997). Following a luncheon with Bill McCartney in January 1998, Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver gave a “thumbs-up” to Catholic men who want to participate in Promise Keepers (The Catholic Register, quoted in Religious News Service, Jan. 19, 1998).
In 1999 Bill Gaither joined forces with dc Talk founder Toby McKeehan to “create a new modern worship music label, 40 Records” (CCM magazine, July 1999, p. 11). The goal is “to stretch the boundary of worship music” and to “give a youthful spirit to worship music for ANY DENOMINATION…”
Speaking of the new music company, Gaither said: “I view building bridges of understanding of different cultures and PHILOSOPHICAL POINTS OF VIEW as part of my calling. UNITY DOES NOT DEPEND ON OUR CONSENSUS OF OPINION, but on our unity in Christ.”
This is a false and dangerous statement. Biblical unity does depend on a consensus of opinion about doctrine. Ephesians 4:1-6, which speaks of Christian unity, says there is only “one faith” (verse 5). This refers to the body of truth delivered by the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and recorded in the New Testament Scriptures. Philippians 1:27 also speaks of Christian unity, and it demands “one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” That is not a description of modern ecumenism. Timothy was instructed to allow “no other doctrine” in the churches he was overseeing (1 Timothy 3:16). Paul taught the church at Rome that false doctrine is the basis for separation (Romans 16:17).
Like Gaither, McKeehan and dc Talk are unscripturally ecumenical and even accept Roman Catholics as brothers and sisters in Christ in spite of Rome’s false sacramental gospel, heresies pertaining to the papacy, Mary, the priesthood, etc. When Pope John Paul II visited the States in January 1999, dc Talk joined hands with hundreds of thousands of Catholics to welcome him. Featured at a Catholic youth rally connected with the Pope’s visit, were dc Talk, Audio Adrenaline, Rebecca St. James, Jennifer Knapp, The W’s, and the Supertones (CCM Magazine, April 1999, p. 12). dc Talk’s Kevin Max praised the Catholic youth for coming out to hear the Pope, describing John Paul II as “someone with something of substance to say” (Ibid.). Each attendee received a rosary with instructions about how to pray to Mary.
The Gaithers frequently perform and record songs that present an ecumenical philosophy. “SONGS THAT ANSWER QUESTIONS” from their Back Home in Indiana album has the following lyrics:
“Don’t want to spend my life a preachin’ sermons/ that give answers to the questions no one’s asking anywhere/ When there’s so much pain and hurting/ there’s no time to be searching/ for the needles in the haystacks that aren’t there/ I wanna spend my time a wearin’ myself out for Jesus/ with the news a cure’s been found to heal our land/ Stead of making lists, inventing creeds/ that aren’t concerned with people’s needs/ I’ll show ‘em how to touch the nail scarred hand/ Don’t wanna spend my time prayin’ prayers/ Bombarding heaven with requests to rain down fire on saints who care [unclear]/ In our methods we may differ, but if Christ the Lord we live for/ May we not forget the enemy is OUT THERE.”
This song contains half-truths and subtle errors, which can be more dangerous than plain and obvious errors. While it is true that God’s people are to be concerned about suffering and are to be showing people how to “touch the nail scarred hand,” it is not true that preaching is to be limited merely to answering questions people have. The preacher is instructed to preach the whole counsel of God and the whole Word of God (Acts 20:27; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 4:1-2). The Bible warns that it is apostate people who will desire teachers who teach merely what they want to hear, what they feel a need for (2 Timothy 4:3-4). This sounds very much like what the Gaithers are singing about.
It is also not true that “a cure’s been found to heal our land.” The cure provided by the Gospel is the cure for personal salvation, not national salvation. The Apostles did not try to “heal the land,” they preached the Gospel and discipled believers.
It is also not true that it is wrong to “make lists” or “invent creeds” that aren’t concerned with people’s needs. The lists and creeds mentioned in this song refer to doctrinal studies and statements of faith. Doctrinal studies must, first of all, faithfully represent Bible truth, regardless of whether or not it meets “people’s needs.” Sound Bible doctrine does meet man’s deepest needs, of course, but that does not mean that Bible doctrine meets the felt needs of unsaved or carnal people. The unsaved or carnal man does not feel he has a need to be told he is a sinner or that he is has no righteousness before God or that he is to repent or that he is to die to self or that he is to separate from the world or that there is an eternal hell, etc., but sound Bible doctrine tells him all of these things. The unsaved crowd does not believe it needs any of the Bible, really!
This song encourages the hearers to despise doctrinal studies and research and teaching and statements of faith, which is the attitude typically found in the ecumenical movement.
It is also not true that the divisions among Christians are merely about differing methods or that differing methods are not important. Take baptism, for example. Some denominations “baptize” infants. That is their “method.” Some baptize only those who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior. Some sprinkle; others immerse. These are differing methods, but they are not insignificant and cannot be ignored. It is also not true that the “enemy” is limited to things outside of the churches. The Bible warns of false teachers, false christs, false spirits, false gospels, deluding spirits, doctrines of devils--all of which will be found within churches and among professing Christians.
It is also not true that fundamentalists are praying for fire to fall on those with whom they disagree doctrinally. That is a vicious libel upon biblical fundamentalists who wish no harm upon anyone but who care deeply about the truth of God’s Word.
The unscriptural and very dangerous message of this song is put across by the effective means of a country-rock rhythm and repetition.
Another ecumenical Gaither song is “JESUS BUILT THIS CHURCH ON LOVE” from their Back Home in Indiana album. The lead on the song is performed by Candy “Hemphill” Christmas, who travels with the Gaithers. The song is sung at many of the Gaither concerts. It is done in the style of a mid-tempo jazzy black spiritual with heavy drums and bass guitar.
“Do you ever just get to wonderin’/ ‘bout the way things are today?/ So many on board this gospel ship/ Trying to row in a different way/ If we’d all pull together/ Like a family me and you/ We’d come a lot closer to doin’/ what the Lord called us to do.
Chorus: “Jesus built this church on love/ and that’s what it’s all about/ Trying to get everybody saved/ not to keep anybody out...”
This song implies that the divisions within Christianity are largely if not entirely man-made and unnecessary, that if professing Christians would merely “pull together” and exercise love the divisions would be healed. It is a feel-good sentiment, a nice fairy tale which has wide appeal, but it is unreasonable and unscriptural. The Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles warned repeatedly that false teachers would lead many astray, that there would be false christs, false spirits, false gospels, false churches, doctrines of devils (Matt. 7:15-23; 24:3-5,11,24; Acts 20:28-30; 2 Cor. 1:1-4; Galatians 1; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:13; 4:3-4; 2 Pet. 2; 1 John 4:1; Jude; etc.). The book of Revelation predicts a one-world end-time harlot Christian religion (Rev. 17). Those who preach an ecumenical unity rarely even mention these Bible warnings and never focus on them. They do not tell us where these false christs, false gospels, false spirits, false teachers, and false churches are in Christianity today. They imply, rather, that the denominational divisions are largely unnecessary and petty which could be overcome by a little ecumenical love. There are many problems among Christians which can be healed through love, but it simply is not true that love will heal the major divisions within Christianity. The differences between denominations involve serious doctrinal issues which cannot be ignored and which cannot be solved through sentimental songs. This Gaither song also says the churches are “not to keep anybody out.” That is openly contrary to the Bible’s command to separate from error and to exercise church discipline (Rom. 16:17; 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; 2 Tim. 2:16-21; 3:5; 2 John 8-11; Rev. 18:4).
Another ecumenical Gaither song is “LOVING GOD, LIVING EACH OTHER” from the album by that name.
“They pushed back from the table/ To listen to his words/ His secret plan before he had to go/ It’s not complicated/ Don’t need a lot of rules/ This is all you need to know/ We tend to make it harder/ Build steeples out of stone/ Fill books with explanations of the way/ But if we’d stop and listen/ And break a little bread/ We would hear the Master say/ It’s Loving God, loving each other/ Making music with my friends/ Loving God, loving each other/ And the story never ends.”
The song contains more half truths and subtle errors. Love is a very important part of the Christian life, but true Christian love is obeying God’s Word (John 14:23; 1 John 5:3). To say that we “don’t need a lot of rules” ignores the fact that the New Testament is literally filled with commandments! To say that we don’t need to “fill books with explanations of the way” ignores the fact that the Bible instructs us to “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). It ignores the fact that the Bible is given for “doctrine” (teaching) (2 Tim. 3:16) and that preachers are instructed to teach other men (2 Tim. 2:2), that older women are instructed to teach younger women (Titus 2:3-5), etc. Bible teaching certainly involves “filling books with explanations of the way.” That is precisely what the Apostles did in the Epistles. The Bible itself contains 66 books with explanations of the way! This Gaither song presents a sentimental, ecumenical approach to the Christian life and ministry which is simplistic and appealing to a modern crowd but which is patently contrary to the Scriptures. The unscriptural message of this song is put across by the very effective means of a driving country-rock rhythm and by means of repetition.
BILL GAITHER WARNS AGAINST JUDGING
In an interview with Kim Jones, a tattooed female rocker who writes a column for the Roman Catholic publication Holy Spirit Interactive, Bill Gaither said: “Finger pointing is never, I think, of God. Because I know that Scripture ‘judgment is mine, saith the Lord.’ When we get out of the judgment business and just get into the being business, the being what God wants us to be, it will take care of itself” (Holy Spirit Interactive, Dec. 6, 2004).
This level of biblical ignorance is frightening, especially when we consider the vast influence that Bill Gaither wields among churches in this generation.
First of all, the Bible nowhere says, “Judgment is mine, saith the Lord.” It says, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). The believer is taught to give place unto wrath and to avoid avenging himself upon his enemies, because that is strictly God’s business.
On the other hand, though the believer is forbidden to judge hypocritically (Mat. 7:1-5) and forbidden to judge in matters in which the Bible is silent in this New Testament dispensation (Rom. 14:1-5; Col. 2:16), such as in diet and holy days, he is most definitely taught to judge things by testing it with the Word of God and condemning it if it is in error. The believer is to judge sin in the church (1 Cor. 5:12). He is to judge preaching and teaching (1 Cor. 14:29; Acts 17:11). As a matter of fact, “he that is spiritual judgeth all things” (1 Cor. 2:15). That is a very far-reaching statement. The spiritual man knows that he lives in a world of sin and spiritual darkness and error and he is warned repeatedly in the Bible about false teaching and apostasy and spiritual deception. Thus he carefully tests everything by the light of God’s Word. The spiritual man does not judge by his own thinking and opinion, but by the holy Word of God, which he has in the Scriptures.
The Gaithers represent the very heart and soul of contemporary Southern gospel music today. In recent years they have held “homecoming” specials which have brought together most of the well known Southern gospel groups. These include members of the Statesmen, the Blackwood Brothers, the Cathedrals, the Goodman’s, the Speer Family, the Florida Boys, the Gatlin Brothers, and many others. Those who have attended these gatherings have put their stamp of approval upon the ecumenical-charismatic-rock music side of Southern gospel by not separating from those who are guilty of these things and by not lifting their voices to reprove them.
The Bible instructs us to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11). Revelation 18:4 warns God’s people to come out from among the apostasy of the last hours “that ye be not partakers of her sins.” COMPLICITY WITH DOCTRINAL AND SPIRITUAL ERROR MAKES ME A PARTAKER WITH THAT ERROR. 2 John warns that even to bid God speed to a false teacher makes me “partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 11). I realize this is a very hard line and one that is completely foreign to the thinking of this ecumenical-crazed age, but this is what the Word of God says.
I also realize that the Gaithers have produced some lovely sacred music in the past, but this is no excuse for disobedience to God’s Word. When the Gaithers greet 12,000 Roman Catholics, including many priests and nuns, as brethren in Christ, as they did at Indianapolis ’90, they are partakers of the evil deeds of Rome and God’s people should protest.
It is wrong to associate with those who walk in open disobedience to God’s Word and to support them with record sales and to bring their jazzed up music with its ecumenical philosophy into our churches and homes.
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