Entitled “Should I Separate from Fellow Independent Baptists,” the report by Pastor Scott Wendal of Valley Forge Baptist Temple is frightfully wide of the mark of truth.
In fact, Pastor Wendal proved the accuracy of my recent warning.
In a report published on December 15, 2011 entitled “Why Most Fundamental Baptist Churches Will Be Emerging within Two Decades,” I gave the following reasons:
1. The maligning of warning and reproof
2. The unquestioning loyalty to man (placing some men above reproof)
3. Ignorance about Important Issues
4. Soft Separatism
5. Lack of serious discipleship
6. Carelessness about music
7. Quick Prayerism
Wendal’s conclusion to the issue of separation from fellow Independent Baptists was as follows:
“Let’s start praying for our independent Baptist brethren, rather than separating from them! Who knows--God may bless you now and reward you later for this wise decision” (“Should I Separate from Fellow Independent Baptists,” June 13, 2011).
His conclusion, then, is that we should not separate from Independent Baptists. If this is not “soft separatism,” I don’t know what is.
I have been preaching for nearly 40 years and the negative changes that have occurred among Independent Baptists is frightful and shocking. In this day and time when dozens of heresies have found a happy home among Independent Baptists and when large numbers of IFB churches, such as Trinity Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida, are well down the emerging path, it is open and gross disobedience to Almighty God to say that we should not separate from a bunch of IFBs.
Weldal’s blog is as wrong-headed as Harold Ockenga’s statement in 1947 or 1948 in which he denounced separatism and founded the New Evangelical movement. At the time, Ockenga wasn’t renouncing all separatism. He was renouncing “extreme” separatism from “true” brethren. When Christianity Today was founded along that time, it was theologically sound. It was nearly fundamentalist. It featured articles opposing liberalism and Romanism and worldliness.
But because of the “small” seeds of compromise that were sown in the 1950s, the slide away from truth has been steady, so that now, 50 years later, an editor of Christianity Today praises The Shack with its idolatrous mother-father goddess. I was at the meeting where this happened with press credentials. (See the report “The Emerging Church Is Coming” at the Way of Life web site.)
In a mere half century of compromise, prominent evangelicals have slide from issuing warnings about theological liberalism to praising false gods.
Indeed, a little leaven leavens the whole lump (1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9). This warning is repeated twice in Scripture, because it is such an important truth. But prominent independent Baptist preachers apparently think they aren’t susceptible to that principle, because they don’t accept reproof except in “big” matters and only when the music becomes ear-splitting and they reject and sideline those who give such reproof.
Yes, we need to pray for our brethren. I pray earnestly for my fellow independent Baptist preachers. I have often prayed for Paul Chappell, with tears. I pray for independent Baptist preachers in general with passion. God is my witness. The fact is that probably all of us need a spiritual revival, living as we do in this filthy end-time society and walking as we do in the midst of such great apostasy, but a lot of independent Baptist preachers are leading the people into terrible and treacherous waters, as I have documented. (See the free eBook Biblical Separatism and Its Collapse among Fundamental Baptists, which is available at the Way of Life web site.)
“My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1).
When it comes to carelessness about music, Pastor Wendal represents the thinking that is so typical. He writes:
“Here the water gets a little muddy, does it not? I only have 30 years under my belt on this one, but if a pastor fires the choir and replaces it with drums and ear piercing electric guitars, I am not standing with him shoulder to shoulder! I will separate. But having lived in different parts of the country I have discovered that some people’s English has a different sound to it. Some people are just going to talk and sing a little differently! If they sound different to me, then…maybe I sound different to them. If a church or college has slightly different musical styles or tastes, I find that is not grounds for biblical separation. God’s Word says nothing about sixteenth notes or mild syncopation. It has a great deal to say about, ‘Endeavoring to keep the unity,’ (Ephesians 4:3) and His holy hatred of sowing seeds of ‘discord among the brethren’ (Proverbs 6:19). I do not need to bow to a so-called ‘musical expert’ in order to determine Spirit-filled music for my church family. As a pastor, I have been given the Word of God and the Spirit of God to lead the flock of God for our worship services.”
This statement proves at least two of my points about the direction of the Independent Baptist movement and the great danger it is in.
First, Pastor Wendal’s statement proves that many despise reproof and warning. Notice the cheap shot about “discord among brethren,” as if warning about carnal, worldly music is sowing discord in an unscriptural manner and is somehow displeasing to the Lord.
Second, his statement proves that many independent Baptists are ignorant of important issues. This pastor even has the audacity to mock the need for “musical experts.”
While it is certainly true that the Spirit of God gives wisdom, nowhere does the Bible support the idea that preacher doesn’t need help. In fact, the qualified pastor is not a man who receives direct revelation from God. He a man who has “been taught” (Titus 1:9). Hopefully, he has been taught by someone who is at least a bit “expert.”
Are we to think that Pastor Wendal never consults a commentary or dictionary written by men with some expertise in Bible study and interpretation?
Unless this is a fact, and hopefully it isn’t, he is being grossly inconsistent in regard to the issue of music.
I thank the Lord for wise men who have gotten learning in certain fields. I learn from such men every day of my life. That’s why I love to read. I’m sure I could learn things from Pastor Wendal, if he were to speak on subjects on which he has some expertise rather than speaking out on something about which he is admittedly ill informed.
If I am ignorant on a subject, I should have enough sense to keep my mouth shut. Yet a lot of preachers are not only ignorant about music in general and CCM in specific, but they speak out boldly on that very subject!
It’s one thing to be ignorant of something. We are all ignorant about many things, but it’s another thing to claim that you don’t need to be educated. Who but an Independent Baptist would make such a ridiculous statement?
Pastor Wendal says that he will separate from a preacher that replaces the choir with drums and ear-piercing electric guitars. That statement contradicts his conclusion when he says that we should pray for independent Baptists and not separate from them.
Be that as it may, Pastor Wendal’s statement demonstrates a lack of understanding of the transformational power of contemporary worship music as well as its actual character.
By the time the drums and ear-piercing electric guitars are in place in a church it is far too late to correct the problem.
Pastor Wendal claims the Bible says nothing about mild syncopation. Interestingly, that’s exactly what the contemporary crowd says, only they are more consistent because they proceed to say that the Bible says nothing about any type of musical sound. Wendal is playing right into their hands, and so is Pastor Chappell by publishing Wendal’s blog, and so are all of the preachers who are amen-ing this type of thinking.
You can be sure that the young people and the next generation in those churches will take this principle much farther than these men can dream.
You see, the Bible says nothing specifically and directly about drums, either, or even about ear-splitting guitars. But the Bible does say much about music and it does contain many truths and principles that we can apply to music to determine if it is sacred or worldly.
Either we can apply biblical principles to music or we can’t. If we can, we can apply those principles to every type of Christian music and not merely to drums and ear-splitting guitars.
The same Scriptures that Wendal would use to forbid drums and ear-splitting guitars in the church, and we assume he has some Scripture to support his position, can be used to forbid the very essence of rock music, even in its “mild” forms.
IN FACT, “MILD SYNCOPATION” IS THE CHIEF CULPRIT IN THE SLIDE FROM “TRADITIONAL” SACRED MUSIC TO CONTEMPORARY.
We’re not talking about syncopation itself in every form, because there are ways to use syncopation properly to liven up music, such as in the children’s tune “Somewhere in Outer Space.” We’re talking, instead, about the constant, unresolving, dancey syncopation as it is used in rock/pop rhythm, such as a “mild back beat” or beat anticipation.
(We deal with this and give many musical examples to illustrate the points in the video series MUSIC FOR GOOD OR EVIL, which is available from the Way of Life web site, both in DVD and eVideo download formats -- http://wayoflife.org.)
Graham West and Dan Lucarini have proven this. Both men have a background in rock and contemporary music in general. Both are musicians. Both are men of God who are fighting for the life and soul of Bible-believing churches.
The following is excerpted from the report “The Transformational Power of Contemporary Worship Music,” December 8, 2011, which is available at the Way of Life web site.
The sensual dance rhythm of contemporary music has addictive, transformative power, even in its “mild” form.
Dan Lucarini, a former contemporary worship leader, led churches from using traditional hymns to a contemporary worship program, and in the book Why I Left the Contemporary Christian Music Movement he describes how he did it.
The key was starting out with “soft” rock with its “mild syncopation,” which acts as an addictive, transformative influence on the congregation. He writes:
“THE ROCK WAS SOFTER, but it still contained the rock rhythm that undeniably appeals to our flesh. The listener soon develops a craving for it. JUST LIKE AN ADDICT, THERE IS NO TURNING BACK. What happens over time is a steady slide down the slippery slope away from all traditional music into the latest, edgiest contemporary styles.”
Pastor Graham West of Australia, a musician formerly associated with the pop music industry in recording and producing, issues the same warning:
“Once you begin listening to soft rock, you begin sliding down that slippery slope to the more aggressive forms of rock. SOFT ROCK BEGINS TO ORIENT THE WHOLE WAY OF PERCEIVING MUSIC AROUND RHYTHM and away from melody. Your musical interest will change. Hymns will seem dull in comparison to your newly acquired tastes. It’s a progression I’ve seen over and over again in the lives of Christians. IT’S A DOWNWARD SPIRAL. It happens in the lives of individuals; it happens in the lives of families; it happens in the lives of churches.
“There is a GRAY AREA OF IGNORANCE ABOUT THE POWER OF POP SYNCOPATION. And the devil, taking advantage of this, being not only the master musician but also the master of subtlety, comes along to a strong fundamental church or a Bible college and he offers his wares of CCM rock ballads. It sounds great. There’s no drums, no wild electric guitars, no obvious back beat, just the piano or guitar and the singer. And it’s almost the same as the songs that they used to sing, except the rhythm kind of trips a little bit. But that’s O.K. because it’s exciting, and the young people love it. The problem is that when the rhythm does that little trip it means that the music contains a basic, distinctive rhythmic feature of all rock & roll since its inception in the 1950s. In this way, before you’ve even known it, you’ve been deceived by the subtle strategy of Satan. This is the blind spot that Satan is using to his advantage. He knows that once a church accepts rock ballads, complete capitulation is almost inevitable.
“In the case of vigilant, serious-minded Christians, he has to start them up at the very top of the slope with very gentle rock so that the conscience doesn’t scream out, ‘This music is wrong!’ Just as long as he can get you started, he has won, because just like a drug pusher he knows that his users will want more and more of that sensual rhythm” (Graham West, The Rhythm of Rock).
Many churches that are adapting CCM think they are removing the “rock” from Christian rock simply by removing the drums and ear-splitting guitars, but they are actually just toning it down to “soft rock.” (The previous paragraphs are excerpted from “The Transformational Power of Contemporary Worship Music,” Dec. 8, 2011, Way of Life Literature.)
This is the very issue that I warned about in regard to Lancaster Baptist Church in Lancaster, California. They are guilty of doing precisely what Lucarini and West described and thus being a poor example in this to hundreds of churches in many countries. They didn’t just “slip up” by using a couple of contemporary worship songs. It wasn’t a passing fad. Over a period of years they adapted dozens of contemporary worship songs from the most wild-eyed charismatic, ecumenical, one-world-church-building contemporary worship artists.
Sadly, Pastor Wendal resides in the “gray area of ignorance about the power of pop syncopation” which the devil is using to drag churches toward the world and the treacherous waters of the “broader church” that is represented by the contemporary worship movement.
There is no excuse for this ignorance, except that Pastor Wendal, by his own admission, isn’t listening to “music experts.”
Pastor Wendal muddies the music issue by talking about the English language sounding different in different parts of America. Sure, there are different tastes in music and there are areas not specifically covered by Biblical principles. But our warnings about contemporary praise music aren’t geared toward such things.
There are substantive, fundamental issues at play here that are literally ripping churches from their biblical roots, and they should not be trivialized with a straw man about accents in language.
Preachers who don’t take the music issue seriously and don’t make the effort to be properly educated are playing into the enemy’s hands, and it will soon be too late to undo the damage.
“Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:9-10).
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