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On her 2014 album, Misty Edwards [pictured] sings Prosch’s “The Gift” because, she says, it describes “the joy of being lovesick.” Consider the lyrics:
“You are the Bridegroom/ take us in Your arms./ ... It’s the joy of being love sick/ The pleasures of loving You/ ... The aching longing to see You face to face/ ... So spread Your blanket of love over Your love sick ones/ Let love flow now/ The Spirit and the Bride say come/ Comfort Your love sick ones/ Let love flow now.”
The emotionalism of this approach is doubtless one reason why women are often at the forefront of contemporary worship.
Of this song and of IHOP’s mystical worship in general, Misty says:
“It’s a gift that pulls us into TRANSCENDENCE AND PULLS US INTO THE ETERNAL and immortal ... As broken and messed up as we are, the way that He feels about us when we reach out to Him, longing for Him, moves Him deeply. I think about how we move His heart, He responds, and then we are moved, and we respond. There’s a back and forth relationship that we have with Jesus, that we move Him in our brokenness and our weakness” (“‘The Gift’ by Misty Edwards,” NewReleaseTuesday.com, Nov. 18, 2014).
She is saying that contemporary worship can transcend this present life and bring the worshiper into a sensual experience with God. She describes the believer’s relationship with God in terms of human romance.
What is wrong with charismatic “romantic worship”?
1. It brings God down to a human level and deals with him in human terms.
Consider Misty Edwards’ song “Ezekiel 1,” in which she describes God on the throne in Ezekiel’s vision and then repeatedly sings, “Come near, O Burning One.” As she sings this, she beckons with her hand as to a lover.
Imagine Ezekiel responding like that to this awesome vision? This was most definitely not Ezekiel’s response to the vision of Almighty God. Nor was it Isaiah’s (Isaiah 6:1-5) or Paul’s (Acts 9:3-6) or John’s (Revelation 1:17).
In “romantic worship” the sense of the fear of God is lost. He is just an divine lover, and that is never how the Bible depicts God.
Even in eternity, in the New Jerusalem, there will remain a vast barrier between God and His people.
“And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him” (Revelation 22:3).
2. The contemporary worship atmosphere apes the sensuality of rock & roll lover songs.
Contemporary musicians create the very same atmosphere that has been beloved by rock & rollers for decades because of the powerful feelings it creates. There are the sensual rock rhythms that move the body in sexual ways. There are the unresolving chord sequences that create a sensual, trance-like environment. There are the sensual vocalization styles, the darkened building, the spotlights on the singers and musicians, the sensual dress and movement of the singers.
Contemporary worship is exactly the same, except the words are directed to God and Christ.
In fact, oftentimes it isn’t clear who the lyrics are directed to. The ambiguity lends itself to multiple applications, which is how many CCM artists have achieved “crossover” success with “worship” songs.
Consider “Song of Solomon” by Misty Edwards.
(The original referenced video is no longer available. Timings and such, referenced below, may be different in the YouTube video linked above.)
A pastor friend observed, “We get no indication that this ballad is about God until about 14 minutes into it. And that was in a single, very quick, easily missed reference to Him.”
Edwards sings the following words in soft rock ballad style:
“When I feel the cold of winter and this cloak of sadness, I need you. All the evil things that shake me, all the words that break me, I need you. Over the mountains and down by the sea, you’ll come running, my love to me. Do not hide me from your presence, pull me from these shadows, I need you. Beauty, wrap your arms around me, sing your song of kindness, I need you.”
She carries on like this for 17 minutes, singing in a moaning, cracking, trembling “rock chick” voice with interludes of emotional “scooping and sliding” without any words. A musician friend remarked, “The ‘Marilyn Monroe’ breathy tones are sensual, along with the facial expressions and body language.”
In “Do You Know the Way You Move Me,” Misty Edwards sings a song as if God were saying the following words to the individuals in the congregation:
“Do you know how you caught my eye, in the secret place where you choose to be mine? I saw you there, longing to be mine. Even in the night time I saw you reaching out to me.”
Kevin Prosch, whose worship songs are praised by Misty Edwards, has taken this so far as to sing the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” as if God were singing it to the congregation! This was at the 1996 Heart of David Conference on Worship & Warfare, sponsored by “prophet’ Rick Joyner’s Morning Star ministries. They even claim that when they sang the Beatles’ song, God signaled His pleasure with miraculous signs.
Prosch also sings the Wailers’ very sensual rock song “Stir It Up” as if the Lord were singing it to His people.
To ape the world is to be worldly. It is to love the world.
“Romantic worship” is nothing more than worldliness perpetrated by people who are truly drunk on rock music and who have confused their own feelings with the blessing of God.
Fervent sincerity and passionate romantic emotionalism do not sanctify something that is unscriptural. David was sincere when he had the ark of the covenant placed on a cart for transportation to Jerusalem, and Uzza was sincere when he reached out that day to steady the ark, but God struck him down (1 Ch. 13:7-11). It seemed to be a reasonable action, and even David was offended at God that day, but God did not accept Israel’s sincere, enthusiastic, but unscriptural worship. Only when they took the ark off of the cart and put it on the shoulders of the divinely-appointed Levites did God accept them. On both occasions, the people were fervently worshipful (1 Ch. 13:8; 15:28), but only when they obeyed the Scripture was God pleased.
3. There is no biblical justification for “romantic worship.”
While the Bible does describe the church’s relationship with Christ in terms of a bride and bridegroom in Ephesians 5, and while there is an application of the Song of Solomon to the believer’s relationship with God, we must be careful about introducing human romance into the worship of God.
The bottom line is that the blatant romanticism of contemporary worship is not how the Bible describes the worship of the resurrected Christ.
We don’t see this type of thing in the Psalms, which is the divinely-inspired worship book.
We don’t see this type of thing in the New Testament epistles.
We don’t see this type of thing in Christ’s post-resurrections appearances in Matthew 28 or Acts 1 or Revelation 1 or Revelation 4-5.
It is therefore presumptuous. It goes beyond biblical authority and example. It is unscriptural.
A pastor friend observed, “Jesus Himself never behaved inappropriately towards women while He was on the earth, and it certainly tears down His high and holy character for people to think that He would condone the practice of women singing to Him like this now.”
“Romantic worship” fits the emotionalism and experience-orientation of contemporary worship, and it is suited perfectly to the vehicle of rock & roll. But it isn’t Scriptural and must therefore be rejected.
Anything that is unscriptural is both wrong and spiritually dangerous.
4. Any “romantic” relationship between the believer and the Lord is a private matter.
A pastor friend made the following important observation about “romantic worship”:
“It seems clear that the Song of Solomon represents individuals in a relationship. If it is an example to believers, it should be confined to our personal relationship with God through Christ. If done corporately, we would call that a sexual orgy. No true believer would want to be a part of the intimate lives of all the other people in their congregation on a physical level, and neither should we be involved with them to that level of intimacy on a spiritual level. This song [Misty Edwards’ ‘Song of Solomon’] invites us all into the most intimate levels of experience this woman has with God. Yet, it combines those feelings with a physical medium that confuses all who hear it and invites us into her moaning and groaning on an intimate physical level also. Those physical expressions are sacred and should be reserved for her husband.”
Other comments on contemporary “romantic worship.”
“While we all need to be grateful to God that He even offered salvation to wretched sinners like us, gratitude is not a license to abandon all self-control to the dictates of our flesh and carry on like some worldly, starry-eyed teenager. The words to the songs may have some resemblance to the Song of Solomon, but the performance is a classic, well-practiced, choreographed, Pentecostal/Charismatic ‘worship’ service like nothing Solomon ever saw or imagined--and certainly like nothing God never intended for His words to be used for.”
‘When Song of Solomon was written, I doubt it was performed on a public stage in a rock concert, accompanied by the best looking girls in tight jeans, and I don’t think Solomon would have had amplified, flesh-arousing instruments, which he and his band played for over 45 minutes, with the purpose of ‘calling down’ and ‘experiencing the presence’ of the ‘holy spirit’; and manipulating an emotional response from the participating ‘worshippers.’”
5. Charismatic “romantic worship” is not based on Scripture rightly divided. It is based on “prophecies.”
As we have seen, charismatic “romantic worship” is not based on Scripture. Where does it come from, then? Prophecies!
The following is excerpted from a report published in Rolling Stone magazine:
“One July day in 1988, Mike Bickle was sitting in his office, reading a wedding card inscribed with a verse from the Song of Solomon. ‘Jesus, seal my heart with your seal of love,’ Bickle spontaneously prayed. Unaccountably, he began to weep. The phone rang. A prophet had heard the ‘audible voice of the Lord’ for Bickle: The Song of Solomon, a dialogue between King Solomon and his beloved, should become a focus of Bickle’s ministry. It eventually came to Bickle that true believers must see Jesus ‘through the eyes of a bride with loyal, devoted love’--they must ‘feel loved and in love’ with Christ. Without this intimacy in worship, Christ would not return to earth. ...
“IHOP’s website states that one of its prayer guides, Bridal Intercession, ‘presents prayer as the joyful and romantic communion between the lover and his beloved. ... Readers will find themselves ... eager to encounter this lovely Lord who is their bridegroom.’ ...
“Across the IHOP complex, in cafeterias, hallways and the prayer room, music composed to enhance the ecstatic experience is omnipresent, according to an ex-member. Among the lyrics to two popular songs: ‘God is a lover looking for a lover/So he fashioned me and ‘Do you understand what you do to me? . . . How you ravish my heart with just one glance?’ Some former IHOPers have talked of being addicted to it--they become nervous and irritable when they turn it off. Another IHOPer has written about addiction to the sedative atmosphere of the prayer room itself: ‘A common refrain around anxious, discouraged IHOPers is, I just gotta get to the prayer room’” (Jeff Tietz, “Love and Death in the House of Prayer,” Rolling Stone, Jan. 21, 2014).
The “romantic worship” is simply another heresy that was imparted to this movement by fallen angels masquerading as angels of light.
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