What is the Difference Between Contemporary Christian Worship Music and Old Interdenominational Hymns?


Updated March 20, 2011 (first published January 7, 2010) (David Cloud, Fundamental Baptist Information Service, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061, 866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.org; for instructions about subscribing and unsubscribing or changing addresses, see the information paragraph at the end of the article) -

The following is from the 2011 edition of
CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC: SOME QUESTIONS ANSWERED AND SOME WARNINGS GIVEN. This book begins with the author’s experience of living the rock & roll lifestyle before he was saved and of how the Lord dealt with him about music in the early months of my Christian life. The next section of the book expounds on FIVE REASONS WHY WE ARE OPPOSED TO CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC AND THE CONTEMPORARY PRAISE MUSIC: It is worldly; it is ecumenical; it is charismatic; it is experience-oriented; and it weakens the fundamentalist stance of churches. We give examples of how changes are occurring in formerly staunchly fundamentalist churches through the instrumentality of contemporary music. The next section of the book answers 29 QUESTIONS THAT ARE COMMONLY ASKED ON THIS SUBJECT. These are as follows: Should Christians only use old music? Isn't music neutral? Does a b flat note have a moral quality? Isn't the sincerity of the musicians the important thing? Isn't some of the contemporary Christian music acceptable? What is the difference between using contemporary worship music and using old hymns that were interdenominational? What about the miracles that some CCM artists witness? Why does traditional church music seem dull? Didn't Luther use tavern music? Didn’t the Wesleys use tavern music? Isn't the issue of music just a matter of taste? Doesn't the Bible encourage us to use cymbals and stringed and loud sounding instruments? Why are you opposed to drums? What is wrong with soft rock? If we assume that Christian music is demonic, why would the devil sing about Jesus Christ and the things of God? Didn't God create all music? Christians are not supposed to judge, are they? Love is more important than doctrine and standards of living, isn't it? Since God looks on the heart, why are you concerned about appearance? Isn't Christianity all about grace? Shouldn't we use rock music to reach the youth? Making rules and standards about music and clothing and such is pharisaical legalism, isn't it? Don't 1 Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23 teach that the Christian has liberty? Didn't Paul say that he was made all things to all men? David danced before the Lord, so why are you against dancing in the churches? Why do you say that the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement is unscriptural? By preaching against Christian rock aren't you hurting people and hindering their ministries? What about all of the young people who are being saved through CCM? The final sections contain TIPS FOR KEEPING CONTEMPORARY MUSIC OUT OF THE CHURCHES and SUGGESTED RESOURCES FOR SACRED MUSIC. 190 pages. $8.95



A pastor asked the following question:

“What is the difference from using songs that every denomination using across the board from the past (‘Just as I Am,’ ‘Amazing Grace,’ etc.) to using songs that everyone uses across the board in the present (‘How Deep the Father’s Love for Us,’ ‘Holy Ground,’ ‘Majesty,’ etc.) if they follow Biblical principles and if we do not promote a particular artist whose lifestyle we don’t support?”

Another pastor who wrote to criticize me for my warning about Independent Baptist churches that are adapting CCM said that if my position is true I should stop using the King James Bible, because it was written by Anglicans.


This is a very typical argument used by CCM defenders, and it is amazing to hear it on the lips of an Independent Baptist preacher who would doubtless think of himself as a real defender of the faith. If we buy into this argument, we will not be able to resist the onslaught of CCM in any effective manner except perhaps to stand against hard rock, and that stand won’t last very long. Those who accept soft rock will eventually accept “hard” rock. It’s the same fleshly beast.

In a nutshell, I would offer three rejoinders:

First, the old Protestant denominations were fundamentally different than their modern counterparts.

The old Lutherans and Methodists were militant for the Christian faith and were not infiltrated by theological modernism and other new thinking. They hated Popery! The old Protestants were much closer, doctrinally and spiritually, to the position of today’s old-fashioned Baptist church than to that of the contemporary movement.

Second, CCM represents a philosophy of end-times Christianity that is diametrically opposed to and an avowed enemy of every “old-fashioned” Bible church.

The use of an old doctrinally sound hymn by a Lutheran like Luther or a Methodist like Wesley does not put our people in danger of becoming Lutherans or Methodists. I have never heard of an Independent Baptist becoming a Lutheran by singing “A Mighty Fortress.” Likewise, I have never heard of an Independent Baptist becoming an Anglican simply because the KJV translators were Anglicans.

But the use of CCM is turning IB churches into emerging everywhere. That is because CCM is not just music written by people of questionable doctrine; it represents a philosophy and a movement of end-time apostasy that is diametrically opposed to an “old-fashioned” Bible stand, that is an absolutely enemy of what an “old-fashioned” Baptist church stands for. Large numbers of formerly fundamental Baptist churches have gone down the emerging path through the influence of CCM. (see “Contemporary Music Brings Great Changes to IB Churches”).

If you think it is a mere coincidence that CCM is at the very heart of every change of this nature, you are welcome to your opinion, but I do not share it, and I would far rather err on the side of being too “strict” about music than too “tolerant.”

Dan Lucarini, author of Why I Left the Contemporary Christian Music Movement: Confessions of a Former Worship Leader (which I highly recommend), says:

“No one should deny the power of music to proselytize! Pastors in particular must defend their flocks from false teaching, heresies and ‘ear ticklers’ who bring worldly sensuality into the congregation; you are right to point out how easily this comes into a church through worship music. It seems wiser to decline the use of what seems to be a perfectly good song, rather than to give any honor and hint of endorsement to the composer and his/her mission” (e-mail, May 24, 2009).

Third, the Contemporary Christian Music field is permeated with false christs and false gods.

Whatever doctrinal differences a Baptist would have with Martin Luther or John Wesley or Fanny Crosby, we share the same God, but that is often not true for Contemporary Christian Worship.

Many of the influential CCW artists worship
a non-Trinitarian God. For example, Geron Davis and Joel Hemphill are “Jesus Only” Pentecostals who deny the Trinity. To deny the Trinity is to worship a false God.

Other CCW artists worship a non-vengeful God. Stuart Townend, for example, denies that God is vengeful, which is a brazen rejection of the very God of the Bible (Stuart Townend, “Mission: Worship, The Story Behind the Song”).

A great many of the CCM artists worship
a God who is non-judgmental, universalistic, does not send people to an eternal hell, and puts no obligations on them. Consider the popularity of The Shack among CCM artists. It has been directly endorsed by Michael W. Smith and has been well received in prominent CCM circles such as Calvary Chapels, Vineyard churches, and Hillsong. It was promoted at the 2009 National Pastor’s Convention in San Diego, which was sponsored by Zondervan and InterVarsity Fellowship. Young was one of the speakers and a survey found that 57% had read the novel. Young was enthusiastically received, and in an interview with Andy Crouch, a senior editor of Christianity Today, there was not a hint of condemnation for his false god. Crouch is a CCM musician in his own right and led one of the praise and worship sessions in San Diego.

The Shack is all about redefining God. It is about a man whose becomes bitter at God after his daughter is murdered and has a life-changing experience with God in the very shack where the murder occurred; but the God he encounters is most definitely not the God of the Bible.

Young says the book is for those with “a longing that God is as kind and loving as we wish he was” (interview with Sherman Hu, Dec. 4, 2007). What he is referring to is the desire on the part of the natural man for a God who loves “unconditionally” and does not require obedience, does not require repentance, does not judge sin, and does not make men feel guilty for what they do.

In that same interview, Young said that a woman wrote to him and said that her 22-year-old daughter came to her after reading the book and asked, “IS IT ALRIGHT IF I DIVORCE THE OLD GOD AND MARRY THE NEW ONE?”

This is precisely what a large portion of the Contemporary Christian Music generation is doing.

Young admits that the God of “The Shack” is different from the traditional God of Bible-believing Christianity and blasphemously says that the God who “watches from a distance and judges sin” is “a Christianized version of Zeus.”

This reminds me of the modernist G. Bromley Oxnam, who called the God of the Old Testament “a dirty bully” in his 1944 book “Preaching in a Revolutionary Age.”

Young depicts the triune God as a young Asian woman named “Sarayu” * (supposedly the Holy Spirit), an oriental carpenter who loves to have a good time (supposedly Jesus), and an older black woman named “Elousia” (supposedly God the Father). God the Father is also depicted as a guy with a ponytail and a goatee. (* The name “Sarayu” is from the Hindu scriptures and represents a mythical river in India on the shores of which the Hindu god Rama was born.)

Young’s god is the god of the emerging church. He is cool, loves rock & roll, is non-judgmental, does not exercise wrath toward sin, does not send unbelievers to an eternal fiery hell, does not require repentance and the new birth, puts no obligations on people, doesn’t like traditional Bible churches, does not accept the Bible as the infallible Word of God, and does not mind if the early chapters of the Bible are interpreted as “myth.” (See “The Shack’s Cool God” at the Way of Life web site, www.wayoflife.org.)

The false CCM non-judgmental, universalistic god is represented by emerging church leaders Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, both of whom are very popular with CCM artists.

McLaren calls the God who punished Jesus on the cross for man’s sin “a God who is incapable of forgiving, unless he kicks somebody else” (McLaren, http://www.understandthetimes.org/mclarentrans.shtml and http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2006/01/brian_mclaren_p.html). He presents the traditional God of the Bible as a tyrant who “gets his way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination. McLaren says that the “power of the blood” gospel “raises some questions about the goodness of God.”

Rob Bell, author of the extremely popular and influential book Velvet Elvis, claims that the God who would allow multitudes to go to eternal hell is not great or mighty (Love Wins, location 1189-1229). He says that such God is not loving and calls the preaching of eternal hell “misguided and toxic.” says there is something wrong with this God and calls Him “terrifying and traumatizing and unbearable” (Love Wins, location 47-60, 1273-1287, 2098-2113). He even says that if an earthly father acted like the God who sends people to hell “we could contact child protection services immediately” (Love Wins, location 2085-2098).

It is obvious that Bell worships a different God than the One we worship in “traditional” Baptist churches.

Bell’s God is more akin to New Age panentheism than the God of the Bible. He describes God as “a force, an energy, a being calling out to us in many languages, using a variety of methods and events”
(Love Wins, location 1710-1724).

“There is an energy in the world, a spark, an electricity that everything is plugged into. The Greeks called it
zoe, the mystics call it ‘Spirit,’ and Obi-Wan called it ‘the Force’” (Love Wins, location 1749-1762).

In light of this, it is not surprising that Bell recommends the writings of New Age pantheists. ----

Bell worships a false christ. His Jesus is “supracultural ... present within all cultures ... refuses to be co-opted or owned by any one culture ... He doesn’t even state that those coming to the Father through him will even now that they are coming exclusively through him ... there is only mountain, but many paths. ... People come to Jesus in all sorts of ways ... Sometimes people use his name; other times they don’t” (
Love Wins, location 1827-1840, 1865-1878, 1918-1933).

Many of the CCM artists worship
a rebel Christ, which is certainly a false christ. Mark Stuart of Audio Adrenaline says, “Jesus Christ is the biggest rebel to ever walk the face of the earth” (Pensacola News Journal, Pensacola, Fla., March 1, 1998, pp. 1, 6E). Sonny of P.O.D. says, “We believe that Jesus was the first rebel; the first punk rocker” (http://www.shoutweb.com/interviews/pod0700.phtml). This is absolute blasphemy. The Bible says rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (1 Sam. 15:23). A rebel is a lawbreaker, but Christ was the lawgiver who He came to earth to fulfill the requirements of His own law (Matt. 5:17-19). Christ was not crucified for rebellion; He was crucified for testifying that He is God (John 10:33).

Many of the CCM artists worship a rock & roll party Christ. In his Live ... Radically Saved video Carman says, “Jesus is always cool; He’s got his thing together.” In Resurrection Rap Carman portrays Jesus as a street hippie; in The Standard he calls Jesus “J.C.”; and in Addicted to Jesus he speaks of “Jammin’ with the Lamb.” Robert Sweet of the Christian rock band Stryper had “Jesus Christ Rocks” painted on the back of his drummer chair. Petra claims that “God gave rock and roll to you/ Put it in the soul of every one.” In “Party in Heaven” the Daniel Band sing, “The Lamb and I are drinkin’ new wine.” Phil Driscoll says, “God is the King of Soul; He’s the King of all rhythm” (quoted by Tim Fisher, Battle for Christian Music, p. 82). Messiah Prophet Band says, “Jesus is the Master of Metal,” and Barren Cross says, “Better than pot, Jesus rocks.” John Fischer described God as puffing on a cigar and swaying to rock music (CCM Magazine, July 1984, p. 20), while J. Lee Grady says Jesus enjoys dancing with the angels and “grooving to the sound of Christian R&B pumped out of a boom box” (Charisma, July 2000).

The fact that the CCM crowd typically worships a different kind of God than the “old-fashioned” Biblicist, is why they are perfectly comfortable using music that has been identified as sexy by the secular world.

“... that is what rock is all about--sex with a 100-megaton bomb, the beat” (Gene Simmons of KISS, Entertainment Tonight, ABC, Dec. 10, 1987).

Note that Simmons was not referring to the words of rock music; he was referring only to its backbeat rhythm.

Music researchers Daniel and Bernadette Skubik, in their study on the neurophysiology of rock music, warned:

“Whether the words are evil, innocuous, or based in Holy Scripture, the overall neurophysiological effects generated by rock music remain the same. There is simply no such thing as Christian rock that is substantively different in its impact” (“The Neurophysiology of Rock,” an Appendix to Ken Blanchard, Pop Goes the Gospel. pp. 187ff).

That statement doesn’t bother a CCM defender, because he sees Jesus as a rock & roll party Dude who loves a good time.

“Those who envision God as a special friend, a kind of lover, with whom they can have fun, see no problem in worshipping him by means of physically stimulating music. On the other hand, those who perceive God as a majestic, holy, and almighty Being to be approached with awe and reverence will only use the music that elevates them spiritually” (Samuele Bacchiocchi, The Christian and Rock Music).

By the way, we urge churches to be careful even with older hymns. We have never said that if a hymn is old it is good or if it is new it is bad. We must examine all hymns as to musical character and doctrinal purity. In my estimation, there are hymns in the standard hymnals used by Independent Baptist churches that shouldn’t be used (e.g., “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations”).


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