Squeezed into a Mould? 2
By Mark Stapleton
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2
What characterises so many churches who resort to worldly means of worship and evangelism? (See the features listed in Part 1, BLQ Jan-Mar 2019.)
1. They have a low regard for the Bible, the Word of God.
2. There is a lack of reverence.
3. Worship is on a human level, where attention is drawn to people, things, feelings, instead of worship being directed to the one true God.
4. There is an absence of the sense of the holiness and majesty of Almighty God.
5. There is a lack of understanding of what true Biblical worship really is.
6. There is a dependence upon personal feelings and ideas instead of seeking the mind of Christ.
7. There is a sense of worship based on “I did it my way.”
8. There appears to be a complete disregard for the Lord’s Day.
9. They will use any means to attract people through the doors of a church, even if it uses worldly methods and ideas.
10. They prefer not to make people uncomfortable by telling them that they are sinners. Those same people will one day have to face the Judge of the all the earth.
What about the churches who appear to preach the word of God in all sincerity? New Calvinists appear to give Calvinistic Biblical teaching, but at the same time incorporate the same spirit of the world into their worship. Dr E.S. Williams’ book entitled The New Calvinists – Changing the Gospel, gives a very good insight into their teaching and practices. In summary, they are:
1. Doctrinally shallow, and have a defective and irreverent view of Scripture.
2. Believe in social activism.
3. Embrace a contemporary style of worship.
4. Incorporate worldly ways into the church.
5. Are ecumenical.
Even Bible believing churches may lack discernment and be affected by such things as the Toronto blessing, slaying or shaking in the spirit and other phenomena which have compromised the life and testimony of the Christian church. Not that these things are anything new. They were evident in the life of a Pentecostal church in Azusa Street, California at the beginning of the last century. Then in the 1960s we saw the start of the rock and roll era and the so called “Christian” hippie movement, which used the musical style of the day. And so the “Jesus” movement came into being, and this, combined with the charismatic movement, has wrought havoc in Bible believing churches. Their whole aim is a scarcely hidden ecumenism.
The Alpha course is another example of an organisation which has influenced churches. Its foundations were laid in 1979 by the Rev Charles Marnham, a curate at Holy Trinity, Brompton, a Church of England parish in London. In 1990, Nicky Gumble, took over the running of Alpha and oversaw its revision and expansion. Nicky Gumble was greatly influenced by Toronto and this is reflected in the way he runs Alpha’s leadership courses and conferences. The course has been used by all types of denominations — both protestant and Roman Catholic. There is in fact a course specifically designed for the Roman Catholic Church. Who knows what happens to Roman Catholics who are “converted.” Are they sent back to their apostate churches as happened in the times of the Billy Graham campaigns? The evangelistic course seeks to teach non-Christians the basics of the Christian faith. It is also supposed to be helpful to new Christians. It aims to move participants to a quick decision — if not already made — in accepting Christ as Saviour, and to seek a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit at a special week-end get-together.
Close examination of course material leaves many unanswered questions and omissions of teaching on vital doctrines. The doctrines of sin, the holiness and majesty of God, judgement, Christ’s atoning sacrifice at Calvary are just some of the topics not dealt with properly. This is not helpful to the Christian, who needs consistent and on-going solid Bible teaching. These courses only lead the non-Christian into a situation which is not in line with Biblical teaching. It draws them into what could be called “worldly christianity:” having no problems with a godless culture. The title of a book about Alpha, written by Elizabeth McDonald is Alpha — New life or new lifestyle. This sums up Alpha — does it just change the way we live, as the cults can do, or is there a genuine work of conversion, a work of the grace of God in a person’s life?
At last year’s Alpha Leadership Conference in London, Nicky Gumbel interviewed the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, together with Cardinal Vincent Nicholls from the Church of Rome. The special speaker for the Conference was “Father” Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household in Rome. Catholics, who attend the special Alpha course designed for them, are followed up with their own church’s course, presumably to ensure that their flock hasn’t strayed too far! Don’t be squeezed into Alpha’s mould. These folk are deeply involved in ecumenical matters and should be avoided at all costs. We note that, Matt Redman, writer of Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) has taken part in these Conferences.
Music has also been used to entice evangelical churches away from their established roots. Gradually, there have been changes in church life which reflect the world, with all its sinful ways. The modern music of the world is so often associated with drugs, alcohol, sensual movements, immoral practices, pop-star status with their websites, occult practices, mystical experiences, and many other things which are deadly to Christians, and should be shunned. This is also reflected in the lives of so-called “Christian” musicians. Their music has been classed by at least one Christian magazine/paper, called Christian Today, as entertainment! Can this be the right way to worship our holy, omnipotent God? The people of Israel in the Old Testament were frequently called to account by God through His servants the prophets, because they would not worship God according to His law, substituting their own man-centred “worship”. The incident recorded in Exodus chapter 32, where Aaron and the people were worshipping the golden calf, is a classic example of God’s wrath being poured out on a disobedient gathering of the people of God.
CCM is ecumenical, and provides a bridge between protestants and the Church of Rome. It is well known that the Church of Rome has used CCM in gatherings where the pope is present and that he has been seen tapping his feet to the rhythm of the music. Cardinal Vincent Nicholls has said that this music helps us to forget our differences! Former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey said at his enthronement that he has a strong ecumenical commitment. CCM is a bridge between the church and the world, and between the world and the church. Many churches have suffered at the hands of CCM, and their testimony marred. Young and old alike are influenced. Satan uses all means to weaken a church’s stand for the truth of God’s word. Gradually, churches are being squeezed into an ecumenical, charismatic and worldly mould.
Many modern Christian hymns may appear to be quite acceptable, but looking into the lives of composers and authors gives a different perspective. David Cloud, author of the Directory of Contemporary Worship Musicians gives an insight into the lives of those musicians. The following summaries are taken from his book:
Take, for example, Stuart Townend, (author of “How deep the Father’s love,” “I will sing of the Lamb,” “The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want,” etc.) whose songs are known all over the world. “He is charismatic in theology and radically ecumenical in philosophy. He is a member of the charismatic Church of Christ the King in Brighton and supports the extraordinary manifestations of the Spirit. It has been said that he is at the forefront of producing transition songs and bridge songs designed to move traditional churches along the contemporary worship path towards ‘Christian rock.’” These songs appear to be doctrinally sound and are soft rock ballads, as opposed to outright rock and roll music, and are therefore considered safe by traditional churches. The problem is that traditional Bible believing churches are brought into association with the world of CCM. Stuart Townend has a false concept of the Lord Jesus Christ. When he was asked, “What would Jesus sing?” he replied, “I think He would be doing thrash metal or hip hop …” He is a supporter of the Alpha program which bridges charismatic, protestant and Roman Catholic churches. He has also taken part in Spring Harvest, the Keswick Convention, and has led worship, and performed his “songs” at events around the world.
Graham Kendrick has been in the CCM arena for a number of years. He is the author of “Meekness and Majesty,” “Shine Jesus Shine,” “My Lord what love is this,” “From heaven you came, helpless babe,” “The price is paid,” “All I once held dear, built my life upon,” “Led like a lamb to the slaughter,” etc. He organised the March for Jesus in the 1990’s, which was an ecumenical event. A few years ago, he took part in a TV Christmas morning service broadcast from the Roman Catholic Cathedral Church of Saints Peter & Paul, Clifton in Bristol. One of his objectives is to break down denominational barriers and create ecumenical unity. He is also known as the “father of modern worship music.”
Many evangelicals, looking for a true revival, have been sucked into thinking that CCM is part of that revival, resulting in a worsening situation in their churches. Graham Kendrick does not believe in revival in the same way previously accepted by evangelicals. He is a charismatic who promotes the heretical “Kingdom Now” theology and Word-Faith doctrine. Evangelicals cannot accept this and therefore should reject his worship “songs.” Graham Kendrick and others are promoting an un-biblical agenda which can seriously damage churches where doctrinally tested hymns, together with the singing of Psalms, have been the strength of previous generations. A shift away from the principles of reverent worship can only promote the growth of the New Evangelicalism apostasy which is upon us.
Ernest D Pickering, in his book entitled The Tragedy of Compromise – The Origin and Impact of the New Evangelicalism, says — “Perhaps nothing precipitates a slide toward New Evangelicalism more than the introduction of Contemporary Christian Music. … Pastors of large churches inform us that we cannot hope to attract the masses with the old, outdated church music. We must change our style so as to catch the attention of the godless. … One of the chief ways of making a church more ‘contemporary’ is to introduce contemporary music, of which there is a great abundance available.” The sad thing is that churches do not realise the effect that New Evangelicalism has had in their worship, and even if they do realise it, they do not know what to do about it.
Both Graham Kendrick and Stuart Townend continue to write music and words (songs/hymns) for the gullible Christian church which is being sucked into the way of worldly thinking. An article written by Alan Howe in the Christian Resources Network dated Summer/Autumn 2000 was entitled — Graham Kendrick: A Health Warning To the Churches. That warning is as applicable today as it was nearly 20 years ago.
(To be continued)