Monday, May 7, 2012

Building Upon a New Rock?

Pagan Worship Music
Music as a Test of Fellowship

13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? 14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it {the truth to which Peter just testified} unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock {the truth to which Peter just testified} I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven {salvation through faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ}: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:13-19).

          The “kingdom of heaven” in Matthew 16:19 is the beginning of “the regeneration” and refers to the church as the “body of Christ” on earth during the Church Age and the Kingdom Age.  Only “born again” people gain entrance into the “body of Christ” by “grace through faith” in the finished work of Jesus Christ.  Without any doubt, the vehicle for Christ’s intended foundation for any true church growth is the Gospel and the doctrine of salvation “by grace through faith.”  Paul clearly stated that this was the foundation upon which the church at Corinth was built. 

5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. 10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 3:5-11).

          Faith in Jesus Christ is the only acceptable Rock upon which the true church of Jesus Christ can be built.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message that the church of Jesus cannot allow to be corrupted by any identification with worldliness.  The vehicles and mediums through which the Gospel of Jesus Christ is transported and communicated must be pure, holy, and unadulterated from contamination of worldliness.  This is no new message.  This was the message of Haggai to the priesthood of Israel that had allowed the worship of God by the nation of Israel to be contaminated by the integration of paganism into their culture.

10 In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, 11 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, 12 If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. 13 Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. 14 Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean” (Haggai 2:10-14).

          I was saved in 1969 in a Bible church.  That church was Presbyterian in polity with a Board of Elders, while purporting Congregational government.  The pastor emphasized personal soul winning, separation, and was an expository preacher.  The church grew to over 500 strong.  I remember the pastor remarking in the early 1970’s about a popular gospel music album recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford.  He warned that the popularizing of gospel music by the music industry would do great harm to evangelical Christianity.  The premise behind his statement was that sacred music should never be used to entertain.  Sacred music or spiritual music was always to direct the worshippers attention to God.  Less than a decade later, that same pastor started a Christian radio station that began playing mild contemporary Christian music (CCM).  The local church that he spent most of his lifetime building was destroyed by his compromise in the next decade, finally dissolving.  He had removed the Rock Christ Jesus and began building upon CCM.
          There are thousands of such testimonies about the destruction of local churches through the rise of CCM.  I personally know of over a hundred such testimonies.  In most cases, the elderly people who made enormous financial sacrifices to build those churches were sacrificed by new pastors who were more concerned about church growth than they were about the sheep who cried out to God against this new intrusion upon the purity of their worship.  Just because a man has a theological degree does not make his methodologies theological. 
          Everything in life, including music, can be used to build up or tear down.  There is music that builds up and there is music that tears down.  If I were to ask in what way Rock music has been used over the last sixty years, anyone with a historical connection to the culture that Rock produced would answer that Rock corrupted everything and anyone with which it was involved.  Drink of the cup that Rock music serves up and you drink of “the cup of devils.”  Rock music is pagan in its origins and demonic in its outcomes.  Rock music is a cultural aberration.  If Rock has any business in the church, that business is evil business.  The business of Rock music has always been demonic and destructive.  This has been its history for thousands of years.  To use Christian Rock as tool for church growth is an oxymoron in terminology that creates a paradox in practice. 

15 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we {the spiritual temple of the local church} being many are one {unleavened} bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread (Christ- the manna from heaven}. 18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils {Paul is referring to Christianizing the pagan love feasts - the idea is that pagan practices cannot be integrated into the church’s worship}: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils” (I Corinthians 10:15-21).

Why are the elderly believers resistant to CCM?  They are resistant because they are the generation that existed during the birth of the Rock and Roll culture.  Believers who are in their fifties and sixties (and older) lived through the 1950’s and 1960’s.  They saw first-hand the growth of the Rock Culture and its affects upon society.  They saw firsthand the worship of Rock idols like Elvis the Pelvis and the rise of the free love culture that grew from the Rock culture.  Only the most ignorant of that generation were not aware of the sensuality of the syncopated music with its back-beat or off-beat.  For those of us that were lost in our sins, the music moved us and we liked it.  There was no doubt in our minds about where it moved us and upon what the music focused our thought-life.  We did not really care about the words that were put to the music.  Occasionally we heard the words, especially those words that spoke of rebellion and doing things our way – “It’s your thing, do what you want to do, I can’t tell you who to sock it to.” 
Those that grew up on the foundations of the Rock culture knew the hidden messages in the songs like “Puff the magic dragon” and the “Candy Man.”  This was the music of a cultural revolution and it was a revolution against everything moral, absolute, and Christian.  Rock has never changed its goals.  Rock has always been anarchistic and anti-Christ.  Is there any wonder that this same generation resisted Christianized Rock music when it was introduced into the church with new words?  Is there any wonder that this same generation resisted when Rock was introduced into the church as appropriate for worshipping God?  Those growing up in the birth days of the Rock culture always knew that Rock was about the message in the music itself.  We fully understood the message of the music – it was about SEX.  The words were only extensions of the message of sensuality and rebellion. 
          For most people of my generation, Rock music in the church is like a preacher at his pulpit preaching the Word of God while pornography flashes on a screen behind him.  Dr. Dana Everson makes a similar observation about Rock music playing in the background while trying to obey Philippians 4:8 –“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

“Although the audience may attempt to focus on the performer, and although the performer may be expressing things which are honest, pure, lovely, and true (Philippians 4:8), the audience cannot help but absorb some of what is presented in the background on the stage . . . Even if the audience were able to block out the background by their own self-control, is it right for the producer to place offensive background on the platform where it becomes a stumbling block?  There is really no way to separate the performer from the background without removing the backdrop or moving the performer away from the backdrop.
Similarly, the words of a musical selection may align with Philippians 4:8, but the music must provide an appropriate background and platform or a conflicting message will result.  This principle can be seen both in individual cases and musical selections and in the sense of the endless drone of public musical background which present society tolerates.”[1]

4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:4-9).

Much of what is happening in Contemporary Christianity and the Emergent Church movement is really varying degrees of Neo-paganism.  It is Neo-paganism because they adopt heathen, pagan worship practices with which to worship God.  One need not search too far without discovering the use of syncopated music as a major aspect of pagan worship practices.  Common to the mystery religions was the practice of Ecstasism and Enthusiasm. S. Angus, in his book The Mystery Religions, details these two practices.

“. . . Ecstasy (ekstasis) and Enthusiasm (enthusiasmos), both of which might be induced by vigil and fasting, tense religious expectancy, whirling dances, physical stimuli, the contemplation of sacred objects, the effect of stirring music, inhalation of fumes, revivalistic contagion (such as happened in the church at Corinth), hallucination, suggestion, and other means belonging to the apparatus of the Mysteries.”[2]

          Both Ecstasy and Enthusiasm were used to promote a heightened sense of euphoria to the religious experience.  No one in the pagan culture gave any thought to the fact their religious experience was being carnally manufactured.  In this euphoric state, the participant experiences a feeling of having communed with the spirits.  The reality was that such practices were simply the carnal manipulation of the person’s emotions.  Actually, his involvement has been with the supernatural realm of darkness, but not the light of the divine.  Ecstasism and Enthusiasm were Satanic in origin.
          Adapting pagan worship practices with which they worshipped God was the sin of the “mixed multitude” (Exodus 12:38) that came out of Egypt in the Exodus.  We find an excellent representation of Neo-paganism in Exodus 32:1-6 where Aaron leads Israel by making a golden image of Jehovah and worshipping Him with the pagan music, licentious feasts, and riotous living of Egyptian paganism. 
1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. 3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. 4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a {worship} feast to the LORD {Jehovah}. 6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:1-6).

This mixed multitude certainly describes the Emergent Church where gathering a crowd has become their objective.  Their motivation of evangelism is covert to the mixed multitude.  The fact of the matter is that with which they win them is that with which they will be forced to hold them.  This whole philosophy of sensationalism to gather a crowd goes back to the city wide evangelism campaigns of more than fifty years ago.  These campaigns changed the focus of the Great Commission from going and telling to coming and hearing.  This methodology made the church house and traveling tent shows the doorways to salvation.  This false methodology has infected almost every facet of evangelical Christianity to the point of its destruction.  That corrupted methodology began to measure the success of evangelism by numbers rather than by spiritually transformed souls living selflessly for Christ.  What a subtle web the old deceiver weaves!  How easily believers traverse into the destruction of their own spirituality.  Uniquely, they ensnare themselves in their destruction while defending what ensnares them. 

22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. 24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (II Timothy 2:22-26).

[1] Everson, Dana F. Sound Roots: Steps to Building a Biblical Philosophy of Music. (Greenville, SC: Bible Rival Ministries, 2010), pages 266-277.
Book available
[2] Angus, S. The Mystery Religions (New York, NY: Dover Publications, 1975)

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