A couple of decades ago, I wrote a book entitled, “The Music of the Great Apostasy.” When I revamped my website, I did not upload the book. I intended to revised and add to it. I believe the title is appropriate for this article.
In the book, I predicted error in Christian music would progress until it became the music of the Great Apostasy. We have been seeing the actuality of that prediction, and it’s going to get much worse. The prediction was simply a matter of looking down the logical road to its conclusion. There is no way that Christianity’s music can be almost totally supplanted by a secular-inspired genre and not fall into the basement of carnality.
That moment arrived long ago. But now the matter has gone beyond simply playing around with music styles of the world system. Just as Christianity is apostatizing in doctrine and practice, so it is apostatizing in music. Consider that when Israel apostatized, their music and the way they worshipped reflected their apostasy. Since widespread heresy is making many churches susceptible to demonic activity, no doubt the music is conducive for it.
It’s not the words that are bad—shallow and repetitive, but not necessarily bad. It is the obsession with music, the downright addiction that drives churches to become so music oriented that true worship and God’s word are shamefully marginalized. It is also the bizarre way the music is performed, the atmosphere, darkness, flashing lights, smoke, etc.
The standard defense is an old one, “If it feels good, do it.” Or as one adulteress said, “How can anything that feels so good be bad.” Truth or rational consideration of God’s word is not a factor in determining whether it is right or wrong. There is no consideration of Divine Order. It is all about what feels good. Therefore, Satan has taken that old adage and tweaked it a bit. The result is, “If it feels good, it must be God.”
Any input from the older generation is met with scorn. They assume that the generation that invented Rock-n-Roll doesn’t know anything about good music. Thus, they exchange knowledge and experience, their rightful heritage, for emotion (feelings).
When Hillsong’s music began to get popular with Darlene Zschech and Rueben Morgan, who are still worship leaders at Hillsong, I liked their music. The more popular they became, the more the focus on music drew people away from true worship. Eventually, the music that was supposed to be the facilitator of worship became the object of worship. One could witness the digression into what I call Adrenalin Worship.
Adrenalin Worship did not begin with Hillsong, but they have taken it to a new level. It has always been a stumbling stone for professing Christians. You can witness it in Southern Gospel and Black Gospel. Music. Music that was meant for encouragement or entertainment was commandeered for worship. The more sensational it became, the more people wanted it.
The problem with Adrenalin Worship is, it is not true worship. Instead, it is worship from the flesh. When the music affects the flesh that powerfully, it is impossible to worship God. The reason is because when flesh is permitted to emote unrestrained, the soul cannot express through the body. True spirituality cannot thrive in the atmosphere.
The Millennial Generation and subsequent generations do not understand that. Worship leaders are greatly responsible for that deficiency. I have watched “high energy” praise bands rock the crowd into a frenzy. When the frenzy subsides, the worship leader might say, “God showed up tonight.” That was false teaching. God is in us as the Holy Spirit. He does not “show up” if true Christians are gathered because He is already there inside of them. However, the doctrine planted in the minds of the people is that the emotion they corporately felt, entirely generated by the worship band, was God “showing up.” Thus, the activity they just demonstrated is considered as true worship, and God showed up to receive and be involved in it.
Churches recognize the Millennials and succeeding generation’s attraction to and strong dependency on music. If you are going to build a church numerically, you must have the present genre of Christian music and a band capable of performing it. I have watched failing churches literally turn around their sagging attendance record with nothing more than the addition of Contemporary worship music.
As much as it is advertised otherwise, in many church settings the worship music is not about God. Consider that Bethel Music flows from one of the most deceptive New Apostolic Reformation churches, deemed by some to be a cult. Hillsong music flows from a church with false doctrine and other serious concerns, including financial accountability. The music was not born in worship, so how could it inspire true worship?
A significant percentage of Contemporary worship music was not created by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, but involves styles borrowed from the world system. The world system creates music appealing to secular people. That is how the secular music business functions. If the world system created music that made people want to repent, draw near to God, or worship Him, the secular world would reject it. They create music for the flesh. Adapting that style of music to Christianity causes an immediate problem of exciting the flesh long before the soul is stirred, if the soul is ever stirred. That’s a big problem.
God’s word is clear. John 4:23-24, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
True worship is spiritual, not fleshly. It must be in truth, not heresy. How can music created in heresy and carnal emotionalism initiate true worship? In fact, it cannot. When the music begins, those warm and fuzzy feelings, or the rush of adrenalin, are not the true spirit of worship. One can get the exact same emotions at a secular music concert. If it is true worship, the band could suddenly shut down, leave the stage, turn off the lights and smoke machines, and the worship would continue unabated.
In this period of great deception and apostasy, many professing Christians are not going to understand that. However, consider that the churches filling up because of the music are mostly drawing nominal Christians at best. They have no palate for the anointed word of God. Most of them will not tolerate conviction or altar calls. If you want them to stay for the preaching, it had better be short, interesting, and non-convicting. That doesn’t comport with the attitude of a true Christian. If that type of people sway, lift their hands, dance, jump, and otherwise move with the music during “worship” time, who or what are they worshipping?
One could make the case that the music is drawing secular people into the church meeting. Okay, but if that is the goal, what are they receiving once they come inside? Is the church actually making them disciples of Christ, or are those individuals dictating by their finicky and flighty natures how much truth is offered to them, and the manner in which it is offered? If the latter, then they are simply being entertained, not converted.
By morphing their church into a movie production with a music concert, Hillsong has reached the end of the logical road. It is now a church where the lost can feel completely comfortable, and the Holy Spirit is very uncomfortable. Is that what God intended when He poured out His Holy Spirit on the 120 in the Upper Room 2000 years ago? If so, then why didn’t He supernaturally make them all fabulous singers and musicians? Then they could have come dancing out of the Upper Room and entertained the crowd. Instead, He gave them power to be witnesses and to do great works. The modern church has willingly discarded that power and opted for Adrenalin Worship as its most powerful tool. Its “mighty works” are accomplished by technology.
There is definitely a place for music in church meetings. Used properly (that is, producing true worship and bringing honor to God and His word), music is a benefit. I believe the improper elevation of music in youth church decades ago was probably the beginning of the present error. Music was woven into the meeting to the extent that it went from entertainment to dominance over and subsequent displacement of the traditional paradigm. What at first appeared as liberty has become a pleasant bondage.
Finally, nothing I write or say is going to change it. If we are in the great and final apostasy, the masses will not alter their focus or methods. I receive hope from the possibility of getting through to the ones who truly love God and have not fully surrendered to the aberrant standard.
I will close with this final question. If the contemporary worship music pattern typified by Hillsong and Bethel music is not the music of the great apostasy, then where is that music?