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No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.john 6:44
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Does It Matter Who Writes the Songs We Sing?
Ty sent in this question:
A lot of people at our church like the song “Your Grace Is Enough” which I think was co-written by Matt Maher and Chris Tomlin. I did some research on Matt Maher and found that he is a well-know Catholic artist. There are some who would say that since the song was written by somebody who is Catholic that it shouldn’t be sung. How should we think through something like this?
Before I share my thoughts, I wanted to address the question, “Is it possible to be a genuine Christian and a Roman Catholic at the same time?” I think so, despite numerous doctrines of the Catholic church that conflict with Scripture, such as purgatory, indulgences, and salvation by faith plus works. I know Catholics who have placed their trust completely in the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. To my knowledge, they’re truly born again.
But that doesn’t answer the question. How do we think through using songs written by people who hold beliefs contrary to what we believe the Bible teaches? I don’t think there are hard and fast rules in this area. But here are some thoughts.
Immediate content matters most. Knowing WHO wrote a song shouldn’t make it better or worse. I should first evaluate a song’s merits on the lyrics all by themselves, without any explanation, because that’s the way most people will sing and hear them.
Associations are important. Even though lyrical content is most important, we don’t always sing songs in a vacuum. I want to be careful about introducing a song that might be good in itself, but might lead to people getting exposed to a ministry, artist, or church that I wouldn’t otherwise be enthused about. Since “Your Grace is Enough” is more well known because of Chris Tomlin, it wouldn’t be a problem for me.
Associations can change over time. Churches sing songs today that were penned by Roman Catholics, Unitarian Universalists, and others who held to theological convictions we might not agree with. But because the song is disconnected from its origins, no one knows.
Composers often reveal their theological biases. If I know a song has been writen by someone whose orthodoxy I have a question about, I should exercise more care in examining the content. Songs by Catholics sometimes present a view of grace that’s unclear, or heavy on the result of grace and light on justification by faith. I find that often the problem is what the song leaves out, rather than what it actually says. For instance, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear was written by Edmund Sears, a Unitarian minister of the 19th century. While it’s been set to a beautiful tune, and can carry powerful connotations, it isn’t very clear on the meaning of Christ’s birth.
Bottom line, if I think singing a song is going to expose my church to an unhelpful influence, I’ll skip it. I if I don’t think that’s going to happen, and the lyrics are solid, I’ll sing it.
by Bob Kauflin
Singing Songs From Questionable Sources
I had already been working on this post when I received this email from Ethan:
“For the past year, I’ve struggled with the idea of playing ‘good’ songs (obviously room for defining some terms there…) from questionable ministries. In playing their songs, am I advocating for their entire ministry? In playing their songs, am I necessarily pushing my people toward their church (i.e., when the CCLI info pops up at the end of the song)?”
I took a stab at this question eight years ago when I wrote “Does it Matter Who Writes the Songs We Sing?” Since then, I’ve been asked the question so frequently I’ve tried to refine my thinking on this topic.
What Makes a Song Source “Questionable?”
Songs can be from “questionable” sources in at least three ways:
Interestingly, I’ve visited websites and blogs that view Sovereign Grace Music as one of those “questionable sources,” usually because we’re continuationist, Reformed or use contemporary music styles.
So whatever your reasons for questioning the origins of a song, here are some thoughts.
First Things First
Let me start with some general observations.
First, to dismiss this conversation as irrelevant, petty or unnecessary (e.g., “Who are you to question my sincerity?”) fails to appreciate the diverse and deep ways songs affect our thoughts and emotions. It also minimizes the importance Scripture gives to singing (Eph. 5:18-20; Col. 3:16-17). To say, “It doesn’t matter who writes the songs we sing,” isn’t helpful, because it does matter to many people. In fact, I’m asked this question more than any other. By a long shot.
Second, exercising discernment isn’t the same thing as sinful judgment. Our culture often wrongly equates disagreement with disdain and insists that to make distinctions is to be condescending. But God tells us in Scripture to judge rightly, distinguish between those who should hear our message and who shouldn’t, be able to discern who a fool is, avoid people who cause divisions, and know the difference between sheep and wolves in sheep’s clothing (Jn. 7:24; Mt. 7:6; Prov. 13:20; Rom. 16:17; Mt. 7:15).
Third, singing a song from a questionable source doesn’t mean your church is racing down a path of heresy, worldliness or sin. We want to avoid “demonizing” songs or composers, expecting Satan himself to be unleashed in our congregation if we sing that song. God can bring forth biblically faithful songs from a variety of sources, and he can work through them in spite of their origins.
Fourth, choosing not to use songs from a particular church, ministry or individual doesn’t give us the right to unilaterally criticize everything that is associated with those songs or other churches who sing them. Song choices should be the result of pastoral choices made within the context of a local church. God has often glorified his name and worked in people’s lives through songs whose origins we might find suspect or disagree with. Jesus is too great, glorious and generous to give the best songs only to people who look and think exactly like us.
Fifth, I’m not calling out ministries and people by name nor trying to establish universal rules that everyone should follow. I’m suggesting ways to think through this issue biblically to serve our local churches and honor God.
Thoughts to Consider
With those caveats, here are some thoughts about using songs from questionable sources.
1. Edification involves minimizing distractions.
1 Corinthians 14 makes it clear that when we gather as the church God wants us to do what edifies, or builds up, those around us (1 Cor. 14:1, 3, 5, 12, 17, 26). Mutual edification brings God glory. If I lead a song that tempts a large part of my congregation to be distracted by the sins of the person who wrote it or the theology of the ministry it originates from, that’s not edifying. So if a songwriter/artist publicly announces they’re living in unrepentant sin or it’s discovered that they have been, it might be wise to set their songs aside for a season. Yes, God is gracious and we’re all imperfect people, but he also calls us to live holy lives (Heb. 12:14; Titus 2:11-12). And if removing one artist’s or church’s songs from your repertoire for a time leaves you with only a handful of songs, it’s a great opportunity to start drawing from more sources.
2. Choose songs to teach theology, not simply avoid heresy.
At the recent Together for the Gospel conference Al Mohler encouraged us to aim for a higher standard in our songs than “avoiding heresy.” Our songs should help people think and act biblically. A song from a questionable source might seem “pretty good,” but that’s a low bar. The practices, emphases or teachings of churches are often reflected in the songs that emerge from them. If your church sings four to five songs each week, that’s only 200-250 songs in a year, and many of those are repeated. Choose them wisely.
3. Using only one song from a ministry/writer also makes a statement.
When a ministry puts out dozens, if not hundreds, of songs, and you only sing one or two of them, you’re communicating intentionality. You’re saying you’ve chosen this song for its content and not for its associations. You’re expressing gratefulness for any solid, biblically faithful song that enables the word of Christ to dwell in people richly.
4. Develop a culture that appreciates lyrical content over a brand name.
Leaders are often concerned that singing one song will lead people in their congregation to YouTube or a website to hear more songs from the ministry/person. But if the people in your church know you choose songs based on their theology and not their popularity, it won’t be as much of an issue. Doing one song by an artist or ministry doesn’t necessarily mean you endorse everything about them, just as using a quote from a writer you don’t completely agree with doesn’t mean you commend their entire theological perspective.
5. Incorporate more old songs into your repertoire.
We can minimize the problem of who writes our songs by singing songs that have stood the test of time and are known more for their content than their composers. By the end of his life, Horatio Spafford had come to deny hell, affirm purgatory and teach universalism. Yet God has used his song “It is Well with My Soul” to encourage hundreds of thousands of Christians in the midst of suffering. The same can be said of William Cowper, author of “God Moves in a Mysterious Way,” who endured severe bouts of depression and tried to commit suicide at least three times. Since the composers are no longer living, older songs don’t run the risk of suddenly becoming questionable.
Bottom line, if you find a song that communicates biblical truth in a clear, uncompromising, beautiful, singable way, and your congregation is trained to value truth over popularity, you’re probably in a position to benefit from it. If you’re unsure, you’ve got plenty of other songs to choose from.
Should We Use Secular Songs on Sundays?
Matt sent in this question:
I recently came across a message board where folks were discussing secular songs that could be done to make “seekers” feel more comfortable at church. Some folks mentioned that they had been to church’s where song such as: “She Will be Loved” by Maroon 5, “Your Body is a Wonderland” by John Mayer (that Sunday’s service was about sexuality), lots of U2, etc. I’m really interested to hear your thoughts about doing songs like these. Should we seek to evangelize during our times of worshiping God through singing corporately?
There are three ways I want to respond to Matt’s question.
First, the idea that we should make “seekers” feel more comfortable in church begs for further clarification. We should make sure that unbelievers can understand what’s going on in our meetings, and that we’re not doing anything to make them feel unwelcome. But it’s not our responsibility to make sure they’re “comfortable.” The church is different from the world. We’ve gathered to build each other up by rehearsing and celebrating the Gospel, calling to mind God’s covenant promises, confess our sins, exercise spiritual gifts, and much more. “To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7). I wouldn’t expect someone who doesn’t know the Savior to be totally comfortable in that setting. Our primary goal is to make sure that unbelievers have the opportunity to encounter in some way the grace and truth of God revealed in Jesus Christ, expressed through his church.
Second, singing/playing popular secular songs on Sunday mornings can have a number of effects, some good, some not so good. What are people hearing as these songs are being played? Are they thinking, “Wow, these Christians really relate to me?” Or are they thinking, “Gee, I never knew Christians listen to the same kind of music I do. We’re really not that different!” Or are they thinking, “Why are these Christians trying to act so much like me? I was hoping they could provide some answers to my problems.” Or maybe, “Why do I come to church to hear second-rate versions of songs I listen to? Why don’t they sing about something has changed their lives, rather than something I already know?” Hard to say. I certainly have no idea why someone would sing John Mayer’s “Your Body is a Wonderland” on a Sunday morning. Here’s a portion:
We got the afternoon, you got this room for two
One thing I’ve left to do, discover me discovering you
And if you want love we’ll make it
Swim in a deep sea of blankets
Take all your big plans and break ’em
This is bound to be awhile
Your body is a wonderland
Your body is a wonder (I’ll use my hands)
Your body is a wonderland
If reading those words seems awkward here, imagine what it would sound like if they’re sung when the church of Jesus Christ gathers. Sexuality is a gift from God to be celebrated within the covenant of marriage. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled” (Heb. 13:4). This song doesn’t accomplish those goals. There’s no sense that this is a husband singing to his wife, and
even if it was, it wouldn’t be appropriate for a multiple generation congregation. Also, prior associations people can have with the song make it even problematic. Seems like it would be much better to simply reference the words and comment on them.
Third, Matt asks if we should seek to evangelize non-Christians during our times of corporate worship. Absolutely. Is playing songs by U2 or other popular artists the best way to do that? No. Evangelism involves proclaiming the gospel – the good news that Christ died in our place for our sins to reconcile us to God. Evangelism should be the natural overflow of a group of Christians who are passionately, clearly, and compellingly extolling the greatness of God and his mercy in Jesus Christ – not trying to sound like the world. That doesn’t mean we can never use a popular song to make a specific point in a meeting. Or that it isn’t wise at times to reference what the world is singing. But there are dangers in making singing secular songs on a Sunday morning a regular practice. Songs speak not only through their lyrics but through the associations people make with them. We should be very intentional about the use of popular songs, and our motive should be to communicate truth, not simply to be “relevant” or attract more people. If we’re not careful, the means we use to draw others will hinder them from hearing the very message that could set them free.
by Bob Kauflin
Renounce Involvement with Unhealthy (Demonic) Music
Heavenly Father, I confess that I used to listen to unhealthy demonic music. I ask that you will forgive and cleanse me from this sin.
In the name of Jesus, and through the power of His blood, I now renounce, break and sever all soul ties that have been formed between myself and the unhealthy music (name specific songs and artists/groups if possible) I used to listen to and enjoy, as well as any soul ties formed between myself and the artists and groups (name them specifically if possible) and demonic influences that have produced these unhealthy songs and music.
In Jesus' name, I also renounce, break and nullify any curses that I may have come under as a result of listening to the unhealthy music I used to listen to and enjoy.
In the name of Jesus, I now command all evil spirits to leave me that have taken advantage of these soul ties I have just renounced. In the name of Jesus, I also renounce and command any evil spirits that have taken advantage of any curses that I have come under as a result of listening to unhealthy music to leave me now in Jesus' name! I also renounce and command any evil spirits that have entered me through my listening to this unhealthy music to leave me now in the name of Jesus'!
Sourced from: GREATBIBLESTUDY.COM
You are deluded ! SATAN DOES NOT EXIST ! NEITHER IS GOD ! Enjoy life to the fullest.