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New Age Contemporary Christian Music

[Excerpts from Crept In Unawares: Mysticism by Heath Henning is available for purchase here.]

Warren Smith spoke of his early experience being introduced to the New Age movement and its music. “As I stood in the middle of the [metaphysical] bookstore, I suddenly became aware of the most extraordinary music. It was a beautiful, haunting melody with a soft, lyrical, almost meditative refrain. The music seemed to penetrate my entire being as it merged with the feelings that had been inspired by Rajneesh. I felt a happy kind of sadness that seemed to have something to do with a longing for God.”1)Warren Smith, The Light That Was Dark: From the New Age to Amazing Grace, Mountain Stream Press, Second Edition, 2005, p. 27 The way he describes this New Age music “beautiful, haunting melody with a soft, lyrical almost meditative refrain” is mirror to what some contemporary “Christian” music could be described as. Consider for example Rick Founds’ popular 1989 song “Lord I Lift Your Name On High.” Church Copyright License has reported Lord I Lift Your Name on High has remained within the top ten popular song used in churches around the world since the 1990s.2)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord,_I_Lift_Your_Name_on_High, accessed 1/7/2012

The lyrical terminology of the song even expresses New Age theology through the diction which is utilized. “Lord I lift your name on high/ Lord I love to sing your praises.… He went from heaven to earth to show the way[.]” In The Aquarian Gospel, what some have called a New Age Bible, we see this same concept of Jesus coming to “show the way.” “And all the people were entranced, and would have worshipped Jesus as a God; but Jesus said, I am your brother man just come to show the way to God[.]”3)Levi W. Dowling, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus The Christ (26:23-24), DeVORSS & Co., Publishers, 1964, p. 63, chap. 26:23-24; also cited by Eldon K. Winker, The New Age Is Lying to You, Concordia Publishing House, 1994, p.179; also cited by Ron Rhodes, Find It Quick Handbook on Cults & New Religions, Harvest House Publishers, 2005, p. 130 Another New Age alleged dictation from “the Christ” parallels this statement. “I said before that it was not my intention to be deified and to be called a savior of mankind. My role was that of way-shower. And it is this role I must insist be clarified in your thinking if there is yet confusion about what it means to be reborn in Spirit.”4)The Christ, channeled by Virginia Essene, New Teachings for an Awakening Humanity, S.E.E. Publishing Company, 1986, p. 50; also cited by Douglas Groothuis, Jesus In An Age of Controversy, Harvest House Publishers, 1996 p. 213

Christian apologist Ron Rhodes explains this doctrine of Christ from the New Age cult stating: “This human Jesus, who somehow became the Christ, was one of many enlightened ‘way-showers’ for humanity.”5)Ron Rhodes, Find It Quick Handbook on Cults & New Religions, Harvest House Publishing, 2005, p. 130 Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Christian Science cult, wrote, “[Christian] Science reveals the glorious possibilities of immortal man, forever unlimited by the mortal senses. The Christ-element in the Messiah made him the Way-shower, Truth and Life.”6)Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Keys to Scriptures, The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1934, p. 288 Dave Hunt refutes the heresy of New Age Christology by pointing out, “Jesus claimed to be more than a teacher who came to show the way by example and instruction; he claimed to be ‘the way, the truth, and the life.’ [emphasis in original]”7)Dave Hunt & T. A. McMahon, The New Spirituality, Harvest House Publishers, 1988, p. 288

The genre which Rick Founds music and this song in question is listed as on MP3 download sites is “Gospel, NEW AGE: Meditation”8)http://www.tradebit.com/filedetail.php/537316-rick-founds; accessed 8-31-2013 One Christian apologist cannot see the problem with this kind of music as if “Christian New Age music” is not an oxymoron. Douglas Groothuis wrote,

Another category of New Age music besides progressive and meditative/mystical New Age is “Christian New Age music.” The term need not necessarily frighten us, though…. These albums do not seem to be hypnotically repetitive, and if they are composed, performed and produced by Christians, are certainly not orientated toward inducing New Age mystical experiences.9)Douglas Groothuis, Confronting The New Age, InterVarsity Press, 1988, p. 193

This is an odd statement showing his lack of discernment as the repetitive, hypnotic character of music is what labels the genre “NEW AGE: Meditation.” These two words combined shows the obvious—which Douglas Groothuis missed. Whether the name “Christian” is or is not attached, this music is purposely developed for “inducing New Age mystical experiences.” Gary Kah confirmed, “In the field of music, the latest trend is New Age meditative music, which is designed to put those who listen into an altered state of consciousness.”10)Gary Kah, The Demonic Roots of Globalization, Huntington House, 1995, p. 47 Yet many other Christian apologists could be cited for similar comments of Groothuis’ error.11)see Eldon K. Winker, The New Age Is Lying to You, Concordia Publishing House, 1994, p. 84 and Elliot Miller, A Crash Course on the New Age Movement, Baker Book House, 1989; as cited by Eldon K. Winker, The New Age Is Lying to You, Concordia Publishing House, 1994, p. 84

Hendrix is reported as saying, “through music, you can hypnotize people…. And when you get [them] at [their] weakest point, you can preach into the subconscious minds what we want to say.”12)Jimi Hendrix, quoted from Life in David Henderson, Scuse Me While I Kiss The Sky: The Life of Jimi Hendrix, Bantam Books, 1981, p. 206, cited Dave Hunt & T. A. McMahon, The New Spirituality, Harvest House Publishers, 1988, p. 29 One of the best known New Age composers and musicians confessed: “I can open the doors of your [brain’s] databanks…. As you’re listening, the rescripting process is happening automatically via subliminally recorded messages.”13)Patrick J. Harbula, “Sounds of Transformation: A Talk With Brother Charles,” Meditation, Fall 1987, p. 21 Pastor Moss explained:

Of course, knowledge and emotions are interrelated. What I know causes me to feel certain things. What I feel causes me to think certain things.

   Which comes first is the crucial issue. Do I want my knowledge to be based on what I feel? Or, do I want my emotions based upon what I know?

   Music has the capacity to function either way. By teaching us truth, it can lead us to some very exhilarating emotions. On the other hand, if music first leads us down emotional paths it has the potential of convincing us to believe almost anything. Where music begins is immensely important.

   Unfortunately, most of us evaluate music on the basis of how it makes us feel. We enjoy music without thinking about its manipulative powers. “Oh, that sounded so good” is a typical response to music. Rarely do we say, “I really learned something from that song.14)Pastor David E. Moss, God’s Song, Fundamental Evangelistic Association, undated, p. 20

Emergent church leader Leonard Sweet, who intends to achieve a paradigm shift in Christianity, exposed his use of music as a danger to Christendom.

It’s not your job to teach people what is “good church music.” It is your job to help people have an experience of God.

   Churches in postmodern communities will be built, not around great preachers, but around great experiences.15)Leonard Sweet, Soul Tsunami, Sink or Swim in the New Millennium, Zondervan, Publishing, 1999, p. 199

This is the problem with Contemporary Christian Music as Ernest Pickering expressed.

As we have already mentioned in other contexts, one of the chief errors of New Evangelicals is their tendency to overemphasize experience to the neglect of sound teaching. The charismatics have led the way in developing this mindset and have influenced evangelicalism in general. This is the reason so-called Christian rock is popular. People want to “feel” something rather than “learn” something.16)Ernest D. Pickering, The Tragedy of Compromise: The Origin and Impact of the New Evangelicalism, Bob Jones University Press, 1994, p. 143

Consider another popular song, “Our God is an Awesome God,” which purposely raises its level of intensity on each stanza to induce an emotional high and never respectively bring the listener down again which causes built up tension. “Heavy doses of unresolved tension in music can be very detrimental to a person’s physical well being. It generally tends to make a person emotionally hyper and less rational.”17)Pastor David E. Moss, God’s Song, Fundamental Evangelistic Association, undated, p. 37

If a church adopts a musical policy that appeals first to emotional sensations, it will not have adequate control on the reactions of the people in the congregation. Their different emotional makeups will cause them to respond in many different directions….

   A church must adopt a musical policy that emphasizes the communication of truth. With songs that are Biblically accurate and clear in their communication of truth, a church can guarantee that every listener has the opportunity to arrive at the same place.18)Pastor David E. Moss, God’s Song, Fundamental Evangelistic Association, undated, p. 25

Not all hymns can fit nicely into this category such as the hymn In the Garden by C. Austin Mile (1868-1946) “Next to ‘The Old Rugged Cross’… this hymn has been one of the most popular gospel hymns ever written, beginning with the days when Homer Redeheaver led singing for the great Billy Sunday campaigns and used the hymn extensively.”19)Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories, Kregel Publications, 1982, p. 125 In the Garden expresses no doctrinal truths and the author admits it was written as a description of a vision he had during a trance and sounds suspiciously like the occult method of automatic writing. He stated, “I awakened in full light, gripping my Bible, with muscles tense and nerves vibrating. Under inspiration of this vision I wrote as quickly as the words could be formed the poem exactly as it has since appeared. That same evening I wrote the music.”20)C. Austin Mile, as cited by Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories, Kregel Publications, 1982, p. 125

The de-emphasis of truth for emotional experiences has bred an ecumenical mentality.  Don Moen of Integrity Music said in an interview with Christianity Today, “I’ve discovered that worship [music] is Tran denominational, Tran cultural. It Bridges Any Denomination. Twenty years ago there were many huge divisions between denominations. Today I think the walls are coming down. In any concert that I do, I will have 30-50 different churches represented.”21)Don Moen as cited by David Cloud, Contemporary Christian Music: Some Questions Answered & Some Warnings Given, Way of Life Literature, 2006, p. 29 David Cloud concurs:

The devil is using the ecumenical thrust of Contemporary Christian Music to break down the walls between truth and error toward the completion of the one-world apostate “church.”22)David Cloud, Contemporary Christian Music: Some Questions Answered & Some Warnings Given, Way of Life Literature, 2006, p. 39

Albert James Dager also insinuated the dangers of false doctrines infiltrating churches through the music. “What is perceived as spiritual is in reality soulish, contributing to a euphoric state of altered consciousness from repetitious choruses that follow one upon the other. The mesmerizing effect of the music creates a frame of mind open to suggestions by the subsequent preaching of dominionist teachers who build on the fervor of the moment with messages of future power and glory.”23)Albert James Dager, Vengeance Is Ours: The Church In Dominion, Sword Publishers, 1990, p. 75

Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Commenting on this verse, Albert Barnes wrote, “The only additional thought there is, that their psalms and hymns were to be regarded as methods of ‘teaching’ and ‘admonishing;’ that is, they were to be imbued with truth and to be such that elevate the mind, and withdraw it from error and sin. Dr. Johnson once said, that if he were allowed to make the ballads of a nation, he cared not who made the laws. It is true in a more important sense that he who is permitted to make the hymns of a church, need care little who preaches, or who makes the creed. He will more effectively mold the sentiments of a church than they who preach or make creeds and confessions. Hence, it is indispensable, in order to the preservation of the truth, that the sacred songs of the church should be imbued with sound evangelical sentiment.”24)Albert Barnes, Notes, explanatory and practical, on the Epistles of Paul to the Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, Harper & Brothers, 1851, p. 320

Worship must be in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and church music must uphold doctrinal truths.

First of all, the style of music will preach something….

   If there is impure doctrine, or doctrine that is inconsistent with Scripture, then it preaches heresy.25)Mike Foster, The Spiritual Song: The Missing Element in Church Music, TBT Publications, 2011, p. 60

When God gave Moses a song, He said, “Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel” (Deuteronomy 31:19). It was to be a witness for the children of Israel to learn about the Lord their God, which is why the religious leaders and musicians of Israel were the priests (see 1 Chronicles 15:16-24; 16:1-6; 2 Chronicles 5:12; 7:6). Henry Morris mentioned, “These three musicians are probably the same men whose names appear in the superscripts of the psalms-Hemans (see Ps 88), Asaph (Ps 50, 78-83), and Ethan (Ps 89).”26)Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., LL.D., Litt.D. The New Defender’s Study Bible (KJV), World Publishing, Inc., 2006, p. 652

Consider the comments of Dave Hunt.

A dump truck would not have been large enough to haul all of the heresy out of the recent Christian Booksellers convention in Orlando. Even Roman Catholic publishers of the most blasphemous and incredible nonsense, such as Paulist Press, were represented alongside evangelicals.

  Take, for example, the booth of another Catholic publisher, Our Sunday Visitor. One of their books on display told the story of Padre Pio, a recently deceased Catholic monk admired by Pope Paul II. Pio manifested the “stigmata,” a bleeding from his palms to make up the deficiency in Christ’s redemptive work on the cross! Pio believed he was suffering for the salvation of sinners! He claimed that literally millions of the spirits of the dead, whom he saw with his physical eyes, came to him on their way to heaven to thank him for gaining their release from purgatory! This is only one of Rome’s many heresies. I confronted Sunday Visitor employees concerning the demonic delusion promoted by their books and objected to their presence at a convention of evangelical publishers. They pointed to a nearby booth promoting horrendous, allegedly “Christian” rock music and declared, “We have as much right to be here as they do!” I could only agree. [emphasis in original]27)Dave Hunt, “Are We Too Negative?,” The Berean Call, Originally Published October 1991, August 2012, p. 4

A wise man once said, “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 17:15). Another wise man expounded how this applies to Contemporary Christian Music.

For a Christian to see what the wicked people say about their music and condone it anyway is to justify the wicked. Many times, these same people will condemn those that are trying to be just and right about their music and say they are “legalists.”… They are condemning the just, and this attitude is also an abomination to the Lord.28)Mike Foster, The Spiritual Song: The Missing Element in Church Music, TBT Publications, 2011, p. 41

In closing, let us heed the advice of Charles Spurgeon, who says, “The time is come when those who follow God must follow God, and those who try to trim and dress themselves and find out a way which is pleasing to the flesh and gentle to carnal desires, must go their way.”29)Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Sermons, Baker Books, Fifth printing, 2007, Vol. 8, p. 34; Originally published in 1883 under the title Sermons of Rev. C.H. Spurgeon of London, Robert Carter & Brothers

[Excerpts from Crept In Unawares: Mysticism by Heath Henning is available for purchase here.]



Heath Henning
Heath Henning
Heath heads the Set Free addictions ministry on Friday nights at Mukwonago Baptist Church and is involved in evangelism on the University of Wisconsin Whitewater campus, offering his expertise in apologetics at the weekly Set Free Bible Study every Tuesday evening. He currently lives in East Troy, Wisconsin with his wife and nine children. Read Heath Henning's Testimony

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