I was reading recently about the trends in both sermons and books within the Christian community. In both cases the biggest trend is not at all positive but rather very troubling. That trend is one of giving the people what THEY want instead of the Gospel. More and more sermons as well as popular books draw upon experience and what references there are to the Bible are either taken out of context or mentioned only in passing.
For those of us who believe the Word of God is the "logos", this trend is truly frightening. If those who present the Gospel message do not use or draw upon the Bible, what then are they preaching? If all the sermons every Sunday morning in every church were all experiential and never took the message back to the written Word of God, what message is really being promoted?
The same thing that pretty much destroyed the Christian music industry is now killing off the Christian publishing industry. When greed and the desire for fame and fortune usurp the willingness to submit to God’s will in presenting His message and His alone; both the presenter and the presentation are corrupted. When the desire to become famous and make huge amounts of money becomes more important than simply presenting the truth of God’s Word, the very motive is called into question and huge doubts overshadow the message.
Most Christians get very uncomfortable and uneasy if subjected to hearing or reading Biblical based books and sermons. Whether the reason is hidden sin or laziness; the results are the same—they tune the message out. This becomes a problem if the motivation is fame or fortune. You can’t sell books nobody wants to read. You can’t fill churches if no one wants to hear what is preached.
When the pioneers of Christian music came on the scene in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s their message was much the same as their predecessors in the Gospel field. It was heavy on presenting the Gospel message only in a different musical format that was popular at the time. Amazingly this music and the message became wildly popular and the small record labels producing it were swamped with new artists and sales of albums.
By the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the giant secular music companies took note of the prospering small labels and bought them out one by one. After they were swallowed up, the artists had little choice but to follow along. Time and time again Christian performers were forced to water down their message so that no reference to God or Jesus was made. To a Christian listener it would be "assumed" the song was talking about Jesus. To a non-Christian, it would be "assumed" the song was talking about a boy or girlfriend.
Furthermore many of these artists were forced to produce secular music in order to make the company more and more money (and the performer too). This goes back to the old "If it was good enough for Elvis, it is good enough for me" train of thought. Elvis Presley got his start singing Gospel. It was only when money hungry wolves saw his talent that they swayed him to first be a "crossover" artist doing both secular and religious stuff and ultimately he of course only did secular material for that is where the big money was found.
I understand Paul mentions in Philippians that he rejoices however and whenever the Gospel is preached regardless of motive etc. But, it goes without saying that he would have preferred it be preached with a pure heart and that the message being the pure Gospel and not some watered down version done to make the people happy.
I really don’t care about the cover of the book, the picture on the CD or the catchy title of the sermon. What I do care about is whether the redemptive message of Jesus is presented and not just some nice sounding but self-serving message which could easily pertain to lovers, other religions or UFO aliens.
I believe if a minister is forbidden to mention the word Christ in his church—he needs to find a new church. I believe if an author is forced to only use the nice generic term "God" and not be allowed to mention "Jesus"—he/she needs to find a new publisher. I believe if a musician is not allowed to mention even "God" in their songs—they need to find a new producer/label.
The unfortunate reality in much of the Christian publishing and music industries is that financial profit has usurped the true Gospel message and in so doing has elevated both industries to that of the money changers in the temple, and we know Jesus was not too fond of them. The last straw is the growing movement where those giving the weekly sermon are watering down the message to draw more crowds. This, to me, is what makes all this sad, really sad.
Hmmm, all the more it behoves the individual Christians today to know what they believe and to be able to decipher the true vs the adulterated. It is a challenge to Christians living today to not compromise and buy books and dvds/cds produced with the sole purpose of catering to "itching" ears and eyes vs God-fearing, Bible based teachings, for the sake of returns on investments. When doctrines are nowhere in sight we need to cease from attending that church which has slipped from being Bible based. It is not a matter of judgment but of discernment. It is all the more why we truly need the infilling of the Holy Spirit daily to help us discern what is true and untrue and empower us to not just follow the crowd and if caught in a difficult situation to stand up and not compromise on our doctrines.
Good and timely warning B2Y. Thank you.
Interestingly enough, I just finished re-reading the book No Compromise this past summer. It is the biography of the late Keith Green, one of those pioneer Christian singer/songwriters who died in a plane crash back in 1982. I thought about this when you mentioned pioneers of Christian music in your blog.
I really relate to what you wrote as this was the music of my youth. Just as I entered my teens, Christian music was undergoing a radical change...we sort of "grew up together" you might say. The message in songs written by lyricists such as Keith Green, John Hartman and many others was very clear. They would bring me to the feet of Jesus and remind me of how I needed to live.
I found the following quote by Keith Green. I know you are a fan of his music as well and hope you don't mind my posting it here. [center][quote]"The only music minister to whom the Lord will say,
'Well done, thy good and faithful servant,' is the one
whose life proves what their lyrics are saying...
And to whom music is the least important part of their life.
Glorifying the only Worthy One
has to be a minister's most important goal!"
[center]--Keith Green[/center] [/quote][/center]
I think this needs to be true of anything we do for Jesus. There can be no compromise!
"That trend is one of giving the people what THEY want instead of the Gospel."
"For those of us who believe the Word of God is the "logos", this trend is truly frightening. If those who present the Gospel message do not use or draw upon the Bible, what then are they preaching?"
Brother B has been reading my mind (again)! This troubling development has been weighing heavily on me of late. In fact, it is the subject of a blog (or 7) that I have rolling around in my old balding head.
The "Logos" is all of reality springing from those first 5 words of the Bible: "In the beginning God created..." I know I sound like the old broken record with those words, but they are the very foundation of all things Christian.
Many contemporary churches (congregations and in some cases denominations) rely on the "Rhema", or individual passages (sayings) of the Bible. You simply can't take any passage, including the entire OT or NT, without it being "out of context".
Let's take an example of a single phrase (paraphrased) 'Jesus is our Lord and Savior'. We like those things that are comforting, easy. This phrase is that. but even then, we skip over half of it ... skip right to the "Savior" part and miss the tremendous implications of "Lord". That means obedience, loyalty, integrity in following the commands and instructions of Jesus. Can't do that if we ignore them or have no idea what they are! That's the Logos.
Some of the mega-churches do just what I've described above. My Rabbi (Pastor Michael) refers to them as "feel-good" churches. They base their entire message of the "Savior" part and forget the obligations, the demands of the "Lord" part.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with "feeling good" in our Christian beliefs. In fact, Jesus tells His disciples that He brings them "joy". We just have to find our joy in context... not only in from "In the beginning" through to "Amen", but in the Logos... the reality of all of God's creation.
Brother B... I could not agree with you more strongly!
You would not be one that would be invited to preach at their church. Well the main reason that we have pastors and teachers that dont proclaim the truth is becaues the "TRUTH" has been distorted. From the begining the truth has been given to Gods people to lead them into a way of life that would cause the world to be amazed at them Deut.4;1-19. But we have been taught that those commandments in which there is life Deu 30:15 has been done away with therefore leaving us with nothing to focus our way of living on. We tell people that they are a sinner because they have broken Gods law and they repent, they are then told that they dont have to obey those laws that they broke because "Jesus" has done away with them. No wonder we have quears and lesbiens in the pulpit today. And children ruling the parents, marrages that end up in divorce with in the churches. Pastor and laymen that are commiting adultry in the church...House. When and only when the believers return to the instructions that were handed to YHWH"S children to lead them into a way of Holy living then and only then will YHWH hear from heaven and forgive our sins and heal our land. And those instructions can and will only be found within the Torah( the first five books of the bible) We are teaching a false Messiah when we tell people that He done away with those OT laws(Instructions for living). They fail to read the verses following their favorite vs to quote Mat 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
The righteousness of the S&P was that they kept the law but didnt have Faith in the Messiah. so the only way that OUR righteousness can be greater than theirs is to have obedience to the commandments and faith in the Messiah
Keep preaching the truth my friend, keep preaching the truth!
Compromise is a leaky boat. You can keep plugging the holes but eventually the strength is totally undermined and the vessel ceases to have purpose