27 Jan, 2023 The dangers of BAD theology in Christian music
By Katie Stallings
Image: Deposit Photo
When it comes to Christian/Worship Music, many quickly embrace the sounds, image, vibe, and lyrics. But how well do we listen to these lyrics? Are we confident that these singers reflect Christ? Some may find it legalistic to say that we should tread lightly when listening to some of these artists.
When it comes to music linked with our relationship with the Lord, we should ensure that what we listen to aligns with His Word. More importantly, when praising God, we must know that the worship we are giving Him is accurate and true. Countless contemporary songs do not always portray the teachings in the Bible.
Scripture itself teaches in many verses that we must call out untruth and guide people back to the correct path: Ephesians 4:25, Galatians 6:1, James 5:19-20, Luke 17:3.
Do we accept it when a pastor preaches incorrect doctrine? Well, some might, but that is reserved for a later time. The big picture is that any Christian who knows the character of the Lord and the scriptures is not content with anyone presenting false information about the Bible. It misrepresents God, and it leads people astray.
Music is an Offering
Music is a ministry, and it is a form of sacrifice. Songs are messages in a creative art form. Worship recognizes who our Creator is, giving Him honor and glory. Worship is not solely music but a form of bringing offerings to God. When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and were free from captivity, they had a worship fest on the shores of the sea (Exodus 15). This song was nothing but praises to God for bringing them to freedom and for His power and majesty. David sang praises before the Lord, and Paul and Silas sang in prison. Chains broke, and the door burst open. Worship is powerful! It is thanksgiving and recognition that we as humans are weak, and we place ourselves to the side to glorify the God who created all things and does mighty works. Worship, friends, is not about us; it is all about God.
Sadly, there has been a decline in Christian/worship theology in our world. It is used for temporary gratification and an experience to make ourselves feel good or to say we worship like it is a trend. This is extremely dangerous. The doctrine in the lyrics we sing is the praises we sing to the Lord. It will fall flat if we do not express the correct offering to God. In modern Christian music, we have a theology that satisfies the human soul and puffs us up.
It has become about the creation rather than the Creator. There are many “me-centered” songs. What do I mean by this? Let’s find out.
Emotional Manipulation and Worship
I want to ensure everything is clear here; emotions in worship are not wrong. Music can stir feelings we did not expect or bring us to our knees. I have had numerous worship sessions in my car, one-on-one with the Lord, where I have felt His presence and peace. This atmosphere has evoked tears and joy within me. Emotions in worship are normal and natural!
However, what is not okay, is when worship leaders manipulate people into worship. This can be done in several ways:
A leader adamantly demanding a crowd praise God.
Ambient lighting. Being guilt-tripped into worship.
As I studied this, I had memories of my youth group days. Our group would visit a youth conference annually to a middle school and high school weekend-long service. It was amazing, but as an adult, there are things I reflect on and realize some of the things that happened were questionable.
The worship leaders and speakers seemed to have a desperation for us to be stimulated as they repeatedly told us to raise our hands or sing louder, etc. but it was presented as though the praise we were giving was not enough. In my late twenties, I can now see that worship is not how a human with a microphone and a nice voice defines it. Worship is what God defines it to be and not everyone does it the same.
Worship is not outward necessarily an outward expression at all times – it can be inward and it is a sacrifice of ourselves to God. As a young teenager trying to figure everything out, all I knew was in a surrounding where I felt like I had to have this experience as everyone else around me.
When I think on these memories, I remember how uncomfortable I felt or even numb or hollow during this time. Is that awful? Well I did not fully realize what worship was at the time and I was just caught up in the experience of some of it. I have been to other churches where they hounded the audience about lifting hands or virtually forced us to the alter. This is not okay – at all. This is the same route and deceit I see in many modern churches that are popularized. We are not to be emotionally manipulated into praising God and we are not to do things according to people but by the Holy Spirit!
“It’s all About Me”
Has anyone ever heard of “me-centered theology?” If you have not, keep your eyes open, because a breakdown of this is headed your way! It is the idea that we make everything in “scripture or in church about ourselves. There is also a phrase known as “me-centered worship.” The self worship is disguised so well, it can be tricky to catch. Is this not how the father of deceit works? Make it innocent, appealing and in the light of a “righteous” act that people get wrapped up in the music, they are blind to the lyrics being sung.
This concept is used sporadically throughout songs or abundantly. If you are reading this, you are likely mentally searching for a few songs you can search through to confirm or deny this. It is not going to be as noticeable if you are reading over the lyrics to one or two. However, if you research several of these, you will being to see a pattern. The lyrics in these worship songs are praising God but they do not go without there being something about “self” (I, me) added. Now, again, disclosure here; I am not saying songs like these are bad. By all means and purposes, praise Jesus for what He has done in a personal way!
The issue is when ALL of the worship music has this consistent pattern of throwing in something about “self.” In some cases they are about what God can do for us versus what we can do for Him. There seems to be a lot more incorporation of self in these songs of modern worship than their should be. Singing and making it personal to God is great. It seems that we overdue this concept of using “me” or “I” in every song can condition us to think that we are owed something or that worshiping God is about what He can do for us.
Repetition is a wonderful tool to stress a point: worship to God has nothing to to with how He can bless us because of A,B, and C nor does is it about who we are. It is about Him solely and what He has done in general. His mighty works, His love, His care, His justice. Have you looked up and seen the stars at night? Have you done research on how big they truly are and how big this universe is? Every part of His creation exists to glorify Him. A God who created such a place as our solar system, beyond, and still was so intentional about making the earth we live on with everything in perfect detail is astounding and deserves nothing but the full focus of our hearts.
In love and best encouragement in your relationship with Christ, I urge everyone to pray for God to open your heart to His voice. Alllow the Holy Spirit to guide you in discerning the songs you sing in your churches, in your cars, and homes. It is so much better when we take the focus from ourselves and place it on the One who died for us!
(To learn more about “me-centered music,” read this article about the theological underpinnings of “Jesus boyfriend music” here on the Counter Culture Mom blog.)
The opinions in this article are specific to its author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire Counter Culture Mom team.
As a proud North Carolina girl, Katie Stallings follows her love for writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her other passions include Jesus, Bible Theology and Eschatology, singing, acting, and uncovering the truth about secret societies, the elite, and things hidden in plain sight. Katie discovered the deceit of the entertainment industry in her early 20s, which led her down a path of exposing the darkness that Hollywood promotes and the evil in the political world.
When she is not working, doing school work, or trying to pack her mind full of information, you will find her with her family or friends, spending time with her nephew, and working in her home church, all with a coffee in her hand.
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