Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mercy Me: A Concert Review And Voicing The State Of "Contemporary Christians Music"

My wife and I attended a concert by Mercy Me here in Paducah last week. All in all it was a good concert, but had three noticeable (and questionable) moments.

The first was the opening song, started acapella by lead singer, Bart Millard. If you did not who sang the song originally then you might think this could have been on any current CCM release. That is a scary thought in itself and is one proof of the state of “Christian” music these days. The song was “Revolution” by the Beatles. Presumably the song was supposed to coincide with the “Mr. Lovewell” theme of Mercy Me's newest CD, “The Generous Mr. Lovewell”. The basic concept, as described during the concert by Millard, is to just “do good” and to “spread the spirit of Jesus” around in all that you do, no mention of why you would be doing these random acts of kindness, just do them. This is somehow supposed to illicit a moral consciousness in those that you perform good works for and to, but don't say anything about why you are doing them, just let the “good” works make changes in people.

The next hiccup was when they started talking about doing a song from the 80s. The setup lasted almost as long as the song and was filled with “if you don't like it, just sit back and pretend you do”. The song, by Tom Petty, was “Won't Back Down”. The same with the opening number, it could be put on 90% of the current CCM offerings and no one would raise a fuss. The song is pretty much about standing up to anyone that gets in your face or does something you do not like. Once again, presumably, the song is supposed to be equated with taking a stand against Satan at the “gates of hell”.

The last questionable moment was with their rendition of “Where The Streets Have No Name” from none other than U2. I have previously written about U2 and their appeal to “Christian” artists. It seems that everyone just accepts that U2 are Christians simply because they have a spiritual essence to their music at times. Of course, no one ever looks at their lifestyles, the fruit they bare, the other songs they make they promote sin or the ecumenical flavorings of Bono.

I guess my biggest gripe with Mercy Me and any other band that plays Christian music is why don't they just play Christian music? Why make it about secular music? Why not play songs that glorify God? There are a lot of good songs by a lot of other professing Christian artists that could be played instead of placing a stumbling block in front of a young Christian or someone that may be just starting their walk to knowing Christ. These hindrances of promoting sinful musicians and their sinful songs needs to be stopped and those that promote them need to either repent and stop playing them or change their genre of music. But this is what happens when a slippery slope is tread on. Things get muddled some, slide back a little – next group (or person) do something a little further out and more sliding. This continues through the years until the slope has been made very slick, no one can seem to get a firm footing and eventually things like playing “Highway To Hell” on Easter Morning happen (read post on this here).

Why would any band that professes Christ want to cause confusion? I believe this is a 1 Corinthians 8 issue, when Paul says that he will not eat meat if it causes a brother to stumble. How many people are stumbling back into sinful music, followed by sinful lifestyles because they see other prominent, professing Christians doing things like this? Here's how it goes - “Mercy Me played those songs in concert, the bands they played must be okay to listen to then. Hey if these are okay to listen to why not these other bands? If the bands music is okay, then their lifestyles must be okay too, since Mercy Me endorses their music, they must be endorsing their lifestyles.” And so the slippery slope is slid down like a kids Slip and Slide filled with Dawn dish detergent. The damage is done and if this person were not a true believer they will probably be even harder to reach now. Much damage is done and we see the effects of it daily as those that seek for righteousness and promote Christian/ Biblical values are degraded by others that profess to be Christians as well.

So, where does this end? When will these groups stop playing these types of songs? I have no idea if it ever will as the “judge not” mentality is spreading like cancer through the Body of Christ. I am going out on a limb here, but I would say that anyone that, after hearing the dangers of these types of actions, continues to promote, condone and play part in them probably does not have the Spirit within them. How could they if they know of the dangers to believers and the hindrances caused by such actions to those seeking God? Is it possible for a person who’s spirit bares witness with The Spirit not feel convicted for this? I think it would be very hard to persuade me that it is possible.

I am sure that there are those that are currently ignorant of their actions, because they have been force fed a steady dose of easy believeism for many years, they are still babes, but it is time they put the milk aside and start eating solid food, the True Word of God. Any true child of God has to grow in holiness, it is impossible to not. Is it possible for a baby to stay a baby it's whole 70+ years of existence? No! Then why do people want to make excuses and say that Christians radically changed by the God and Creator of the Universe will never grow either? It is against physical nature and it is against Spiritual nature.

In closing I would like to just offer the Word of God, by way of the Apostle Paul why imprisoned for declaring the Truth of the Lord -
Ephesians 4:14-24 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Post Script:
Before anyone starts calling for my head or calling me a Pharisee, please read a former post of mine about jundgmentalism. Also, I believe that while a Christian has liberty to listen to what ever they want to, drink whatever they want to, say whatever they want to and eat whatever they want to – that liberty should not be trampled upon. Doing so shows the true state of ones heart, that they may be using the Grace of God as a footstool to their sinful behaviors. I do not think someone that listens to Tom Petty is going to hell because they listen to Tom Petty, but the enjoyment of that form of worldly entertainment is evidence of their spiritual condition. Take heed professing Christian and examine yourself to see what your true standing is - 2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

Also along these same lines is the acceptance of Glenn Beck and Mormonism by professing Christians. See this post for a little insight, especially as the Christmas Season approaches and "The Christmas Sweater" will be making its rounds again.


Brody Harper said...

YOU SAID: "Here's how it goes - “Mercy Me played those songs in concert, the bands they played must be okay to listen to then. Hey if these are okay to listen to why not these other bands? If the bands music is okay, then their lifestyles must be okay too,"

Let me get this straight. You're actually placing the responsibility of EVERY person listening to ALL music and the the lifestyles THEY live on MercyMe playing Tom Petty and U2?!

You paint with a broad brush.

So it's no longer the responsibility of an individual and their relationship with Christ? It's the responsibility of MercyMe?

Where I come from we call that legalism.

And another thing...

YOU SAID: "no mention of why you would be doing these random acts of kindness, just do them."

Did you miss the part of the sentence where he says (and he says it every night)....

"Think of it as a pay it forward that revolves around the cross, because it's one thing to love them but to love them well enough to take them to the cross and leave them there is something completely different."

Jeff said...

My point was that it is dangerous to introduce worldliness into a Christian atmosphere. It is each individuals walk with Christ that they are accountable for. It is also those in leadership positions (whether they put themselves there willingly or not) to not lead astray, that they will answer for.

The crowd reacted the same with the worldly (secular) songs as they did with the Christian songs. Not saying that the members of Mercy Me (or their photographer/ art director) do not have the liberty to listen to whatever they want, but it becomes a different issue when in a setting of a Christian concert (with lost people present, young Christians present, deceived people present) that look to Mercy Me as role models (like it or not) it becomes a potential hindrance. Is that a good thing? Or is it okay to just put that out there for the spiritually undiscerning to try and figure out on their own?

Example: Should a preacher stand in a pulpit and talk about how great an R rated movie was, that was filled with cursing, violence, sex and drug use? Of course not. Does that prove the preacher is lost? No. But it does show his spiritual state and lack of discernment and most of all his lack of biblical leadership.

Like it or not, Mercy Me and all other professing Christian entertainers are in the pulpit whenever they are in public. What they say, do, talk about, listen to, eat, etc. is looked at by others as a gauge for their own spiritual condition. If their favorite singer listens to a secular group with extremely ecumenical beliefs, then their fans will think it is okay. If that artist sings one of their songs in concert, in a spiritual setting, in the middle of songs that glorify God, then they equate that band with Christianity as well.

Bono chanted during concerts that Christianity and the Muslim and Jewish religions were equal. He openly lives a lifestyle that is very anti-Christian, endorses people of false religions. So, yeah, it is dangerous for that mindset and lifestyle to be equated with Christianity. If it is okay with one in a leadership role, it will be okay with those that are under their leadership.

Just where is the line drawn when it comes to what secular musicians will be covered? As I stated in my post at Perry Noble's New Spring Church, they opened this past Easter Sunday with "Highway To Hell". Is that too far? Just how far into relevancy does a Christian leader need to dive? Where is the line drawn? When does the realization that glorifying anything other than God is idolatry kick in?

I am sure many people love to hear the 3 songs I mentioned. I am sure that Mercy Me does not get many people that tell them that these types of songs are dangerous. Why would they? Mercy Me has sold millions of records, traveled the globe, are friends with big name pastors, sing songs that glorify God. How could someone dispute their singing those 3 songs? Which is the problem. Mercy Me (and all the other CCM artists that cover secular songs) give viability and assurance to millions of people that loving the things of this world is still possible. When the bible paints a very different message.

Shaun said...

So this post is really old, but I feel compelled to reply, I stumbled-upon your blog. I recently saw Paul Colman in concert (look him up, AMAZING Christian musician) and he said something that really made sense, it doesn't matter if it's secular or Christian, if it brings God into your life, it's all good. Think about it, there are rolling stones songs that could be used as Christian music, it doesn't mean that someone is going to live as Mick Jagger does, or be affected by his lifestyle. Point is, it shouldn't be about secular vs. not, because we live in a secular world, so if we have something to hold on to, we can live in a secular world, and be reminded when we hear those songs that we are able to see God in all things.

Jeff said...

@Shaun - I'm not sure who Paul Colman is/ was, but that is a very unbiblical statement. While God does give people gifts (Rolling Stones) they use those gifts in ways that do not glorify the Father. To take something as ungodly as the rock group the Stones and say they glorify God because of a persons perception is against scripture. We are to flee from such things that are promoted by groups and musicians like the Stones.

I think James ( a better authority than Paul Colman) said it quite nicely:
James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

David Zuccolotto said...

Jeff I agree with you and appreciate your posting. There is no need for the Lord's elect to mingle themselves with the world in any fashion however seemingly innocent it may appear. We must be gentle as doves yet wise as serpents. If it's questionable then why dabble in it? God bless all the Lord's people!