Below is a statement from our Worship Leader, Rachel Anderson, regarding some of the songs we sing at CFLM. This statement has the full support of the leadership.
Some of you might have heard or read questions about the beliefs and practices of Christian worship music groups like Bethel, Hillsong, Jesus Culture, Elevation Worship, etc., and have asked whether we should or should not continue to sing songs written by them.
This is a great question and one that should be addressed.
Before I choose a song that will be included in a CFLM’s worship service, I first filter it through the lyrics/doctrine of the song. Does it match up with what the Bible says and what we believe? To be honest, there are a number of songs I have absolutely loved musically, but it has a line or a phrase (or more) that simply does not meet with what I believe the Bible says. Therefore, I have never included those songs in worship. There have been songs that people in our church have suggested we sing. However, after evaluating and listening to the lyrics of the song, I chose not to use them – not because I didn’t like the song but because they did not meet the criteria in some way.
But what about the beliefs of the writers of the songs that we do. Well, I guess, if I were to evaluate the lifestyle, beliefs, etc., of each person who wrote the hymns and songs that we sing, we probably would not be able to sing anything written by man – because we are all sinners. Even some of the most beloved hymns were written by men who fell away from the faith or who didn’t believe what we believe. Hymns such as: ‘Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing’ and ‘It Is Well’ are written by men who fell away from the faith. Other hymns are written by men and women who come from a different denomination or had a different belief system than what we believe the Bible says: such as the way to salvation (asking Jesus into your heart), about heaven, about free will, etc.
Almost all (if not all) hymns were written by men and women who come from other church denominations and belief systems. If I were to only pull songs from writers who believe in exactly what we believe, well, we would be very limited in the song selection – AND – we would miss out on the opportunity of praising our God with fabulous lyrics that DO agree with Scripture.
Instead of choosing songs based on the writer(s), I pick songs based on what a song says: songs that speak beautifully about our Lord, our relationship with Him and our relationship to one another.
The only exception to that would be Christmas carols. I do find it interesting that this topic is so heated for contemporary writers, but there is not a discussion on the accuracy of many of our Christmas Carols. Many of the Christmas hymns we sing are not accurate and, to be honest, it is very hard for me to include them in the worship service each Christmas. ‘It Came Upon A Midnight Clear’, ‘Angels We Have Heard On High’, ‘We Three Kings’, to give you a few examples.
I recently came across an article on this topic from Bob Russell Ministries. If you are not familiar with him, Bob Russell was the pastor for more than 50 years at Southeast Christian Church – a church in our brotherhood. Here is what his answer was to the same question:
‘I am not familiar enough with all the doctrinal positions of those who produce worship and praise music to comment on their orthodoxy. Regardless of the source, I think it is wise for worship leaders to examine the lyrics of every song to ensure it is doctrinally sound and worthy of congregational participation.
However, if we eliminate a hymn or praise chorus because we disagree with a doctrinal position of the individual who wrote it (or the church they attend), we probably wouldn’t have many songs left to sing. I don’t agree with composer George Frideric Handel’s view on infant baptism, but that doesn’t prevent me from worshipping and humming along when Handel’s Messiah is performed at an Easter service.
The Bible says, ‘We have this treasure in jars of clay’. That means God uses very imperfect people, including me, to communicate His truth. So, I think each individual song should be evaluated on the truth conveyed as well as its ‘singability,’ not on the individual who originally wrote it or the church they attend.
One of my favorite praise songs from Hillsong is ‘What A Beautiful Name It Is’. The lyrics accurately express basic Christian beliefs.
To refuse to sing that song because the composer’s home church holds to a doctrinal position that’s somewhat different than mine would deprive me of the benefit of expressing praise to God through a song that I find highly inspirational.’
There is more in his article. You can read more at https://www.bobrussell.org/ask-bob-should-we-sing-hillsong-or-bethel-music-if-there-are-doctrinal-differences-with-those-churches/