On Wednesday evening in the conclusion of my sermon I spoke briefly about Carrie Underwood performing at Passion. I stated many positives regarding the Passion Conference, but I concluded with a great concern about seeing Carrie Underwood perform and so many of the headlines referring to it as “worship.” I made a decision I was going to blog on this issue, only to wake up Thursday morning to my friend, Pastor Josh Buice’s blog right here https://www.deliveredbygrace.com/passion-without-knowledge-is-deadly/ I shared it on facebook. As usual it was well thought out and well written. So, rather than rehash some of the same issues, I simply want to do two things at this point. First, I would encourage you to read his blog regarding this. Secondly, I wish to take a slightly different approach and analyze the reason why very few people or churches will speak out regarding this issue.
First, let me state that I am not a “Christian music” only guy. I don’t watch only “Christian” TV nor do I listen to only “Christian music” (whatever that means). Let me also state that I like Carrie Underwood and that I liked her singing the first time I ever heard her on American Idol. On top of that, I love many of the speakers at Passion. Men like John Piper, Louie Giglio, Francis Chan have made a significant impact on my life, along with so many others with their preaching and writing. However, tolerance of not only weak doctrine, but false doctrine concerns me in any venue. Let me state something I have stated multiple times to our congregation…singing false doctrine is just as dangerous and sinful as preaching false doctrine. With Carrie Underwood’s views on homosexual marriage and other social issues, I have a problem with her singing at any venue that is considered biblically based but, as Josh pointed out in his blog that is linked above, the lyrics of this song are not simply off a bit, they are false. They are an attack on the Gospel. I halfway joked and said to someone if she would have sung, “Jesus take the wheel” it would at least have been a little better theology. The question I have is, “Why?” Why would the leadership allow her to sing that song and why would so many people applaud and embrace this heretical song in a Christian conference? Why is it that the 99% of what I read coming from Christians is so positive regarding this decision?
Let me propose a hypothesis regarding this. We live in a culture where we, as Christians, desperately want to be liked. We want to make the Gospel palatable and the motive for this is, at its base, genuine concern for the lost (for the most part). Many believe if we can just get the world to like us, then they will possibly like Jesus, and if they like Jesus, then they will accept Him as their Savior. But, here in is the issue: the Gospel is not palatable to men. We want to be grace filled, we want to be kind, but sooner or later when it comes to the Gospel, the message ultimately is: “We are guilty sinners, we are living under the wrath of God, and the ONLY way to appease that wrath is total surrender to Christ alone.” Man, in his natural state will never find this acceptable. But, we as Christians want the message accepted and for some, they really want to be accepted even if it means changing the message. So, we search… we look for anyone who is known, who is liked or beloved by the culture, who even vaguely claims Christ and then we embrace them as “one of us”. This is how we have sports figures that can live a life of adultery, or get caught with cocaine 10 times but as soon as they show some tip of the hat toward God after a great play, we embrace them with all hope that they can further the Christianity movement. We have set this really low bar – we just want them to claim to follow the same God we follow. See, the tragedy is, it is easier to identify with the famous person who claims Christ that it is to actually identify WITH CHRIST.
What happened at Passion with Carrie Underwood was not worship… it was not God honoring, and frankly it doesn’t matter what the attendees felt when they were singing “Something In The Water.” Worship takes place in the Spirit and in Truth. What was being sung was not truth, and if it is not truth, it certainly wasn’t done in the Spirit. Look, Hollywood can out talent us, they can out act, out sing, out speak us, but they will never out truth us. The one thing we are called to get right is the Gospel and, at least for that few minutes, Passion missed it completely. Do you understand this? They misrepresented the Gospel. They missed the truth of salvation. If one were to save 10,000 girls from being sex slaves but miss the Gospel they have still done irreparable damage. In fact, damage much worse than can ever be done to someone physically, psychologically or emotionally. Damaging the Gospel message this badly, but doing a lot of other great things is like a surgeon who can’t operate without killing someone but is really nice and gives a lot of money to great causes. He can’t do his primary job! The Church, we as people of God, are the Pillar and Ground of Truth. If we are failing at that and we are unwilling to admit when truth is not upheld, then we have failed.
What I say and sing should bring glory to God. If it is false it doesn’t do that and no matter how pretty the sound, or popular the performer is, it’s not worship.