'I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also.' 1 Corinthians 14:15b (LSB)
Not all music marketed under the Christian label is, in fact, Biblical, true, safe, or even worthy of being sung. Sadly, many groups and singers that call themselves 'Christian music artists' are not, in fact, producing songs of truth when compared with Scripture. In all honesty, a large amount of music commonly heard in Christian circles (CCM, Gospel, Praise & Worship, Christian Rock, and even some hymns, cathedral music, and choirs) speak gross untruths about our Savior, His Word, our relationship to Him, and much more.
But instead of just a list of groups that believers should avoid without any background, we first give our reasons for why it would be wise to be a Berean and faithfully examine these artists, the music they produce, and how it matches up with the truth of Scripture. To clarify, we aren't covering every group or artist that has ever become apostate or produced a song that slanders Christ. We are addressing groups, movements, and artists that are widely used in today's (otherwise doctrinally sound) churches & ministries.
QUESTION: So,.. my favorite group is listed below. Sure, some of their songs may not be 100% accurate so I won't sing those songs. But they sing some other songs that are so powerful, full of Biblical passages, and are certainly praising to God, right? What's wrong with listening to those songs in the car? Why can't we sing those in church? Aren't you being picky & just plain Pharisaical?
ANSWER: We completely understand your sentiment. But it is Scripture, not us alone, that condemns the endorsement of false teachers and doctrines. So, we will allow Scripture to defend itself with these three points below:
Did you know that every single time your church sings a song, money goes to the artist, group, or ministry that produced that song? It's called a CCLI license and all churches that sing copyrighted music, by law, must pay the license fee. These license fees are distributed (based upon song usage) to the artists and groups that produce them (Bethel, Hillsong Worship, Elevation Worship, ...). How can we, in clean conscience, support ministries that are teaching false doctrine and, in some cases, blatant heresy? The end of Luke 20 describes Jesus' warnings against the false teachers of that day, namely the Scribes. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus repeatedly speaks against this group and warns others against their deceit and false doctrine. Supporting their system would be entirely antithetical to what Jesus taught and the same goes for those who teach false doctrine today.
If a member of the congregation hears a song by one of these dangerous groups, sees their band name listed in the legally required CCLI attribution, or attempts to research more songs 'like that one we sang today'. they could very easily be led entirely astray even as the church attempts to shepherd this individual. How can we justify potentially leading that member astray as they assume trusted church endorsement of a false teacher or movement by the very ones who are responsible for their souls? (Hebrews 13:17)
'But songs like "Lord I Need You" or "O Praise the Name" are solid, right?'
Perhaps, but consider this. In order to warm their family one evening, a parent lights a fire in their living room but opts to do so without the grate, guard, and other safety precautions readily available. While the fire may warm them, the danger is far too great to make this a wise choice.
There is much more to consider on this serious issue.
As we are not to pick & choose Scripture to suite our tastes, another Biblical principle which must be applied here, just as with any other facet of our lives, pertains to the association with those who claim Christianity but do not live a Christ-changed life (either filled with immorality and Biblically antitheitcal actions or one filled with mysticism, false teaching, and 'Christ+something =salvation' sentiments. Namely 1 Cor. 5:11-13 speaks of those who claim Christ and yet live what can only be described as an immoral life. This includes idolatry: something that Roman Catholics routinely practice in the fundementals of their religion. There are many singers who currently claim or have claimed Catholicism such as Matt Maher, Audrey Assad (who has since claimed she is an 'atheist'), & John Michael Talbot. See the list below for a more detailed list of groups and artists that believers ought not to be aligning themselves with.
1 Corinthians 5:11-13
'Mark & Avoid'
This is a non-comprehensive list of those artists we have decided to bring attention to due to their endorsement, acceptance, and furtherance of false teaching, heresy, or corrupt tehology. We encourage you to search the Scriptures and be a faithful Berean in the music content that your family, church, and you yourself listen to and sing. Remember, we are singing to our holy, jealous, and righteous God.
Including Reuben Morgan, Joel Houston, Brooke Fraser (Ligertwood), Darlene Zschech, and many more.
Having gone by multiple names and flavors, Hillsong music is associated with the Hillsong Church based in Australia. They have produced or made famous such songs heart widely in countless Protestant church of all denominations today including 'What a Beautiful Name', Cornerstone, Mighty to Save, Touch the Sky, So Will I (100 Billion X), Oceans (Where Feet May Fall), Forever Reign, Hosanna, Way Maker, Man of Sorrows, O Praise The Name (Anástasis), and countless others. They are probably the single most popular contemporary group sung in churches today. So, if countless churches are singing their music, what's wrong with Hillsong? Hillsong is a strong proponent of the 'Word of Faith' movement. This is evident in the lyrics for much of the music they produce. This movement advocates the lies that God desires to shower us with earthly riches, physical health, and other material blessings. This is what is known as the prosperity gospel and it is not the Biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ. Hillsong has also, in general, refused to take a Biblical stance on issues such as homosexuality, when asked if such practices are sinful in God's eyes. For more on this from Justin Peters as to why your church should strongly examine all their music standards, click the blue link.
Some of the top songs include Come and Tear Down the Walls, Our Psalm 23, Thoughts and Prayers, and H.R. 40 (Reparations Now)
Common Hymnal is a collective of artists from, according to their website, the 'spiritual underground', who are dedicated to 'working slowly and carefully to coalesce a new demographic, Christ followers who find themselves on the outskirts as a result of not fully connecting with mainstream Christian culture, yet eager to enjoy healthy community with other Jesus people.' They go on to describe their mission as 'building alliances with individuals and organizations that have a presence outside of evangelical subculture and that are tackling the justice-related issues that are a matter of survival on the fringe.' In case this type of rhetoric isn't transparent, this is nothing short of an anti-gospel. The Common Hymnal songs are filled with hate, anger, bitterness, and pride. (1 John 2:9, Ephesians 4:31, Proverbs 10:12) One album, titled 'Praise and Protest' has barely a trace of praise to God and copious amounts of bitter and divisive protest. It is antithetical for true Christian worship through song to have any partnership or association with groups such as Common Hymnal and its self-focused & social gospel tainted fight songs, despite the group containing the name 'hymnal'.
Roman Catholic CCM artist, Matt Maher, has written such hits as 'Lord, I Need You'.
Despite his Catholic faith, Matt Maher entered the Protestant church music scene with the song 'Lord, I Need You'. To be absolutely clear, Catholicism does not teach a saving faith. Practicing Roman Catholics regularly commit idolatry be worshipping those other than Christ. They reject Jesus Christ as fully sufficient for the forgiveness of their sins and add on multiple requirements to attain salvation. Matt Maher subscribes, by his own admission, to Roman Catholic doctrine and it shows in much of his music. Some of his music is, however, able to pass the doctrine test, such as 'Lord, I Need You'. Refer to the header on this page to understand why simply singing some songs from false teachers is simply a bankrupt practice.
Produced such songs as 'Do It Again', & 'O Come to the Altar'
Elevation Church (parent of the music brand) is led by Steven Furtick in North Carolina, USA. The church has a 'code' which attendees are supposed to be abide by, one of which states, 'We are united under one vision: Elevation is built on the vision God gave Pastor Steven. We will aggressively defend our unity and that vision.' In fact, a Sunday School coloring sheet at the church states this in no uncertain terms. Steven Furtick has labelled false teacher, Joyce Meyer, as 'the greatest Bible teacher alive today' and has joined with Hillsong, Mark Driscoll, Joel Osteen, and T.D. Jakes in various ways. In a very alarming statement, the Elevation pastor also stated that, 'God broke the law for love. I say it to every sinner: God broke the law for love.' Multiple Scriptures refute this claim (Matthew 5:17; cf. Luke 24:44; Romans 3:31) and remind us that Christ came to save us by fulfilling, not abolishing, the law. Another thunderbolt from Steven Furtick came from a Facebook post where he said, 'Following Jesus doesn’t change you into something else, it reveals who you’ve been all along. What would it be like to see the you that God sees..' It doesn't take much to understand the error here. Try 2 Corinthians 5:17 to start. The Elevation Church teaches a false Gospel and it's sub-ministries must be treated with similar caution and avoidance. But, going on to the music side of the church, Elevation's mystic charismaticism is evident in songs such as 'Rattle!' With lyrics like 'Pentecostal fire stirring something new; You're not gonna run out of miracles anytime soon; Yeah, resurrection power runs in my veins too and I believe there's another miracle here in this room', it is easy to see that Elevation's idea of worship music is one to be avoided by those seeking Biblical worship of a sovereign and holy God. Singing, 'Open the grave, I'm coming out; I'm gonna live, gonna live again' countless times gives no praise to God and simply elevates (pun intended) man's heart into an emotion driven fervor with no Scriptural basis or foundation at all. In another song, See a Victory, congregants sing 'I'm gonna see a victory' at least 20 times. But (like the worship song tragedy: Fight My Battles), we are never given a definition of what that 'victory' is! The song goes one to twist Scriptural truth into a view that God is reactionary and, when hit with something evil, rushes in to turn it around for good. Scripture, however, teaches that God has decreed all things from eternity past and ordains, 'the suffering of his children for His glory and their benefit'. See more on this here.
BETHEL MUSIC &
Including Cory Asbury, Josh Baldwin, Jeremy Riddle, Leeland, Kim Walker-Smith, Kari Jobe, Phil Wickham, Francesca Battistelli...
Bethel Music has produced or covered countless church staples such as 'Raise a Hallelujah', 'Goodness of God', 'Ever Be', 'Closer', 'You Make Me Brave', 'King of My Heart', & hits from team members such as Cory Asbury's Reckless Love. But there is much to be said about Bethel such as their prosperity gospel teachings or their view that man is inherently good. However, some of the most severe issues with the movement stem from the ministry's departure from Christian orthodoxy and launch into the occult. From grave sucking, power encounters, laughing in the spirit, & glory clouds (look these up), Bethel's abandonment of Scripture and widespread proclamation of a false gospel leaks into the worship music they produce. Bethel outlets teach the kenosis theory (as opposed to the Biblical teaching of the hypostatic union). We strongly encourage you to read more about Bethel Church by clicking the blue link below.
'A multigenerational collective of artists' with 'diverse ethnic backgrounds' producing covers of many traditional and modern hymns
This group is only on the cautionary list simply because of questionable endorsements (Common Hymnal), promotion of Godless songs such as 'H.R. 40', and an overt focus on race and culture wars, unfitting for a ministry grounded in Scripture alone. A screengrab from one of their promotions of these things is found in the blue link below.
Collaborators include Audrey Assad, Jon Guerra, Matt Maher, Page CXVI, and others...
A somewhat different type of error is found in this collective which consists of many artists that have, in turn, partnered with some artists that we would actually recommend. Sometimes, we must simply cut off a source by the severity of the evidence shown by just one release. Such is the issue with Porter's Gate (although there are other issues with this group as well). That one release is a corruption of the traditional hymn 'O Sacred Head Now Wounded'. Porter's Gate, in 2020, released a song entitled, 'O Sacred Neck Now Wounded'. This song details the events of George Floyd and his death at the hands of a police officer in Minnesota. The entire song conflates Christ and Floyd while advocating social justice protests and other actions. 'O Sacred Neck Now Wounded' idolizes & worships a man, while participants of this blasphemous collection of lyrics deny the one true Christ with their endorsement of it. Of note: Audrey Assad now claims she is 'atheist' after a few years as a practicing Catholic. Matt Maher claims Catholicism which is notorious for idolatry in their very worship.
Made famous by hits such as 'You Say', 'Trust in You', and 'Rescue'.
Lauren Daigle rose to stardom across the music scene (both inside and outside K-LOVE circles) and many Christian music consumers rely on her releases as foundations in their genre. So why would someone this notable and fundamental to 'worship music' be problematic? For starters, we should begin with the singer's views & convictions in relation to Scripture's teachings on those same points. When asked point-blanc, Lauren has stated she is unsure about the morality of LGBTQ relationships. When asked, she stated, ‘I can’t say one way or the other, I’m not God.’ In fact, as of 2019, stated she doesn't consider herself a Christian artist. This is the same slippery slope we have seen so many travel before her. 'We have a song...called "Losing My Religion" and I think one of the things that I’ve learned and one of the things that I’m embracing is the freedom of taking off the checked boxes, the rules, and all those things that kind of muddy up what faith actually is…' - Lauren Daigle For the source of Daigle's quote, click the blue link below.
Gained popularity from How Great is Our God, Jesus Messiah, & Good Good Father
We can hear it now: a collective gasp (and frown) from churches worldwide. Chris Tomlin is one of the most widely accepted & sung contemporary Christian artists in churches around the world today. Chris Tomlin, a foundational force behind the Passion movement, has also covered excellent music such as 'Is He Worthy?', 'Amazing Grace', and others. But his decisions to partner with those spreading heresies such as the occult (Bethel Church), Jesus Culture, and Roman Catholic, Matt Maher, is concerning. What is more concerning is the fact that Tomlin has publicized his endorsement for these artists, promoting them as fellow believers including, false teacher, Joyce Meyer in 2022. Click on the blue link below for a concise podcast on Chris Tomlin and much more from a trusted worship leader.
Collaborators include Latifah Alattas (ne: Phillips) and others..
This warning epitomizes the fact that, just because a group sings traditional and modern hymns, it doesn't necessarily follow that they are to be trusted or recommended. Known primarily for their covers of famous hymns such as 'In Christ Alone' and 'Be Still My Soul', Page CXVI needs only a short justification as to why they must not be trusted, followed, or endorsed. Cutting through the group's increasingly anti-Biblical 'woke' theology & progressive Gospel, on June 5, 2021, the lead of the group, Latifah Alattas, publicly announced her affirmation, celebration, and endorsement of the LGBT community. (Genesis 19:1–13; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10) For someone who professes a saving faith in Christ, unashamedly endorsing and upholding any sin against God constitutes apostasy.
Made famous by 'Free to Be Me', 'If We're Honest', and 'Holy Spirit'; toured with Bethel and other well known groups
So why is Francesca in our cautionary list? We can simply reference a quote from 'Lyrical Discernment' to give Ben Ditzel's background into one of her most famous songs. 'As it was topping the Christian music charts at the time, it was hard to avoid hearing this particular track several times a day on any CCM station. But this time the lyrics of Jesus Culture’s popular anthem caught our attention with renewed awareness. ‘Holy Spirit, You are welcome here’, Francesca Battistelli sang, with strong emotion driven chords. The Bethel Church artist went on to call upon the Holy Spirit to ‘flood this place and fill the atmosphere’ and then quickly moved into a repetitive chorus calling for participants to experience the Holy Spirit’s presence, multiple times. It was as if I had awoken from a passive slumber. Suddenly, I was alert. I’d heard this song countless times before but had never really considered earnestly the legitimacy of the lyrics. Passively taking in the music on popular Christian radio for years, I had simply considered it to be a reasonably safe ‘Christian music’ zone. Yes, I had raised my eyebrows over certain questionable lyrics in the past, but surely there was no real need to exercise heightened discernment here. After all, Christian radio speaks about Jesus Christ & God. And Christians believe there is only one God, right? But my awareness of the attributes of the Holy Spirit had recently increased thanks to an expositional series at our small church in northern Los Angeles. We’d just learned, in depth, about His defining qualities and we’d also learned from Scripture exactly what the Holy Spirit is not. I began comparing the lyrics of this popular CCM mantra with Scripture. As we know from the Bible, the Holy Spirit is just that, spirit. He is immaterial. Perhaps the KJV’s Holy Ghost gave us the impression He wafts around like Casper, The Friendly Ghost. I don’t know. But that concept could not be further from the truth. The Holy Spirit is not a mist or a gas that can be breathed in. The Holy Spirit is, in fact, the sovereign God of the cosmos; He is the Triune God. And the Holy Spirit unlocks our minds to Scriptural truths, gives us understanding, and (directly contrary to this song’s concept of Him), the Holy Spirit already abides in us, completely and fully, if we are in Christ! As children of God, He dwells within us; there is no more of Him, there is no less of Him that we are able to call down at any given moment; He is either dwelling within us completely or He is not at all! Finally, the Holy Spirit requires absolutely no invitation from us, for if He did, (think about it) that would give us the power to allow or disallow God to do something thus making us more powerful than God!'
Known for her covers of 'Holy Holy Holy', 'Be Thou My Vision', and other hymns from the 'Inheritance' release
Raised in the Plymouth Bretheren denomination, Audrey Assad toured with a few CCM bands in the early 2000s, working closely with Roman Catholic CCM artist, Matt Maher, in the yeaers following. The first few releases from Assad were catalogued as primarily CCM but it wasn't long before she branched into traditional and well known hymns and also liturgical music. Her album 'Inheritance' has become a favourite in many Biblical circles, especially those who aren't familiar with her story. Some of her hymns including 'Holy Holy Holy' & 'Be Thou My Vision' have even been featured on Christian radio including 'Family Radio'. Converting to Catholicism in 2007, she continued on that slippery slope into wholly liturgical, hollow, and legalistic liberalism (not an oxymoron). This culminated in her 03 March 2021 announcement on Twitter that she was no longer a practicing Christian. She continues, however, to work with and platform progressive Christian groups such as 'Porter's Gate'. See the blue link icon for her Twitter announcement. Please also see our warnings about this band (Porter's Gate) and its dangerous false gospel.