Way of Life Ministries
There are some good things about David Cloud's Way of Life ministry, but not enough for me to recommend it. He fails to rightly divide the Word of Truth, teaches Greek Mythology, and, ironically, often has an earthly focus. He promotes the blasphemy of the doctrine of God torturing unbelievers with fire without end. He also takes the demonstrably silly position of faith in the infallibility of the King James Bible.
But where he does preach Christ and the sufficiency of his death, burial, and resurrection we can give praise to God and be thankful. For whatever reason he preaches Christ (I am not the judge of another man's servant, I cannot know his heart), I rejoice that Christ is preached.
Cloud and CCM
I would like to just briefly address his position on Contemporary Christian Music from a somewhat different angle than usual. I have covered the arguments against contemporary music elsewhere on this blog and have noted the heresy and weakness in some of the hymns in doing so. But, in the end, this blog is about the absolute sufficiency of scripture. We compare scripture with scripture and, where we can because we should, we allow scripture to interpret itself.
One of the main objections to contemporary music is that it is "worldly." This term must be understood biblically. There are many things which are "worldly" (of the world) which men revere. Men revere the traditions of men. Men revere earthly ordinances. Men revere rules and pseudo-holiness (such as tie-wearing). Men may miss the works of the flesh listed by God because men often substitute their own opinions. This tendency of man clouds his view of scripture because it appeals to his flesh. (We will look at this in our next study.)
Let's look at how subtle this error can be.
The worldliness of Contemporary Christian Music is seen in that the contemporary music itself borrows from the world’s sensual rhythms. Contemporary Christian Music openly and proudly uses any type music in the service of the Lord and refuses to separate from music that is openly used in the worship of the flesh and the devil.
-David Cloud (Excerpt, Why We Are Opposed to CCM)
Note what I have underlined. We are to take Cloud's definition of "sensual" and assume it is God's. There is no scriptural basis for this. There are countless contemporary songs which are far less carnally moving than some pieces of classical music. His argument appeals to the pride and self-righteousness of his readers. It feeds their carnal understanding.
Beauty Can Be Deceptive
I once spoke to a pastor who told me the story of a wealthy donor who wanted Ave Maria played at his daughter's wedding in his church. He refused. Oliver B. Greene tells the story of listeners remarking to him how "beautiful" the funeral mass for JFK was. He responded in disgust that it was not beautiful at all. To their eye is was outwardly "holy," yet this is Satan's greatest tool. He presents himself as an Angel of Light and slips in leaven.
Black Sabbath isn't slipping in any leaven. The local progressive pastor and "sacred cathedrals" (as conservative Prophecy News Watch prefers) are far more dangerous.
How did the hymns serve the Catholic Church for centuries? Did it keep them from carnality? Hardly. The tales of debauchery among the clergy and among the classical musicians themselves is staggering. There are as many dangers in classical music as in any music. Ave Maria appeals to the flesh. Hitler's propagandist, Goebbels, understood the power in Wagner's music. The pro-homosexual movie, Philadelphia, features a soundtrack replete with classical music.
Check out the soundtrack to the wicked film, A Clockwork Orange if you think somehow classical or traditional music cannot be corrupted or be paired with evil.
Way of Life Wants You to Feel Your Theology, Not Test the Spirits
Would any of us conclude that Petra's "Praise Ye the Lord" appeals to the flesh while the works of homosexual composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky do not? Way of Life would like us to believe Tchaikovsky's "9 Sacred Pieces" is from God, while Keith Green's "Make My Life A Prayer to You" is sensual? If that latter moves David to sin, I think he has a larger problem than contemporary music.
A lot more convicting than "In My Heart There Rings a Melody."
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 [sensuality], to work all uncleanness with greediness.Now, did these believers give themselves over to sensuality because they walked in the old nature or because they listened to contemporary Christian music? That's a rhetorical question if you did not know. If you avoid living a sensual life, learn to walk in the new nature. You cannot do that by imposing the traditions of men on your life. That will lead to pride and failure. For carnality takes many forms.
Staying in that stream of reasoning, are the lives of classical musicians in New York or even in the local College of Music more or less inclined to holy, biblical living and right doctrine than my life and doctrine because I prefer contemporary music? I'm hoping you see how stupid this line of reasoning can get. It is earthly reasoning. It is a vain philosophy not built ion scripture.
There is more hope for the lost classical musician who starts listening to Keith Green than the one content to bathe himself in classical masses. As you listen to Handel's Messiah, remember he also wrote quite a bit of Latin church music for pagan Catholic feast days. Does the latter sully the former (or all of his works for that matter)? No. We are capable (or should be) of judging musical pieces on their own. I can find truth in some of Handel's words, and heresy in others. That is up to me. They delivery of that music, in almost every case, has no bearing.
Scripture is the Sole Arbiter of Truth
Pictured is there church where I grew up. It was part of the most "sacred" of all sacred churches and our parish was in the most conservative Arch diocese in America. I never wore shorts (nor was I allowed). We sang hymns. We had a pipe organ. Meanwhile, some of my fellow altar boys were being brutally, sexually abused. I suppose I should blame the hymns?
I wore a tie every day to school there. There was plenty of sensuality (as there has been since Adam). In fact, ritual and rules empower the flesh.
This is where I fellowship now.
One main difference from those places and my current fellowship is the numbers of professions of faith. I don't personally remember any during the 14 years in the "traditional" setting, but in the last 7 years where I am now, I've seen literally thousands. I'm not saying there not have been people who received life, but I'd be hard-pressed to name them. Take that back, one kid I knew who is now a great father and husband and committed Christian found life through the witness of the Wednesday night praise band.
We Must Always Rejoice When Christ is Faithfully Taught
[Aside: they both contain theological error, one is just worse than the other]
If we want to employ "guilty by association" on classical music then we not only can point a finger at the Catholic Church and hymns, we can look to the New Age movement and its use of classical music.
I just broke down crying in front of my mom because of this song. I wasn't even sad. Pretty embarrassing as a man in his 30s. But, it is just so hauntingly beautiful.Sounds pretty sensual and carnal to me.
Logical Fallacies Create Chaos
All of the other anti-CCM arguments carry similar logical fallacies. Not all Contemporary Christian musicians are ecumenical (do you think I am!). Keith Green certainly was not. The CCM band, All Saved Freak Band, has a song called "Prince of the International Kaleidoscope" which contains these lyrics:
International bankers and roundtable groups
got all the nations jumpin' through hoops.
But out of their ranks I doubt if there's one
that knows that their father's a Jesuit's son.
With all of these maneuverings.....
There is no hope in the pope
All the king's horses and men
Couldn't put Rome together again
I'm more conservative than David Cloud and less ecumenical. And when David Cloud creates his own definition of "sensual," he is appealing to pride, tradition, anger, and self-righteousness. He is not appealing to scripture. His tradition makes scripture of no effect. Am I guilty of what I am accusing Way of Life of doing? Perhaps so, but the sins I suspect are rooted in scriptural definitions. I am not David Cloud's judge. I only seek to apply his own rules and reasoning to his doctrines and preferences.
Beware Tradition and The Vain Rules of Men
In this age, Paul leaves us a solemn warning in Colossians 2:8
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.By proposing that the music of centuries of Catholic worship is superior to contemporary music produced by those with a new, divine nature, Way of Life is appealing to your conceit. Almost always, the mocking of contemporary worship and the caricature of its proponents is delivered by those with an heir of superiority. They become puffed up and proud. The use of hymns (the words of many they have never truly considered) become their scripture.
They make assessments according to the principles of this world, and not according to Christ. Often they make jokes instead of truly showing concern if they really believe Christians are engaged in open sin (which is why I don't think they believe it's that bad, it's just another thing to puff up the religious ego).
We have looked at this topic before (links below), but the seriousness of the charges brought by men like David Cloud (who embrace fables and the rudiments of the world) moves me to address it again. I had considered addressing all of his arbitrary, worldly objections, but they all seem to fall into the same errors.
I generally do not wear a tie (although I did as a Baptist Supply speaker), I have played and have written contemporary music (yet I have no objection to the hymns unless they are heretical), and I recognize no traditions of the church which I cannot find in scripture. In all these I place scripture above all. It is the final arbiter of truth, not my personal opinion. In this way, I believe I am far more conservative than Way of Life. I base my conclusion on doctrine, not on preference or the arbitrary opinions of men.
And what do we do with The Mormon Tabernacle Choir? Benny Hinn Ministries? Jimmy Swaggart? All with multiple albums of hymns (they also love the KJV). Guilty by association?
If David Cloud thinks a Bryan Duncan or a Steven Curtis Chapman album is more sensual than Ravel's Bolero or The Love Theme from Romeo ad Juliet, he isn't listening. Now, if one is walking in the new nature, no piece of music, even if its intent is to be sensual, should sway him. Cloud has tie-wearing, fable-believing Christians clasping their ears lest Satan get them to commit adultery after they accidentally hear Run For The Prize by Petra. They are slaves to the flesh and slaves to their guru.
They make the Word of God of no effect.