Satan’s First Target
by Jacob Prasch
For some time I have been warning that it is no coincidence that forms or modes of worship alien to Scripture are the same term in Hebrew for idolatry. Simply stated, unbiblical worship will ultimately result in false worship and in some form of religious idolatry. This is, of course, why God judged the sons of Aaron — Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10) for burning “strange fire”. The strange fire was not offered to a pagan idol but rather to Yahweh in a manner and substance He did not prescribe in His Word.
The pagan deities of the ancient Near East are described by both Moses and Paul as “demons” (using the Hebrew and Greek terms shedim and demonoi respectively). This is particularly difficult when the idols came in the name of the One True God. As we have often highlighted, Ba’al — being the Hebrew term for “husband” and “master” “” is the rightful title of Yahweh in the Hebrew Scriptures as Israel’s husband, particularly in the book of Hosea and in the New Testament where Jesus is the Bridegroom of the church. The Cannites however, also had a god they called “Ba’al” variously associated in other cultures with Marduk worship but with origins in ancient Babylon (as with all ancient Near Eastern idolatry). The Canaanite Ba’al even had a resurrection ‚ myth, arising from the dead every Spring. Following the agricultrual cycle, the Canaanites even had festal holy days on the same days as the Hebrews with the feasts that God gave Israel serving as a monotheistic polemic agains the pagan holidays celebrating harvests, etc. God wanted His people to thank the true Ba’al. Yet because the pagan Ba’al had the same name and in some way mimicked Him, the two Ba’als became confused.
As we have sought to warn repeatedly, the same diabolicla phenomena transpires in the modern world and contemporary church. Allah is no more the god of Christians and Jews than is Hare Krishna; both are demon idols. The Islamic Allah (the Nabatean moon god) merely has a better disguise; he gets dressed up like the God of Israel howbeit in a badly designed costume much the same as the Canaanite Ba’al impersonated the true one. Once Israel began worshiping Yahweh as Ba’al on the Canaanite high places instead of on Mt. Zion, the two gods became convoluted and confused as being one. The seduction began with false worship.
A better disguise still is the Mormon Jesus who is the spirit brother of Jesus impersonating the real one, who is the only begotten of the Father. In fact, once examined scripturally, the Mormon Jesus in no more the Jesus of Scripture than a child dressed up for a costume party as Abraham Lincoln is actually the 16th president. Looking like it and even having the same name does not mean it is the same person.
Another example would be the Eucharistic Jesus of Roman Catholicism which can only be derived by an utter distortion out of all exegetical context of John 6. Bread and wine, scripturally intended as a memorial, becomes a physically present reincarnation of an ascended Jesus who is to be sacrificially killed again in direct contradiction to the teachings of Peter and the Epistle to the Hebrews, and canibialisticlaly eaten with a vampire consumption of His imagined blood, directly condemned by the apostles in Acts 15. The Israelite Paschal meal was a refutation and alternative to the covenant meals of ancient Near Eastern Suzerainty. Any scriptural understanding of the Lord’s Supper derives from the Paschal Haggidah, which makes it clear it is a memorial meal and a testimonial meal recalling the death and resurrection of Christ, but illustrating a statement of faith as to His return (become we “proclaim His death until He comes” ““ 1 Co. 11:26).
Yet Mormonism and the church of Rome, although having a Jesus which is in diametric oppostion to the scriptural and historical one, are able to not only deceive themselves by satanic seduction into believing they have the same Jesus as saved Christians, but have even proven themselves apt at deceiving saved Christians into believing such a demonic lie. It all begins with subtle perversions of worship.
The core of worship has always been the prayer of the saints typified and illustrated in biblical imagery by incense (Rev. 8; Eze. 13). It is of no coincidence that with the strictest and most detailed of instructions, God gave a very specific recipe formula for the ingredients of the incense to be used in the Temple worship that typify and illustrate the prayers of His people. In Exodus 30 there was to be a proportioned balance of ingredients with a perfume effect with which the Levitical priests as worship leaders were cautioned against perfuming themselves. In the age in which we live, where what had once been so-called “music ministry” has now become a Christian music industry not only with pop charts, magazines, fans, and disc jockeys, but with theoretically Christian recording companies owned by secular conglomerates and run on a for-profit basis, we have witnessed the emergence of a rather sad trend. This has been what we call “contemporary Christian artists” and worship leaders perfuming themselves. They have become entertainers and the Christian music industry has become an enterprise more resembling the secular music industry than in resembling the Christian ministry it misrepresents itself as being.
Most of the biblical focus on worship is not music-oriented. Hence the balance of ingredients prescribed in God’s Word has been abandoned in favor of a modality concocted by people instead of directed and inspired by God. This effect is amplified by the fact that so many people in contemporary Christian worship are people who could not be commercially successful in secular popular music due to a fundamental deficiency in talent. Hence they use their lack of talent for the Lord where the church gives them a ticket for a level of success they could not obtain in the competitive secular industry. I use the term “ticket” as a double entendre. Where does the church get off selling tickets to proclaim the Gospel? Indeed, from the time of Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts to Ira Sankey and onto George Beverly Shea and Evie Tormquist Carlson, gifted evangelists have used musical accompaniment in presenting the Gospel. But the Gospel presentation itself was the focus, not the music, and it was never done as a commercial endeavor with performance fees and contracts as we see today.
We have also repeatedly over the years pointed to the words of Jesus in John 4 that the Father wants to be worshiped in Spirit and in truth. As I once heard a preacher in Great Britain enunciate, “There is no doxology without theology” — if the doctrine is wrong, God does not accept it as scriptural worship as it is not in accordance with His Word. Today the most conspicuous violation of this divine standard is in pneumatology (the doctrine of the Holy Spirit). Only in the context of the triunity is the Holy Spirit ever worshiped in Scripture. Not one place is the Holy Spirit prayed to outside of the triunity of the Godhead although He is God. Scripturally the Holy Spirit rather points people to Jesus and never to Himself. Yet today in so much of the popular junk music posing as worship we see chorus after chorus that is pneumo-centric instead of christo-centric. We see and hear more and more confused theological cacophonies instead of theologically coherent harmonies. Much of this derives from a non-scriptural view of the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit; in other words, a false pneumatology that ultimately results in a false Christology.
In short, because people misunderstand the nature and function of the Holy Spirit as a person in the Godhead, they end up believing unscriptural rubbish about God generally and about Jesus specifically. The endless ad nauseum spiral of cliche-based lyrical themes such as “come, Holy Spirit”, “good morning, Holy Spirit”, and “Holy Spirit we worship you” has inevitably resulted in counterfeits of the Holy Spirit as we have witnessed in Toronto, Canada, Pensecola, Florida, and more recently in Lakeland, Florida. Although much of this finds its seminal influence in the false doctrines of false teachers and false prophets like Benny Hinn, its popular propagation has taken place through the medium of so-called worship music.
On every occasion, for instance, I have sought to reiterate that the fruit of the Spirit is egrkateia or “self-control” (as is twice taught in the New Testament) and not the lack of it. As we have witnessed in the counterfeit revivals of Toronto, Pensecola, and Lakeland, all of which categorically failed to deliver what they promised, bearing no resemblance to any scriptural or historical revival except in the hype with which it ‚ packages itself, pretending to be that which it is not. To my own shame the arch-culprits of this disgrace have been, in the main, my fellow Charismatics and Pentecostals.
If the lyrics are not biblical, it is not worship in the eyes of God. Yet from the Riversong of Wendell Cooley to the Triumphalist choruses of the Vineyard Movement and the doctrinally empty religious rhetoric mindlessly chanted out by Hillsong, we see Christians deluded theologically and seduced spiritually by something they imagine to be worship but which often is not worship at all and at best a mixture of scriptural and unscriptural words and motifs where even the scriptural elements merely serve to camoflage the unscriptural essence.
It is not without good reason that Jesus warned of “heaping up empty phrases”. (Mt. 6:7) In times past we associated this with Eastern religious incantations counted on the Tibetan Buddhist prayer wheels or Roman Catholic rosaries counted on beads. Our Catholic friends label their three categories of rosaries ‚ as “mysteries”. Indeed all mystery religion emigrated from the Orient toward the West since the days of biblical Babylon. Then the spice trading troubadours transported the tabulation of repetitive prayers on beads from India, having copied it from Tibetan Buddhism, etc. to Europe where it was popularized by the Dominicans. Jesus plainly and unambiguously denounced such prayers as a heathen practice in His caveat to us to avoid doing it. Yet courtesy of modern Christian worship music it has found its way into the church through the avenue of pseudo-scriptural doxology.
The counterfeit revivials, the Vineyard Movement, congregations such as Holy Trinity Brompton, and Word-Faith money preachers all use the repetitive singing of choruses, often with unscriptural lyrics, to predispose people to a manipulation arising from a combination of hypnotic induction and in some cases demonic deception persuading those caught up in singing these “seven-eleven” choruses (as David Hocking calls them; the same seven words repeated eleven times) believing that the sensuality they are experiencing is really the Holy Spirit. Yet instead of the scriptural fruit of the Holy Spirit which is self-control, we have seen people at Holy Trinity Brompton, Kensington Temple, London, the Toronto Airport Vineyard , and Brownsville Assemblies of God out of control, prima facie demonstrating that they are under the animation of a counterfeit spirit of some demonic origin facilitated by a sensual confusion of the purely psycyholigcal and emotional with the authentically spiritual.
In flagrant rejection of Hebrews 4:12, the Word of God is thrown out the window along with common sense and testing by Scripture to determine if something is indeed spiritual or carnal. It is abandoned along with the suspension of any critical thought which these deluded people have been conned into thinking is scriptural and rational. In this Alice and Wonderland world of Sandy Miller, David Pytches, John Arnott, and John Kilpatrick being unscriptural becomes scriptural and being irrational becomes rational. As a result what is at best carnal and at worst demonic in their thinking (or lack of thinking) is declared to be bona fide New Testament spirituality. This is even more sad than it is sick.
The predisposition to such manipulation, auto-delusion, and demonic deception is again an unscriptural concept of worship to which music has become the central component. Instead of drawing their doctrine from the exegesis, prayerful study, and anointed exposition of Holy Writ, the doctrine of people following Hillsong, the Vineyard, Mike Bickel’s International House of Prayer, and the Kansas City false prophets as well as the Word-Faith money preachers, people acquire their doctrine from repeatedly singing choruses ‚ “” something Jesus warned not to do. Moreover they do this wholly ignorant of the fact that much of what they’re singing is not even scriptural. Like the rosaries, this too comes from Eastern religion. What they are doing is singing a mantra.
This abomination underscores how the same Eastern religious thought that seduced Israel (Is. 2:6) is once again infiltating the Western church as they did with the Gnosicism of the post-Nicean church fathers of Alexandria and the aftermath of the Crusades. What spiritually and theologically demolished the Eastern church leaving it as the apostasy of Eastern Orthodoxy and the Western church leaving it as the apostasy of Roman Catholocism is now permeating Western Evangelicism. As with the Roman rosarie modern Charimatics and Pentecostals are being swallowed into the abject theology of spiritual bankruptcy via the babbling repitition Jesus specifically condemned and against which He issued a firm caveat. It is little wonder that contemporary Christin composer Darlene Zschesch saw the papal visit of Pope Benedict XVI (who issued the Criminales Soliccitaciones edict instructing Roman Catholic bishops to protect pedophile priests and nuns at the expense of not protecting the children they molest) as an opportunity for Pentecostals and Charismatics to serve the Roman Catholic church that traditional Pentecostalism had been an arch-opponent of and throughout Latin America remains a nemesis of.
We have also repeatedly recognized the fact that scripturally and historically idolatry is automatically followed by immorality. The most depraved manifestation of this is today visible in the Emergent church of English teacher Brian McLaren, author Dan Kimball, and Rick Warren. In this post-Modern replacement for Christianity there is a reversion to the mysticism and gnosticism of the iconic idolatry of the monasticism of the Dark Ages as a model and guide for the new spirituality rife with everything from Lectio Divina to contemplative prayer to New Age visualization and the burning of incense and candles before graven images. Not surprisingly the door into this satanic trap is singing everything from Gregorian chants to the replacement of the Word of God with Bibles that are not actual Bibles such as Eugene Peterson’s The Message and McLaren’s own The Voice, pasted together with the assistance of everyone from poets and story tellers to supposed Evangelical scholars who are departing rapidly from a scriptural Evangelicism such as Allen Culpepper and Darrel Bock of Dallas Seminary. ‚ In the Emergent Church as usual the idolatry is always prefaced by unbiblical worship and a displacement of the Word of God followed by religious acceptance of what the Word of God denounces as gross immorality and perversion.
We see the same with the idolatry of transubstantiation and the mass which is of no problem to Darlene Zschech is accompanied by sexual perversion of the worst kind exploiting children on a wide scale throughout the Roman Catholic world, is of no surprise. Neither is it therefore that in Australia’s Hillsong its co-leader Pat Mesiti (a motivational speaker employing Christian jargon which he somehow defines as preaching) was discovered in sexual immorality while Frank Huston the father of Hillsong leader Brian Huston was a homosexual pedophile. And Brian Huston’s wife Bobbie put out a series, “Christian Women Love Sex” in vogue among young Christian girls and Australian youth groups. Scripturally Christian women are to love God and their husbands with sexuality, a vehicle created for doing so. Sex itself is never the focus of God’s model and ideal for romance. For God, romance is about the object of love and not primarily about a procreative and erotic means of expressing it. It is rather the world that emulates the means instead of the ends concerning sexuality.
The avenue to which these teenagers and young people were drawn into this sham with its public sex scandals (and as uncovered on Australian television-financial hype-articsty) was the music of Hillsong. The wrong worship resulted in wrong doctrine which in turn resulted in an accommodation of what the New Testament calls idolatry (Eucharistic worship) and finally the inevitable result of moral and sexual depravity. But it all began with wrong worship and music with wrong lyrics, the age-old travesty of burning “strange fire”.
I have witnessed in the secular pop music industry the capacity of music to incite young people in all kinds of directions. In my own youth the Jefferson Airplane used rock music to trigger young people into political activism against the establishment (while I liked the Jefferson Airplane and their music, the hippie counter-culture which they personified and out of which I was saved was in fact as corrupt as the establishment against which we protested).
The rap culture of the late Biggie Smalls and Tupac had incited Urban black people from the inner cities (known as “the hood”) to glorify drug-related gun crime and gang violence and the denigration of black women. While rap has accurately portrayed the tragedy of the black underclass with drugs robbing Afro-Americans of all of the gains they have made since the era of Civil Rights, I am at a loss to explain why such a social tragedy should be celebrated by popular music produced to inspire more of the same. The capacity of sexually explicit lyrics and gyrations that began with rhythm and blues and early rock-and-roll artists of the 1950’s and into the 1960’s is now culturally mainstream. But for us to now give testimony to a Christian church misusing music for the same kinds of purposes as the fallen world is an indictment of all of us.
Too much of contemporary Christian music calling itself “worship” is actually entertainment and indeed an idolatry which is not the worship of God but as was correctly prophesied in Pentecostal churches 80 years ago is the worship of “worship”, not the worship of God. We have first of all failed our young people, failed ourselves, failed the secular culture to whom we are called to give witness to Christ, but above all we have indefensibly failed Christ Himself. And it is only Christ through His Word and by the true ministry of His Spirit who can remedy that which we have indefinsibly done.
I have never subscribed to theories of the beat or rhythms used in any form of music as being inherently demonic or even necessarily carnal per se. In the Psalms under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit David wrote, “Let all that is in me praise Him”. Providing it is subordinated to the Holy Spirit on the basis of Scripture by definition Paul includes all ‚ “” that is our intellects, our emotions, our bodies, our vitality, and even our sexuality. But when any of these natural functions predominates to the negation of a scripturally established control of the Holy Spirit, we have a counterfeit that will ultimately result in idolatry and carnality.
Again this is not about the nature of the music itself be it in harmony, tempo, rhythm, or beat. Many of the Psalms are prefaced by the musical instruction “shigaon” from where we get the Hebrew adjective “mishuga” meaning “crazy” from where Jewish people get the Yiddish term “mishuginah” meaning “one who is crazy”. Biblical scholars who are expert in linguistic morphology are uniform in understanding this as a “wild dispasionate melody”. And biblical anthropologists who understand Bedouin culture in order to gain insight into the Sitz im Leben (“life setting”) of biblical culture because Bedouin culture has mutated comparitively little even since Patriarchal times likewise identify wild beat patterns in ancient Near Eastern music akin to the harmonies of the Psalms. It was rather the lyrics that caused the problem.
The Egyptian Psalms of Osirus almost verbatim have parity in a number of the Psalms of David. Arguments that the beat found in music makes it wrong are largely the province of both biblically and musically ignorant. The same basic four-four beat that rock music borrowed from rhythm-and-blues and be-bop jazz can be definitively identified in the Gospel music of the American South long before it was adopted for secular entertainment. We deal with this in our teaching message of 1 Samuel 5-6, David’s wife Michel did not like his manner of worship and despised him, but God’ struck her barren in judgment. This is a serious caution. Our personal taste should not be confused with scriptural standards of what God finds acceptable or not (Rom. 14:4-5).
In reaction to the abuses so unfortunately prevalent in contemporary Christian worship music we have often seen a reaction that is both ignorant and often carnal in itself not founded on any biblcial judgment of worship or music but rather on the traditions and tastes of its critics. Thus at Moriel we have sought to remain determined to only evaluate worship and music on the principles of what is already conveyed in God’s Word and not on fanciful theories about beats alledged to be demonic but which lack either scriptural or harmonic credibility. Having said that, purely on the basis of what is established in God’s Word concerning standards and criteria for worship, it is obvious that in the church today we have a very major problem.
On a more positive note there is a worship song I have heard in the last few years, particularly in several Calvary Chapels in the United States. The words of this song beseech the Lord to forgive us of the mess of worship and reminding the Lord and ourselves that it is about Him and not about us; once again harkening back to Exodus 30, not using worship to perfumed ourselves. The song is called I’m Going Back To The Heart of Worship. I only pray that this song will indeed be sung as a confession to our Maker of the travesty too much of modern worship has become and an appeal that it once again be about Him.
As a footnote I would recommend that any of our readers who may not have done so click onto these two related articles on the Moriel website by Danny Isom: