The Pen

Popular Charismatic Worship Artist, Phil Wickham, Joining Catholics at Ecumenical Worship-Fest

The Crystal Cathedral, the largest glass building in the world, stands in Orange County, CA as a testament to the idolatry of money and self. The congregation of Robert Schuller, founder of the bankrupt Crystal Cathedral Minstries, once dwelt in this building until it was sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange for nearly 60 million dollars. It now reigns as a place of ecumenical worship, drawing thousands of people worldwide to its lure of pure grandeur.

On September 18, 2016, the Crystal Cathedral will hold it’s first ever annual Music and Arts Festival, which will host a range of contemporary Christian Music (CCM) artists from a variety of backgrounds and belief systems. The artist line-up, as of now, includes the Roman Catholic, Matt Maher, Christian Rap Artist, Andy Mineo, who has defended the use of foul language in so-called Christian music, the American Idol season 11 finalist, Colton Dixon, progressive Emergent artist, Jordan Feliz….and then there’s Phil Wickham.

I want to focus on Phil Wickham at this event, because with the exception of Matt Maher, who’s already been addressed, we really don’t hear these other artists’ music in our worship services very often.

Phil Wickham is a highly popular artist whose music is heard in a variety of churches ranging from Baptist to Catholic. That alone should set off a red flag. Wickham has been known to perform on several occasions for widely known Word of Faith teachers like Joyce Meyer.

Let’s be clear, if you call yourself a Christian, and you’re repeatedly invited to perform at Catholic churches or for Word of Faith wolves like Meyer, you’re not proclaiming the Word of God.

Wickham’s parents were both part of the Jesus Movement band Parable. In fact, Wickham has been highly influenced by the Jesus Movement, a movement now associated with charismatic Pentecostals and “Jesus Freaks.” The Road Show Tour website states:

There was a lot of music in the Wickham house, stories of the Jesus Movement being told all around him, mom and dad serving in their church on Sunday. It’s no wonder, with that kind of influence (and that much talent in the gene pool), that Phil grew up to be the accomplished musician he is today.

The Jesus Movement was born out a hippie-like culture of young people who were seeking “transformation” in their lives. Much of the followers of the Jesus Movement were former drug addicts, who were seeking a different way to get high. Out of this movement came a lot of what we see today in the Contemporary Christian Music industry which is closely tied to charismatics and the Third Wave. Essentially, what these “high-seekers” found was a way to experience a different kind of high–an emotional high–through Contemporary Music and Worship. They were “getting high on Jesus.”

This is the influence that still pervades the Contemporary Christian music industry today. The vast majority of today’s Christian music is not Christian. There is no doctrinal depth to it. It’s very shallow, sappy, and emotionally manipulating. This is why a Roman Catholic Church can easily invite an “evangelical” artist to come play alongside Roman Catholics in their church. There is very little substance to the music. It’s very ecumenical, and it’s watered down to the point that it only contains what “we agree on.”

Let’s look at the lyrics from one of Wickham’s newest songs, the Secret Place. (You can see the full lyrics here.)

Where will you run, my soul
Where will you go when wells run dry
When the wind starts to blow
How you gonna keep this flame alive

In the fading light when night is breaking
I know You will always be waiting
You’ll always be there
I’m running to the secret place

Where You are, where You are
I sing to You of all the ways
You stole my heart, stole my heart
Better is a moment that I spend with You

Than a million other days away
I’m running, I’m running
I’m running to the secret place
You are my only hope
You are the Rock on which I stand

. . .

I sing to You of all the ways
You stole my heart, stole my heart
Better is a moment that I spend with You
Than a million other days away
I’m running, I’m running
I’m running to the secret place

Notice, during the entire song, there is no mention of Jesus. This song could just as easily have been sung to his wife, for all we know. There is not doctrinal depth in this song. There is no mention of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. There is no mention of salvation. There is no mention of God’s holiness or even man’s sinfulness. This, perhaps, is one of the shallowest songs I’ve ever seen come out of the Christian Contemporary music industry. But when you listen to them sing it, it sounds very pretty and is very emotionally stimulating.

Even when there are “better” songs, or traditional hymns, that are being re-purposed by artists like Wickham, it’s generally downgraded into a repetitive mantra-like chorus, similar to Kundalini Hinduism, that takes the focus off the lyrics itself, and puts your mind in a nearly trance-like state, opening you up to all kinds of suggestion. A good example of this would be Wickham’s song, “This is Amazing Grace.” The general idea is to break you down emotionally so that you become more accepting of whatever will be preached or taught from the pulpit afterwards.

In Jack Hayford, worship pastor of Gateway Church’s book, Worship His Majesty, Hayford writes:

There is an unholy propensity in human nature to secure itself in history rather than open itself to simplicity–the simple touch of God, the summoning voice of the Spirit. Just as with the Reformation, ecclesiastical and theological restistance sustains its posturing against the new, the fresh and the childlike. The effort to “keep control” breeds the forging of new instruments of doctrinaire domination over the church…

Hayford, a major contributor to the development of the New Apostolic Reformation, believes that you can have an encounter with God through mystical experiences manifest in music. Music over doctrine becomes the dominating force in Christianity, and you can draw closer to God by “listening to the Spirit speak” through hypnotising melodies.

Yet, Scripture teaches us that we must worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:24), and Psalm 145:18 says,”The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Doctrine is of utmost importance in our worship.

So, Wickham, who claims to be a bible believing Christian, is going to lead a bunch of lost people in worship, give them a false sense of security, with no call to repentance, and no message of salvation–and really nothing that even amounts to any kind of biblical truth. Now, imagine all the Roman Catholics and evangelicals, and whoever else goes to this event at the Crystal Cathedral standing around listening to this shallow music, holding hands and swaying back and forth. They are going to be emotionally manipulated into “tearing down doctrinal divides” and seeing each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. They will all be worshiping together a god that doesn’t care about doctrine, a god that doesn’t care what you believe, and a god that accepts you without you knowing him–a god of their own imagination. And, yet, this is what our youth is attracted to because this is what our churches feed them. And this is what sells.

be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ – Ephesians 5:18-20

See Also: Why Hillsong Music is Dangerous For Your Church

See Also: Popular Charismatic Worship Artist, Kari Jobe, Teaching Dangerous Theology.

[Contributed by Pulpit & Pen]