Matthew West & Together 2016: An Anthem For Faux Unity?
Unity. Within the church – and I mean the self-proclaimed “church”, one distinguished by the remarkable volume of tares among the wheat in pews, in pulpits, and, frequently, in the spotlight – the word unity has become nothing less than a discernment-free appeal for moral and social tolerance. When you hear someone plead for unity, let that serve as a cue for your discernment antennae to go on high alert. Chances are that what follows is thoroughly unbiblical.
It should, perhaps, come as no surprise to the Biblically-studious believer (“Abide in my word” John 8:31) that these increasingly incessant pleas for unity are also evidence of a willingness to let go of “sound doctrine.” But, before the day of the Lord, Scripture tells us “the apostasy comes first.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3)
The modern ecclesiastical unity movement is defined by a loosening of, or complete abandonment of, doctrinal standards, by acceptance of less than rigorous allegiance to orthodoxy, and with increasing disregard to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. Thus unity becomes the mechanism of apostasy.
“Never let us be guilty of sacrificing any portion of truth on the altar of peace.” J. C. Ryle
Unity is the “Christian” battle cry for tolerance. It is hurled forth by those willing to embrace Scripture-denying apostasy, by turning away from that “foundation” established by Christ and the rich teaching of His apostles. (Ephesians 2:20)
Of late, the premiere example of unity was the aptly named Together 2016 rally held on the National Mall in D.C. The event brought together multitudes of Christian “celebrities,” all eager to add their voice to those crying for Biblically ill-founded unity.
The very evidence of their willingness to forego allegiance to Scripture, and thus to Christ, is seen by the false teachers, and those joining them, parading across the stage. The “confirmed” list of speakers is HERE, though many did not get to speak since it seems God chose to bring the illicit event to an early end.
Among those was Matthew West, the award-winning “Christian” artist known for, among others, the social justice tune, “Do Something.” According to West’s website, this song from his 2012 album Into The Light “truly makes this album stand apart.” (Yeah, apart from Scripture)
“In a call to action, West sings, “If not us, then who? If not me and you, right now, it’s time for us to do something.” (Source)
Jorge Rodriguez, in the Discernment In Music section of his Faithful Stewardship website, devotes a discerning eye to West’s “Do Something,” a tune that effectively sets aside the Gospel of Jesus Christ to “push the false gospel of social activism.”
The astute analysis of “Do Something” includes commentary on the song lyrics, pointing out the massive inconsistencies it represents, both with Christian orthodoxy, but more importantly with Scripture.
“I woke up this morning,Saw a worldfull of trouble now,Thought, how’d we ever get so far down,How’s it ever gonna turn around,So I turned my eyes to Heaven,I thought, “God, why don’t you do something?”(Lyrics via K-Love)
“Whoa there,” Rodriguez writes, “God has done everything for us … don’t go blaming Him for sin in the world.”
The refrain of this woeful, decidedly unbiblical song is that God did do something. According to West, God responded to the woes of the world … “I created you.”
“So … the direct revelation from God regarding the problems of sin in the world is that God created us to ‘do something?” Rodriguez queries. “Really?”
Rodriguez has correctly discerned the erroneous message of this tune. Social justice is not the theme of the Gospel. We cannot, and will not, fix the ills of the world. That is not the message of Scripture. Indeed, Peter reminds us that this cursed, sinful earth is facing a wrathful response from God.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2 Peter 3:10)
Rodriguez posits the same prayer of any authentic, discerning believer, “I pray this song disappears from the Christian airwaves.” Sadly, though, we know error is always embraced by those who may merely be “Christian” in name only, whose “faith” is founded on their feelings rather than the facts of the Gospel.
But West isn’t disappearing from the “Christian” airwaves anytime soon. His participation in the Together 2016 rally has served to inspire him to perhaps greater heights of Scriptural disregard in the pursuit of the false idol of unity.
“While Nick [Hall, organizer of Together 2016] was speaking, you know Nick’s main message is the word reset and literally I was on stage playing guitar and I was like, ‘I’m literally going to go home and write a song about what it means to reset,'” West continued. “He just kept saying reset in our hearts, reset in our nation, just that thought that we can press the reset button and say “Hey we’re going to start again’ – really that’s the ultimate message of the Gospel.” Matthew West (Source)
Umm, no. No, reset is not the “ultimate message of the Gospel.” Christ is the ultimate message of the Gospel. While it may seem like parsing words too critically, Christ doesn’t offer us a “reset.” He grants us a “rebirth.” And He commands our “repentance,” not our psycho-emotional decision to “reset.”
“I might go home and write that very song of what it means to start over with the spirit of togetherness.” Matthew West (Source)
West wants to write a song about the “spirit of togetherness,” an anthem for faux unity because he was so inspired by the false teacher-rich D.C. rally.
One wonders what particularly inspired him? Was it the huckster-like “try Jesus now” appeal for participation in the event given by the chief apostate on the planet, Francis? Or was it the social justice gospel proclaimed through the thumping of rap lyrics by Lecrae and friends? Was it, perhaps, the whiz-bang, get saved now by a tweet message proclaimed by another “minister” paraded before the sweaty crowd? Or was it just the mere emotionalism of the moment that so overwhelmed West that he realized the potential marketing success of a tune touting something Scripture does not command us to achieve?
The intrinsic error of this unbridled ambition for Christian “unity,” accompanied as it is by disregard for doctrine and an evident unwillingness to “contend for the faith,” is drawn from weak theology. It is, fundamentally, a theology which diminishes the sovereignty of God while elevating the importance of man.
Beyond the fretful boldness of daring to erroneously elevate ourselves before a sovereign, utterly Holy God, this unfettered passion for unity is itself a fundamental denial of Christ, His deity, and His Word. While Christ made it clear with His “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18) statement, He also gives us great assurance that unity within His church is established not by our will, but by the will of God.
And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. John 17:11
In perhaps the greatest portion of the entirety of Scripture, John 17 permits us to eavesdrop on the prayer of the Son to the Father. Among the tremendous assurances His prayer gives us is one regarding unity. Christ prayed that “they may be one, even as we are one.”
The astute believer, rightly handling the Word of God, (2 Timothy 2:15) will realize that this is not a command given to those disciples within earshot of our Lord’s supplication. It is not a command of Christ for believers today. It was not uttered for instruction, but for assurance.
Unity is a certainty, a present reality, for we know that the Father favorably answers the Son. The problem is that Christ’s idea of unity is vastly different that the kum-bah-yah emotionalism so many today think it should look like. Christ’s unity is built on His Truth, upheld by His Word, and assured by the will of God.
Unity is the very last thing authentic believers need to fret about. And, as for the faux unity anthem West proposes to pen … well, that’s the last thing we need.
Instead, how about an anthem that exalts Christ, points true belivers to His Word and compels them to contend for the one, true faith in obedience to it? Otherwise, as J.C. Ryle observed, these efforts at man-made unity yield a certain result.
“Unity which is obtained by the sacrifice of truth is worth nothing. It is not the unity which pleases God.” J.C. Ryle
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[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]