What’s Wrong With Soulfest?

Would you attend a church service if:

The pastor advocates same sex marriage.

The pastor is a regular speaker at Roman Catholic events.

A hard core/heavy metal non-Christian band played during the service?

The pastor promotes Roman Catholic mystical practices.

The pastor believes that … “I don’t particularly care about Scriptures stance on what is ‘wrong.’ I care more about how it says we should treat people”

The pastor is on the board of directors of a Roman Catholic church organization.

The pastor believes in unity between evangelicals and the Roman Catholic Church, which teaches a false religion.

If your answer to these questions is NO, substitute the word pastor with “Christian music artist.” Would you go to a Christian concert that has music artists and speakers who believe and promote the above things I mentioned? It would seem that any Christian who understands Scripture and its admonishments to stay away from those who promote a different gospel, the answer should still be NO to the question.

Ecumenicalism is a big movement in the world today. For the purposes of this article, ecumenicalism is defined as “a movement seeking unity among groups that profess to be Christian.” It seems everybody wants unity today. Unity amongst Christians is a good goal, yet when a move towards unity contradicts Scripture’s teaching, that is when we have trouble. So let’s turn to Scripture briefly. Scripture is clear on the issue of who we should fellowship with. For example, we have a clear directive in Ephesians.

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Eph. 5:11

Over and over in various epistles, the same kind of instruction is given to us.

God’s word says that we are not to fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Reprove them! There is no biblical argument for promoting ecumenicalism; for getting cozy with those who teach and promote false doctrines, or to fellowship with self-professing Christians who are part of a false religion.

If a Bible-believing Christian would be opposed to the above situations in a church setting, then what is the difference if it is Christian artists performing at Christian concerts?

“Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than Christ within us.” A.W. Tozer

What Is Wrong With SoulFest?

Soulfest is a yearly Christian concert held in New Hampshire in the Summer. If you agree that the examples above as far as attending a church are reasons to stay away, what is the difference if the artists and speakers at the “Christian” concert are promoting same-sex marriage, holding hands with Roman Catholicism, and promoting false doctrine? There is no difference, and in fact, everything mentioned above are actual positions held by various artists and speakers that will perform at Soulfest.

I cannot emphasize the spiritual danger that young people and adults are in when they attend these concerts. There is a great danger especially to those who are either very new Christians, or are not saved at all. The influences of these popular artists are very strong, and can lead a young person to accept things that are not true and that are unbiblical. There is often a resulting emotional high that comes during many of these performances, and emotion can drive many to an experience that is false and does not last. Those who are reading should consider carefully what kind of “Christian” concerts they attend. Most often, it is not as Christian as you think it is. Be wise, and use discernment.

Biblical Christianity and Roman Catholicism are not the same “religion.” How one is saved, the authority of Scripture, the work of Christ on the Cross, and so much more, is totally opposite each other. There are so many differences that are irreconcilable, which make true fellowship impossible.

Why would a Bible-believer want to fellowship with and support those who promote a false religion? Why associate with and give support to those who promote immoral behavior? Why would you expose your youth to such an environment, where they are susceptible to stumbling? Why go to a concert with so many artists who ground their music on worldly ideas? Think twice on this, my Christian friend, before you go to Soulfest. The summary below of just a few of the major artists performing reveals a level of apostasy and deception that should be very disturbing to Christians.


performed for the Roman Catholic Youth Rally in 2011, which featured Pope Benedict XVI and a Catholic mass during which a piece of bread allegedly became Jesus.*

Jars Of Clay Lead Singer Dan Haseltine Supports “Gay Marriage”
This group is one of the most popular Contemporary Christian groups around. Here is what their lead singer said about same-sex marriage:

“Not meaning to stir things up BUT… is there a non-speculative or non ‘slippery slope’ reason why gays shouldn’t marry? I don’t hear one. … I’m trying to make sense of the conservative argument. But it doesn’t hold up to basic scrutiny. Feels akin to women’s suffrage. I just don’t see a negative effect to allowing gay marriage. No societal breakdown, no war on traditional marriage. … I don’t think scripture ‘clearly’ states much of anything regarding morality. … I don’t particularly care about Scriptures stance on what is ‘wrong.’ I care more about how it says we should treat people” (“Dan Haseltine,” MetroWeekly.com, April 22, 2014).

On the blog Christians United Against Apostasy, Dave Mosher documents how Crowder teaches Lectio Divina to young teens. David Crowder is very ecumenical and Roman Catholic-friendly. Crowder authored the book Praise Habit: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi, where he encourages the practice of lectio divina and references and quotes contemplative/emerging figure Walter Brueggemann a number of times. Lectio Divina is one of the many forms of contemplative mysticism which has been greatly popularized by the emergent church movement and Roman Catholicism.

Matthew West
Mathew West is another ecumenicalist and was a participant in the highly ecumenical event, Together 2016, which included the pope and other false teachers and ecumenicalists.

Matt Maher
Matt Maher prays to Mary and believes that she aids men in salvation.

Maher’s wife is Methodist, but they are raising their son “in the Catholic Church,” while also taking him to Methodist services “so he can experience both traditions” (Religion News Service, May 17, 2013).

Maher ministers at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Tempe, which is devoted to Mary as the Queen of Heaven. The sign at the front of the church says, “Mary, Mother of Life, pray for us.”

Maher is on the board of directors for the Catholic youth organization Life Teen.

Maher performed at the 2013 Catholic World Youth Day in front of the pope, a great venerator of Mary as the Queen of Heaven. Maher also led worship for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the Rally for Youth in April 2008.

Maher says that touring with people like Michael W. Smith is producing ecumenical unity because people come to the concerts and find themselves standing beside a priest or nun, and they learn that “we’re all in this family together.”*

Project 86: Hard Core/heavy metal secular music at a Christian concert?
Project 86 is a hardcore rock and heavy metal band. On their website, you will not find a single reference to God or Jesus Christ. There is no mention of Jesus Christ in any of their songs or their albums. Why would such a group perform at a Christian concert?

How can you tell the lost about Jesus without a mention of His name? How can you reach people if you don’t preach the word? We are told to preach the word.
Romans 10:14  “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher”


Yet, here is lead singer Andrew Schwad:

“I think right now with Project, we’re going a lot more of a secular route. We’re not doing anything differently – we just think were going to be doing more secular shows. There’s a big debate about preaching at secular shows…we’ve always been subtle but forceful at the same time…for us to go out there and play with bands. We’re not going to go in there and say ‘hey were the Christian band’ …were going to carry ourselves like a normal band. Hopefully people will like our music and investigate into the band…and they will learn our beliefs. If you don’t do it that way, I just think you should only play Christian shows…because a lot of the times, club owners won’t even let you in. It’s very ineffective to just preach from stage.” 

Here is a sample of their music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKGtfOrtJ1s

And here are some of their t-shirt designs. Does looking at these things make you feel like reaching out to Jesus and giving praise to God?

86 tshirts

“Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good.” 3 John 11

Catholic Mass at Soulfest
There are daily Catholic masses scheduled at Soulfest. Would you attend a Catholic mass at a local Roman Catholic Church?


* https://www.wayoflife.org/database/ccm_and_rome.html



​Contemporary Worship And Music: Some Questions To Ponder

Recently I posted an article titled The Sin of Compromise In The Rock and Roll Church. Here are some followup thoughts from contributing writer Jeremy Aiello ​regarding the subject of contemporary worship in the Christian church today:​


by Jeremy Aiello

I was involved in contemporary worship movements as far back as 1990, and participated in them for the better part of 20 years before finally renouncing them. So for those of you who champion contemporary worship, let’s make this clear: I am not speaking from ignorance or uneducated bias. I was a part of this movement.

I have a few questions for those who advocate contemporary worship:

1.) What is the focus of your worship service? Now, I’m sure that the first answer to roll off your lips is “God,” but is that true? Suppose for a moment that your music director were to propose that your band (and it IS a band, let that be clear) be moved to the back of the church or to the upper balcony of a church, as it is done in so many liturgical churches. Would you welcome that? Would it be offensive to you if your people were not front and center stage like they are in secular concerts? After all, the way that most sound setups are put together, it’s not absolutely necessary for the band to be in front of the audience.

2.) If people applaud you, do you encourage it? Let’s be frank: applause is meant for the performer, and that is the common, public perception of the practice in society. I know people will say “well, we’re giving God the praise,” but to be honest I seriously doubt that. If an unbeliever were to walk into your service and hear the applause, do you honestly think his first thought is “That applause is for God”? I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that. Applause in modern formats, and particularly in music venues, is understood to be a praise for the people who use it. And I would politely remind you that it was the Pharisees who did things for the admiration of men.

3.) Who is the music for? If it is meant to be praise for God, then why is it designed for the attention of man? Is God somehow put off by hymns? Did God give a divine order to ditch pianos and acapella pieces by Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley because He wants people to jam in church? I would think that, if the church remembered that the songs were sung to God and for God, that the first order of business would be the glory of God rather than the entertainment of the audience (Notice btw I’m saying “audience,” not “congregation”)

4.) Is there a particular reason why CoWo (contemporary worship) advocates seem to be pushing for more and more time for music and less and less time for the preaching of the Word?

In nearly every experience with CoWo I’ve had, the musical portion of the service seems to be lengthened with more and more songs, or with songs repetitively sung to a mind-numbing point. Why is this? Is this a worship service or a concert? Historically, singing has been put on a secondary level in church worship; while it certainly has its place, it is not to become a replacement for the proclamation of the Scriptures. Is there something more “spiritual” about more and longer song sections, or is this simply some scheme to get people “in the Spirit” (which in truth is emotionally pumping people up: see question 5 below)? Because last I checked, the Holy Spirit does not require rhythms and melodies to work in a person’s heart, but He DOES work through the proclaimed Word.

4.) Where is the theological depth to your music? Is your music about actual theology (The Trinity, God’s glory, our sinfulness, God’s grace, Christ’s substitutionary atonement, etc) or is it “7-11” theology (seven words sung eleven times, with shallow repetition that makes God sound more like a Cosmic Boyfriend than the Sovereign Savior)? Sometimes we in the church seem to forget that our music is to instruct the congregants as much as it is to glorify God. How do you justify shoddy and shallow doctrine in the name of “relevance”?

5.) I’ve found that the contemporary worship experience often confuses emotional reactions with the Holy Spirit. People think that the Holy Spirit is moving them when they hear a particular beat, chord progression, or lyrical hook, when in truth the same thing can be found happening in a secular concert. Such a confusion of emotion with the Spirit is unscriptural and deceitful. What steps are you taking in your worship services to prevent this confusion from happening. Also related to this: are you truly playing the music to honor God, or are you doing it to get a reaction from the audience? One of the things I remember hearing while in the CoWo (contemporary worship) movement was a music pastor who said that he “wanted to blow the congregation (read: audience) away” with a particular piece. His intent was to put on a show and provoke a reaction from those hearing it. Tell me: who in that situation is the music glorifying and centering on? If you’re truly honest, it’s not God.

6.) At what point do you draw the line with what is considered “contemporary”? If you play music that sounds like Smile FMs Top 20 list, what’s preventing you from switching to R&B, or rap, or heavy metal? After all, if such a switch would bring in more people, what’s to stop you from moving simply to one sort of contemporary style?

7.) Related to the last question, has it ever occurred to you that something may be not sinful and yet still be inappropriate? One of the quickest reactions to any concern about contemporary music goes like this: “Well, guitars and drums aren’t forbidden in the Bible!” And you know what? You’re right; they’re not. Neither is wearing pajamas, or swimsuits, or facial mudpacks. Yet, I hope everybody reading this has the common sense to realize that pajamas, swimsuits, and mudpacks, while not inherently sinful, also would be considered inappropriate for wearing in worship. Do you see the problem? A preference may not be sinful, but that does not necessarily mean it is appropriate for the sanctuary. Recall the words of Paul: All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. Maybe a little more of this thought should be put into the planning of worship music before the schedule for Sunday is drawn up.

8.) One of the criticisms by CoWo advocates against traditional worship advocates is that they seem to reject it out of hand without good reason. And yet I’ve seen this very same “out of hand” attitude taken more than once by CoWo advocates against traditional music. I’ve worked with musicians who have stated that hymns “should be thrown out” of churches, and it’s not an isolated opinion stated by one person; it’s more common than you may think. If such an attitude describes you, isn’t that a little bit hypocritical to believe? What would your reaction be if your church suddenly decided that the music service would be nothing but acapella hymns for the morning services? Would you respond with enthusiasm (as you would demand of those on the other side of your argument), or would you roll your eyes or mutter a sigh about it? It’s a double standard to demand respect for your point, yet disrespect the point of others.

9.) If you want contemporary songs, what is wrong with writing contemporary hymns? I would invite those looking for new music to consider the works of people such as Keith and Kristen Getty, who have put out contemporary hymns that are both musically stirring and theologically deep. There is more to putting out new music than simply three chords with dumbed down lyrics (and yes, a good number of CoWo songs are full of dumbed down lyrics).

Think long and hard about these questions before answering.

​Jeremy Aiello​