The Evangelical Universalist Forum

THe Need to Entertain with the Gospel

When I was the pastor of a rural country church in western New York, I was frustrated by how dead our worship service had become. Neither that church nor myself had yet discovered contemporary praise choruses. So I went on a long prayer walk in the hilly countryside. Suddenly, as if someone played a tape recorder in my mind, I heard the words of an old Gospel song “Dwelling in Beulah Land,” lyrics I had heard only once in my younger years! So I got he music and showed it to my Jewish music director who also happened to have his own jazz group that performed in Rochester bars. He loved it, and so, the song was introduced the following Sunday.

The effect was absolutely electrifying–loud clapping and (at last) heartfelt worship through music. After that, miracles became routine in that church and a mini-revival erupted. The worst worship principle ever is the claim, “We must not entertain with the Gospel.” Young people are jumping out of the windows to escape dull worship services. But watch the enthusiasm of the children in this rendition of “Dwelling in Beulah Land.”

And npte that the Fijians love this tune so much they used it for their national anthem, which was proudly played at the last Olympic Games:

The main problem I have with many praise choruses is that their lyrics are too repetitive. too bereft of poetic elegance, and too full of theological jargon. I’ve decided to post videos of contemporary praise choruses that I often used in the church I pastored, choruses whose lyrics I consider superior to those of most hymns, but which are also entertaining to sing in a way that greatly enhances worship. I plan to post a new chorus each day. Please share your opinion of each:

(1) “Better than a Hallelujah”

That’s a nice tune and good lyrics.

Im gonna say something controversial here… Ive decided I wont debate anymore because people will just keep their opinions and it causes strife between some. but I will just toss my opinion in and leave it at that.

Most religion is a cult that uses the b.i.t.e. model.

They love bomb, then they start condemning you, they tell you what to think, they threaten your soul, they (often) tell you to disassociate with those who dont believe as they do, they do rites and rituals, and they sing repetitive praise songs (mantras) to put people in a trance state to believe everything they hear after words.

They pay lip service but their hearts are far from Him.

This is why I dont like associating or calling myself a “christian” because much of the religion is so far from truth. Its sad I cant even mention Christ or God without the other person assuming im a religious zealot whos going to condemn them and say theyll go to an eternity of torment. I cant even tell someone God loves them without them thinking its a cliche precursor to the usual “but He will torment you if you dont love Him back”

I believe religion is part of the broad path to eonian destruction.

sorry this is a bit of a rant. Tried sharing the truth of the reconciliation of all with a stranger in the christian cult and provided so much time to search and cite scripture and they just went along with their self righteous religious mantra of “im saved others arent”.

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Like seriously. Read this and tell me it doesnt sound like most mainstream christian denominations.

Some that stand out to me are;

Dictate where, how, and with whom the member lives and associates or isolates (“dont hang around those unbelievers timmy!”

When, how and with whom the member has sex (im still waiting on those “no sex before marriage” and “masturbation is a sin” verses."

Control types of clothing and hairstyles (no dresses above the knee, no shorts, no purple hair, no peircings, no business!)

Regulate diet - food and drink, hunger and/or fasting (some still prohibit those foods to be forbidden in the o.t. and some demand mandatory fasting for the congregation)

Financial exploitation, manipulation or dependence (televangelists come to mind)

Restrict leisure, entertainment, vacation time (sounds southern baptist to me. no beach or movie theaters for you. “Secular entertainment is evil timmy. You cant learn compassion or forgiveness or love or sacrifice or justice or anything from these secular movies”)

Major time spent with group indoctrination and rituals and/or self indoctrination including the Internet (church function anyone?)

Thoughts, feelings, and activities (of self and others) reported to superiors (priests or catholic confessionals come to mind)

Rewards and punishments used to modify behaviors, both positive and negative (mostly threats of eternal spiritual punishment)

Discourage individualism, encourage group-think ( dont think outside the doctrine)

Impose rigid rules and regulations (speaks for itself here)

Instill dependency and obedience (you “need them to come to God”)

Threaten harm to family and friends (hell)

Deliberately withhold information ( its why they never do sermons on the verses of the reconciliation of all or tell about mistranslations)

Distort information to make it more acceptable (“God doesnt send people to hell they send themselves!”)

Systematically lie to the cult member

Minimize or discourage access to non-cult sources of information ( “dont go to that evangelical universalist site! They are all heathens!”)

Keep members busy so they don’t have time to think and investigate (“anyone up for the third revival this week?”)

Control through cell phone with texting, calls, internet tracking (pastors often call when a congregant hasnt shown up in a while)

Compartmentalize information into Outsider vs. Insider doctrines ("we are saved they are not!)

Impose a buddy system to monitor and control member ( "lets ‘walk with Christ’ together! ")

Report deviant thoughts, feelings and actions to leadership (deviant here doesnt necessarily mean evil. Just any thought that goes against the doctrinal grain)

Misquoting statements or using them out of context from non-cult sources (they often twist universal reconciliationist words)

Withholding forgiveness or absolution (they do this with Gods grace by putting conditions on justification…)

Require members to internalize the group’s doctrine as truth (speaks for itself)

Instill black and white thinking (everything is either good or bad, theres no nuance)

Decide between good vs. evil (this is more so, i believe stating, the authority figure gets to decide this as opposed to the individual)

Use of loaded language and clichés which constrict knowledge, stop critical thoughts and reduce complexities into platitudinous buzz words (they make buzzwords out of such deep words used in scripture. Such as justification, grace, redemption,etc)

Encourage only ‘good and proper’ thoughts ( “you did good telling that evangelical universalist off little timmy”)

Hypnotic techniques are used to alter mental states, undermine critical thinking and even to age regress the member (long repetitive worship songs anyone?)

Rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism (“dont look at those “everyone reconciled and saved” verses too closely timmy itll burn your eyes out!”)

Forbid critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy allowed (ding ding ding ding! we gotta winner here)

Labeling alternative belief systems as illegitimate, evil, or not useful (cant tell you how many times ive been called evil or “the enemy” for calling Christ the savior of the world…)

Manipulate and narrow the range of feelings – some emotions and/or needs are deemed as evil, wrong or selfish (“being mad or sad isnt very christian timmy!”)

romote feelings of guilt or unworthiness, such as
a. Identity guilt
b. You are not living up to your potential
c. Your family is deficient
d. Your past is suspect
e. Your affiliations are unwise
f. Your thoughts, feelings, actions are irrelevant or selfish
g. Social guilt
h. Historical guilt (if that isnt the very foundation of christianity i dont know what is. Good thing Christ actually came to set us FREE)

Instill fear, such as fear of:
a. Thinking independently
b. The outside world
c. Enemies
d. Losing one’s salvation
e. Leaving or being shunned by the group
f. Other’s disapproval (ding ding ding another BIG check on the christian cult checklist.)

Extremes of emotional highs and lows – love bombing and praise one moment and then declaring you are horrible sinner ( “we love that you joined our church timmy” two weeks later “WHY ARE YOU DRINKING ALCOHOL!”

Phobia indoctrination: inculcating irrational fears about leaving the group or questioning the leader’s authority
a. No happiness or fulfillment possible outside of the group
b. Terrible consequences if you leave: hell, demon possession, incurable diseases, accidents, suicide, insanity, 10,000 reincarnations, etc.
c. Shunning of those who leave; fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family
d. Never a legitimate reason to leave; those who leave are weak, undisciplined, unspiritual, worldly, brainwashed by family or counselor, or seduced by money, sex, or rock and roll (HUGEEE checkmark. “if you leave the church timmy youll end up in hell!”

Im glad Christ will save all. Because these traditions of men taught by people who were mind controlled themselves woulda taken many people to death without resurrection into life eonian and eternal.

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Nothing wrong with a good rant.


Here is the next praise chorus that I routinely used during my worship services. “Who Am I?” has exquisitely lovely lyrics, a profound grasp of God’s grace, and a relatively high entertainment value for corporate worship.

If the primary purpose of church singing is heartfelt worship, then I know of no praise chorus or hymn that is more conducive to such worship than “Revelation Song:”

Some praise choruses are simple songs of praise without uniquely eloquent lyrics. Yet they are entertaining to sing, lift the spirit, and make ideal opening praise choruses for worship services. One of my favorites (but not everybody’s!) is “He Reigns:”

I now offer 2 beautiful songs that you won’t find in any of your hymnals, and yet, they put me in a worshipful attitude like few other hymns.

(1) Soon it will be the first Sunday of Advent which traditionally focuses on our journey from despair to hope. Is there a more beautiful song for congregations to sing on this Advent Sunday than “Whispering Hope?” To me, this rendition is as beautiful a duet as I have ever heard. What do you think?

(2) “For Those Tears I died” is a beautiful and very unique worship hymn that I loved to have my congregation sing: