Can I still listen to or buy ‘Jesus Culture’ music even though I don’t support Bill Johnson’s ministry?
For those who may not be aware, Bill Johnson’s ministry is one of the most prominent Christian cults in the Western Hemisphere, which is located in Redding, California. Jesus Culture is their leading worship band (label) who has made huge waves in the Christian music industry. Therefore, the two are intricately linked. It’s no secret that Bill Johnson’s ministry has come under fire by many devout leaders in the Church at large who have called him into account. However, many dedicated Christians are still questioning whether or not they can listen to or purchase their music.
This is a question I’ve heard asked before both in casual settings among believers and throughout social media. It’s a very good question that deserves answering. But let’s understand this is not really a theological question as much as it is a biblically ethical one. Biblical ethics are best answered by the principles set forth in the Word of God which leave room for discernment in the believer by the Holy Spirit. However, in this specific instance, there is no ambiguity here. Scripture is very clear.
This question is clearly answered by the biblical principles which make a clear delineation between those who are partakers of the faith and those who are not, those who abide in the doctrine of Christ and those who do not, and the terms by which we interact with them. There are several passages that address this issue at length. However, the most poignant was penned by John, and its context is one of blatant heresy by those who would otherwise claim allegiance to Christ. Therefore, this question is probably best addressed in John 2 with the following scripture:
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds,” (John 2:9-11, KJV).
To answer the proposed question, we need to understand what we’re really doing when we choose to embrace the products produced by a cult even though we may not endorse or support the cult itself. This has nothing to do with whether or not we like Jesus Culture’s music, whether or not we think the music is good, or even if we believe the lyrics to be appropriate. Much of that is subjective, and all of that is irrelevant — because that is not the issue. The issue is this: What is the spiritual consequence? What is the greater mass effect when we begin to support music (or any other product) from an individual or entity who “abideth not in the doctrine of Christ”? When we consider the answers, it becomes clear why this is a biblically ethical question based on moral principles, instead of a theological one based upon spiritual absolutes.
The Lord makes it clear: we become a partaker in their evil deeds. We are not to receive them. Does that mean we become hateful, spiteful and mean-spirited? No. Does that mean we don’t love these individuals? No. God calls us to love everyone, especially our enemies. But loving other people as scripture says is demonstrated in kindness, patience, being lovers of the truth, loving mercy, and even holding those who transgress accountable to God, which includes the elements of rebuke, correction, and even discipline (see 1 Corinthians 13).
God calls us to draw very clear boundaries in these situations. Here’s why: because there is indeed a greater mass effect. This is not just about us, and it’s not about the music itself. It’s not even about Bill Johnson or his “mega-ministry”. It’s about the Kingdom of God, Christ’s Church, and the consequences of our actions. It’s about the guiding biblical principles behind what we’re embracing in our lives and why, who that decision ultimately affects, and the consequences thereof.
Here are some reasons why those who do not support Bill Johnson’s ministry need to abstain from their music (a.k.a. Jesus Culture) and other products:
(1.) Where we put our opinion matters, just as much as where we invest our money. When we choose to buy, listen, download, or share music that is unclean we are monetarily funding and networking with an organization that is leading others astray which enables their efforts, increases their reach, and ultimately supports their organization. Funding doesn’t always happen directly through dollars. It happens when we share links which generate social media interest, and become counted among those who have liked, shared, or downloaded material. Regardless of whether or not we paid for it with money, our personal interests generate revenue in dollars. We’ve paid for it with our opinion. Social interest in turn drives more development, increases media, and investment funding from third parties who are aggregating user data and other trends within the industry. Let us understand: All of this was designed to operate for the purpose of generating a profit.
(2.) We are blurring the lines for others. When others witness our lives they should have no question as to where and with whom we stand. When we reject or reprove those who do not abide in the doctrine of Christ yet succumb to purchasing materials from them at will and for our own pleasure, we betray our witness for Christ and create confusion in the hearts of others who may be of a weaker conscience or more immature faith.
(3.) We are opening spiritual doors that need to remain shut. We need to understand that worship is indeed a very intimate means by which we connect and commune with God through music. Music that is created by those who embrace seducing and deceiving spirits and who preach the doctrines of devils has no place in our lives – regardless of how good it may sound, or how “on point” or “right” the lyrics may be. By nature, worship music is created to connect us with God, and when we respond to it in our soul we become open and vulnerable. When the worship we embrace is not clean, it can end up being a portal of entry for evil spirits who very cleverly masquerade as angels of light.
Scripture makes it clear: when we receive or embrace those who do not abide in the doctrine of Christ, we become partakers in their evil deeds.
This scripture is not just referencing the lost, to whom we are called. These are not just unbelievers who do not know the Lord, and therefore do not know any better. Hardly. John is making a clear reference to those who claim allegiance to Jesus Christ, yet who are preaching heresy and leading the flock astray. The contextual reference is clear: those who belong to Christ should be abiding in His doctrine. We don’t expect that of lost individuals. We expect that of professing believers. So again, this reference is clear. These are not true followers. Hence, they do not abide in the doctrine of Christ. And that is what makes this scripture so poignant. In such matters we are called to abstain.
So let us understand, there are biblical ethics and scriptural principles that guide us through life, which all of us must prayerfully discern. With respect to the issue at hand, this is one of the most current which many dedicated believers face today. I hope this FAQ entry answers the proposed question clearly.