Bethel church, should I stop listening to their music?

(Jessica Coaker) #1

A little while back, someone introduced me to Bethel Music. They mentioned a song called, “Over my head” in a FB post. I am always seeking new music to worship with on my own, so I went and found it on YouTube. Of course, once I found that song, I discovered so many other great songs.
These songs really spoke to me at a time when I was truly struggling with the loss of my dad and I love listening to them.
But then my YouTube feed started to show topics about Bethel and false teachings coming from the church.
I did more research and did find some things disturbing. I was so disappointed. But you can’t always trust the internet. You can literally find any great Christian pastor listed as a heretic by some person out there who disagrees with them.

Do you think I should erase the Bethel music from my phone and also let my music minister know at church what I have found? We have sung their songs at our church from time to time.
It also makes me think about all of the beautiful hymns that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings. They are such beautiful pieces of music and the choir is just amazing, I have listened to those and not give any thought to how their beliefs are different from mine. The songs are the same I sang in my Baptist church from childhood. Does it matter who is singing them?
Where is the line? Is this something we should worry about? Do you think these songs drive people to learn about Bethel and follow false teachings? Does Bethel preach false teachings?
I’ve seen similar blogs and YouTube videos claiming similar things about Hillsong. Is anything safe anymore? If I’ve sent my friends songs from these places in a time of pain, was I wrong to do so?
I really want to take everyone’s pulse on this topic. I write songs myself. I want to think through what I write carefully and at the same time allowing my creativity to flow freely. It upsets me to think my own songs would be picked apart like this one day.

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(SeanO) #2

@Jessica_Coaker I understand your concern. I really like some of Bethel’s music - especially Jeremy Riddle. And I like how passionate they are in their worship. I do not think it is wrong to listen to their worship music, though perhaps you should evaluate it on a song by song basis to ensure it is God centered and theologically sound. I also think there are folks in the movement who really love Jesus.

But their theology does distress me at times because I feel it misleads people. Part of Bethel’s theology is what might be called an ‘over realized eschatology’, whereas the Bible actually teaches an ‘already, but not yet’ eschatology. God does promise that one day there will be no more sickness - but not yet. However Bethel, at least in practice, implies that we should expect healings all over the place if we just have faith - that is over realized eschatology.

I had a group of friends in college that got really into Bethel and the IHOP (International House of Prayer) movement. One day when I was walking across campus a group of them approached me and noticed I had a gash on my hand. Immediately they wanted to pray for healing - Todd White style. I allowed them to - I figured no harm done. But they were a bit disappointed when it didn’t heal immediately. I think my friends knew and loved Jesus - they were wonderful people, but I was definitely worried for them.

A few theological points that bother me most about this movement are:

1 - Healing on demand - their over realized eschatology leads to false expectations about healing - I think this can lead to disillusionment and doubt
2 - Prophecy on demand - they schedule ‘prophecy appointments’ where people can come and say words from God over you - I personally think this is incorrect terminology at best - even in the Bible there were very few prophets with this type of authority and they could not just speak from God on command. God always initiated. This type of behavior seems to forget that God is not a tame God - you cannot control when He speaks.
3 - Insisting that this generation will usher in the coming of Christ - this is not unique to Bethel - but only God the Father knows when Jesus will return

You may find some of these threads helpful in reflecting on what music to listen to and Bethel. The Lord Jesus grant you wisdom :slight_smile:

This thread discusses a bit about Bethel:

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(Janelle Meloni) #3

2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us that we must take every thought captive and bring it to the authority of Christ. I apply this principle to my music as well. It’s easy to sing along to a song with a great beat. We still have to be aware of what the words mean and how they fit into the story of God.

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(joanne) #5

Jessica, thanks for posting this question. I’ve heard various discussions from friends and family over the years concerning Bethel music and their theology. And I agree with comments posted so far. I listen to Bethel music sometimes and like yourself found their music very comforting and inspiring during difficult periods of my life.

However, like others have said I am careful about the churches theology and any other church that follow similar teachings. They mean well and I believe they have a true heart for people and to see God’s restoration in all areas of a person’s life. I commend them for that.

The church I currently attend believes in healings, miracles and the casting out of demons. The Holy Spirit has used me to lay hands on the sick and they have recovered and I have also commanded demons to come out in the name of Jesus. However, does that happen every time? NO. Do people in my church die even though they’ve been prayed for? YES. The founder of my church died of cancer 10 years ago. Nevertheless, we still believe and apply the Word of God when it comes to healing the sick and casting out devils. And I agree with SeanO that ‘disillusionment and doubt’ can and sometimes does set in when these instant miracles don’t happen.

Even so, the greatest miracle, from my understanding of scripture, is Salvation. I think my church is starting to realise that reading and understanding the bible ‘in context’ is key to developing believers into maturity in the faith and keeping them stable throughout their christian journey. We are trying to balance logos and rhema now, so that our congregation are not dependent on ‘feelings’. i.e. I feel God loves me or I don’t feel Gods love me. But to believe and obey the logos of scripture, whether we ‘feel’ it or not.

I’m reminded of the old saying “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”. I suppose we need the working of the gifts of the Spirit, but need to be careful and avoid (and throw out) new age, spiritual mysticism practices - which unfortunately seem to have crept into Bethel unwittingly. Ahumm…There by the Grace of God go I…I’m reminded.:face_with_hand_over_mouth:

Jessica, may we take on board the mindset of the Bereans in Acts 17v11, and filter what we hear, see and experience in light of the scriptures.

Sorry if I’ve gone off point…but hopefully you get the gist of what I’m saying :blush:

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(Catherine Keffer) #6

This is an interesting post to me, not sure exactly how to respond to the original question or to all the responses but here goes…

Holy Spirit I pray for that you speak through me. I pray that we gain revelation and connection to the heart of the Father through this conversation. We love you Jesus and in your Great Name we pray! Amen!

First…when it comes to Worship music, the Bible says, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord.” (Psalm 95, 98 and 100)This may seem too simple, but really it’s just that, if you are singing or playing unto the Lord it is His Will. If you hear something and the Spirit that lives within you is in agreement, don’t let the dark critical spirits of doubt and judgment keep you from being free! I avoid all gossip and chatter that is not edifying. Edification builds up, it strengthens… it literally means to make a dwelling. Remember we are, individually and collectively, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Every temple is unique. Every temple is being used by God to effectively reach a specific group of people. God is always in control.
Romans 15:1-13
"We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name. And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.” And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Second…I encourage the whole body of Christ to focus on cultivating a personal relationship with God. Talk to God. Although theology and studying the Word shows us all about God, we really need to know that we have an established and unhindered relationship with God so that we can continue to stand by Faith no matter what comes. The scriptures tell us of what is to come and show us the Way to live eternally. We can have ALL the Word in our head but if we cannot walk it out, if we can’t apply it to our own life, then we are no different than Satan, walking in pride and self-deception. The Word of God is for our hearts. Read Ephesians 1:18, remember that above all else we must guard our hearts, for out of our hearts flow the issues of life…and it is through the heart that we see God.

Third…I may be a bit protective of Bethel, IHOP and Todd White because all 3 of these “houses” have been used by the Lord to reveal the heart of the Father to me, so please forgive my potential foolishness by saying that the child-like Faith I see exemplified through the hands of so many members in these parts of the Body of Christ have given me nothing but hope and belief in the power of God and in the manifestation of that same power in us. The Holy Spirit lives within us, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is now at work in us. Sure we may not see the manifestation of healing immediately every time…God is building our Faith…it is done into us according to our Faith…God tests our hearts first, He’s not gonna just give us all power and all authority if our heart is not pure. He checks our motives.

Acts 28:26-28
“‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”

Acts 4: 29-33
“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all."

Finally…I believe God is the same yesterday, today and forever and I choose to take Him at His Word! If He says it, I believe it, no matter what. Blessed are those who believe even though they have not seen…Blessed are those who do not condemn themselves by what they approve… Read Luke 12:35-59

God is preparing us! Praise is our greatest weapon…it confuses our adversary…he wants us to doubt God… he wants us to doubt who God says we are… he wants us divided but we stand united by the blood of Jesus!!

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(Annette Farrokh) #7

I saw this thread and felt like I had to respond. I am very concerned about a trend in the body of Christ in America. It is the way Christians are tearing up their brothers and sisters in Christ and pronouncing them as heretical because of differences in theology or practice. All in a very public manner because of social media. A house divided against itself cannot stand.
I have connections to the Body of Christ in the former Soviet Union. One key to how the church stayed strong through years of suffering and persecution for their faith was that they stood together across denominational lines. They refused to betray each other or speak ill of each other even when under interrogation by the KGB.
In the recent very tragic church bombing in Sri Lanka, I took note of the same thing. I read in a news report that the Christians were maintaining a united front: Evangelical, Pentecostal and Catholic together.
I am sure that, according to our Lord Jesus’ prayer in John 17, the world is not recognizing us by our love for each other in America today. Please brothers and sisters let’s live together by this: “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty and in all things charity.”

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(Tara Pauls) #8

Welcome to our community, Aneta, and thank you for your insights into the church in America! I look forward to conversations in future!:blush:

Although I am Canadian :canada: I am going to lump my country together with America for the sake of this post. I am very much in agreement with the necessity of unity across Christian denominations in what is essential. I also believe it is important that we are discerning as to our theology and that we are willing to engage lovingly in conversation with those of different viewpoints.

The original post was, I believe, sensitively written with respect for the writers of Bethel music. There was an honest question being posed, I believe, about the integrity of music produced by an organization undergirded by a theology at variance to one’s own. Also, questions about the organization as a whole. Coming from a similar perspective, I had questions and was therefore grateful for SeanO’s response. I was also appreciative of Joanne’s response, particularly her comments about salvation being the greatest miracle and being careful not to “throw out the baby with the bathwater”. I, too, worship to some of Bethel’s music. What I “heard” while reading both of their responses was a commendation of the hearts of those who call Bethel, IHOP, etc. home and a refusal to denigrate the movement as a whole, despite their beliefs that aspects of Bethel’s theology are misguided.

Interestingly I have been in recent conversation with a close friend about her concerns regarding Bethel’s theology. Another friend directed us to a YouTube video which I found to be informative for those trying to discern what Bethel teaches. I was particularly impressed with the dispassionate way in which this pastor spoke; he too is gracious in the way he speaks of the leaders of the Bethel movement.

It is very true that, especially with the advent of social media, we are quick to judge one another as Christians and non-Christians, alike, in North America. Other contributing factors towards this tendency may be that the church is not under persecution here and that we are too materially wealthy. Nonetheless, your point is well-taken: “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty and in all things charity.” I just want to make sure that I balance this with discernment as to truth.

I truly hope that my response is edifying to those who read it. I am always open to correction if I have misspoken.:blush:

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(Annette Farrokh) #9

Hi Tara,

Thanks for your welcome and response. I think it is good that we can discuss these things in a respectful manner.
.
I can’t say I agree that Bethel’s music/movement was being criticized respectfully. The title of the thread was questioning whether their music should be shunned or not. As for the video of the pastor dispassionately analyzing Bethel’s theology, imagine if I dispassionately and graciously picked apart and posted a video of points of Baptist theology or Reform theology that I find to be incorrect or not in agreement with my own denomination’s? (And there are a few points) Also consider if I was a member of Bethel Church, and was also part of this RZIM community and saw that title of the thread, how I would feel? It’s hard for us to admit, because every denomination feels that their own theology is perfect, but we all have blind spots and areas where we are a little “misguided” in our theology.

I think that true Christian unity and love keeps these opinions about other denomination’s beliefs which they don’t agree with to themselves, and that our discernment is a private matter. These discussions have a place, but the internet has put them in the public eye.

I think we are defeating our purpose of trying to reach the lost with the Gospel in America. We are focusing so much on and seem to be so energized by publicly calling out the errors and downfalls of other Christians.

I have personally observed in many nations where God is moving mightily that the focus is on exalting Jesus and spreading the Gospel. Let’s stand together and with one heart and one voice proclaim the name of Jesus over our nations!

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(Heidi Mitchell) #10

Thanks for the video…he was very helpful!

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(Tara Pauls) #11

Thank you, Aneta, for so honestly sharing your opinion. I do agree that we all have blind spots and that we certainly can and should be making more of an effort towards edifying one another, particularly in the public sphere.

You make an interesting point about keeping our differing denominational opinions to ourselves and discernment being a private matter. I agree that if we are simply moralizing without compassion we should certainly keep petty disagreements to ourselves. I wonder, though, about seeking after truth? When do we need to sacrifice unity for truth (or do we)?

I guess I consider Connect to be a safe forum in which to bring questions about such topics. I honestly did not interpret the responses I mentioned, nor the video, as disrespectful so I apologize for any offence given.

I will stand with you in exalting the name of Jesus over our nations. May God bless you richly!:blush:

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(Bronwyn pearse) #13

Hi everyone! Wow what an important topic you bring up. Congratulations to all the people here giving a balanced and gracious response to the issue of largely doctrinal issues. If we look at the life of the apostle Paul his presentation of the gospel differed according to the group he was in front of. On many occasions he argued the case for Christ like an apologist opening up the scripture to those who knew it well and to those who didn’t . However on other occasions he moved in signs and wonders speaking prophetically about an impending ship wreck or delivering the girl from demonic oppression. What does this tell us. I believe it makes the point that we need both in this world. I don’t know about you, but many of the non Christians I work with need to see God in action . Arguments as eloquently presented as they can be aren’t enough.
So keep on listening to Bethel music if you believe it helps you worship in ‘spirit and in truth. ‘ Unless your at the church listening and hearing what’s happening I don’t think you can make a judgment. It’s just gossip and we all know that’s not what we should be doing. Let’s applaud anyone who is stepping out trying to share the gospel to those around them. Let’s pray for them and pray for our own opportunities to share . Isn’t that what we are about? . Let’s strengthen each other as Christians. Let’s have a united front. Let’s keep the devils schemes away from us. If we have differences let’s not get too worried about them but focus on the similarities and being united in our efforts to see more come into a loving relationship with our Heavenly Father .
Well done everyone, God bless you
Bronie

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(Richard A Olson) #14

I read through the responses and I find some of them helpful but overall…I am not comfortable. This is the 2nd post I have seen here recently that “calls outs” specific names and ministries. We can all find posts on You Tube and other places on the internet criticizing others. (including Ravi Z). I am not saying that these discussions shouldn’t take place but…who are we to say that this one or that one is a heretic? It seems to me that we would need to “set aside” major portions of the New Testament and almost all of Paul’s writings in order to put God “in a box” and say this or that does not happen, cannot happen and is not God’s Will. I prefer to embrace our Lord’s own Prayer…“on Earth as it is in Heaven” and simply ask by faith and see what God chooses to do. I watched a video yesterday by Ravi where he admonished people not to judge an entire group by the possible abuses of one or of a minority. We are living in times where we ABSOLUTELY NEED God to be able to do whatever He pleases, whenever He pleases. I will not ALLOW my mind or my personal preferences to get in His way. His thoughts and His ways are not ours and we should never shrink Him or His Will IN ANY WAY. I want 100% of what God wants…whether that makes me uncomfortable from time to time or not.

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(Kathleen) #15

Hello, all! Just wanted to ‘pop in’ for a moment. I’ve appreciated reading this thread over the last week, and am thankful for the conversations we can have on this platform. :slight_smile:

@Aneta and @1rickolson, thank you for sharing your own concerns, and do know that those concerns are shared by the moderating team. Here on Connect we value (among other things) humility and respect alongside the spirit of inquiry. The Christian world is full of should-dos and should-not-dos, so a place like this with a global audience is valuable for gaining a wider perspective on things. We have allowed some discussions to take place while removing others based on the level of respect and thoughtfulness into which they are entered. If you search deeper in Connect, you will see that people have critically engaged with a number of the ideas and interpretations of high profile names in the Christian world…most recently Andy Stanley and John Lennox in our book discussions. We do believe that Christians can disagree with one another (and publicly discuss why they disagree with one another) and not have it be detrimental to the unity of the Church. This is our hope for this community, so thank you to all who have helped us build this ethos!

And, for the record, I often listen to Bethel’s music in my prayer time. They are some gifted folks!

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(Peter David McNaught) #16

Great thoughts. I see and agree completely on the “over realized eschatology.” And certainly spiritual gifts are activated by the Spirit not us, but concerning people who believe or have optimism toward constant healing/prophecy, what are some suggestions in dealing with them?
It seems to me 1 Cor. 14:1 (Eagerly desire spiritual gifts) and Mark 11:24 (ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours) are two scriptures that people can turn to for a highly optimistic and expectant theology such as this. I work in a prison and there is one gentleman in particular who seems to desire the gift of prophecy and at least acts as if he has it (Mark 11:24). He prays for the other inmates with such faith but I tend to find myself questioning him theologically while agreeing in prayer.
I’ve also always wondered what it means for someone to pray for healing if they (assuredly) don’t have the gift of healing? Clearly only good intentions and yes physical healings happen, yet healings aren’t conjured by our word.
I know this doesn’t exactly fit the thread, but I’m grateful for the extra thoughts.

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(SeanO) #17

@Pete May the Lord bless your ministry within the prison and open eyes / hearts to His love and grace :slight_smile: I think it depends on how strong your relationship is with this individual and how open they are to discussing this topic. Also, if they are not being disorderly or leading others astray, the best thing to do may just be to love them as a brother. Sometimes people hold these beliefs very close to the center of their identity which makes those ideas very difficult to challenge, even in the face of much contrary evidence.

I don’t see a problem with praying for healing even if someone does not have the gift of healing. We can all call upon our Heavenly Father with our needs and requests. I think where correction is necessary is when people start saying that you are sick because you lack faith. The belief that all sickness is due to a lack of faith is emotionally harmful and the chaplain may need to address that issue. Christ grant you wisdom.

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(Heidi Mitchell) #18

Thank you, Kathleen!

Sharing your sentiment : )

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(Jessica Coaker) #20

Thank you to everyone who responded to my question. Wow! That’s quite a response. I’ve been busy with the family, so I haven’t been able to log in to see the responses in as timely of a manner as I would have liked. I would like to address a few things that pop into my mind as I read these replies.
My brain is very scattered, so please forgive my numbered answers. They keep me focused and are not intended to be as if I am lecturing in any way.

  1. @KMac Thank you very much for checking in on this post and explaining this forums purpose. As I read the comments, I was worried that perhaps I had misunderstood the purpose of RZIM Connect. I joined fo the exact reasons you suggested. To grow closer to Christ, to be able to ask the tough questions, to get an understanding of others interpretations of the bible, to understand differences in doctrine and practices and to see if my own interpretations are correct or maybe need adjustment.

2)I am grateful that here I can search a specific denomination, or pastor, or christian writer, or musician/musical group, etc and find out what others think about that topic. I do feel I tried to be as tactful as I could while asking the question. @aneta I am sorry if the title offended you. Perhaps if I had changed the word “WE” to “I” it would have been better received? ( will try to make that change in edit.) I do hope though if you look at my post with fresh eyes, you will see that I made many of the same concessions as you. My heart is truly seeking help from other Christians who maybe have already thought about this and might have more wisdom on the topic than me.

I did not come out and say, everyone needs to stop listening because they are heretics. I would never do that, because I don’t know if they are or if what I have learned is fake news. I’m just trying to be careful.

For me, I feel it is important to have a place to ask these questions. I certainly would not ask this question on FB, or a secular based social media site. My thought is, most people here on connect are also looking to learn and grow deeper in their relationships with Christ. Those are the people I want to ask. The bible tells us in many verses to watch out for false teachings. Here is just one for reference.

1 John 4:1
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

3 )My questions were intended to gain wisdom from other Christians Including any Christian who attends Bethel. If a Bethel attender sees my post, I hope they do speak up, just as I would if I saw a similar post about my denomination. I would love to hear what they think. My specific concern over Bethel popped up over a “Grave soaking” video and articles. Maybe it is fake? @Catherine… maybe you can shed some light on that for me.

  1. While I have not attended Bethel, ( I believe there are many locations) I have watched entire services online. I love their passion and especially their very talented musicians. BUT, I also share some of the same concerns as @SeanO though not all. That’s why I am asking questions. I am sure as @Aneta mentioned we are all a little misguided in our theology. But shouldn’t we also help bring light to our concerns with each other when necessary and learn if we are practicing things that are not biblical? And isn’t it important to have an open dialogue so that when unbelievers have these same questions, we can answer them confidently? or as @tpauls8 said

This is a great question and I wonder that as well. I too see this as a safe forum to ask about such topics.
5) @Bronie said,

I completely agree! I grew up in a more traditional Christian environment but as an adult found that I felt called to a different denomination that was more charasmatic. My childhood church did not lay hands on people, or raise hands, or sing contemporary music, but if ministered to its congregation in a way that worked for them. I do not doubt that God will use all sorts of signs and wonders to reach people. I have experienced some myself.

  1. I do apologize if I have offended anyone. That was not my intent. Thanks for your thoughtful responses. I pray that this helps those of you who were frustrated by my post.

*I have edited the title from “we” to “I” so as not to lump everyone into the question or to seem accusatory. For now, I am still enjoying the music and will continue to unless the Lord guides me otherwise.

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(Bronwyn pearse) #21

Hi Jessica Bronie here. Hey you don’t need to apologise for bringing up s topic like this. We have to be aware of issues like this. It’s all good . God bless
Bronie

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(Heidi Mitchell) #22

@Jessica_Coaker it was a great topic, and very relevant to today’s concerns … All good! I appreciated the thoughtful, careful responses/questions.

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(Tara Pauls) #23

For my part, I am very thankful for your post Jessica. I have been learning a lot!:blush:

I, too, grew up in a church environment very different than the one I participate in today. I believe that God reaches out to each of us slightly differently as we are unique beings. Different denominations, I believe, are a reflection of this fact.

I also agree that it is important to have a forum like Connect to ask our important questions and even to have respectful disagreements. I particularly appreciated what you said:

Thank you again for bringing up this challenging topic, Jessica. I will also continue to worship to Bethel’s music.:blush:

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