Keith and Kristyn Getty lead the music at the summit on inerrancy in Southern California for 2015. I didn't know until I started watching one of the sessions on livestream, but I've got to comment. I knew the Gettys were popular with conservative evangelicals and many fundamentalists, but I had never heard them live or even in a recording, that I know of. I was glad to see and hear, because I think I'm more informed now and I want to describe it for both those who have and haven't heard.
I knew that Steve Pettit, now the president of Bob Jones, used the Gettys music, perhaps in a more tame or conservative fashion. I remembered also that David Cloud had written about their music being used at West Coast Baptist College in Lancaster. I only knew they were the Gettys because they were in the schedule for the conference. What I recalled as well was that the Gettys are known as modern hymnwriters with dense theological lyrics. Having watched them now, I can see why they are popular.
Keith Getty is on the piano and his wife sings out front. This is a huge auditorium, full mainly of men, but she is out front leading the singing. All of these men are being led by this woman and her voice. It isn't a manly situation. She is the furthest thing from manly and the music itself isn't.
Getty plays the piano like an entertainer and in a style best described as soul. Soul combines elements of "gospel," rhythm and blues, and jazz. The feel is a softer version of Billy Joel or Elton John. I think he might see that as a compliment. He does the soulful eye clinching, placing his face close to the piano, with a gentle bobbing of his head with the rhythm. Today his act would be considered authentic, which is a common judgment under postmodernism, where an act could be authentic.
Kristyn sings for effect with a breathy, sultry quality, mouth close to the microphone in very intimate fashion. If a woman came up to talk to me with the same quality that she sings, I would hope no one was either watching or listening, and I would quickly excuse myself. Except she's singing to God, supposedly. I think that's what they would say -- that she's singing to God in a style like Marilyn Monroe sang 'Happy Birthday' to President Kennedy. She has a kind of hippy quality to her of the nature of Joan Baez, the throatiness, the clenched eyes, all the artificial signals of fake authenticity.
As dense as the lyrics of the Gettys may be, and others have advertised, they are not anything as good as the hymnal we use at our church. It's still a different quality of poetry than the old hymns and more fitting for this popular modern music they sing. The music doesn't match the words. It isn't reverent. It isn't holy. It is sentimental at best and erotic at worst. The group of four doing the 'worship leading' is also effeminate, which should not be the kind of 'leading' for a huge group of men. Everyone in the auditorium should just have handed in his manhood card upon being led by this group.
I know I'm going to get myself in trouble, but MacArthur himself said in his Strange Fire Conference that music was the gateway to the Charismatic movement. The Getty music is Charismatic. I understand that there is worse, but that is no consolation. When I went to look up the Gettys to learn some more, because I know they are influential, the videos on youtube were their appearing on the Harvest Show on LeSEA Broadcasting network. I looked into the Harvest Show and LeSea, and LeSea is Lester Sumrall, a Pentecostal preacher, who started the network. It didn't surprise me with the name "Harvest," a very common designation for Charismatics.
Getty is very much associated in name with the songwriter and musician Stuart Townend, whose music also has become popular with conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists. Townend is the worship leader at Church of Christ the King. I went to their website and they have the back of a playing card as a symbol of the church, Christ the King. King of Hearts. Get it? Clever, huh? His Wikipedia article says, "Townend has led worship and performed events across the world at many conferences and festivals, including the Stoneleigh Bible Week in the early 1990s to the early 2000s, Together On A Mission, Mandate, Mission:Worship, Keswick Convention, Spring Harvest and many more. He has also featured on Songs of Praise and worked alongside other high profile Christian musicians including Keith Getty, Lou Fellingham and Phatfish." There is zero jump now from Townend to Getty to MacArthur to fundamentalists.
Keith Getty has written one of the most well known Christian songs. I really didn't know it, but it is a hit, which has been sung by many different performers, entitled, "In Christ Alone," very popular especially in Great Britain, that hot bed of Christianity. Sure, salvation is in Christ alone, but the style of music is not anything like what it is to be in Christ. In Christ I'm a new creature with old things passed away. Their song says "yes" to old things. In Christ the old things remain with the Gettys. I'm sure there are those who would swear on their sincerity. I would guess that Elvis was sincere too when he sang his gospel music.
The Wikipedia article on Getty is informative. The last sentence of the first paragraph states: "Keith and Kristyn Getty are currently living in the United States where they write music and tour." They tour, and their tour has brought them to the Shepherds Conference. And what is the big idea for the Gettys? There is a section on their philosophy, for which the last line comes from Kristyn and reads, "To try to search for the melodic ideas and song structure that might bring more people in—that's what we're trying to investigate. Is there a way to bring everyone together musically?" They want to bring more people in. The question should be, "What does God want?" And the discussion is over. Everyone should then conform his taste to what God wants. But that's not the way "worship" is today. Today the significant question surrounds what will bring people in.
The worship wars pit the older generation, the one less effected by postmodernism, that understood and still might understand objective beauty. The new generation has moved beauty and art and even religion over to the upper story that is subjective, where there is wide latitude for everyone's taste. They are trying to bring these two sides together. Could that be a good thing? Is that biblical unity? If you think so, then we don't think very much alike at all.
What is very sad is that John MacArthur and all these folks in Southern California, including Ian Murray, who I've got to believe disdains this kind of performance, pushes this upon all of these people. It isn't true worship. It is modern syncretism. It masquerades as spirituality with the lilting Celtic feeling combined with the blues. It's an impostor, and yet it is presented as worship there in a conference on inerrancy of scripture.
Some might say, "If this is bad, then why is it so acceptable to so many?" We're in bad shape, that's why.
It will be interesting to see the reaction to this. I wish it was repentance, but I would anticipate something closer to the response you get from a dog, whose food has been taken away.