Could Jesus Culture Be More Popular Than Jesus Christ?

Following a provocation by Todd Friel from “Wretched” (here)I dared to Google “Jesus C” and observe the prompt choices that come up. The first choice in my browser’s search bar was “Jesus Culture” followed by “Jesus Christ.”

Through no fault of their own, at least by this metric, the band Jesus Culture has become more searchable and popular than Jesus Christ. Many young Christians are aware of who they are and probably listen to their worship music.  Jesus Culture is way bigger then Hillsong was in their prime (early to mid 2000’s) or any other worship band.  Ever.

They are part of the New Apostolic Reformation charismatic movement out of Redding, CA based at Bill Johnson’s church, whose theology is very focused on the mandate given to the 12 disciples in Matthew 10:  heal the sick, raise the dead and exorcise the demon-possessed.  That, and also establish God’s kingdom in Redding.

The question is why are they so popular? I’ve done some research on this including attending their conference in Los Angeles (mostly out of curiosity) and try to analyze this phenomenon. I personally believe that a pure gospel message based on the cross would not bring a band to this level of popularity.

The music is well done from an artistic stand point but this alone does not explain it. While many of their songs do have an uplifting message (some are not written by them), the lyrics are mostly your usual modern worship lyrics centered on what God does for us, and NOT Who God is… So the lyrics do not necessarily explain the Jesus Culture phenomenon.

The answer is that Jesus Culture popularity has to do with the package they have become.

1. In their interviews and concerts they are focused on promoting “deep encounters” with God and experimental trance-like scenarios built around receiving power and baptism with fire. At the Los Angeles concert they performed a maneuver where after a 10 minute instrumental and light show build-up to a climax, everything suddenly stopped, the crowd went nuts and received power on command from the speaker who declared “receive it, receive it, receive it.” This transfer of power is practiced in the “tunnel of fire” at their church as well. Wild expressions of ecstasy on command from the speaker were common throughout the event.

2. They advertise “new experience” when attending their conferences. This makes them highly attractive for those who seek this type of physical stimulation of the senses. We live in a world which loves sensational experiences, and Jesus Culture provides that. For example vocalist Kim Walker’s testimony of her physical/metaphysical encounter with Jesus is astounding (here, starting at minute 28). It sounds like a description of a scene from a badly made 80’s movie, where she hugs Jesus and presses Him to answer how much He loves her, and whether she was really meant to be a girl and not a boy.  For comparison… a look back at the encounter Paul had with Jesus on the way to Damascus which left him as dead, reveals a completely different type of encounter than the one experienced by Kim.

3. Another reason for their popularity is the fact that their message and conferences have nothing to do with repentance, the new birth, and the cross. Instead the message is focused on power. Power to perform miracles, heal the sick, raise the dead, etc. That is attractive! It makes the followers feel good, and it empowers them, but  in a misleading way.

So, the question will come up… Should we listen to this music because after all, the sound or the lyrics are not different from Hillsong and Gateway?

Can one can separate the recording from the band’s theology and practice, and be edified by songs with a biblical message like “There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain…?”  One has to use his discerning ability and decide for himself.  I will personally never attend another Jesus Culture event, and I will warn the youth about their practices.

But if you really love this music and want to listen to it, I strongly caution you not to get sucked into the bad theology and mystical practice of Jesus Culture.

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12 comments on “Could Jesus Culture Be More Popular Than Jesus Christ?

  1. Chris…what is your opinion versus all these visions with Jesus, God, angels that some in the Christian community and outside of it claim to have? Specially the ones that don’t line up with the bible? Are they hallucinating, or they just make them up?

    • Any of these visions and trips to heaven, hell and back… If they are not in line with Isaiah, ap Paul’s, or John’s then they are not authentic.

      I think the subjects had some dreams, or some form of hallucination and are misinterpreting them as encounters with God Himself…

      All I know is that if you run into God physically you die. Paul almost died when he saw the resurrected Christ.

      So, some of these experiences are dreams, hallucinations or perhaps demonic influence.

      I don’t rule out that some may be the real thing.

  2. Chris, posibil sa ai dreptate pana la un punct dar totusi eu cred ca muzica cantata de Jesus Culture este extraordinara tocmai pentru ca are “uplifting message” si tocmai pentruca este centrata pe Jesus/God.

    Cu parere de rau spun ca muzica noastra (romaneasca) nu se compara cu muzica lor nici pe departe. Am aici la indemana in biroul meu in biblioteca si multe carti romanesti..uite..fac un test “live” cu tine…ma ridic de pe scaun, iau la intamplare, pentru ca pe ea mi-a cazut privirea, “Imnurile Harului”, harfa cea mica, albastra, cu o harpa desenata pe coperta….o deschid tot la intamplare si sa vedem cantecele noastre pe ce sunt centrate:

    -pag. 162, cantecul 182 “Vin ajuta-ma Isuse grija mea s-o parasesc…..Nu vreau de la tine D-ne, nu vreau decat pacea Ta….Nu vreau aur nici argint, nici comoara pe pamant……”

    -pag. 163, cantecul 183 “Eu nu stiu D-ne unde inca imi vei duce pasii mei….Eu nu stiu cate noi primejdii…..Eu nu stiu cate lacrimi inca…..Eu nu stiu cate noi ispite…..Eu nu stiu D-ne viitorul…..”

    -pag. 164, cantecul 184 “Chiar daca ar fi sa-ndur din greu…..Chiar daca ar fi sa fiu rapit…..Chiar daca ar fi sa mi se ia…..Chiar daca ar fi sa fiu ucis…Tot cemi doresc eu de la tine….”

    -pag. 165, cantecul 185 “Ah, cat ma simtesc de bine…..Sufletul meu inseteaza….Eu alerg mereu…..D-ne cata mangiiere imi aduci Tu in durere….Doamne cat voi fi in viata…..”

    DACA AI REMARCAT, SUNT LUATE LA RAND, NU SELECTATE. TOATE SUNT CENTRATE PE “EU”……si daca se schimba ceva,se trece la “VOI”:

    -pag. 166, cantecul 186 “Voi ce n-ati avut in lume bucurii si mangiiere…. Voi ce-ati mers tot inainte si ati urcat mai sus Calvarul (????? semnele sunt ale mele)…..Voi sub cruce ce ati gemut si mai gemeti si acum…..”

    …..si apoi se trece la “NOI”:

    -pag. 167, cantecul 187: “Noi avem acolo-n cer un Tata….Noi avem acolo-n cer un frate….Noi avem un Miel jertfit pe cruce…..”

    …..se revine la “EU”:

    -pag. 168, cantecul 188: “Cand sunt mic atunci sunt mare…cand sunt slab atunci sunt tare…Caci in cer in sfanta carte este scris numele meu.”

    ……se canta ceva despre Isus dar la persoana a treia:

    -pag 169, cantecul 189: “Vine Isus spre cetatea cea sfanta…..Cu El vine gloata…Vine Mesia dupa cum ne-a spus…..”

    ….se revine la “NOI” si “EU”:

    -pag. 170, cantecul 170: “Noi n-avem aur pamantesc…..Noi n-avem scuturi si sageti….Noi n-avem nume laudat…..Noi n-asteptam nici un folos….”

    -pag. 171, cantecul 191: “Sa nu merg dupa un strain…..Sa-nteleg chemarea Ta…..Sa n-aduc pe altarul sfant….

    -pag. 172, cantecul 192: “In umblarea mea prin lume….Vad cum totu-mi sta-mpotriva….Unde m-ai chemat pe mine…..Doamne indraznesc la Tine….”

    POATE AM LUAT O HARFA GRESITA…..IAU DIN RAFT “INMURI CRESTINE DE LAUDA SI INCHINARE” editie tiparita de Biserica Baptista Betania La Habra CA, 2002…..deschid la intamplare:

    -pag. 381, cantecul 343: “Un cantec nou cant tuturor…Am viata noua-n moartea Sa…..Acum sunt foarte multumit….O casa noua am in cer….”

    -pag. 382, cantecul 344: ” O, cat ma simt de fericit ca am Mantuitor…Orfan, nici parasit nu sunt….Aici sunr numai calator….In cer eu sunt mostenitor….”

    -pag. 383, cantecul 345: “Este har si pentru mine….Nici un merit n-am Isuse….Vreau sa fiu al Tau mereu….”

    -pag. 384, cantecul 346: “Inima imi bate linistit…Plina mi-a fost viata de pacat…Sub aripa Lui in pace sunt…Teama insa n-am deloc…..”

    -pag. 385, cantecul 347: “Cu prinosul iubirii eu vin la Domnul Sfant…Sunt fericit ca Domnul m-a iubit….”

    -pag. 386, cantecul 348: “Din tinerete m-ai gasit….Tot ce-am cautat, eu am aflat…..Asigurat sunt in Isus……Mult as dori sa pot lucra….”

    DACA DIN 16 CANTECE LUATE LA RAND, NU SELECTATE, TOATE 16 SUNT CENTRATE PE “EU”, “NOI”, “VOI” SI ISUS ESTE NUMAI CEVA COLATERAL, LA PERSOANA A TREIA, UNDE ESTE LAUDA SI INCHINAREA?

    STIAM CA MUZICA NOASTRA ESTE DOAR PREDICA, RUGACIUNE DE CERERE, PLANGERI, NEAJUNSURI, NEMULTUMIRI CU VIATA, DAR NU MA ASTEPTAM LA ACEST REZULTAT NICI EU!

    NUMAI VREAU SA VIN CU EXEMPLE, DAR AM LUAT LA CERCETARE: HARFA BISERICILOR LUI DUMNEZEU, HARFA EVANGHELIEI, CANTARILE DOMNULUI DE GIUCHICI, LAUDATI PE DOMNUL DE GROZA. TOATE, ABSOLUT TOATE MERG PE ACELASI PRINCIPIU.

    CARE ESTE TEOLOGIA ACESTOR CANTECE?

    COMPARAT CU TOATE ACESTEA PREFER JESUSE CULTURE!

    • Cornel, thank you pt comment. Sincer iti spun ca sunt multe cantari romanesti care refuz sa le cant in biserica, sunt unele pe care le-am sters din powerpoint pentru ca nu au un mesaj biblic si , promoveaza mantuirea prin fapte.

      Dar, problemele din Redding si Jesus Culture sunt teologice big time. Multe din cantarile lor nu sunt compuse de ei, si unele sunt Psalmi, sau cu mesaj OK. Si de acea am zic ca cine vrea sa asculte, e OK, trebuie sa aiba discernamant.

      Acuma, sa ne intrebam… Poate Dumnezeu sa primeasca inchinarea lor daca practica transfer de energie precum in religia Hinduism? Precum “tunnel of fire?” Sau “glory cloud” unde au pus glitter made in China in the AC vent si l-au numit prezenta lui Dumnezeu? Dar transferul de putere de la predicator la audienta dupa cum au facut la conferinta din LA? Au inceput sa declare acolo botez cu foc… numai ca nu am vazut nici un foc… A fost penibil…

      Te rog priveste la video cu Kim Walker si intalnirea ei cu Isus…. e paralel cu Biblia…

      Carismatismul la acest nivel este foate ingrijorator Cornel, I know you can discern this…

  3. Am spus de la inceput ca ai dreptate dar ai inteles punctul meu de vedere. Nu m-am referit la Redding effect sau la colaborarea lor cu Johnson ci pur si simplu doar la muzica….nu am fost la concerte sa vad ceea ce se vede dar dupa CD-uri pe care le ascult, imi place cum canta. Nu am vazut nici video cu Kim….am intrebat copiii mei, nici ei nu au vazut aceste clipuri cu toate ca si ei asculta Jesuse Culture mai mult ca oricare alt grup si sunt destul la curent cu activitatea lor muzicala. Sa speram ca se vor pocai cu adevarat si influenta pe care o au asupra tinerilor, si nu numai. sa fie pozitiva.

  4. “Sa speram ca se vor pocai cu adevarat ”

    Cornel… “cu adevarat” ??? exista “nastere din nou numai pe jumatate?

    Jesus Culture nu colaboreaza cu “Redding” , Jesus Culture SINT “Redding”….

    • Gabi…..de pocainta cu adevarat la un nivel sau altul toti avem nevoie…In privinta muzicii….”Cercetati toate lucrurile si pastrati ce este bun” – (1 Tes. 5:21)…..Contextul in care este scris acest verset este mult mai adanc decat muzica si totusi avem libertatea (sa nu spun datoria) sa cercetam si sa pastram.

      Si daca totusi in cercetarea noastra sincera mai gresim si pastram si alte lucruri pe langa ce este bun, daca in incercarea noastra de a ne feri de tot ce ni se pare rau mai avem unele scapari, atunci urmatoarele doua versete imi da curaj sa indraznesc si sa pasesc mai departe incredintat ca Dumnezeu nu ma va lasa sa pierd mantuirea pentru ca ascult Jesuse Culture, chiar daca “sunt” Redding.

      “Dumnezeul pacii sa va sfinteasca El insusi pe deplin; si duhul vostru, sufletul vostru si trupul vostru sa fie pazite intregi, fara prihana, la venirea Domnului nostru Isus Hristos.
      Cel ce v-a chemat este credincios si va face lucrul acesta.” – (1 Tes. 5:23-24).

      When we make a religion out of a few things we don’t like, and force people to live by them, we are worse off than the person we are trying to correct.

  5. context:
    19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

    dupa cite inteleg versetul din tes.5 21 se refera la prorocii. Versetul 21 este chiar mult mai radical… reject EVERY kind of evil…

    Si nu cred ca mintuirea se pierde daca ascutli la Jesus Culture… dar se prea poate ca acel nu fi avut nici o mintuire de pierdut daca urmezi profeti mincinosi .. sa nu mai vorbim de efectul pe care poate sa-l aiba asupra generatilor urmatoare…

  6. When they came to South Africa last year, I was astounded when I was told that the line for their concert started at 5am, and considering the concert only started at 10am, it begged the question for me – Why!? Why do you have to sit at the front? Who are you here to see? Jesus or Jesus Culture? Who are you people here to worship? The True King or the band?! I enjoyed the concert but declined going to see Hillsong this month for that same reason

    • Welcome to Delight in Truth, and God bless you. You bring up a great point. Who are worshiping? A popular band or Christ? And then there is the theology behind the whole thing that we must examine and discern…

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