Editor’s Note: In last month’s article we looked at eight objectives which the Vatican II Council wished to achieve by introducing the Celebration Movement. The underlying purpose was to promote ecumenism and lead the whole world to Sunday observance. We saw how these goals are being worked out in Adventism today. In this article, we will look at another of the devil’s great deceptions, which is masked in the Celebration Movement.
There is a another deep spiritual issue involved in the celebration worship style. It has to do with the most fundamental issues in your existence as a Christian. Is there any sin in your life that is not totally overcome? The apostles in New Testament times taught the people that they must overcome their sins if they were going to have eternal life. Read 1 John 3, James, the words of Jesus in John 8, or what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 6 or Romans 8.
One of the most fundamental of Christ’s teachings is self-denial. (See Matthew 16:24.) Jesus said that if we were going to follow Him we must take up our cross daily. But we are living in a time when instead of crucifixion of self, as Jesus and the apostles taught, many have accustomed themselves to self-indulgence. The Christian religion is a rebuke to self indulgence and worldliness. But many people like a religion that no longer rebukes worldliness and self indulgence but endorses it and incorporates it as a fundamental element in the service of God; a religion that allows them to remain in their sins and still celebrate the idea that they are saved. It would be almost impossible to experience a greater delusion.
Jesus says to the church in Laodicea, “as many as I love I rebuke.” But there is no place for rebuke in the celebration type of worship service or religion. The rebuke of sin is eliminated. It is like the patient who has cancer—if the cancer is not cured he is going to die, but the physician says let’s pretend that everything is alright, everything is going to be fine, just experience love, acceptance and forgiveness and be happy. What is going to happen to that patient and what should happen to that physician? You see, it is the greatest delusion imaginable to be celebrating and rejoicing if you have a serious disease and your celebrating and rejoicing is taking the place of getting rid of the problem that will cause your death. God’s ancient people had this very same problem and the Lord told them that they would lose eternal life as a result. (Study Isaiah 22.)
Celebration — The Cradle of Carnal Security
We are living in the great anti-typical day of atonement, as brought to light not only in the book of Hebrews, but in Revelation 14:6, 7. This is a time for us to examine ourselves and ask the question, “Is my robe of character spotless? Does my robe of character have a spot or stain upon it? Am I ready to go to the marriage supper of the Lamb? Are my garments in condition for me to attend that great celebration?” Those who are celebrating while their garments of character are still stained and wrinkled with the sins and earthliness of this life will meet with an eternal loss. It is this great deceptiveness that is most serious about the celebration worship style. People who are lost are taught to believe that they are saved. They cannot be touched anymore with the preaching of the gospel because they are so content in the cradle of carnal security.
It is not a message of love that teaches people to celebrate in their sins. There will be a great celebration for God’s people when the sin problem is solved, but God’s word does not teach us to celebrate when we should be mourning for those, all around us, who are going to destruction. Maybe even members of our own family or ourselves, if we are self deceived and celebrating while we are living in sin! It is a great insult and outrage, to the Holy Spirit, for any Christian to be celebrating while he is living in sin. The Bible says “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.” The context of that statement, in James 4:8–10, is that the day and hour of judgement is here, as you can see in the next verses.
The message of the Bible, to sinners, is not a message to rejoice and celebrate. It is a message to lament, to mourn and weep, to seek the Lord that we may be purified and made whole. The fact that a person participates in religious services and ordinances does not guarantee his salvation. A wicked person does not become righteous simply by associating with the righteous at worship service or in celebrating. A man is only made holy and acceptable with God when his heart is made clean by the grace of Christ through faith and by obedience to words of truth and righteousness. We must accept all the truth that God reveals to us, choosing to obey Him if we are going to be cleansed from the defilement of sin. We cannot receive forgiveness and acceptance with God unless there is repentance—true heart sorrow for sin. Repentance is not a work of rejoicing or celebration. By its very definition, repentance is a work of sorrow of heart, sorrow for sins committed and a turning away from sin.
There is no such thing as real love to God without obedience to His law. This so called love, acceptance and forgiveness that does not include a preaching of the law of God, a call for sinners to repent, is a delusion. It is not real love at all, but a soul-destroying deception. Repentance means being sorry for sin and turning away from it. All eloquent portrayals of love and charity will never save a soul who does not repent!
The Celebration Movement Foretold
We will list, from the pen of Ellen White, certain erroneous methods and deceptive theories which she foretold would be a part of the apostasy to come just before the close of probation. She wrote: “The things you have described as taking place in Indiana the Lord has shown me would take place just before the close of probation.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 36. What are these things that would take place just before the close of probation?
- “A bedlam of noise that shocks the senses and perverts that which, if conducted aright, might be a blessing. The powers of Satanic agencies blend with the din and noise to have a carnival and this is termed the Holy Spirit’s working.” Ibid.
- “Every uncouth thing will be demonstrated. There will be shouting with drums, music and dancing. The senses of rational beings will become so confused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions and this is called the moving of the Holy Spirit.” Ibid.
This group in Indiana maintained the theory that when Christ passed through the agony of Gethsemane He obtained holy flesh such as Adam possessed before his fall. And that those who follow the Savior must also acquire this same “holy flesh” in preparation for translation. In their meetings, people were worked up to a high pitch of excitement by the use of musical instruments such as organs, flutes, fiddles, tambourines, horns, and a drum, the people sought a physical demonstration and shouted and prayed and sang until someone in the congregation would fall prostrate and unconscious from his seat. Then this person would be dragged up to the rostrum and about a dozen individuals would gather around the prostrate body, some singing, some shouting and some praying all at the same time. When the subject revived, he was counted among those who had passed through the Gethsemane experience and had obtained holy flesh and had translation faith. Therefore, it was asserted he could not sin and would never die. We see in this description, a breaking down of normal inhibitions between people, in these services in Indiana, which were a type of what would happen before the close of probation.
Another part of the experience in Indiana, which is typical of what will happen again, was the playing of dance tunes with sacred words, which is all too common with much of today’s so-called “Christian” music. The syncopated jazz-like beat of music had its beginnings in bordellos of New Orleans around 1900. This jazz music went through various stages—boogie-woogie, swing and finally rock, which is a mixture of Negro rhythm blues and country western. The stimulation of sexuality was the primary purpose sought after with this music. This type of music, with its varying degrees of syncopation and beat, still appeals to bodily movement and sensual responses.
Ellen White had this to say about it: “Angels are hovering around yonder dwelling. The young are there assembled; there is the sound of vocal and instrumental music. Christians are gathered there, but what is that you hear? It is a song, a frivolous ditty, fit for the dance hall. Behold the pure angels gather their light closer around them and darkness envelops those in that dwelling. The angels are moving from the scene. Sadness is upon their countenances. Behold, they are weeping . . . Music has occupied the hours which should have been devoted to prayer. Music is the idol which many professed Sabbathkeeping Christians worship. Satan has no objection to music if he can make that a channel through which to gain access to the minds of the youth . . . When turned to good account, music is a blessing; but it is often made one of Satan’s most attractive agencies to ensnare souls.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 506. To the shame of many Adventists, the world knows what they claim not to know—namely, that drugs, acid rock and perverted sex go together.
Drama—Never a Part of God’s Work
Another point we can learn from the Indiana episode, which is to be repeated at the end of time, was the theatrical performing and intense bodily gestures and movements engaged in by the participants. Concerning theatrical performances Ellen White has the following to say: “In my very first labors the message was given that all theatrical performance in connection with the preaching of present truth were to be discouraged and forbidden…The light given me was to give this no sanction. These performances which savored of the theatrical were to have no place in the proclamation of the solemn messages entrusted to us. The enemy will watch closely and will take every advantage of circumstances to degrade the truth by the introduction of undignified demonstrations. None of these demonstrations are to be encouraged. The precious truths given us are to be spoken in all solemnity and with sacred awe.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 125.
“Can the Lord Jesus accept the theatrical exhibitions as service done for Him? Can He be glorified thereby? No. All this kind of work is done in the service of another leader.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 11, 335.
Ellen White said that no encouragement should be given to the kind of worship that took place in Indiana. She said, “I was instructed to say that at these demonstrations demons in the form of men are present working with all the ingenuity that Satan can employ to make the truth disgusting to sensible people.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 125.
The liberal development of celebration worship, the failure to have trust and confidence in the Spirit of Prophecy and the activities which go directly contrary to her inspired counsels on these points, were predicted and are happening. However, this is only part of the present day apostasy that we see in Adventism. This apostasy today is so deceptive that often the word celebration is not even used, but what is practiced is the same as the celebration type worship that was introduced in the 80’s and early 90’s into Adventist churches. As the saying goes, “A rose by any other name is still a rose.” But the apostasy in Adventism is much broader and much more multi-faceted than what we have been able to portray so far. In another article, we hope to show another side of the apostasy on a completely opposite end of the spectrum, in Adventism.