CTT | Trey Pearson and CCM

Last week, I saw the following headline from theBlaze pop up on my Facebook feed:

Christian Rocker Comes Out as Gay:
‘I’ve Tried My Whole Life to Be Straight’

Naturally, I was curious as to who this “Christian Rocker” was and wanted to know how the CCM Industry would spin it. After some searching, I realized that this poor young man’s crisis of faith had already published previously, and the community should have picked up on several warning signs. What we have here isn’t a sound Christian suddenly performing a 180º turn, merely the revealing of an unbeliever’s unrepentance.  Today, I want to focus your attention more on the Contemporary “Christian” Music (CCM) industry than on the man, Trey Pearson and his rebellion.

That article from the Blaze is mostly a rehash of the original interview posted here. The interview’s title is “A Modern Gospel”, but it isn’t a modern gospel, it’s a false one. Some heartbreaking quotes:

…“I’m gay, and one of the only people who knows is my wife.”…

…“Most of us reach at least one pivotal moment in our lives that better defines who we are. These last several months have been the hardest—but also have ended up being the most freeing months—of my life. To make an extremely long story short, I have come to be able to admit to myself, and to my family, that I am gay.”…

…“There is a weight that has been lifted, and I have never felt so free. I cannot even believe the joy and lightness I feel from being able to accept myself, and love myself, for who I truly am … but I have also lost some of the closest people in my life. I have felt betrayal by people I loved a lot, and cared so much about.”…

…“I’m starting over in so many ways. It is freeing, but it’s also starting out lonely”…

In the article, we see Trey fully fixated on himself while taking shots at Christians for not treating him the way he thinks he should be treated. Really, Trey? You’re leaving your wife. Your wife is no longer your wife, you’ve made her out to be merely part of what you’ve now decided isn’t the real you. Rather than resist sin, you’ve decided to identify by it, and expect others to accept your sin as something that should be embraced, celebrated, and even loved. The “joy and lightness” you’re describing now is no more substantial than the adrenaline high most get from doing something they know is wrong. This isn’t freedom, it is bondage to sin. This hedonistic gospel is no gospel at all. There is no life in it, only death. Let’s turn quickly to Paul’s comments regarding sin in his letter to the Romans, a rather hedonistic society in its day even by modern standards.

Romans 6:15-23 (ESV) | Slaves to Righteousness

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So you see, Paul points out the hard truth of the so-called “freedom” trey is currently experiencing… it’s a freedom in regards to righteousness, meaning that giving yourself over into slavery of sin is to rid yourself of all righteousness. We have no righteousness of our own, so we must become slaves to righteousness by faith in the Righteous One, Our LORD Jesus Christ. In denying the Law of God (specifically that sexual immorality is sin), he’s cut himself off from the very Gospel of God, forgiveness from the sin he refuses to acknowledge as sin. What we see here is a man who is still firmly planted in Romans 1.

Romans 1:18-32 (ESV) | God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Which leads us to the focus of this discussion here. Yes, Trey is in unbelief and I pray the Holy Spirit open his eyes to the Truth, that Trey’s hardened heart and stiffened neck against the Truth of God be softened. But Trey has a platform that the CCM Industry has built for him, and that our godless society is capitalizing on. Check out this troubling segment of the View.

A wife and two children, and all he can think about is himself and his passions. He put all of his faith into his ability to “be something he wasn’t”. Folks, that isn’t the Gospel. The Object of saving faith is NOT our ability to uphold the Law. The Object of our faith is Christ Jesus.

I will concede one point… in part. If the visible church keeps preaching sanctification as a choice we make, it’s teaching the wrong thing. The Law clearly pronounces homosexuality as sin. Abominable sin. As sinful human being, sinless perfection is outside of our reach and beyond our strength to attain in this life on our own. Repentance is a daily act of faith, not a one-time contract that relies on your sanctified perfection to maintain. We must encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle with same-sex attraction to continue bearing the fruit of repentance, just as we who struggle with heterosexually immoral temptations need to. Your secret addition to pornography is no less abominable than their same-sex attraction, in the eyes of God they are both sexual immorality, sexual sin, on par with Idolatry, and punishable by death. And they are both covered, paid in full, by the Perfect atoning sacrifice of our LORD Jesus Christ on the cross. Repent, and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name. Take up your cross, die to self, and follow Christ daily. There will come a day when at last we will be free of this sinful, fallen flesh, and we will be given new bodies in the Resurrection. Until then, the righteous live by Faith, not by their own works.

The CCM Problem

As I mentioned earlier, I found an older article from 2013 (Sojourners link) that should have raised several warning flags concerning Trey Pearson and the CCM Industry. That it didn’t indicates that the majority of the Visible church is sleeping or flat-out derelict in their duty to preach sound doctrine and to hold CCM (and themselves) accountable. If you have some time, read through the interview… it is quite telling of the problems within the CCM Industry and with Trey’s theology. These issues, even if Trey can’t speak for the entire industry perfectly, are clearly driving forces behind why so many of our DiM posts end up in disapprovals and warnings. The industry is deeply flawed, and the Church is blindly eating it all up. Let’s look at some of the more damning quotes in the SOJO article:

SOJO: What about the industry surprised you?

Trey: I have been in the industry for 11 years full time, so that’s a bit of a loaded question! I was pretty naive coming into the industry. I assumed everyone there was just trying to make great art, to glorify God. But it was more than that. I thought that what these musicians were doing was somehow sacred, distinct from the “secular” music that other artists were producing. That is what I had been taught as a teenager, by people that were really influential in my life.

I didn’t realize how much the industry was geared toward soccer moms, who support Christian radio. I didn’t realize how many people in the industry had really different views on what it meant to follow God, or just flat out didn’t seem to care. The Christian music industry has the same struggles with drugs, sex and power as the secular music business.  [emphasis mine]

The Christian Radio stations are inextricably linked to the Industry machine. Don’t be fooled. Don’t be lulled into the lie that they are simply dealing with the hand they are dealt from the recording studios. It matters who they target with their marketing for “business partners”, it matters that they claim to proclaim the Gospel while promoting and playing mostly ear-tickling pablum. Trey goes on to lament the art that is lacking in the CCM Industry.

The formula of CCM started with them knowing how to sell to the adult contemporary (AC) format. About a decade ago, worship music became really popular, and it has pretty much melded with that AC format. There are some slight differences at times, but it is all geared to be cool enough to make a soccer mom think that it’s edgy, and yet not be too controversial. What is intriguing to me is that you will almost never find someone making art in the rest of the music industry, trying to become an “adult contemporary” artist. You will see Top 40 [pop artists] cross over some of their songs to AC, but all the artists at the top of those mainstream AC charts right now are Rihanna, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, and Justin Timberlake. That’s a far cry from an industry that pushes young people into trying to make Christian AC music, that never ends up being about the art, but just fitting in the right formulaic words like “grace,” “saved,” “Jesus,” and trust me, they have them. And it never leads to good art. No offense to the artists that are ruling Christian music, but it’s just not at the peak of the creative music spectrum…

…Generally, only messages of certainty and positivity are promoted and accepted within Christian AC and worship music communities. It is next to impossible to create art that has transparency and honesty, expressing doubt, and vulnerability. You can see those things all throughout Scripture, but the system in place to sell albums has a very narrow view of belief that they want to promote to their consumers.

So, in these answers we are starting to see more of Trey’s theology, but we are also seeing that the CCM formula is centered on entertaining the Adult Contemporary market rather than on sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The standard isn’t God’s Word, it’s what they think they can get away with to be comfortably edgy and at least nominally orthodox (using the formulaic words he cited). Seriously though, Trey just included the Name that is above all Names in his list of “formulaic words” as a bad thing because it hinders art.

Do you see Trey’s theology emerging a bit here? Might you be inclined to guess at who he’s been listening to, and learning from? Any chance it’s a faithful exegete?

SOJO: Talk about the authors and others who started opening your eyes to other ways of thinking about God.

Trey: The biggest influence that made an impact on making me rethink the sacred vs. secular divide, and on understanding that everything is spiritual, was Rob Bell. He helped me realize again that everything that is good is from God. I stopped believing in Christian music or Christian events or anything else described as a “Christian” that didn’t seem intent on following Jesus.

I’m all for a group of Christians coming together to try to make an impact in people’s lives for the Kingdom of God. I just believe there are better ways to go about it. If you believe that everything that is good is from God, it starts to really change your perspective on how all of this works. Rob was sort of a gateway for me to other authors that have had huge impacts on me like Dallas Willard, N.T. Wright, Jurgen Moltmann, Walter Brueggemann, and many more. [emphasis mine]

There is a reason we call out these false teachers. There is a reason we need the ministries of Pirate Christian Radio, the Pulpit and Pen, the Berean Research, Wretched Radio, et al. The visible church is derelect in its duty to exercise Biblical Discernment, to mark false teachers, and guard the flock against the wolves.

Conclusion

I pray the LORD soften Trey’s heart and grant him saving faith and repentance. I pray for his wife and children, for that they might find Faith, Hope, and Restoration in Christ alone. I pray that the Church wake up and start taking their charge to keep the Faith, to keep the Word of God. Dear Christian, do the work of a Berean. Examine your doctrine with an open Bible, to see if it is good. Ensure that your local church faithfully preaches the Word of God, both Law and Gospel unapologetically. Exercise Biblical discernment in what you are listening to, purchasing online, and reading.. particularly those things that claim to be “Christian”. Hold your local CCM Radio stations accountable. They raise funds claiming to be a Christian ministry… is it true? Do they proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ? or are they merely an entertainment platform for a CCM industry looking to make a buck.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 (ESV) | Preach the Word

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

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