Examining health and food issues, reporting deadly
government health policy, in the light of the Word of God

Steve Van Nattan




And me, Steve Van Nattan

This brother grew up under the teaching of Dr. Howard Sugdan in Lansing, Michigan.
The church in the past was known as a very sound Independent Baptist Church.
Bob was at Fort Knox when I was there in the Army in 1968-70.

Dear Steve:

For quite some time before I entered the army, I had become aware of the inroads that "pop"-style entertainment-music was making in some churches, which I now believe was being spurred on as a result of such forces as Vatican II with the "folk masses" and "guitar masses", and the influence of high-profile types such as Billy Graham with his featuring of entertainment and sports figures in his "campaigns".

I, of course, was adamantly opposed to it, believing that the music, of which I was so fond, of the exalted church composers (J.S.Bach, etc.) was appropriate to worship.

As I continued in church music, both as organist and choir director, I was aware of the increasing presence of this stuff in the churches as it became what I perceived as an ever-greater obstacle to presenting proper music. Actually, as I later acknowledged to myself, during these years before, during and after the army, I was primarily interested in promoting myself, in hopes of securing an ever more substantial music position. During all of this, I also was struggling with finding God's will for my life.

Shortly after leaving Fort Knox, I found myself in a position playing a large four-manual pipe organ (yes, with a 32-foot bombard pedal rank) in a large, affluent downtown church; however, after a period of time of frustration with no apparent direction from the Lord, combined with loneliness and feeling sorry for myself for missing out on all of the fun that was going on without me, I decided to abandon the principles in which I had been trained, set God aside for awhile, and do it my way. And, although I didn't have an appetite for rock, still, since rockers seemed to be making more money than church musicians, I even played in some rock bands. I am so grateful for the Lord's mercy during this reckless time of my life.

It was several years later after some particularly trying times that I came to the realization that I was a wretched sinner without a Saviour. I reviewed the events of my life: One evening, as a small child, with the encouragement of my parents, I had made a "decision" and I assume that I prayed some sort of "sinner's prayer". A few years later, I was baptized and received into membership in the church that I attended with my family. I had understood that, after salvation, there would be a wonderful change in my life; however, things seemed essentially the same as they had before. Since my parents were so happy that I had been saved, and because I felt that God specially favored me, I essentially did as I pleased, within parental restraint, of course. As I grew up, I went to church regularly with my family. My parents were both devout believers, and I believed that I was -- but I followed my interests and gave little thought to God other than doing what was appropriate at the moment.

Other than in church, until I was in college, I may have actually opened up my Bible once or twice to read a fragment of scripture. It would be years later, in the army, before I finally read through the Bible for the first time, and even more years later before I regularly read through the Bible. My beliefs, foggy that they were, were primarily what I had acquired from my parents and my pastor; that is, I depended on them to tell me what I believed. All those years, I honestly believed that I was saved.

Looking back, I realized that what was lacking was my recognition of my true sinful condition and need for the Saviour, repentance, and total reliance on Him. In July of 1980, I finally humbled myself and surrendered to the Lord and now have truly been cleansed of the filth of my life in the precious blood of Christ. My great regret is that I didn't remember my Creator in the days of my youth and get to know Him intimately; rather, self and music had become my gods. It is likely that my service to Him is more limited than it might have been otherwise. Nevertheless, I glory in His mercy and grace and am committed to His service no matter what comes and pray that His strength will overcome my weakness.

I continued on with church music, all the while encountering the heavy onslaught of the carnal stuff. There were many discussions regarding the issue, and I began to seriously question whether I was wrongfully imposing my tastes over what God chose to use. Subsequently, I began questioning whether God was really glorified by the music that I had always assumed was God-glorifying. To my ear, it certainly seems uplifting, but is this uplifting actually another carnality? Another feel-good? Is He truly honored? Are those who hear the music, and am I who offer the music, more faithful servants of Christ because of it? If not, or if God is not honored, it should not be a part of worship. And I have concluded that the worship service is not the place for music education, not a concert hall, and certainly not the place to benefit the musician's ego.

Even in churches in which applause was seldom the response to musical offerings, my playing had occasionally been followed with applause -- something that bothers me greatly. Undoubtedly, people intended well in so doing, but I don't believe that such applause should be a part of the service. Even if the music were intended to be an offering to the Lord as well as spiritually edifying to those hearing it, applause has the tendency of directing attention to the musician rather than the Lord; it can also feed the flesh of the musician -- something that a church musician must always be on guard against.

Something else had been troubling to me for years: that of being a part of the services of churches that I didn't feel altogether comfortable with theologically. Tragically, the music that I was most akin to was most often appreciated in churches with questionable theology. Certainly, at least on the surface, most Lutheran/Anglican worship had traditionally been dignified and appeared to be much more reverent than the grotesque, almost circus-like/political-campaign-rally atmosphere that pervades most of the Independent Fundamental Baptist churches I've observed, such as the one I'm currently attending (although with the entrance of "Christian Contemporary Music" and similar "relevance"-enhancing modifications to the services of many of the first group, the margin of contrast is definitely narrowing).

Most of my church music career was in Lutheran churches. There is much that is commendable of traditional Lutheran beliefs and the LCMS and WELS are to be commended on their stand against the Lutheran World Federation's 1999 "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification" with the RCC (http://www.lcms.org/president/statements/betrayal.asp), but I've discovered that basic Lutheran doctrine all the way back to Luther has some serious fundamental problems, particularly, the sacraments (baptism, eucharist) and the Lutheran expression "means of grace" (http://www.lcms.org/belief/doct-10.html) in relation to the sacraments.

Even though I was aware that there were some questionable areas, I suspect that because I identified with the music of numerous Lutheran musicians including J.S. Bach, I avoided coming to grips with Lutheran doctrine as I should have. Unless I am misunderstanding their explanations, it looks like some very serious error. It would appear that, along with the RCC, Martin Luther denied his "sola fide".

Also of note: http://www.lcms.org/cic/bornagan.htm ... I just checked to see if this page was still intact and see that they modified it somewhat from what they had a couple years ago. It was as follows:

Q. I heard a pastor (not LCMS) that in order to be saved you must be "born again" and quoted several scriptural passages. What is the LCMS position? I thought baptism was good enough!

A. The question is asked in our synodical catechism, "Why do the Scriptures call Baptism the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit?" The answer given is this: "In Baptism, the Holy Spirit works faith and so creates in us new spiritual life with the power to overcome sin." Titus 3:5ff. is quoted in support of this answer: "He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit...." You are exactly right in saying that our baptism is "good enough."

After struggling with these unresolved questions about music in worship along with doubts about the theology of the churches in which I served, coupled with the continual battles over rock and roll and CCM ("Christian Contemporary Music"), I left my last position in church music, along with a drop in income, about nine years ago from what had been a conservative Lutheran church that was absorbed into the ELCA. A new pastor with new directions (who also responded with hands-over-the-head applause after a piece I played during the offering), was the final straw that sent me packing.

What followed has been a long search for a group of believers that I can worship and fellowship with without having to deal with music. As you are already aware, the search has been a troubling one.

I have continued attending the church (Fundamental Baptist) that I told you about before; they appear to have some commendable areas as well as some that I'm not so sure of. From remarks by the pastor, I assume that they take some kind of a stand against rock; I don't know if they also oppose CCM or not. However, last Sunday, a woman got up and did a solo in CCM style on what sounded like a CCM-type tune with lyrics that strongly hinted at Charismania; I cannot remember them now to quote them but it alarmed me at the time. Immediately as she finished, a man on the front pew right in front of her went into hooting and hands-over-the-head applause, very similar to what I referred to earlier, and general applause followed -- something that alarmed me even more.

I do appreciate your prayers and pray that all is well with all of you.

I trust Bob's experience illustrates the need for churched people to be lovingly confronted with their need to find assurance of salvation. The Laodicean Era is rampant with religion, and much of it has worthy tinges of authenticity. The problem is, it is lukewarm, and it makes God vomit. I believe the task of all faithful pastors and local church leaders is to provoke the saints to love and zeal so that their works will be a blessing to the body of Christ. What are you doing to confront these people in love?

Here is the Bible on how a true believer shows his salvation. It is NOT how most of us were taught. There is a distinct indication here that salvation is not complete until it is coming out the mouth with zeal. That sounds like a works idea, but read this and note the literal wording. What do you think?

Romans 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

A pastor I know recently had a young adult fellow walk forward to receive Christ as his Savior. The rest of us sang Just As I Am through for a good long time so that the pastor could lead the man to Christ. But, the thing that blessed me most, the thing many pastors no longer do, was that the pastor immediately asked the fellow to tell the saints what he had just done. With zeal the fellow proclaimed "with the mouth" his new faith and trust in Jesus Christ as his Savior.

During the years I pastored and served as a missionary in Africa, I saw the easy believism methods used all too often, and they always result in lukewarm professors who never seem to produce much fruit. What are you doing to bring these people in your area to really KNOW they are born again?

I don't believe someone is saved if they won't say so during the six days between Sundays. I don't mean "door-to-door," which can be an exercise in "good religion." I mean that a true saint, God using their particular personality, will talk about Jesus and the Gospel one way or another in the market place and at work. Each saint has a different way of doing this, but it will happen. If not, they probably are not saved. There is NO "silent type" for Jesus. God changes those kind of good old boys when they get born again for real.

Finally, let me ask you a question, dead pastor-- Are YOU born again? I know this is an invitation to doubt, and I dare not enter into that form of trickery. You do NOT need a retread. If you are in sin or in deep doubt, and if you know the point in your past where you were born again, then revival may be in order for you, but not salvation. That is secure in the Holy Ghost. But, I know that many stories can be told of men who never really believed to the point of faith in the soul and the heart. They have a good job preaching and doing good works for Christ's sheep, but they know deep down inside that they are not born again. If this is you, what do you suppose is in store for you at the Great White Throne Judgment after you preached it but did not believe it? May I invite you to repent of your pride, admit you are not saved, and confess your faith in The Lord Jesus Christ? Sure, some folks will be shocked, but not half as much as when they arrive in the Glory and find you standing there naked while they are clothed in Christ's righteousness. How about it?

What if you died tonight? Would you wake up in the arms of my sweet Jesus, or would you wake up in hell and scream for water?