GMA’s "new" definition for Gospel music
Terry Watkins Dial-the-Truth Ministries

In 1998, because of the obvious pseudo-Christian lyrics flooding the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), the Gospel Music Association (GMA), for the first time in their 30-year history, created lyrics criteria for the eligibility of Dove Awards. The 1998 definition stated:

Gospel music is music in any style whose lyric is:
  • substantially based upon historically orthodox Christian truth contained in or derived from the Holy Bible;
  • and/or an expression of worship of God or praise for His works;
  • and/or testimony of relationship with God through Christ;
  • and/or obviously prompted and informed by a Christian world view.
But guess what happened?

13 songs were disqualified from the Dove Awards because they did not meet the lyrical criteria.

One of the songs was the mega-hit "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer.

And another was "Love Me Good" by Michael W. Smith!

It’s ironic – Smith’s "Love Me Good" was a number-one song on Christian radio and Christian bookstores! And dig this – Michael W. Smith opened the 1998 Dove Awards, the previous year, singing guess what song? "Love Me Good"!

Two of CCM’s biggest hits were "canned" from the Dove Awards because they couldn’t even meet the thinly-defined criteria!

God forbid! We can’t have that happen! Oh dear. . . This is serious. . . Emergency meeting. . .What shall we do?

What shall we do?

Solution. . . Change the lyric criteria so "apparently", any song, by anyone, about anything, can qualify!

The new revision now reads:

Gospel music is music in any style whose lyric is:
  • substantially based upon historically orthodox Christian truth contained in or derived from the Holy Bible;
  • and/or apparently prompted and informed by a Christian world view.

They changed the word "obviously" to "apparently" and dropped two crucial lines from the previous criteria!

The word "obviously" portrays a much stronger definition than "apparently".

The word "obvious" means "easily seen, recognized, or understood; evident; lacking in subtlety".

The word "apparent" means "according to appearances, initial evidence, incomplete results, etc.; ostensible rather than actual"

The word "apparently" opens up the lyrics to the Dove committee’s "judgement" as to what is "apparently" Christian.

GMA President Frank Breeden openly admitted this:

"[The committees] will be using their own judgements because there is no amount of wording we can create that will make a black and white decision possible if there's a judgment call," (CCM Update, GMA Loosens Reins on Dove Awards Lyric Criteria, November 15, 1999)

CCM Update writes of the change from "obvious" to "apparently":

"The shift to "apparently" does solve a lot of problems, said Marie Lehman, director of corporate events & artist relations for Word Entertainment and part of last year's pop/contemporary subcommittee. 'It's not so cut and dried. That was our big problem last year. Unless you know the heart of the songwriter, how is it 'obvious' from what point of view the song was written?'" (CCM Update, GMA Loosens Reins on Dove Awards Lyric Criteria, November 15, 1999)

That’s got to be one of the "silliest" statements I’ve ever heard – "Unless you know the heart of the songwriter"

Nobody can KNOW the heart – EXCEPT GOD!

The Lord says in Jeremiah 17:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jer. 17:9

Certainly not GMA!

They don’t even know what the "Gospel" is – even when God CLEARLY defines it over and over in His word!

But, as we’ve documented about a "zillion" times – what’s the Word of God got to do with CCM?

But here’s the real crime of GMA’s "new and improved" criteria — they "zapped" the two specifics that openly defined the lyrics as Christian!

Incredible the Gospel Music Association dropped the following two lines!

and/or an expression of worship of God or praise for His works;
and/or testimony of relationship with God through Christ;

Here’s the "old" criteria (with the deleted lines in RED):

Gospel music is music in any style whose lyric is:
  • substantially based upon historically orthodox Christian truth contained in or derived from the Holy Bible;
  • and/or an expression of worship of God or praise for His works;
  • and/or testimony of relationship with God through Christ;
  • and/or obviously prompted and informed by a Christian world view.

The only part of the criteria that would separate the lyrics from the world and zap — it’s gone!

One of the "zapped" lines refers to "an expression of worship of God or praise for His works" — "sorry-charlie" — no more praise or worship to God!

That’s the purpose for REAL BIBLE Christian music!

The PURPOSE of Christian music is to PRAISE the Lord.

I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing PRAISE to thy name, O thou most High. Psalm 9:2

Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we SING and PRAISE thy power. Psalm 21:13

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my SONG will I PRAISE him. Psalm 28:7

PRAISE the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise. Psalm 33:2-3

When someone truly gets saved, God puts a NEW song in their mouth. And that song is "PRAISE unto our God" — the result of salvation is — PRAISE. And it's not something we work up, or "fake", or just do — but it's something God "puts"! Christian music is "praise unto our God". Do you think God is a liar?

  1. I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
  2. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
  3. And he hath PUT a NEW SONG in my mouth, even PRAISE unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. Praise 40:1-3

Did you read that? The DIRECT result of being saved is "A NEW SONG" even "PRAISE unto our God". Christian music PRAISES the Lord!

Even when the apostle Paul and Silas were thrown in jail and in stocks they sang praises to the Lord (notice: they weren't singing the bluesthey "sang praises unto God").

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and SANG PRAISES unto God: and the prisoners heard them. Acts 16:22

Gospel music is "praise" and "worship" to the Lord!

But not according to the Gospel Music Association. . .

What Christian would NOT desire to praise the Lord in song?

What Christian that REALLY believes the Lord Jesus Christ loved them so much He was beaten, smitten, and crucified for their sins would not LOVE to sing PRAISES to Him!

Martin Luther puts it bluntly — "whoever does NOT want to sing and speak of it shows that he does not believe it".

"We should praise God with both word and music, namely by proclaiming [the Word of God] through music. . .He who believes earnestly cannot be quiet about it. But he must gladly and willingly sing and speak about it so that others may come and hear it. And whoever does NOT want to sing and speak of it shows that he does not believe it." (Martin Luther quoted in Don Cusic, The Sound of Light, p. 15)

Fanny Crosby got it right. . .

Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessèd Redeemer!
Sing, O Earth, His wonderful love proclaim! . . .

And the GMA has got it ALL WRONG!

Here’s the other "zapped" line — "and/or testimony of relationship with God through Christ;"!

Testimony that they’re a Christian — singing Christian music!

How can a REAL Christian possibly find fault with that!

Somebody wake me up. . . Christians can not possibly be this backslidden and carnal!

I’ve got to be dreaming. . . No Christian could be this far off base!

Maybe they’re not. . . ?

By far, the clearest and obvious part of the lyric criteria, stating any Christian testimony the GMA "ZAP"s!

and/or an expression of worship of God or praise for His works;
and/or testimony of relationship with God through Christ;

Why in the world would the GMA "rip-out" those lines?

Because of the backlash from "disqualifying" Michael W. Smith’s song "Love Me Good" the year before!

CCM Update writes:

"Responding to the backlash that ensued last year after the Gospel Music Association implemented lyric criteria to determine an album or song's Dove Award eligibility, the organization has revised the statement, and plans to take a different approach to the upcoming Dec. 2 screening process of entries submitted for nomination." (CCM Update, GMA Loosens Reins on Dove Awards Lyric Criteria, November 15, 1999)
So rather than "canning" Smith’s blatant "secular-non-Christian" song — they "zap" the references to "worship" and "praise" of God; and "testimony of relationship with God through Christ" When the CCM crowd has to choose between the CCM artist or music and the Lord Jesus Christ — they’ll "zap" the Lord Jesus Christ — every time!

They’ve been doing it for years! We’ve been documenting this for years!

CCM several years ago began replacing "Jesus, Christ, Lord" etc. with the vague "you, he, him", etc.

And now they don’t even try to pretend it’s Christian!

Here’s a real "humdinger" — the CCM Update says the reason GMA removed the "second and third clauses — "The second and third clauses were removed for efficiency."

They removed the ONLY parts of the criteria that CLEARY distinguished them as Christian — for EFFICIENCY!

The word "efficient" means "performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort; having and using requisite knowledge, skill, and industry; competent; capable:"

This is not possible! I must be on Candid Camera. . . This has to be a joke. . .

Where’s the Candid Camera! Where is Allen or Peter Funt when we need them?

The following excerpt is from "The Dragon's Hot Breath: Unmasking the Awful Truth About 'Christian' Rock Music" by Texe Marrs concerning a telephone conversation between Texe Marrs and CCM "star" Steve Taylor. After dealing with hundreds of CCM'ers – this is a typical response when asked about "removing the Lord Jesus Christ":

"I related to Mr. Taylor that I had searched the lyrics of every song in his album and that, regrettably, I could find no reference to Jesus and the Cross.
'Why do you not confess Jesus in your music?' I implored. 'Why do you not witness to our youth that Jesus loved them so much He suffered on the cross for them?' His response was, unfortunately, lacking. Taylor responded hotly, 'Is it necessary to tell young people about Jesus in every album?'
My immediate answer was 'Yes! In every album. Indeed, in every song!'"
(Texe Marrs, The Dragon's Hot Breath, Living Truth Ministries, p.7)

Many CCM artists despise mentioning the lovely and wonderful name of Jesus Christ so much — they admittedly have an anti-'Jesus' attitude! Here's a quote from Jason Martin of Starflyer 59:

"A lot of bands, the reason they get so turned off, is because you have to put the word 'Jesus' in every line. . . That's why so many bands get almost anti-'Jesus' in their lyrics, even though they're Christians. . ."(HM, Mar/Apr 97 p. 21)

Jason says, "you have to put the word 'Jesus' in every line" - well, what's wrong with that? That is - if you really believe Him! I don't think Jason has to worry about putting "'Jesus' in every line". Out of 25 Starflyer 59 songs, over 1400 words, 4 albums - I could not find the word "God, the word "Lord", I found "Jesus" in "2nd Space Song" - with this ridiculous line "counts the sands Jesus in your hands". Jesus in your hands? Who that believes that Jesus Christ is God Almighty, the Lord of Lords, thinks they've got "Jesus in their hands"!

Word Records A&R Director and songwriter Brent Bourgeois refers to Christian words like "Jesus, Christ, Lord, et al." As "buzz words".
"Who knows what people are thinking when they write a song? Is someone's song less Christian because it doesn't have the buzz points? I've written many Christian lyrics to order because I knew that's what was wanted, but a lot of those songs were less [inspired] than some of the songs without the buzz words that I wrote from my heart." (CCM Update, GMA Loosens Reins on Dove Awards Lyric Criteria, November 15, 1999)


Words like the Lord Jesus Christ are "BUZZ WORDS"!

Friend, Jesus Christ is the ONLY "BUZZ WORD" that'll keep you out of an eternity in a Lake of Fire!

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12

This is pathetic. . .

Stan Moser’s got it right:

Stan Moser, former head of Word Records (the man responsible for signing Amy Grant) and CEO of Star Song Records, was one of the pioneers and most important executives in CCM. And after 26 years in CCM, in November 1995, walked away from CCM. In an article in Christianity Today, titled "We Have Created a Monster" about CCM Mr. Moser truly admits:

"But to be candid, I look at the majority of the music I hear today and think it's virtually meaningless." (Christianity Today, We Have Created a Monster, May 20, 1996 p. 27)

Amen. Amen. And Amen Brother Moser!

The ambiguous, and vague "new" lyric criteria would allow "apparently" any song to be "classified" as "gospel" music!

"Apparently" the following lyrics would certainly qualify:

Have you ever thought about your soul - can it be saved?
Or perhaps you think that when you're dead you just stay in your grave
Is God just a thought within your head or is He a part of you?
Is Christ just a name that you read in a book when you were in school?

When you think about death do you lose your breath
Or do you keep your cool?
Would you like to see the Pope on the end of a rope
Do you think he's a fool?
Well I have seen the truth, yes I've seen the light
And I've changed my ways
And I'll be prepared when you're lonely and scared
At the end of our days

Could it be you're afraid of what your friends might say
If they knew you believe in God above?
They should realize before they criticize
That God is the only way to love. . .

In fact. They would qualify with "flying colors"! They’re ten times, a hundred times, a million times, more "Gospel" than Michael W. Smith’s "Love Me Good!" or Sixpence's "Kiss Me"!

The song is — "After Forever" by satan-rockers — Black Sabbath!

Black Sabbath’s song N.I.V. is one of the most openly satanic songs ever recorded. It is a love-song from Lucifer, in which Lucifer invites the listener to "please take my hand", the lyrics:

Some people say MY LOVE cannot be true
Please believe me, MY LOVE, and I'll show you
I will give you those things you thought unreal . . .
YOUR LOVE FOR ME has just got to be real . . .
Look into my eyes, you will see who I am
I nominate Black Sabbath for a Dove award! Their song "After Forever" meets the GMA’s "new and improved" lyric criteria!

Don’t laugh too hard. . .

The song "After Forever" by Black Sabbath is included on the album "What A Joke" by Christian group Deliverance!

"And the winner for Song of the Year for the Dove Awards is "Sympathy for the Devil" by the Rolling Stones. C’mon up Mick Jagger, "The Lucifer of Rock. . . the unholy roller" (Newsweek Jan. 4, 1971) and receive your award".
You say, you’ve carried the illustration too far now. . .

The song "Sympathy for the Devil" is one of the most openly Satanic songs ever recorded! It is the "unofficial" anthem for Satanists. It was while the Stones were performing "Sympathy for the Devil" that a young man was murdered at Altamont Rock concert. It’s so evil, even Jagger refused to perform it at concerts for several years!

Guess What? "Sympathy for the Devil" would "apparently" pass the vague and obscure lyric qualifications the GMA has devised.

And not only that — the Christian rock group unVeiled has included "Sympathy for the Devil" on their album "youth music"!

unVeiled says this about including the "unofficial" anthem of Satanists:

"We HAD to do this song — we recorded this mostly live about one mile from the Altamont Speedway — and if that doesn't tell you why, you don't know your rock and roll history. And as for the bad word...I think the Devil swears! And as for the song...Truth is Truth! Think about the words!" (
Can you believe this???

Here's one even further into "coo-koo" land. Mark Joseph writes in his book "The Rock & Roll Rebellion" of actually giving Dove awards to Van Halen, Creed, Lenny Kravitz, et al:

"Perhaps they [Gospel Music Association (GMA)] might rename themselves the Gospel in Music Association (GIMA) and give out their Dove awards each year to the artists who have most effectively presented the gospel in their music in the various genres like jazz, rock, pop, R & B, alternative, and so forth, perhaps giving awards to groups like Van Halen, Lenny Kravits, Creed, and Collective Soul..." (Mark Joseph, The Rock & Roll Rebellion, p. 284)
Joseph "claims" to be a Christian! In his book, he wants to get rid of anything Christian! Maybe they didn't get the same Bible and same Lord Jesus Christ I got, but the GREATEST compliment anyone can give me is calling me a CHRISTIAN! Hallelujah! Just to be associated with the Lord Jesus Christ!

Christian! Christian! I love that title!

How can Christians be so carnal, decieved, and blind? How can they so hate association with His name? How can they? I'm not so sure they can. . .

32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 10:32-33


What is "gospel" music?

It’s music about the "gospel". Now was that hard.

And what is the "gospel"?

I’ll let the Lord answer that from His word:

  1. Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
  2. By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
  3. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
  4. And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 1 Cor. 15:1-3

The "gospel" is "that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures".

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
For the preaching of the cross[gospel vs 17] is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 1 Cor. 1:17-18

The "gospel" is the Lord Jesus Christ dying on the cross for my sins!

REAL "Gospel" music is songs that worship and praise the Lord Jesus Christ and His wonderful and marvelous love!

Whose definition do you think is right?

GMA’s or God’s?

Yes, I’ll SING the wondrous story
Of the Christ Who died for me,
SING it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.

Francis Harold Rowley

To read Michael W. Smith song is canned from Dove Awards

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