MP3s, Commercialized Christianity and Christian Hypocrisy
Part 1

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Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
September 11, 2000

Last Updated :
September 26, 2019

NOTE: This is an outdated article regarding events which occurred about twenty years ago. If you ever operated or visited a Hotline server, or if you ever downloaded MP3 files in the old days, you may find this article interesting.

MP3s Controversy, CCM Industry, Commercialized Christianity Money-Making Bible Hucksters, Filthy Lucre Or Lost Souls?, Freely Ye Have Received, Hotline's Notorious Reputation, Armageddon Hotline Tracker, Membership Info, Games Are Time Wasters, Lonely Are The Honest, Fruit Of Compromise, Thou Shalt Not Steal, Voice Of Conscience, Man's Courts Or God's Laws?, Hearts Of Stone Or Hearts Of Flesh?, God's Living Epistles, Under The Critical Eye, Christian Hypocrisy

As many of you reading this article will already know, at this current time -- September 2,000 -- the legality of Internet music sharing via MP3 distribution -- which the opposition has labeled as copyright infringement and music piracy -- is being seriously examined and debated by the Senate Judiciary Committee of the American government. It is a very heated battle between the powerful music recording industry, including such giants as Universal Music Group, Sony Music, Time Warner, the EMI Group and Bertelsmann A.G., and online MP3 distributors such as, Napster, Inc. Gnutella, and Scour. Some of these recording companies have already settled for large sums of money, and the remaining cases will probably be settled fairly soon. In the latest development, has lost its court case, and has been found guilty of copyright infringement. This decision by the court should send the clear message to those persons who have downloaded MP3s from such sites, that they are engaging in illegal activities:

----- Begin Quote ----- loses copyright case

NEW YORK (AP) - A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Internet music-sharing service willfully violated the copyrights of record companies, and ordered it to pay Universal Music Group $25,000 per CD, or roughly $118 million. U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff said it was necessary to send a message to the Internet community to deter copyright infringement. Rakoff said he could have awarded as much as $150,000 per CD but chose a considerably smaller amount, in part because had acted more responsibly than other Internet startups. Universal Music Group, the world's largest record company, had urged a stiff penalty in the closely watched case.

----- End Of Quote -----

In like manner, following in the footsteps of defeat of, Napster has also suffered another setback in its case against the music recording industry. Consider the following excerpt taken from a CNN news report dated September 8, 2000:

----- Begin Quote -----


(CNN) - The federal government sided with the recording industry on a key issue in the industry's landmark copyright court battle with Napster, the popular Internet service in which millions of people trade copyrighted music free of charge. The Justice Department document, filed in a federal appeals court late Friday, says the federal law that Napster has cited as a defense does not protect the service from claims of copyright infringement.

----- End Of Quote -----

Right now, millions of people, Christians and non-Christians alike, are in possession of copyrighted musical material which they have not paid for. These people find nothing dishonest in what they are doing, even though they do not have the permission of the artists -- or of their industry representatives -- to own the music. On the opposite side of this controversy, there are also many other people who have been honest by paying for the same, so that the artists, recording companies, distributors, etc., each receive their share of whatever profit is made.

Since approximately three decades ago, we have witnessed the birth and rise of the Christian music recording industry, which naturally caters to the Christian segment of American society. This industry is every bit as commercial in nature as its secular counterpart. The new, more upbeat recordings which have become associated with this industry are generally referred to as Contemporary Christian Music -- or CCM -- and this kind of music is also affected by the MP3 controversy, because a lot of it has become available in the MP3 format.

As I point out in "Money-Making Bible Hucksters and Mammon", as well as in "Musical Ministries and Wordy Preachers", I am strongly opposed to the commercialization of our Christian faith; yet this is precisely what the CCM industry, the powerful American Bible publishing industry, the so-called "abundant life" doctrine, and other such nonsense is all about. It truly saddens me to see how many Christians have allowed themselves to be overcome by the materialistic spirit of the world, so that success is no longer based so much upon how much the Gospel is being preached, or upon how many souls have been led to the Lord; but more and more, it is being measured by what fast-talking preachers refer to as "financial blessings". It seems that nowadays, everything is measured in dollars and cents; even a person's life. To give you one clear example of this, just the other day I received an email from one of my dear online friends; a wonderful sister in the Lord. She wrote the following to me:

----- Begin Quote -----

I once had a woman, who was a friend of my parents, suggest that she and I start a church. She told me that 'there is good money in having a church'. I was about 25, and she and I had been discussing doing a child care business together. I was speechless.

----- End Of Quote -----

I experienced something similar to the above, when some time ago, a certain Southern Baptist gave me a lift downtown. As we rode together, we began to discuss a few things, and this young man began to tell me about a book he was writing, in which, according to him, he explains the Bible in the way in which it was really meant to be understood. During the course of our conversation, he used very colorful language without reservation; meaning that he used typical four-letter words which are spoken by many vulgar Americans. Needless-to-say, I was shocked by the fact that this so-called "representative of Christ" saw absolutely nothing wrong with talking this way. At any rate, this person's scheme was to publish his book on the Internet, but not for free. His strategy, which others have likewise followed, was to only make available the first chapter or so for public, free reading. If someone wanted to read the rest of what he had to say, then they would have to purchase the rest of the book for a nominal fee.

This is the very same thing I discuss in "Money-Making Bible Hucksters and Mammon". As far as I am concerned, these people have sold themselves out to the world. They have forgotten the many admonitions in the Bible which tell us such things as the following:

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also . . . No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Matthew 6:19-21, 24 KJV

"But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."
1 Timothy 6:9-11, KJV

"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."
1 John 2:15-16, KJV

Well, not happy with just telling me what he planned to do with his book once it was completed, this young man then did his best to try to persuade me to do the same thing with my writings. I was never so happy as when I finally got out of his vehicle a short time later. It was a nasty experience. Almost demonic. Maybe it was! As I think about it now, I can remember that feeling of condemnation in which he tried to envelop me, because I would not agree to do things his way.

Regardless of what these modern, commercial-oriented, fast- talking preachers say, my heart, and God's Word, clearly tell me that we are not supposed to "sell" God in songs, printed materials, videos, cassette tapes, or in any other way. We are not supposed to earn a profit from sharing the Good News with the lost, regardless of the medium we use to share it, and regardless of the cost to ourselves. Period. As I state in "Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God", we are to seek first His Kingdom, and the spiritual needs of His children and lost sheep, and then He will abundantly provide all of our needs. I am living proof that it works. All of my basic needs are met. I lack nothing. So there is no need for me to compromise the truth, or to sell the truth for filthy lucre's sake -- that is, for material gain -- as the following verses clearly indicate:

"Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous . . . Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;"
1 Timothy 3:3, 8, KJV

"For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre . . . Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake."
Titus 1:7, 11, KJV

"Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;"
1 Peter 5:2, KJV

Jesus Christ freely gave Himself on the Cross for the sins of the world, in order that we might freely obtain Eternal Life. And He commands us to freely share His message of Forgiveness and Salvation with the dying world as well. Who are we then to begin to sell the Gospel, and to offer Salvation for a price, whether it be for a monetary price, or by telling others that they must belong to our church or to our group or denomination, in order to be truly saved? As I point out in the series "Elijah: Where Are the True Prophets of God?", the latter is elitism, and nothing more. Consider the following verses:

". . . freely ye have received, freely give."
Matthew 10:8, KJV

"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"
Romans 8:32, KJV

"And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely."
Revelation 21:6, KJV

"And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
Revelation 22:17, KJV

Returning to the theme of MP3s, recently -- circa 2000 -- I started what is known within the online Hotline community as a tracker. A tracker is a piece of software which, when run, allows other Hotline server administrators to publicize their servers to the worldwide Hotline community, by having them listed by name, IP address, and description on the tracker, so that potential visitors can easily find and connect to them using the Hotline client program. My primary reason for doing this, was to hopefully increase my server's exposure to the Hotline community, by offering a useful service to other Hotline server administrators, as well as to emphasize the positive, productive side of the Hotline community to the world.

As anyone who is familiar with the online Hotline presence will already know, the vast majority of over two thousand Hotline servers are anything but clean, and anything but legal. From unlimited pornographic materials, to literally thousands of full-working versions of commercial software, to hacking and cracking programs, to serial number generators and lists, to programs for scanning ports and breaking into other computers, to applications to message flood, ping, load viruses and trojans, Hotline offers this and much more. It is the world of the online anarchist. It is the underground of the Internet. Is it really any wonder then that Hotline has acquired such a negative image in the public eye? Ironically, it is this very image which has increased its popularity, and attracted users worldwide since its introduction in 1996. The general mentality of the average Hotline user -- who is more than likely a teen or pre-teen male, is "Why pay for it when I can easily get it for free on Hotline? Software companies charge too much anyway."

So as I stated a moment ago, being a Christian, from the onset, I decided that I would do my best to operate as clean a tracker as possible. Naturally, this would exclude any servers which carry any of the aforementioned items. Upon implementing a set of filters in a program called "Hotfind", I soon discovered that out of the over two thousand Hotline servers worldwide which might be online at any one time, five hundred or less gave the appearance of possibly being clean; at least by their descriptions.

As I began to visit some of these remaining servers which had passed the initial test, the number dropped drastically. This is because while their server description did not contain any words or phrases which might indicate the presence of porn or warez, this was definitely not the case. Many of them, in fact, did. I suspect, but cannot prove, that some of these admins purposely left telltale words out of the descriptions so that they would not be detected by search bots, or by the search engine built into the Hotline client program itself.

To my dismay, after visiting and carefully examining some of the remaining five hundred or so servers over a period of a few days, I was left with perhaps a dozen servers which I felt met the necessary qualifications, in order for me to invite them to join my tracker. If you are wondering why the number of qualifying servers dropped so drastically from the initial five hundred possible candidates to only a handful at best, in addition to the fact that their descriptions did not fully reveal what was found on said servers, I also applied a stringent set of guidelines as well, in order to ensure that I operate not only a clean tracker, but one which will also stay out of legal trouble as well. To make you aware of these rules, allow me to share with you a part of the "Armageddon Tracker Membership Info" file:

----- Begin Quote -----


In order to be listed on the "Armageddon" tracker, you and your server must meet all of the following criteria:

1. Absolutely no pornography of any kind, or any material which seeks to exploit or degrade women men or children in any way. If you carry it, don't even bothering to apply to our tracker.

2. Absolutely no "warez". This is defined as any commercial software of which you are not the legal, registered owner, or of which you do not have the legal right to make available to others on your server. Time-limited demos are permissible if such a clause is included in the distribution license of the vendor in question.

3. Absolutely no serial number generators or lists.

4. Absolutely no [k]racks. That is, programs which are specifically designed to remove the time limit on demo commercial software, so that they become fully functional without a legally-purchased serial number.

5. Absolutely no programs which are used to ping flood, message flood, create denial of service attacks, spoof names or IP addresses -- wingates -- scan someone's hard drive, or perform any other function for the purpose of disrupting or seeking illegal entry to another person's computer or Hotline server.

6. Absolutely no material which caters to, or which encourages people to become involved in any other illegal activity or act of violence; such as the creation of bombs, credit card fraud, illegal cable use, long distance phone call fraud, etc.

7. Due to their questionable legality at this current time, and because I experienced a problem recently with a few of my member servers, MP3 files and other audio and video clips are no longer acceptable on our members' servers. While some of these files may be legally distributed for free, trying to determine which ones can be, and which ones cannot, is simply too difficult, and too complicated of a task. Plus, I do not have the time to verify such things. Thus, all such files are out. This includes MP3s, QuickTime files, RealAudio files, MPEG files and other similar formats. The one exception to this rule at this current time, are third party free MIDI files.

8. Absolutely no message spam bots, such as, but not restricted to, MessageBot 3000, MessageBot 5000, mbot 666, mbot6.6b6, etc.

9. Absolutely no material which encourages one to delve into the occult, such as, but not restricted to, role-playing games, Harry Potter books, or any other medium such as video clips, movies, books, PDF files, or text files which promote Satanism, Wicca, shamanism / spiritism, sorcery, witchcraft, and the invocation of spirits. The Bible heavily condemns such dark practices. Please refer to my KJV Bible Verse List regarding the topic of "Necromancy and Spiritism".

10. While I was more lenient in the past, due to a problem I had recently, I have decided to not allow any games on the servers which are listed with my tracker; particularly RPG games, which delve into magic, witchcraft and sorcery, or games which are filled with violence, whether it be through the use of army tanks, jets, guns, laser beams, land mines, torpedoes, or any other form of weapon. Such games are filled with blood, guts and gore and teach absolutely nothing positive. While other types of games may be more "innocent", the complications involved in making sure that our server admins keep their word, and only carry decent games, is much too time-consuming of a process, and I don't wish to become involved in it.

As far as I am concerned, computer games are a complete waste of time anyway, and one could find much better, and more constructive things to do with his or her time. In my home, I don't have a single computer game. In fact, the only game I do have is Scrabble, due to its educational value. Even then, I very rarely ever play it. Neither do I own a television set. I am simply too busy doing my work for the Lord to allow myself to be distracted by such worldly things.

11. Absolutely no material which encourages or promotes any other ideas or practices which are in conflict with our Christian faith. This includes any type of file which caters to oriental or pagan religions -- such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Wicca, Witchcraft, Druidism, etc. -- or which promotes atheism.

12. Also restricted from the Armageddon tracker are the following:

a. Commercial servers such as, but not limited to, software companies, and website design companies.

b. Servers which require visits to banner websites in order to obtain log-in names and passwords. I accept only free, open servers where no accounts are necessary in order to view all files. How do I know what you are really offering otherwise?

c. Admins who have multiple servers operating from the same machine using different ports. Some folks have as many as fifty or more servers! These are normally get-rich-quick schemes which supposedly offer you piles of "goodies", if you click on the banners at their website, or on their server, in order to add profit to their pockets. Some also force you to sign up with a particular mailing list, including teen porn mailing lists.

d. Servers which use services such as ClickDough, BeFree, AllAdvantage, and other money-makers.

13. While I recognize that it is difficult to keep all profanity out of the news and public chat area, being as it can be a very time-consuming process, you must endeavor to do your best to keep such language to a minimum in both areas of your server. Employing the use of a bot, and banning the heavy offenders usually gets the point across.

----- End Of Quote -----

At this time, I would like to draw your attention to point number seven above, as it relates to the title of this very article. What actually caused me to change this rule, was a problem which occurred, involving several servers which I had already admitted to our tracker, some Christian, while others not. After several days of negotiating with a certain Hotline server administrator, and going as far as I could in order to accommodate his needs, I was forced to remove him from my tracker, because he refused to abide by the requirements I had set. Dissatisfied with my decision, and obviously very upset about it -- his last email message to me was filled with criticism and hatred -- he decided to visit the servers which were listed on my tracker at that time, in order to try to find fault with them.

After doing so, he wrote to me again in order to complain about some of the contents he found on several of the servers. As it turned out, I had already expressed my concerns to the admins of these servers, because I was not comfortable with some of the MP3s and other audio and video files which they were making available to their visitors. Rather than remove the questionable files as they should have done, they did their best to convince me that the files were safe and legal to have there. On another server, it was also a matter of some games which contained a large degree of violence. For the record, I was not aware that these files were even on the server in question, and was surprised to find out that they were, because it is clearly written in my membership file that they should not have been.

Well, in the case of the audio and video files, instead of standing my ground as I should have, I softened up, and I allowed these admins to persuade me against my personal convictions. Thus, because of my weakness, and because of my compromise, I had my first complaint lodged against the "Armageddon" tracker. Not only that, but the person who wrote to me, accused me of being a hypocrite who did not live up to my Christian principles. Even though the files were not found on the "Armageddon" server, because I operate the tracker, I was being blamed, and my ministry was being judged. As I told these particular administrators, people automatically assume that I must condone something, even if it is found on their server; because what I allow them to carry, is viewed as a reflection of my personal morals and principles.

As I explained at the beginning of this article, the legality of MP3 files is currently being debated by the government, and two camps with opposite views have already polarized. So what is my position at this current time? Allow me to say the following from the point of view of one who might possess an interest in Christian MP3s: There is a popular adage which states that "two wrongs do not make a right". In other words, just because the Contemporary Christian Music industry -- and other types of Christian ministries -- is selling God for a profit, does not give us the right to steal their work. In my view, that is precisely what we are doing when we download their music from a Hotline server, from the web, or from any other place, without paying the same price as honest people normally do. We do not have their permission to own these files, or to distribute them to others; and we are basically stealing money out of their pockets, regardless of how worldly they may be. As the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians:

"Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth."
Ephesians 4:28, KJV

As I told some of these admins, they could wait until the MP3 issue is decided by the court, and then act accordingly. But if we as Christians have to wait until a worldly court of law tells us what is right, and what is wrong, when we already have the Word of the Supreme Judge, which clearly speaks to our hearts, then we are truly in sad spiritual condition, and we are purposely looking for a way out, so that we can do what we want to do, regardless of what His Word instructs us to do. We are purposely attempting to find a way to resist the conviction which God has already placed upon our hearts. Let's be honest. We all know what is right and wrong, because as Paul also points out in his Epistle to the Romans, God has already written His Laws upon our hearts. Some people refer to this as the voice of conscience. Consider these verses:

"For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)"
Romans 2:14-15, KJV

In fact, in the Old Testament, the Lord tells us through the Prophet Ezekiel, who prophesied and wrote during the time of the Babylonian captivity, that this is exactly what He was going to do with His people. The Apostle Paul was obviously aware of the following Divine Promises, when he wrote the previous verses:

"And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:"
Ezekiel 11:19, KJV

"A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh."
Ezekiel 36:26, KJV

As you may recall, it was because the people of Jerusalem and Judah were in a very backslidden, apostate condition, even offering their young children on the sacrificial altars of the false gods of their pagan enemies, that the Lord caused them to go into Babylonian bondage. This was the Lord's way of crushing their stoney, rebellious hearts, in order to put back in them a humble, submissive spirit. You can read more about this topic in the articles "The Fruits of Disobedience" and "The Children of God and Politics", to name a few. So because we already have God's Laws written upon the tables of our hearts, etched their by His Spirit, just as they were first etched upon two tablets of stone by the very finger of God several thousand years ago, we must now manifest His Will outwardly in our lives, by being His living Epistles, as the Apostle Paul also wrote to the Church at Corinth. We must yield ourselves to God's Spirit on a daily basis. Again, I discuss this topic more in depth in the series "So You Really Think You Are So Humble?", as well as in "Are You Crucified With Christ?". Consider the following two verses:

"Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart."
2 Corinthians 3:2-3, KJV

When people look at us as God's living Epistles -- and they will examine us, just as a proofreader carefully examines a manuscript or newspaper checking for errors -- exactly what are they going to see? Are they going to see an example of good Christian living? Or are we going to bring reproach to the Cause of Christ? The Apostle Paul admonishes us to live godly lives, so that no matter how much our wicked enemies may try to find fault in us, we will still come out spotless and blameless; and our lights will still shine amongst their gross spiritual darkness. Again, consider these verses:

"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;"
Philippians 2:12-15, KJV

Now, allow me to ask you a simple question. Exactly what is one of the Laws which God has written upon the fleshy tables of our hearts? How about this one?:

"Thou shalt not steal."
Exodus 20:15, KJV

Only four simple words, yet how many of us fail to live by it one hundred per cent of the time? Is it possible that we are guilty of telling others how they should live and act, when we do not even do it ourselves? Jesus Himself exposed this very same sin of hypocrisy when He confronted the Scribes and the Pharisees in Matthew chapter twenty-three. It was shortly after this that they hung Him on a Roman Cross; but Jesus said that they retained the greater sin, even though the Romans executed the crime. Consider the following verses:

". . . The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not."
Matthew 23:1-3, KJV

"Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin."
John 19:11, KJV

Please go to part two for the conclusion of this article.

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