MP3's, Commercialized Christianity and Christian Hypocrisy Part 1
Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics

Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
September 11, 2000

Last Updated :
January 3, 2009


MP3's 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, 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 MP3.com, 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 soon.
In the latest development, MP3.com 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 MP3's from such sites, that they
are engaging in illegal activities:

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

*** MP3.com loses copyright case

NEW YORK (AP) - A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the
Internet music-sharing service MP3.com 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 MP3.com 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
MP3.com, 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 8th:

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

JUSTICE SIDES WITH RECORDING INDUSTRY ON KEY ISSUE IN
NAPSTER COURT FIGHT

(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, thousands, if not millions of people, Christians
and non-Christians alike, are already in possession of copy-
righted musical material which they did not pay 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 Christianity;
yet this is precisely what the CCM industry, the powerful
American Bible publishing industry, the so-called 'abundant
life' 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 we received a letter from one of our
dear mailing list members; a wonderful sister in the Lord.
She wrote in part to us:

----- 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;
and we are living proof of that. All of our basic needs are
met. We lack nothing. There is no need for us 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 MP3's, recently, 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, 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 our 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
virii 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 pubic eye? Ironically,
it is this very image which has increased its popularity, and
attracted users worldwide since its introduction about four
years ago. The general mentality of the average Hotline user,
who is probably 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 our 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
we 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 our 'Armageddon
Tracker Membership Info' file:

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

CONDITIONS FOR ACCEPTANCE :

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 we experienced a problem recently with a few of
our 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 one can be, and which ones cannot, is simply
too difficult, and too complicated of a task, and we do not
have the time to verify such things; so all such files are
out. This includes MP3's, 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, such as are found on our 'Armageddon' server.

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 our KJV verse list on
the topic of 'Necromancy And Spiritism'.

10. While we were more lenient in the past, due to a problem
we had recently, we have decided to not allow any games on
the servers which are listed with our 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 we don't wish to become
involved in it.

As far as we are 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 our
home, we don't have a single computer game. In fact, the only
game we do have is Scrabble, due to its educational value,
and even then, we very rarely ever play it. Neither do we own
a television set. We are simply too busy doing our work for
the Lord to allow ourselves 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 promote 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. We accept only free,
open servers where no accounts are necessary in order to view
all files. How do we 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 such services as ClickDough,
AllAdvantage, BeFree, and other money-makers.

13. While we 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 our
tracker, because he refused to abide by the requirements we
had set. Dissatisfied with my decision, and obviously very
upset about it, (his last email message to me was filled with
criticism and hate), he decided to visit the servers which
were listed on our 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 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 MP3's 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 our 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, we had our 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 we operate the tracker,
we were being blamed, and our ministry was being judged. As I
told these particular administrators, people automatically
assume that we must condone something, even if it is found on
their server; because what we allow them to carry, is viewed
as a reflection of our 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 MP3's: 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 are selling God for a
profit, does not give us the right to steal their work; and
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 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?':

"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:

"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? Might we be guilty of telling others
how they should live and act, when we do not even do it our-
selves. 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:

"...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

In part two we will continue our discussion by looking at
such topics as offending God's sheep, obtaining permission,
rendering unto Caesar, stolen offerings, being subject to
the higher powers, when to resist, contending for the faith,
persecution, double standards, evil coming from good, two
wrongs don't make a right, Bible smugglers, commercialized,
American Christianity, luxury or necessity, the offensive
Gospel, America's ungodly youth, pray for me, satisfaction
of preaching the Word, radio music, television, VCR's and
MP3's, free through sponsorship, software banners, stolen
profits, and forming an opinion. I trust that you will join
me.

⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .


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