Stop Singing “Healer”! It’s Like Robbing Your Friends.

michaelOne of the things that churns my stomach the most is blatant attempts to deceive the church. I don’t care if it’s traveling evangelists, TV preachers,  pseudo-Christian music artists, etc. If a pastor’s goal is to deliberately pull a con on churchgoers, diluting the gospel in the process, I’m sorry – there’s just no excuse good enough. (Matt 18:6).

What’s the story? Well, to give the short version, Rev. Mike Guglielmucci faked having cancer over a 2 year time frame where he accepted huge offerings from huge churches for his “treatments”. In addition, he wrote the mega-hit worship song “Healer” which was featured on Hillsong’s “This is Our God” album in 2008. According to Wikipedia, when the scandal was exposed the song was stripped from the Hillsong album which was remixed and rereleased without the song.

When Mike was confronted and exposed, his primary excuse was “Pornography made be do it.” (See videos below.)

But my grievance in this post is not with Mike Guglielmucci himself (although what he did was awful). I’m actually more upset with all the churches all across the United States, and the world, who know the story behind the song and yet still continue to sing it in church. It’s just jaw-dropping.

The church my family and I currently attend is one of the seemingly millions of congregations that are still singing this song on a regular basis. It really bugs me. Every time the music start up and the words come on the screen I get this sick feeling in my core. I immediately think “Mike is probably smiling right now as he’s cashing another one of his fat royalty checks.”   ** see update below **

There are two main reasons (“Excuses”) why people still sing this song even though they are fully aware of its origins and this controversy.

  1. “The words are so good, we can just overlook the source”
  2. “Everybody makes mistakes, Mike is only human”

“The words are so good, we can just overlook the source” – I guess my response would be like this. Should we start writing Christian worship songs based on “good passages” in the quran? Of course not! That would be a huge mistake. “Good words” is not good enough. The source IS important.  As I’ve asked before, would we serve to our dinner guests water glasses filled with water from the toilet? Absolutely NOT!  The source is extremely important.  So it is with worship. Even if the words are good, love songs written by drug induced or satanic influence should not be used in Christian worship. And neither should songs written for the express purpose of deceiving the church body.

“Everybody makes mistakes, Mike is only human”  – No, I’m sorry, a mistake is “oops, I accidentally spent children’s fund money on repainting the baptismal.”  An elaborate 2 year scam that soaked believers of possibly millions of dollars in donations and song royalties is NOT a simple “mistake”.

The Friend Robber

OK, here’s the real likeness.  Imagine one of your friends came up to you out of nowhere and offered to give you $2000. You instantly respond by saying “Of course! Give me the money.” But soon you get curious and ask “Wait a minute, where did all this money come from?” As it turns out your friend somehow obtained the account and pin numbers for the bank accounts of all your other friends. Over time, he was able to extract thousands from the accounts and now just wants to share some of the cash with you.

Well, the above scenario is bad. Very bad. If you were a decent friend and human you would at very least say “Wait. That’s deceptive and wrong. I want no part of this.” So it is with “Healer”. it was created and funded under extremely scandalous circumstances and with malicious intent.  The Body of Christ has been and is being damaged by this act. So why, why, why, why, why, why are we still singing this song in church?

Watch the Videos

While you’re Watching this video, think about the fact that this guy isn’t actually sick. (And try not to get sick yourself.)
Here’s a news story about the scandal.

 

The Big Question.

Can Mr. Guglielmucci be saved? Sure, Paul was saved and he even killed Christians in his early years. If Mike has repented before God… we very well may see him in Heaven. And I will be very happy to see that happen. But that’s still not a good enough reason to reward his actions here on earth by singing his song in our churches.  There are many other great songs about healing. Please pick a different one.

Your Response

What do you think? Am I missing something here? Comment below and let me know what you think.

 

** Update (July 2013):  It’s been brought to my attention through one of the comments below, that the royalty rights for the song in question were “diverted to charity” and are not actually being received by Mike. Although I haven’t verified this personally, I have no reason to believe it isn’t true.

  • paul

    Just read your post and thought I’d share this other one I read that I really liked. Hope it answers some of your questions: http://www.reformworship.com/2008/10/why-i-like-mike-guglielmuccis-song.html
    I liked his perspective and have come to agree with it! I didn’t know this was the back story to this song until yesterday…
    blessings,
    paul

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  • Rob

    Paul, thanks for the comment. I appreciate your thoughts. Even I have softened a little on this topic since I wrote this post last year. A little, not a lot.

    I read the article you suggested and agree with much of it. However, I respectfully disagree almost completely with the final conclusion. I sincerely hope to see Mike in heaven, and I wish him all prosperity in a construction (or computer, or engineer, or whatever) job. But he has disqualified himself for formal ministry (in my opinion). But even more importantly, why would we praise and give credit to the very object (song in this case) he used as his deception that damaged the Body of Christ?

    Matt 7:16 clearly lays out that we need to judge people and ministries by their fruit. We have a responsibility to do that. We can’t give points to people because they claim to be reformed. Talk is cheap.

    And his point about “we all live the illusions…” is terrible logic. “Don’t judge him, because you’re not perfect either.” Using that logic, we could never apply any standard of holiness to any situation or ministry. It’s just laziness. Maybe we should stop doing background checks on our children’s workers too? Yeah, I don’t think so.

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    dan Reply:

    Philippians 1:15-18. i think that pretty much sums it all up. no matter the person’s motives, no matter their goals… all that we rejoice in is that Christ is being made known.

    when i sing this song, i’m not singing to glorify mike, i’m singing to Christ, to glorify and honor him. i just don’t understand why the hold up on this song, yet nothing on psalms, anything by solomon or moses, shoot, by everyone except christ in the bible. the bible is littered with people who did great things for God but who failed in so many ways… but I don’t have a problem using their stories or the words they wrote to glorify God. and what about all the other songs he wrote before this incident? should no song that he wrote or played music for ever be used? or is it just this one song because it was what came out from this particular period in his life?

    i get that you just can’t worship to this song, nothing wrong with that… there are a few “old classics” in church that i just cannot worship to simply because they never say Christ, Jesus, God, anything of that sort. and there is nothing wrong with that because that is my conviction. all mine. but i don’t tell the church or people, “you shouldn’t sing those songs because i have a problem with it,” or “why doesn’t it bother you as well?”

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  • Joel

    Hey there mate. What I write here is not meant to be divisive, but is just my experiences and thoughts.

    I was a witness to much of what went on with Mike Guglielmucci, I live in Melbourne and attended many of the Planetshakers Conferences that he spoke at and played and lead the worship at, including when he “had” cancer. I was there when he performed Healer live at the Shakers conference in Melbourne.

    After finding out what really happened, I felt betrayed and mislead and this was heightened cause I was still pretty young.

    I know you wrote this a year ago but considering your point on the song; for quite a while I couldn’t listen to it after the news broke out, but when you think about it, every person who has ever written a song is a sinner.

    Worship music is no different. Everyone has sins that they struggle with personally. It was a shame that Guglielmucci’s was revealed in such a public manner.

    My point is; would you stop singing a worship song that was written by an adulterer for an example?

    It is a touchy subject cause I know I felt like he damaged the church’s reputation. Planetshakers is one of the biggest church’s in Melbourne and I think its a great example of why leadership in the church needs to be taken seriously.

    If you feel like you can’t worship the Lord through this song, then don’t. There are definitely people who can worship God with it. Its really about your heart.

    This song isn’t sung at my church, but if I attended another church that played it, I wouldn’t hesitate to sing as I trust that God can, and is glorified through it.

    God Bless mate.

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  • Rob

    Joel, Thanks for the comment.

    I hear what you’re saying. We all have sinned. I’m with you there. No question.

    But this situation is very different than somebody simply struggling with sin. It’s a willful, strategic, intentional, purposeful attempt, by a ‘minister of the Gospel’, to defraud the church body. It’s a prolonged targeted attack on the character of the Body of Christ. And on top of being immoral it’s also highly illegal.

    Forgive… yes. Continue as though it’s okay and nothing happened… absolutely not.

    Just my opinion.

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  • Jordan

    I am a worship leader at my church, and I still sing this song from time to time for three reasons:

    1) It is God exalting and true.
    2) I don’t ignore the Psalms because David committed adultery and murder. I don’t ignore Daniel because Nebuchadnezzar was an evil king. I don’t ignore Proverbs because Solomon was an idolator. The fact that God used such broken people to write these adds to their value and displays His greatness. Sin is no excuse to reject truth.
    3) Mike was prophesying his own healing with the song. Before the song, he had hidden sin. After the song, he came clean. I think that’s a pretty redemptive scenario. When I sing the song, it is a message of repentance to me.

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    Rob Reply:

    Thanks Jordan,
    I guess it just feels sort-of like letting your wife’s high-school sweetheart dance with her at your wedding reception. There’s nothing technically wrong with it, but really, why? Why allow it? I mean, even if he’s a super great guy. Even if the wedding is officially over, you’re married, and he’s obviously not going to try and steal her away from you. Still… it just feels wrong. And everybody in attendance is feeling that too. It’s awkward at best.

    It is true that distressed character in great men is a theme weaved throughout the entirety of Biblical text, and that God uses sinful people to accomplish His will. But I can’t think of one single case where God allows His people to stop and actually glorify the object of their rebellion and sin (like we’re doing with this song). If we were using the Bible as an example, the expected response from Michael, in the case of “Healer”, might be a statement something like this: “I have sinned. I have brought shame on the Gospel of Christ through my actions. Please stop singing this song immediately as it is a constant reminder to me, and the world, of my sin.” But of course, we didn’t hear that at all. We heard “I’m sick, but I am getting healing, please overlook this and keep sending me royalty checks.” (forgive my sarcasm)

    I say let’s just move on. There are so many other great worship songs that don’t have “scandal” and “fraud” written all over them. The church’s complete inability to discern and prune ourselves is the reason we are largely powerless in this generation. Our absolute indifference towards our own sinful actions makes us a laughingstock to our peers. We won’t see another move of God in our nation until we hate sin (again).

    Also, see my comment above (from Oct 30th). That still applies.

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    Stefan Reply:

    Interesting analogy about the ex bf but it is not entirely correct. We are talking about a song that was writted/produced by a person who was suffering and struggling with personal issues. So to compare apple with apples it would be more like eating a slice of cake baked by the ex-bf. He may have baked it for all the wrong reasons but it doesnt detract from the fact that the cake is still delicious.

    The previous poster’s analogy about the Psalms and Proverbs rings true that while the writer of it is flawed; the product in itself has intrinsic value. The words and message is biblical and serves as a reminder of hope and that God heals. I believe the true problem lies in the listener. If the listener is still harbouring unforgiveness and his or her bias chooses to label a song (yes its just a song inanimate, neutral and stragely in this case, actually contains words that are very sincere and scriptural with no hint of malice) as scandalous or fraudulent. He/she has every right to but let us seperate the writer from his works and judge them accurately.

    To be fair, it is not the absolute indifference towards sin that makes us a laughing stock; it is the fact that the christian army is the only army that shoots its own soldiers when they are down that makes us non christians shake their heads at out holier than thou attitude. We speak of grace and forgiveness but when its time to walk the talk we rather choose the easy road to condemn first and make those that fall suffer.. its sad.

    Hate sin but love the sinner for Christ died for them too.

    The bible documents the life stories and writings from and assortment of bible “heroes” consisting of cowards, adulterers, murderers, cheats & swindlers who found redemption at the end. And yet, the writings contained in the Bible speak with such authority.

    I’m sorry if you still want to hold on to the chip on your shoulder but the reality is this: As long as the song glorifies God, is scriptural and brings people closer to a loving saviour; there is no reason why it shouldnt be used in services.After all most of our traditional hymns were infact tavern drinking songs but sung with new lyrics.

    You may have a point about Royalty though..buteven then, I havent passed a bucket for royalties to be paid out during services and cell groups for a long time.

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  • Smoke

    What he did was despicable. And I haven’t fully read the comments. But if we are to call ourselves Christians, have we considered for a moment that this song could be prophecy of his comeuppance and that he knew the gig was up… that he knew God was in charge and would play the BS card when the time was right? Christ hasn’t told me to have ill will for anyone. He has taught me to look for him in others. Mike screwed up, but I also hear his cry for help.
    I’m one of those “idiots” or whatever you might like to call us that play his songs. I’m a Christian. I also used to be a drug user and I struggle with alcohol still. And in this song I hear my own battle. Don’t hate on it because you hate one man’s act. Appreciate what this could do to help others. I believe that God is,in fact, my healer. If I didn’t, what kind of believer would I be?

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  • jerome

    Hey there,

    Just stumbled upon this blog after re-reading and watching some documentaries and info on Mike.

    Just wanted to clear up that as soon as he came clean he (and his family & lawyers) made sure that the royalties for the song were diverted to charity.

    It was obviously one of the first things they put in place for the reasons you have brought to light.

    I think it’s so important in these situations to make sure you know the details about what’s gone on so that you can make informed opinions.

    Peace,

    Jerome

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    Rob Reply:

    Thanks Jerome, I will amend my post to reflect this information.

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