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An Exclusive Interview for Keystone by Don Gillespie

Honeytree (Nancy Henigbaum) is a prolific songwriterand singer. Her fifth Gospel album is about to be released. Mike Warnke, ex-Satanist High Priest, has a powerful testimony of how Jesus changed his life. During their recent joint tour they discussed contemporary Christianity with Keystone.

 

KEYSTONE: Nancy and Mike, you're both heavily involved in the contemporary scene. Sometimes people outside that scene don't or can't quite grasp what is happening.

HONEYTREE: Well, there's a whole contemporary culture in the States; it might be small, but it's there. '

MIKE: It's powerful, too. You find that people in that subculture are super committed because most of the people there have come out of another subculture such as drugs, and I guess, like the word says, those that have been forgiven much, love much. I think that has carried on into the contemporary field, because most of the people there really have a reason to love the Lord. That's not to say that those who have been raised in the church don't love the Lord, I think it's just a matter of intensity.

HONEYTREE: There's an individuality to young Christians. They're realising, just as we are, that in order to be Christians we don't have to be just like people used to be, but we can find our own expressions. It's a cultural expression.

MIKE: It keeps the Lord current. Jesus was definitely a man of His time and I believe Jesus is a man of my time and in order to be a Christian I don't have to follow john Wesley, for example.

HONEYTREE: Yes, but you can learn from and respect and honour John Wesley.

MIKE: Absolutely.

HONEYTREE: And realise what he was doing and that he was a contemporary man of his time.

MIKE: That's right. The history and background of all we have done go to make up what we do, but we don't have to live in the history. In order to be an Aussie, you don't have to run around in a flop hat and have been convicted of a crime and transported from England. That all goes to make up your history and makes Australia what it is today, but that's not what Australians are like now. Americans used to wear three-cornered hats and run around with muskets shooting at Englishmen, but we don't do that now. I think we've made two mistakes. One is that some people are just too contemporary; they want to take all the traditions that have kept the church alive through the centuries and pitch them all out the window. !n other words, throw the baby out with the dishwater.

HONEYTREE: Bathwater, I think ...you don't put the baby in the dishwater.

MIKE: Depends on how dirty it is!

HONEYTREE: On, I see...

MIKE: "My baby has gone down the drain hole...'anyway, the other thing is that the traditionalists say that unless we live in the past we are not living holy. They say holiness is something from a bygone era, because the world we live in today is so wicked that nothing of this world could be holy; that you can't possibly be related to this world and be holy.

HONEYTREE: A good example is to say that rock music is of the devil, and the only music that is sanctified came out of the thirties or forties, or the revival that happened years ago. That's a prevalent sentiment, but it doesn't really hurt us because the people we're reaching aren't interested in that opinion anyway, so it makes no difference.

MIKE: If you came out with "L... Thank.... God.... for.... the.... Light.... House...." they'd just turnoff. The guys that
are singing "I Thank God for the Lighthouse" say, 'What's the matter with you? Don't you know that the only way you can sing for Jesus is to have four-part harmony and do it with a harpsichord?' The people we're reaching don't hear those sort of comments because they're not around to hear them.

HONEYTREE: We also fellowship with a lot of Southern Gospel music people, and we realise that they have their ministry and they're reaching a certain part of the population we'd never be able to communicate with. The other day we had a seminar about communications at church, and a lady raised the question: How could she communicate with young people? Did she have to dress as they did, and so on. The conclusion we reached was that nobody had the responsibility to communicate with everybody; you just had the responsibility to communicate with who God wanted you to reach. He has enough people around to communicate with different kinds of people. The interesting thing is that when you are true to your own call, it spills over into different places. Mike and I have a message for young people our own age, yet I find the Lord uses me to minister to children a lot, and many older people like my music. I didn't really write anything for either of those groups, yet it somehow spills over into those areas.

(Honeytree's latest album, The Melodies In Me, will be released shortly. Mike Warnke is also preparing for a new album, and he is currently writing two books, one on contemporary music called 'Tis Blessed To Boogie, and another titled Letters To Those Who Live On The Edge, both to be released soon.)