A Plea to David Cloud

by | Mar 19, 2017 | Commentary & Observations

Cody McVey recently shared this article on his Facebook page, taking the author to task for what Cody viewed as self-righteousness, referring to such authors as “modern-day Pharisees; they are more detrimental to the Kingdom than we realize.”

The article, titled A Plea to the Clark Family, was written by David Cloud, who heads a ministry known as Way of Life Literature. According to Cloud’s (I assume self-written) biography on the WoL site:

The aim of Way of Life Literature is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and to exalt the truth of His Word in this apostate hour through doctrinal preaching and carefully documented research.

In the aforementioned article, Cloud takes to task a family group based in New Jersey. Why he singles out this particular group, I have no idea. No offense to the Clark Family, but they are not necessarily a nationally-known group. Even McVey admits, “I don’t know the Clark Family personally, but after reading this, I would encourage you to PLEASE go buy their records and support them.”

The only reason I am familiar with the Clark Family is because I stumbled upon their music while working on my Brand New Day project several years ago. One of the songs I recorded had also been done by the Clark Family. Their arrangement was, shall we say, on the traditional side. In fact, the entire album from which that song came from was VERY conservative – no drums anywhere on the project, very little bass guitar, with primary instruments being keys and synth strings. The vocals were likewise very conservative (I’d venture to say almost mechanical). If any group I’ve heard in the last five years characterized “traditional” or “conservative,” the Clark Family would be it.

Mr. Cloud, however, feels that they have journeyed too far into “contemporary” music with their more recent recordings, and takes them to task for nearly every song they’ve covered, not because of the style of their own recording, but because of who wrote and/or performed the song originally. To Cloud, simply having a connection to a contemporary artist is too much, regardless of how the song is presented.

One of the members of the Clark Family told me that since “we sing our own vocal style and record our own tracks using instruments we feel appropriate” that they are not building associations with the authors. But that is an impossibility in this day and age.

To read Cloud’s analysis of these songs is like playing Seven Levels of Kevin Bacon. He starts with the Clark Family’s recording (and the album on which it can be found) and works backwards through the original artist, then to the original authors, giving us what he feels are damning evidence of those artists’ and authors’ heresy (basically, anyone who does not adhere to Cloud’s own fundamental Baptist teachings):

…building bridges to contemporary people the likes of Brian Free, Ricky Free, Jeremy Johnson, Joel Lindsay, Tony Wood, Mike Schultz, Jody McBrayer, or Billy and Cynthia Foote is unscriptural and dangerous.

What is so unscriptural and dangerous about the folks singled out by Cloud? They are CONTEMPORARY Southern Gospel music, and according to Cloud, if you listen to “contemporary Southern Gospel you are listening to CCM. Contemporary Southern Gospel is merely a branch of the larger world of Contemporary Christian Music or Christian rock.”

That must be why there are so many southern gospel categories at the Dove Awards….

What is somewhat ironic about Cloud’s article, however, is that not only does he call out an otherwise conservative regional gospel group for recording songs he feels are inappropriate, but he also includes YouTube links for the original versions of these songs, as well as backgrounds on who originally sang them (in the name of research, I’m sure). For someone who is so against such music, he sure is able to pull up all kinds of information about it, and has no problem sharing it with everyone.

Now, I’m not one to come down on another person’s convictions. If David Cloud truly believes that only one specific style of music is acceptable as worship, ministry, or evangelism, then I would hope that he adheres to that belief with any music he does indeed sing and/or listen to. That being said, after reading through some of his website, I get the impression that there is less evangelism involved than self-righteousness, and dare I say even some bitterness. There is plenty of somewhat snarky rhetoric found throughout the site, and even in this lone article, Cloud is sure to insert his own backstory of salvation and why he feels he is correct over everyone else. I find a large amount of condemnation and very little love and humility.

As for the group at the center of this article, the Clark Family, I will simply link to their website here and allow you to decide if they are falling into the “dangers of contemporary Christian music and contemporary Southern Gospel,” as Cloud puts it.

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Kyle Boreing

Kyle Boreing

Kyle has been writing for MusicScribe since 2008. He is a musician, producer, arranger, and occasional quartet singer, who pays way too much attention to recordings. He is an alumni of Stamps-Baxter School of Music and has shared the stage with many different artists. He also really likes movies that are "so bad they're good." Visit his website at kyleboreing.com, or follow him on Twitter @kyleboreing.


  1. scottysearan

    While some may call me “Phariseetical” I do feel that some Southern Gospel Singers are destroying SGM by being too “Progressive” so to say with their music.
    I will not name any groups.
    But I do thank God for the ones that try to stay pure to their SGM roots,
    There are some promoters, even though they have helped us not to forget our heritage in SGM, have also caused a compromise in the SGM in the name of Progressivism which is a form of liberalism.
    If a group wants to CCM to an audience. Record a project for that group. If they want to sing SGM, sing it, but let leave the Progressive off the project.
    I don’t want to buy a project with Progressive music on it when it is supposed to be a SGM project.
    I don’t buy a lot of SGM anymore, because of this.
    Appealing to the Progressives has caused the downfall in our churches and our country.
    There is a lot of noise but no more power in our churches because Progressiveness.
    This is from my heart and the way I believe.

  2. David Bruce Murray

    I would be curious to hear some music that Cloud likes. With his rules, can there be any that would qualify?

    And to Scotty, I would say there is a huge difference between being a nit-picking Pharisee like Cloud has proved to be over and over down through the years and having a preference (or even having a conviction) about what style of music is right or wrong.

    • Darrell

      With Cloud’s rules, simple 4-part acappella singing would be about the only kind of music that would work.

  3. yankeegospelgirl

    Practically nobody under the age of 35-40 would recognize a single person he named as “contemporary…” Also it’s Mark Schultz. LOL.

    • Kyle Boreing

      Not to mention, Jody McBrayer is currently part of Cana’s Voice, which is closer to southern gospel than CCM in terms of audience….

      • scottysearan

        Cana’s Voice is what I would call Progressive SGM. They sould a lot like the CCM of the late 60’s and early 70’s.
        They maybe what a younger audience calls SGM, but to an old audience, I don’t think so.
        I am 64 years old.
        This may prove my point.

        • Kyle Boreing


          With that being said, you seemed to also prove a point of mine. You don’t like “progressive SGM” because you’re older, and only the younger generation likes it (going by your logic). And that’s fine. You are entitled to like what you like.

          BUT….does that mean that some thing you DON’T like is inherently WRONG? Or is it just a matter of personal taste? It seems to me that at least you recognize that, while you may not like something, it’s not necessarily BAD. David Cloud, on the other hand, seems to think if he doesn’t like it, then it must be BAD or EVIL.

          • Scotty Searan

            NO that does not mean it is bad or evil, because I don’t like it.
            I will not go into it right now, but there are some theatrics in SGM & CCM that I believe is more entertainment than worship.
            I have a problem with more emphasis being put on ENTERTAINMENT than WORSHIP singing SGM & CCM.
            I am a firm believer that it should be about the MESSAGE not the MESSENGERS.
            This is where I think it becomes BAD or EVIL.
            I believe this is also evident in PREACHERS today.

  4. Kyle Boreing

    Back in the Middle Ages, minor chords were banned for being considered “evil.” That meant that all music was forbidden from having minor chords anywhere in it. Obviously today, we have minor chords and major chords in nearly every composition.

    I wonder….does that mean that folks in the Middle Ages were wrong about minor chords, or is that just an evil that we have allowed to creep into our music??

  5. JM

    I really, really wish someone would take Cloud to task on this. I would love to hear defense of CCM done intellectually. Most of what I have heard is just calling the opponents oldies, fuddy-duddies, self-righteous (which I agree is also the case), or if it is moderate and kind, it still devolves into “this is what they say – I do this now.”

    Don’t we deserve better conversations than this? I know this can be done, but I am not the person to do it. I would like to see it argued.


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