On Christian Contemporary Music and Christian Rock

"The disciple is not above His Lord. If we want the joy of Christ, we must do what Christ did. For Him, satisfaction was not the result of finding some Christian pleasure to compete with the world's pleasure. It was not a question of being entertained by church performances instead of secular performances. Christ does not compete by promising a religious equivalent of what the world offers, pleasure for pleasure. It is completely different. The pleasure of Christ is the will of God and its enactment. No dance, no concert, no sensational movie can compete with winning a soul for Christ". – Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke.

Communications experts tell us that the words of something comprise about 7% of the total communication content. Even more is communicated via the tone of voice and via the Body Language. Musical performers communicates an attitude as well as a spirit. It is not just what is said, but the way it is said that is important. Often it is an attitude of worldly pride, or rebellion that is communicated. Some of the dancing in church these days would be fit for broadcast on MTV. And young people love that, when they are in the flesh. Doesn't matter whethere they are Christians or not. Sex sells.

Sometimes the message of the way something is being said communicates more than the words. It is possible to say, "Glory to Jesus" with your mouth, while your whole demeanour is saying, "Aren't I awesome?!". I have seen two kinds of brilliant guitarists in the church. One is humble and not trying to attract attention to himself. The other kind is just posing. Everything is done for effect.

Some music ministry, even worship ministry today claims to have Almighty God as the chief object of worship, yet the real admiration is going to the musicians. You can go to Christian concerts where it really looks like the people are worshipping the band! But this hardly seems to be a concern today. Its being done in the name of Jesus, after all, so it must be OK, right?

In the book of Acts Paul and Barnabas spoke a word and a crippled man walked. This happened in a city called Lystra. The people thought they were gods and started to worship them. Paul did not take this in his stride. He did not smile smugly, thinking how wonderful and godlike he really was. No, he and Barnabas tore their clothes in dismay and ended up getting stoned. Acts 14:14

What would happen if a modern rock band upon seeing the adulation of the crowd began to tear their clothes, broken-hearted that perhaps some soul was attributing to them what belonged to God alone? Can you imagine that happening? Perhaps an even greater frenzy would erupt in the crowd, especially amongst the younger teenage girls. Either that, or the promoters of the concert would soon pull them into line. Give the people what they want, right?

Naturally speaking, I enjoy light rock and a lot of pop music seems pretty melodious and catchy. God however, wants our every thought to be made captive to the obedience of Christ. That can't happen in me while some other words of dubious value are buzzing round in my head repetitively. Music was made primarily to praise and worship God with. Beautiful music can give us a sense of the eternal, but only God delivers the substance. A lot of Christians prefer being entertained to worshiping God. This preference has now carried over into our church music. There's tonnes of hype, and not a lot of power.

There is contemporary Christian music worth listening to, but if it is, its because those who play it are people of prayer with a passion for God. But how many are? You can be popular and successful in wordly terms even as a Christian minister without truly being on fire for God. It seems to me there is a mixture of spiritual influences in so much of the CCM scene – God hates these mixtures. A lot of CCM is so wishy-washy because its trying to soft-pedal the name of Jesus. They cannot and do not recommend holiness of heart and life.

You hear the artists complain 'Do we have to bring up the name of Jesus in every song?' Well, what is the motivation for avoiding the mention of His name? Are we ashamed? So many are trying to demonstrate that they are "cooler than thou". If you challenge this attitude, most likely you will be told you are 'religious' as if such name-calling proved anything.

Unless you are really far from God, most CCM won't draw you any closer to God. The music we listen to should praise God or deeply challenge us to live for Him. This is because we are in a spiritual warfare and the battle for our minds is real. If it doesn't draw you to God, drop it and replace it with music that does. Some things that may be alright at first – even things that may have encouraged you – may be holding you back from really focusing your mind on the things that will set you free. This is a matter of conscience between each believer and the Lord, but the fruit of what we love to listen to is showing in the church today. I have a Christian friend and an outstanding guitarist who writes very stirring music for the Lord. He tells me he hardly ever listens to much music himself. God has allowed people to use music as a tool for drawing a crowd of young people to preach to them. Music is also used in many crusade settings, to praise God, and this is fine. However, its my view that this is not the optimum in God. I never see anything like this in the book of Acts. This method of evangelism is used because we are not producing the signs and wonders that follow those who fast and pray for revival, and believe in God's promises enough to boldly step out and expect something to happen. But hey, we can be thankful if by any means some are coming to know the Lord. I would like to say though, that if 'knowing the Lord' is going to be more than a Christian cliche, its going to mean a denial of self in order to seek out God's Word and God's Spirit, not just an emotional high by whatever means.

I personally believe that there are dangers in the modern approach of using groovy music to draw the masses. The attitude it is played in is really important. Let's have talented musicians, with a humble attitude. God can bless that. Until people learn to really pray, much of what I am saying probably won't be received anyway. I do not believe that this rock and roll strategy with its accompanying attitude has been used anywhere where there has been a real revival of purity, holiness and humility. But if God does use it for such a thing, I would be delighted to be proven wrong on this issue.

Music is an idol for many, because it can make you feel better whether God speaks through it or not. Musical talent seems to be a passport to influence. One evangelist told me that he sang and produced albums because that was the only way he could get into some churches. And he was anointed! But if you play popular music, you can get influence in the church whether you are anointed or not! Should the standard required be higher for preachers than for those who may be having far more influence into the lives of young people – the musicians? I have had some personal experience with this and I still ask the questions.

A lot of the material put out by the CCM crowd is designed to appeal to pleasure-loving, carnal Christians. In the last days, the Bible warns, "men will be lovers of pleasure .. having a form of godliness (Christianity) but denying the power thereof" (2 Timothy 3:1-5). The true power of God comes through the cross. Not the cross as worn by pop icons such as Prince and Madonna, but the principal of (painful) death to the world and the flesh in order to sacrificially devote oneself to God and His pleasure. In a world which worships music and musicians, we Christians must beware of falling into the same trap. Without practising self-denial in this area, we will not grow in discipleship with Jesus Christ, but instead, we will learn from other masters. Jesus said, "if anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself".

John Wesley pointed out that the self-denial means to deny oneself any pleasure that does not come from God, or lead to God. I don't believe in the simple rules men have devised to categorise whether a particular style of music could be of God, but I am convinced that much of the church today has opted for man-pleasing and pleasure-loving in the service of Mammon. If entertainers have become the prophets of the church today, then we should expect the highest standards of christian morality from them. Does the fact that someone can play the guitar brilliantly or sing well mean that God wants to put him in a place of prominence in His church? I don't think the message of a true prophet of God is that God wants us to have more fun, to be more cool and things like that. The true message is still "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."

Music as a Tool for Evangelism

One man who did play contemporary style music and who did live a life of dedication to God was Keith Green. He died tragically of an airplane accident back in 1982. He did a lot to reach his generation for Christ, to stir up a passion for holiness and a zeal for missions, but it wasn't by being a carnal compromiser. He said a lot of crazy things like "the definition of a real Christian is someone who's bananas for Jesus". I recommend his music to those Christians who still need to come to the place where they are living for God.

Anything can be used for evangelism, but God wants our hearts to be pure and right, and our expression to be an expression of the nature of Jesus Christ. Those devoted to heavy metal and hard rock have a look in their eyes totally unlike that of Jesus Christ. Why would a real Christian want to look like they do? We are told to "avoid the appearance of evil, " (1 Thessalonians 5:22) not to look as evil as we can to attract sinners to the Lord. Are we now wiser than God?

I've talked with plenty of people who see rock music as a tool of evangelism. Some I've known quite closely. They still had the look of hurt and rebellion and seemed to be inwardly tormented individuals. Rock music has always been strongly hedonistic in nature, and doesn't transmit peace. How suitable is it as a medium for the "gospel of peace"? Yes, Rock Music can attract people to chuch meetings. But then again, so did the Emporer Constantine when he brought a flood of paganism into the church and gave birth to the Roman Catholic/Orthodox church power structure.

"The wisdom which is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." (James 3:17,18).  To me, even the style of rock music communicates agitation, restlessness and distraction. Its proven to be the perfect medium to promote the spirit of rebellion against God. Is Christian rock pure? Is it peaceable? Is it gentle? It is only because we the church in the west have abandoned the wisdom of God that we find it necessary to use the method of rock music as a tool of evangelism. Like the Israelites who used some of the Canaanites as servants instead of slaying them, we too have been more tolerant than God, and more pragmatic than God also. This is one reason why the church today lacks convicting power and seems to need all kinds of gimmicks to avoid boring people. We want to fascinate, rather than confront. I'm telling you, when God is there in power, its highly relevant to your personal life, and it has nothing to do with the presence or absence of gimmicks. Paul experienced God in a horrible prison cell. He didn't even have a radio.

What are we feeding on?

If we as Christians feed our souls on Christian Contemporary Music we will only be slightly better off than had we fed them on the music of people like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Fleetwood Mac and so on. There's a pleasure-seeking spirit in most of this music. People listen to it, not to hear from God, but to feel good. There's nothing wrong in itself with feeling good, but the pursuit of pleasure will not fill your soul with God. Its true that there is a pleasure, there is a joy in God's presence, and anyone who doesn't have this is missing the mark seriously. Yet the mere presence of goose bumps on one's flesh does not mean that music is anointed by the Holy Spirit. I've had goose bumps while tuning into ungodly secular pop/rock music too. There's a basic lack of discernment in the church today which we all suffer from to a certain extent. One of the consequences of this is that people think that God's anointing is on everything done in the name of Christ that makes them feel good. Actually, that's a pretty dangerous way to think.

Some make a case that all CCM and Christian Rock is fleshly and we have no business listening to it. Its true that a lot of compromise has entered this billion dollar industry in the last 20 years. To see this, I recommend the Dial the Truth Ministries site which exposes a lot of the vile garbage coming out of the lives of popular Christian entertainers today.

I am prepared to say that anyone who listens to CCM more than they pray or read the Word is in idolatry. Because most church-going young people don't find pleasure in prayer or the Word like they do in pop music, it seems like the Christian Music Entertainment business will continue to rake in far more money in America than the cause of world evangelisation amongst those people groups that have never heard the Good News. That's a reflection of our pleasure-loving hearts and our lack of sympathy with Jesus Christ. May God help us to change.

When musicians play their music, the spirit that is on them is transmitted to those who listen. This is true of preachers also. The church has exalted those with money and talent and they have imparted their spirit to the rest of us. I am not against electric guitars, drums or synthesizers, but no amount of feel-good music will benefit our souls – if those who play it publicly are not sold-out in their dedication to Jesus Christ. If we living lives of prayer and fasting then our hearts and the words which issue forth from them will touch God and draw people to God. Our music will exalt Christ and people will come to him. Its hard to exalt Christ and strive for a cool image at the same time. As John Wimber said, "Coolness is a jazz musician's euphemism for pride." In a lot of so-called Christian concerts, its pretty obvious that the artists are being worshiped. Some of them receive this worship even while telling people to give glory to Jesus.

I've never seen the genuine power of God for signs and wonders operate in a Christian rock concert type situation. Maybe you have, I don't know. Sure there is plenty of emotional energy in such settings, and it may be that many people will respond in some way to the message also. Hopefully, the musicians themselves are sold out to God because if not, like produces like, and the reality of God won't be seen. What is built on soul power and hype will not last. God is merciful and will use whatever occasion we give him to lift up the name of Jesus, but I am still hoping that there will be a return to apostolic evangelism methods in our western culture and we won't lean on the arm of the flesh to make things happen. But for that to happen, we need an army that will pray and fast and boldly preach until men shake like leaves and turn back to the living God. Do I sound like a voice in the wilderness?

Michael

What do YOU think?

comments

About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

Comments

  1. ToBeEvergreen says:

    I feel as if rock music has “rocky” (haha) roots, but that these days, not all of it is the same, and cannot be grouped into one big bag labeled, “Deviant! Watch out!”. I do think that some people like quiet music better. That’s fine for them, they relate to it well, and it can still bring them closer to God. But just as rock can bring people further away from faith, so can “softer” genres. Those songs that practically ooze lust, that champion those who steal, cheat, lie.
    Music can be used as a tool for good and for bad, but the issue is more complicated than black and white. There is grey in between, and of course our personal preferences get in the way. “This music makes me uncomfortable” turns into “There is something wrong with this music”. It’s just like how in the olden days, those who were poor were thought to be of fault. But of course, we know that it’s more complicated than, “They were sinful so God made them poor” now. Looking for this deeper understanding in our everyday lives may be beneficial for us to grow spiritually.

    When I have strayed from my spirit and therefore my Lord, I often use Christian rock music as a tool to get me re-focused. Often after a certain song hits home, I will be in tears and pray as the song goes along. And this is in songs of all different genres- rock, punk, alternative. The instruments’ intensity is emotion, which yes, is sometimes angry, but acts as a release for anger. Sometimes the power of the music, the drums, the guitar is Happiness. I see music as setting a mood, and I do not see any fault in that. Sure some people go too far with idol worship, but this is not a GIVEN.
    The Lord Almighty has never whispered in my heart any dangers concerning the music I listen to- rather I feel closer to Him and more prayerful in it. I felt positively alive the other day when listening to POD’s, “Set Your Eyes to Zion”. And from moments like that, I like to thank the Lord for my life, for music, for everything.

  2. This is really not that complex. The problem is, as Michael said “The battle for our minds is real” or something like that. Our problem is that we often refuse to accept that we might not be in as much control over what we internalize as we like to think we are. My two cents: if ANYTHING has a hold on you or anything closely resembling one, to the point where you even have 1% of a hard time letting it go, you probably shouldn’t be holding it. What does the Word say? If your EYE causes you to sin, put it out; it’s better than your whole person going to Hell. Is there a song you don’t see yourself living without? How ridiculous is it to be holding on to A SONG/TYPE OF MUSIC, GOSPEL OR NOT at the expense of a relationship with the God the song claims to proclaim himself?

    The inevitable question arises: But what else should we listen to? As G Craige Lewis said at one time: God.

    People of God, God is a God who wants us to listen to Him: the songs are all well and good for worship and praise, and as someone posted, it is indeed used often in the bible to stir up the soul for worship-but He does speak directly to us-if we are not distracted by anything….but as silly as it may sound, we should be careful that we don’t put them (songs/music/emotional crutches) in place of a relationship with God Himself. If you have a relationship with the LORD himself, then the signs and wonders will follow you quite easily. 24 hours a day. Prayer will be much faster—with no mental effort whatsoever.

    As you pray, the answer will be coming. It’s impossible to put into words, but anyone who would “help the Lord speak to them” would do well to examine themselves.

    You will not feel the need to hear a particular song or type of music to feel His prescence. He will be with you always. Sometimes, you will even hear Him tell you to put the song off and hear what He Himself is telling you.

    You get the idea. He is just waiting to unleash this and more unto you. You will kick yourself for waiting so long!

    Take out the ear-plugs, turn off your PC/ipod and pray. Pray with all that is within you to the n-th power. How far you’re willing to go will show how badly you want it. He is all you ever need. Indeed, he is MUCH MORE THAN YOU COULD EVER NEED.

    Why am I still typing?! Give it a try. You’ve made Him wait long enough! 😉

    In The Name Above All Names,
    K.

  3. Cutekitty says:

    I’m 15 and am listening to christian rock. My mother and father only had a problem with the screamo version of christian rock. My dad said that its from the devil because people possesed speak that way. Unfortunately, I have seen some posers like Underoath who “say” they’re christians but their music makes no sense and hardly speaks about God. But they’re are bands like Demon Hunter that talks about God in their songs and scream at the same time. Would it be okay to listen to the screamo’s or should I stick with the suttle, outspoken christian bands?

    • Pickelboy says:

      I really think that any Christian Music that we listen to should have unity and cause us to act normal. There have been studies that have proved that scream-o rock can tense you up and cause you to not concentrate. Personally I listen to some december Radio and Sanctus real so I really don’t think I could give you much help on the Subject. I think that you should respect your parents opinion and try to work out a compromise. that’s what I did with my dad. Anyway thanks for reading!!

      David, 14

  4. IneedJesusso says:

    This article and the other related lead article are both informing and interesting. It is I feel however a very complex issue you have opened. I have been listening to contempory Christian music of late and have found that discernment is key. Elvis sang some beautiful Gospel music for example and was a God loving man on all accounts, but for some his good looks and what some may say provocative dance moves took the eye off the prize, in so much as some were turned from Jesus to Elvis in an idol like way. This is a big mistake and not always a flaw of the musician him or herself but at times a flaw in the listener or looker in this case. I have looked at some contempory Christian rock and some CCR concerts posted on You Tube. Some of these bands, yes I agree are edging towards looking for worship from the crowd. Which is not a good thing, idol worship is an abomination to God. For this reason I prefer to listen to Christian music rather than watch it. I am at present mulling this over and by no means am I ridged in my views or closed to change or in deed challenge on these thoughts. I am asking God to guide me through this issue at this time. I myself am a mother of two sons 19 and 17 years old, and this is a current issue for me. I am at this moment coming to think that it is a complicated issue and should not be completely blanketed with one view or another, but rather discernment should be prayed for and applied on both the performers and listeners side. I noticed for example when first coming across Christian rock on You Tube posts, that many of the concert crowd look up to God whilst singing their Christian based song words. How can that be seen as band or idol worship? I myself of late have been listening to some of this Christian rock and sing along in praise. I can tell you in my experience,I have come closer to God through this. I don’t even really care what these bands look like as I don’t want to go down the road of idol worship. In fact I don’t even look at the performing band anymore I just listen and sing. It is possible in my opinion to come close to God in this way. We are all sinners and I myself would not like to be responsible for making judgement on those that are trying to bring Christian based music to the youth of today. Who am I to judge? Discernment is required in all walks of life. And should be used every time on a case by case basis. I do however wish some Christian bands would not take applause or praise for themselves. I don’t like to see praise go to humans that should be for God. Being a Christian is a learning process. Christ being our guide and light. In defense of these Christian bands I would say however aren’t we all guilty of not being perfect? How many times do Christians for example say amongst each other I will pray for you, only for the other party to say thank you. When really we should be saying thank God for his loving kindness and thank God for opening your heart for my prayer needs. I myself have stupidly done this without thinking. After all it is our Lord and God who does the real work and prayer answering, and gives us a heart for prayer. The point I am making is we should not be judgemental, but rather if possible point these things out so as these Christian bands can become better at bringing praise to God through their gifts, better able to reach and direct our youth in a positive way towards God. It does not mean that all bands such as this are evil as some may say or think, but rather flesh is ungodly and flesh always needs to be kept in check, through Christ Jesus. Perhaps it would be useful to try and get these Christian bands and concert organisers to understand that they must not take applause for themselves alone but rather openly give it up to God. I had before reading this article many questions in regard to this topic, I now feel God is helping me to sort this out in my head. Thank you article writer, articles like this help us to address these issues, so as to follow a true path to God and not get ensnared in traps along the way, and more importantly Thank God for his loving wisdom and for giving you the heart to address such issues. We all need to think, myself included about such things as correct worship and song and work them out with God and for Gods glory.

    • IneedJesusso says:

      I have of recent been praying on this subject and feel compelled to add to my above reply. I would recommend that anyone reading this article should also read the other article (posted on this site) titled, ‘Rock and Roll and Pop. I have reflected on this article and have since been drawn to Matthew 7:15 [A Tree and Its Fruit] “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves”. I believe this same scripture can be relevant to music. It in my opinion is worth considering at least. Consider the fact that not all musicians singing of God are led by the Holy spirit. Marilyn manson sings ‘personal Jesus’, Is he a Christian? Being honest I don’t know much about him, but his demonic looking appearance suggests not! I urge you also to consider the points made about songs by Michael Hutchence. It could in theory have wider implications. This article and the above article are very insiteful, and make me realise we really must be careful. I myself stick to music by known born again Christians and even then look for fruits, and any possible pitfalls. Even as a born again Christian it is possible to make mistakes, or get tempted by the flesh, resulting in lust or idol worship or worse. Thank God for the good folks that bring these articles, so as we can know and find the truth. Thank God for the precious blood of Jesus also, amen

  5. Although, I agree that there can be commercial abuse in any billion dollar industry, I think it unfair to lump all of any category of music all together as evil or to be avoided. Let alone 2 categories. Yes, we must be careful in all areas where the world has gotten a finger into the pie, but that in no way takes away from the fact that there is some awesome, worshipful music to glorify God that may be considered rock music to some, and certainly CCM.

    I believe that part of our job as Christians to to take back territory for the Lord and if you look at the history, what is commonly known as ‘rock&roll’ actually originated in the southern Baptist church and was used entirely to praise God. It was the enemy who stole it from God in the first place so it is part of the calling of end-time Christians to make full use of this powerful, moving tool, to take it back and glorify God with its full, proper use.

    Peace of One,
    John 17-21
    ☝ ✞ ❦

    Examples of God’s use of music in the bible is extensive, but perhaps my favorite use was in 1Sam16 where it is said that David’s playing cast evil spirits out of King Saul.

    • My exact position on this is hard to define. I believe the music style should be appropriate to what we are trying to say, and I believe that music is so powerful that we have to be careful about what we allow to dominate in our heads, no matter WHAT style of music it is and how Christian the lyrics are. I am not against all modern Christian music by any means, but I really believe it can easily be abused a be a barrier to our relationship with the Lord.

      Because this is somewhat a matter of personal opinion, it is easy to become legalistic and I may have crossed the line in my attempt to warn against something so subtle it is hard to nail. I like John Wesley’s definition of worldliness – worldliness is anything that cools my relationship with God. So the same music at some time might draw you to God, at other times I think it can hinder you. And what is most important is not the style, not even the lyrics, but the spirit of the musician himself. I have a musician friend whose music style I don’t much care for as a matter of personal preference, but he is definitely a spirit-led anointed minister of God, and God is using him. The fact that he still has time for me proves to me that his music is not an idol to him!

  6. I would like to join a church where the program caters to God.

  7. Hmmm..Im not sure that I personally agree. I listen to worship music because it does just that-it helps me to focus on God. Yes, it is possible just to listen to it for entertainments sake and I dont do that.
    Music is from God and it is used often in the bible to stir up the soul to worship. There is something about music that does this.

    • It is good if you can truly worship God using a wide variety of musical styles. This is a very difficult issue and its very hard to prove it one way or another. We need to seek what is most helpful for us.

Speak Your Mind

*

close
Facebook Iconfacebook like buttonYouTube Icon