A Clear View Concerning Christian Contemporary Music
Trends in “Christian music” have always been a point of contention amongst believers. The spectrum of what is acceptable in churches is broad and diverse. Some separate music into specific genres such as Bluegrass Gospel, Southern Gospel, Country Gospel, Christian Rock, Christian Rap, Christian Contemporary, etc.
Some Christians categorically condemn a particular genre, but fail to scrutinize specific songs within a genre of which they approve. For example, one may criticize Christian Rap, but see nothing wrong with Sothern Gospel. One often criticized genre is what has been called Christian Contemporary Music. However, the definition of contemporary has little to do with style. All music written that is current to our particular era is contemporary to us, even the most conservative and traditional in style. I myself sing music and lyrics which I have written, making me by definition a contemporary artist to this era. Even Amazing Grace was contemporary to its time period when it was written. Many individuals today, create many styles of music, secular and Christian, all of which are contemporary by definition. Therefore, contemporary does not equal wrong.
It's Not About Us
When churches err regarding music, it is usually regarding style or structure of the music. Many of today's so-called Christian music composers and writers incorporate the sounds, rhythms and beats of what their contemporaries in secular music are doing. Perhaps the theory is that if they appeal to the interests and tastes of the world, the world will listen to their music and be exposed to the message. When this happens, worship is replaced by self-service. The end does not justify the means.
With this understanding in mind, a church must avoid using music for corrupt motives. Worship has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with God. If music is selected solely because of its appeal, then we have spent our energies in the wrong place. While I believe it is possible to use music that is appealing to, we must be careful that the appeal is not to the carnal and sensual nature of the old sinful man. It is also wrong to use worldly music as a lure to attract young people to hear the Gospel. That would be akin to a doctor using unhealthy foods and candy to lure folks in to have a check-up or treat them for a heart condition.
Furthermore, adapting or imitating the worldly music of Rock and Roll, Country, Rap, Hip-Hop, Blues, Reggae, and Punk is dangerous. The effects of these styles are evident not only in the lives of the performers, but also in the listeners as we see the values, morals, and character of our society crumble before us.
Much of what secular society creates musically appeals to the carnal nature, including the sensual. A painter may pick up a brush and create a picture that appeals to and evokes our emotions in ways that are acceptable and pleasing to God, but he may also with the same paints and brushes create something that appeals to our darker, sinful side. Even if he laces the painting with pictures of a cross or paints inspirational statements on the work, the painting still corrupts the eye of the viewer. Such is the case of the musical art form which attempts to deliver an inspirational message through a corrupt conduit. It would be like drinking pure spring water through a tobacco pipe. Instead of developing “friendship with the world” to win the world, we need to be more like Christ, so as to sanctify him before the world rather than have “enmity with God” (James 4:4).
Moses was commanded by God to “speak to the rock” that God might minister unto the people the water of life. However, Instead of obeying God and sanctifying Him, he became more like the angry mob who was accosting him and he spoke “unadvisedly with his lips” to the people. This cost him the privilege of leadership of God’s people into the Promised Land. God still gave the water though, in spite of Moses choices, but he judged Moses for what he did. We need to be careful that we eschew evil rather than companion with it in order to avoid the judgment of God.
The "New Cart "of Worldly Music
David allowed Israel to use a new cart to transport the Ark of the Covenant back to its rightful place after it was held by the Philistines. Previously God had given specific instructions regarding transporting the Ark. Completely ignoring the "Word of God," David and the people used the NEW way of transporting the Ark. When the ark began to shake and tip, a concerned Uzzah, reached to steady it and touching it, he died. This tragedy would have been avoided had they simply obeyed God. Furthermore, the blessings of God were detoured from Israel for 3 months while the ark with its blessings went elsewhere:
So David would not remove the ark of the Lord unto him into the city of David: but David carried it aside into the house of Obededom the Gittite. And the ark of the Lord continued in the house of Obededom the Gittite three months: and the Lord blessed Obededom, and all his household. 2 Sam. 6:10-11
Some Christians have ignored God's warning about the world's new ideology and methodology and surmised that the "new cart" of worldly music is a safe and efficient way of transporting God's message. They have ignored the dangers of disobeying God and the consequences which follow by finding friendship with the world and enmity God.
It's the Word of God Not the Works of Man
Most importantly, songs are not the “Word of God.” They cannot replace the Gospel, nor do they increase the effectiveness of the preaching of the Gospel. Those who reason that we must resort to music that appeals to the younger generation in order to reach them, have accepted the notion that the Gospel is somehow inadequate and must be enhanced. This thinking debases the power of God’s Word to effectively save the soul. In addition to this, we are commanded to go into the highways and hedges. We are not supposed to use devices of attraction and allurement to bring people into God’s house.
While music may contribute to the edification of the church and set the mood of hearts in a particular service, no music, or poem, or program is a contingency for reaching the lost. It is the preaching of the Word of God alone that reaches into the heart to enflame the soul with righteous indignation and condemnation.
What about the Message?
More and more as we progress towards the close of time, the "Message" becomes more of a "mess." The doctrines of the Bible concerning sin, repentance, God's Wrath, and salvation that once permeated man's worship music have been watered down and corrupted. Even when the worldly beats and rhythms are not present, we are presented with a fare of feel good, non-judgmental, lyrics that neither reflect the God-man relationship nor proclaim our worship towards him.
Doctrinal errors abound in a number of songs, and words are put into God's mouth by the writers that are inconsistent with His Word and teachings about Himself. Some so-called "Praise and Worship" music reflects a god that does not exist in the revelation of scriptures. These messages, while they may proclaim Christ as a Savior, ignore the wrath of God towards sin and his teaching about separation. Ecumenism has replaced God's warning about unequally yoking ourselves to the worldly crowd. Doctrine is considered devilish because it promotes and establishes divisions of God's people from those who err from the faith.
We must closely examine all that is offered to God from us to insure that we offer only that which is pleasing to Him. Whether or not it pleases us is irrelevant. Make sure that the words are doctrinally sound and do not speak on behalf of God. Finally, consider the sound of what we offer. Is it decent and orderly? Does it sound like the devil’s crowd? Today, like never before we need to see who wrote the song if possible. Songs written by two well-known homosexuals are sung regularly in our churches. If you do not know who these authors are and what the songs are, you should. Let us always strive to encourage incorporation of music that does not imitate or adapt to the carnal or sensual music of the world. May we always honor God with our talents and our praise to Him, especially in his house.