That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life...
Philippians 2:15-16a

Friday, July 23, 2010

Music Part 3

This is my last post about music.... at least for now :).  I could spend a good many blog posts on music, but I will refrain.   My next post is going to be less heavy stuff, and maybe even have a few pictures.  That would be a change now wouldn't it?   I hope you enjoy Music Part 3.

I've heard all the arguments in favour of contemporary Christian music. 

"Music is neutral."
"A particular instrument can't be 'wrong' because it's an innate object."
"It's about the lyrics, not the type of music."
"Music is simply about personal preference, so I can't make a judgement for or against a particular style."
"The Bible doesn't say 'Thou shalt not listen to pop music.'"
"It's about the heart, not about what kind of music you listen to or use in your church service."

There are more arguments, but they all are basically saying the same thing.  What Christians are really saying when they use these arguments is this...
"Leave me alone.  You can't judge me.  I'll listen to whatever music I like because I like it.  I don't really care what the Bible says about music because I'm not going to give up my favourite band."

Why are so many Christians so sensitive when it comes to music?  We like to hear hard preaching on sin.  We like it when the pastor stands in the pulpit and slams the homosexuals, abortionists, evolutionists, adulterers,and murderers.  What we don't like is when the preaching hits closer to home.  The fact is that many Christians get defensive about their music because they know inside there is something about it that is not God honouring.  But the flesh is winning the battle, and they don't want to confront something in their own lives that might be sinful.  The flesh is very persuasive, and it doesn't like to loose!  

Perhaps one of the most often heard arguments in "defending" contemporary Christian music (CCM) is that it's not about the music, it's about the lyrics.  I've talked alot about the musical aspect of music in my previous posts, but let me say the lyrics are VERY important.  You can have a song that is God-honouring musically, but if the lyrics are about a false theology it will not please the Lord.    The fact that the lyrics should be pleasing to the Lord should go without saying!  There are some old-time hymns that I will not sing because the lyrics are not theologically sound.  Musically the songs are fine, but the lyrics and the music must BOTH be tried by Biblical principles.

Those in the CCM world who defend their musical styles by asserting that the lyrics are what really matters have missed the point.  Obviously I'm not going to sing a song in church about a broken romantic relationship (the subject of most pop songs), or that doesn't give the Lord the respect He deserves.  I have listened to alot of CCM music, and even by their own standard (good lyrics) the vast majority of it fails.  Most lyrics are shallow, indirect, and theologically flawed.  The use of pronouns in reference to God is almost universal in CCM.  God is no longer  Christ, Lord, Jesus, Saviour, or Jehovah, instead God is You and Your.  By referring to God in such generic terms it is often difficult to tell if the song is talking about God or about the singer's boyfriend/girlfriend.  I don't typically listen to the Christian radio station, but a few months ago I briefly turned it on in my car. A song was played that was written by a worship leader from a church in my town.  There was one verse (sung 2 times) and then the chorus which consisted of the lyric "You are good" sung over and over again.   Of course God is good, but why not identify Him by His name in the song?  Otherwise the good person could be anyone; a friend, a parent, a sibling, etc.  When did CCM performers become so afraid of referring to God by His name?  How would they feel if every time someone talked to them they addressed them as "Hey you."  Isn't that essentially what they are doing to God when they replace His name with a pronoun in their lyrics?   The Bible places great emphasis on the "name of the Lord" and here are some things that it says about God's name.
Psalm 8:9 "O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth."
Psalm 148:13 "Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent..."
Psalm 102:21 "To declare the name of the Lord in Zion..."
Psalm 113:2-3 "Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and for evermore. From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord's name is to be praised."
Psalm 124:8 "Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth."
Psalm 135:3 "Praise the name of the Lord; for the Lord is good: sing praises unto his name; for it is pleasant."
If we were to follow the biblical practice of singing praises to God, that would include praising His glorious, powerful, wonderful, holy, and excellent name!  CCM performers have robbed God of His awesome character when they do not honour and respect and praise His actual name in their songs.  Why would they want to do this?  I'm not trying to say every contemporary Christian song is like this, but the fact is that many are.
The theology of CCM lyrics are also filled with doctrinal error.  Many songs proclaim a works type of salvation.  Many proclaim a universal salvation (ie. a loving God would never send anyone to hell).  Many treat God with blasphemous disrespect by referring to Him in terms like "the big guy" or "dude".  Lyrics are shallow and non-specific avoiding topics that might cause controversy, such as the blood atonement.   In CCM songs you will find that Jesus' love saves you, that God will not judge your liberty, and that the Holy Spirit rains on you.    In fact it's Jesus death, burial, and resurrection that saves you;  God expects holiness, sacrifice, and service from the Christian; and the Holy Spirit indwells the believer at salvation, He doesn't rain on him at a later time.  Again, it's not every song that is doctrinally flawed, but many are.  There is much new music written that has good lyrics and good music; however, just because something is called "Christian" doesn't necessarily mean it is God honouring.  The believer must be wise and discerning and not just accept every song based on the fact that someone called it "Christian."

Words are important.  Music is important.  The two must agree if our music is to be God-honouring.   The CCM world is greatly motivated by money.  Their main concern and goal is to be popular and to make money. Unfortunately by producing music that appeals to the flesh and calling it "Christian" they have succeeded in making alot of money.  I've seen Christians obsessed with a band or an artist.  They buy all their CD's, download their songs, copy their fashion, and join their fan clubs.  I've seen non-Christians do the same thing with their favourite bands.  Clever marketing has made the CCM industry very wealthy and powerful.  What they don't want is people reading their Bibles and discovering that the vast majority of the music they produce does not please the Lord.  The CCM style of worship music as infiltrated the vast majority of churches today.  Sadly, many Christians do not even realize that the music they are listening to may not be honouring to the Lord.  They have been told by their church that it's Christian music, and so they accept it.  What we need are bold pastors, churches, and Christians who will take a stand against the CCM culture.  We need bold Christians who are not afraid to have a "new song" (Psalm 40:3).

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