Archive for April, 2009

Contemporary Christian Music…What is it to You???

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

From Gladys Night & The Pips to Rev. James Cleveland

Ps 33:3 Sing unto him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise.

Atom’s “Contemporary Christian Music: What is it?” Site can be found at: http://ccmwhatisit.bizland.com/

What is Contemporary Christian Music?

Contemporary Christian Music refers to several styles of Christian music that appeal to people who live in today’s generation.  Praise and Worship 
music is written for use in church.  Christian Adult Contemporary music is written for inspiration and edification of Christian adults.  Christian Rock music is written primarily to inspire, encourage, and challenge churched youth.  Crossover music describes music written by Christian musicians with the intent of receiving airplay on mainstream radio stations.  Crossover music may or may not always be intended to relay an obvious Christian message but the lyrics are still consistent with a Christian point of view. 

Pop Christian Music? Should Christian Music be popular?

It is true that CCM is the fastest growing form of music in the country.  In the past 5 years Christian radio stations have multiplied faster than  any other format.  Christian music now accounts for one out of every 20 albums sold in this country (more than jazz, classical, and New Age combined).  The assumption is that “if its popular it must be wrong.”  Was Jesus wrong when He was popular?  His miracles drew the crowds; His message changed their hearts.  He was popular but He never sacrificed moral principle to get there.  In the past, Christian musicians have produced music more than 5 to 10 years behind the current style trends.  Today they are not only keeping pace with the styles but even creating new trends! Because of the greater variety of music now available many Christians are setting aside their secular tunes and checking out Christian alternatives. Even some non Christians are now willing to give Christian music a chance. But as long as the message in the music remains the same CCM will probably never make it to the top of the popularity poles.  Nevertheless, many are listening.  What an awesome opportunity now exists to not only minister to our own people, but to present the everlasting gospel to a world that is lost.  Let us make the most of it!

Isn’t Contemporary Christian Music worldly?Shouldn’t we abstain from the world?

In referring to the evil in this world, we most certainly must abstain from it.  The Bible clearly forbids us from sexual immorality, greed, gossip, stealing, lying, murdering, pride, prejudice, etc.  CCM preaches inexorably against all of these kinds of vises.  However, the Bible does not condemn culture.  Jesus, our example, identified with the culture of the common people of the day.  He spoke the same language, wore the same clothing, celebrated the same customs, ate the same food, and probably sang in the same music styles as those around Him.  “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”  (John 1:14).  From a historical standpoint it is well known that the Christian church had often been reluctant to accept organ, violin, and piano music into its worship because 1) these instruments produced “worldly” sounds and 2) they were not mentioned specifically in the Bible.  Years ago, in their zeal, members from one Southern Baptist church broke into the sanctuary late at night, removed the brand new “devil inspired” organ, and threw it into the bayou! May we learn from our past.  Meanwhile, let us seize the opportunity to transform  today’s world.  We can deliver messages of truth to them through the music they are used to, will listen to, and can understand.

That kind of music really makes me feel uncomfortable.

No doubt, each one of us has experienced music that makes us feel “uncomfortable”.  Let’s not stop here but ask ourselves the question, “Why?”  Is it because I’m not familiar with the music style?  Why do I feel suspicious toward it?  Let us remember that our feelings are not usually a safe guide.  Try asking more objective questions:  Are the lyrics consistent with Bible truth?  Do the musicians honor God?  Members of the early Christian church struggled with a very similar issue in regard to food.  Many felt very extremely uncomfortable eating food they knew had been offered to idols.  But the apostle Paul reassured them that this food was really ok.  A modern rendition of 1 Corinthians 8:4-9 in the context of music might read something like this:  “So then, about questions regarding contemporary music styles:  we know that the world’s idols are nothing and that there is no God but one… But not everyone knows this.  Some people are still so accustomed to contemporary music being ungodly that when they listen to contemporary gospel music they associate it with evil, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled.  But our choice of music styles does not make us more holy…”  Are you willing to feel uncomfortable for the sake of the gospel?  What an opportunity we have to set aside our own personal feelings and allow others to be blessed!

Doesn’t the Bible condemn Contemporary Christian Music?

The Bible contains “everything we need for life and godliness”  (2 Peter 1:3).   However, even Christian rock’s most animate critics admit that the Bible contains no mention of a single evil music style or sound. Music was certainly around from the beginning of time.  But although it was used to promote both good and evil, by themselves the sounds of the music are and have always been entirely neutral.  In spite of this, more rules defining which music is acceptable and unacceptable have been contrived than there are music styles. Shouldn’t we use the same criterion for judging music that we use for everything else: “To the law and to the testimony”?  The Bible presents some descriptions of music that are, surprisingly, somewhat similar to today’s rock music:  loud, lively, and intense.  Here is what the Bible says about music: 
“Sing unto Him a new song, play skillfully with a loud noise.” Psalms 33:3 
“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth; make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.” Psalms 98:4 
“Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; praise him with stringed instruments and organs.  Praise Him upon the loud cymbals; praise Him upon the high sounding cymbals.  Let everything that hath breath praise the LORD, Praise ye the LORD.”  Psalms 150:4-6 
“David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, cymbals and trumpets.” 1 Chronicles 13:8.

The Ten man made Commandments On Christian Music

(Please Note:  The following 10 assumptions are satirical only) 
 

I. The beat must not be dominant or be too fast (cuz the devil liveth in the heavy beat). 

II. It must not have too much syncopation (cuz the devil hideth in the irregular rhythms). 

III. It must not be “rap” or “rock n’ roll” (or whatever is new and popular). 

IV. The music must contain no distortions and the electric guitars must not squeal. 

V. It should not make me want to dance like david; if it does then it’s wrong. 

VI. The music must not be more dominant than the words (but if it’s classical then it’s ok).

VII. You must be able to identify every word the first time through. 

VIII. The words must be straight from the dictionary    (i.e. no “ooh”s, “ah”s, “la la”s, “sha na na”s, or “oh ya”s). 

IX. You must not put religious words to a secular tune as did that man Rev. James Cleveland!!! 

X. It must sound “Christian” (to me that is). 

“Their worship is worthless, for they teach their man-made laws instead of those from God.” Mt. 15:9

(A condemnation of music style is found nowhere in the Bible. Whenever it is presented from a heart that honors God it is very good.)