Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How They See Us - Rock & Roll and Christianity

Dancing, jumping, shouting, slamming and moshing, that's what you do at a rock concert. From Aerosmith to 50 Cent, music is as popular now as it ever was. And with personal musical devices, it isn't slowing down anytime soon. Music, it seems to define generation after generation. I remember in Kindergarten listening to the Beatles new 45, "I Wanna Hold Your Hand". Then there was Woodstock, Southern Rock... then I lost track for a few years. Thanks be to God for Classic Rock radio!

So how is it that rock and roll has gained a place with Christians? After all the term "rock and roll" originally was a slang term for sex, not something you hear a lot about in church. Can God use rock for the Rock? Before I answer let me say this, you can find hundreds of web sites that proclaim rock and roll is the "Devil's Music." You'll also find a generation of young people that grew up in the church that listen to "Christian Rock", along with those that feel that the genre is simply the world coming in like a flood. So, which is it? Wimpy hymns and campfire songs in church or Hell? Why not Ozzy in church? I think the Bible is pretty clear on this... Why not Ozzy? Well I would have to say the content of the lyrics for anything song that I can think of would disqualify his music under the clause of "what is holy." The amazing thing is that Paul debated the issue and said "hey, don't do anything to causes you to sin.. or anyone else." He went on to say, "everything that is not sin is permissible, unless it causes you to sin." Thinking on things that are pure and holy is another good verse. Here is a good test. Listen to the Eagles "Witchy Woman" and then Listen to your favorite hymn or worship tune. If you are really honest with yourself, I think you'll see a difference. That's why Ozzy isn't a good idea for most Christians.

I have been a musician about the same amount of time that I have been a born again Christian; about 30 years. In that time I have studied the Bible and music, both of which I have some sort of degree in. In neither music theory or my biblical studies have I found anything the proclaims that the beat, or volume of a song is demonic. Neither have I found a scale, mode or chord progression that is either. What I have found is lyrics and songs inspired by the devil and others by God. I have also found a lot in between that isn't sin and isn't God. Here is an example of how I see it. Let's say what you listen to is what you eat. The demonic music (lyrics) are poison. Some of it will kill you fast and some will kill you slowly. Then there is godly music, whether it is worship tunes, hymns or Christian rock that makes you think about God, or want to know Him more; that's the health food. Then in between there is potato chips and pizza and Coca-Cola... all good in moderation, but potentially dangerous for some people. That's how I see music.

So, then how is it that we merge popular culture with Biblical principals? The church needs to be relevant. Because music has been a popular part of church services for eons, I think people expect it. If someone shows up at church and listens to Brittany Spears all week, chances are that a tearful rendition of "Nothing but the Blood" is not going to capture their heart. It might, but I doubt it. The church can't be like the world either, conversely it can't be so different that no one will show up. Have you noticed, church attendance is on the decline? Are we going to abdicate and blame that on the devil too? I am not a proponent of "seeker friendly" churches but I am not for any church that is not relevant. The church's job is to meet the spiritual needs of those that come (not to mention feeding the poor, caring for widows, visiting those in prison and preaching the Good News). Churches can't meet every need. If they could, we wouldn't need Jesus. People need relationship, council, and things that connect them to God. Music can do that. A good sermon can do that, but so can hanging out at the coffee pot. What music does is minister after the service. Did you ever get a song stuck in your head? What if it was one that reminded you that God loved you, died for your sins or something like that?

On the other side, the Bible says that that there is a great cloud of witnesses. Therefore we need to be careful how we present ourselves. People notice how we dress, how we speak and how we treat others. The Bible says that all men will see our good works and praise God. How is that possible if we act like jerks? How is that possible if we offend others? It is not likely. I am not suggesting that we be politically correct either. Just remember that tolerance is not in the Bible, but love and kindness are. Here is what the secular press thinks of CHRISTIAN ROCK, what do you think?

And the beat goes on.

1 comment:

Tevet said...

I like the food analogy. Very cool! I am gonna "steal" it and use it as my own. I imagine when my kids get older, the music they will wanna bring into the house will not be what will be played in the house.
Today this day, I still have lyrics from NWA, Metallica, Ice-T, Faith No More, Anthrax in my head that in no way edify my spirit. To me It shows the power of music and how spiritual it is. Derogatory lyrics of women, glamorized violence and spritual beliefs that contradict the greatness and love of Jesus still jump into my head from songs that I havent listened to in over a decade.
I think it is critical that we pray for these artists that are ministering to the Body of Christ as well as trying to reach those outside of the Body thru their music. Whether it is Praise and Worship or lyrics that share biblical truth in a "contemporary" manner, these artists are "doing" ministry.
I think its disturbing that Christian artists, whether their material is creative or a knock off of the current secular trend, have to defend themselves to the Believers and non believers alike.
I gotta stop before this comment gets too long.

I also like the line
"Churches can't meet every need. If they could, we wouldn't need Jesus."

Very, Very True

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