You are on page 1of 81

Used with Permission

The World, the Flesh and the Devil:

A Look at The CCM Controversy in the
Modern Church
©Eric Bolden, 2000-2006
What's the Problem with Rock?
"The World"
"The Flesh"
"The Devil"
So What Does All of This Mean?
"Scientific" Studies and "Natural" Effects
What Has Been Proven So Far?
Lively Music and Dancing in the Bible
Rejecting the flesh just as unscriptural as indulging it
The pagan origins of austerity
Is it the Old Covenant that's pagan; and Platonism God's 'spirit and truth'?
Preliminary Assessment of the Issue
The Spirit Behind the Music
Shallowness and Personal Experience
Subjectivity, Preference and Conscience
"Evil Communications" and Outward Appearance/"Appearance of Evil"
God's Creativity and The Development of Music
Behind the Criticism: The Quarrelsome State of Modern Separatism
God, Race and Culture
The Fear of Ecumenicism
Traditional Society and Causes of Rebellion
Standing Against Everything
Conclusion: A Word to the CCM Crowd
Scriptures on Separation
"Reaching the World"
Answers to Bill Gothard's statements on the fruits of rock
Summary of Logical Fallacies
Illustration of debate: "The Vicious Cycle"

The dispute over music styles in worship is being labeled a "battle", with "apostasy and
deception" in Christian music. Modern artists are being labeled "not our allies", "their
guns pointed at God's truth, not the Devil's lies"1, and are seen as "denigrating the
Church", and causing "division" and "fostering the generation gap" by setting aside
established traditions or "landmarks", in favor of their "rebellious" "selfish preferences".
Some label Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) a "golden calf" (idolatry) in the
Church. One Fundamentalist magazine features articles and book excerpts blasting the
"jungle beat"2, or "jungle sound"3, connected with the emotional "charismatic nonsense"4
pervading the modern church. Others even blame it on society's moral decay, which in
turn is said to lead to our national tragedies. (i.e. Modern preachers/churches have
"compromised", by among other things bring these "wicked" styles into the church, and
this has affected society from the top down).5 This is such strong language coming from
some Christians aimed at others, and all involving not major theology, but rather just the
sound of music! The CCM advocates themselves have taken a somewhat passive
approach in responding. Their basic answer was that "music is neutral", so we don't have
to take what these people say seriously. But the critics have answered this repeatedly.
Music is not neutral, but can be shown to affect people for bad or good. It is no
coincidence, for example, that a song like "Born to be Wild" is associated with fast
reckless driving. Another big criticism is that many artists have copied secular rock music
to the point that it hardly has any Christian distinctness. The CCM crowd hasn't really
answered this. They seem to be taking a "just ignore 'em; you can't convince them
anyway; it's a just waste of time" attitude. So they continue in the path that they're on,
and instead of the debate dying down, the critics seem to have gotten even louder and
more boisterous in their message, with some ministries churning out new books on the
subject every few years, all repeating the same things. The silence or repeated weak
arguments of the CCM crowd are proof to the critics that they are right, and that the
younger Christians are just plain wrong and know it, but are simply doing whatever they
feel like, in total disregard of God and His Word. Scripture tells us to rebuke Christians
who persistently live in open sin, and if it keeps up, to even regard them as unbelievers,
and this is what we are close to having happen in these "New" versus "Old" evangelical
controversies. But the truth is that the younger crowd is simply not convinced that they
are scripturally wrong, even though they may not be good at defending their stance. So
some sense needs to be brought into this issue which is causing so much conflict among
the brethren. Just what style is or is not compatible with Christian music?

1 Fisher, Battle For Christian Music, p 177

2 Mayes, Rev. Robert A "Christian Rock", Sword of the Lord, 12-12-97, p.12. Bob Jones University's Faith
for the Family article on "Child abuse" by Sword editor Hugh Pyle
( even mentions the "savage jungle beat"

3 Sears, Gordon: Apostasy and Deception in Christian Music; excerpted in Sword of the Lord, 10-2-98, p.9

4 ibid, "Editor's Notes" 2-6-98, p.7

5) See Dennis Corle Revival Fires magazine, 10-01

What's the problem with Rock?

"Rock music" has always been suspect to conservative Christians, albeit for good reason.
Taking a good look at the artists, their philosophies, messages and lifestyles, and even
how the sounds they produce may go along with rebellion, unrest and sensuality, I can
understand why rock, rap, disco and even blues have been associated with these things. It
is quite true that the rock, and black music industries have been among the leaders of the
sexual revolution, along with rebellion, drugs, and often violence and false religion, and
to this day the industry never ceases to add more and more sex to its lyrics and videos.
Even the term "rock and roll" is said to have originated as a slang for sexual motion. I can
very well understand why people would think these styles were the antitheses of
Christianity. However, the problem is their failing to state their concern and warnings
with love, rather than blasting the brethren and then trying to back it up with endless
arguments. Many fundamentalist circles are taking legitimate scriptural concerns about
music, and pushing them to the point of excluding much of Christian music except
"traditional" styles. Their formula is "If rock=rebellion, then Christian rock='Christian
rebellion'". The line of argumentation is:

Scripture teaches Christlikeness and condemns paganism, sensuality and rebellion. The
beats and rhythms used in rock music were created by pagans and used to convey false
religion and promote sensuality and rebellion.
Conclusion: The Bible explicitly condemns all forms of "rock" and related styles.

They start with various scriptures and then conclude that they rule out things by principle,
even though they do not say this. A whole genre of music is then treated as if the
scriptures forbid it as clearly as adultery and idolatry, and Christians who partake of it are
denounced as if they were living in such sins. My objection is not that I think that
everything out there is OK, but it's the argumentation that's really bad, and based on poor
logic that is often contradictory. Yet it is preached with such authority. Their emphasis is
on the world, the flesh and the devil.
"The World"

Separatists emphasize the "separation" of the "sacred" from the "world" in musical
STYLE. So from this, they conclude that only certain styles of music are "God's", and all
the rest are "the world's", and thus should be shunned by all good Christians, being totally
unacceptable to a holy God. "Separation" is the big word in the radical fundamentalist
writings. This is what has often been used to justify contempt for the world, and even
racism. It's true that 'separation' is a biblical concept, but the question is just how far is it
to be taken?*
The three main verses used to advocate this world-denying separatism are 1 John 2:15,
James 4:4 and Romans 12:2. However, these passages, according to their contexts, are
basically saying not to get too wrapped up in the things of the world that our relationship
with God and our brethren suffers. It can't mean total separation and rejection of the
world, because 1 Cor.7:33 associates marriage with "the world", for instance. (See
appendix, below for further discussion of these three scriptures). The truth is, the church
cannot be removed from the world and worldly things (which are always connected to
sin, rebellion, pagan worship, and other influences of the devil) to the extent these people
suggest, because the church is IN the world, else, as is pointed out in 1 Cor.5:10, "you'd
have to leave this world" (v.11 shows the "separation" he advocates is from false
brethren). The lifestyles of the Amish are the consistent application of this idea of
separatism, but the fundamentalists don't "separate" that much. How do they justify not
separating that much? The Amish must be taking it too far. This shows it is possible to
take it too far.
How can one possibly separate certain styles of music as "the new song" we're supposed
to sing in our "new lives", and then reject all the rest as "the world's music", when the so-
called "sacred" styles are made by people in the world, and they reflect a cultural style as
well? For instance, the horn and vocal arrangements in most of the "good music"
demonstrated in a fundamentalist class I attended all sounded like homage to some
medieval English king proceeding out of the drawbridge of his castle. There is nothing
wrong with this, because that is the way they worship, and they should reserve that for
the true King of kings. Yet that is derived from the world! And it is stained (associated)
with sin as well (conquests, corruption, etc. of the kingdom that used that style). Also, the
symphonic arrangement of newer worship music is derived from classical music which is
just as secular. (Yet, they say that classical is OK; more on this next).
A common charge against CCM is also the message being "shallow", meaning weak in
theology, and centered on personal experience, and the music as a whole being more
"entertainment" than anything else ("worldly" values). This is true in many cases, but
coming from critics who focus on the sound of music as being decisive, it itself is
shallow reasoning, tacked on to add weight to their argument against CCM. The biggest
double standard is the fact that the "separation from the world" logic with only God-
honoring worship music qualifying for listening by Christians would rule out all secular
music or music for enjoyment, yet, many of these people have said that the classical is
OK for Christians, and America's national anthems and various other similar songs are
also acceptable. So contemporary Christian music is bad, but traditional secular music is
OK! As they will later admit, the "world" does produce "acceptable" music. This is all
based, however on a totally different set of criteria from the above, and flatly contradicts
the "separation from the world" arguments, so we must look at the other arguments for
the real reason for this rejection of CCM.
*Fisher says that's like asking "How far do we take the inspiration of Scripture" and instead says we should
ask, when do we "separate" and why? But this is really the same thing. Actually, it is legitimate to ask the
question about inspiration, because as we'll see later, there are people who do take "inspiration" further than
Fisher's circle, arguing that a 17th century translation was inspired as much, or among some, even more than
the original autographs!

"The Flesh"

Often, when denouncing "rock", the critics will claim what we are supposed to listen to
and sing is "Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" (Col.3:16, Eph.5:19). This then becomes
the main "proofs" that the Bible favors traditional over contemporary. But many of the
contemporary Christian songs they criticize are either modern "hymns" (odes) of praise to
God, and some are taken right out of the Psalms or other scriptures. Most are at least
"spiritual" in that they advocate Christian values, and teach or encourage the believers (as
the Colossians passage is instructing us), even if they may not be loaded with deep
theology, or have a largely human orientation. Can this even be said about classical
pieces that don't even have words, or the national anthems, which are basically "hymns"
of praise to our country (a fallible human institution, and one whose past is greatly over-
romanticized and viewed as almost without sin!). The problem is in how you define
"spiritual" (pneumatikos), meaning "non-carnal" (or "ethereal" as opposed to "gross" —
Strong). The critics begin identifying the music (beside the lyrical content) as the true
indicator of whether a song is "spiritual" or "carnal". This is the basis of the whole issue,
and as you'll see, it all boils down to a hodgepodge of arguments that are hard or
impossible to prove, because they rely on supposed universal effects of certain elements
of music on people, or overgeneralized correlations with immorality and other sins. So as
it turns out, the contemporary rhythms, and to a certain extent, the harmonies are "unfit to
convey Christian truth", and therefore make the songs "carnal" rather than "spiritual" no
matter what the text says. They at best send a "mixed message" with the music and words
"conflicting" or even "contradicting" each other. This is often likened to a Christian
handing out tracts while dressed indecently, or using sinful means to accomplish a
spiritual task (e.g. defacing property with a scripture verse). One person even said
"Christian rock" was like "Christian fornication" (Cloud, Friday Church News Notes 5-4-
01). This is their major response to the common plea that we should use modern styles to
reach out to the modern world.
Music is broken down to its basic elements, and here lies the foundation of their claim
that contemporary music is intrinsically carnal. They claim the melody (the tune)of music
is supposed to follow the text(words), and that the harmony (defined as "mood") supports
the melody (so that it doesn't "distract with its sensuality"), and that the rhythm, of course
is last. The three correspond to the "spirit(the part of us that does the actual worshiping)",
the "soul(mind)", and the "body(flesh)". This yields a fairly plain and simple sound,
because the sung words make up most of the music. Reversing this order is what makes
music "soulful", "funky", or "jazzy", and this is what they are against, claiming it is
distracting from the words (worship of God), and appealing to the flesh instead of the
spirit. Even "constant syncopation" (the beats having an irregular accent*), "repetition"
and "low frequencies" place these styles in the category of not only "unhealthy" or
"unnatural", but also "unholy" and "un-Christlike". Meanwhile, all of this is being
compared to how a neutral element, such as a letter of the alphabet, or food ingredient fits
together into a not-so-neutral (i.e., "good" or "bad") whole. Then, "world-views" are
compared: "The Christian" believes that not everything is neutral and therefore "draws a
line" between the "holy" and "profane". Yet, "CCM" claims neutrality, which is just the
"world's" position of "relativism", in music. All black and white; absolutely no gray areas
(The very concept of "gray areas" is associated by them with "relativism").
Next, various rockers are quoted admitting they are trying to influence the youth sexually
with the beat. Often they will even affirm that their music is "anarchy" or even
"antichrist[ian]". Others are quoted saying how an "incessant beat" "erodes a sense of
responsibility", because "something very basic and primitive in human nature responds"
to it, and "it makes you want to move" or "its chief appeal is to the heels instead of the
head". So from this it is assumed that this "influence" is always bad and sinful in itself,
regardless of the context. In other words, it's the beat that makes people sin, and
changing the words is of no use. Yet as I will show later, neither scripture nor history
supports this broad sweeping judgment. Then, with an increasing list of "documented and
credible evidence from qualified secular sources" on how music affects us or is not
neutral, and even that rock and jazz were indelibly sexual or a self-imposed "attack on
morality" created by our civilization, it is claimed that though
... it is relatively easy for believers to dismiss the historian's critique, the
sociologist's comments, the music critic's judgments, the educator's opinions, the
composer's evaluation, the choral conductor's insight and anyone else who does
not overtly espouse Biblical values. Let us remember, though, that in these
circles, and particularly in this discipline, there is a level of expertise, awareness,
academic stature and professional accomplishment which is seldom matched in
Christian circles. Furthermore, when folks without the witness of the Holy Spirit
in their lives forcefully and passionately condemn that which they consider
damaging to the arts in particular and to society in general, we as believers need
to heed their words. It should make Christians sit up and take serious notice
when the world categorizes something as having moral impact and the Christian
community responds by saying, "We don't think so. Matter of fact, we think it's
fine." Are we not typically on the other side of this kind of discussion? Who is
being the "salt and the light" here? In Luke 16:8, the Lord alluded to instances in
which the world would have better judgement than the believer, ". . . the
children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light."
Perhaps the area of music is a classic example. ("An Important Question for Our
Times—Is Music Moral?", by Kurt Woetzel, at

But what we shall see as we go on, many factors are omitted in these references, which
are assumed to prove "all rock is always bad, and traditional is what is good". For
instance, one quote is offered "So when you play music, you also embrace a style. A style
suggests ways to sit, ways to sing, ways to feel rhythm. It also suggests ways to think.",
but this in itself does not tell us which styles of music suggests which way to sit, think,
etc.; or even whether these ways are always bad or good and in which contexts. The
insinuation is that contemplation or conformity, for instance, are always good, and
dancing or not conforming (to an "establishment") are always bad. This is where the main
error of this teaching lies. Also, that these are only a few authorities who do not represent
a universal consensus on these issues. We have all heard about how violence in TV and
movies has a moral impact on society. People may still go and watch such things, but
nobody argues that there is no moral impact; certainly not Christians. It is more obvious
and established than these claims about music. Also, do not forget that because these
professionals do not have the witness of the Holy Spirit, as was acknowledged, they may
be more inclined to find "impurity" in things like music, (as those who did use music to
attack morality), and not see how the Spirit can redeem things. They are wiser "in their
generation", meaning in secular life and with their secular studies; not in spiritual
matters. Woetzel apparently forgets that there is "earthly" wisdom as opposed to spiritual
wisdom (James 3:15). Earthly wisdom may have played well in Jesus' parable, but He
was certainly not praising such "shrewdness" as something Christians should live by.
(after all, the steward was called "unjust"!) A book, entitled Why Johnny Can't Tell Right
from Wrong and What We Can Do About It (William Kilpatrick) is quoted from, blaming
rap and rock for uncommitted sex and violence because "...The beat says, 'Do what you
want to do'" (p. 182). Of course, Woetzel built up to this by affirming that it is not just
lyrics that cause the problem, but the "sound". So does this mean that if we simply
reverse the accent of the beat to a march, then Johnny will suddenly snap into line and
become civilized? Surely, there must be more to all of this than just a beat!
The big deal with "constant syncopation" is that it conveys FEELING. The conservatives
are aware that this is connected with the flesh. But what they don't allow for is that it can
also be controlled by the Spirit (like with sexual passion in marriage). That's why all of
the music they advocate is straight laced. They are afraid of strong feelings, and believe
they should be repressed, which they consider "surrendered" or under control. This is
why they are so against Charismaticism, regarding it as apostate ("If we reject their
theology, shouldn't we reject the music that supports it" one said**). Charismatic worship
is characterized by strong emotions, though I would certainly agree that a lot of groups
and churches have gone way overboard; some into complete absurdity and error. Still,
you can't deny that there are at least some in this movement who are genuinely touched
by the Lord, and though we may not agree with everything, still, it is wrong to
completely dismiss them and then use that as a further case against lively music just
because we don't have such strong emotions.
While it's pointed out that rock and jazz are of the flesh and emotions, the traditional
music supposedly "lends itself to contemplation" (mind and spirit), which is seen as
making it the "Christian" choice, because "The Christian life is characterized by renewing
the mind and a walk in the Spirit". (Fisher, p.104). Thus it is also called "sober", which is
definitely a biblical virtue, commanded in places like 1 Thess.5:6-8 and 1 Pet. 5:8. Since
I, who was never into dancing, get my enjoyment of contemporary styles through
contemplation (in which I am still sober), not only does this disprove such generalization;
it's also the main reason I am so against this teaching: because the choices of music left
us by these traditionalists actually leaves less to contemplate on then the rich diversity of
modern styles. Meanwhile, the traditional forms' contemplative nature is wherein lies it's
potential for sin (the counterpart to the "sensuousness" of the modern styles).
First, note the following quote:
When you felt transported by Mozart or Brahms, it wasn’t your body that was
transported. The sensation often described is a body yearning to follow where its
spirit has gone — the sense of a body being tugged upward, rising a little where
you sit. And you almost always sit. And, for the most part, you sit comparatively
still. The music doesn’t change your body.
The classical dance that grew from this music had a stiff, straight back and
moved in almost geometrical lines. The folk dances of the West were also
physically contained, with linear gestures. The feet might move with wonderful
flurries and intricate precision, but the hips and the spine were kept rigid. That
way, the energy that lived in the hips and the loins would proceed through
proper channels — and those channels were defined well outside the dance.
Western movement and music were as linear as its thought. (Michael Ventura,
Hear That Long Snake Moan)
The assumption (by those who quote Ventura, who himself is for rock) is that because
these styles supposedly "lift your spirit upward", rather than the lower body, this is what
proves these are the "heavenly" forms. But not necessarily so. For instance, one
[unsaved] person I know who had a lot of experience with conservative society in the
past used to say "hey, if they want to just sit there and get their intellectual kick out of
that plain music, that's good for them, but I want to boogie". Ultimate proof of this
teaching, right? But is an "intellectual kick" really more spiritual than "boogieing"? The
traditional forms have been associated with a cultural pride and smugness that looks
down on others, including the very act of thinking one is more "civilized" or "cultured" or
being superior to the lively music of the "barbarians". Might this be a possible way that
some are "lifted up" by it? (Not that none's spirits are genuinely lifted up). The very
"majestic" nature of much of it is what lends itself to this effect. Pride also is a work of
the "flesh", not just sensuous body movements! Some, recognizing the pride in even
traditional music, are even more musically conservative, favoring a-capella, or even
plainchant, and they criticize music that appeals to the sinful mind at all, rather than the
spirit alone, considering it "proud". At least one critic, (Mike Paulson; while trashing the so-called "bad" music, even
warns that people having their "spirits lifted up" by the "good" music, are sinning
just as much as the others and still opening themselves up to bad spiritual
influences; as lifting one's spirit is the job of the Holy Spirit alone! An emphasis on
contemplation (of "ideal beauty"), by the way, was a feature of Plato's philosophy, which
we'll see later, has a strong bearing on this teaching. And I'm sure that many women have
been lured into illicit relationships with classical, probably even easier than with rock,
since they have that romantic sentiment that classical appeals to.
One significant point the above quote ignores is that the energy that lives in the hips is
released in movements of the hips, in both dancing as well as exercise. This is a well
known fact, and such "physical activity" is often encouraged for teenagers to help reduce
the sexual tensions that urge them to fornicate. Of course, overtly sexual dance moves
will go against this goal, but not all movements of the hips and spine are sexual. Also,
dancing (or otherwise moving to the music) can be "sober", which means "self-
controlled", as well. Repression, such as trying to keep these parts of the body rigid, on
the other hand, helps build up tensions and actually makes the problem worse! Then,
fundamentalists and other traditionalists wonder why their rigidity isn't working, and
their children still quickly fall into sin or rebel; and of course direct all the blame to the
outside world (or modern church). But they are using an unscriptural, unspiritual method
of their own devising.

*This would supposedly wipe out all pop which uses the "backbeat", accented on even beats instead of
odd. But if you look at most pop songs, the music (chords, along with the bass) actually is accented on the
odd beats! It's only the percussion that is even-accented, and this sort of complements the music. (If the
drums were odd-accented, it would sound awkward. Of course, some will say that drums themselves are
bad). And there are some pop/funk songs that don't use the backbeat at all.

**Tim Fisher, Battle For Christian Music, p 198. This book gets a lot of treatment here because, while it is
not the most well known defense of this position in music (that honor would probably go to Chick
Publications' Jeff Godwin), it is one of the most in depth, (along with and drawing from Garlock &
Woetzel's Music in the Balance), and actually, one of the more civil criticisms (compared to Godwin and
others). There are many clever arguments in these works, but clever arguments in themselves do not create
or define truth

"The Devil"

Then of course they back this up with admissions that many secular musicians were
involved in the occult and used other religions (such as voodoo) to "find artistic freedom"
(i.e., borrowing sounds, rhythms, etc. from the cultures whom these religions were apart
of.) Since the beat and repetitious rhythms were often apart of the religious chants, these
then are what summon demons, and no amount of changing the words can undo this
influence. (I wouldn't be surprised if this issue could be where the expression "the Devil
is in the details" comes from!) So the biggest charge leveled against modern music styles
is the beat and rhythm's supposedly "demonic" origin. But different cultures had their
own styles, and whichever god they worshiped, those styles of music were used in the
rituals. Since most pagans did not have a godly view of sex, in that context may it also
have been used to incite sensuality. (Just like the beats were also useful in creating
atmospheres of sensuality and rebellion in the rock and dance cultures of the last few
decades.) The beats didn't come from demons, though they may have been handy in
worshiping them. Ancient pagan Europe and the paganized medieval church used simple
chants (which are looked upon favorably by many of the critics), and these religions were
just as false or demonic. (And the teacher in the class even acknowledged how chants are
regaining popularity, in New Age religion. This is pretty significant.) Even with rock or
jazz performers crediting their being high or in meditation (both of which may open one
up to demonic influence) for some of the sounds they produced, still, the demonic
influence is not the sounds, but the act of tapping the power within apart from God. (Plain
music can be likewise inspired by demons as well). Also, man's discovery of music in the
Biblical narrative did not occur in an environment where God was followed. (Genesis
And the most common beats used in rock aren't even exactly like the beats of voodoo
ritual. There is a lot of broad categorization in these teachings as we shall see more of,
with music being labeled "rock", "jazzy", "voodoo" or "jungle" purely because of the
land it came from, rather than them really being the same forms. It was certain elements
of certain songs that artists may have taken directly from voodoo or Eastern religion, but
that doesn't make the backbeat itself, nor most of the "syncopation" or even "repetition"
rock is criticized for particularly of voodoo origin. But this is the basis of these claims
that none of this music is any good.
So with all of this, the teachers have completely removed the words (text), which either
summoned demons or praised the true God, as the source of its value in worship,
claiming that the rhythm and harmony are the true "text" of the music. But if it's the beat
that summonses demons, then are all Christians who listen to it possessed or something?
Just what do these demons do at Christian concerts and contemporary worship? Lead
everyone into sin and false doctrine? There may be some who have deviated among the
contemporary worship crowd, but that is their own spiritual life, and not everyone is like
that, and there is much sin and false doctrine in traditional churches as well.
Another big point is the opinion of some in the secular media that CCM simply adds
"new lyrics for 'the Devil's music'", as the title of one People magazine article put it. But
this is a pun that comes from the non-Christian world being used to Christians always
condemning and shunning their music, so the new phenomenon of Christian rock is a
surprise to them. Also, they could be simply trying to find some "inconsistency" to
discredit the Christians with, as they're always doing. However, the class took this, and
cited Psalms 40:3 (regarding the "new song"— "and many shall see it and fear and shall
trust the Lord") as if to suggest that we would more impress the world if we stuck with
the traditional styles. But the world is only being driven farther away by our hostile
attitude toward them, and our trying to stay in our own little subculture, including our
own music.

So what does all this mean?

So with all of this, the music that seems to win God's approval by default, is traditional
church hymns, new ones written in the fashion of the old, and classical. Not only are
contemporary rhythms bad to these people, but they even rule out "cute or clever ideas",
which supposedly draw attention to the artists, and claim that music is just a "utilitarian
tool". "The performer is not an artist but just a paintbrush, and the text is IT", claimed the
teacher. Yet the majesty style he played had its own "clever ideas", such as a high note on
"God", which supposedly "lifted Him up".
What they don't like is soulful playing. Recall the "order" of music mentioned before:
text first, then melody, then harmony, and rhythm last. What does this really mean?
Basically, that each piano or organ chord must closely correspond with each sung word,
and that the chordal structure (harmony) and rhythm must be plain and mellow to not
"distract" from that. In other words: what gives the old hymns their distinctive "dry"
sound, as well as much of the standard music of the early part of this century and before.
Just think of the simple songs you sang in the grammar school auditorium or music class,
such as "Climb Every Mountain", "London Bridge" (the teacher said he uses a Christian
song that uses this melody with his children). Also the Star Spangled Banner, Our
Country 'Tis of Thee, God Bless America, and America the Beautiful (which are in many
hymnals!) The more recently added "majesty" style is the same thing overlaid with
syrupy strings and group vocals, and "majesty" style horns. It is basically an orchestrated
version of the hymns, sounding much like mellow show or opera tunes or "elevator
music". This is obviously a CULTURAL STYLE, reflecting a particular time as well.
The leaders of this criticism strongly deny that they are the ones pushing their own
preferences, and against different cultures, but that is the corollary of all of this
reasoning. SO MUCH is ruled out! Notice, that under these 'guidelines', every elemental
characteristic of African-American and Latino music and their contributions to modern
music (e.g., "rock"/"pop") is rotten to the core. Even classic jazz, which usually does not
have the dreaded "heavy beat" or "noise level" they are always complaining about, is no
good. —What they can't eliminate as overtly sensual, loud or demonic, they eliminate
because of "syncopated time" or "too many minor chords". (A jazz version of "Abide
With Me" was criticized for the sax "overshadowing the melody with the harmony".
Quincy Jones was said to have "ruined" Handel's Messiah!)
So what it all comes down to is, that old hymn style and classical really is the only music
that properly honors God! For instance, the author of one of the texts of the class talks
about the 'proper' elements of music, with the melody and lyrics emphasized first, and the
rhythm last. Yet, the rock beats, (ultimately taking from the old African rhythms) which
reverse these elements with the emphasis on the rhythm, he loftily claims "stand in
opposition to authority. They are rebellious!"1 But the question is, WHOSE authority? I
could agree that worship music should emphasize the lyrics, but this was a general
statement about all music, and Scripture is completely silent on the issue (except for
passages that have this read into them). This author begins his book with a chapter
entitled "God As Composer". Scriptures are quoted regarding God's handiwork and His
glory and beauty and how these attributes are reflected in His creation, including man's
works if he follows certain "principles". But not one scripture is shown proving that the
classical styles mentioned are what "follow God's principles", and that the rock styles are
against His principles or showing exactly what these "timeless principles of excellence"
are in relation to the elemental factors that supposedly make one style good while the
other is so bad. All we see is that they are "...the worldly, sensual styles of music that
human culture in rebellion of God has produced." That's the main "proof" of this
teaching, and notice the inference that only a certain segment of "human culture" is in
"rebellion of God", and should not be copied, as if other segments were [apparently] not
in "rebellion", and therefore did produce "excellence" in music that is "acceptable" for us.
I have never seen such slick subtle cleverness anywhere else in Christian teaching! What
the scriptures do teach is that ALL human culture after the Fall is in rebellion of God, but
that same ALL still bears His image and equally reflects His glory in spite of their
fallenness and misuse of creation. If we can't listen to any music produced by "human
culture in rebellion of God", then we just can't listen to ANY music, period! Yet
conservative Christianity, especially "fundamentalism" seems to place this fall into
"rebellion" much later than it is placed in the biblical narrative, as is evident in much of
their writings on this and every other moral/cultural issue. What is the basis of this? We
shall see as we go on.
Of course, no one will say "my preference is God's" (especially when they're criticizing
others' musical choices for being based on personal preferences). But still, what I have
heard as the "acceptable" style does fit into a particular cultural mold. They will claim
that every culture has it's "good music" that follows "God's principles", but I still know of
no examples, and the literature the class gave me was from three "conservative"
companies. I even listened to online audio clips from the ministry of this author, and it all
seems to reflect the same cultural style and sound. He mentions "universal qualities of
great music" that "go beyond cultural barriers or national boundaries", but the only styles
mentioned are "modern classical", "Baroque" and "Romantic". They may have come
from different time periods and "nations", but still from the same "Western Christian
Culture". So then where is all of this "good" cultural variety I kept hearing about? Some
go on to speak of "Christian culture" in its own right, but it seems this Christian culture is
wedded to classical Western culture. Some, such as Kimberly Smith ("Oh, be Careful
Little Ears") will claim classical Western culture really came from the Church (which it
then rebelled against), but this ignores the mideastern background the church originally
grew out of, and how the pagan "West" co-opted it and mixed it with their pre-existing
customs as we will also see.
Perhaps the tribal people around the world may have some simple melodies that would be
considered acceptable ("Kum Ba Yah", perhaps?) But these would be few, and I get the
feeling they may be referring to "other" Christianized cultures. Occasionally, you'll get a
reference to some African convert questioning a missionary about his Christian rock,
which "reminds him of the old tribal worship he just gave up". But first, that's his
association, having just come out of a background where rhythms were used negatively
for idol worship.2 (Then yes, the missionary shouldn't play it around him, based on Paul's
teaching.) But this still doesn't prove it is universally bad, especially where there was no
such prior association. In addition, what is the convert's idea of "Christian" music? Could
this person have been influenced by more conservative missionaries who were there
Meanwhile, it is well documented how the music we are now calling "acceptable"
classical or traditional music, when new was also likewise condemned as worldly,
sensual, and even demonic. The violin was even called "the devil's fiddle", and the great
pipe-organ, "the devil's bagpipe"; both of which would lead to dancing in the church.
This makes it ironic how critics Calvin Johanssen and Peter Masters both have an
emphasis on history, yet speak highly of the organ as "spiritual", ignoring how it was
viewed back then. The piano was also rejected as a "secular instrument" and was later
associated with "ragtime". The augmented fourth chord was said to be possessed of the
devil (yet since then it is used extensively in the Church), and classical composers were
denounced as producing "wild insanities" without "form or meaning" (See Miller,
Contemporary Christian Debate, p.28) People used to plainchant and other simpler styles
would naturally look down on polyphonic styles which include classical and most
everything afterward, as well as various instruments they were not used to, or had
associated with bad things. This is basically how people reacted to everything new or
different (and right here shows a problem in the "historic" Church's attitude, which
continues today). Yet the plain chant is grouped on the side of classical as "acceptable"
while all styles that have any trace of African elements are all grouped together as
"unacceptable". But the controversy then and now was exactly the same. Only now, we
would try to say "Yeah, they were against those things then, but that was different; this
time, what we are opposing really is evil! But that's just what everybody thinks!3
1)Fisher, Battle For Christian Music, p 78
2)This also applies to many of the critics, who themselves have come out of secular rock and the hippie
culture, (Jeff Godwin, Terry Watkins and David Cloud are examples) But they should admit their weakness
instead of lashing out at everyone else. Maybe then some would listen to them.

3) Fisher (p.27, 8) claims that people's rejection of classical was a genuine issue of "taste" and not moral
judgement (i.e. "moral standards" were not in question), but people certainly were making a moral
judgment of it, if they associated the emerging styles and/or instruments with the devil and with sensuality,
as we see they did! There is no denying that the issue is exactly the same. This further helped lead to
relativity as the Church constantly redefines what is acceptable; so after centuries of this, people concluded
that music must really be neutral and its good or evil purely subjective; changing with the time. It also
ensured that the Church would always follow two steps behind the world, (confident in its "separation from
the world", but nevertheless still following and therefore still just as "conformed" to (shaped by) the world,
though negatively). This helps support the stereotype of Christians as "backward".

"Scientific" Studies and "Natural" Effects

Of course, there's another argument they have to fall back on: "negative natural effects"
which are too subtle to be noticed. A big highlight of many of their arguments now is the
appeal to "scientific" studies to prove "rock's" bad influence on everything from the heart
to houseplants. This supposedly "proves" that nature favors odd-beat accented rhythms
over the "twisted" rock beat, for instance. But as with the idea that the music hampers
worship, you cannot prove it in a classroom or book, and one cannot readily disprove it
either. So, unchallenged, they can proclaim this with such supposed divine "authority", as
if the scriptures directly dealt with the issue. As was mentioned before, to even dispute
any of this, you are criticized for disputing all of these "accomplished experts" who are
more "wise" than Christians who have the witness of the Spirit.
I remember first hearing something about music's effect on the heart in the late 70's. It
was one of those TV news stories stuck in the middle of the broadcast that was not a top
story (as if it was really a significant discovery), but was nevertheless a bit
sensationalistic and designed to catch one's attention; basically a "tabloid" story. It was a
speculatory study that "could" be true, but it was still just being studied; like recent
stories you might hear such as "Scientists Think There May Be A Good Chance of
Finding Life on Mars", "[such and such] can cause cancer" (based on lab studies with
rats), or the latest diet theory. The song featured was Glen Campbell's "Southern Nights",
but unfortunately, I didn't remember what the exact findings were, or whether it was a
rhythm or other elements, or a whole style that was supposedly bad, or which elements or
styles were said to be bad or good. I heard nothing about this again until a full decade
later when I became aware of fundamentalist rock music critics using the argument to
trash all rock music and other related styles. Rather than some universal truth, it looks
more like something they heard (like I did) and seized upon in their argument, but is
neither proven nor unanimously accepted. Sort of like the other myths that spread among
Christian culture, that cannot be readily proven or disproven, and thus may or may not
turn out to be true. (Remember the one that claimed Proctor and Gamble would add a
satanic symbol to their product labels in 2000?)1
As I mentioned above, the moral impact of violence on TV and movies or the effects of
overly loud music is more universally agreed on, and is also more observable, and fits
more with common sense. Another one of those kind of news stories I heard recently
suggests that too much TV watching may impair children's attention span, but this was
another common sense effect that really figured to people all along, and now simply has
more documented observational support. Certain common elements of diet also. And of
course, there are the old substance abuse issues such as tobacco, alcohol and drugs. These
you hear about all the time. Once again, people may ignore these findings and still
continue what they are doing, but nobody seriously denies the findings to "justify" their
habits, so why would Christians deny these theories on music, if they are really as
credible? Because this particular issue is not universally known, and not unanimously
proven like the others. Not all such scientific "studies" and theories are as credible as
others. You can't just take anything a scientist proposes (and that the media grabs) and use
it in an issue as serious as the CCM critics are making this; let alone a spiritual, moral or
scriptural issue by which you denounce other Christians for erring in! Experimental
science is based on THEORY, and very little is concrete; it is subject to differing
interpretations. (Fundamentalists like this should know better, from their battles with
evolutionism and psychology, which are also said to have been "proven" or
"demonstrated" in lab studies!). The fact that it is not documented that every listener of
rock has a house full of dead plants or messed up heart rhythm shows that there are more
factors to this than what is being presented here. Just how much of this syncopation, and
other aspects of jazz and rock cause these effects, and how great are the effects? How
loud was the rock that killed plants? These are variables, which are by nature, relative.
(It's so ironic to use relative data to try and debunk relativity in music!) The dangers
of fat and sugar are well documented, and you would think just from reading, that any
amount of them were poisonous, and that you should never touch the stuff. But that is not
the case. Too much of them is what causes problems. That's why I would agree that
extreme situations like acid rock or super-fast "thrash" need to be reconsidered, but it's
actually the more mellow stuff (Amy Grant) that these critics focus on. In fact, the
popular music they criticize is very diverse in sound, and a lot of music in the categories
of jazz, blues and even rock are mellow and relaxing, and even melodic. But they still
find some reason to trash it, "associations" being if all else fails, or "it will lead you to the
hard stuff" (But it has never led me or many others into the hard stuff!). And even
"quickening of the heart rate" and other stresses mentioned are not always bad. They
occur in exercise, especially aerobic, which is good for you (and notice; rock, disco or
jazz are often used in workout programs, being a good accompaniment for it). This
includes many forms of dancing, as well as running, biking, sports, and regular gym
calisthenics. So just citing findings doesn't mean anything if you don't consider all sides
of the picture (and this goes for the citing of scripture as well).
Another important reason it is not good to stake so much on findings like this is that they
are easily misinterpreted. One study pitted the effects of "rock" against classical. Fisher
cites this study making sure to point out that the scientists "originally began these
experiments with the idea of disproving that rock music had a negative effect on the
listener". They showed that "some musical rhythms help synchronize an organism's
natural biological rhythms, thus enhancing its functioning, while other rhythms tend to
clash with, or disrupt, those internal rhythms"2. This sounds like the ultimate objective,
irrefutable case against rock, doesn't it? But what was being called a "rock" beat was
actually chaotic drum beats that had no rhythm at all. Of course, something like this
would be likely to have a negative effect on mice, yet it was snatched up without a
thought as "proof" that rock was detrimental. Is this what we call "truth"? Also, another
study that said rock was "weakening" to the body also showed the same effects from
wearing clothes made of synthetic material, reading silently, and just the note of C5 by
itself. This branch or research is known as "behavioral kinesiology", and is based on
psychology, and lurking behind it is all sorts of New Age "holistic" concepts, similar to
Chi. As I will mention again later, this is a big double standard, as fundamentalists
normally reject New Age occultism along with psychology and especially "behaviorism".
Yet we see they will use them to try to win this debate! This reveals something seriously
wrong in the issue. They are trying to win an argument at any cost, including that of
truth! Where's the "separation from error" they so criticize new-evangelicalism on? Talk
about "using the world's means" to advance the Gospel!
Other studies found no difference in the different styles of music, and some even
demonstrated that exercise was improved by listening to music one liked, including rock,
and was distracted by listening to music one was not familiar with, including classical.
(See Steve Miller, The Contemporary Christian Music Debate, p.9-21)
A couple of authors really stretch scripture by claiming Jesus condemned "vain
repetition", even though He was referring to often recited long prayers, not the rhythm of
music. (It's actually many traditional hymn-singers who are guilty of this. Another cites
the scripture's reference to "melodies" as proof that it is teaching that the music itself
should always be simple. Right here, if this is the way people are reading Scripture, then
can we trust these conclusions they are drawing? ) The concern with repetition is a
supposed "hypnotic" effect. But once again, you have to take into consideration how fast
the rhythms are or how frequent the measures. I can sense this hypnotic sound in styles
like techno (90's electronic dance), but most other pop is not that bad. Bob Larson in
Larson's Book of Rock provides a balanced treatment of the subject of the beat and its
influence, acknowledging that heavy beats can greatly capture children's minds, but
without trashing all pop beats as evil in themselves. (He also gives a balanced view of
CCM. Of course, he is now criticized by Cloud and others for abandoning their universal
rejection of contemporary styles).
Amazingly, one author,3 after citing all of these moral, physical and scientific arguments
("you've heard it all before"), counters his own reasoning, saying that "the real issue is
holiness" and that by focusing on all of these effects instead of holiness, people are
actually focusing on man rather than rock's offensiveness to God: ("many are more
interested in what God might permit than in how He might be pleased"). But if the whole
proof of its offensiveness to God is it's negative effects (leads men to sin, plus is
unnatural to boot, so it must be contrary to God), then we are right back to the question of
what determines its offensiveness to God in the first place, if these aren't the right issues.
This is circular argumentation. (And it's not the CCM fans who are citing scientific
studies, but the critics, —i.e. this critic's own side of the debate; so who is he accusing of
"focusing on these affects"?). So it seems like these critics can't even decide amongst
themselves what the real issue against rock is. They just know that God is against it for
some reason or another. Conflicting arguments like this, pasted together into a grand
scheme, are signs of an ultimately weak premise.
1) The fact the Christians often fall for and pass around such myths truly makes us look foolish to the
world. In this, we can say that "The Children of light" are truly often "less wise" than the children of the
world, as Woetzel had earlier cited. But it's conservatives like his circle that are actually the biggest
purveyors of such nonsense.

2)Lipkin, Richard, "Jarring Music Takes Toll on Mice"; Insight 4/4/88; cited in Fisher, p. 81 and Miller,

3) Peck, Rock: Making Musical Choices p.7, quoted in Fisher, Battle For Christian Music p.88-9

What has been proven so far?

So far, we've established that many fundamentalists are making a major case out of the
use of "rock" and other contemporary styles in Christian music. The critics start all of
their teachings with a great emphasis on Scripture (God's Word) as our authority. This is
our "rock"; our solid foundation. Yet we see that in condemning rock music, we always
fall off of that solid foundation, onto the shifting sands of conjecture. We've heard a lot
of what people say, but none of what God actually says on the subject. From what we see,
the entire argument hinges on taking the negative charges, claims, admissions, etc. people
(including science) have made about the history or supposed fruits of rock; holding that
up to scripture, and of course, in such case, the contemporary styles always fail to stand.
(e.g. rock causes or is connected with sin, sin is condemned in scripture, so rock is anti-
scriptural) Then it can safely be said that "The twisted rock beat is rebellious in it's
nature, origin and use...and those of us who claim to be Christlike have no business being
involved with it in any way whatsoever because it violates the very nature of God"
(Fisher, p.83), and that Christians who use it are "aiding the devil", or are "deceived and
rebellious" as others will add. But considering such extreme statements as the above plus
the fervor in which this "battle" is waged, it seems we need much better scriptural support
than what is being presented here. How can anyone make such a pronouncement about
God's nature (based solely on what people say), when God has said no such thing
anywhere in His Word? It is basically a straw man argument. All of these claims about
rock music are not even unanimous or universal. There are many other people in science,
the media, and music who do not say it is bad. Who do we believe? Whoever happens to
support our position? This is truly shaky ground to be staking such an issue upon.
A good principle to follow is that any issue this important will be clearly delineated in
scripture. Don't you think God would have specifically condemned rhythmic beats if
they were so offensive to Him, and as destructive as these critics make them out to be?
(Especially if it was so specifically associated with the demonism and idolatry of pagan
tribes, who often came into contact with and affected both Israel and the Church!)
Salvation, new birth, the doctrines about Christ's birth, death, resurrection and return, and
the Christian life are all directly taught, and repeated throughout scripture. The Ten
Commandments plainly outline what God considers sin. Of course, Jesus expanded upon
the spirit of the Law, and certain details may not be present as they did not exist, and then
we have to extend principle to judge them, as the critics will claim. (e.g. any arts,
technology, etc. that feature immorality are definitely anti-scriptural, even though they
may not have existed when the Bible was written). The critics make a big point of this, as
pornography, drugs and abortion are not mentioned ("are they OK then?") But these are
just variations of certain sins, that do directly violate the commandments against those
sins. (This includes Christ's "magnified" definition of sins such as adultery and murder, in
Matt.5). Christ had said "who ever looks on a woman lustfully has already committed
adultery with her in his heart"(v.28). Here we have the sin of pornography directly
implicated. He did not differentiate whether it was a live woman or a picture that would
constitute "lust". So all we have done is added a new medium, and gave it a new name.
Mind altering drugs would fall under the same category as drunkenness in such scriptures
as Eph.5:18. That is why it is sinful; because they basically do the same type of thing as
alcohol, and are thus taken for the same reason; selfish pleasure. (The well known,
proven short and long term negative physical effects are also similar). Once again,
basically another new medium. (It actually is also the "sorcery" (Gk.pharmakia) of
Rev.9:21, and thus is "directly" implicated). Abortion is the bona-fide murder of a
conceived person, though much of the secular world won't admit it. But it's the CCM
critics' attempts to prove that the music in question is "immoral" because of its rhythm
that do not have enough support, judging from the charges made so far. Rather than being
a direct variation of any particular sin, they are remotely connected by indirect
"associations" and hypothesis. The solution to this is to actually turn to the Word of God
to see what, if anything, it really says about rhythmic music styles. Also, it would be
useful to turn to history and see if traditional styles are really as pure and based solely on
"God's principles" as is being claimed. And just where did this whole issue come from in
the first place?

Lively Music and Dancing in the Bible

While Fisher admits "It's true that man has never heard a note of God's personal music"
(p.31), still, the assumption seems to be that classical and traditional must be the closest
to it in "principle". One online sermon ( claims that
these styles picture "fall down and worship Me" while more rhythmic ones don't. Yet the
best way to get an idea of what God likes is to see what was used in biblical culture.
While scripture does not go into "style" and "rhythm", we must look at history. The
ultimate disproof of this rejection of prominent rhythm is that Hebrew worship was
lively and had rhythm that obviously does not fit into the narrow metrical system of
classic church music. In fact, it was closer to rock rhythm, complete with the much
criticized repetition. (Take songs like "Jehovah Jireh", "Havilah Hava", and the rest of
mid-eastern music.) The Lion Encyclopedia of the Bible,*p. 191 says "And the music
seems to have been strongly rhythmic rather than melodic, although there were set
tunes to some of the psalms.". What I see happening, is that people read of "harps and
strings" in the scriptures, and think of mellow symphonic music, and thus are reading that
into the text. However, it was quite different from that style. This is the music of biblical
(mid-eastern) culture, not medieval European chants, as people are assuming. While
some make a big deal about the drum's absence in scripture, and even claim it should not
be used, there were several other percussion instruments mentioned. Totally ignored is
the presence of dancing in the Bible. Dancing is criticized, because "you can't do the
things of the Spirit with the flesh" (and one writer even suggests Amy Grant's belief in
dancing being fine for Christians as being caused by "the natural bodily reaction to the
music"**), but there are several scriptures where dance is used in worship. One place is
Psalms 149:3, just two verses after one of the key "new song" scriptures used to say that
there should be no fleshy pleasure in our music. The Hebrew definitions include "twist",
"whirl", and even "writhe" (as in pleasure or pain). It may not have been the sensuous
dancing of today, but it completely disproves the whole "flesh/Spirit" argument, which is
being read into Gal.5:17 and others, and taught with such supposedly "scriptural"
authority. (i.e. that any 'fleshy pleasure' makes it "of the flesh" rather than "of the Spirit",
and that music therefore should only lead to sitting stiffly or marching) Like music, it was
also used negatively (as in the golden calf incident), but NEVER afterwards forbidden
because of that 'association'. The Encyclopedia continues: "Dancing too, was often apart
of people's joyful expression of worship". GOD ACCEPTED IT! (Ps.149:3, 2 Sam.6:14-
23) This omission of dancing is just not dealing honestly with the scriptures!
So this worship may have looked and sounded somewhat similar to the pagans, but this
shows that while music may not be neutral, the context does change it, and that the most
important issue is WHO the worship is actually being directed to, not how much evil a
particular style may have been used for.
Still, everything associated with "rock" is assumed to be indicted. So then all these
brethren who've decided to use rock, rap, jazz etc., are not only grossly mistaken, but are
committing a grievous sin by "bringing this trash into the church", and thus "causing
division", "aiding the devil", etc.
*(Lion Publishing, 1978, previously Eerdmans Family Encyclopedia of the Bible, Wm. B. Eerdmans
Publishing Co.)

**Fisher, p.193

Rejecting the flesh just as unscriptural as indulging it

The most amazing thing I found was the citing of Colossians 3:1 "seek those things
which are above", to further reject the flesh. Yet keeping in mind that the chapter
divisions were added later, look at the CONTEXT, beginning in 2:20. Paul was actually
preaching against the whole concept of the "neglecting of the flesh", saying that this
gives off a SHOW of "will-worship" and "humility", but doesn't even restrain the
indulgence of the flesh! (Scofield note: "by creating a reputation for superior sanctity, as
some did, they did not really honor God, but only satisfied the flesh"*). 1 Tim.4:8 is even
more clear: "bodily exercise profiteth little." (as opposed to true "godliness"). "Exercise"
(Strong #1129: "gumnasia") actually means "asceticism", which sometimes seems to be
the logic of those opposing more lively worship as "of the flesh". Even if this is referring
to more extreme treatment of the flesh, still the mind-set is the same. The Gnostics
focused on the physical body as being the cause of sin, rather than the soul. If they just
deny all physical pleasure, then they would get it under control. That's precisely what this
insistence that any rhythm pleasant to the body must be avoided is saying. "Flesh" is used
in scripture as a metaphor for our fallen nature, so what Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 9:25-27 is
that the true "bodily exercise" is concerned with the mind/soul/spirit. The music critics
emphasize this in their teachings, but think it always requires the total rejection of the
physical body, which is not the case here.
Philippians 3:7 also, Paul's "old life" of religiosity (v.5, 6) is what he is counting as "loss"
(Gk. "dung") for Christ! The much cited "offense of the Cross" also (Gal.5:11, Rom.9:33,
1 Pet.2:8). People are forgetting that "the flesh" is not just the physical body, but also
various spiritual vices that have nothing to do with the body (Gal.5:20), including pride
(1 John 2:16) So this shows that these classic styles can be linked to pride and the flesh
just as much as the most sensuous rhythms of African and modern beats! It's amazing that
some of the very scriptures they use to tell people to give up contemporary styles of
music as the "old life", are actually referring to THEIR flesh-denying pseudo-piety!
Certainly, there is an abundance of scriptures that condemn "the [works of the] flesh" and
say it is contrary to the Spirit. But if there are these other scriptures which condemn a
preoccupation with denying the flesh, and lively music and dancing were acceptable to
God in the Bible, then what can it mean? Is the Bible contradicting itself? Of course not!
It must mean there is some BALANCE. (I would admit on the subject of dancing that
moderation should be used, because there always is the temptation to cross the line into
sensuality here. Especially since we are surrounded by a culture where so many do use
dance and music for ungodly purposes. I am not advocating everyone to just "let loose".)
Calvin Johansson, author of the other text used for the class, Discipling Music Ministry,
even advocates "asceticism" and "monasticism"! Contrasting the "instant gratification" of
pop with the "self-denial" of the past, he even criticizes the major/minor scale and the use
of choruses instead of full-versed hymns, and upholds the pipe-organ as being good to
not convey fleshy emotion. [!?] He also says that the dark ages were more "God
centered", and that the Enlightenment and Renaissance made everything "man-centered"
—even though the monks and other ascetics were often FILLED with lust, since simply
repressing it doesn't make it go away as the aforementioned passage shows, and they and
the rest of the Church of that time did not believe in salvation and other important
teachings of God's Word. It was the Dark Ages that were actually more centered on man
and his authority (albeit in the name of God) than any other period in history! This is
precisely what caused the Enlightenment and all other paradigm shifts up to the present in
the first place. People simply traded one human authority (king or pope) for another
(self). That's all.

*One way this happens is that when we feel we are doing so well in one area, we will tend to slide in other
areas or even sometimes the same areas. This explains the amazing spectacle of preachers who blasted
sexual sin falling into it themselves. Fundamentalists truly underestimate our fallen nature!
The pagan origins of austerity

People like to connect lively music with paganism, but another interesting point from
history is that this preoccupation with "conservative" music came largely from pagan
influence as well! Even though it is hard to determine exactly what ancient music was
like because it was not written like it is today, and in most cases only the words survived,
still, it appears that a lot of music was generally lively and rhythmic, both sacred and
secular, and there was simple music as well. But there is absolutely NOTHING to suggest
that the "godly" all listened to plain simple music and only the "ungodly" listened to
rhythmic music. (If anything, besides the evidence of Biblical worship above, think of the
great Roman Empire, and rulers like Nero who loved music. From what we gather, it
would appear that the style they used would be relatively plain and closer to classical.
(e.g. think of Nero and his fiddle). But they were anything but the civilized Christian
culture that traditional music is associated with). There were no controversies in the New
Testament or the earliest fathers, on "that sensuous music of the barbarians or ungodly
plays". Yet before the Christian era, a totally new mind-set started to develop; one that
would eventually engulf the entire western world. It began with pagan philosopher Plato,
who complained of different types of music being "blended", meaning not used according
to its "purpose" (e.g—hymns, dirges, paeans, and a couple of others, and keep in mind
these "hymns" were to pagan gods, not the true God). His statement "Let me make the
songs of a nation and I care not who makes its laws", and others by him, Aristotle and
others, are even quoted by these critics to back their argument of the influence of music.
Some, such as John Makujina MEASURING THE MUSIC: Another Look at the
Contemporary Christian Music Debate, appeal to Plato's "aesthetic of beauty" as the
'gold standard' of "proportion, order, and symmetry". While Plato and other thinkers may
have had some truth, they were still secular pagan philosophers and at some point error
will come up in their teachings, and we cannot use them to define "biblical" holiness or
morality or worship of the true God.
After the first century A.D., Neoplatonism and the related Gnosticism began having wide
influence in the church. In the 3rd century, church father Clement of Alexandria (this city
a major source of platonic thought in the church.1) rejected instruments such as the
timbrel, psaltery and trumpet (even though they were used in the Bible) because of their
associations with war and festive assemblies, and the participants' "dejected minds".
Then, non-Christian Neoplatonists such as Plotinos and his pupil Porphyry, began
teaching that music had this overarching magical influence on man for good or evil;
complaining of the lively music used in plays, and suggesting that "divine" music should
be different. (See Gustave Reese, Music in the Middle Ages, Norton & Company, NY,
1940, p.12, 58, 59, 61, 62) Now, these were PAGANS, who were VIOLENT OPPONENTS
OF Christianity! But their teachings influenced the church, at the same time the dualism
characteristic of the Dark Ages was coming in, (which held that matter, such as the flesh,
is inherently evil)2, and from this was the austere music of the dark ages and American
traditional Protestantism borne. This is where it all comes from, NOT THE BIBLE! All
of this influenced the thinking of the church and the "traditional" cultures it influenced all
the way down the line. This is why there is such an obsession with sex (leading to the
neurotic repression of the past, which in turn led to the rebellion of this century), and
such a vivid perception of evil in the beats themselves, while it does not influence others
like this. This proves just what I am saying; that traditional music is just as stained with
sin as everything else. It is even suggested that the very fact that the music seems "dry"
(unpleasing to our 'flesh') is "the offense of the Gospel", Jesus' "narrow path", and "the
hard truth of scripture" which these contemporary rebels are trying to "remove". (Much is
made at this point about music not being for evangelism, and therefore, there being no
excuse to use modern styles to appeal to the unsaved.) This assumes that all pleasure is
bad or displeasing to God. All this fear of "sensuality" thus seems to be based on the
assumption that sex is evil in itself, not just outside of marriage, so any music that would
lead you to move parts of the body such as the hips or even torso is seen as sexual. This is
an unrealistic fear, as not all such movements are sexual. Considering that this is all
influenced by Plato's teachings, just recall the meaning of a "Platonic marriage" or
"Platonic love" (based on the "love of the Idea of beauty" seen as evolving above the
physical realm to the spiritual and "ideal" level —to the point of being devoid of emotion
and passion; and remember, his idea of "spiritual" is not based on the God of the Bible),
and it becomes quite clear that this whole teaching is pure Platonism! (A similar
philosophy of "non-feeling" is "Stoicism", and recall that the Stoics were among those
Paul met on Mars Hill). How can people so sternly chastize the entire modern church
for its "paganism" in music when they themselves are using rank pagan philosophy as
their standard?
Many of these writers go on to claim that Christianity is just "too easy" for people today.
You wonder how they wind up with the authority to determine how "hard" or "easy"
Christianity should be. And isn't their Christianity "easy" for them as well, when they get
to have their traditional music, Bible translations, the honor and power they receive as
ministry leaders, fathers, husbands, etc.? (Their 'old lives', though baptized as 'traditional
Christian' and only sometimes based on scripture). We all have it easy compared to the
Christians of the past and around the world today who suffer and die for Christ. We
trivialize their lives by co-opting these concepts in issues like this. You can't take this
"offense" to the point that the Gospel is defined purely by how unpleasant it is; as if the
whole point of it is unpleasantness for unpleasantness' sake. (See Frame, Contemporary
Worship Music: A Biblical Defense p.164, 165). This truly becomes "another gospel"
Says Michael Horton about the paganism in "traditional Christian culture":
Only in retrospect can we see how thoroughly the medieval world and medieval
church were shaped by Greek dualism. Usually, the church simply adopted
existing philosophical systems [which would include philosophy of music and
worship], reinterpreted them in light of Scripture, and made use of them as
points of contact with the wider culture. "Contextualization" is not a recent
development, but it is easier for an American missionary to know when he or
she is doing this among an unknown people than it is for us to distinguish
between reason and revelation when pagan and biblical language, symbols, and
patterns of thought develop slowly, side by side (Beyond Culture Wars, p.46).
Judaism was eventually influenced by platonic thought as well, and banned festive music,
but only in mourning for the duration of the Temple's destruction. Afterwards, it would
resume, further proving that lively music was associated with godly celebration, not
austere music. David Cloud (CCM: Under the Spotlight, p 166) suggests that this
principle holds true for us today; Dancing is not mentioned in the New Testament,
probably because this was a time of Christ's "rejection and exile": "the Bridegroom was
in a far away country", but at the Marriage of the Lamb, then celebratory dancing will
resume. But not only do the scriptures not teach this, it ignores that the coming
resurrection as well as our salvation now are a similar cause of festive joy. (The scripture
in question, Matthew 9:15, is talking about fasting. It doesn't say all our worship is to be
somber. And even if our choice of worship and music was to be a type of "fast", look at
what Christ earlier said about trying to look like you're "fasting"—7:16-18)
1) The KJV-only advocates among these critics are the first to point this out when criticizing the
Alexandrian Bible texts new translations are based on!

2) In Gnostic dualism, the soul or spirit was thought of as good but corrupted by the flesh. Yet the Bible
declares it's the other way around. Matter, including man's body was good (Gen.1:26), but it was the soul
that was fallen and simply uses matter wrong! (Yet notice in these teachings, how the soul [mind/spirit] is
always exalted, while the body is put down!)

Or is it the Old Covenant that is pagan; and Platonism God's 'spirit and truth' all
Others quote John Calvin's suggestion that the lively music of the Old Testament was just
the "puerile instruction of the Law", and was therefore not valid for Christians today, plus
similar arguments by other historic leaders (below). Still others (such as Peter Masters)
allegorize passages like Psalms 150, saying that the various instruments and dance are not
literally to be used, but rather represent "emotions" of heartfelt worship (victory,
gratitude, energy, strength, etc. They actually were "banned" in the temple, because only
certain instruments are mentioned there, "proving" God is 'that strict' on music). This is
said to be the "traditional" interpretation.1 But once again, by what authority are these
interpretations made? Scripture interprets Scripture. When men read meanings into verses
they want to get around, it always leads to error. For one thing, Calvin's and the others'
quotes are actually arguing against instruments in the church altogether. (Like the Church
of Christ and Primitive Baptists). Their reintroduction into the Church centuries later is
then viewed by this theory as another "pagan" Roman Catholic corruption. But all of that
would rule out all of their traditional church music as well, but now they try to use it
against contemporary styles. Yet somehow their traditional organs, pianos and violins are
still OK. (What about a group like Take 6, whose early albums and some later songs were
a-capella, but nevertheless a jazzy doo-wop style?).
Justin said "The use of singing with instrumental music was not received in the Christian
churches as it was among Jews in their infant state, but only the use of plain song." But
first, this does not tell us why instrumental music was not used, or even what segment of
the church he was referring to. Instruments were not an issue (hence their lack of
mention), so you cannot read some sort of "ban" into this silence. For one, considering
the early Church met in homes under the constant threat of persecution, perhaps there
originally were not many instruments or musicians available. Also, in the synagogue from
which many came, as was mentioned, music was toned down in mourning for the temple,
but this too was a humanly invented system of worship, and cannot be made into some
"New Testament principle". Also as was mentioned, the Church was being influenced by
Platonic philosophy during this time. And the gentile church quickly became heavily anti-
Semitic, wanting "nothing to do with the 'hostile rabble of the Jews'" whom they regarded
as hard-hearted Christ-killers (ignoring their own sins and how they were saved from
their own hard heartedness, which also put Christ on the Cross). If you look at some of
the quotes of these people, you can see a subtle sense of the attitude that we're now too
spiritual for their 'infantile' worship which God 'allowed' because of the "grossness of
their souls", as Chrysostom put it; or that we should not "Judaize" as Aquinas put it.
(These ironically were Catholic/Orthodox leaders whose worship rehashed much of the
OT pattern, with its emphasis on 'physical sensation'. For instance, icons are justified as
not compromising the command against idols because of the cherubim in the Temple, the
brass serpent they were told to "look at and live", etc. Even Calvin and other early
Protestant leaders maintained much of the liturgicalism and legalism of OT worship.
THIS would be the "puerile instruction of the Law", but those earlier leaders did not seem
to think so, yet claim that only the lively music and worship was. Being that the CCM
critics, Primitive Baptists and others who use this argument are some of the hardest critics
of Catholicism, it is quite revealing that they would try to use their reasonings here).
Some even quote Paul's statements on the "carnal commandments" of the "flesh" (The
OT ceremonial Laws) compared to our "new life in the Spirit", of which those old things
were just a "shadow", and try to jump this over to the lively worship. But that is quite a
stretch. Blood sacrifices were definitely "of the flesh" and had no other purpose but to
remind them of the seriousness of sin, and temporally represent atonement for it, and
would naturally be superseded by Christ. Scripture never places the dancing and
instruments in such a category. Regarding the "hardness of their hearts" (of which
"grossness of their souls" would be a parallel), a quick check of the scriptural context in
which this was used reveals it was spoken in Jesus' teaching on divorce (Matthew 19). Is
this the same as dancing or instruments? In the Old Testament, God had specifically said
he "hates divorce" (Mal. 2:16), and Jesus said that from the beginning it was never God's
will. Yet God allowed it. Why? Because of the "hardness of their hearts". We never see
the same sentiment in either testament regarding dancing or instruments. You cannot
move something out of its context like that under the premise of extending "principle".
And how does Platonistic austerity wind up being our pattern in the newness in Christ?
Paul regards the philosophy behind this as being just as much "of the old nature" as
licentiousness, and similar gnostic restrictions are called "doctrines of devils". (1
Tim.4:1), and John regards a christology based on the same gnostic rejection of the flesh
as the "doctrine of Antichrist" (1 John 4:3). Once again, people are heaping up any
argument they can find to justify their traditions.
Taking this argument further, claims
Being inspired does not mean that God approves everything faithfully recorded.
God tells the good, the bad and the ugly. The Psalms are a poetic (and therefore
symbolic) record of the history of Israel recorded in the prose accounts. Because
God prophesied that the king would lead rebellious israel into destruction, it is
not strange that David who was chosen to lead the nation who had rejected
God's Theocratic rule was always lost when he could not sense God's approval.
David's praise, therefore, has him making himself vile and repulsive. It is easy to
forget that David as the King or the other Psalm writers were not the prophets
who were the critics of the priestly and civil governing class of David and other
kings. David was not a priest.

In other words; the only reason they had David there dancing and using music like that in
the first place was because Israel wanted a king like the other nations. So that too was
never originally apart of God's plan.

It is also a fact that under the Monarchy with its kings, God turned Israel over to
a secular society because they wanted to worship like the nations. 'I gave thee a
king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath'. (Hosea 13:11) This
'paradigm' is repeated many times in the Old and New Covenants. Since God
permitted the kings to CARRY OUT HIS SENTENCE by 'worshiping like the
nations' we must understand that the temple under the Monarchy was A LIKE
THE NATIONS temple and ritual. This validates many scholars who note that
David added musical worship to go along with the temple state rituals added
when Israel fired God in order to worship like the nations.
Music was ONLY ADDED for sacrifices when God turned Israel over to allow
the kings to lead them into destruction. Their PRAYER was to worship like the

Otherwise, "ALL musical terms and instruments are derived from evil or even Satanic
meanings"; associated with the pagans, prostitution and war--"to enrage the army and
panic the enemy". (e.g. "David was a KING and the WARRIOR LEVITICAL
MUSICIANS under the king and commanders of the army were ADDED to the trumpets
as warning during animal sacrifices. The 'music' during sacrifices warned that if you as a
COMMON Jew were in the temple at the time you would be killed" Of course; this was
like the pagans, who used music in their rituals, including the child sacrifice of Molech).
Various negative references to instruments are cited, such as in Isaiah, and 1 Cor. 13:1.
And quotes of Clement of Alexandria and others from church history abound.

The Levitical 'service' was HARD BONDAGE and they made noise and not
music. The word is ABAD which is a friend of abaddown. This is the Abaddon
worship in the Greek world because THAT is what God had abandoned them to.
They were in the COURTS and never in the Holy Place as a carnal type of the
body of Christ or the Assembly on earth. No SINGER or MUSICIAN could
ever enter into the Holy Place even to clean out the garbage. Their service was a
type of the SLAUGHTER of Lord Jesus Christ. [Thus, (elsewhere), they "were
musically mocking the TYPE of Christ in animal sacrifices") And, as prophesied
in Psalm 41, led by Judas [whose bag carried "the mouthpieces of wind
instruments,"] the Jews would again try to MOCK JESUS with music". (Based
supposedly on the "Essene War Rule").
"The truly great kings always sought to restore the worship commanded by God
through Moses. This musical worship would have been private devotion and:
'The absence of instrumental music from the services of the tabernacle continued
not only during the wandering of the Israelites in the desert, but after their
entrance into the promised land, throughout the protracted period of the Judges,
the reign of Saul, and a part of David's. This is a noteworthy fact. Although
David was a lover of instrumental music, and himself a performer upon the harp,
it was not until some time after his reign had begun that this order of things was
changed.' (Girardeau, George, Instrumental Music, p. 29).
In the face of overwhelming evidence we must conclude that God commanded
musical worship which, in all of history's evidence, was destructive.
When God came in the flesh the physical, visible kingdom of animal sacrifices
ceased in the one-time offering of Christ. Not only must the Old Covenant
sacrifice be seen as a symbolic type but to keep from falling into the trap of God
commending what humans understand to be evil, the music of the Kingdom
must be allegorized.
The Essene War scroll coupled with Ps.41:8 is taken as a proof of this, with the
conclusion :
Therefore, the MUSIC in the Old Testament is universally related to silencing
the 'harps of God' which He gave us to praise a Spirit God. This is why the
DIRECT COMMANDMENT OF Paul which CANNOT be misunderstood, said
that we 'glorify God with ONE VOICE' when we speak 'that which is written'
(Romans 15).
Therefore, to silence the Words of God through the use of human compositions
and then scramble the brain with EITHER mechanical instruments or
ORGANIC instruments or complex harmony, is an attempt to MOCK or
TRIUMPH OVER the Word of God and therefore God Himself.

[This group apparently does not even believe in even vocal singing —NO MUSIC at all!
Only preaching and teaching, and worshipping God "in spirit and in truth." is only
"through speaking to God in prayer and listening to Him through His Word". "Worship"
means "prostrate"; which "eliminates the physical possibility to play music".]
Though this argument is on the validity of music in church altogether and not on different
styles of music; still; I spend this much time on it, because not only is it being used to
support the same condescending "all you modern Christians are worldly and not keeping
the 'faith once delivered' like us" line of reasoning as the traditional music advocates (just
another ridiculous divisive issue); but as we saw, it is sometimes used by those
traditionalists who do use music to disprove the point here that God did allow lively
music and dancing (i.e. music other than the traditional hymn form they advocate). It is
quite an impressive system of arguments with historical and scriptural references. They
have gone further than all others to prove that true "spiritual" worship is to follow,
basically, a more platonic model. But it still fails in that if music, was truly that
universally negative, and that much of a "mockery" of Christ; then would it be used even
allegorically for true spiritual worship? Would it ever be mentioned with any such sort of
positive connotation? Divorce; our earlier example for instance; is NEVER used to
represent anything good!2 Neither is adultery, idolatry, blasphemy or murder. Divorce was
nothing more than something God tolerated for awhile. But we do not get that sense with
music, instruments, or even dancing. Those other sins were never even tolerated; but if
Israel's music was as bad as this site suggests; it would be universally condemned with
those sins; especially by virtue of being specifically associated with them (and the
pagans), as is argued there! But in Isaiah, for instance; the sin is not the music, but all of
the other things they were doing wrong, as listed in the text. The same in Amos 6:5.
People point to "like David" to suggest his music was "bad"; even "a violation of the
Law" one Campbellist claimed. But it was clearly the worship in light of their sins that
was wrong; in contrast to David; who repented before God and was considered "A man
after [God's] own Heart". They did these things; then came to God "with unclean hands"
to sing and worship. This is what God was angry with, and why He said their music was
just "noise", and would "cease". So no matter how many arguments men devise; they
have not proven any of their points on music in scripture. In fact, all they have proven is
that they do not read scripture in its proper contexts. How can they instruct and correct
everyone else on it, then? With all of the energy being spent here to concoct ridicuous,
self-serving arguments against other Christians, some of these people need to beware
themselves of being the ones whose music (or even "preaching", "prayer", or whatever
else they substitute) being the "noise" that God will "cease"!

1)Just like Song of Solomon was allegorized as just the "love of Christ for the Church". This was obviously
to cover up the book's graphic descriptions of erotic love. (Much more sensuous than anything Amy Grant
or others ever sung. You wonder why God would allow such a book in the Bible if people's uptightness
about sexuality were really based on God's standard of holiness! But this could be ignored with the "Christ
and the Church" allegory.) But I think it creates more problems than it solves, given that Christ's love for us
is agape and not eros, which is definitely what we see in that book. Only in a very loose sense could this be
applied to Christ and the Church. But when people use this very same method of interpreting the 7 days of
Creation in Genesis, these same leaders claim the Bible is being compromised.

2) God did use the idea of "divorce", spiritually, regarding Israel, as apart of His plan to create a true
spiritual bride. Still; this is more of a "double negative" that leads to something positive. Otherwise; divorce
never directly represents the positive, like music, including with dancing and instruments does.

Preliminary Assessment of the Issue

So we begin to see that the whole argument is totally without basis; Fundamentalists are
attacking their "Neo-evangelical" brethren over a completely bogus issue, and it's
amazing how fellow brethren are seen as the corrupters of the church, while pagan
philosophers who actually did have their guns aimed at God's truth are cited
positively as authorities on the power of music! (And let's not forget the modern
secular scientists and scholars who are also given weight over the witness of the Spirit in
believers). Where one author said that CCM is "the perfect expression of the social
gospel combined with the charismatic emphasis on emotionalism"*, these teachings are
actually the perfect expression of the conservative 'social gospel' (reconstructionism)
coupled with the dark ages rejection of the flesh and emotions. This is not to say that
music has no influence at all. But just because it does influence man doesn't mean that it
does to the extent that is being suggested. It is true that there are many people in churches
clapping their hands, shouting "hallelujah" to the lively music, and are getting more
enjoyment out of it than they are worshiping or obeying God. (i.e. "feeding the flesh") It's
true that many CCM acts have gotten a little carried away with the show and the
gimmicks. But this doesn't mean that any enjoyment of music precludes worship. And
also, while the Bible does use music mainly in conjunction with worship, it nowhere says
it can't be used for pleasure. (And remember, classical is for pleasure!) Ironically enough,
when the table is turned, and it is pointed out that too much [traditional] church music
that sounds like a funeral march can dampen the spirit (as if there is nothing to be joyous
about), then all this "influence of music" is suddenly denied! "Why blame the music?",
Fisher now asks (p. 106ff). No, lively music may not liven up dead hearts as he points
out, but neither can it lead astray Spirit-led hearts, and neither can intentionally non-
lively or dry music tame sinful hearts!
* Fisher, Battle For Christian Music, p. 198

The Spirit Behind the Music

Carman was on the 700 Club a few years ago acknowledging that there is "a spirit behind
the music", thus admitting that music is not neutral. People in New Orleans during the
Mardi Gras seemed to be sobered by his music even though he uses contemporary
sounds. "Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world", he commented. If God
is stronger than Satan, He can redeem much of "the world's" music. So this "spirit"
behind the music is not simply "that beat was once used by voodoo priests, and those
harmonies by ungodly paganized rock or blues performers, so they are indelibly
demonic". Much of Carman's music may sound "warlike", but then his whole theme is
spiritual warfare (a much needed biblical topic), and it fits perfectly. But even his lyrics,
as powerful as they are, are nitpicked by the critics,* although I do admit some things he
does may seem silly (e.g. "Holy Ghost Hop"), and some of his associations of late are
questionable (i.e. certain "revival" leaders). And slangs such as "yo, man" are condemned
as "vulgar", as if he were uttering curse words or something. Can this be because of the
identity of the people these slangs came from?
Another powerful Christian music ministry, but not as well known, is Joseph Henry
Cortese's "Storytellers", a group of Christian rappers from the Bronx who tell of their
horrible past lives in the streets and how Christ transformed them. Even with the
contemporary urban sound, no one can deny the power of the message, and given their
background, this truly is a "new song"! Cortese, pastor of a local church, said he was
once against rap until God convicted him. Rap is criticized as being "arrogant" and
drawing attention to the rapper, but in the Christian context, it is no different than the old-
time fiery preaching, which the fundamentalist critics look up to and miss so much. The
only difference is the beat, but if the issue is whether the vocals are arrogant, then the
issue of the alleged evil of the beat (which supposedly draws attention away from the
vocals) is not a valid support for the argument. Unfortunately, in the secular context, like
rock, rap has been heavily degraded with rampant themes of violence and sex, and the
"gangsta" or "thug" images of its stars reflecting this; and in the past, there was an
obsession with egotism leading up to all of this (the "I'm the baddest rapper" craze of the
'80's, with gold jewelry and other material items flashed and bragged about). Though it
always had an element of bragging and partying (though nowhere near as sinful as
today), it was at one time more of a positive vehicle of socially conscious messages,
including making people aware of the destructive patterns of the streets, but as with
everything else, once it hit mainstream, it was corrupted by the typical sins of pop
culture. But once again, this "association" does not mean the style is unseparable from
those vices. Fisher, p 78 claims it is "merely rhythmic entertainment", not "music" by any
good definition, and the logical path of rock, which made melody less important, "so why
not drop it altogether and have only a rhythm?" But rap was designed as primarily
poetry, and thus IS centered on the words, (making it such a good tool for
communication) and yes, it does have a heavy beat, but still, in good raps, the words are
what is most important. In recent years, rap has added a variety of different melodies and
harmonies. The Storytellers are a good example of this (Which is one reason I like them).
So this comment about it being "rhythm" only is just another ignorant generalization.
*Dial The Truth Ministries even condemns the presence of occult items and imagery in the video to "A
Witch's Invitation", (, scroll down to "Carman") and compares it to
secular rock acts who claim such gimmicks are "only a joke", when it's obvious that in the context these
were the witch's belongings, and the whole song was speaking against this in favor of Christ. This is no
different than what Jack Chick (who holds their position in the music and other issues) does in his

Shallowness and Personal Experience

And remember, two whole books of the Bible, Esther and Song of Solomon make no
mention of God, but we say that they show God "working behind the scenes for Israel",
and His love for the Church, respectively. These would certainly classify as "veiled
references", the oft used critical phrase for CCM. There's also books like Job, which deals
with struggle and doubt, a popular theme CCM is criticized for. The Psalms and
Lamentations touch on this, too. A perfect illustration is in the criticism of Amy Grant's
Thy Word as having 9 "I"'s in 13 measures and thus being too "self centered". The first
phrase—the title, is Psalms 119:105. Then, she does diverge from the scripture with her
own words about her experience. But if you look at the rest of the Psalm, it is still pretty
similar to Grant's text, including just as many "I"'s— count 'em! (plus "my"'s and" me"'s)
It is a Psalm about the person's experience with God, and if it is used in scripture, then
why are we condemning CCM singers? Why are people ignoring the scriptures on so
many points, yet claiming to speak with their authority? The Bible is a very realistic
book, covering the grit, as well as the glory, in man's existence and relationship with God.
Its uniqueness and authority is degraded by portraying its message as an unrealistic
"everything will be serene and peaceful if you just trust and obey the Lord (and thus our
music has to reflect that)". That is completely contrary to the testimonies of the suffering
saints, AND the Lord Himself.
It is also being pointed out that many of the old 19th century "gospel" songs, —which was
the genre the rock critics long upheld; were just as "shallow" and "man centered" as the
modern stuff they criticize, and in fact, were what set the stage for CCM! John
MacArthur gave an excellent treatment of Christian music in Christian Research Journal
vol.23 No.2. On the other hand, a few of the Fundamentalist critics (such as Fisher) have
apparently seen the double standard and made the same observation about 19th century
gospel as well. The class even picked apart a few old songs to be fair.
Subjectivity, Preference and Conscience

This whole criticism of preference or subjectivity I see in the teachings ignores the fact
that man is a subjective creature. If that is such sin, then remember, it is due to our fallen
nature, and ALL of us have it and have to beware of it coloring even our rejection of
things (as well as our choosing things). That's why God gives us His Holy Spirit to guide
us in debatable areas not covered in the written Word. But what people are doing is for
the sake of denying "subjectivity"; instead of admitting that they feel or think certain
music is bad, (since they criticize the modern generation for judging by feelings) they
simply say "God says!", even though He has not said it, and then try to read these
convictions into His Word as universal commands for all. But this makes it no less
subjective; instead it's worse: it's fashioning God into one's own image, and taking
liberties with His name at that. Romans 14 and 1 Cor.8 are very clear on similar issues:
vegetarianism and even better, meats offered to idols, explicitly leaving these matters up
to a person's conscience. Fisher suggested that the quality of the meat was not in
question* (in other words, the music they are saying is bad is so because it is 'poor in
quality', and thus doesn't apply here.) But what this passage is talking about is the
spiritual matter of a person's conscience, and people's idea of the music in question here
being 'poor in quality' is connected with their belief that it is spiritually bad; so this
passage does apply to the supposed 'beats offered to idols'.
So you can ask that people not play certain music around you or in church (and perhaps
some young people have not respected this), but they do more than that: they say it
shouldn't be used anytime, and then they try to defile everyone else's conscience with
their "knowledge" so people would have to be restricted to only what these critics say is
good. Some will cite Paul's statements that he would never eat meat again if it made his
brother stumble (1Cor.8:13), and that we shouldn't either (Rom.14:21). Paul is giving us
the attitude we should have, and yes, many have failed here. But this is not to be
manipulated in order to completely obliterate others' preferences altogether. Else, the
person doing this is violating the intent of these scriptures just as much as the supposed
"offender". Plus, nobody would be able to do anything, because different people will
claim to be "offended" by everything and anything. The people claiming to be "offended"
must have a sensible claim. The Bible does not tell us to yield to any teaching that comes
up in the Church, for then there would be no way to keep out false doctrine! Paul may
have in one place told his readers to yield to those with weak consciences regarding meat,
but then in 1 Tim.4:1-5 he condemns those, among other things, "commanding
to...abstain from meats". Contrasting this with Rom. and 1 Cor. shows that with some it is
a legitimate issue of conscience, and with others, it is part of a false system of doctrine.
He does not even say "well, since there are some who have legitimate conscience issues,
we should still abolish all meat anyway, [as basically, the false teachers happen to be right
on that point]". In fact, rather than a genuine personal spiritual conviction, it seems in this
issue the music critics are bent on stamping out of existence altogether a whole range of
music largely because of the culture its elements came from, or because it's not what they
are used to, or because they thought any amount of physical pleasure was bad! Is that
what Paul suggested we do with meat? No, but it is closer to what the false teachers in 1
Tim. apparently were trying to do.
Younger generations questioned the impure motives of their elders, dismissed the whole
issue, and then went and did whatever they felt was right. Both went about it the wrong
way! The Biblical way to resolve this would have been to all sit down and discuss it
prayerfully as brethren, but the problem was that those favoring the old ways were
usually totally unreasonable, and did not even believe in discussing or debating (as we
shall see shortly), so actually, the brunt of the blame for this discord would fall more on
the traditionalists! Fisher laments how churches and colleges and other institutions were
divided by this issue, and others insist that the older leaders were the God-ordained
authorities, whom everyone should have submitted to regardless; but if leaders and others
on the conservative side were supposedly more mature, and truly God's appointed
leaders, and knew scripture so well, then they should have been the ones to have handled
this scripturally from the beginning! Instead, they allowed emotion to take completely
over, thus setting the stage for one of the very things they criticize CCM fans for—
choosing music based on emotion and feelings! This is what set the tone of this debate.
And once the youngsters went out and started their own churches, the traditionalists
should have had no problem, as they would not have to hear what was sung in those
churches. But instead, they continued to denounce the entire contemporary Church just
for using the styles, period (whether people were trying to bring it into their
congregations or not). Obviously, the traditionalists' motives are questionable, and have
damaged their own credibility, so they should not be surprised when the younger crowd
doesn't accept their authority as biblical.
Fisher even criticizes the "catch phrase" of CCM, that this "requires discernment": ("No
lines drawn, no standard held, no scripture quoted" p.194). Godwin is even more
outspoken on the idea that there are "gray areas": "What absolute hogwash! This kind of
nonsense is typical of self-serving C-Rock deception. First: There AREN'T any grey areas
in the Bible! From Genesis to Revelation, God lays everything out in blacks and whites:
Blessings/Cursings, Life/ Death, Heaven/Hell, God/Satan, Christ/the world. Now make
your choice. Why don't these supporters of "Christian" trash come clean and admit the
obvious." ( So no issue
requires "discernment", thought, prayer, or any other sort of discourse. We are supposed
to just draw "lines" and "standards" and cite scripture hastily on the spot without even so
much as taking the time to study the scriptures to discern these issues and then draw from
the scripture our "lines" and "standards", (rather than going by tradition). That pretty
much sums up the way these critics have approached the issue, and this is precisely why
they are unbiblical! But it's these critics' way or no way at all, and if they say it's wrong,
God has said it was wrong, case closed. Since the Bible deals in "Blessings/Cursings,
Life/ Death, Heaven/Hell, God/Satan, Christ/the world", you can thus add to that
"traditional/contemporary music". Despite the fact that by Biblical authority the two
issues addressed in the passages discussed above are in fact such "gray areas" that require
discernment as well as grace, and that the critics ignore the gaping holes in their theory,
such as the type of music that was accepted by God as worship in Israel, and the pagan
influence in traditional forms. These points are precisely why an area like this is "gray"
and requires discernment. Because none of us has all the answers, and we are cautioned
against making statements about our brother's walk based on our convictions when we
ourselves do not see the whole picture either. Horton points out "Justly outraged at a
moral relativism that has rendered it almost impossible to say that anything is true, good
or beautiful (except, of course, for the dogma of relativism itself), many Christians refuse
to acknowledge that there is any place...for 'things indifferent'. It is true that we ought to
be 'black and white' on...absolutes we not only find in Scripture, but find written on the
human conscience. Nevertheless, general wisdom guides our application of these
universal aims and truths, a wisdom that is always fallible and conditioned by particular
factors"(p.164). Going to an opposite extreme from the modern world and church makes
one no better than they are, and is not even any "safer" as will be mentioned again.
The critics will go as far as discussing these two chapters of the Bible, but the outcome is
always twisted to cover up their own egregious violations of the principles of these
scriptures, and once again point the finger at their opponents. ("liberty is not 'license to
sin' or offend", etc. But once again, how do they have the authority to determine what is
sin, or what offends God or anyone other than themselves, outside of the scriptures?).
You cannot try to override scriptures while pointing at everyone else as violating
Fundamentalists focus a lot on the "wicked heart"(Jer.17:9), but this seems to be more to
discredit people's feelings (e.g. you may feel that your music is good, but your heart is
wicked, so never mind what you feel; this is what's good). But if they really
acknowledged the full implications of this biblical statement, they wouldn't be so angry
at a world of sinners for being sinful (while assuming that they have a monopoly on the
truth; as if their hearts aren't wicked as well). A similar misuse of the "wicked heart"
concept occurs in their criticisms of psychology. Click here for treatment of this issue
Still, I do consider what these teachers say ("what if they were right?"), and this ends up
further illustrating the problem of this teaching. While I was taking the class and
afterward, any piece of music I would hear anywhere, I would wonder, "Is that OK to
them"? They make all of music seem so black-and-white, like it's a choice between
"rock" and everything else. But then "rock" as they define it is a very broad category,
including hard and soft rock, and even R&B, disco and jazz are apart of it. Basically,
"rock" is another word for "black" music or music with African elements, such as the
beat. (It can be seen as what is called a code word) So I hear something mellow or even
melodic, for instance, but it's harmony is jazzy. "What would they think of this?" or "How
would they rule this out?" I say. "Does this 'cross the line'?" Now first of all, do you see
what is happening? I wind up measuring everything by what "they" (fundamentalist
music critics) would think. It's almost like they would become God the Holy Spirit in my
life. They themselves would be the first to deny and say, "no, you don't go by what we
would say, you go by 'Biblical principle'?". But that's the point. Where they have laid
down meticulous criteria for judging music, the Bible does not. They only take Bible
verses on Christian living and say "if the music 'violates' this scripture, it is no good",
assuming it will automatically rule out all rock, jazz and everything else with African
influence. But for me, it doesn't. I see no real spiritual difference between a nice piece of
classic "modern" Jazz (which is different than the old club jazz, blues, or even modern
"fusion") and classical. They both use similar instruments, and the only difference is the
jazz has more bass, usually no strings, different harmonies and syncopation. None of it
makes me sin, even in my heart, like popular music with suggestive lyrics might. None of
it violates any of those scriptures. Cloud has been making a great emphasis on warning us
of the "jazzy" music coming from the "charismatics" and accompaniment tapes, but what
is really wrong with this? To him, it seems to be bad for no other reason than because he
tags it with the "jazz" label. (Most of it doesn't really even sound like "jazz" at all, but
once again, it's the beat and certain amount of syncopation or strong harmonies that
automatically lumps it in as "jazz" or "rock") Even if a worship song makes me tap my
hand, this is not bad, and does not necessarily "distract" (I am also similarly influenced
by some traditional songs, such as "To God be the Glory"). I know when music has a
negative effect on me. (The sad sounds of "Stairway to Heaven" and some of Simon &
Garfunkel's stuff comes to mind.). So then these 'principles' can't be applied here, and this
is clearly shown to be a personal matter, as Paul teaches. Yet, what's going on, is that
people are trying to tell you what you feel and how you respond to music. It's like they
are the Spirit who searches all men, rather than trusting that their brethren can follow the
Spirit's leading for themselves. If they are not being honest, and God is convicting them
and they are denying it and not listening to Him, they shall answer to Him for it. Not to
other Christians who themselves don't seem to listen to what God says (either His Word
or Spirit)
Kimberly Smith's answer to this supposed "set of myths" (including that we can't detect
anything wrong with it; is the
association with pagans, or our past life, the supposed "unnatural" nature of it, Eph.5:19
& Col.3:16, and how they "suggest a lack of order (God is a God of order); their lack of
straightforwardness (implying deceptiveness, but God is never deceptive); the conflict
between the rhythm of the melody and an additional, repetitious rhythm (which parallels
the Christian’s conflict between his renewed spirit and his old sin nature)" and concludes
"...that the balance of proof against unnatural rhythms weighs heavily on the side of being
inappropriate for Christian music. Is there such evidence to tip the scales and prove that
unnatural rhythms are acceptable? And which side of the scales will pass the test of
comparison to principles of Scripture--principles which are clear and
unambiguous?"(#12) But these "principles" are not clear and unambiguous, but based on
conjecture and often misinterpretation, as has been shown. (And therefore, the charge of
"unnatural" is not even proven either). She continues: "We are told to 'keep our hearts'
[Proverbs 4:23, paraphrase], which means to guard our hearts from those things that can
hinder our walk with the Lord. Music is an important aspect of our lives, and because it
directly affects our emotions it’s extremely important that it pass the scrutiny of biblical
principles--both in the lyrics and in the music itself. Therefore, the excuse that we 'can’t
hear anything wrong' isn’t a valid argument until we’re willing to look at our music
through the magnifying glass of God’s Word and His principles"(#9). But people have
done that, but because this hasn't led to them adopting a traditional-only practice, then it
is being assumed that they have not so evaluated their music. "Yet, if we refuse to
acknowledge that certain music contains carnal/sensual devices and we continue to listen
to such music (under the guise that, 'For me it’s acceptable and uplifting'), aren’t we
suggesting that a little sensuality is okay? Aren’t we then setting our own standard?
Whose standard are we to follow? A standard of our own making, or The Standard set
forth in Scripture by Almighty God? God’s will must be discerned in every aspect of our
lives, including our music, and we need to ask ourselves, 'Does this truly help me to walk
in the Spirit, or am I compromising even a little bit?'"(#2). But they are not saying "a
little sensuality is OK" if they have evaluated their music in light of scripture and have
not found it to be sensual. Once again, people do ask if it helps them walk in the spirit,
and a lot of music that is contemporary does help a lot of Christians walk in the spirit. If
you reject this then we must ask, if traditional music advocates are the ones setting the
"Standard" (and simply reading it into scripture).
She then falls on the old standby of doctrines like the Trinity, i.e. "inferential doctrine":
"Just as there are other issues the Bible doesn’t directly address, Christians have been
able to glean principles and truths: gambling; the concept of the Trinity; the principle of
modest behavior; the principle of sowing and reaping; and so on", and then admits "If any
issue is unclear to us, does that lessen our responsibility before a Holy God?"(#16) No,
but we still must be honest in raising an issue like this, and be willing to trust our
brethren's convictions, so long as they are not violating something that is more clearly
commanded in scripture.
But still, critics will try to invalidate even your own convictions! Jeff Godwin— (see
URL above) responds with a citation of Ezekiel 14:1-5 suggesting that if "God is not
convicting you", it's because He has "given you over to your idol", and will "tell you
what you want to hear". "God doesn't HAVE to convict us to forsake something that
clearly violates His Holy Word. True Christians are supposed to know better. Why?
Because they read their Bible! If God says it's wrong, it's wrong." So since God's "Word"
says it so 'clearly', the ministry of the Holy Spirit is now dismissed as unnecessary. The
Holy Spirit usually convicts precisely because we are disobeying something that we
know is a biblical command. How does this person think he even has the right to dictate
what God should not 'have' to do like this? But still, hold this thought for a moment.
Others, such as Kimberly Smith (above), would say something like "your spiritual senses
are deadened from listening to that music so much". (So what good does it do to suggest
the musical evaluation cited above if you think their senses are so deadened that they
couldn't discern it anyway?) Or as Godwin puts it: "Here's another possibility: Many a C-
Rock fan has become so violent in their deluded defense of an ungodly, wicked mockery
of Christian music they can't HEAR the Holy Spirit's voice anymore!" So once again, the
work of the Spirit can be set aside! (While it is certainly possible for one's senses to be
deadened, it is also possible for them to be so overly sensitive from a guilty conscience or
the unbiblical fear of all pleasure as being bad in itself). But worse yet, according to
Godwin, not only does the Spirit not have to convict us (or we can't hear Him), but His
Word really doesn't "have" to clearly say it either. He [later] admits it's not mentioned
there (quote coming later), but then neither is marijuana, abortion and other sins, and a
music style is just as sinful as those things, so "God says it's wrong". Here we see
outright double talk, for he says the Bible says it "clearly", but yet it doesn't even have to
be mentioned for this to be so. He tries to argue "in principle", like Smith, but at least she
allows that it might be unclear. Once again, the only supposed "proof" it is wrong is all
the indirect correlations between rock and biblical principle, which are highly debatable.
(The comparison to abortion, drugs and pornography was discussed earlier). It is not
clear! But we see that both the Word and Spirit have now effectively been eliminated
as the guides for Christian practice, yet we are blasted for not following this rule
anyway. Where does this leave us? It seems like a dangerous position to me.
Now how do I possibly know what is right? Why, by what they tell me, of course. The
final answer is that "It offends God". So how do I know which of the various styles and
mixtures of styles I referred to offends God? (The melodic piece that is slightly jazzy, for
instance). Just where do you draw this all-important "line" that is not mentioned in
scripture, but is somehow taught there regardless? By the unsubstantiated or
overgeneralized claims and "associations" offered by these critics? Because some people
once used the beat for sensuality or witchcraft and since the Bible condemns those things,
then there, it "clearly says" it is all wrong, leaving only classical as good? Remember, the
Bible speaks of "knowledge" being what defiles, and in a lot of kinds of music, I have no
knowledge of any aspect of the music that could be so "offensive" to God or violate the
scriptures, and I never used it in a fashion that offends God (e.g. sensual dancing). But
still, I guess (with the critics making sure to spread their 'knowledge' to everyone),
classical/traditional music is all that can be trusted as "pure". That is all there is to their
argument. Now, (to aid us in our "confused" state as Godwin calls it) they might say
"pray to God to clean your heart and mind of the 'bad' music and give you a taste of good
music". But if He still doesn't "change your heart", then you must not have meant it, and
God is still "giving you over" to it. So once again, we have circular argumentation.
Taking another approach, Fisher (Battle, p. 25f) calls our minds to various scenes in
nature, and what words we would think of. Why, "beauty, order, climax (we are even told
that we never look at the bottom of a mountain!), contrast, color, texture, form, and
harmony". Next we are told to listen to an orchestra playing a classical piece of music.
"What terms come to mind?" we are asked. Why, the same ones, of course. Then,
Philippians 4:8 is quoted: ("Whatever things are pure, lovely...", etc). And of course, the
argument could be extended, to what things rock music would bring to mind, which of
course, would be all "bad" things. Do you see what is going on? The reader is being
programmed how to think, using certain "natural truths" that presumably nobody could
deny. The goal is obviously to prove that the elements of classical (such as the "climax"
or summit) are what are in harmony with God's created order and "beauty". Remember,
my argument is not that classical is not truly beautiful (except to the listener), and that it's
all neutral. Already, we see that this logic extends to telling us how we look at a
mountain, ignoring that if its base is covered with beautiful flowers, trees, etc. we will in
fact look at the base and not just the summit. Also, "Can you imagine Mozart being
played in a bar? Not very likely—because the music of Mozart isn't compatible with such
an atmosphere" (p.102). First, one would have to spend a lot of time in every single bar in
the world to really be able to make this claim. The "highly cultured" non-Christians who
like Mozart may not hang around in the same bars as rock loving crowds, but don't you
think they have their own hangouts where alcohol and other sins are present? (Or are
these people automatically "good" and "Christian" just because of the music they listen
to?) This shows us the total non-thinking, mind-cloning mentality of these teachers. (And
they get mad at the CCM crowd for pointing this out as we shall see). It is also why they
cannot even agree with each other on some issues, as also we shall see soon. And as
always in this teaching, a whole grand issue is being built upon grains of truth that do not
support the whole issue (e.g. rock and other contemporary styles can never have any of
the aforementioned virtues, being in nature the total opposite of them). And anyone who
doesn't agree simply has a "subjective opinion", but if they perhaps should "take the time
to learn" what great art, music, etc. is, they would come to recognize the "qualities". I
would admit that many people today need to learn good music, but this shows that this is
not so "obvious from nature", but has to be learned in order to fully comprehend. The
question is, who is going to teach them what "great music" is, and where did the teachers
get their ideas and opinion of it from?
Godwin goes on to compare the defense used by a Christian leader with one used by a
KISS singer, and says "The Christian who wrote those words should be ashamed. HE'S
the one who ought to repent on his knees! He's using the same lame excuse to justify his
sin as the SECULAR Rock stars". Yet if you closely compare the two statements, you'd
see that the Christian leader starts from Scripture and is pointing out that the issue is
simply "opinion" and one must follow his convictions and not judge based on its absence
in scripture. The KISS singer starts from the common secular assumption that people
"interpret the Bible any way they want" (non-believers often claim this to dismiss all
Christian beliefs), and that "everybody has to decide for themselves what works and what
doesn't work", and not tell anyone to live the way we live. The two statements may sound
similar and have parallels, but the basis behind them is very different. The world believes
that there is no standard at all for us to live by, and that religious 'holy books' cannot
even be trusted because they were both written and interpreted by "imperfect men" (and
often used for control, and issues like this give much credence to that!), so we must
decide for ourselves what is right and let everyone else do what they think is right. The
Christian leader was not saying this, but rather was accepting that the Bible is our
standard, and we are to measure each other by it, but if it does not address the issue, then
we are given liberty, and should not judge. It is highly dishonest to try and match up
statements like this, ignoring the significant differences in orientation, but that is the
basis of much, if not most of the quotes these critics make of CCM and the modern
church. (Yet at least one got highly upset that I questioned this method of quoting
Some ministries publish dozens of "testimonies" of how Christian rock made Christians
"rebel" or "fall back into the world", or into "sin" but all this means, at best is that those
people can't listen to it. Sometimes, the critics themselves will proudly exclaim "I'm not
condemning the beat because I don't like it, but rather my flesh does enjoy it! This of
course is supposed to be the ultimate proof that it is bad. Again, either they themselves
have a proble, or they again think any "pleasure" is bad.
Sexual connotations, for instance are created by a combination of things, many of them
overt, like the words, and in that context the rhythm and arrangement, etc., not just the
beat by itself. The utter irony of this is that these same critics frequently condemn
"behaviorism", the idea that external conditions are to blame for sin, rather than our
internal natures. So while they constantly criticize psychologists for saying "These people
grew up this way and act the way they do because of their upbringing", it is perfectly OK
to blame music styles and beats for people's sins!
But while we can't say the music makes us sin, still, it's up to each Christian to see if it
has any of these physical effects on him, being that different people are susceptible to
different reactions to different things. If it does, then, scripturally, he should avoid it. If
the music affects you in a negative way, then you cannot expect people to shape their
walk on your reaction. You can only ask that they not play it around you. The spiritual
way to test the music we listen to, is to ask if we would want Jesus to return while we are
listening to this? Can we bring Him with us into the activity, such as the Christian concert
(whether performing or enjoying it)? If so, we should be cautious in challenging that,
unless they do cross the very definite lines of Christian living.
Failure to heed to this principle will have the opposite effect from what you wish; as with
new reports of all sorts of radical styles hastily being brought into the Church, including
wild "raves" and a type of dancing called a "mosh pit", which involves people being
carried, and everybody playing in some slimy substance. It is a shame that it comes to
this, and the critics lump this in with everything else that they criticize. These "one
criticism condemns all" arguments directed against certain beats and syncopation, etc.
rule out not only this, but a whole lot of other stuff that is nowhere near this. This is what
I think further clouds the whole issue. There was no real guidance in the overly strict old
rules. Old-liners reject practically everything, and then the contemporary people then
accept everything. They know that the one or two "traditional" styles advocated by the
critics can't possibly be all that God accepts. So then where is the line? We can just push
it as far as it will go, and here we are: Christian "raves" complete with "mosh pits"! (The
same on the worship scene with laughing, barking, etc). And the critics just remain steady
trashing everything, including the mild stuff, (which they blame for setting the stage for
this far out stuff), and even my attempt to bring some balance to the issue, will still be
accused of making music "neutral" (since I debunk arguments for the necessary evil of
certain styles), thus supporting the straw man. But this is just further compounding the
problem. The answer is not to demand that everyone go back to old hymns. We must
really go to the Bible and try to lay down some clear principles to go by, rather than
reading into it all-or-nothing extremes. Otherwise, this is all we will continue to see: One
group trying out all sorts of bizarre things, and another group just bashing them for it.
Neither will hear the other. And we will get nowhere.
Connected to this is the claim that the modern Christians are more interested in what they
can get away with or what God allows, rather than what God requires or how He might
be "pleased". This is human nature (including fundamentalists), and the problem has been
greatly exacerbated by the excessive rules of some, that aren't even biblical. This would
naturally lead people to ask what God really does allow or does not allow. Do we just
follow anyone who comes up to us with rules, "if we really care about pleasing God",
without question? (Cults have plenty such rules we do not follow. More on this soon).
God may have neither "required" it nor be particularly "pleased" by it, unless it was
freely done in regard to Him. (Rom.14:6). People urging us to keep Sabbaths or give up
birthday and holiday celebrations and "unclean" meats can accuse us of "focusing on
what God allows, rather than pleasing Him" when we quote this and other scriptures
regarding our "liberty" in response to them. Also, taking the opposite attitude of
supposedly "trying to stay as far away from sin as possible" so much that we make
certain presumptions of what God doesn't allow (just to be safe) is precisely what the
Pharisees and rabbinical Judaism after them had done. It becomes actually a haven of sin,
because once one thinks he is doing so good, ('so far from sin, now') not only does he
become self-righteous (what does he really need God's grace for?) but he tends to begin
to slide in certain areas, especially ones he does not focus on (e.g. sins he's not even
aware of. This, as I will discuss further, is how the past can be viewed uncritically
compared to the present, while many sins that occurred then were ignored). This was
what was meant by "straining at a gnat, and swallowing a camel", or "neglecting the
weightier matters of the Law". Miller, (p.71) warns us that "The adherence to an
authoritative teaching of principles that is more strict than the Bible is far from safe
ground according to the Scriptures—rather it is a subtle form of worldliness instigated by
the enemy. It is not safe to err on the side of the conservative. It is never safe to err." We
must beware of actually nullifying God's true commands and worshipping Him in vain by
"teaching as doctrine the commandments of men" (Mark 7:7,8/Isaiah 29:13).
Because the reactions of people to those earlier "secular" styles such as Jazz, blues,
bebop, etc. was the same as our reaction today to these new styles, then it is implied that
those earlier, milder styles are no better than the newer hard styles of today. So there is
absolutely no difference between jazz and acid rock, or big band and the rave scene (it's
all the same "jungle beat" that makes people immoral anyway, right?). And of course,
only traditional/classical styles are above such reaction. (which was definitely not the
case, as we saw). It was precisely this failure to set reasonable standards that blurred the
line and helped lead to the removal of all standards in the first place. Just lumping all
styles you weren't used to into the same pot. So now once again, you have people who
either accept everything, or continue to reject everything, and neither side seems to
recognize any balance.
* Fisher, Battle For Christian Music, p 174ff
"Evil Communications" and Outward Appearance/"Appearance of Evil"
One verse we hear tossed around a lot is 1 Cor.15:53 "Be not deceived, evil
communication corrupts good manners". "Music is a language; it is communication. It
must be good or bad" one person tells me. Still, like all the other claims and scriptures
quoted, this does not tell us which style is good or not. Fisher, p. 137 discusses outward
appearance, and in this context compares sweat shirts or T-shirts with suits and ties.
("Which is appropriate to be taken seriously?") Others like Cloud have criticized modern
churches (such as the Calvary Chapel movement) for the pastors being dressed down. But
since when is the suit and tie sacred garment? Can't that be associated with immoral and
corrupt business and government leaders? (Josh McDowell has even challenged CCM
critics on this double standard). But once again, it's just another "tradition" that must be
right compared to modern culture which must always be wrong. Christians today may be
wrong in regarding outward appearance as totally unimportant, but once again they are
simply reacting to the past overemphasis on outward appearance in traditionalism, which
was precisely the type that Jesus was criticizing in the people of His time. (John 7:24,
But still, even this appeal to "professionalism" becomes a big strike against these critics'
claims regarding music. All of this came to mind, while watching some federally
mandated job training videos, and also serious health-related infomercials and other
educational films or productions companies use for their customers (including web pages
or phone "on hold" messages). These are perhaps the highest examples of professionalism
and proper communication. It is the finest English you will ever hear, with absolutely no
profanity, bad grammar or even slang. So then what style of music accompanies these
presentations? What is used to help "communicate"? If our critics were correct, it would
always be classical and traditional. While you may hear those at times (the latter, "hymn"
type pieces, rarely however), what I find most often is used is some instrumental jazzy
pieces, and they often have the so-called "rock beat" (back beat), and at least one I
remember had a dance type beat. Basically, the "fusion" style. But these did not take
away from the serious, professional atmosphere of the films. Remember, it is not just the
hard sounds of thrash metal and other similar styles these people say is bad
communication. It's the beat and syncopation used in soft styles and jazz they claim is
where the "evil communication" ultimately lies. But we see that jazz and perhaps some
soft rock is the modern version of "professional" music. They are professional
"communication". Fisher even made a reference to Muzak to prove that the professional
world realizes the power of music. But what is much of Muzak today but jazzy or soft
rock? This thus disproves the ultimate criterion these critics judge the "appropriateness"
of music by! If the critics will then claim "well, that reflects the modern decrease of
morality" (a common claim), they should remember that it is they who have been
appealing to the "professional" world to prove their points! They should not then back out
of it when shown that it really disproves their case.
"But all of this is still making music neutral" critics will charge. Their initial reaction to
the idea of the neutrality of music was to disprove it with physical effects. Music can
either make you want to march or contemplate, or it can make you want to dance or at
least sway your torso. Just think of a marching cadence: "LEFT right LEFT right..."; "HUP
two THREE four..."; "[we're] IN 1 the ar2my NOW3, [4th beat silent]...". Now if we shift
the accent: "left RIGHT left RIGHT..."; "hup TWO three FOUR...", etc. then just by
thinking of it, it would lead me to a shuffle or strut (dance type steps!) instead. I can't
explain why, but God has tuned our senses to react to different beats this way. But this
still does not show that He favors one over another, even in worship. Critics will try the
arguments from nature at this point (heartbeat, etc), but even this does not carry any real
weight. But even if we acknowledge all of this and show that it still does not prove one
style is good while the other is bad, then this new factor is added: "morality". We are then
accused of making music morally "neutral", which is then said to be their original
objection. It must be either "good" or "bad". But once again, the only proof they have
offered is physical and mental effects, and these do not prove their position; —unless you
assume dancing or bopping is always bad, and marching and contemplating always good.
(Or at least that they always lead to some other, universally good or bad reactions). That
is what some out there seem to think. But this is precisely where the scriptural proof is
lacking. If we must categorize everything as "good" or "bad", then we would have to say
that whatever is not explicitly bad is good. God created it; He tuned our senses to get
enjoyment out of it, all He created was good, so it is good unless it can be perceived as
evil by the listener, or one distorts it into evil. Ah, but this is still removing our universal
"line" and making it "relative"! So the critics may prefer a "regulative" principle: If it is
not specifically "good", it is bad, or at least "uncheckable" as one school puts it. But this
still begs the question of how to prove traditional is the "good" standard in order to make
everything else "bad" compared to it. This is a similar argument to those who reject
instruments in the New Testament: "whatever is not 'mentioned', is forbidden". But at
least what they are saying is good (singing) is mentioned. This argument among different
instrument based styles doesn't even have that support! So we would then only circle
back around to the physical/natural effects claims; —or, the old standby of "associations".
But even the associations or physical effects that can be detected do not determine "good"
or "bad" in every situation. The "fall down and worship Me" argument, for example. We
can't go wrong sticking with a nice majestic or traditional style whose stately sound tells
us to fall down before God, can we? (Setting aside the fact that these styles can lead to
pride). Or a more "solemn" piece pointing to what Christ did for us? How can some jolly
"party" music fit these atmospheres? But this ignores the scriptural acknowledgment in
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (which funny enough, was made into a popular rock song in the '60's),
that there is a season for different opposites, like "to weep...and to laugh; to mourn...and
to dance" (v.4). This is why a one-sided view on either side is wrong.
Their final argument is "You cannot deny the association of rock & roll with the sexual
revolution with its drugs and immorality. We must 'abstain from every appearance of
evil' 1 Thess. 5:22 tells us". This is because when kids were revolting from the old
societal order with all its restrictions (as will also be discussed later), their whole mindset
was "whatever feels good" (as the advocates of traditional morality have constantly
complained). So they did drugs, sex, drunkenness, and whatever else felt good to them.
So which music would they use? The uptight old traditional style (which had plenty of
secular "love" songs, such as "Drink to Me only With thine Eyes", as well as the national
anthems, other marching style music, nursery style rhymes, etc)? No, they used
something that felt good to them, and the rock style came in handy for that; from
danceable rhythms to mood-creating "slow jams". Combined with suggestive lyrics and
then the abused substances, it could help promote sex. Blacks who did not have as many
of the sexual hangups had been using similar rhythms for years, and called it "rock and
roll" named after having sex in the back of a car, as we are constantly reminded. Plus
other rhythms and sounds fit the feelings of anger and rebellion they felt at society. So
also as will be discussed later, the music was blamed for or claimed to stem from all of
these other problems that were occurring simultaneously in society. This is why
rock&roll came to be associated with those things. But this still is only a use of it that
was sinful. Once again, just like sugar is delightful, but misuse of it is harmful, so a
"creature of id" as we are called, may overindulge in sugar and be fat and be unhealthy
which may lead to sins such as gluttony, sloth, and "destroying the temple God has given
us". But we don't then say sugar is "unholy" or has such a "bad association" that we must
completely shun it to avoid an "appearance of evil". The same with how marching
rhythms would come in handy for an ungodly army such as the Nazi troops waging an
unjust war and brainwashing people. The same with how classical fit in with people
becoming smug and proud of their culture compared with "barbarians". That a person has
witnessed all those sins and it appears so evil to him means that this is his personal
association, and he should avoid it. Others should respect his convictions and not play it
around him or force it into a particular church congregation. So yes, the younger crowd
disobeyed here. But that does not mean it is universally bad, and neither can the "weak"
person force his convictions on others as some universal abhorrence of God. There are
things that are universally evil, and these are the direct violations of the Biblical
commandments. That's why Christians have to be careful playing in secular bars, for
instance. Even though they claim they must do this to witness to the lost; the secular club
scene, with the alcohol, mannerisms of people there, etc. has taken on such a negative
connotation that Christians hanging out there will understandably look suspicious to both
Christians, and even non-Christians who know that Christians usually stand against such
an atmosphere. Likewise, it is why pastors and other ministers in the church are cautioned
against ministering alone to those of the opposite sex. It could lead to, if not be taken to
appear already as, an inappropriate relationship.
With the music styles, in one sense, the critics may have a point of the "appearance of
evil", since the styles were associated with witchcraft, sex and rebellion in the past; but
still, the problem arises from the other, unbiblical reasonings and the unreasonableness
and questionable motives of the critics as stated above. This as I will mention again
shortly, blurred all the lines of good and evil, so as the contemporary styles evolved and
became mainstream, even though they sometimes continued to be used for the evil
purposes, they did expand to a whole range of good uses, and as a whole lost the evil
connotations, which are only reminded to us by critics still trying to eradicate the styles in
favor of traditional. Just the same way that marching styles may remind some of the evil
of the Holocaust, but do not have that connotation to those who have only heard it in
better contexts. This is an important point both sides need to remember. One side says
music is completely "neutral", or at least "morally neutral", and the other side points out
how certain rhythms or sounds are associated with different things, good or evil, and
assumes "this style is always good and that style is always evil". While acknowledging
that certain sounds go better with certain things, we must not confuse "coming in handy
for" with "causing" or "being caused by", or "always being associated with", as there are
other opposite uses for a given sound that can be morally opposite. Marching can be to a
just war or an unjust one. Sex can be sinful outside of marriage, or godly within marriage.
Anger and revolt at society can be from anarchy or wanting to take over, or because that
society is oppressive or even ungodly. Contemplation can lead to godly reflection or a
spiritually dead cerebral "faith" as well as pride, and evil can certainly be "contemplated"
One important point we should keep in mind when assessing the contexts music (or
anything else) is used in, is that the Bible teaches, "to the pure, all things are pure, but to
those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but even their mind and
conscience are defiled". (Titus 1:15) Of course, there are things, such as music that
directly refers to or mimics sex that are universally impure, but with elements like a beat,
syncopation, harmonies, etc. it is all based on the spiritual condition of those using it. All
the quoting of rock musicians and songs illustrates just what I am saying. All that is, is
the music being impure to the impure, and that's what all the critics constantly citing this
stuff as the ultimate proof of their case don't understand. Their hearts are impure, so they
find the most pleasant beats they can find, and use them for impurity, and revel in it. Just
like drugs they use. These substances are natural things God created "good" like
everything else, but they misuse those too for pleasure. That doesn't mean that there could
never be a good use for them (some medicinal drugs can become addictive or harmful if
overdone, or taken at the wrong time, but are otherwise used for good). One person I've
debated with tells me "but see there, you admit that some things are still not pure even to
the pure". But of course, to a certain extent, who is completely pure? We still have a sin
nature, and sex is deeply ingrained in us, and is one of the areas hit hardest by the Fall. So
something like sexual moaning, for instance, can never be "pure" to us listening to it on
some record made by someone else. But in our marriage bed, it is pure (Heb.13:4). This
person, while denying that rock "causes" sin through its "effects", claims instead that it is
rather simply "feeding the flesh", like a person reading a pornographic magazine. But
pornography is a totally different story. God tuned our senses to be aroused by the
opposite gender. This comes from a universal principle God instilled at Creation, and was
marred by the Fall, so He was always strict about it. (i.e. we are only to be aroused by the
person we marry). So this is why such pictures will always lead to impure thoughts, and
indelibly feeds our "flesh". (Because this is not our partner, which is what makes it
impure, not the physical "pleasure" in itself, which would be pure in another context —if
it was from our mate). Thus, this act of "feeding the flesh" is an act of "sin", and is what I
meant by "causing sin" (even though the reader's heart may have already been "sinful" as
he approached the magazine, as this person pointed out).
The same is not so with music. Some things may influence us in various ways, and some
may use it for evil, enticing the masses with the beat that is pleasant to them, (and then
adding sinful words, sexual sounds, etc), but there is no such universal principle for
pleasure in music as there is with sexuality, and it's only the Platonists who have elevated
it to that level. Listening to some song you like, and even enjoying the rhythm, in itself, is
not the same as the thrill of lust one gets from looking at a dirty picture. It violates no
command of God by itself (i.e. if not wedded to something universally sensual like sexual
sounds, or you are using it for a sinful purpose). All of this does not address how much
the other sounds criticized in music (such as the accents of the beats) are indelibly
associated with sensuality. They are simply used for it sometimes, like anything else. But
they can also be removed from that context, unlike passionate moaning or pornography.
Take the earlier cited example of letters and words. The critics point out that the neutral
elements add up to a product that is "good" or "bad". But what they are in essence doing,
would correspond to declaring a certain latter "bad" because they see it used in several
foul words or statements. While the critics who use that illustration are suggesting
(admitting) that an element can be neutral, and it's only the finished product they are
judging as bad; we see that in music, it is elements they are judging as bad in themselves.
To me, the harder acid or thrash sounds as well as a lot of heavy metal have a connotation
with evil, because they consist largely of overamplified electric guitar chords (harmony;
often discordant) but not much melody. It comes across as noise, and the singing
accompanying it is often screaming or moaning, and thrash gets its name from the hard,
fast 2/4 beat, which does in fact sound like "thrashing". Most of the groups had themes of
darkness and death and Satan ("Megadeth", "Greatful Dead", the appearance of KISS),
often with twisted "biblical" references ("Black Sabbath", "Judas Priest", and "Iron
Maiden" with hideous cover art showing a person with his flesh torn off on every album),
and "666", the biblical "number of the Beast [Antichrist]" abounding. Even as a non-
Christian it looked and sounded evil to me, and I would have been bewildered if I had
known of a Christian group using such sounds. Also, those who listened to it seemed to
be hateful, rebellious kids, who wished death to disco because it was a black-oriented
style that had captured the white mainstream, and battles raged on in high school of
whether the good life was "sex, drugs and rock & roll", or "sex, drugs and disco". (Disco
at least was more musical). Heavy metal may at times make a good score for an action
scene in a movie or video game, but to sit and listen to whole songs or albums of it I see
no value in. (And actually sitting and listening/contemplating (perhaps getting high)
rather than dancing is what most of the fans of this style do, so the association of the beat
with sensuous dancing once again is shown to be overblown, as is the persistent
correlating of Africa, as many of these kids look just as much down on African culture as
the old conservatives). Even less hard songs like Aerosmith's "Dream On" and Pink
Floyd's "Brain Damage" sound interesting, but also sound a bit warped or dark. The same
with the harder song "Aqualung" by Jethro Tull. Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" sounds
outright rebellious and violent. (I have only heard these songs in passing, and have never
listened to them on my own). These songs are the epitome of the criticisms of the
"discordance" and "rebellion" of rock. A big part of it is the vocals, and the harmony. I
think it is also the association (i.e. the gimmicks and cover art I mentioned, plus the
general theme and direction of the group), and ultimately, the spirit behind it, as was also
mentioned. It would be interesting to see a study done of songs like this. But all such
studies of rock music I have seen, while mentioning harmony and vocals, always focus
on the backbeat and syncopation (most of the familiar verse portions of the first two
songs mentioned and others like "Stairway to Heaven" do not even have the backbeat!)
Why is this? There is even some music that I really like that I, after growing spiritually,
started to be spiritually troubled by (the sound of a certain song in light of the religiously
eclectic associations and themes) and had to get rid of (an entire collection of all of a
group's albums spanning 3 decades! Not anything truly Christian, though!). If I had heard
a biblical, sensible critique on the spirit behind music, instead of tirades against African
beats and modern culture when I first became Christian; I would have been much less
likely to have bought the music in the first place! So right here, we see that by trying to
narrow it all down to such broad categories as beat accents, syncopation and repetition in
general, continents or cultures of origin, etc. the critics are actually diverting us from the
real issues of the spirit behind music, and are the ones truly "aiding the devil" by bringing
into the church more confusion (which he thrives off of), and leading to people readily
dismissing any type of spiritual discernment in music when they find the critics'
arguments to be inaccurate. Once again, they are blurring the true spiritual line just as
much as the musical relativist!
Yet there are Christians who do not seem to think any sound is evil. (yet even with the so-
called "Christian hard rock" they use, something does sound or seem different about it
from the secular bands!) Critics could look at this and say "see, that's where your
reasoning leads", while fans could accuse me of using the same reasoning as the critics.
But this is why more grace is needed here. I can point out all these concerns and why I
think that style is no good, but not talk down to them, rant at them, call them wicked or
followers of Satan, or even question their walk with God, as many of the critics are
doing.* We must try to articulate a truly biblical objection to a particular element that we
think is questionable, not use proof-texts to try and eliminate whole categories of music
and try to break it all down to a beat accent or amount of syncopation or continent of
origin when all music that uses those things does not have the evil connotation, and
scripture does not cover those things. Fisher, p.192, claims that the "watershed" or point
of division is that "If all music is capable of expressing Christian thought, then we
'conservatives' have been wasting a lot of energy and time over absolutely nothing. On
the other hand, if there are kinds of music that are incapable of or inappropriate for
expressing Christian thought, then...we must continue to resist bringing them into the
Church". We are even warned not to get "sidetracked" on issues like backmasking,
spandex suits or weak testimonies —actually the more legimate concerns regarding
"worldliness"! The entire issue is topsy turvy here, as one "style" versus another is made
the ultimate issue! So where the time is really being wasted is on the criterion by which
music is judged appropriate or not appropriate; and yes, it is possible for many people to
be wasting time on wrong issues. (just think of all the other heresies we see in the
religious world). It is up to them to make sure their teaching is really in line with the
Bible, and not just certain points (while the rest of the teaching deviates into error); not to
simply try to convince everyone purely by their critical fervor.
Another ultimate proof that this whole "classical=good associations; rock=bad
associations" generalization is the categorization of "classical" under the Gothic label!
Now "Gothic" is just about the darkest thing we can think of, and we automatically
picture modern rebellious youths, with their heavy "goth rock" music, and dark eyeliners,
punked out hair, etc., and the associations with old horror/monster movies. But all of this
has in its roots in "classical" European culture!. You can even see the classical music
categorized as "Gothic" at this site:
(Musical/Historical Overview By Dr. Greg Pepetone)! The epitome of this is Bach's
Toccata and Fugue in D minor, (BWV 565); a dark, eerie theme associated with Dracula
and other morbid images. This is pure classical, by one of the most respected composers
of "traditionalist" Christians, and should forever put to rest the false "moral/spiritual"
dichotomy between rock and classical! Of course, people will probably say "oh that was
just one example that was dark, but the rest of classical is not like that". But then the
same generalization should be rejected for rock and other contemporary forms. Either the
negative "association" rules out the whole style, or you just have to draw your lines on a
case by case basis. But it is so much easier to put forth such effort for your own beloved
style, yet with a broad sweep rule out everything else.
* Masters, for instance, suggests people bringing in "the most extreme styles" "fall within the scope of 2
Peter 2" —false teachers who "stand under the judgement of God pronounced by the apostle Peter"
( I would view such as sorely misguided, but
eternally condemned because of a style? There may be some truly false people infiltrating the Church, such
as what Masters describes: "They will be covetous and deceitful people who will import sinful and sex-
based ideas and fashions among the people of God, and will cause many young and weak believers to fall
into selfish, unspiritual, pleasure-loving ways"; but Masters suggests these are "people who at some time
seemed to undergo some personal reformation of life, but were never truly converted" (in other words,
reprobate "tares" who really thought they were Christian but didn't bear the fruit or persevere —discussed
on predestination.html), rather than phony charlatans who never thought they were Christian, but only told
others they were to deceive (what the scriptures on false teachers are actually describing). This is a serious
charge being made against people because of a style, even if some of the things that are being brought in
are a bit over the top. Once again, where would we even draw the line in "extreme" since all pop is lumped
into the same category, and varies in "extremeness"?

God's Creativity and The Development of Music

If a Christian worship song has rhythm and "clever ideas", rather than taking glory away
from God, I am pointed to God's beauty and creativity, which comes through the artist,
who is made in His image, though tarnished by sin. Yes, he or she is just God's
"paintbrush", but the ideas they put into the songs are God's handiwork! He did it
through them, just as He inspires people to preach His Word, who may use their own
illustrations or ideas to convey the message. Since people are made in the image of God,
self expression is not abhorred by Him, as long as they make it clear that the ultimate
glory goes to Him.
Music develops by borrowing, changing, and putting a new spin on previous ideas. If it
didn't, then it would all sound the same, and much of the music being advocated here
sounds pretty much the same. (How much can you really do with the text, melody and
harmony almost always synchronized?) Things change, and it isn't CCM that is dividing
the church, but rather an apparently pietistic strain in which many are afraid of change
just for the sake of things being different.
Critics even quote Prov.23:10 and Jer.6:16 about following/not changing old ways,
("landmarks") and even add the idea of not "offending" anyone, ("unity") and that God
"changes not" to insure that nothing will ever change. But this reasoning suggests that
everything that was ever an established church tradition was from God and should never
have been changed. This would include all the dark spots of church history, which are
always glossed over; and also the authority of Rome (harshly condemned by
fundamentalists), whom we "rebelled" against, and for good reason. We Protestants must
remember this when criticizing others for "rebellion", "disunity", etc., to try to defend
whatever tradition we think is God's. And they don't seem to realize that their traditions,
including the musical style were not from the first century New Testament Church, and
thus could also be seen as a departure from "biblical" worship or the original 'old ways',
especially given the pagan background of much of them, as was shown above. In a
section of his treatment of the Luther/tavern music debate titled "A distinct style",
Masters claims "In the course of the Reformation we gained the Genevan Psalter. We still
use many of its tunes today. For several centuries now there has been in the churches of
Jesus Christ a distinctly Christian idiom for music, easily distinguishable from secular
music. New-style worship is now sweeping this away."
( But this style was once new
and contemporary, even if the individual songs weren't really from the taverns. It has no
claim to biblical preference, was influenced by unbiblical western philosophy and
differed from the styles that were used in ancient mideastern biblical culture. What all of
this may show is that certain people may go too far in copying sounds directly off of
secular songs, or just imitating the pop idiom in general just for the sake of it, or to make
money, but still it does not support the argument that older is always God's way. (What
we're doing here is taking the weaknesses of one side and thinking it proves the other side
by default). Why then don't we go back to the 1st century pattern of the church, with its
lack of incorporation, buildings and paid professional leaders (Again, like the Amish)? I
feel this never should have changed (and it first changed when the Roman Empire
recognized and exalted the church so it could use it for control. Out of this was the
Catholic system created). But trying to go back is a low priority. We have to deal with
things as they are. This segment of the church is always pointing us backwards. Alarmed
at the sins of modernity and post-modernity, it is assumed that pre-modernity had it right
all along. But any period of human history after the Fall is equally corrupt and sinful,
even though the outward manifestations of sin change from era to era. The Bible even
speaks against looking back like this. (Eccl. 7:10, Isaiah 43:18-21, Phil.3:13)

Behind the Criticism: The Quarrelsome State of Modern Separatism

John M. Frame, of Westminster Theological Seminary in Contemporary Worship Music:
A Biblical Defense (R&R Publishing, Philipsburg, NJ 1997) also brings out many great
points showing that many of the faults used against contemporary music and worship are
equally present in traditional music and worship. These include the traditionalists being
full of pride, the traditional forms of music having entertainment value and being a
commercial enterprise, and the possibility of people who love it losing grip on the higher
purposes of worship. He also points out that the critics "redefine Christianity by making it
at every point the opposite of what they are opposing", and suggests that the opposition to
CWM is not wholly based on theology, but has a strong emotional component to it,
evidenced by the shoddy argumentation and sheer stubbornness. (P.142) This is what I
meant, above, when I suggested that they accuse contemporary Christians of judging by
"subjective feelings" (preference) without checking to see if their own position is not
likewise influenced by it, however subconsciously. If contemporary Christians are doing
so much wrong in their music (as well as the secular rock & urban culture) then there
should be a concern that these people are doing harm to their own souls, and their
relationship with God. But no, all I see from this movement is hostile contempt: like "you
people are rebelling against our authority; helping erode our culture, [and bringing that
dreaded 'jungle' culture into our midst]!" The same attitude you see in their politics and
every other aspect of their message to the outside world. It's all centered on them, and
what they are offended by, and their authority (making it ironic how they criticize CCM
and the modern culture as being so self-oriented!) Doesn't the contemptuous name calling
we see (cited above and below) sound more like personal animosity than godly reproof?
This shows they are not all that objective, but are just as subjective as they accuse others
of being, and that they do not speak for God. They are being just like the Jewish leaders
of Jesus' day, including the disciples, who are "mindful not of the things of God, but of
the things of men" (i.e. their desire of rule over society and the propagation of their
traditions and identity rather than the people who need to be reached with the truth of
God). Critics rebuff being called "Pharisees", but they are doing the same things the
Pharisees did! And even this charge they actually try to throw back at the very people
they are criticizing! One person is calling CCM and contemporary Church leaders "Lords
of Laodicea" (as in "lords over God's heritage"), but who is it that is trying to control
everyone with their unbiblical assumptions? What's of special note is Adrian van Manen's
The Lord reproved the Pharisees. He called them many names. The Pharisees,
I'm sure, felt persecuted. They were religious zealots and knew the Old
Testament. How did anyone, let alone a poor carpenter's son, dare reprove them?
Had the Lord not been perfect, had there been no absolutes, the Pharisees would
have been correct to go on the counter-attack and accuse the Lord of slandering
their good name. However, the Lord was perfect, there were absolutes, and the
Pharisees were being corrected. Man has not changed in 2,000 years. There are
still Pharisees among us going on the counter-attack. They cry out, "Persecution,
Persecution!" Could it be correction, correction unheeded? (Their Rock Is Not
As Our Rock "Confusing Persecution with Correction"; see
So the CCM crowd are also the real "Pharisees", and not only that, but look at the other
correlations: "absolutes". What are these "absolutes" in this case? That only traditional
music is good? (although in this particular chapter some legitimate concerns regarding
the CCM industry are addressed). Despite all the claims of others, the least bit of
evidence is still sorely lacking! And then, the "perfect Lord". Now who does that
correspond to in this case? Is Jesus the one writing all of these polemics against CCM?
Or is it the CCM critics who are the perfect lords, or do they imagine they are perfectly
conveying the Lord's message? No wonder they wage such an indignant crusade against
everyone else, and even moreso how dare anyone reprove them back! Pointing at others,
they have just described themselves! It was the Pharisees who thought they or their
traditions were perfect, yet ignored all the sin in their lives while looking at everyone
else. We actually are all accountable to one another, according to the New Testament. So
not only should the one doing the correcting make sure he is not in error as well, but then
nobody should think they are in a position where they can only give but not receive
correction! For nobody today is perfect like the Lord was! And who are the "religious
zealots" in this case? Aren't the contemporary Christians (including CCM) being
criticized for among other things, their watering down of Christian religion? (i.e. not
being "zealous" enough for truth) Don't the critics see themselves as the ones who know
and completely follow the Bible? It's the critics themselves who are the worst in rebuffing
criticism as "persecution", much more than the relatively passive contemporary
Christians. They all refer to the few responses the CCM crowd do make as "vicious
slander" or "attacks", but it is still nowhere near the bile many of these critics are spewing
(CCM leaders and fans never refer to the fundamentalists they criticize as "false",
"apostate", "following the devil", etc. nor do they call the old music "wicked", "wiles of
Satan" or "trash"). These people could truly be called the "Lords of Ephesus"— (see
description of that church in Revelation). You really wonder whether all of this is about
Christ, our "first love", or some other underlying issues. This we will explore later. Even
"Laodicea" with its claim of "we are rich and in need of nothing" taken spiritually, more
closely fits the attitude of the traditional conservative Church culture than it does the
contemporary Church!
This truly is a similar scenario to the battle with the Pharisees in Jesus' day. He was
completely radical to the Jewish leaders who were so worried about their faith being
undermined by anything new or different to what they were used to. Sound familiar?
Surely His claim to divine rights and titles undermined the basic tenet of monotheism—
as understood by them. And downplaying the Sabbath, the centerpiece of their whole
identity. And hanging out with the worst people around. Then, in Acts, leading His
followers to open up the faith to the gentiles, and teaching that they didn't have to keep
the Law of Moses. Those religious leaders had a real case against Jesus and His
followers. They really appeared to be an idolatrous cult. But we know who was teaching
the truth, and who the stubborn rebels really were, so pious old customs and traditions do
not in themselves make anyone right.
No, we are not to accommodate the faith just to win people, but then we are definitely not
to accommodate it to ourselves, claiming God's preference for established traditions.
Either way, it is being accommodated! Perhaps, what the CCM people are trying to say
when they talk about changing the music to reach people is, we cannot reach the world
when we are advocating a radical "separation" that rejects everything new or different
from our traditions, all out of a deep hatred for the world (while we are just as affected by
sin!). And everyone knows this is not the way of Jesus! Critics now dismiss the scriptural
teaching of "being all things to all men"(1 Cor.9:19-22) with "We don't sin with them to
reach them", "we don't do drugs with addicts, drink with drunkards", etc. (Of course, the
sound of contemporary music is likened to those sins), but their attitudes of contempt for
the world and the insistence that everyone must take on their traditions to become a good
Christian (all men becoming in all things like us so we may control all) definitely violate
this and other Scriptures. The CCM crowd and large sections of modern Christianity may
have gone too far in certain respects, but it is wrong to assume everything they are doing
(i.e. everything modern, or from outside of the traditional Christian culture) is "sin".1 As
it is, most people think of us as some far out exclusive subculture, divorced from real life;
enemies who want to control or condemn. (Horton mentions the irony of us wanting to
either take over the world or run away from it.) This is an image we should be trying to
shed, not reinforce. Why should anybody listen to us if we hate them so much?
And even though they deny so much that music is for reaching the world, they do admit
that our music impacts unbelievers, citing Psalms 40:3. Saying "just trust God to draw
them with the traditional music" is a total copout. Why can't we trust Him to use music
that we may have negative feelings about? So we must embrace change, so long as it
does not compromise the essentials, (and we must be truthful in defining the essentials).
Else, why should anybody come to what they could understandably consider a tribal
religion with a tribal deity whose sole purpose is to give his approval and justification to
that tribe's existence or lifestyle. (See Appendix for further discussion of reaching the
world). And whether or not the people the music is being copied from are rebelling
against God, still, the music can be taken and used for Christ, certainly, if the royalty and
barroom music of the medieval society can.
We can be as adamant and authoritative as we want, but that does not make anything we
say any more the truth. We must be careful purporting to speak God's word for Him,
trying to play the role of the Holy Spirit by regulating what is right and wrong for
Christians beyond what is EXPLICITLY mentioned in scripture, and elevating pet-peeves,
such as modern music to the level of biblical mandates.—Things "I commanded not, nor
spoke, neither came it into my mind" (Jer.8:5, see also Job 42:78 2 and Matt.15:9).
Some people do think that the critics are "winning" the argument, having in fact, all the
"scripture", while the fans and defenders of course, only go by "feelings" and
"preference". Often the latter is true, but the former is an illusion created by the critics
rehashing the same proof-texts over and over, and many fans/defenders often not having
good answers for them. But as one person on an internet discussion pointed out: "The
reason we do not post scripture left and right, is because what is posted as scripture we
agree with, it is the philosophy of man that has been extrapolated from the few scriptures
that reference music that we have to spend most of our time dealing with. There is no
discussion in scripture of styles of music... There is only our own imagined theories on
what they must be talking about in the verses. It's amazing to me, that even some of the
best Bible expositors throw caution to the wind when interpreting scriptural principles
about music. They would never make up so much nonsense about any other area of
scripture, but they squish the scriptures into their own mold, and declare the 'truth' about
Godly music." I then added: "I myself have always thought that arguments such as this
are more about what the Bible does not say, than what it does say; so that is why we end
up 'having less' scripture. Instead, [unfortunately] scripture winds up being used most by
those trying to read something into them".
Anyone can take some issue and make it ultimate, rendering everyone else in a state of
compromise or apostasy. Just look at all the following issues raised by the various sects
and cults; all in the name of "truth", "the Word of God" and "separation":

• Jehovah's Witnesses and Armstrongism's arguments against holidays, birthdays

and voting.
• The Jehovah's witnesses also on blood transfusion.

• Armstrongism also on Old Covenant weekly and annual Sabbaths, and dietary
• "Sacred Name" groups on those things, plus the true name of God: "Yahweh".
("God" is of pagan origin)
• The Church of Christ on the use of musical instruments. (And on ANY
music at all!)
• the Church of Christ and Catholicism on baptism and other "works" in salvation.

• All of the above on the true name and organization of the "true church"

• Various charismatic groups on the use of medicine, dress, hair, speaking in

tongues, etc.
• Some groups on women wearing pants, or having to wear head coverings in
• The Adventists on the Sabbath, also, but unlike the other Sabbathkeeping groups,
they accept Sunday observing Christians as still being saved, but nevertheless
disobedient and caught in Satan's ultimate deception (i.e. Sunday will be the
"Mark of the Beast")

Some of these issues have more apparent biblical support than this music issue, but they
still are not what was prescribed for New Testament Christianity and thus are rejected by
fundamentalists. The most ironic issue is among these very same fundamentalists
themselves: the KJV-Only conflict. Various schools and ministries that attack the "New
evangelicals" as erring in music and other areas, will themselves be similarly attacked by
some more radical fundamentalist groups for accepting translations such as the ASV or
even the NKJV, and they can be very uncivil about it. (The KJV only issue is handled
excellently in James R. White's The King James Only Controversy, Bethany House, 1995;
website: And as was mentioned earlier, Mike Paulson bests other
KJVO/anti-CCM churches, claiming that they use even "good" music wrong! They are
also against psychology, but will also come under attack from others for so much as using
a term associated with psychology (Biblical Discernment Ministries, at is an example). Sword of the Lord
even featured a defensive article (7-10-98) about some fundamentalist schools attacking
and accusing others of compromising, and it's amazing how they used some of the same
appeals (such as "not judging"; "liberty" in Rom. 14, etc.) they criticize the neo-
evangelicals for using! (And they added Rom. 16:17 "mark those who cause divisions")
It's beginning to look like this rock music ban is really the only issue they still agree
completely on! One author 3 quotes Steve Green's "Let the Walls Come Down": "a
fearsome battle rages...a cruel civil war between denominations...over culture and
tradition", and comments "His song absolutely denies the doctrine of separation". But this
author seems to be unaware of the extent of this "battle", even beyond music, into the
issues mentioned above where even his very circle is denounced as being just as
"compromising" as the New-evangelicals! Where does it stop? He does acknowledge 4
that many who share the same convictions of separation often lack charity and divide
over the issue of "knowledge", but these people feel that their degree of "separation" is
God's way (just as he thinks his is), and that anything below the line they draw (including
his position) is "compromise", and must be "stood against" strongly. Who is right? So
while they portray "separation" as "the main dividing line" between "fundamentalism"
and "new-evangelicalism"5, what we see in reality is that fundamentalism is itself
divided, with "separation" being the basis of a carnal one-upmanship that is totally
unbiblical and worldly! Green's song was right on the mark! (This is precisely why songs
like that are written in the first place!) Fundamentalism is in a sad state, even more so
than new-evangelicalism, which is at least more humble, despite its errors. Of course,
before they start jumping on this, this is not to say that we should throw out all
separation, and yes, contemporary evangelicals have compromised a lot here. But these
fundamentalists cannot correct the younger church crowd when they themselves are in
such disarray in drawing the lines of separation, and make such bogus issues as this
music debate. This sets no example and only proves to the modern crowd that all is
relative and all-inclusiveness is the only 'safe' way.
This issue is so heated that many of these critics will resort to total disrespect and
contempt of their fellow Christians for listening to modern music. Godwin describes the
emotional cycles of
...the angry, confused, denying and deluded C- Rock fan [who] always hit one
final button as a last resort in his effort to justify his sin: It's called self-righteous
pride. Yet C- Rock defenders continually justify their sin by patting their own
backs. Noses in the air, they demand a scripture that says: 'THUS SAITH THE
overlook the fact the Bible also fails to specifically mention marijuana, cocaine,
X-rated porno movies, and abortion as sins. Does that make them any less
sinful? Biblical holiness from Genesis to Revelation is swept under the rug by
this kind of rock-hard, rebellious heart. C-Rock brainwashing has completed its
task. The victim's rebellion is now set in concrete. Though living totally contrary
to God's Word, the deluded, confused and hard-hearted C-Rock victim prides
himself in his 'powerful' testimony for Jesus Christ. (What's Wrong With
Christian Rock's Fruits? /
First, it's striking how Godwin describes "C-rockers" as going through what are basically
psychological-style cycles of trauma (much like someone who has been raped or lost a
close loved one tragically) over his teachings. (I thought they were against that type of
stuff. And the main difference is that the standard cycle ends in "acceptance" while the
"C-rocker" cycle ends in "REBELLION") You can almost detect a sense of satisfaction
that he has such an effect on people (I am so right that people just can't deal with my
"truth", and go into anger, confusion, denial, etc) Of course, a teaching like this, shouted
so vigorously, but with no real scriptural support, will cause confusion. Why shouldn't
people be angry when they are called "wicked rebels", and something they like is trashed
as evil or sinful? And of course, when they see it is not biblical, they will "deny" (reject)
it. It is highly manipulative of Mr. Godwin to try to take peoples' natural reaction and
twist them to support his point. But actually, the cycle he describes is actually a perfect
descriptions of critics such as himself. They are the ones who are the most angry (just
look at his whole diatribe as well as many of the others), much more so than the CCM
fans, who are generally passive and often apathetic, as I have mentioned. They definitely
cannot take any criticism. They are confused as to the correct application of scriptural
principle in this area, and in denial of the truth about their and others' cultures, and their
motives; and full of delusion ("our old ways are always right, and everyone else is wrong;
they are just sinning ("living totally contrary to the Word of God") and they know it;
anything they say is wrong and unscriptural and justifying their 'sin'"), and then self
righteous pride (just look at these statements about other Christians, and the way they talk
AT people, but never listen. This usually has the opposite effect of people actually getting
the message, thus it fulfills no purpose but to puff up the one speaking; so who really is
"patting himself on the back" and has their "nose in the air"?) This is also rebellion,
against the truth that one disagrees with, no matter how much of a pious heritage one may
be trying to represent. (Who's heart is "rock hard"? Just try and contact critics like this
with disagreement and you'll quickly find out! —see next paragraph). This writer just got
through telling us how our righteousness is as "filthy, smelly rags", yet does it not appear
that he is full of his own righteousness to be on such a high horse? It makes you wonder
if "sin" is against God, or against them; if they are the ones who gave the biblical
commandments they accuse others of violating (especially since they're so good at
defining what offends God's holiness, even apart from Scripture).
The fact that one can so easily be pointing at one's self in their remarks about others
emphasizes the importance of Christ's teaching about judging our brethren. Of course,
that's just another scripture casually cast aside by these critics (Godwin lists it as just a
defense in the "anger" stage) claiming "other scriptures do tell us to judge". That may be
true, but the key phrase they miss in these other scriptures is "Hypocrite! First cast the
beam out of your own eye then you shall see clearly to cast the mote (splinter) out of
your brother's eye" (Matt. 7:5). These critics REFUSE to admit that they could ever be
wrong, let alone the sin in their traditions, and their attitude and approach to the whole
issue. Yet they can see so clearly everyone else's "rebellion". They trample on scripture
left and right when it conflicts with their teachings, yet they can see so well how
everyone "sweeps biblical holiness under the rug". And let's not forget verse 2, "For with
what judgement you judge, with the same measure you use, it shall be measured back to
you". In John 7:24, when confronted for supposedly violating the Law of Moses, He says
"Do not judge according to sight, but judge righteous judgment". From Matthew Henry's
commentary on James 4:

The Christians to whom James wrote were apt to speak very hard things of one
another, because of their differences about indifferent things (such as the
observance of meats and days, as appears from Rom. 14): "Now", says the
apostle, "he who censures and condemns his brother for not agreeing with him in
those things which the law of God has left indifferent thereby censures and
condemns the law, as if it had done ill in leaving them indifferent. He who
quarrels with his brother, and condemns him for the sake of any thing not
determined in the word of God, does thereby reflect on that word of God, as if it
were not a perfect rule. Let us take heed of judging the law, for the law of the
Lord is perfect; if men break the law, leave that to judge them; if they do not
break it, let us not judge them." This is a heinous evil, because it is to forget our
place, that we ought to be doers of the law, and it is to set up ourselves above it,
as if we were to be judges of it. He who is guilty of the sin here cautioned
against is not a doer of the law, but a judge; he assumes an office and a place
that do not belong to him, and he will be sure to suffer for his presumption in the
end. Those who are most ready to set up for judges of the law generally fail most
in their obedience to it.

Amazing! So we see it is these critics (most of them KJVO, arguing for a "perfect
Bible"), who are actually impugning the Law of God as imperfect through their actions!
It does not rule out as much as they wish, so they must add to it; all the while pointing out
how they uphold it and others fall short. Paul adds: "You who make your boast in the
Law, do you dishonor God through breaking the Law?" (Romans 2:23). Christ tells
people who can see others' blindness, but refuse to admit their own, that because "
say 'We see!'; therefore your sin remains!" (John 9:41)
This is just one example of the type of rhetoric this issue has devolved into, from the
most widely published critic. Similar tones or attitudes can be found from Watkins,6
Beardsley, Nieman, and Noebel. The first two go as far as saying on their websites that
"We do NOT debate. We do NOT argue. But we welcome any King James Bible answers
to CCM." and that "All E-mails violating these requests...may get a canned response of
'IGNORED' because we will not waste our time further with those trying to rationalize
their wicked behavior with the Word of God." Once again, no civil discourse, no
willingness to discuss what the Bible really teaches; they are so RIGHT, that they should
just be able to balk AT people once again, and not be questioned (anyone questioning is
just trying to justify their own "wickedness" anyway). The truth is, they ARE arguing in
their writings (against people they quote) but it is rigged so that it is one sided and they
cannot be answered. It's easy to write or speak on a tape or radio where you get to set up
your opponent's arguments and knock them down, and the person can't respond; but
person to person confrontation (commanded in the New Testament, as opposed to what is
called "backbiting", which is what we see here) where the person can challenge you is
much harder (especially if you have something to hide, such as a weak argument covered
with a veneer of tough talk that the other person can expose). If one's position is so true,
would this form of censorship be necessary? Isn't this strikingly similar to a defiant child
plugging up his ears and making noise so not to hear someone he is arguing with, and
have the last word? (A classic picture of bona-fide rebellion!) As you'll see next, their
whole attitude is that to talk to them, you must come to them on your knees, admitting
that they're right in their interpretation of the Bible: "This is not for C-rockers unless you
plan on repenting and following what the Bible teaches! The purpose is to assist
Christians that are serious in defending their churches against this wile (C-rock and
CCM) of our adversary." In other words, it is only to affirm those who already agree with
them; to "tickle their ears" (and then possibly indoctrinate those who don't). That is the
sole purpose of their bitter ranting, and yet all of this is under the premise of "contending
for the truth"!
It seems those who are screaming the loudest, or carrying on the longest are those who
have in their testimonies involvement in the deepest pits of the worst kinds of rock and
worldly lifestyles before becoming Christian. Others have all along been brought up in a
repressive mindset and simply hearing music that makes them want to move any part of
the body in any way other than marching triggers in them this horrible feeling of
"sensuality" (even though all such movements are not sensual), and they are alarmed and
ashamed that they could have such a reaction! But instead of following the principles of
the New Testament regarding their walk and relation with other brethren, what they are
doing is projecting their own guilt-ridden weak consciences on everyone else. Other
critics are more civil, but still operate on the same flawed assumptions and conclusion
about the modern church and what the Bible teaches.
Once again, I could imagine giving in to these people, and asking "OK, so where exactly
is this line between 'moral' and 'immoral' music? How do I know which of those in
between pieces are "acceptable" or "unacceptable?" Godwin would gladly come to lead
me out of my "confused" state, and what would follow would be all the "principles" of
the accent of the rhythm, plus the dominance of text/melody, and not too much repetition
and syncopation. (Thus effectively ruling out all pop, jazz and other related styles, and
anything with any grain of African influence). This would be backed up with the
scientific studies and people's testimonies. But then I would still not be able to help
wondering what any of this has to do with either Scripture or morality. And listening only
to classical and traditional styles would not make me feel that much further from the
"world". I would only feel like I have simply exchanged one culture for another. There
must be more to the "morality" of music than all of this.

1 Recall discussion on "appearance of evil" and "communication", above

2 Job's friends emphasized God's righteousness over Job's feelings, but they still "did not speak of Me what
was right"!

3 Fisher, Battle For Christian Music, p.177

4 ibid, p 176

5 ibid, p 174
6 Watkins appears to be the most virulent critic of CCM/rock and its "wickedness". You just have to see his
website, with the variety of font sizes and colors which convey the sense of screaming. Yet with all this
holy indignation, if you go to and click the link to the music ministry he supports, what style
will you find? Country! Most of the other critics now condemn country as just as worldly and sensuous as
rock! It too is full of themes of adultery, breakups and other sins. In fact, it's said that if rock&roll=sex, then
country is the 'guilty afterglow'! Yet this critic seems to think it's OK, as did many other southern
fundamentalist rock critics. Once again, this shows us the double standards of many of these teachers, and
proves again how it is never safe to be that hard on others. (Though I wonder if the other critics overlook
this in Watkins)

God, Race and Culture

All of this concerns me so much, because from the picture God gives us in the Bible, He
is much more diverse as Creator to accept only a few limited styles. Christ told the
woman at the well that though the Jews may have been guided by God's Word, they still
were fallen, and what ultimately mattered to God, was not a time or place or style, but
"spirit and truth"(John 4:20-24). The critics will vehemently deny any racist undertones;
if voodoo is ungodly, then it is not a race or culture issue. True, but this ignores the actual
history of this issue. They think that their references to "African voodoo" are simply
objective statements of historical fact, but the truth is, Africa is singled out in these
teachings (as it has always been), despite the fact that all cultures have pagan religion in
their backgrounds, including the Platonic influence of much of traditional "Western"
Christian music and culture, as was shown before. This is no less false or demonic than
voodoo, and the only real difference is that voodoo and other tribal religions look more
wild and sensual because of the rhythmic dancing. But the same Devil is behind both
when they do not point to Christ alone. In fact, the less sensual it looks, the more
deceptive it actually is, because it better fits the description of Satan in 2 Cor. 11:14.
People think it is automatically "godly" because it is "civilized" or even "reverent" or
"worshipful". But who is being revered or worshipped, Christ or culture?
Back when jazz and later rock & roll first began, before the sex, drugs, violence, heavy
metal, and even the widespread drawing upon of false religion, conservatives were
against it, for obvious cultural reasons, calling it "jungle music". (And notice how
variations of this term can still be found in fundamentalist magazines and books, as well
as "primitive"!)1 Bill Romankowski in Pop Culture Wars quotes many sources from
earlier in the century where the Citizens' Councils and Vigilance Associations (outwardly
racist secular organizations) said the same exact things about the "truly melodious and
harmonious" music that "pictures heavenly perfection", (even down to secular classical
music being appropriate for Christians) and the sensuous music of the "crazed
barbarians" which "reflects the Spirit of hell", supposedly "brings out the base in man",
and summonses demons. And this was not the Satan-worshiping acid rock of the last few
decades they were talking about, as most of the quotes were from the 20's to the 50's.
(Notice, the main moral, biblical concern of the association with sensuality— which is so
emphasized now, was simply a supporting point in the main issue of the association with
"barbarians".) They even blamed the NAACP and the "Communists"2 for this
"conspiracy" to 'pollute' southern white teenagers. Romankowski points out: "Rock music
was an outgrowth of the continued interplay and white cultures in
America". Conservatives saw this not only as a type of integration of black culture,
(which they were fiercely against) but also as their white children debasing themselves to
the level of black heathen savages! Meanwhile, classical music (along with other arts)
had always been portrayed practically as the centerpiece of so-called "civilized" [superior
Euro-American, or "Western"] culture! Deny as they may, they just cannot erase this
history. Anyone who bring all of this up is accused of playing a "race card", but it is
clearly their forefathers (and some on their side today) who first played that race card. It
is simply being dealt back to them today who refuse to confess and repent of it, but
instead try to sweep it under the rug, while still arguing some of its central tenets. In fact,
in today's "war on terror" political climate many conservatives, including Christians, are
still boldly championing Western culture as "superior" to others, and notice how often
"western culture" has been brought up in people's arguments on music! The intimate
relation between western superiority and this issue is quite obvious! This music teaching
fits right into the whole scheme of historic racism where nothing good is thought to have
come out of Africa.
Another tactic one may find in this defensive "you're misrepresenting us" vein is like
when one author, (claiming the earlier version of this writing sent to him as a letter was
"hate mail") actually accused me of "majoring on minutiae", instead of some "big
picture"! But again, it is right in his book, plus all the others, where "minute" elements
such as the beat and sycopation are made the ultimate determining factors of "good" or
"bad" in music. It may not be mentioned on every page, but if you want to find out what
they are complaining about regarding contemporary Christian music, these are the only
things clearly mentioned as making the music "holy or profane", or "feeding the flesh",
with other issues as shallow words, while being mentioned more, still ultimately being
made secondary to these so-called "watershed" issues! (And recall us even being told not
to be "sidetracked" by other legitimate issues!) So the "minutiae" is theirs, (with the "big
picture" built on top of it) and yet again, they deny when it is spat back to them!
When one critic (David A. Noebel, The Beatles, A Study in Drugs, Sex and Revolution, p.
8) claims "The hard fact is that in this present revolutionary era, heavy beat music has
become the catalyst for the young radicals in their announced plans not only to destroy
Western culture, but to dethrone God. And few can really deny that the Beatles have and
are playing a strategic and crucial role in the spiritual and cultural demise of the West and
in the proposed destruction of Christianity throughout the world", it becomes more and
more obvious that this issue is about the preservation of a culture, with "God" or
"Christianity" as secondary casualties in this war. (And similar rhetoric regarding
America can be found in Paulson and others) But the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about
any culture, but rather concludes ALL under sin (Rom. 3:9, Gal. 3:22), and God is not the
mascot of any culture. If so, then all this talk about "absolutes" goes right out the window,
as the truthfulness of the Christian Gospel is tied in with the supposed "superiority" of a
culture of [fallen] people, and we've been hearing a lot of this correlation lately, as well as
in the past. I'm sorry, but in musical choices, our allegiance is to Christ, not Western
It's true that Blues and other secular styles this century got decadent, with the sex and
other works of flesh, but what did they originally start as? The blacks' response to their
painful life in America under racism! (Using, of course, musical elements they brought
with them from Africa). But just like when a slavemaster whipped or slapped his slave
and did not allow any normal human reactions (even facial expressions), calling the slave
"uppity", this seems to have a parallel in this issue of music. (Plus, the music probably
stirs up emotions in them they can't deal with, including guilt for the pain their fathers
caused. But denying/suppressing them and hiding behind a mask of non-emotion is still
yielding to the flesh, as Colossians 2 shows.)
Individual teachers and authors may not be racist, or intend to convey racism, but they
cannot answer for the people and INSTITUTIONS that taught them, especially in the past
when racism was more mainstream. The entire conservative Christian movement has
been influenced by this, as is evidenced in their politics and social message. The secular
media and educational system is criticized not just on God and morality, but also for
taking the West out of it's superior role in the world and affirming other cultures
("historical revisionism" and "multiculturalism"); programs for minorities were always
condemned; immigration (from places other than Protestant Europe, that is!) is also
condemned as a "conspiracy"; and there was so much other blatant racism in this sector
of society throughout this century. (People in conservative Christian schools are reported
to have cheered when Martin Luther King was assassinated!) One of these authors even
dismisses the issue of racism (along with social and economic injustice, hunger, the
nuclear threat and AIDS) as "liberal social gospel", which of course, automatically
invalidates them, even those these issues are no less valid than the conservative social
gospel's focus on morality, decency in music, religious rights and many other issues.
Minorities and the issues concerning them have NEVER been spoken of positively (And
remember, I am speaking of the movement as a whole; not that there were never any who
were different). However the past society that enslaved and then persecuted and
segregated them is praised as godly, and whose "old paths" are the standard we are to
look up to. What does all this tell us?" (One person I debated music with even said
slavery was justified because "the Africans abdicated the rights to their land because of
their demonism"). None of this has been repented of by the conservative church as a
whole; only by certain groups, such as various "new" evangelicals and the Southern
Baptists, (who are now being ostracized by the more radical fundamentalists advocating
"separation" and waging the music and KJV battles).
In fact, at least one well known Christian university that is a prominent promoter of these
teachings on music (some of these writers and ministries came out of and are otherwise
associated with it) still had an interracial dating ban to year 2000, justified on the same
"separation" logic that is being used in this music issue! (And also, "the One-World
Babel-builders are behind integration!") Leaders are acknowledged by students as having
made offensive comments about blacks in recent times, and the past was even more
reprehensible in racial issues.3 Yet they expect us to believe that their teachings about
music are not influenced by racism, and they get highly offended if you suggest
otherwise! May this be from guilt? Some are even more blatant about it. On, "bad charismatic music" is said to be "destroying our churches"
because it is "from Africa (the land of Ham)"! Another site, or went as far as putting together a chart (formerly at but since taken down or moved)
breaking down musical history according to the influences of the three sons of Noah,
with Japheth (Caucasians and Asians) producing the good music, and "Ham" being bad
and corrupting everything else, leading to today's "Laodicean age". All of this is further
spelled out in the online sermon "Absolute Music for an Absolute God" at
AbsoluteMusicI.html, and AbsoluteMusicII.html and so forth.
So we see that ultimately, the reason the music is no good, (or is good) does lie simply in
the continent and race it came from! Might these references to "Ham" also be inferring
the infamous "curse" that was the staple of racist readings of scripture? Well, Paulson is
clear by citing "God shall enlarge Japheth...and Canaan shall be his servant" ("even
in the music realm") and "cursed be Cannan" all over his pages! (It seems to be his
starting premise). The irony is that God never even pronounced any of this, but rather it
was Noah! Nobody ever even read the text closely! This was the original thinking
behind the traditional vs. jazz and later rock debate, despite how much it has been
buried, in people's teaching today.
So if these people are right, then racism was right. The superior culture has been eroded
by the curse of African culture. Perhaps African Americans never should have been
granted the freedoms they have received (in the Civil Rights movement of the rebellious
60's and the liberal egalitarian social gospel crowd which was said to be an attack from
ungodly forces!). Then maybe, this "sensuality" of theirs would have been kept in check.
There is just no escaping this corollary. Along with this, the entire definition of "the
world" frequently used in the issue stems from the belief that "Christian" classical
European and traditional American culture were "sacred" cultures, as opposed to
everyone else, which was the "world". I wonder what all of the people who get defensive
at the so-called "race card" I am sometimes accused of "playing" in this issue think of all
of this? (Who really is playing the race card, here?)
What's scary is that the whole framework of Paulson's teaching is like that of any other
KJV-Only ministry, emphasizing "separation from error", shunning of "worldly" music,
and political conservativism (including a defense of guns). However, in this case, it
extends to, in the typical conspiratorial conservative fashion, him claiming to be made
into "the real enemy" in America, as "King James Bible believing gun carrying truth
preaching politically incorrect white folks", and among other things, that "This country
has dealt with the white issue, and whites are losing their rights daily! This country still
has ye ole gun problem, though - but not for much longer - better stock up on the ammo,
amen!" Notice how those two issues end up bound together with "the Bible" and "the
Truth". Other KJVO's and anti-CCM'ers who vehemently deny racism and reject "the
race card" have not distanced themselves from, renounced, corrected even, or in any
way addressed teachings like this. It doesn't even seem to be an issue of "separation
from error" to them, so it looks like they are in complicit agreement with it. It seems
since contemporary Church and the world is all that is wrong to them; so fellow KJVO's,
as such teachers as these are, are still seen as "on the side of truth", even though the more
moderate may feel "Well now, I wouldn't say that" to the race teachings. (They only fight
each other over who is being too "hard" or "soft" in issues such as the KJV like we see
with Cloud vs. Ruckman). So these people really need to reconsider the "separation from
error" like the preach at everyone else, and see if they are not violating it more than
anyone else! Instead, they all just get mad when anyone brings "the race card" into the
debate on music. But the connection here should now be more obvious than ever!
Instead of trying so hard to salvage the corrupt doctrine built on this bad
foundation, they should just admit that it's wrong. Prov. 28:13 says "He that covers
his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy". This
movement is telling everyone else (the modern Church and world) to "repent" (forsake
sin), but they do not even take the first step of acknowledging, let alone confessing their
sin! You want to talk about a "curse"; let's see who the Bible says is REALLY under a
"curse": "if any man preaches any other gospel, let him be accursed". (Gal.1:8,9). Surely,
a racially charged "gospel" of chosen races and cursed races, while temporally "good
news", to the [dare I say] flesh of those who think themselves to be in the chosen group,
is still not GOD'S Gospel of grace to all, which is predicated on all being fallen in sin,
whether or not one may attribute some good works to his culture, and point out more bad
works in others. People can deny, get angry at me, etc., but it's time to take a hard look at
this teaching, and be willing to truly "separate from error" if you care about "truth", or at
least don't want to be tagged with the implications of all of this. As Michael Horton has
said, how can we avoid creating the impression that our opposition to issues like this "is
really based on moral absolutes and not on bigotry when we are proven bigots where
the issue has nothing to do with an immoral lifestyle?" (Beyond Culture Wars, p. 34,
Moody 1996)
These people are judging the music by "association", but their associations aren't good
either. The songs they advocate and produce have powerful, convicting themes of
surrender to God, becoming like Christ, etc., but how much can all that mean when they
turn around and put down other people (contempt towards black people and culture; their
attitude towards contemporary Christians, Charismatics, Catholics, etc.; attacking them
beyond patiently pointing out their errors, and then making excuses or being defensive
when their own sins are reproved —and all of this which naturally exalts themselves and
their own righteousness)? Does God even hear their singing things like "make me more
like You, Lord", or "I surrender to You" when they refuse to acknowledge, confess and
repent of these things in their lives that are not like Him, and are constantly trying to lord
over others? May God instead be displeased by such acts of double living; even moreso
than by people coming to Him with the wrong sound? (Prov.28:9) In other words, could
their singing be the same type of "noise" that God abhorred when Israel came to Him
with unclean hands? Is this true "holiness" or even "separation the world"? (Keeping in
mind that things such as racism and one-upmanship are from the 'world' of man's fallen
self-exalting nature) With all the emphasis on sexual sin being condemned by God, they
would never think that they were in the same league as so-called "Christian strippers",
let's say, or a Christian openly living in adultery (as they accuse Christian rock of being
like), but it is really not all that far off in God's sight. (See James 2:10, 11 which
addresses precisely this attitude, and recall Christ's spiritual definition of "murder"). But
as the conservative church as a whole was always selective about "sin", it stood that only
sexual related issues and rejection of God or other doctrines are bad to them (thus this is
what they always emphasized), and the race issue is at worst an "honest mistake" or they
give a vague "the Bible has the answers" as one said (even though they still won't
renounce it completely!). You cannot have such dark spots on your record and expect
to be taken seriously when you try to tell others about what is good culturally.
"Still", some may say, "it doesn't seem fair, but it just happened that the Western cultures
were the ones who held onto God's Word (and conveyed His principles), so that's why our
traditions are good". Besides the blatant ignorance of the reality of the West's sins, such a
hypothesis betrays, even if it were true, it still wouldn't say as much as people think it
does. In the Old Testament (the source of so much of this reasoning), contact with the
unclean defiled the clean, but when Jesus touched the unclean, He wasn't defiled; the
unclean became clean. So it strikes me as amazing that God can transform the 'bad'
street beat of urban culture, for instance, into a message that does lift Him up. This is the
true meaning of Him "making all things new". But to force Him into this mold—that
any music associated with Him must sound like the music they advocate, IS reclaiming
Him for a particular culture, as much as they may deny. I don't see how anyone can make
English hymns and majesty styles the universal standard of worship, and not see how this
can be interpreted as exalting a particular culture. Rejecting all of the different styles of
contemporary culture is like saying He rejects the world, while the producers and
listeners of the "good" styles are closer to Him naturally, rather than members of the same
old fallen world as everyone else, and who have simply been ELECTED as His people by
GRACE. But people condemn lively rhythm as bad, and drag God's name into it, not
realizing that traditional mellow styles are just as grounded in the fallenness and sin of
man, as was proven above. This denies the doctrine of sin these critics charge the
contemporary church of softening on. All men are equally made in God's image, (have
goodness) but fallen (corrupted with sin), so you cannot rule out whole cultures',
generations' or non-Christians' contributions to music, art and other aspects of life as
completely bad or forever unfit because they once used it for false worship, or
"rebellion", etc. while only "traditional Christian" culture is "safe" ("acceptable"). It just
does not workthat way if you really hold to a BIBLICAL view of sin and God. A case in
point: the "jungle" was a terrain created by God, inhabited by people created in God's
image. The land and people are just as valuable as any other, so how dare anyone turn
"jungle" into a derisive term of contempt for the people and their music! This can be
nothing else but sinful self-oriented racism.4 But the reclaiming of the various styles
shows that the people in the world are still made in His image—and He has created much
diversity in the world—and that though they are fallen and defiled with sin and rebellion,
He loves them and reaches out to them where they are. Rejecting everything for only
serene orchestras and stately hymns is like blasting away the entire earth and every city,
leaving only Christian countrysides (what that music tends to be associated with). And
the alarming thing about that, is there are many in conservative Christian circles who
seem to want to do just that! This is why this teaching is so suspect to me.
Despite their portrayal as being nothing more than the demoniac jungle bunnies we've
seen in past representations, Africans had been quite gifted by God, and one of these gifts
was their mathematical command. In the Egyptians, it produced wonders such as the
pyramids, in the Moors, many skills picked up by the West, and in other tribes, it was the
music. (Of course, just like every other culture, it was marred by the Fall). A University
of Seattle study is even cited by critics acknowledging that rock is based on
"mathematical formulae" and "calculated frequencies" that affect the body as well as the
mind. This is what it has made it as well as jazz and other forms so catchy. Of course, this
can be and has been used for evil (including "mind-bending", "indoctrination", etc). But
once again, that does not mean that it has never been good. And plain styles also are used
just as much for indoctrination by keeping people rigid and not allowing freedom of style
(as a method of trying to control the flesh and keep people good. What is this but a form
of "mind-bending"?). So it seems now we have taken legitimate concerns about an
overemphasis on pleasure and entertainment in the church and used them to bolster these
almost century-old preconceived notions against the rhythm.
Romankowski continues his assessment of the issue:
Though these critics recognize that religious forces are at work in cultural
formation, their understanding of the process is way over-simplistic. They
perceived the music itself as being such a force for evil that Christians cannot
engage in it under any circumstance without falling into the abyss of sin. The
church frowned upon Christian rock, and even though evangelical tastes are
distinctly middlebrow, congregational debates continue today pitting traditional
hymns and "classical" music against contemporary styles. Underlying these
discussions are assumptions about what constitutes "sacred" culture and
the validity of popular music styles in worship. Cultural guardians thought of
rock music as an attack on sexual decency and the family, fostering a
"generation gap" between young and old. But rock was wrongly identified as the
cause of social problems and used as a scapegoat for deeper cultural
anxieties. That rock music was perceived as somehow different from earlier
adolescent fads and therefore was dangerous revealed great fears about lessening
of parental control and the new independence of postwar teenagers. (Pop
Culture Wars, p. 213,214, emphasis added)

1) The whole idea behind the term "primitive" is an assumption of human progress, (based on technological
advancement and modern Western influence), and even evolution, which fundamentalists are against.

2) The Communists had been seen as behind the Civil Rights movement, (as well as every other threat to
the Conservative way of life). Ironically enough, the Communists would later claim that rock music
(introduced into the USSR during glasnost and perestroika) was a Western attack on their society!

3) For instance, the school had to be forced by the government to accept blacks in the first place! Now, after
the latest round of negative media exposure due to a presidential campaign stop at the campus, the school's
president grudgingly ended the policy, yet still trying to justify it all the way! He and his followers appeal
to "freedom", "sincere belief", and "it was so insignificant to us" even though they criticize evangelicals
and CCM for using the very same criteria! And recall, these are the same people who accuse the modern
church of being concerned with "what God allows/what we can get away with rather than how He might be

4)There is a style of drum playing and rhythm from the jungle that can properly be called "jungle", which
was used in various older forms of jazz, (swing, etc) and may appear in occasional pop records, but the
music as a whole being condemned here, such as the pop "backbeat" and "constant syncopation", and
especially CCM and "charismatic" music, by itself sounds nothing like this. This music's only connection
(and a very remote one at that) to "the jungle" is "African origin", so "jungle" in this context is clearly
shown to be a racist epithet pasted onto Africa and its culture.

The Fear of Ecumenicism

Another criticism that is increasing is the association of CCM with "ecumenicism". This
comes from the involvement in the industry of Catholics and Charismatics (such as Kathy
Troccoli and several of the praise & worship ministries, respectively). This
fundamentalist circle is very hostile towards Catholicism, and have now all but regarded
Charismaticism as cultic. I would agree with most of their objections to Catholicism, and
a lot of Charismaticism has deviated greatly, still their whole attitude towards these
groups is very wrong (For instance, Sword of the Lord even derides Catholics as "Candle-
burning Mary worshipers", (News & Views, 12-26-97), as well as the "charismatic
nonsense" statement cited in the beginning. Even with all their errors, are these
appropriate statements?). As I said above, there are many Charismatics who are genuinely
led by the Lord, so this denunciation of the whole movement as false is a totally
unwarranted attack on many brethren.1 (As if all of them were involved with the laughing
revival, faith movement, or Oneness groups, which are truly false.) Even with Catholics,
it is debatable whether none of them are saved and genuinely following the Lord. The
whole argument of "how someone could be saved and remain in such an institution of
error" I can sympathize with, but remember, a relationship with Christ does take
precedence over those other issues. They fail to realize how their "institutions" were full
of error as well. (But even CCM artists' pleas for Christian unity, which are shared by the
New Testament, are being attacked as "ecumenicism"). So this is a very weak argument
against the music. Meanwhile, the critics high regard for medieval music and the
authority of the church (CCM is seen as eroding true "ministry"), can link them with
Catholicism as well, as can their acceptance of classical music and art produced by
Catholic cultures! Cannot this be seen as musically "ecumenical"? (When they speak of
the influence of "the Church" in shaping "western Culture", which 'Church' was it?)2
Satan is using this overblown fear of ecumenism and the "one world" system to drive
people into all sorts of unbiblical attitudes and actions (attacking the brethren, segregated
dating policy, etc), while blinding people to their own susceptibility to His deceptions.
Michael Horton said well that "We too have been very confident in our abilities at
resisting worldliness and secularism. After all, 'we don't dance, drink or chew, or go out
with girls who do', and so while the devil has us congratulating ourselves on avoiding a
decoy, he has pulled us into the very reef itself, and we are taking on water". (Beyond
Culture Wars, p.236)3
And it seems the fundamentalists are against all reconciliation movements because of
ecumenicism. (and CCM, as well as organizations like Promise Keepers, is about
reconciliation, since it uses the music of different cultures) But if they don't like the
directions of these groups, then they, who upheld "biblical principles" should have been
the ones leading such movements. Instead, they were against them or ignored the issues,
favoring the status quos of racism, sexism and economic inequity. It's like what Horton
pointed out in Beyond the Culture Wars(a great book for these types of issues); by
rejecting society decades ago (in the name of "separation"), fundamentalists helped cause
the very secularism they now decry, as the people who did lead the racial reconciliation,
women's issues, environmental concerns, etc. did not come out of the fundamental
church, so those movements took on ecumenical and new age philosophies, because those
were the beliefs of the people who "filled the void" left by the Christians. So now, it looks
like this just gave the conservatives a good excuse to trash the causes they were always
against anyway.
1) And what's ironic is that Charismatic churches are the most infamous for banning rock and other secular
styles in the past, as well as their extreme emphasis on "holiness"! But their music was still lively or bluesy,
(and thus seen as the precursor to "Christian rock"), and sometimes it looks like this is the real reason
fundamentalists are so against them. Often you'll see remarks in passing, about "Charismatics, with their
rock beats"

2) Many of these critics are Independent [Fundamental] Baptists who hold a "Baptist view of history" (A
"Trail of Blood" theory) which claims the Baptist Church "always existed", and was represented by various
small groups throughout the centuries, such as the Waldensians and Anabaptists. But these groups were too
small and powerless to have shaped Western culture (usually being persecuted by the big powerful Church),
though some of their doctrine did influence later reformation. So historic "Western Culture" is indelibly
wedded to Roman Catholicism (as well as the similar liturgical mainline Protestantism), including its
dualistic rejection of the flesh, and if you reject Catholicism, you should be careful looking so uncritically
at the cultures it influenced.

3) Horton, who gets a lot of quotes here, may be known as a CCM/CWM critic, but he actually focuses on
the more legitimate concerns in the industry such as shallowness, (rather than "style") and has plenty of
criticism for the "separatism" which he sees as undergirding both old-line traditionalism as well as the
"Christian ghetto" of CCM and new-evangelicalism. He shows how the new approach originally stems
from the same old notion of "separatism", but only modifies it to be more modern and pleasurable. Frame,
who I also quote from, disputes him in his book over "subjectivity", but both would agree that style is not
the issue, which is my whole point.

Traditional society and causes of "rebellion"

No anti-CCM book is complete without various quotes of CCM artists. It's true that a lot
of artists say dumb things in interviews, and that too is lumped in with a case against the
sound. It's true that there's room for a lot of improvement in this industry. But what
concerns me is how everything they say is taken to "prove" that these people are just
rebelling, and therefore they are automatically wrong. For instance, one author claims
that "CCM artists denigrate the church with impunity".1 Then he quotes Amy Grant and
Jon Gibson as saying that they do not believe in forcing their religion on anyone, (is that
the Church's mission?) and some other quotes of artists talking about how church
traditions drive people away, and he and several other writers quote a line from Steve
Taylor's "I want to Be a Clone" (are Christians supposed to be mere clones?). These were
legitimate concerns, being that the church in the past did have problems with precisely
these things: forcing its ways on people, and thus making them clones (not of Christ, but
of human ideas of what a Christian should be). They were making statements ABOUT the
church of a particular time and place; a church that was corrupted by centuries of power;
not attacking the universal Body of Christ or its mission or message. But any
mention/reference in the songs or interviews of legalism, Phariseeism, excessive rules,
etc. is condemned as an attack on "biblical holiness", or the church itself. (Also, that the
music often sounded like funeral dirges). There isn't the slightest thought that maybe
there is something to what these young Christians are saying; that the past wasn't so
biblical and pure. And legalism is redefined by them as only "adding works to God's
grace", or "doing things to gain God's favor" (e.g. Fisher, p.181n), ignoring that it also
means a preoccupation with rules, and being so quick to judge other believers on issues
like this, and this is not even dealing with the issue of whether or not all the rules are
even biblical to begin with. Fisher says "we do good, not to gain God's favor, but to show
our love to Him". But this puts the cart before the horse. We are debating whether
shunning contemporary music is a necessary act of "doing good" in the first place. If it is
not, then adding this as a mandatory rule of not just love, but obedience and pleasing God
is a type of legalism, whether you call it "gaining His favor" or not. (Mark 7:7, 9)
One reason I am so annoyed about this issue, is because of the resentment I see towards
the younger generations with their rock and rebellion. The children decades ago became
very confused seeing the hypocrisy of their parents, preachers and statesmen— the entire
authority structure or "establishment" they condemn them for rebelling against.2 They
preached morality and holiness, but often didn't live up to it. They talked about biblical
love, but then practiced racism and sexism. Then, many of these old conservatives,
including Christians, sat in armchairs sending this whole generation off to horrible,
questionable wars, and when they came back, totally disoriented, and created the hippie
and rock phenomena, they simply got mad at them for "rebelling" and blasted them as
culture-destroying enemies rather than poor lost souls reacting to a difficult and
confusing series of events, and who needed to see the truth (not just hear it preached at
them). So after all of this, all expression of the pain and unrest they felt through music
must be condemned. The result, as always: the past was pure, and we must return to it
now. Everyone back then knew well the scriptures "Children, obey your parents", (Col.
3:20, Eph. 6:1) but they all missed the verses immediately following: "Fathers, provoke
not your children to wrath". Instead, the fathers and every other authority figure acted as
if they were in the place of God! (And now we condemn modern society as being so
"man centered"!)
So all of this is precisely why CCM singers portray the church of their upbringing as a
clone factory. Fundamentalism is all about conformity, and it's not always biblical (e.g.
the ban on beards and mustaches, racial rules, the unbiblical extents authoritarianism and
patriarchicalism were taken to). But it's preached as "biblical". Many of the rules were
purely from ignorance or "simple biblicism" (flippantly quoting biblical texts to support
their beliefs). But now all of a sudden they have heaped up all of these "intelligent"
logical and scientific bases for their teachings, and still bend the Bible to make them fit
(regarding everyone who doesn't follow as being unbiblical). All of this is what blurred
the lines of absolute truth and morality, not just society's reactions to it. So people,
including many Christian children, threw off everything associated with the old order,
right or wrong. If they were wrong on beards and race, then naturally they would be
questioned on hair and skirt lengths, and music. This is where the modern assumption of
"who can know 'truth'; it's all man-made" comes from. (And it's also why some Christians
have just taken the "safe" position that music must really be neutral.) Was this some
'conspiracy' by some 'forces of godlessness' as we keep hearing? No; and as much as
people complain about "rebellion" they fail to notice the 7th chapter of Romans where
Paul shows that "law" alone only makes the fallen nature more rebellious! And how much
worse it will be if a whole bunch of unbiblical laws are mixed in with the true ones! This
is precisely where the old-time religion failed!
Rock fans and stars, for instance, are quoted by critics asserting that rock music in all its
forms is incompatible with "Christian doctrine", and that it was a necessary development
to heal the "mind-body split"; "a wound inflicted upon American culture by the narrow,
puritanical teachings of Protestant Christianity" (see or for example). But it was true
that this "mind-body split" was a big problem in old forms of American Protestantism, so
what the rock crowd was reacting against was a corruption of the truth. Unless you are
insisting that the past Christianity was perfect and are justifying this unnatural split and
other problems, (which many claim to deny upfront) you cannot use these misguided
claims to prove that all forms of rock really are against true Christianity!
The separatists justify their restrictions with the concept of "drawing lines", but as I said
earlier, this was done in a way that actually left no real guidance at all. For if a line is
reasonably drawn, it sets a clearly defined boundary.
• • • •
• • • •
• • • •
• • • •
But if you set the line ridiculously close, people have no room to breathe. They will more
quickly cross it, and then once they do, there won't be another guideline.
••• —•
••• —•
••• —•
••• —•
This is precisely what has happened in this country and the rest of the "Christian"
civilization. The problem is, we thought we had the fallen human nature and the flesh
under control all those centuries, because society openly obeyed the Church and frowned
upon (or at least hid) sexual sin and non-belief (and therefore we lost that control because
of all these humanists, atheists, rock music, and contemporary Churches and preachers).
This was a deception, as sin was only repressed, not cast out, and it would only explode
after some time.
Even the fact that many hymns were borrowed from secular tunes is answered "but the
society back then wasn't in rebellion against the Church is it is now, [i.e. the church still
had wide influence over society] so that was different" (the "culture in rebellion"
argument). So society's relation to the authority of the church is the criterion secular
societies and their musical worth are judged by. Never mind the people's relationship to
GOD (or the fact that even the church wasn't sinless back then)3. Just look at the attitude
behind the following statements:
It is the writer's contention that it is a quantum leap into the vast abyss of self-
serving unreasonableness to assert that there is a lineal relationship in applying
Christian lyrics to a folk melody in a 'Christian society' to using the music from
a demon-oppressed, pagan society, steeped in everything from cannibalism to
child sacrifice, and giving religious lyrics to their rhythmic pulsations.
The idea conveyed here is that music, used as a vehicle for the worship of God,
is relative to the societal culture in which the worship is administered.
Therefore...the purveyors of Christian enlightenment would have us utilize the
musical forms found within a given society. The legalism which prohibited the
early Protestant missionaries from employing the bawdy rhythmic inflections of
the African villagers would be frowned upon as restrictive of 'grace.' (Nieman,
Steven: "Lords of Laodicea")

Plainly we see here the distinction between the good church-controlled society and the
bad "demon-oppressed" African society. If anyone had any sense of their own sin, and the
sin of their "Christian society", statements like this could not be made this boldly trashing
another culture, or a culture shift that opens up to these cultures.
But over and over again, we keep seeing this praise of the past. Generally, the 1960's are
when society was seen as passing into the current state of "rebellion", compared to its
"godly Christian heritage". This is based purely on the conservative Church's loss of
influence on society, and is thus the whole basis of determining which period of society
produced arts worthy of Christian use. Much of the conservative Church's entire world-
view is undergirded by this rosy, uncritical view of Western, American and Christian
history. Fisher, for instance, says "While we do not worship tradition, if tradition is based
on truth, we defend the truth" (p. xiv). Citing "the historical position we defend", he
concludes "My arguments are not new. These are the positions that the Fundamental
church has taken throughout the years. Though CCM Magazine and others are attempting
to rationalize their own weaknesses by redefining Christian music, let's not be afraid to
stand where we have always stood." (p.199). Godwin adds: "Those 'old ways' you are
tossing onto the garbage heap just so happen to be God's ways. They've worked for
thousands of years, and no matter what any C-Rock fan tells you, they still work today"
(What's Wrong With Christian Rock: "What's Wrong with My Excuses"). But that's the
whole point— the whole assumption that the traditions or "old ways" are based on the
truth or are "God's ways" in the first place! (Based mainly on "they worked" and "we've
always held them", as if that in itself is what made them true; as if no "historical" belief
system or practice can be wrong. Don't they themselves criticize the modern church for
such pragmatism?). Like every other heresy, these "traditions" were a mixture of biblical
truth with human error. Once again, people are making up their own rules, and while
racism, sexism and other problems like that were justified or ignored, only sexual
morality and outward "reverence" to God (prayer/10 Commandments in the schools, etc)
were seen as important. No wonder the past comes out as so good! But we must
remember James 2 which addresses precisely this mindset. That if you refrain from
sexual immorality yet commit murder, you have still broken God's Law! (Past race
relations, for instance were certainly murderous, both spiritually, as well as often
literally!) Now the world believes the opposite— that murder is wrong but fornication is
OK. Yet James is addressing the "religious", who have tended to think sexual sin is the
People were so shocked at all of the societal decay, and look to blame various factors,
even pointing out how rock started out sounding innocent to today's standards, but has
gotten progressively worse; as proof that it's the music that is to blame (see But in the process they seem to have
forgotten that human nature not only starts out fallen, but is prone to further moral decay,
as the scriptures repeatedly show. (Recall Romankowski's reference to "deeper cultural
anxieties"). The fact that critics spend so much time pointing out the evil secular
musicians have used music for, how much it has gotten worse, and at the same time as the
much decried "decline" of American morality and Western society further shows they do
not understand the nature of the Fall. They seem to believe there was a perfect Christian
society and civilization that was wrecked by all these outside factors (leftism, politically,
which then promoted African sensuality, socially, through entertainment and
Christianity, introduced into the middle of this mess, was not God's program of cleaning
up the earth, but rather His plan of saving people's souls from the ultimate destruction
that sin leads to. Christianity may appear to clean up society on the surface, but people's
hearts are still wicked, and anyone can go through the motions of Christian living. Also
the fact that even serious Christians can err, such as imposing too many rules, lacking in
charity, falling into sin themselves. Various scriptures even pointed to the departure of the
church from the truth to error, and while these scriptures have long been applied to this
century, and especially the 60's and afterward, (with rock music, atheism, liberalism as
the fulfillment, and even contemporary Christians and CCM being identified as the "false
apostles" or "deceivers who crept in" — those scriptures clearly were
referring to the apostles' age. Much of Christian history was corrupt, and while the
Reformation restored some essential truth, it too still had a lot of the error of the dark
ages. (Such as dualistic rejection of the flesh. This would include Luther's need to "de-
rhythmize" the secular tunes he did borrow, as critics point out). So with all of these
factors, rock music, hippies, African "barbarian" influence, socialism, false religion, and
every other "ism" cannot be blamed for present society's decline. Doing so simply exalts
and glorifies us, and blinds us to our own sin. As I've been saying, this contradicts the
Bible's account of the Fall, even though fundamentalists have been the most ardent
defenders of this and other Biblical truths. So the church needs to take a hard look at its
past and see that it had a big part in driving modern society away from the truth. (Romans
Often, references are made to music "sounding like war", with Exod. 32:17-20 (golden
calf incident) cited. This "warlikeness" attributed to rock and other music is criticized, yet
many traditional hymns with 4/4 time sound like marching, like "Onward Christian
Soldier", and "Battle Hymn of the Republic"; and even our national anthems are
acceptable. In fact, some have said that music should conform to a marching type rhythm
(i.e. the odd-accented beats, as opposed to the syncopated beats that make you want to
"boogie"). What is the sound and theme of all of this, but war? Why is this form of
"warfare" acceptable, but images of tribal warriors running to faster drum rhythms are
here evoked and insinuated as bad? Because marching is controlled. The marchers are all
following a commander. But still, war is war and warlikeness is contrary to the fruits of
the Spirit, however "organized" it may be. So how really does marching wind up being so
spiritual? The Bible often uses themes of "war" regarding our Christian walk, but these
are spiritual metaphors. Where do we get from this that all our worship has to be like
some military parade or boot camp? Once again, it is mind control.
And all of this also further calls into question the idea that it is wrong for music to
"appeal to the heels". We see now that the traditional music also can "make you want to
move" (either marching, or waltzing —as in the case of the many 3/4 timed songs). It's
just the way it makes you move that is decisive in this teaching. Then people will
comment that the music Moses and Joshua heard Israel singing (during their idolatry and
wild dancing) was not sounds of contentment, satisfaction, peace, serenity, joyfulness,
and worship. According to many, these seem to be the only emotions followers of God
should ever have. (But right away, you could ask, are these even conveyed in their tirades
against the contemporary world, church, and its music?4) So it's ironic how they often
criticize CCM for being too happy, and shallow. But this is on the grounds that it's not the
text that is supposed to be light and serene, only the music. It seems the text is only
supposed to be about "surrender", with the serene music conveying an air of 'contentment'
in this surrender. They also point out that what was communicated was discontentment,
rebellion, unrest, confusion, defiance, and a lack of reverence for God. But all of these
can be discerned in their attitudes toward the world. So they (the leaders of the Church)
are allowed to communicate "discontentment", but no one else. Once again, the whole
basis of this mind-set is CONTROL. Once again, while much is made of the "negative
associations" people have with rock, what is ignored is that classical and especially
marching styles give some others just as much negative connotations. Why? This was the
music used by the Third Reich and it should forever put to rest the myth of classical music
always being associated with civility or good behavior.
1) Fisher, Battle For Christian Music, p. 88ff

2)They criticize them for being "anti-establishment", just like the ungodly secular rock stars, but when this
same "establishment" "throws God out of the country" as they put it (i.e. minimizes the influence of
traditional Christianity in the schools, courts, and other facets of public life), then it's these critics who are
even more "anti-establishment"! It's funny that a movement that since the Scopes Trial has been defined by
its hostility to "the world system" can now defend "the establishment". But of course, it's the wars against
the Communists and the old patriarchal paradigm that were in question, so the "establishment" was "good"
then; but only then!

3) Hilariously, Cloud, in one of his articles on Luther and music, cites as support Fisher's treatment of
Luther and the "secular music from the Church-controlled society" argument, but then mildly plugs him for
"misuse of the term 'Church'". Cloud's point is that the church back then (Catholic and liturgical state-run
Protestant) was corrupt, just as I am emphasizing, yet he proceeds in employing the argument in regards to
music, even though it falls on that very point!

4) Indeed, much of the writing I see often has an almost sassy, smart-alecky edge that is obviously loaded
with strong negative emotions. (For perfect examples of this, see and — scroll down to sections like
"DC Talk" and "Petra" —— to "God is doing a Nu Thang", he responds "...and they can't spell either!", and
his treatment of the issue of the term "Why should the Devil have all the good music") This is just as
rebellious (against societal and religious realities they cannot control) as what they are pointing out in the
younger culture. See also Frame reference, above.

Standing against Everything

One of the authors said we are "not just to avoid, but we are to 'stand against' what is
wrong". This supposedly justifies all their harsh rhetoric and denunciation of various
Christians. But we have to be careful, because but in doing that, we seem to get into
expecting man to be good, and forget that the entire world is fallen, and we will wind up
standing against everything. (Except of course, our old established traditions) That has
been the problem with fundamentalism, and why it is said that we are known "more for
what we are against, than what we are for" (or in Jesus' words to a very similar group:
"you can't stand evil...and have tested [false] apostles and found them liars...but you have
lost your first love"(Rev. 2) —And just preaching our agendas in His name does not make
Him our first love). And we do NOT stand against everything that is wrong only what
disturbs us (such as rock, and the rest of the sins of society, and "compromises" in the
modern church). Otherwise, we would never tolerate, or make excuses for, institutions
that hold to something as self-serving as racism. Nobody ever says "What I have been
doing is wrong. I must change". The offense of the Cross always becomes some weight
of burden thrown off onto somebody else, while having little impact on the comfort of the
one preaching it (Matt.23:4).(Many seem to assume they are already perfectly in line with
God's standards).


Even the "crossover" (widely criticized by both CCM fans and foes alike) should be
handled with grace. Christians should make CONTRIBUTIONS to secular society.
Especially since we want such a voice in it!. Even if it is not up to our standards of
church worship(remember, it is not intended to replace this), still it is a clean alternative
to the sex and violence that pervades much of the rest of contemporary music, and thus
IS "new" in character!.

Conclusion: a word to the CCM crowd

So to sum it all up, the whole issue, as a major cause of division ("separation") in the
church is not valid. God's Word is our solid foundation, but since it alone does not
support these teachings, one must step off of this foundation, onto the unsound ground of
hearsay ("he says, she says"— this person says this, that one says that, science,
philosophy, and even the music industry admit the other). This is given almost the same
weight as scripture, and then a federal case is made of it, with brethren being accused of
doing major damage to the cause of Christ. The bottom line then becomes that you either
take the critics' position, or you are defying God, adhering to moral relativism and
musical "neutrality", and are therefore "rebellious", and nothing more is to be said. But
the scriptures themselves contradict all of this, with rhythmic music being acceptable by
God as worship, even though others may have used it for sin. Also, for every authority or
testimony that says a certain style of music is bad, there are others who say it is not bad.
There is no consistent basis from scripture, history, science, philosophy, testimony or
reason to condemn a whole category of music styles. So if people feel the music is
offensive, they can bring up their concerns to their fellow Christians, but not wage the
verbal "war" we see raging now.
But the evangelical CCM crowd is to be corrected on several fronts as well. The
contemporary church is being described by some from its own ranks as suffering from
apathy. This seems evident from the fact that a debate like this could be allowed to go on
for so long and hardly an answer being made to it. People seem to be content with "music
is neutral", and "we must use it to reach the world", when the critics have already
strongly responded to this. They are right that too many people do try to brush off the
criticism with these weak answers, which only builds their case. Music does influence
people, but it's the spirit behind the music that ultimately determines its good or evil.
Some acts have gotten kind of racy in appearance and have said questionable things that
cause unnecessary offense. (Like one person saying it's OK to look 'sexy'). There is
definitely too much commercialism and celebrityism. We should think a little further as
to whether styles such as thrash metal and other forms of hard rock are compatible with
our message. We shouldn't just copy things just for the sake of it, or for the almighty
dollar. We could do well to note Steve Camp's 107 theses. But we must also be able to
defend our use of various styles, if we are in fact in line with the Bible in using them.

The entire argument hinges on taking the

negative charges, claims, admissions, etc.
people have supposed about rock and
holding THAT up to scripture, but
considering the intensity of this "battle",
we need much better scriptural support
than what is being presented here. Any
issue THIS important will be clearly
delineated in scripture

Scriptures on Separation

1 John 2:15, 16— "Love not the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the
world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the eyes,
the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world." This
verse had always been used by pietist preachers to forbid all "worldly entertainments",
such as movies, shows, TV, etc., (no matter how clean it might have been). But this
interpretation is based on the idea of liking the things of the world. The Greek word
translated "love" that basically means "like" is phileo. But the word used in this passage
is agape! The same word used in John 3:16, about God loving the world enough to give
His only Son. Also, passages that tell us to love one another (John 15:12), and even our
enemies (Matt.5:44). So God is basically telling us not to love the world as He did love it
when giving us His Son, or as we are to love one another. And even our enemies! This
right here seems to contradict John's statement, but all of these are sacrificial love, or an
all-out kind of love. So what it seems to be saying is not to live for the world (and the
context mentions the world passing away(next verse). We are to dedicate our lives to God
and our fellow brothers, and to sacrificially give to individual enemies, but not to the
world SYSTEM. (The word translated "world" is kosmos (adorning), not aeon(age).) So
the 1st John passage is aimed at Christians who are TOO enmeshed in the things of the
world, but does not say you can't like anything in the world. (1 Cor.7:33 calls marriage
and its responsibilities "things of the world", but we are not to shun that are we?)
Now, James 4:4 does tell us not to be "friends" of the world, and friend and friendship
are forms of phileo, but the context is talking about wanting the things of the world so
much that it causes conflict with others, especially the brethren. So as with 1 John, it is
telling us not to put the world before the church, or let it cause you to offend people.
Finally, there is Rom.12:2—"be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the
renewing of your mind". (this time "world" is translated from "age".) The word conform
means "to fashion alike", or conform to the same pattern. So this is not talking about
anything as superficial as the sound of the music (unless it is really crosses a certain line,
such as acid rock). It is talking about our basic philosophy and general direction in life
(the true meaning of "new song"), as well as our behavior as far as the explicit commands
of God are concerned.

Reaching the World

Part of the problem in this phase of the argument, is that there are many different mind-
sets among the unsaved. We tend to lump them all in the same pot, but they are different
from one another, and will think differently about us, and be reached differently. Some
may just hear the same style of music with Christian words. These people may not be that
antagonistic to Christianity, so they won't care. It's still the same old rock they love and
enjoy, and they may not listen to the words anyway. The same type of person would
accept the traditional/classical sound if that were what they liked (remember, these styles
were once popular and contemporary, and no, everyone in the society was not saved back
then) Some who are antagonistic to the faith will see it as different— the Christian
references and words about Christ and the Bible will stick out, along with the lack of sex,
drugs, cursing, etc. and it will be the "same old religious stuff" to them. This is how I saw
it when I was unsaved. Some may even see it as corny, and a cheap, sneaky attempt to
woo them into our belief system by trying to disguise the real purpose of the song. (I saw
it as that too). Then there is the much cited article "New Lyrics for the Devil's Music",
which reflects the secular media's assumption that all Christians are "supposed" to be
against everything modern, (this is what they've always called the music) and surprise
that the church is actually changing, even if they may not be that impressed. But if God
begins leading them, the music might help them in the transition to faith.
So as with all the other issues, we cannot generalize too much. Some people will see us
as puritanical, and/or worldly (i.e. hypocritical) no matter what we do. After all, we are
all people in the world, and even though Christians often act as though we're "up there"
above everyone, they do see all our sins regardless, so the whole issue of "different"
people with a "different" music style is moot. The Bible speaks of "difference" ("new
life", etc), but these people can't comprehend or appreciate it, because it is spiritually
discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). For this reason both approaches of trying to avoid styles to look
"different", OR the depending on of the use of those styles as our means of winning
people are misguided. Fisher concludes his book "Let the social gospel crowd and the
charismatics have their music. But let us who hold to the authority of the Scripture keep
to that music which expresses praise to God in a way that is neither sensational nor
sensual—not attempting to gain the applause of the world, but desiring the approval of
God."(p.199) The last sentence is true (provided you have a sensible definition of
"sensual" other than simply anything with a backbeat or some undisclosed amount of
syncopation), but we must also guard against the opposite tendency, with music that is
neither intentionally dry nor repressive, and not to try to gain God's approval through our
own methods of controlling the flesh or living to oppose the world and at the same time
gaining the applause of "traditional" culture (basing our choices on equally "worldly"
values of the past that are upheld in many Christian circles, and patting each other on the
back for agreeing on that). We are to depend on God to lead us in winning people. We are
not to try to depend on devices of our own making, whether old styles or new. Then, they
may see something in us, and that a wall has come down in our communication. They all
know traditional society was not heaven, so it's about time Christians stop pretending it
was. And they'll see that the modern ways are not perfect as well.

Illustration (from Fisher, Battle For Christian Music, p 60-61) used to prove music is not
neutral: a neural element such as the letter "e" can be used either for good or evil:

praise God I hate God

This is true, but the critics fail to take this a further step:
The fool has said "I hate God"
So a seemingly unredeemable sequence of words has in fact been redeemed by the

Answers to Bill Gothard's statements on the fruits of rock
1. The "rock beat" deceives youth into violating the Fifth Commandment which is
reaffirmed in the New Covenant (Ex. 20:12, Eph. 6:2-3). How many parents instruct their
children to not listen to rock music only to have the CCM industry prey upon the same
age group.
OK, if children disobey their parents, then they are wrong, but you can't blame the "beat"
for that. In all this talk about the influence of beats, we forget that man is by nature sinful
and rebellious and will do what he wants anyway. And what if a parent does not forbid
them to listen to it?
2. The "rock beat" violates God's command to "give no place to the devil". This verse in
found in Ephesians 4:27. The Greek word for place in this verse refers to a sphere of
jurisdiction. When Satan is given authority, he uses it to control and destroy the one who
gave it to him. Believers are to submit to the lordship of Christ and not mess around in
the realm of satan.
This assumes it is necessarily the realm of Satan. This is based on assumption due to its
supposed connection to tribal Africa
3. The "rock beat" mocks God's command to "love not the world neither the things in the
world." These verses are found in 1 John 2:15-16. "You adulterers and adulteresses, do
you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever
will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God (Jas. 4:4)."
That the beat is of "the world" is based on the assumption that only classical/traditional
church style is of God. But these styles are of the world as well, and are also influenced
by man's sin.
4. The "rock beat" disregards God's command not to offend other Christians. This
includes 1 Cor. 8:9-13 and Romans 14.
IF someone doesn't respect the other's conscience. But these passages are also violated by
those who condemn the use of the music by others universally, and then try to judge those
other people's consciences.
5. The "rock beat" defies God's command to judge all things as good or evil. "Strong
meat belongs to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their
senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Heb. 5:14)."
6. The "rock beat" disobeys God's command to avoid "all appearance of evil." This is
found in 1 Thess. 5:21-22. I know this phrase has reference to false doctrine. However,
Paul says that we are to teach and admonish one another with psalm, hymns, and spiritual
songs. Therefore, singing is a form of teaching.
You have to prove which it is; that it is by nature good or evil first, and this is not done
7. The "rock beat" contradicts God's command not to be brought under its power. This is
perhaps the most deceiving. Paul says, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not
helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any (1
Cor. 6:12)." This passage specifically deals with slavery.
Some people may be brought under its power (and they should examine that in
themselves), but to generalize this to everyone (to make it universally bad) is conjectural
and not scriptural
8. The "rock beat" opposes God's command not to mix light with darkness. What does
Scripture say? "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what
fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with
darkness (2 Cor. 6:14)?"
Same as the "good and evil" argument
9. The "rock beat" ignores God's command for all ministers to be qualified. Churches go
through careful ordination services to make sure that those who instruct Christians are
qualified. Ironically, teachers are being welcomed into churches to teach the young
people through music.
You can't blame a beat for this
10. The "rock beat" violates God's command to protect our bodies as God's temple (I Cor.
3:16-17). Rock music is unnecessary. It has been linked to damaging hearing, brain cells,
our concentration, stress, high blood pressure, ulcers, and hormonal imbalance.
This is all based on conjectural science studies, answered above (and ignores factors such
as how loud, what was used in studies as a "rock beat", etc.). We who uphold God's word
can take note of this stuff, but not make such a theological issue based on it. It is shaky
ground and does not carry the weight of scripture.
One person, quoting these on a message board, adds a couple of his own points:
• I have not seen a rebuttal to the fact that Lucifer was the musical angel before his fall.
He became completely defiled. How is it that certain kinds of music are not defiled?
This doesn't say which kind is "defiled". Obviously some acid or thrash style with hellish
moaning, etc. and especially stuff that praises Satan. But remember, it's the beat you're
talking about, and not all music with the beat in question is like that.
• There are plenty of Scriptures that address the sound of music that is pleasing to God.
Here are a couple. "Praise the Lord with the harp; Make melody to Him with an
instrument of ten strings (Ps. 33:2)"...Melody and rock music don't mix very well.
Once again, rock is a very broad category, and since it is the African rhythms people are
getting at, it would also include jazz, soft rock, etc. You cannot say all of this has no
melody. Most of it does. And it all uses "stringed instruments" which are related to the
harp and lyre. We should not read a symphonic sound into these Biblical references.


S statement/scripture C conclusion A answer
---------------------Separation from world/Flesh and spirit
S We must "separate from the world" (1 John 2:15, James 4:4, Rom.12:2); sing a "new
C we can't use any style used by "the world's music"; CCM only takes "world's music"
we listened to in our "old life" and changes the words
A so called 'good styles' are from/used by 'the world" (English royalty sound, orchestra,
etc. All things in world not bad in themselves (marriage-1 Cor.7:33); just telling us not to
get too enmeshed that our spiritual life suffers; a lot of CCM is "new in character".
S if we don't set such strict standards, it will lead to "anything goes"
C We should rule out anything remotely associated with the world to be safe; CCM
removes our established standards and is destroying the Church
A God gave us consciences which are led by the Holy Spirit where the written Word is
not explicit. This is what would "lead us into all truth" (John 16:13), not tradition, which
can be wrong (Mark 7:7-9)
S "Flesh & spirit are contrary to one another" (Galatians 5:17)
C any music with a rhythm that is "pleasing to the flesh" is bad and unfit for Christians
A ignores the lively nature of Hebrew worship music and dancing in the Psalms; not all
fleshy pleasure is bad; "flesh" in passage referring to "natural" unregenerate nature.
S Music is so emotional
C CCM fans get so upset at criticism because "the flesh" enjoys it; this shows they are
not right
A That is because of the massive attack on the music being waged. But the criticizers are
just as or in fact even more upset at the abandonment of their traditions
———————————Guilt by Association———————————
S We must "abstain from every appearance of evil" (1 Thess. 5:22)
C The beats of rock, jazz and related styles once came in handy for voodoo, sexuality and
rebellion, so obviously the beat causes or is caused by these things, and it doesn't look
right for a Christian to have anything to do with them
A These were evil uses of the beats. Any evil can be committed with certain tools that
come in handy, but the music styles do not have enough of an evil connotation to enough
people to argue that they are universally evil.
S "The world" acknowledges that the beat is demonic and that CCM is no different
C charges of cultural bias are only distracting us from the real issues. If the world even
acknowledges that it's bad, then it's bad.
A Christianity has always reclaimed things of the world for Christ, and people who make
these statements see no difference in it, period. ("To the impure, nothing is pure" because
"even their conscience is defiled"— Titus 1:15) Yet, others are drawn by it.
S When rock first began, all the Christians were against it; yet today the Church accepts it
C This shows that this contemporary Church has turned away from the Word of God
A The Christians of the past weren't always right. There was a lot of ignorance and
unnecessary fear that was not from God's Word that the Church has had to repent of
S We must have unity in the Church, and not offend anyone
C We must stick to our established style and not change it
A while we shouldn't use well known secular tunes for worship, this does not mean that
we must be limited to one particular style and never use anything different.
———————————Purpose and "acceptability" of music
S God did not accept just any kind of worship in the Bible
C we cannot just sing anything to God, so CCM is bad, while TCM (traditional...) is
A God was very strict when He prescribed explicit details regarding certain elements of
worship. These are not present regarding music style, and in fact, lively rhythmic music
was accepted by Him, at least at certain times. (i.e. it was never regarded as universally
S music is not 'neutral'; certain sounds cannot convey certain messages;
C Once again, CCM is bad while TCM is good. Prominent rhythm cannot convey Gospel
message and distracts from worship;
S music should be "Christlike";
C serene, stately music is "Christlike", "humble" and "submissive", while rock beats are
"rebellious", "loud", "warlike", "proud", "demonic", and "sensual".
A All of this is a general assumption that is subject to the listener's conscience. There are
some variations that may be unfit, but to rule out all contemporary music is going way
too far. Traditional music has pride and bad influences behind it as well (Platonism),
lively beats can represent celebration, spiritual warfare, emphasis (as in loud preaching)
S music should be based on what pleases God, not our selfish 'preferences'
C CCM is based on preferences, TCM is based on what pleases God. So people have no
excuse to listen to the former and should give it up and listen to the latter whether they
like it or not (God will make them like it if they "allow Him to make all things new")
This is the "offense of the Gospel", the "narrow path" of Jesus, and the "hard truths of
A traditional music fits cultural preference as well; not satisfactorily proven to be "God's
S various scriptures show music is a ministry used for worship, teaching, and admonition.
C no music is for pleasure or even evangelism, and therefore all must conform to a
standard worship format with a de-emphasis on the rhythm & beat, and no creativity or
clever ideas. "The text is IT"
A such 'good' features as vocally and instrumentally "lifting up" the name of God are just
such clever ideas. It's a gimmick. It's not wrong, but differs according to time and culture.
Music for pleasure is not forbidden in scripture, even in principle.
S God is revealed in scripture as a musical being. Satan was also created as a musical
being; "music is what he knows best"
C This is an ultimate issue. The very character of God is at stake. He is very particular
about styles, so we have to be particularly strict in this issue. This is one of Satan's
biggest tools of deception so we cannot take any chances. When he fell, his music
became perverted, and he was clever enough to create lively rhythms in order to please
man's flesh and thus deceive him with it.
A Both lively and stately music can promote Satan's as well as God's agendas; the flesh
as well as the spirit.
———————————Effects of Music———————————
S Scientific studies show that mellow symphonic music is healthy for the natural
processes of humans, animals and plants, and that "rock" is detrimental to their health,
even killing houseplants
C This is the ultimate proof that rock is totally contrary to God and is nothing more than
a perverted creation of Satan
A Scientific studies are subject to varying interpretations and situations. A lot of foods
tend to have bad effects, but taken in moderation are OK. Ignores the stresses of exercise
being good.
S So many Christians' walks have been messed up by Christian rock. It leads them right
back to secular rock, rebellion, sin and worldliness
C The music has an unavoidable negative influence on all people. Therefore it is no good
for anyone.
A Different people are susceptible to different effects, even
physical/emotional/psychological ones. The Bible clearly gives us liberty to see how it
affects us in order to tell whether it is bad or not for us.
———————————Unscriptural Assertions———————————
S Abortion, pornography, and marijuana are not mentioned in the Bible, yet we know
they are wrong
C The Bible doesn't HAVE to discuss music styles (neither does the Spirit HAVE to
convict); you all know the contemporary styles are just plain wrong
A The three sins mentioned above do directly violate, respectively, the letter of the 6th
commandment, the spirit of the seventh (Matt.5), and mind altering drugs would fall
under the same category as drunkenness in Eph.5:18, and is directly condemned as
"sorcery" in Rev.9:21 (Gk.pharmakia). The ban on music has no comparable scriptural
support and is based purely on conjecture.
S in orchestra, rhythm (percussion) is only 4% of the music
C rhythm based music is "rebellious" against the "standards" of "all good music"
A this is pure personal preference and cultural difference—comparing one secular style to
———————————CCM Industry———————————
S Focus on Amy Grant and other big stars' flaws
C CCM is rotten to the core—just look at it's fruits
A there are others whose message and lives do not have such stigma; No one is without
sin; And even those messages we do say are "shallow" or "unclear" are not contradicting
the Bible
S CCM artists' whole goal is to make money
C their whole motive is wrong. They are no different then secular musicians
A while people should be aware of this, remember, this is capitalism. It's the same exact
system conservative Christians proclaimed as "God's system" during the Cold War, PLUS
churches and ministries are organized as corporations that need to make money and grow
to survive, and the leaders of these organizations often demand nice pay and other
benefits. Why don't we then shun all copyrighted music since they're making money off
of it? This is the least important issue, as I too am critical of capitalistic greed, but the
double standard needed to be pointed out. Traditional music advocates also profit from
putting down others' products and selling their own.

Critics: We must have this "Philosophy of music"

Scripture: "Beware, lest anyone spoil you through vain philosophy and deceit
after the traditions of men" (1 Timothy 2:8)

The Critics

Beardsley, John various articles

Blanchard, John Pop Goes the Gospel England; Evangelical Press, 1983
Cloud, David W Contemporary Christian Music: Under the Spotlight Oak Harbor WA,
Way of Life Publishers, 1998 (Website: or

Fisher, Tim The Battle for Christian Music Greenville, SC, Sacred Music Services, 1992

Garlock, Frank and Woetzel, Kurt, Music in the Balance. Greenville, SC: Majesty Music
1992 (website:

Godwin, Jeff, What's Wrong with Christian Rock? Chino CA, Chick Publications, 1990
(websites:, or

Gothard, Bill (Institute for Basic Life Principles); website: This is the
ministry that popularized the many of the scientific reports, "testimonies" and insists that
classical is healthy while rock is harmful.

Ives, Alan How to Tell the Right Kinds of Music Lincoln IL (website:

Johansson, Calvin Discipling Music Ministry Peabody, MA Hendrickson Publishers, 1992

Lynch, Ken Gospel Music: Blessing or Blight and Biblical Music in a Contemporary
World Chester, PA
Makujina, John MEASURING THE MUSIC: Another Look at the Contemporary
Christian Music Debate (1999) Old Paths Books

Masters, Peter "Pop Idiom Music: In Worship and evangelism"

Maus, Cynthia Pearl Christ and the Fine Arts (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1938)

Nieman, Steven T. "Lords of Laodicea" Freedom ministries

Noebel, David Christian Rock, A Strategem of Mephistopheles; Christian Rock -

Paganism in the Church (, and other articles
Peck, Richard Rock: Making Musical Choices Greenville, SC Bob Jones University
Press, 1985

Pyle, Hugh The Truth About Rock Music Murfreesboro, TN Sword of the Lord

Sears, Gordon: Apostasy and Deception in Christian Music Coldwater, MI Songfest,

1998, and
Is Today's Christian Music "Sacred"?

Seidel, Leonard J Face the Music, Springfield, VA Unlimited Grace Publishers 1988

Spence, H.T. Confronting Contemporary Christian Music: A Plain Account of its History,
Philosophy and Future Foundations Press, Dunn NC.
Smith, Kimberly Oh, Be Careful Little Ears (1997) The chapters "A Brief History of
Christian Music" and "The Origins of Unnatural (Carnal) Rhythms" (Which assumes
"Western" music is completely Christian in origin (and the Church always used
plainsong), in contrast with African music which "rebellious whites" copied) can be read
at or and

Van Manen, Adrian Dr. Their Rock is not as Our Rock Windsor Hills Baptist Church,
Oklahoma City, OK

Watkins, Terry, various tracts, Dial The Truth Ministries (

Balanced treatments

Ankerberg, John The Facts on Rock Music, Harvest House Publishing

Camp, Steve, "A Call For Reformation in the Contemporary Christian Music Industry"
(107 Theses)
Focuses on the legitimate areas where the industry has gotten worldly without getting
sidetracked on styles and beats

Larson, Bob, Larson's Book of Rock Tyndale House, 1980, 1987

Best, Harold Music Through the Eyes of Faith

Frame, John M. Contemporary Worship Music: A Biblical Defense Philipsburg, NJ R&R

Publishing, 1997
Kauflin, Bob various articles,,PTI
D74456|CHID194891|AUTID2050842,00.html; particluarly the 1-23 to 4-20-2001 series
("What Does Music Mean?" and following 9 articles) which were excellent and covered
all the basis in the music debate.
Menconi, Al, Dear Mr. Gothard: A Common Sense Response to Criticism of Today's
Christian Music Carlsbad, CA, Al Menconi Ministries. Website:
Excellent response to criticism by Russian pastors: /topics/chr_music/evil.html
Miller, Steve The Contemporary Christian Music Debate O.M. Literature, 1993 An
excellent treatment of the issue, covering many of the same points this page does, but in
the more professional and less confrontational style

Strawbridge, Greg Music In the Bible and Music in the Church/[Radio]: Reconsidering
the Contemporary Christian Music Style Debate booklet or audio download available at

Other writings.

Horton, Michael S. Beyond Culture Wars Chicago, Moody Press 1994

Regele, Mike Death of the Church Grand Rapids, Zondervan 1995 (Percept Group, Inc.)

Roberts, Debbie Rejoice, A Biblical Study of the Dance Shippensburg PA, Revival Press,

Romankowski, Bill Pop Culture Wars, Intervarsity, 1996