"..there is no such thing as 'Christian' Rock." This, a passing comment in recent studies in 1Jn2:15-17 with the E-mail subscribers. Studies about "not [loving] the world or the things of the world." Around the same time we were treated to a commentary by a "visiting" evangelist, "Living Among the Heathen" in which were comments about "heathen jungle drum beats."
From there, many reader comments/questions came in; some of which were answered publicly in Q/A's. Which, in turn, spawned further retorts. Comments accusing me of "racism" because I referenced an explanation a Black Christian friend had given me regarding Black church music and worship. Another, "I play in a rock band and have never called up any spirits." "I have heard many tribal rhythms and they are nothing like Rock beats." Or, "you are painting a very broad stroke with a very narrow brush" and proceeding to accuse me of having condemned, essentially, every kind of music that exists, along with all sorts of other worldly practices which had not been part of the discussion...even though, my original comment was only about "christian" ROCK.
Considering the pervasive role music plays, and its use by sinister forces; while most of the retorts have come from the unregenerate, many of which I will not be responding to personally; many True Believing Christians are confused, and have been roped in to the world's system. Thus, it seems prudent to speak to the subject of "music" briefly.
Since some of the retorts came from "musicians," either Rock or church music directors; and in some I sensed the attitude that "we are MUSICIANS..we know what we are talking about;" By intimation, "We are not ignorant like PREACHERS are, who don't know anything about music;" Let me, for a moment, be like Paul was, who to the carnal rebellious Corinthians found himself giving his "credentials" in 2Cor10-12. I only do this because this is a "commentary" and much written here will have to do with things that are not "specifically" referenced in Scripture. Things which require some God-given "common sense" as Scriptural principles are applied to life.
For many years I resisted God's call to "preach" because I was a "musician." Yes, a "musician." It all started out when I was 3 or 4, singing duets with my dad, playing the autoharp. Piano, trumpet, violin lessons. A college degree in vocal performance. Anything that required a tenor soloist, I usually always got the solos. I have directed church choirs, accompanied on piano/organ in all sorts of church/conference functions, including crusades. While singing professionally (choral), there were many hours in recording studios. For a while I engaged in business, recording concerts "live" ...symphony/choral. As a musician, had I had the will, I had the ability...and could well have become one of those artists whose CD's you plug into your player.
But about the time I was starting into graduate school, with full scholarship and teaching assistantship, the Lord saw to it that things took a drastic turn. And I was out of music. Gave me an absolute "loathing" for the whole politics and environment of the musical intelligentsia. That was about 15 years ago. Now, I am a musical "nobody." So now, along with Paul, "..what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yes, indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ (Phil 3:7-8)
So, with "that" out of the way, let's get down to business with the topic at hand...
Of Satan it is written "..the workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created."(Ez28:13b) Is it any wonder that pagan cathedrals are known for their pipe organs, and that one of the sound-effects in horror-ghost movies is the pipe organ. Is it any wonder that the drum set is the one common denominator in sensual fleshly music...whether Rock, jazz, disco, etc.? Satan was the heavenly "musician." It was created into his very being. Was he created to produce wonderful music in God's presence? So it would seem...
Many Psalms are dedicated to praising God, and encouraging the worshiper to do so with "loud" sounds; stringed instruments, cymbals, trumpets, singing, shouting. Since God created it, one of my favorite instruments is the pipe organ. There is nothing like it. But I will not worship in a Catholic church, just so I can hear or play the organ.
Being the master manipulator he is, satan has taken various elements of his own percussive qualities, and made them into various evil combinations. There are the primitive tribal drummings the "heathen" do to raise up the spirits. There are the more modern ancestral drummings that cultures such as Japanese do in worship of their deities. Then, there's the more "modern" jazz, disco, Rock, easy listening, country, etc. They each have their characteristic sound/s and rhythms. Some combinations elicit sensual arousals within certain people. Others are "complementary" to sitting in drunken stupors of alcohol or drugs. Others are specifically designed to arouse rebellion and agitation. But that which excites evil within a person all comes from the SAME SOURCE. Satan has taken that which he is most familiar with, distorted God's gift, and made a whole genre of music which leads society down a path of rebellion away from God.
A couple millennia ago Aristotle expounded that music elicits certain passions within people. That "good music" elicits "good pas- sions" and "bad music...evil passions." The effect of music on a society was so well known that Plato said, "Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws."
While there were many kinds of music throughout the centuries, it was no accident which brought about Rock music in the 50's and 60's. A music of rebellion. It has been one of the PRIME MOTIVATORS in the degeneration of society to the point of "no-morals"; helping THIS GENERATION "finish the transgression, to make an end of sins"(Dan9:24) before the coming of the Lord in judgment. Rock music was the prime motivator in the "free-love" and "drugs" of the 60's hippy "revolution." It is the prime catalyst which makes your children rebellious and sass back to you parents.(Is3:12) It drives them to sex, drugs, crime, occult, and suicide. While there may be "good" and "bad" forms of jazz, soul, easy-listening, etc., Rock music is one form for which there is NO "GOOD" VERSION. The ones "at the top" who win the awards, flaunt their AVOWED PURPOSE to CORRUPT the YOUTH.
So, what about the Christian and music? What about music and worship? While we can read Aristotle and Plato, we also know from Scripture that music "affects" people. That's how David got his first royal appointment with Saul, to be a musician and sooth Saul when he was beset by evil spirits. (1Sam16:23) The mood of a place of business or doctor's office is often "set" with music. At one church the pastor specifically talked with me about establishing special "moods" during certain parts of the service with the organ. Kind of "helping the Holy Spirit along" so-to-speak. (I didn't stay there long)
While I don't want to get into what forms of music are appropriate for Christians to indulge in at the "secular" level, let's consider "worship" briefly. Paul writes, "..be filled with the [Holy] Spirit..let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."(~Eph5:18,Col3:16)
First of all, the Holy Spirit is to be part of "worship." Not "spirit-filled" music. Emotions are often confused as being of the Holy Spirit. I used to lead congregations in times of worship from the piano, and the Holy Spirit would come and "fill" the place. Others, whom I have come to realize since then to be unregenerate, would try to imitate the form, song selections and methods...but would come up lacking, as they sought the same, what they could only interpret as, "emotional" experience. They didn't have the Holy Spirit.
Many sound Christians, who know the difference between God's Holy Spirit and the charismatic "spirit-filled" experience in things like "tongues", still, use the latter's music in the form of "worship songs." Music of repetition, emotion-building, occult tendencies, and have been dragged down into apostasy.
And then, you notice, the songs are to be filled with the "word of Christ." In other words; CORRECT DOCTRINE. Right there, we need to throw out about 95% of the songs in our hymnals, and 99% of the "worship songs." Do we wonder how false doctrine crept into the church? A good part of it, through the songs we sing. Remember Plato's words, how songs have more impact on a society than jurisprudence. Same is true in the Church. People remember words of songs more than they do sermons. If the songs contain false doctrine, people learn false doctrine. And there is no excuse, in this case, for "poetic license" on the part of the song writer. It is to be God's Word!
And finally, what "style/s" of music are appropriate in church and worship? Whatever is NOT CHARACTERIZED BY the WORLD. Again back to where this all started. Do not be enamored of the world or the things of the world.(1Jn2:15) If the musical style is one that is predominantly fleshly, sensual, demonic (Jas3:15) we cannot come before God expecting Him to accept such an "offering" at our hand!
A couple more retorts I hadn't heard in quite some time...didn't know they were still being used. Well, we need to be "all things to all men." Or, when young people come to a concert of music they can "relate to" isn't it worth it if "even just one" comes to the Lord through it all.
My first response to that is, "Are they really? Truly coming to the Lord?" A "bad tree does not bear good fruit."(Mt7:18)
Finally; Sure it is certainly "worth it!" Same as if I fed poison to 1000 people. 999 died from it, but one SOMEHOW survived. Because one beat all the odds and survived, it was "worth" giving the poison, and I should continue doing so. Think about it. Some forms, like Rock music, by their very nature are "poison" for which no antidotes exist. It is NOT "Christian!" ..and CANNOT BE MADE "Christian!"
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