Christianity and the Modern Music Industry
Christians have warily accepted secular music when artists have incorporated Christian themes and imagery. A song written by Pete Seeker paraphrasing Ecclesiastic 3 “Turn, Turn, Turn” (1965), is a perfect example of this union. In this paper, will explore the relationship between Christianity and the modern music industry.
“It is not my view that the Gospel should cause all the arts to be struck down and disappear; on the contrary, I should like to see all the arts and especially music, used in the service of Him who gave and created them” (Martin utter). Emergence of Rock and RollIn his book history of popular music and the emergence of rock and roll, Philip Nines begins with a metaphor depicting children playing a game of rock, paper, and scissors. Nines argues that in the realm of modern music “the relations among art, commerce and politics are something like that game; each has some strong power over one another, but, at the same time, is vulnerable too third” (Nines, 1992, p. 1). Nonetheless while power in the game is absolute and unidirectional; paper covers rock, rock breaks scissors, and scissors cuts paper; however, power in the music world, varies in both magnitude and direction.While asserting that “in American society, art validates money, money regulates politics, and politics defines art,” Nines suggests that there are exceptions to the rules and ways in which contradictory relationships can also be argued. The history of music that Nines proposes is the tale of a “stormy relationship between art, commerce, and politics” (Nines, 1992, p.
1). It “provoked trouble right from the start in all three of these areas, and still does” (Nines, 1992, p. 1). Art, commerce, and politics; these three are necessary for the understanding the development and history of music.To add a Christian element to the mix of art, commerce, and politics means to add to it equally problematic tensions that epitomize modern Christianity. This creates a whirlwind of conflict, a stormy relationship, indeed. Contemporary Christian Music Contemporary Christian music is a genre that merges two distinct musical streams; the safe, acceptable church music on one hand and rock and roll on the other.
Each component continues to exist independently of contemporary Christian music, and yet their paths continue to cross as they evolve.Rock and roll continues to influence the styles found in contemporary Christian sic, which continuously alters the landscape of church music as well. Contemporary Christian music began in the late sixties and seventies with a folk-pop sound like James Taylor. The genre today is applied to most styles of contemporary popular music. Christian heavy metal, Christian rap, Christian new age, and Christian alternative rock can be found lining the shelves at your local music store under the label contemporary Christian. The name Contemporary Christian itself does not imply a certain style Of music, but labels the message that it contains.Music that contains lyrics about Jesus Christ or other Christian references are labeled Christian contemporary while music that does not is simply called secular.
Does contemporary Christian music violate tradition? Contemporary Christian music has not cultivated without opposition. Critics in the church, the music industry, and even amongst the fans raised moral objections. The most frequent and basic objection came from moralists within the church. They argued that rock and roll with Christian lyrics was an abomination, and should not, in good conscience be played by Christians.The line of thought from these fundamentalist Christians follows the theory that sock and roll music is evil and that rock music drives people into sexual frenzies. These were some of the assumptions that fueled the objections of a well-known Christian leader named Jimmy Swaggers. In his book Religious rock ‘n’ roll: a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Swaggers states, “The new so-called contemporary Christian music is incompatible with true Biblical Christianity.
… Emphatically state that it’s impossible to touch anyone’s heart with contemporary music….
The sounds are weird, strange, and odd; correspondent to the minds of the individuals who relate to this type of music. ” (Swaggers, 1987, p. 35) The emphasis that Swaggers places on the music, rather than the lyrics In contemporary Christian music validates his opinion that it is the beat of the music that is evil. Swaggers, being a prominent Christian leader applies his Biblical worldview to music, not condemning music altogether. On the contrary, he is well known for his active musical ministry, recording over 50 Gospel albums, selling approximately 15 million recordings worldwide (Swaggers, 2011).He is a very gifted musician, and uses his gifts to glorify the Lord through what this paper refers to as church music. Comparing Garret’s style of gospel music to anthropometry Christian music is like comparing apples to slightly different flavored apples.
In his mind, however, it is enough of a difference to apply his Christian worldview, condemning it as anti-Christian. Ironically enough, if you were to look for his albums amongst the shelves of your local music store, you would find them in the contemporary Christian music section.Although he would certainly disagree that he should be placed in a special section labeled church music. Garret’s statements are not completely subjective. His opinions are based in scripture, for instance, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Romans 12:12). This verse, when applied through Garret’s Christian worldview towards music, tells us that music that is of this world, or contemporary society, is not something that we should openly accommodate. This is only a partial application of the verse.
If you look at the second part, it can be reasoned that God can transform your thinking about contemporary music, changing said music altogether. If changing contemporary music involves applying the transformations God has instilled, then it becomes something altogether different. It remains contemporary, but becomes about Him. Swaggers does not agree with this application of scripture to music, it does not fit within the bounds of his Christian worldview. What do the Scriptures say? When searching for the truth about contemporary Christian music we must first look at the primary source for all truth, which is Scripture.Wilkins and Sanford point out that Scripture is the foundation for any Christian worldview. They go on to state, “Scripture is the first place we look and the final court of appeal in shaping a Christian worldview” (Wilkins camp; Sanford, 2009, up.
210-211). While searching scripture for verses that pertain to music, it IS plain to see that God is a lover of music. “Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation” (Psalms 9511). In this verse, the author associates singing and shouting; two very different sounds, but both done unto the Lord as a form of praise. Shout to the Lord, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy! Sing your praise to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and melodious song, with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn. Make a joyful symphony before the Lord, the King! ” (Psalm 98:4-6) The author on this passage sings praises accompanied by musical instruments, including the harp, trumpets, and even a ram’s horn. Compare the music of the harp to that of the other two.
The harp is soft, soothing, quiet music. The trumpet is loud and high-pitched.The ram’s horn is low and throaty, emitting more of a groan than a note. These three instruments have exceptionally diverse sounds. In this text, all three are used to make a joyful symphony in praising the Lord. Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp! Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes! Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals. Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord! Psalms 150:2-6) These verses portray a vast array of instruments being used in praising the Lord.
The author praises using the ram’s horn, the tambourine, strings and flutes, a clash of cymbals, and loud clanging cymbals. With the addition of dancing, this Psalm sounds more like a rock concert than old seasoned church music! These scriptures describe vocal effects and instruments that are used in creating the beat of the music. And by the very nature of these instruments themselves, they gravitate toward a faster paced tempo that foreshadows modern contemporary Christian music.The Bible is packed full of these scriptures, dozens in the book of Psalms alone, all pointing to a general conclusion; God loves music! He loves a melodious choir, harmonize in perfect pitch singing gospel hymns. He doesn’t mind if the Sunday morning singing is a little off-key, as long as it is making a joyful noise. Whether it be shouting unto the Lord, dancing in the isles, shaking a tambourine, blowing a horn, either made of metal, or even a real animal horn! He loves all of out attempts at giving him praise on Sunday morning.But it doesn’t stop there “I will praise the Lord at all times.
Will constantly speak his praises” (Psalms 34: 1), he wants us to praise Him all the time, not just on Sunday morning, and not just in our church music. Is contemporary Christian music reasonable? Scripture provides truth, which is a very important factor in developing a Christian worldview. However, a ‘Well-rounded Christian worldview needs to ring all reality under its scrutiny, our rational capacities must be employed to gather and analyze this information” (Wilkins ; Sanford, 2009, p. 11). In this paper it has already been determined that contemporary Christian music is, in fact, music. It has also been proven through scriptures that God loves all music. Logic dictates that since God loves all music, and contemporary Christian music is music, then reason proves that God loves contemporary Christian music.
Using that same logic, however, since God loves all music, is it necessary to use all music in praising Him? Reason says o, God is praised in the simplest shout onto Him; therefore there is no need in variety of music styles.Not in God’s eyes anyhow. We are the reason for the diversity in music. Our culture, our talent, even our age plays an important factor in how we choose to praise God. He does not require this of us, human nature with all its variables does. Thinking reasonably, since each one Of us is different, and each one Of us created with our own free will, then each one of us may choose to interact differently with our Lord. People that love the beat and rhythm of a particular kind of music will naturally be drawn o that style of music in their worship.
If they really are praising God with their hearts, then God listens more to their attitude of worship more then to the beat of the drums. What does experience say? Experience is a term that requires careful definition because it involves ones personal feelings (Wilkins & Sanford, 2009, p. 213). Researching this subject is nearly impossible, because it involves my personal experiences, which may or may not fit with someone else’s worldview. My experience with contemporary Christian music dates back to 1991. I was fifteen years of age, and I was infatuated with rock music, specifically heavy teal rock music.This genre of music, in my young grasp of understanding, was not the kind of music you would want your parents catching you listening to.
In fact, on several occasions recall my father destroying cassette tapes that he found to be objectionable. At this point in time, my worldview was not yet grounded in Christianity, so to me this secular style of music was acceptable. I cannot remember whom, but someone gave me a copy of an album containing the music of a band named Deliverance. It was the very same kind of music that loved to listen to, but the lyrics were different.The title track Weapons of our Warfare” (Brown, 1990) was a paraphrase of Second Corinthians 104-5. This music was definitely contemporary, but it unashamedly described the carnality of man and the strength that can be gained by trusting in God. This music spoke to me in a revolutionary way, causing my whole worldview to change regarding music.
I still listened to the music that I loved, however that music now had purpose, it wasn’t just entertainment, it was teaching me the truths about Christianity. My relationship with the Lord grew because Of contemporary Christian music, and still does to this very day. Eve used contemporary Christian music as a witness tool; many conversations were sparked based on the lyrics of music was listening to in public, conversations that never would have happened had been listening to secular music. I have felt the warmth of the Holy Spirit while worshiping in church to contemporary Christian music. I know, without a doubt, that God has taken delight in praises that I have sung to Him using contemporary Christian music as a tool of worship. My worldview on modern music (Summary) Traditionally, music is a complicated mixture of art, politics, and commerce.Contemporary Christian music adds the dynamic Of a Christian undertone to this music.
Contemporary Christian music is a very emotional, and sometimes controversial combination, often dividing sides between pro- and anti- contemporary Christian listeners. Scripture reinforces that God is a lover of all kinds of music, and all kinds of musical instruments. All are called to praise Him in all their undertakings, including musical expression. He does not differentiate praises because of their accompaniment musical style. If worship is sincere, then he will receive it in whatever form it is delivered.Logically speaking since all people are created differently, yet all are created with free will; plausibly all are attracted to different styles of music. Since God created mankind to be that way, He should expect those styles to manifest in the types of praise and worship that He receives.
Experience shows that contemporary Christian music is not only an object to be examined though a Christian worldview; it is a tool, which can shape one’s pre-existing Christian worldview. It can be a seed that helps to sprout new Christians and help believers witness to those in need of Salvation.