MORE ABOUT CHRISTIAN ROCK
Comparing one Christian songbook, dated 1952, with a more recent "contemporary Christian" one, we find that Christ or God the Father are mentioned 45 times in the earlier one, but only 18 times in the more recent one. The pages of the 1952 publication are filled with words of praise and adoration. The songs are about God and Christ. The current one dwells on people, problems, and how we feel. Often a vague "He" or Him" is used, without telling that it is talking about Christ or God.
Modern songs omit the words that characterized hymns of the past: sin, redemption, salvation, blood, Saviour, cross, holy, repentance, surrender, obedience.
Picking up a copy of a Singspiration songbook, Folk Celebration, we find that Fred Bock, compiler of the songs, writes in the foreward that he chose "the best folk tunes, the best tunes from musicals, the best rock tunes . ." Here are a couple examples of song tunes:
"The man in sandals came to help the poor and lame. —No one could stay the same after they spoke His name." Chorus: "Sandals, sandals, on His feet, dusty roads where people meet. Sandals, sandals came to me, steps that lead past Calvary."
"Hear the calling of the dawn, glory, hallelujah. I feel it coming on! Lord, make me ready for a brand-new start—I've got Jesus in my heart."
—Such music is feeling oriented, nothing more. Here is one which promotes New Age pantheism (that God is a nothingness in everything):
"I saw Him in the morning, I saw Him in the dawn, I saw Him in the sunrise and His sunshine lingers on.
"I saw Him in a forest, I saw Him in a tree, I saw Him in all mankind, I see Him in you and me."
—Very poetic, very flowery words, with a deceptive message.
"He gives you joy like a soft robe wrapping you up in His love. He gives you strength, like an eagle hovering high above. He comes hoping to show you the way to be free."
One of the "new" Christmas songs has these words: ". . born again, baby Jesus has been born again."
—We have here the words of pagan songwriters who have not the slightest inkling what Christianity is all about. One of them heard from someplace that "born again" was a Christian term; so he applied it to Jesus!
A "youth musical" has this: "There once lived a man with a plan that showed us how to live together."
There is no mention of Christ. It could apply to a political figure or an insurance agent.
In the late 1980s, an extension of heavy-metal rock emerged and became known as Thrash or Speed Metal. The violence and aggression in the music itself—was acted out by fans in what had become known as a "moshing pit," where they gyrated to the vicious music with frenzied thrashing movements, sometimes even breaking limbs in the process.
This diabolic, wild activity has continued to be popular since then and, for example, was performed at the 1999 Woodstock Music Festival.
Commenting on it, Lance Morrow described the arson, pillaging, and general mayhem that "was much in the spirit of the music" at the festival (Lance Morrow, "The Madness of Crowds," Time, August 9, 1999, p. 64). What does that tell you about the "spirit of the music" played there?
A crowd the size of Rochester, NY (pop. 247,000) was there. Under the influence of the "vehemently moronic music," the place turned into a confused riot.
Yet, when this "moshing pit" first emerged, there were churches in Los Angeles, and elsewhere, which decided to use it in order to attract larger audiences—in the hope that it might help them "come to Jesus."
Even the trade journal of the industry, Contemporary Christian Music, was uncertain whether or not they should reject this attempt to bring violence into the churches.
Then a young person wrote them a letter and told them that, unless they didn't seem to understand what was coming into the churches, she did! She describes it for us:
"What's with this "Moshing for the Master" stuff? Some of those thrash people have their heads screwed up. I see absolutely nothing Christian about diving into an audience on top of people or running around like maniacs, risking being trampled to death!
"This kind of violence has no place in a Christian concert. No violence at all should be involved!
"Now as for, what they call, a 'thrash' sound—it is too wild! . .
"I know you mean well; you want to bring those headbanging unbelievers to Christ—but you have taken it too far . .
"By the way, this letter is not from an old granny. I'm 15 years old!"—Alisa Williams, quoted in Doug van Pelt, Contemporary Christian Music, February 1989, pp. 20-21.
Those who believe that rock music can be "Christianized," by substituting better lyrics, should keep in mind what an expert on the subject said:
"Paul McCartney, originally of the Beatles and a solo artist since the 1970s, told the Washington Post: 'The message is not in the lyrics, but in the music.' "—Washington Post, quoted in Review, October 30, 1997.
If the message is in the twisted patterning of the music—far more than in the words,—how could adding "Christian" words (lyrics) to rock music make it acceptable?
There really is no such thing as "Christian" rock. Rock is inherently evil, whatever words may be used.
Since music releases certain kinds of feelings or emotions, and since these affect behavior, it is extremely important that we are cautious as to what kind of music we listen to. The music registers both in our minds and in our bodies.
The most important criteria that the Christian can employ in making such a choice are these: How does this music affect me? What does it do to my emotional balance? Does it help me pray better? Does it draw me closer to Jesus? Does it help me resist temptation and overcome sin?
Both the music and the words are very important. Do they only suggest ideas which are wholesome and actions that are Christlike? We must guard the avenues of the soul—and music is an important one.
It is not enough to merely say, "I like it," as a reason to listen to certain music. We must ask, "What is this music designed to do to me—what is its intended effect?"
Salem Kirban provides us with additional insights on Christian rock:
"The head of one rock group said, 'Our music is intended to broaden the generation gap, to alienate children from their parents, and to prepare people for the revolution.' "
And he adds this:
"Rock music appeals to the body's glands and sensuous nature. 'Christian rock' is essentially spiritual fornication. The low frequency vibrations of the bass guitar . . the driving beat of the drum have a direct effect on the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland produces hormones that control the sexual responses of male and female. With the incessant beat of rock music, a radical imbalance occurs in the brain. The end effect is an overload of hormones that can cause moral inhibitions to either drop or be wiped out completely."—Salem Kirban, quoted in Lowell Hart, Satan's Music Exposed, p. 45.
Rock musicians know the truth about so-called "Contemporary Christian Music" (CCM). Here is an extremely revealing statement:
"You have a super option: Contemporary Christian music. CCM, like regular rock, comes in a wide variety of musical flavors. You can choose from pop rock, new wave, jazz-oriented, folk rock, and more. The lyrics are usually based on Scripture and the sound quality is on a plane with most secular rock."—J. Bill Brent, Rock and Roll, p. 74.
You have just heard an expert speak: There is no difference, in the music, between secular rock and "Christian" rock.
"Christian contemporary music can help fill that void—that sensation of not knowing what to do with your ears—and there are bands to fit into every style, gospel to rockabilly, heavy metal to new wave."—Peters Brothers, Why Knock Rock? p. 217.
At least three books, written to promote "Christian" rock in the churches, have sections of comparisons between CCM and secular musicians and singers. There really is no difference.
Dr. Wolfgang Stefani, a religion scholar, tells about the time he traveled to a distant city to study under a distinguished professor of music. When asked one day why he wanted advance training, Dr. Stefani replied, "I told him I was a minister as well as a musician and I wanted to gain a better understanding of how to use music meaningfully in Christian worship.
"He turned to me and laughed, 'You Christians!' He said, 'Often when I hear music in your churches as I walk past, it is no different from what I hear on radio and TV shows. It often speaks more of aggression and sexuality than it does of reverence. Does that say something about your religion? If you really want to touch and draw me, I'm looking for something different from what I can get blaring from every commercial radio station in the land.' "—Dr. Wolfgang H.M. Stefani, Here I Stand, 2005, p. 448.
Those out in the world laugh at the way Christians ape worldly music,—because they think that doing so will make Christians out of the few worldlings it attracts to their churches. Instead, it is making worldlings out of many of the Christians inside those churches.
"Contemporary Christian music [CCM] is taking Christian young people by storm. For every ten country music albums sold in America, seven Christian CDs are sold. Sales for a recent year totaled $747 million. It is now 7 percent of the overall sales in the U.S. music industry. For every U.S. Latin music CD sold last year, two CCM CDs were sold. It topped the combined numbers of jazz, classical and New age music sales."—Demon Possession and Music, by Dr. Juanita McElwain.
Astounded by what was happening, Newsweek published the following article in mid-summer 2001, describing a current "Christian rock concert":
" 'Are you ready to rip the face off this place?' screams the lead singer of Pillar. A hyped-up crowd of teens—6,000 strong—goes nuts. The aggressive rap-rock band launches into a pummeling kickoff number, the surly singer pounding the stage with his steel-toed boot, sweating right through his baggy Army fatigues and black bandanna. He gestures like a member of some vicious street gang as he screams and roars into the mic, his arms swinging low . . The singer's hand slaps down hard on his thigh—and stays there. Gripping his pants leg with conviction, he screams, 'Jesus Christ!' Pause, 'Is he in your heart?'
"It's time to wreak havoc and give praise at Festival Con Dios, a Christian alternative-rock tour . . On the tour, which will span more than 30 U.S. cities throughout the summer and early fall, the ska band, the OC Supertones, dedicates its music to God while goofing around the stage in giant Afro wigs. Thuggish rapper T-Bone busts gansta-style rhymes about the Lord.
"Newsboys, the festival creators, and platinum-selling Christian-rock veterans scream in an upbeat song as their drummer defies gravity on a vertical, rotating riser. And it's all in the name of Jesus.
"Alternative rock is just one pillar in the gigantic cathedral of Christian entertainment. It spans from the popular Left Behind novels, which sold 28.8 million copies, to the artists who helped pack in 50,000 at the Freedom Live festival in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last week . .
"The heavenly ring of cash registers has finally grown so loud that major publishers (including Warner Books) have started Christian-book divisions, and independent gospel based labels are being snapped up by such corporate giants as Sony and Universal."—Newsweek, July 16, 2001.
The Christian rock industry is determined to invade the churches, take them over, and capture their young people and older ones. Consider the daring boldness of what it is trying to do:
"Jesus Rock is definitely maturing into the accepted lingua franca [the common language] for this generation of Christians. It is no longer a fad. And, while it will always offend the 'Graham generation,' it must be used as an integral part of all efforts to evangelize the young adult culture which now dominates the American society.
"This will happen in two ways: (1) As contemporary Christian music is allowed to become the grass-roots medium for worship and local evangelism; and (2) as more professional artists are used for major special events like telecast rock concerts, rallies, and weekend 'Jesus festivals,' we must organize effort to train a cadre of new young artists—and support them with this new ministry of music. This can be done by supporting new associations, seminars, and events aimed at them. Concert promoters and contemporary musicians need to learn how to build a network of support and donor constituency. We have a new way to feed the sheep."—Christian Concert Promotion Seminar and Showcase Convention newsletter, quoted in Lowell Hart, Satan's Music Exposed, 1980, p. 45.
Here is what we just read: Brainwash the church members and their youth into thinking this is Christianity. Change the services and evangelism into rock concerts. Divert church donations to the support of hundreds of additional rock musicians and singers! Let them thoroughly enjoy the new sheep feed! And the Christian rock industry is gradually taking over!
"In a survey of 'professing' Christian teens, 63% of those surveyed indicated that they listened to, and enjoyed, on a regular basis CCM. Of that number, 97% indicated that they also listened to, and enjoyed, on a regular basis secular rock. The reason for that is very simple. There is no essential difference between the two."—Gospel Music: Blessing or Blight? Ken Lynch, p. 26.
"The best Christian groups can rock as well or better than the best of the secular bands."—"An Alternative: Christian Rock," Cornerstone magazine (published by the Rez Band), Vol. 11, No. 62, p. 38.
Where are your teens tonight? Better check. Better yet, start making Christianity real to them. Take time to do things with them, including mission projects in your area. If they see you really believe that religion is worth living for, they will want to copy your example.
In the hearts of millions, Christian music has lost its special place. Contemporary Christian music has incorporated the world's styles into its own. Today there is no difference in sound. God says, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate" (2 Corinthians 6:17).
Christian "pop stars" move easily from one world to the other. Many of these musicians and singers entertain in nightclubs on Saturday night and then give special performances in church on Sunday. Their fans flock to both places with equal enthusiasm. If you were of the world, the world would love its own (John 15:19).
The truths of the Gospel are being diluted. The message found in the words of many current "Christian" songs is vague; and the true Gospel is being replaced by a false one. Yet few appear offended. "Gospel" music has, for many, just become a pop style of singing.
Christian rock groups treat the message of salvation as though it were just another product to be promoted. Whatever part of the message can have money squeezed out of it is used; the rest is thrown away. In their trade journals and advertising, they flip out such phrases as, "The gospel music industry," "The Jesus music scene," "The Christian market," and "The top twenty gospel hits"—yet it is all a sham. The industry cares nothing about Jesus, repentance of sin, forgiveness, and obedience to God's Ten Commandment law.
When faced with the decision as to what his firm should do, Bill Cole, vice president of Light Records (which had earlier been producing traditional Christian recordings)—pulled back from the abyss, fearing to step through the doorway leading to great riches, at the expense of destroying the lives of young Christians:
"If for the sake of the world's approval the message is softened; if Jesus' name is omitted lest it offend; then I question whether it should succeed . . Someday, Christian artists, executives, or even consumers will be held accountable for what they have done . . Jesus said you cannot serve God and mammon."—Bill Cole, writing in Christian Life, February 1980, p. 14.