My thoughts on Christian Music
For thirty plus years I have been living the conservative Christian life and trying to understand Christian music. I am a Bible college graduate and a fundamentalist. I was also very involved in Rock n’ Roll during the 1970s. When I got saved in 1983 I decided to give up all my Rock and trash my albums. I knew what the culture was all about and it was not Christian. After many years of listening to messages, reading and praying these are the guidelines that God has shown me about what is biblically base music.
Undeniably music is emotional in nature—that is what music touches. The understanding that music is an emotional device has to be a foundational point about music.
And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.
1 Samuel 16:23
The leading of the Holy Spirit
Since music is emotional it ties to our spirit. It is our emotions that are our connection to the spiritual world. Paul told Timothy “God hath not given us the spirit of fear…” Think of the fruit of Holy Spirit and you see emotions involved in it—“love, joy, and peace.” The opposite is true also. The spirit of evil produces “hatred, wrath, and envying.”
So godly music needs set the emotional tone of “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance.” Think of the music you may hear today and then ask yourself does it sound loving, gentle, joyful, peaceful and is it filled with goodness? If not then it is not of the Spirit of God.
God is a God of creativity. That being said His Spirit will move men to write music that is from His heart to theirs. This is genuine Christian music. Unfortunately, in my opinion, much of Christian music today is more concerned with the appeal of the masses, not the Holy Spirit. The Bible clearly states the world will hate Jesus and therefore any true praise music will be hated by them.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
This is one that I have been concerned about. From my experience, most fundamental preacher only endorses music that is fitting for a worship service. They would never allow non-worship music to be connected in any way to their ministry. This falls right in line with why Christianity is failing. Music has to fit the scene or the mode of the situation. Our worship services should be a time of reflection and worship; music that brings peace and joy to the heart. The music should stir the heart of love and gentleness. However, some messages are upbeat and others are of a mournful nature and the music should reflect this. I think of “Wonderful Grace of Jesus” or “Victory in Jesus” as upbeat and and a song like “I must tell Jesus” as reflective.
Here is my concern though, not every gathering of the church should be for worship. Well, yes we are to worship Jesus in everything, however, if your church has a baseball team the music in the dugout might be a little more upbeat in tempo. If there is a time to dance you need music that makes your feet move.
If your church puts on plays or created videos the needs music that fits the situation. Imagine your church puts out a video to reach the lost and in a scene, you want to describe hell, and you play “Amazing Grace” in the background to set the mood? The music might even need to sound a little dark.
All I am saying is music should play to the emotions of the occasion and one should not try to shoehorn in music that does not fit. We have to be open to the Holy Spirit and not be constrained but legalistic rules.
The right instruments
Praise ye the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary:
praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts:
praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet:
praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance:
praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals:
praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord.
Praise ye the Lord.
The Bible teaches that every instrument should praise him! In some circles of fundamentalism, drums are taboo, yet that is not Biblical, that is a pharisaical law. Cymbals and timbrels are precision instruments. The timbrel is a small drum.
Again, I must stress the instrument must reflect that situation. We should not play instruments for the purpose of being relevant or culturally acceptable. One of the things that secular artist do is tour the world searching for new instruments. They are on a constant lookout for new sounds. They want to do something new and exciting. Sometimes it catches on and other times it doesn’t, but the fact is they are doing what God created them to do—create. Yes, they are using their gift for wrong reasons and produce the wrong results.
Christians musicians, for the most part, are as original as cover bands. They either stick with what someone has created in the past or they are just copy cats of the popular trends.
The culture of music
Every genre of music is tied to a culture. If you think of long hair and drugs you think of rock and roll. Leather and chains can give thought to heavy metal. If you think of reggae you think of dreadlocks. One thing that fundamental leaders tend to do is to use one piece of a culture to condemn the whole thing.
There is a nationally recognized evangelist that is on a mission to knock down every ministry that he does not agree with. He has made a statement that a nationally known church is compromising because they play some “contemporary” music. If solely playing “a newer song” is the reason a church goes liberal then what about the mainline denominations that were going liberal in the 40s and 50s. The songs being sung by those denominations as they departed from the faith are some of the songs fundamentalist use today.
What I am getting at is it is more than one element that we need to be careful of. It is a whole culture, not just one element. The problem with the “contemporary” music scene is many times they dress like the lost and set their stage like the lost. They try in just about every way to emulate what the world is doing but slightly toned down. Holiness is lost in all of this. You can read my article on this if you want more information.
So basically it is these guidelines that I believe should be considered when dealing with music or any art form.
- It should be Holy Spirit led. Not by legalism or be culture driven.
- It should fit the occasion or the ambiance of the situation.
- It should not be limited in the types of instruments used.
- It should be distinctly Christian in its culture, which will not be something the lost will want.
Take what you will from this article. I am not Mr. Authority, I simply wanted to share what a creative conservative Christian thinks about music and creativity as a whole.