I often feel out of place at Christian concerts, where the music is often more deafening than at secular ones. I can’t understand why some of the musicians on Christian radio stations scream so loudly and sound so angry. I cringe on the occasions when I hear “Big, Big House” or “The Cartoon Song” being sung at any event otherwise remotely resembling a worship service. And just last week I asked my Dad (who is more contemporary-minded than me) why so many CCM musicians and worship leaders dress like members of “Iron Weasel” (a fictional band from a Disney sitcom). He didn’t know either.
Okay, so I have some issues with Christian rock. But praise music is not the same as Christian rock, and I happen to think that we can worship God with praise music. The praise music I’m talking about consists of songs with a Biblical message about salvation, God’s holiness, man’s sinfulness, repentance, Christ’s death and Resurrection, living for Him, etc. If it’s steeped in worldly lifestyles and unbiblical teachings while masquerading as something Christian, it’s not praise music because such things do not glorify God.
Some such artists and their music have been promoted under the “Christian” label, leading some other writers to conclude that today’s Christian music promotes self-glorification and a spirit of rebellion. But if it does either of these things it cannot be of God. In Matthew 7:20 Jesus says, “Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (NKJV). If it leads people away from God, it cannot be of God. Some of today’s “Christian” music is not Christian (or music), but that doesn’t mean that all contemporary music is ungodly. Currency and godliness are not mutually exclusive. Music can conform to the Bible, glorify Christ, and sound like it was made after 1950. To wit, here are some lyrics from some of my favorite praise songs:
“You are stronger. You are stronger. Sin is broken; you have saved me. It is written, ‘Christ is risen.’ Jesus you are Lord of all!”
See I John 4:4; Romans 6:5-7; Acts 17:3; 10:36.
“It’s all about You, all about You, Jesus.”
See Colossians 1:16-18.
“Let the nations sing it louder. ‘Cause nothing has the power to save but Your Name.”
See Psalm 117:1; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:13
“Before the throne of God above, I have a strong and perfect plea: a great High Priest whose name is love, Who ever lives and pleads for me.”
See Hebrews 7:25-26.
“Great is Your love and justice, God of Jacob.”
See I John 4:8; Deuteronomy 32:4.
“How great is our God!”
See Psalm 95:3.
“In Christ alone, Who took on flesh: fullness of God in helpless babe. This gift of love and righteousness, scorned by the ones He came to save. ‘Til on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied. For every sin on Him was laid. Here in the death of Christ, I live.”
Obviously, there are praise songs that do not glorify man and lead him to rebel. I don’t mean to defend all of contemporary Christian music; some of it needs to go! My point is simply that there has been some decent, God-honoring music written in recent years. We must use biblical discernment in our music, just as in other things. There are two sides to that coin, though. Yes, we’ll have to rethink some of our “Christian” music, but it isn’t as simple as just declaring anything new “evil.” That’s over-generalization, not discernment.
In other words: don’t buy into it just because it claims to be “Christian,” but don’t throw it out just because it’s new. Prove all things (I Thessalonians 5:21). If it’s really Christian music and we just don’t like the sound of it, that’s a preference, not a commandment.