Our world is full of noise: a dog barking, a child crying, a door slamming, a man snoring. These sounds are unpleasant! Some noises are pleasant: a baby's giggle, a running brook, a person's laughter.
But what about music? Truth is - music can be both pleasant and unpleasant! Music, also, can be a lethal subject open to much debate and varying opinions, especially the subject of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM).
In order to determine CCM's position in today's fundamental churches, if there is one, let's first define music in a broad sense. Music is a mixture or combination of notes (instrumental or vocal) that produce pleasing and/or harmonious sound(s). Very few pleasing or harmonious sounds are present in today's secular 'music'. Instead, we find earsplitting percussion and unintelligible lyrics. Lyrics that mostly mock all that is moral, all that is decent and, most of all, contradict Scripture. The bulk of 'music' climbing today's hit charts glorifies worldly lusts and ungodly actions.
Purportedly Christian in nature, CCM alleges its genre to be Christ honoring, encouraging praise and worship. Nonetheless, with mostly shallow and unclear lyrics, there is very little distinction between today's secular rock music and CCM! Dismissing Scripture's admonition to "abstain from all appearance of evil" (I Thessalonians 5:22), CCM emulates secular pop/rock music by imitating its musicality and appearance! Again, are not Christians to refrain from all appearance of worldliness? If so, should the church make room for any music that resembles the world?
CCM's supposed mission of promoting praise and worship is honorable, but unfeigned and heartfelt worship and praise must surge from a deep conviction within, from a repentant heart, from a fount of authentic thankfulness. (Isaiah 12:2) CCM does nothing but provoke artificial emotions through deafening and pounding rhythms, pop/rock beats and mostly lukewarm lyrics! Certainly, emotions become aroused and shouts of praise are often the byproducts, but as soon as the music stops and the lights go out, so do the emotions. Emotions without genuine conviction quickly subside!
Music introduced into the church should be for its spiritual content, not for its ability to increase church numbers or for its potential for triggering heightened emotions. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual (non-carnal) songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." (Colossians 3:16)
"Praise ye the Lord, for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant and praise is comely." (Psalm 147) Music is an effective tool by which to give honor unto our Lord and Savior. Sadly, music can also be a mighty tool for Satan. Such was the case in the Book of Daniel, Chapter 3.
There we see that King Nebuchadnezzar utilized, along with a threat of death, all kinds of music to entice all peoples to bow down and worship an idol. "... To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:" (Daniel 3: 4-5)
The death edict alone (Daniel 3:6) should have panicked everyone into worship; still the king was acutely aware of music's power and its ability to arouse emotions! His clever use of all music - good and bad - instigated ungodly worship. King Nebuchadnezzar achieved his goal, not caring if the worship was sincere!
Despite the king's employment of music, three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, did not follow the masses with hopes of winning the ungodly. They stood firm in their beliefs and true to God by standing apart from the world (Daniel 3:8-30)! They did not conform in an attempt to evangelize! "... be ye not conformed to this world ..." (Romans 12:2)
Probably the number one motivator propelling many caring, dedicated and concerned Christians to welcome contemporary Christian music into the church is the need to reach lost souls! Unfortunately, compromising with the world will neither strengthen Christian worship nor bring lost souls to Christ. Only the moving of the Holy Spirit can lead souls to Jesus (II Thessalonians 2:13)!
Let's not confuse godly music with today's imposters! Let's get back to making a 'joyful noise unto the Lord,' loving "not the world, neither the things that are in the world ..." (I John 2:15a)
Nancy Hamilton is a member of Faith Bible Church in Williamstown and is an author of Christian books. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. Those interested in scheduling a date for writing a Thoughts of Faith column should contact Claire Heiby at 376-5446 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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