Those you who have read through my essays know that when the Christian rock critics make a scriptural or logical error, I am pretty hard on them. But you also know that when they make a valid point, I will agree with them. In my opinion, they have made several valid points, and this essay will list each one in detail. It is also my opinion that all of these points, taken together, do not in any way invalidate the genre of Christian rock music. These are actions of individual fans or individual artists, and corrective action should come through the church, in proper authority.
I expect that some of the things that I say will anger some of you. I will try to be as scriptural as possible in what I say, and if you disagree with me, I welcome your comments.
I put this one first, because it is the most important. In fact, my differences with the critics almost disappear in significance compared to this.
Listening to Christian rock music will not save you. Being "good" will not save you. You are separated from God eternally by the slightest sin. The only hope of salvation comes through the person of Jesus Christ, and His blood atonement for you on the cross. The way to be saved is:
It is almost imperative that you join with a group of Christians in a church - so they can help you along the way with your new life in Christ.
Why did I put this one first? It would seem to be a no-brainer, something all Christians could agree on. Simple - some CCM songs are not specifically mentioning the name of Jesus Christ. A lot of hymns don't, either. You should be VERY sure to which God and Lord and Savior you are directing praise and worship. If a supposedly Christian song starts talking about any other god, lord, or savior - it is NOT a Christian song!!! A good example is George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord". Many Christians were fooled into thinking he got saved. He did NOT! The first half of the song worships the God of the Bible and the last half to Hare Krishna. People - listen to the lyrics, consider the source, and be discerning!!! George Harrison was not going to become a Christian while listening to the spiritual darkness from the Dalai Lama - who is on the road to HELL. Beware of false religion and scriptural heresy like Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky" ("I never been a sinner - I've never sinned) - total foolishness, although he at least keeps the song to one God, instead of two like Harrison.
In general, you are pretty safe with an artist that goes to the length of identifying themself as a CCM artist, and of contracting with a Christian label. Believe me, there is not as much money in it as you think - although there is enough to attract a few Trojan horse. They are usually weeded out pretty fast, although one or two might linger. God is not mocked - not for long, and He will deal with them. I would venture to say, you are probably as safe with CCM artists as you are with mainline churches. There is one on every street corner where I live - a large and well funded one. But a percentage probably have problems great enough to make them ineffective. Pastors in pulpits are only human - CCM artists are only human. God, supplemented by good men in authority, can usually weed out the bad ones pretty quickly, but the system is not perfect.
So - when you hear about CCM or Christian rock artist _____ getting arrested for _____, just remember that is one out of thousands who are NOT phonies. The same when you hear about a preacher of _____ chruch getting arrested for _____. I remember a case of a pastor in Orlando who hosted a very fundamentalist talk show for years - being arrested for trying to hire a hitman. That experience did not lead me to question the validity of all churches as God's instrument for worship, any more than the recent arrest of a member of Raze made me question the validity of Christian rock music as a tool for worship and ministry.
One prominent Christian group has been accused of having connections to Rastafarianism. I am still checking this one out, but make no mistake - Rastafarianism is NOT CHRISTIANITY!!! Rastafarians acknowledge Emperor Haile Selassie as the Supreme Being and only ruler of Black people. I know you are rolling your eyes at this one - say WHAT?!!! Somebody seriously thinks an Ethiopian emperor with a cool sounding name is God??? Haile Selassie was a MAN, who is presently rotting away in his grave. Jesus Christ's tomb is - EMPTY. Because Jesus Christ is GOD, not Haile Selassie. I would be rolling on the floor laughing at this foolishness, if people weren't serious about it. Anybody can come up with whatever stupid, brain dead, cornball religion they want - believe in it, and even seek to convert others through peaceful means. That is America, we have freedom of worship. If somebody starts a religion that says Ronald McDonald is God, and people are stupid enough to believe it - they get what they deserve: eternal damnation to HELL. Somebody saying that Ronald McDonald is god doesn't make him God. If somebody else says Haile Selassie is god instead of Ronald McDonald, it doesn't make Haile Selassie God any more than it does Ronald McDonald. And those who believe in Rastafarianism will get exactly what they deserve: eternal damnation to HELL.
Here is a quote from the critics:
How about the extremely loud volume? It was earsplitting in a literal sense, I listened through one song, and my ears were ringing. Are not our bodies considered a temple for the Holy Spirit? Why do Christians want to subject their eardrums to abuse? Why is it necessary to promote this kind of behavior, much less be a part of it? Do we agree with the worldly philosophy of "safe sex," and say, "Well they’re going to do it anyway?" What about the children at this concert? Kathy and I both saw different reactions from the small children some were mimicking the adults, others were in a stupor sitting quietly as the music droned on and on. We even had one boy pass in front of us saying to a friend, "Now all I have to do is get my hearing back." – That was only halfway through the concert! We were saddened more by watching these young kids than anything else. What must be going through the heads of these children?! For both of us our sadness turns to anger against anyone who would corrupt our children like this! What did Jesus say about the little ones? "And whosoever shall offend one of [these] little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea." (Mark 9:42)
You know what? They are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! There is no way you can justify music being played at volumes that will cause hearing damage. I personally use earplugs, and advocate that everybody attending a concert bring a set along - just in case the volume is unacceptable. I have a four year old daughter. We can no longer attend concerts because I can't find earplugs in her size. Even if I did, she hates the things.
It is funny - in a way - my spirit in concerts before I wore earplugs and after. Before - concerts were a thing to be endured. That was in my secular rock days. I started going to Christian concerts after being saved, and NEVER enjoyed the loud music. Once I discovered the earplug trick, I was able to really enjoy concerts again. My spirit, which was grieved at the volume level of the concerts before, now is satisfied, and I am able to worship.
I cannot agree with the volume levels the bands produce. They need to take this before the Lord, and let Him deal with them on the matter. If a concert attendee has not been dealt with by the Lord, I feel they soon will be. Perhaps my wearing of earplugs will be a good starting point for the Holy Spirit's conviction in their life.
I have to point out that this problem is not limited to Christian rock concerts. I have been in church services where somebody on the sound board turns up the soloist singing VERY traditional opera-style music to ear shattering levels. Perhaps they feel it is more "spiritual" that way. I never think to bring earplugs to church, and it is rude to walk out. So I endure it and my ears ring. Is the fat lady singing the opera any more or less at fault than the Christian rock band? Something to think about.
Sound mixer board operators: BE RESPONSIBLE!!!!
You have read it over and over again in the critic's essays - somebody goes to a Christian rock concert as an "impartial, objective observer" Actually they go in there with pre-conceived notions and they proceed to dis the entire experience, the band, and the fans that attended. One of the things that they particularly critical of is something called a "mosh pit". For those you who are a bit confused about this - as I was initially - I will give a brief introduction. A "mosh pit" is a dance area near the stage (designated or not designated). Various activities take place in this area:
A mosh pit is beyond my experience. Before I was a Christian, I attended many secular rock concerts. Mosh pits did not exist at the time. They appear to be a relatively new phenomenon. Perhaps nobody has ever taken the time to analyze them scripturally, so I will give it a try. Because there are several different types of activities happening in the mosh pit, each must be evaluation individually - in the light of scripture.
The first question that must be asked is: "Is the mosh pit sanctioned by designated authority?" The chances are good that it is - if the concert has planned an altar call. In that case, of course, the mosh pit MUST disappear before the altar call. This is to allow the easy flow of people down to the stage during the call. Anybody who does not leave impedes someone from coming to Christ, which is DEFINITELY not right.
If the mosh pit is not designated, then I believe it should not exist. There are all sorts of reasons - primarily fire code restrictions - why the concert arena may decide to prohibit a mosh pit. Those wishing to form one MUST be in obediance to those in authority:
1. Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. --- Romans 13: 1-5
Anybody who does not willingly submit to authority when it is clearly stated to them is in violation of this scripture.
Nothing in the Word of God prohibits dancing. There are several places in the Word of God, such as David's triumphal return of the Ark, that encourages dance for joy before the Lord. On the other side of the issue - plenty in the Word of God prohibits SUGGESTIVE dancing. Dancing that is sexually stimulating in nature is to be avoided under all circumstances.
Headbanging, to me, is a good way to get a headache. So I don't do it. If it does not cause the person doing it any pain or injury, then they are performing a type of dance. If it makes their head hurt, they should stop - as their body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Here is an account given by a critic:
They passed people across the top of a crowd with their hands, on their front and back, boy and girl alike!!!
Now I have to ask the question: "What part of the bodies are being touched?!" Anybody in the ministry who is trying to follow the will of God is going to be attacked by satan. When I read this - my flesh was immediately stimulated and a demon tried to speak into my ear "if you go into a mosh pit, you can fondle beautiful young girls!". My immediate answer to this unholy temptation was:
1 Corinthians 7:1 "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman."
Why a young girl, saved by grace in Jesus Christ - bought with His precious blood, would submit her body willingly to this type of exploitation is beyond me. At the very least, even if she was incapable of arousal by the hands having free access to her tenderest parts, she should realize the type of fantasy that this will give rise to in every guy present! I have a word from the Lord to every girl attending Christian rock concerts, and I am SURE it is from the Lord:
For you guys that would say to me that you do not lust and do not want to touch the girls in this fashion - I got just one word for you: Liar! I am a guy myself. Satan WILL tempt you this way. There is no way you can tell me you haven't "accidentally" touched a breast.
I wish I could say that the reverse was not true - that the girls would not take advantage of the opportunity to fondle boys - but I am sure there is plenty of that as well. I simply cannot identify with the temptation. I have to say the same thing to boys - do not let your body be a stumbling block to your Christian sisters!
I have to come down strongly against this activity as well. The reason is - you are expecting the crowd (influenced by the Holy Spirit) to catch you. If they don't, you are risking injury. This is putting God to a foolish test - which he forbids:
5. Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: "`He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.' " 7. Jesus answered him, "It is also written: `Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' " --- Matthew 4: 5-7
9. The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here. 10. For it is written: "`He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11. they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.' " 12. Jesus answered, "It says: `Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' " --- Luke 4:9-12
Yes, I know that it isn't angels and you aren't Jesus, but I believe that the principle is clear. If you stage dive, and are not absolutely satisfied to plop head first onto a concrete floor, then you are expecting God to tell those people to catch you and keep you from being hurt. Satan is tempting you to test God - just like he tempted Jesus! Actually, if you would really be as delighted to jump onto a concrete floor as you would into a crowd of people, I suggest you get prompt psychological attention. Jumping headfirst onto a concrete floor is definitely not taking care of your body - a temple of the Holy Spirit.
There is another aspect to stage diving. In my case, I weigh in at an overweight 180 pounds. If I dived into a crowd of people, that much mass would build up enough momentum to cause someone serious injury. I have a particular 59 pound, 12 year old girl in my mind. She used to be in my youth group - and was very pettite (but perfectly proportioned) for her height. She was pretty cool - probably would go dance in a mosh pit. Would you big 6 foot 11 football guys expect to jump from a stage on top of her without causing her an injury? Are you going to analyze the physical ability of every person in the crowd - picking a group that looks able to catch you? Or are you just going to get caught up in the music and not care WHO you clobber? You better think about that before you dive. Or they MAY scatter and leave you hitting concrete! When it comes right down to survival instincts - a lot of kids in the mosh pit have better sense that YOU do!
I think that the bands performing on the stage are in the best position to talk to the crowd about their behavior. Unfortunately - sometimes they participate in the activities. The following is a quote from a critic about a member of DC Talk:
"Mr. McKeehan makes the most daring effort-a jump from a 12-foot high stack of stage speakers into the mosh pit."
Do I think this invalidates DC Talk's ministry? Of course not! Do I think this is a mistake? YES! I stand up for my friends. I can assure you, if my 12 year old friend had been injured as a result - I would have had a heated conversation with him after the concert, no matter how much I enjoy his music!
Bottom line - DON'T STAGE DIVE!!!
I have to be brutally honest. I do not see any way that violent physical contact can be used to enhance a worship experience, draw other closer to Jesus Christ, or make them long for the "peace" that you have found in your life. I do know that the ages and physical characteristics of concert attendees varies greatly. You cannot qualify this by saying nobody was INTENTIONALLY hurt. If you engaged in a violent activity, sooner or later you KNOW somebody has the potential for being hurt. I hear accounts of cuts, bruises, broken bones, and other injuries. How does inflicting injury on another person line up with the Word of God? I would avoid this at all costs.
I gave some specific advice above, now it is time for me to get out of the pit and look at the whole issue in general. The advocates of moshing claim that it is all a matter of what is in their hearts. They claim to have the spirit of true worship in what they do. I am not going to judge another person's heart. That is left to the Lord Jesus Christ on the judgement day. But I ask all mosher's to evaluate themselves and what they do in the mosh pit by the following standards:
22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23. gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. --- Galations 5:22-23
33. God is not a God of disorder but of peace. 40. Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way. --- 1 Cor 14:33 and 40
If everything you are doing in the mosh pit fits these standards, and if you can truly say you exhibit the fruits of the spirit in what you are doing, and nobody is getting hurt, then moshing is OK. There is nothing wrong with good fun, providing it is fun for everybody. If not, you better stop. This applies especially to those of you who wear spikes - intending to see blood. I cannot tell you strongly enough just how sickening that is the Holy Spirit. If you want to see blood in the mosh pit, you are one sick, demented individual. You need to seek professional help - or get saved. Really saved. No mind games.
There is a scripture that youth pastors often use to discourage Christian young people from dating non-Christians:
14. Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15. What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16. What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." 17. "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." 18. "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." --- 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
I believe that this scripture also applies, in a broader sense, to all areas of life. The concept of two oxen being yoked together to yield more force for plowing is lost on a modern, non-agraian society. The idea of being "yoked" means to be co-operating as equals to accomplish a given task. This can apply to Christian rock artists in a number of ways:
I have heard some deplorable accounts of Christian artists behaving in ways that do not honor Jesus Christ. If the critics lie about these things, that is one thing. I pray that God will convict them of the sin of false witness. Unfortunately, when they have multiple witnesses, recordings, photographs, or documented quotes - it gets VERY hard to ignore the issue.
God has a higher standard for those in the public spotlight than He does for the average believer. Sin in ministers, particularly popular ones, do great damage to the cause of the Great Commission. A person trying to dodge the issue of salvation invariably will bring up public disgraces like Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. When they fall, it not just their good name that is brought down. It is CHRIST'S good name and credibility that is brought down as well. I believe that God will be VERY harsh on those in the ministry who have brought shame to His Son.
"Minister" does not mean just those preaching in pulpits. It includes musicians as well. There are some activities that absolutely must NOT be practiced by ANY Christian rock musician:
In the three years or so since I posted this page, the last item on my list - tattoos - is high on the list of criticisms I have received. There have been some gracious emails in with the flames, and because a few people have been polite, I will allow their viewpoint to be heard. They pointed out, I think correctly, that the injunction against tattoos in Leviticus was embedded in a passage of other personal grooming and dress standards that are not binding on the church today. "The Law" was not done away with, but was fulfilled in Christ, so what happened to the grooming standards and the dress standards of that day? I can only compare them with the dietary law, which was done away with in the vision of Peter when all things became clean. So - that means tattoos are OK?
Not necessarily. I will recognize people's right to differ with me on this, because tattoos are different from diet, and because the rest of the dress and grooming standards would then apply. I do want to mention - people eating a kosher diet will still be healthier than those who do not. The diet was established by the same God who created our bodies. He would know how to maintain them properly!
Does that also mean we will be healthier if we adopt the dress and grooming standards of Leviticus? I hope not!!! But perhaps it has nothing to do with physical health - maybe it has to do with spiritual health. I do not see much spiritual implication to not trimming a beard, but I see a LOT of implications of adopting pagan culture's practice of marking skin. I have to ask anybody who wants a tattoo:
I can extrapolate a lot of other spiritual implications of tattoos, but I believe my point is made. I am appreciative of everybody who has written with a different point of view. If you have a tattoo - relax - Jesus skin is also not perfect. He will be marked in eternity with the scars that MAN placed on him.
Some of you may be noticing - a lot of my comments above can also apply to body piercing. I really wish I could find a scripture that directly forbids this practice, but I cannot. But apply my comments above to this practice as well, before you do it. But read this - I have seen a lot of necrotic, infected, dying, rotting flesh around pierced body parts - particularly belly buttons. Enough so that I forbid the barbaric procedure on a teenage girl that was living with us. I was embarrased to be around one girl with a belly button ring - the rotting flesh around it was actually STINKING! I have to think - something that causes that degree of infection must violate scripture somehow.
I can tell you truthfully - whenever I see body piercing and tattoos, my first thought is "another mindless trendzoid". Trenzoid = wimp that can't think for themselves and has to do everything that people around them do. Ripe for temptation by peers. Why don't you try to be an original, or at least yourself.
While I think there is also room for just plain entertainment in Christian rock - the artist should be recording songs that make people curious about the Christian faith and that contain the gospel message directly. If the majority (or all) of their songs fall into the following categories, they are worse than useless:
I think the title of this section should say enough. If the attention of the audience is on the body of a performer, and not focusing on the words, then something is wrong with their heart attitude. There will always be a few crazy people out there who will be stimulated by ANYTHING. But for a performer - man or woman - to wear costumes on stage that exaggerate or show off sexual characteristics is an abomination.
Instead of adding fuel to the unholy fires of passion by telling you about sexually stimulating costumes, I will tell you about a RIGHTEOUS woman of God. I attended a concert years ago that had Kelly Willard as an opening act. Her recording of "Nothing But the Blood" was a surprise "hit" at the time. Instead of walking on stage in a flamboyant "image" personna - she came out dressed in a nice, but very modest dress. Fan reaction to HER was subdued - but when she sang "Nothing But the Blood" - fan reaction was phenomenally enthusiastic and worshipful. That is EXACTLY the way the Lord would have it! The focus should be on the song and the worship it encourages, NOT on the performer. One thing we do NOT need in the Christian music business: IMAGE MAKERS. Let the artists decrease, so that Christ may INCREASE.
I will say that this is a problem that is not just limited to Christian rock. I can think of at least one woman who used to go on a satellite network with make-up caked so think that she looked like a CHEAP WHORE! Yes, you know who I am talking about! There is no reason for that type of vanity to be displayed before the world. It is a horrible witness! So are the clingy dresses. Men are just as guilty of this as the women. The fancy suits, fluffy wigs, gold jewelry - are you trying to look like PIMPS?! Jesus dressed very casually, you should do likewise. Men - do not try to attract women by your mode of dress. Dress to honor the Lord Jesus Christ. Women - dress modestly, so ordinary men do not not find a lot of ways to fantasize about you.
I will give you this link to the Steve Camp Statement. Unfortunately, the official Steve Camp site appears to have been taken down. Hopefully, this Prodigy page will stay up - but the Prodigy service itself will be going down in October 1999. I will try to find an undated link before than happens.
Naturally, the critics are jumping on the bandwagon with this one. I am also cautiously in agreement with Steve Camp, except for statements related to musical style. I am cautious - because Steve Camp's career has been - how can I tactfully say this - in trouble for the past few years. I am hoping that he is a man of integrity who sees abuses, and wishes to point them out. There is a possibility, however, that these statements (particularly the stylistic ones) are self serving - perhaps a prelude to a new praise and worship album - by Mr. Camp. You see - I am in complete agreement with him that the CCM business is dirty - so dirty that I don't just swallow all of the hype that comes out of Nashville. I am not as naive as Dial the Truth is - they are desperately grasping at straws to find support for their position, after I have scripturally attacked them, even with AV1611 quotes (Psalm 33:3). And yes, some Christian rock artists are VERY skilful! Notice I even used the AV1611 mis-spelling!!! Back on the subject - they are quick to jump on Mr. Camp as a man of integrity. He will be a man of integrity when he:
Other reasons I think the CCM business is "dirty":
The Christian rock critics call this the "ecumenical" movement. They are usually ardent anti-Catholics, who accuse the entire CCM industry of being an ally of the Roman Catholic church - exerting subtle pressure on all Christians to become Catholic. This is so ridiculous as to be laughable. Let me say it one more time: I am NOT Catholic. Moreover, because of the lack of love displayed to me by the Catholic church, I will NEVER become one. Let me elaborate so you KNOW I am sincere.
I have a dear Catholic friend named Jessica. She wished to name me and my wife as Godparents of her first child. This is a very special thing to Catholics - it virtually makes you a member of the extended family. You become responsible for raising the child should anything happen to the parents. My wife and I were greatly honored at her expression of love, and willing to take on the responsibility. When she presented this desire to her church - they overruled her. We are not Catholics - and they would be afraid of our influence should we by some remote chance become parents. She could only select from Catholics, so she chose her Aunt.
After that expression of bigotry, you would think that I would go join the Catholic haters. But I do not, because I realize that no church is perfect, and there are unsaved people in every single one, even some of those in leadership. Like Jessica's priest, who obviously does not have even a rudimentary knowlege of the love Jesus said we should have for our brothers in Christ. His faith is lifeless and lukewarm, if he is even a Christian at all. I warn any and all Catholics in Altoona, PA - DO NOT LOOK to that big Catholic church in the middle of the city for any spiritual comfort. IT HAS NONE TO OFFER! ICHABOD! The glory has departed.
Another evidence that I am not a Catholic can be found on my Hypatia page. No Catholic would dare to challenge the canonization of a saint (Cyril of Alexandria). But I do.
Read my page on Sandy(i) Patty if you think she (or I) am a member of a great ecumentical Catholic conspiracy!
If I was a member of some sinister ecumenical conspiracy, it sure is not the Catholics! So - critics - what ecumenical conspiracy am I a member of? I attend Calvary Chapel of Melbourne, FL. The senior pastor is Mark Balmer. He sure does not teach ecumenicism - call him and ask yourself!
If you critics would bother to read my material at all, you would see that I think all of the denominations and separations between believers are a GOOD THING - not an evil thing. I, too, have been attacked by ecumenical movements who think everybody should be under one church. Some of these groups are pretty off the wall, others are mainstream Christians who think by being "one in the spirit" we should be under one roof. I can't speak about the relative merits of all the issues that separate us, but I advocate separate churches for you who wish to worship to traditional music. I am sure you are glad I worship in a different church than you, because I worship to Christian rock! I would NEVER force you to come to my church. I sure hope you would give me the same courtesy. If I have to worship "your way" - aren't you becoming ecumenical yourself?!
I NEVER like hearing statements like "this band RULES". --- There is only ONE who rules, and His name is Jesus. When you say this, you are making the artist the focus instead of Jesus. This is WRONG!!!! A lot depends on the attitude of your heart when you say this, but it sure sounds wrong.