Top Scriptural Reasons Against Christian Rock - ANSWERED!

Argument: Shouldn't church music be good enough for everybody?

Here is a typical quote from a critic:

God's people loathed God's provision of manna. The things of God weren't good enough for them. They wanted the things they had when they were back in bondage in Egypt. Today, for some Christians, old fashioned, traditional Christian music isn't good enough any more. Some believers long for the same old garbage that they had back in their unsaved, bondage to sin days.

Here is the scriptural "support" that they give for their statement.

5. they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!" 6. Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.

The obvious fallacy here is that the critics are equating the bondage in Egypt to the "sin" days. Although individual Hebrew slaves no doubt sinned from time to time in Egypt, I doubt they had very many opportunities. When given the choice of staying in Egypt and enoying their "leisurely life of fleshy sins" or escaping abject slavery - their escape is described by a word that still defines total abandonment: EXODOUS. There was NO leisurely life of sin for them in Egypt. They were the ones who were VICTIMIZED cruelly as slaves by the sin of Egypt. Even if there was a life of sin - the "Exodus" is synonymous with "repentance" - it was a turning away from Egypt and all it represented. This also does not give any credit whatsoever to the Hebrew people, who had held on to their cultural identity and faith in God for 400 years in the WORST circumstances. The remnant that was left by this time were the people who had believed the Word of God during the first passover, who had chosen to follow Moses and the Lord instead of the golden calf of Egypt. These were the true believers. They had no excuses - they knew God, His power, and His protection. That is why God dealt so harshly with them.

Here again, too, is an attempt by the critics to equate "food" with "music". The two are different things. No doubt manna was nutritionally complete, and a complete provision for God's people. The critics are talking like their boring worship music and hymns are a complete provision for God's people. This is not the case, because my worship as a believer is dependent on music with creativity and quality to it. Christian elevator music does not meet the requirements. Now, if I were to go into one of their churches and complain about their music, maybe I could expect God to send a snake my way. But I do not do that. I find a body of believers who has the same musical taste as I do and worship there - out of ear shot of those who do not like the music. I do not arrogantly hold myself up as "Moses" and say that everybody has to listen to my style of music. Yet that is what the critics do when they invoke this passage. Critics - YOU ARE NOT MOSES. YOU ARE NOT GOD. Do not presume to speak for either one!

Christian rock fans are NOT longing for the "same old garbage they had in their unsaved, bondage to sin days". We want something different, something better: Christ centered Christian rock. Secular rock does not satisfy because it does not have the message of Jesus Christ in the lyrics, and the artists are not believers.

The "Sound of War"???

A favorite scripture that the critics use to "prove" that Christian rock music violates the character of what Christian music should be is

17. When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, "There is the sound of war in the camp." 18. Moses replied: "It is not the sound of victory, it is not the sound of defeat; it is the sound of singing that I hear." -- Exodous 32:17-18

As usual, I will go back a grab the whole scripture.

7. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, `These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.' 9. "I have seen these people," the LORD said to Moses, "and they are a stiff-necked people. 10. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation." 11. But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God. "O LORD," he said, "why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12. Why should the Egyptians say, `It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth'? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: `I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.'" 14. Then the LORD relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened. 15. Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. 16. The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 17. When Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, "There is the sound of war in the camp." 18. Moses replied: "It is not the sound of victory, it is not the sound of defeat; it is the sound of singing that I hear." 19. When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. 20. And he took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it. 21. He said to Aaron, "What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?" 22. "Do not be angry, my lord," Aaron answered. "You know how prone these people are to evil. 23. They said to me, `Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him.' 24. So I told them, `Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.' Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!" 25. Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. 26. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, "Whoever is for the LORD, come to me." And all the Levites rallied to him. 27. Then he said to them, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: `Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.'" 28. The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. 29. Then Moses said, "You have been set apart to the LORD today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day." 30. The next day Moses said to the people, "You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin." 31. So Moses went back to the LORD and said, "Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. 32. But now, please forgive their sin--but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written."
  1. The Christian rock critics use the phrase "sound of war" to equate the music the Israelites were singing with Christian rock music. I have no doubt at all that they are right - the music was undoubtedly loud, festive, upbeat, and fast tempo.
  2. I also have no doubt that what Moses talked about with Joshua was the music.

That said, I have to point out that Moses was not mad at this point. He was pretty calm about the music he was hearing. It was not until verse 19, when he SAW the calf, that he reacted with Godly anger. If Moses had reacted to the music with Godly anger, then the Christian rock critic's premise would be compelling. But he did not. He reacted to the sight of the golden calf and dancing - even after being told in verse 8 that they had made the calf. This could perhaps be used to prooftext that dancing is wrong, but not about music. Incidentally, dancing is not wrong as II Samuel 6:12-23 clearly indicates (see music.htm). Dancing before the WRONG GOD is!

It is interesting that it was Joshua, not Moses, who called the singing "the sound of war". Joshua would not have liked Christian rock music! But Moses called it singing. Perhaps his musical taste was broader, having grown up in Pharoah's court and no doubt enjoyed many styles of music, including festive.

The sin of the Israelites was making and worshipping the golden calf, not the music and dancing. The lengths to which Moses went to destroy the idol show how angry he was at them for the calf - not the music and dancing.

Incidentally, if you look at the King James translation, the language used to describe the praise of the righteous is almost identical to the language used by Joshua:

1. Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright. 2. Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. 3. Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise. --- Psalm 33:1-3

The Hebrew words for "sound of war" and "loud noise" are different words, but both can be translated as "battle cry" and "clamour". I

Moses does talk about how the Israelites were "out of control" and had become a "laughingstock". He laid the blame for this on Aaron, their spiritual leader. This was right after Aaron had given the lame excuse that the golden calf had spontaeously appeared in the flame (V24). What really happened is told in EX 32:4: "He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.'" Moses must have been absolutely furious / disappointed with Aaron, but held his anger inside. He took matters into his own hands after this - and you don't hear much about Aaron for quite a while! Undoubtedly Moses held Aaron under strict discipline for a time, until Aaron was once again fit to serve as a spiritual leader. The point is - the blame for the people being out of control rested on their spiritual leader, not on the people (although the ones who did NOT identify with the Lord were killed).

I say to all youth leaders / youth pastors - see to it that your young people do not get out of control at Christian rock concerts. Do not allow them in the mosh pit, do not allow them to headbang, run around the isles, block the aisles by dancing, etc. Have them remain in their seats except to use the rest room or visit concessions. Have them obey all stadium rules such as not standing in their seats, not blocking the area in front of the stage, etc. If you catch some of your young people "out of control" - DO NOT allow them to attend any more concerts until they have repented of their disobediance.

David's Harp???

Critics love to use David's "harp" as proof that Christian music should be "calm".

14. Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him. 15. Saul's attendants said to him, "See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes upon you, and you will feel better." 17. So Saul said to his attendants, "Find someone who plays well and bring him to me." 18. One of the servants answered, "I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him." 19. Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, "Send me your son David, who is with the sheep." 20. So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul. 21. David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. 22. Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, "Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him." 23. Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him. --- I Samuel 16:14-23.

Is there anybody besides me who thinks verse 14 is a very bad translation? An evil spirit "from the Lord"???? Yikes. The King James is the same. I also have a literal Hebrew on the CD: "Now the Spirit of Yahweh departed from Saul, and terrified him an spirit evil from Yahweh." Still not any help. Anybody have a clue on this? Perhaps the comma is wrong, and what terrified Saul was the departure of the Spirit of the Lord. The evil spirit, of course, would be the absence of the Lord - and who would fill him when the Lord was absent. The Spirit "from the Lord" was a demon who had God's permission to enter Saul.

It is interesting that the critics would choose to quote this one. The instrument translated in verse 23 was the "lyre", not the "harp". It gets complicated because the KJV translates "harp" as "psaltry" and "lyre" as "harp". What a mess they made of things! Nevertheless, the instrument was the softer of the two, so the images of David strumming on a harp are probably correct. The lyre, however, was an instrument of joy, of celebration, of happiness and praise. It was not a instrument played sullenly and quietly. Therefore, the picture of David playing the harp may be correct, but he would be playing JOYFUL, EXCITING, HAPPY music!!! I believe that it was the praises of the Lord that caused Saul the relief, not the music itself. Saul did not have a migraine headache, which "rock" music would aggravate. He had a soul sickness due to rebellion against GOD. Praises to God were the only cure for that sickness. Saul would, however briefly, live in his past, when the spirit of the Lord was still with him. But when the song ended, he was alone with the demon again.

New Song???

Incredibly - the critics actually quote a series of scriptures that do not support their point of view. The "logic", if you can call it that, is that God will "redeem" your musical taste and transform you into a hymn loving, hymn singing clone of themselves. You heard me right! Incredibly - that is what they believe. They use the following scriptures to support this convoluted reasoning:

Sing unto him a new song. Psalms 33:3,4
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become NEW. 2 Corinthians 5:17
1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. 3 And he hath put a NEW SONG in my mouth, even PRAISE unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:1-3
I will sing a NEW SONG unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee. Psalm 144:9
Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a NEW SONG, and his praise in the congregation of saints. Psalm 149:1

So - what do you think. Do you think this "new song" is the Holy Spirit putting a Prozac pill inot your head so you can mellow out in your musical taste? I find it interesting that they believe this, in light of the musical instruments mentioned in Psalm 144:9. Follow the link, read the descriptions - I won't repeat them here. The term PRAISE also has a very different meaning to me. Say the word to a Christian rock critic, and they will think it is slow, mellow, melodious music. I am not interested in their interpretation. I am interested in the Word of God. "Praise" in the verses above consistantly translates "Psalm" or "Boast loudly". I have covered this before - neither "Psalm" nor "boast loudly" implies anything mellow to me!

The word "new" in the scriptures above consistantly translates "new, as in fresh or recent". How can that possibly apply to hymns that have been around for hundreds of years in some cases? There is nothing "new" or "fresh" about them!!! So when the Lord puts a "new song" in us, it must mean something recently written, something fresh, something new, something creative. Actually - if the critics were honest, they would quote the rest of Psalms 33:3: "Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise." There it is - right out of their precious King James translation: "WITH A LOUD NOISE!!!" Apply THAT to the old hundredth doxology "praiseGodfrom whomallblessings flowpraise Himallcreature herebelow praiseHim aboveallye heavenlyhost praiseFatherSon andHolyGhost." I would run all the words together except some web browsers won't handle it at low screen resolution. I would also run the words together because that is about all this ponderous old "classic" means to most people when they sing it in "spontaneous" rejoicing over the offering (that hasn't even been counted yet). Please - SOMEBODY retire this song! Those great words are being MOCKED in churches all over the country because the song has been played so often it is worn out.

The critics are so inconsistant that they abandon the "new song" reasoning in mid-essay by quoting:

16. This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, `We will not walk in it.' - Jeremiah 6:16-17

Come on - critics - which "path" is it??? the "new songs" or the "ancient path"? MAKE UP YOUR MINDS AND BE CONSISTANT IN YOUR ESSAYS!!! Otherwise you are not worth the time it takes to read them. It simply cannot be both ways!!! I will tell you who Jeremiah is talking to, and it is NOT Christian rock fans:

13. "From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. 14. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. `Peace, peace,' they say, when there is no peace. 15. Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them," says the LORD. - Jeremiah 6:13-15

Jeremiah is prophesying against those who practice deceit. WHAT could possibly be more deceitful than selectively quoting the Word of God to prove your point? Then changing the prooftext to say the opposite when it suits you? Sure sounds like the critics to me. At least I am being consistant in going back and digging in the Word for the true meaning of the whole passage - not like the critics - who just slammed you with 6 words out of Psalms 33:3 that they happen to like - when the rest of the verse means something totally different, something that does not agree with their point of view. Read my essays - if the critics make a valid point, I support them in it, even if it disagrees with Christian rock music. If we want to pursue truth with no compromises, we can do no less. You will find truth here, even if it is uncomfortable. You will NOT find much truth or honesty on the critics sites. That is why they react so bitterly to me sometimes. It is because I speak the truth, not their "truth" - the truth of God's word. Their opinions are VALUELESS and NOT BINDING on God - or you.

Prozac Music in the Church, Anybody?

The critics, who ususally describe Christian rock as loud, satanic, fleshly, talentless, and garbage sometimes do an "about face", and all of the sudden describe Christian rock as "smooth" when they quote this verse:

Isaiah 30:10 Israel wanted to hear smooth things.

As usual, the phrase they chose as a prooftext comes out of a longer passage that has NOTHING to do with music:

9. These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD's instruction. 10. They say to the seers, "See no more visions!" and to the prophets, "Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. 11. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!" 12. Therefore, this is what the Holy One of Israel says: "Because you have rejected this message, relied on oppression and depended on deceit, 13. this sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. 14. It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern."

This passage is talking about the rebellious people of Israel who wanted Isaiah to stop PROPHECYING the truth in love. Now, if the Christian rock critics wanted to compare Christian rock fans to the rebellious people of Israel, they could have quoted the complete passage. But they did not. They just quoted the "smooth things" part. So - critics - is Christian rock supposed to be "smooth" or is it supposed to "loud and harsh"???? CRITICS - MAKE UP YOUR MINDS!!!

Apologetics Index | Email Me