Music Debate (a guest commentary)

First of all, I contend that when a song (or style of music) is labeled "Christian" it then becomes categorized by its relationship to Christ. John 14:5 states that Christ is the WAY,TRUTH, and LIFE. Now, since the actual notes on the staff do not deliver any message they cannot be compared to TRUTH or show the WAY. They certainly don't give or take back LIFE. Music can affect feelings and emotions but these things are not the basis of faith.

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

(An interesting side note about vs. 18; the word "sound" in the Greek is (5353) phthoggos {ftong'-gos} AV - sound 1) musical sound, whether vocal or instrumental leads one to speculate about the musical implications of the verse)

This leaves the lyrics. How should we then evaluate the lyrics? For the Christian the standard we use to determine truth is the Word of God.

John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
(Jesus, in his prayer to the father)

No one can assume that a Christian automatically understands or even knows truth as it relates to the scripture, much less have the ability to express it in their music.

(Hebrews 5:12-14)[ 12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13) For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14) But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.]

WORDS MEAN THINGS

The lyrics of a song portray a message. When held under the light of truth, you may then determine its fitness to be labeled "Christian". Non-Christians are no strangers to truth, irregardless of whether they accept the source of it or not.

Take this one example:

Kerry Livgren, former songwriter and guitarist for the 80's "super-group" Kansas, admitted in his book "Seeds of Change" that although he was on a spiritual journey when he wrote the song Dust in the Wind, he was not a Christian. The message of that song (that we are made up of the dust of the earth; that the works of our hand will inevitably pass away; and the perils of relying on our wealth) remains as truthful as ever! Great truths and a great song!

Back to the subject: WORDS MEAN THINGS All truth is from God in Christ and because of that, expressions of truth have an inseparable link to God

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7) If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

Let me pose a question. Aren't the old TV shows like Father Knows Best or Leave it to Beaver referred to as the moral example of the "good 'ol days" when TV was clean and had family values? Does any one know if the men who wrote these shows were men of faith? Were their lives an example of morality? Do you refuse to watch because you don't know? The fact is that these shows are not considered objectionable simply based on the truths expressed, the morals epitomized, and the values portrayed.

The Bible is clear on this point.

Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

Simply put every one is accountable to God for themselves and not the spirituality of others.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Romans 14:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

(we are talking about Christians and their music here aren't we?) After all the relationship one has with Christ may or may not be readily apparent to others. I have met what I considered to be saved folks who turned out to be lost and then I've witnessed those who from my perspective seemed lost but after deeper probing turned out to have faith in Christ.

What does all this have to do with music? Everything! Jesus said we aren't to judge our brother's spirituality. God knows only He can truly know the heart of a person. Plainly put, the artist is responsible to God for their art. We, on the other hand are responsible for what we listen to (or watch, or touch, or consume)

Now then, if I am responsible for myself, as the scriptures showed I must determine for myself what I'm going to listen to. This is where Philippians 4:8-9 come in.

Php 4:8) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

The big point I'm trying to make is that we are to judge the things that we are going to think on and that judgment is based on the scripture. (not necessarily our personal opinions or taste) So basically the message of any song stands or falls on its relationship to the Word of God. So instead of judging the artist (which may be impossible as well as ill-advised) or the sound of the notes, we are responsible to hold the message up to the light of truth accepting or rejecting on that basis.

Some have stated that the artist's credibility is somehow a reliable gauge. I respectfully submit the opposite is true. Once again to the scriptures:

Galatians 1:8) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9) As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 10) for do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Paul here identifies the very problem of trusting the credentials of others. In this case they turned out to be pretenders and deceivers. Granted we want to assume the best of self-professed Christians (don't we?), but, as in this example, we must judge the integrity of their message. It is the same with Christian music (of any style!) The music's message stands or falls under the scrutiny of scripture.

BTW for those who have the opinion that for a song to be "Christian" it should have the name of Jesus or God in it: That's all fine but you'll just have to throw out the whole book of Esther because you'll be hard pressed to find either the name or any reference to God in there. (Wouldn't you admit that Esther is a "Christian" book?)

In conclusion, it's not the music, it's the message. Loud exuberant music is most certainly scriptural, and our personal taste is not the standard of measure that God set forth in scripture. (Thankfully, God was silent on the preference issue) It is therefore our responsibility to hold the message behind the music up to the light of Truth as found in God's Word. An unwillingness to examine the message based on some personal distaste for the medium disqualifies one from condemnation. But let us also not blindly accept the messages that are delivered through any medium. Let's test the message based on Truth.

---- Billy (last name witheld)

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