--- A response to The Invasion Begins! by By John and Kathy Beardsley
I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of John Beardsley in the preparation of this document. Although he does NOT ENDORSE its contents, he graciously took the time to review the document and cleared up some misconceptions I had about his article. This is the real spirit of co-operation that Christ hoped for in His church - that mature Christian believers can disagree on an issue, but still dialog on it without being disrespectful to each other.
John's original article is rather lengthy. Instead of quoting it exactly, I will attempt to distill the article down to a series of their concerns, and answer them one by one.
I am in complete agreement with the Beardsley's on this issue. This is yet another example of how the volume of the music at a typical Christian rock concert gives fuel to the other side of the debate. I have said publically in other essays that I personally wear earplugs at concerts, and encourage everybody who attends to do likewise! Musical experiences that damage hearing are not honoring to Christ. PERIOD. I know I will get some disagreement on this point from those who enjoy "total imeersion" in the concert experience. I simply cannot justify volume levels that threaten hearing - protect your hearing!!!
With that said, I will also repeat myself and say that this is not a problem unique to Christian concerts. I have been in many churches that crank the volume on the "fat lady opera style" solo during the offertory. THIS SOURCE OF HEARING DAMAGE IS JUST AS BAD AS THE HEARING DAMAGE IN A CHRISTIAN ROCK CONCERT!!!! Shame on both sources of hearing damage - sound people: CARE about the people attending the concert or the church. If you feel like you must crank the volume, pass out earplugs at the door.
A technical note - the earplugs are not terribly effective at dampening heavy bass. They are designed to protect against the shattering effects of mid and high frequency sound - which are the one that are dangerous to most people. This writer may have a chronic infection problem that leads to an abnormal sensitivity to bass.
I think the problem is that there is no precedent - except secular rock concerts. Most of these kids have no regular Christian music to listen to. No - I am not talking about that sorry unprofessional excuse for a Christian station that you would inflict on these kids! They will not listen to the sickening "praise and worship" or "southern gospel" GARBAGE - and guess what? Most adults won't, either! Check the ratings. I am discouraged when I surf teenagers web sites, and the Christian kids talk about their musical likes and collections. FULL OF SECULAR MUSIC!!!! The fault is YOURS - opponents of Christian rock! God supplied alternatives to secular, and you turned your back on it. Now, instead of the Newsboys, DC Talk and others - your kids are listening to Nirvana and Marilyn Manson. You did a real good job of suppressing Christian material: NOW REAP YOUR HARVEST!!! If the kids attending Christian rock concerts are acting like they are at a secular rock concert, it is because they have been attending secular rock concerts! What is needed is support from the church AND YOU to police the conduct of attendees and Christian rock bands - to insure that the experience of attending the concert IS edifying and evangelical.
When you point out valid scriptural points - like the hearing damage issue, you will find me a staunch ally. When you rant about generalities related to musical style, or make factual and scriptural errors - I will be bold in speaking against you.
I am a professional Christian rock producer who has followed this group from their beginnings as a Christian group. So I think my comments are a bit more valid than some secular review. The Newsboys, in their last three CD's, have tried to present a progression in the life of the believer:
With that introduction, I will give you an example of "lyrics that are hard to follow" and "have holes in them":
I am not running for office here I won't keep it purposely vague I've heard New Age Life-force trip I'd rather be dipped in bubonic plague If we keep silent If we mass defect These very rocks will scream God is not a secret to be kept! God is not a secret to be kept! And would I wash my hands again? Would I deny my savior when he hung inside the public square? Did not my silence put him there?
There is nothing obscure about the lyrics. This sample is crystal clear, "in your face - world", no compromising GOSPEL, quoting scripture as it goes. The only reason that the local newspaper found the lyrics obscure is that they are UNSAVED, WORLDLY men for whom the things of God are still nonsense. Instead of quoting secular sources, this critic ought to be on his knees praying that the concert reviewer's heart be opened to the gospel message in the Newsboys lyrics!
I ask the critic - what do the Newsboys have to do in their lyrics to be acceptable to you? I have read the Beardsley's web page - they speak out against New Age type of heresy. Therefore, logically, they should be in total agreement with the stance that the Newsboys take. There is NO WAY to be more vocal, more up front about Christianity than they are! So your only objection is to musical style. The lyrics are right where God - and you - would have them.
I will say that - prior to the "Take Me To Your Leader" CD, the Newsboys lost a couple of their key members. This made the CD somewhat different from their previous work, and - in my opinion - not as good. However, they are still a tremendously talented band, and no doubt they will adjust to their new talent and improve to the level they previously had. It is unfortunate that the Beardsley's attended the tour they did - no doubt their experience would have been much better at the "Not Ashamed" tour.
The author makes the "ambulance" observation - as if to imply there would be something sinister going on in the concert. This is far from the case. Depending on local laws and zoning ordinances, an ambulance may be legally required at any event of a given size. These laws are based on statitics that in a crowd of a given size, you are likely to have at least one medical emergency. This would apply to any type of gathering - classical music concert, political convention, etc. To insert the reference here as a subtle criticism of the concert is either ridiculous or deliberately deceptive. WHO IS THE FATHER OF DECEPTION???!!!
Make no mistake: smoking is a SIN and if you are reading these words and are a smoker - you absolutely must quit to be in accordance with God's will for your life. No exceptions! In this case, though, the author made no mention of the young man's spiritual condition. Many young people use these concerts as an evangelistic opportunity - to expose their unsaved friends to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am guessing that this young man needed Jesus, and that is why he was there. While we are on the subject of smoking - how many cigarettes did it take to get your bass soloist's voice low like it is in your choir?! Am I hitting a bit too close to home asking that?! When I walk out of ANY church - I see people lighting up. Sometimes I have the displeasure of sitting behind someone who smoked prior to the service. I can tell you that an hour and a half of exposure to the smell lingering on their clothes is enough to make me SICK! Does the fact that smokers attend a church make the church an invalid place of worship? Of course not! A responsible pastor will preach openly about the problem and hope that his people repent.
Boy - talk about confrontational! This guy went to the concert fully aware that the majority of people would be dressed casually. He purposely dressed in a manner inappropriate for the concert, as a way to confront people with his "dignified" clothing. He then proceeds to insult adult concert attendees for wearing comfortable clothing! Are insults an acceptable way to minister to people? I wear the "grunge" clothes myself when I want to be casual - they tend to hang loosely and make even an overweight body look better. Does that make me better than him? Of course not! Does his suit make him better than me? Of course not! But I guarantee you - I am not confrontational in my mode of dress. If the social situation demands it (like a job interview), I am dressed in suit and tie. Dressing in grunge attire for an interview would be just as "in the face" confrontational as this man dressing in a suit and tie for a Christian rock concert.
He starts to get ridiculous in counting speakers as a way to judge the spirituality of the concert. I did not personally attend this concert, but I wonder if he is aware that the speakers the Newsboys employ are actually below their feet - a part of the stage! The speakers he saw belonged to the other groups. I find that the Newsboys use of hidden speakers makes the stage look much better - less crowded. They are also one of the few groups that actually understands acoustics - the use of speakers in the stage allows depth behind the subwoofers, a crucial factor in accurate bass reproduction.
John actually used quotation marks around the word "Christian". Who does he think he is - judging the ministry of that station? Does he hold the Lamb's book of Life? How could he possibly know the relative effectiveness of that station? I will tell you one thing, however. I hate to keep harping on numbers, but even in Christian radio it IS A RATINGS GAME! If nobody listens, nobody gets saved. If only Christians listen, nobody gets saved. The Great Commission has never been repealed: it is the duty of every Christian radio station to REACH THE LOST - NOT THE CHURCH!!!! Christian rock stations get better ratings among unsaved people, and therefore THEY are the ones fulfilling the Great Commisssion, not the pathetic preaching and inspirational stations.
So humor cannot be used as a witnessing tool? Humor has no place in the church? Humor is automatically associated with nightclubs? Is that what you are saying? Are you saying that Jesus, who was fully God AND fully man - never laughed with His disciples? What a deadpan, boring individual he must have been then. Hardly human at all - never to express the pure joy of laughter. I know where this critic is coming from, however. The era of clean humor - and the great clean comedians of decades past - is over. Now days secular humor is composed of jokes about bodily functions and sexual inuendos. Disgusting. I, for one, am GLAD that there are clean, Christian comedians.
Perhaps he is a bit too familiar with nightclubs. Speaking of nightclubs, however, I DETEST the nightclub "crooning" style church music. Nightclub ANYTHING has NO PLACE in the church. So if the comedian reminded him of a sinful nightclub - he should have left immediately.
John omits one crucial fact: Third Day's most popular song (by a large margin) is titled "Love Song". The lyrics are sung from the perspective of Jesus and are a direct expression of His love and sacrifice on the cross:
Third Day Third Day CD Love Song I've heard it said that a man would climb a mountain Just to be with the one he loves How many times has he broken that promise It has never been done Well I never climbed the highest mountain, but I walked the hill of Calvary Just to be with you I'd do anything There's no price I would not pay Just to be with you I'd give everything Oh I'd give my life away And I've heard it said that a man would swim the ocean Just to be with the one he loves All of those dream are empty motion It has never been done Well I've never swam the deepest ocean, but I've walked upon the raging sea Just to be with you I'd do anything There's no price I would not pay Just to be with you I would give everything I would give my life away And I know that you don't understand the fullness of my love How I died upon the cross for your sins And I know that you don't realize how much that I give you And I promise I would do it all again Just to be with you I've done everything There's no price I did not pay Just to be with you I gave everything Yes I gave my life away I gave my life away Just to be with you
The musical style is inspirational - it would be acceptable to anybody. At first, I would not play it on the air because it was NOT rock and did not fit the format. It was enormously popular, however, and I was forced to add it to my play list! The Christian rock fans could not get enough of its lyrics. My experience was not unique, it was shared by Christian rock stations across the country, where it stayed "on top of the charts" for weeks. So much for the theory that Christian rock fans are not interested in serious ministry or serious inspirational music. So much for criticism of Third Day and their lyrics, motivations, and salvation.
Expanding on my comments above about "Love Song" - there is NO WAY that Third Day could go on stage without performing this song. The audience would clamor for it - by name! By far, it is their biggest "hit", and they certainly would have performed it. The critic must have gone to the bathroom or something and missed it - or chose not to mention it because it does not fit the "facts" he is trying to present.
I agree with John that it is questionable for the proceeds of the sales of merchandise to go directly to the bands - hopefully they donate most of that money to ministry. At least they were honest, however. I have to ask - why is this any worse than sports team merchandise? Does this critic own anything with his favorite team's logo on it? I would be willing to bet ALL of that money went to a totally secular organization.
I think it is time to remind John that even if he could not understand the lyrics - that does not mean that others in the audience couldn't, either. Young people accustomed to the loud music probably understood them perfectly well.
I wish I had a more accurate transcript of the songs played and the message that was given. Most artists will use the lyrics of songs before and after their comments as lead-in and follow-up for their comments. It is very likely that this critic missed crucial elements of the message because he could not hear the words.
I do have a logical question - how are the lyrics he quoted as being "no gospel" any different from the child's prayer "if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take". No mention of blood atonement there, either. I guess that means that millions of children have been led astray by this simple prayer.
I agree totally with John about so-called "holy laughter", but that was NOT what was happening at the concert. I guess he would be against some of our Christian brothers and sisters who choose to worship the Lord by dancing and leaping for joy, just as David did when the Ark was returned to the temple in Jerusalem. There is nothing more offensive to me than people who are sectarian and try to make all of us stodgy because they are. It is also offensive to the Lord, who struck Michal, daughter of Saul, barren for attempting to stifle the joy of the Lord that David had.
I am in total agreeement with John. 2001 - A Space Odyssety is re-incarnation (Hinduism). Star Wars is Ying and Yang New Age garbage. Fun to watch, but spiritually bankrupt. I don't think this was appropriate.
It is apparant that he critic does not like special effects. They are intended for entertainment only - and the Bible does not forbid us from being entertained or having a good time. As for the audience getting excited - what is wrong with Christian teenagers getting excited about Jesus? Or a favorite Christian group that are good role models? You wouldn't gripe if they were cheering for Billy Graham (or yourself). I am really encouraged when teenagers get this excited about the preaching of the gospel through Christian rock. I wish older people would get as excited about going to church.
Are you as enthusiastic about going to church as you are watching a football game? Thankfully, the Lord has seen fit so spare me from that particular addiction. I know nothing about football. ZERO. The teams and statistics mean nothing to me. There is little I see that is noble, praiseworthy, or worth a Christian's time in those violent spectacles. But I wonder if this critic has ever skipped church to see the "Superbowl".
If he has nausea, then he should not attend these concerts. I also think he might ought to get a medical checkup - this sounds a bit unusual to me. Although I admit that the Newsboys have a technically superior sound system that is capable of extraordinary sound pressure levels. Even with earplugs - BEWARE! I personally wouldn't recommend going into the "mosh pit". But I wonder if there is a double standard here - the pipe organs in some very large churches are also capable of extremely large sonic waves. No doubt this critic would enjoy as organ concert at one of these churchs - totally unaware that the raw decibel level of the bass is the same as the Newsboys concert!
A "song about joining the circus"? Here is yet another example of how the critic either doesn't understand his material at all, or is intentionally misleading the reader. The song in question is "Reality", and it is an urgent plea by the Newsboys for young people not to become runaways. It talks of the incredibly desperate plight of a runaway as told through his letters to his parents:
Reality Mom & Dad, I'm fine. How are you? I have joined a small circus (that much is true). I'm a little malnourished, but try to relax. Could you find a better photo for the milk carton backs? Send money. Runaway where's your head? dreamers' dreams are grounded in reality that comes from above God is calling there's no bigger love It's his reality that welcomes us back Trust and obey there is no other way Mom & Dad, I'm fair. How's life? Lent the money you sent me to the clown with the knife. My career as an acrobat hasn't begun, but I'm busy giving blood and shoveling elephant dung. Send money. Runaway Why so tense? dreamers' dreams will make sense in reality that comes from above God is calling there's no bigger love It's his reality that welcomes us back Trust and obey there is no other way Runaway blowing smoke your folks are worried (and going broke) after the fall is an all-new episode reality is the high road
I ask - what is wrong with this song? There is certainly more to it than "running away and joining the circus", which is what the critic implied. Critic - can't you see the danger in what you are doing here? This song is a very good song, encouraging young people not to run away. Teenage runaways are being raped, sold into prostitution and pornography, and eventually killed all over the country. Yet you take an effective tool from God and totally twist it into the opposite meaning - all to support your presupposition that all Christian rock is evil. Don't you have even the slightest shred of compassion for these runaways? You treat effective ministry tools to them like trash, to be thrown away for your own musical opinions. What if your own taste in music is wrong? How many runaways are you willing to sacrifice in the name of your vendetta against music you don't like?
Oh boy - what a turn around!!! In other essays, some Christian rock critics criticize artists with "long womanish hair". Now they are upset over a shaved head. GIVE IT A REST! I don't know what an acceptable hairstyle is to you - perhaps one of those fluffy wigs that the phony televangelists wear. Along with their 2000 dollar suit and 5000 dollar Rolex. I know you don't like Star Trek from comments you make further into this article, but Star Trek's "Ferengi" race has a notable piece of wisdom: "Never trust a man wearing a better suit than your own". HUMILITY in the pulpit is needed, not the typical attire of televangelists. I find nothing wrong with this guy's "bald head". If you had seen him before he shaved it, you would probably agree he looks better now!
The ATV's are recreational vehicles, and John probably offended a lot of people who enjoy riding them and "dirt bikes". No doubt many people ride irresponsibly, but can you prove that was the case in the video you saw? The persons may have been professional stunt riders. No musical group, Christian or otherwise, would air such a video clip without a disclaimer not to attempt the stunts.
Oh - so to be scripturally correct, the name of "Jesus" has to be plastered in every song? Is that what you are saying? Maybe you ought to take my Christian Hymn Test. There are plenty of hymns that do not have the name Jesus, either. Just totally irrelevant things like "God", "Lord", and "the Cross".
Know your material!!!! I am considered calling your bluff by quoting the number of names for Jesus Christ that are used in the Newsboys song "Breathe" and "Breathe Benediction". But you would probably not accept them because it has to be the name "Jesus", not a scriptural name for him such as "Breath of Life".
Once and hopefully for all: THE NEWSBOYS HAVE NOTHING TO APOLOGIZE FOR!!!! Their all time biggest hit is titled "NOT ASHAMED", which they almost always perform at the beginning or end of their concerts (a fact you omitted in your "review"). Here are the scripturally compromised, flawed, weak lyrics:
I'm Not Ashamed (Music by P. Furler; Lyrics by P. Furler, S. Taylor) (chorus) I'm not ashamed to let you know I want this light in me to show. I'm not ashamed to speak the name of Jesus Christ. What are we sneaking around for? Who are we trying to please? Shrugging off sin, apologizing like we're spreading some kind of disease. I'm saying, "No way. No way." chorus This one warns it's a lost cause -- save your testimonies for churchtime. The other ones state you'd better wait until you do a little market research. I'm saying, "No way No way."
I have had the pleasure of hearing 10,000 teenagers at Carpenter's Home Church singing these lyrics at the top of their voices with the Newsboys - in one accord with them and the Lord. I have heard them sing this to unsaved people on the beach at Daytona - TWICE in one concert, because the UNSAVED people wanted to hear it again!!!!
By the way, the same CD also contains an inspirational version of "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus".
Since you brought up Steve Taylor, perhaps you would like to read my essay on him as well. Steve is not popular among Pharisees - because his songs expose them for what the ARE - whitewashed tombs full of dead men's bones. An example - the anti-Christian rock crowd is really quick to criticize his song "I want to be a clone" - which is a satirical look at mindless obediance to church leadership, even at the expense of Biblical truth. The Christian rock critics see nothing wrong at all with the mindless cult Steve sings about in the song. GOD FORBID that anybody should ever get tangled up with a cult like that!
I can give another example of how the anti-Christian rock crowd thinks. The same ones that flame Christian rock also criticised the Disney movie "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", because it portrays the "Christian" leader Frollo negatively. Excuse me - but Frollo is guilty of many murders, uncontrollable lust, and even cavorts with demons in a fire. He is supposed to be a Christian? I have seen several tracts from these people that claim he IS. Authority, then, should NEVER be challenged no matter HOW reprobate? We are going to continue to have failures like Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker until authority in the church is accountable for its actions. Actually, Esmerelda (portryed by the voice of Demi Moore), prays an extraordinary prayer in a song. The movie (and that prayer) are one of the strongest Christian witnesses done by Hollywood in the past 30 years! I highly recommend this movie.
I am also not a fan of drum solos. I do not criticize those who like drum solos, however.
I totally agree that it is not a good idea to throw things into the audience. However - those sitting close to the stage do so in expectation of this. Most Christian rock groups will throw objects ranging from T-shirts to Bibles into the audience. No doubt you would be worried about how a Bible could injure somebody. These items become treasured momentos of the concert for those lucky enoungh to catch them. I wonder if this critic has ever attended a baseball game and seen the fans go wild trying to catch a foul ball that goes into the seats!
OK - yet another trip to the international lyrics server for John's benefit.
Newsboys Going Public Shine Music by Peter Furler Lyrics by Steve Taylor dull as dirt you can't assert the kind of light that might persuade a strict dictator to retire fire the army teach the poor origami the truth is in the proof is when you hear your heart start asking, "What's my motivation?" and try as you may, there isn't a way to explain the kind of change that would make an Eskimo renounce fur that would make a vegetarian barbecue hamster unless you can trace this about-face to a certain sign... SHINE MAKE 'EM WONDER WHAT YOU'VE GOT MAKE 'EM WISH THAT THEY WERE NOT ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING BORED SHINE LET IT SHINE BEFORE ALL MEN LET 'EM SEE GOOD WORKS, AND THEN LET 'EM GLORIFY THE LORD out of the shaker and onto the plate it isn't Karma it sure ain't fate that would make a Deadhead sell his van that would make a schizophrenic turn in his crayons Oprah freaks and science seeks a rationale that shall excuse this strange behavior when you let it shine you will inspire the kind of entire turnaround that would make a bouncer take ballet (even bouncers who aren't...happy) but out of the glare with nowhere to turn you ain't gonna learn it on "What's My Line?" SHINE...
He speaks over and over again of obscure lyrics he cannot understand. Yet, a Christian author has a responsibility to truthful to his readers. If I can obtain the lyrics in seconds, he could have, too, in the preparation of his web site. He did not do so, and I think that discredits him - and is unworthy of the scholarship on the rest of his site. Reading the lyrics above, and being a person of reasonable intelligence and above average literary background - I find the lyrics above to be very clear. They are a call for the believer to live his life in a fashion that will attract a non-believer to Christianity. It talks about all kinds of people turning their lives completely the opposite direction (an obscure concept called "repentance"). Seriously, at least this guy admits his ignorance, but if he is really so stupid he can't get obvious messages like these, he ought not to be posting stuff to the web. He sure embarrases himself, but worse yet he is an embarassment to the body of Christ, including myself, which must spend time and waste web server space refuting his worthless arguments.
I agree with John on this. B and B have no place in a Christian concert.
I personally find nothing wrong with the spirit the message as presented on John's page, which seems to be a pretty complete contemporary re-telling of the last days of Sodom and Gomorrah. The only point the critic makes that I even slightly agree with is when he said that God destroyed the cities due to their lack of righteous people. This is technically true, however, as God would have spared them if there had been more righteous people. When the number of righteous people dwindled to just Lot and his family, God decided it was a lot more in accordance with His plan to simply take them out of harm's way than it would be to let sin abound.
Any Christian young person would equate the phrase "doing your own thing" with the word "sin". They are synonymous. An unsaved kid might not make the connection, however. I agree that the person speaking should have made the point clearer. These are not clergymen, however. They are musicians. At most concerts I have been to, there have been varying degrees of effectiveness in the gospel presentation. The "Not Ashamed" tour featured their testimony - which is among the most powerful testimonies I have ever heard. Perhaps they should go back to their testimony. To accuse them of false teaching, however, is too harsh of a judgement. They were not as effective in their message as they might have been had they used the word "sin". They tried too hard to use modern language.
Star Trek promoting the New Age? This is one case where I can REALLY catch this guy in a blatant misrepresentation. The episode "Bread and Circuses" from Star Trek's first season is one of the most evangelistic entertainment programs ever broadcast on television. I have heard of people saved by this episode. The crew of the Enterprise encounters a 20th century Rome, complete with slavery and gladiatorial games. They are taken in by a group of runaway slaves. The fact that the slaves are Christians is intentionally hidden until the end of the show - their lifestyle, convictions, and love are the only indication given as to their true faith during the show. It is only at the end of show that the communications officer reveals that the message of Christ is the religion of the runaway slaves, and that the empire is powerless to stop the gospel!
To be perfectly fair, I have to mention that Star Trek is a secular show, done by secular people. I cannot recommend each and every episode for that reason. The majority of episodes explore the human condition through the eyes of alien races, and explore alternative concepts. In every case, however, the message you get at the end is that you are pretty darn lucky to be human. Here are some examples of alien cultures and their failings:
All of the above adhere completely to scriptural viewpoints on issues. Of course, the Pharisees would disagree on one point. They WANT mindless obedience regardless of whether they themselves are saved or not.
"And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." - Ephesians 5:18 - 21
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." - Colossians 3:16
The Newsboys do not drink alcohol during their concerts, so that does not apply. They are filled with the Holy Spirit, as their song "Spirit Thing" testifies - one of the best descriptions of the "Helper" that I have heard outside of a pulpit. The next part of the verse would seem to prohibit any sort of musical instrument. But we know that would contradict Psalms 150, so that cannot be the meaning. A lot of critics try to build a case against Christian rock based on definitions of "Psalms", "hymns", and "spiritual songs". Unfortunately for them, and the rest of us - the musicl scores of David's Psalms are lost. The only thing remaining are the words. The literal Greek word is "spiritual song", which doesn't help a whole lot. Based on subject material alone, it is possible to make some intelligent guesses about the musical score. The musical instruments were different, but the major types of instrument (string, wind, and percussion) existed at the time. Therefore every combination of beats, rhythm, and melody were possible. Given that fact - it is reasonable to assume that a Psalm of repentance, such as Psalm 51, would not be performed to a happy, upbeat score. It is also logical to assume that Psalms 150, which talks about unrestrainted joy in worship - would be performed to a slow beat or mellow score. The very words of the song talk about loud, raucous instruments - so it was probably pretty upbeat. There are additional "happy and joyous" Psalms that talk about loud stringed instruments and shouting, such as Psalm 33. So you cannot rule out Christian rock music based on the word "Psalm". Since Ephasians 5:18-21 includes Psalms as an acceptable musical type, Christian rock is therefore allowed. Incidentally, "hymn" translates as "song of praise", which would also be cheerful and upbeat. Unless you are not very happy with God! The rest of this passage is on a different topic.
Let's look at this scripture in context. I have personally been to Ephesus - it had a population of 300,000 - making it one of the largest cities of the ancient world. You can see unexcavated parts of the city stretching for miles up on the hillsides. They had hot and cold running water, which was also used to heat and cool the homes. They had a large theater, which was used no doubt for the finest stage performances and lectures available at the time. Paul himself spoke there. They had several large churches from different religions - and no doubt there was a steady stream of converts from these other religions that attempted to bring some of their old beliefs along. Just as we try to bring Santa Claus and the Easter bunny into our churches and celebrations. The church at Ephesus had a problem with spiritual depth, having a lot of secular distractions all around them. Maybe instead of television it was street perfomers. Instead of movies it was lectures or plays at the theater. But these people had a good life, and lots of spare time - which leads to materialism and lukewarmness in the church. Because people were wealthy, they tried to replace Christian humility and service to the poor with contributions of money. They were not a unified body - the church was full of petty squabbles among its members. This even led to problems in families between husbands and wives, and rebellious children.
Now - specifically to the passage at hand. The chapter and verse divisions of the Bible are pretty poor, they are done by men not necessarily inspired by the Holy Spirit. A good clue to this is whenever a chapter starts with a word like "therefore". Something in the chapter before clearly belongs grouped with the new chapter. Paul has a section beginning in the last part of chapter 4 and ending in chapter 5 verse 21 about the behavior of people during the time they were not in church. Forbidden items were wrath, anger, clamor, slander, immorality, impurity, greed, filthy talk and filthy jokes, and drunkness. Instead, people were supposed to go through the week tender hearted, forgiving, walking in love, speaking out against sin, being filled with the Spirit, and singing Christian songs. No doubt there were plenty of secular songs that had offened Paul - of course at that time sung by roving minstrals singing for change on street corners. Pauls inclusion of music here, grouped with things like filthy jokes leads me to believe Christians were singing songs with filthy lyrics. I personally saw quite a few statues and paintings of genitalia in Ephesus, so I believe we have a parallel with the modern day - the city was obsessed with sex - and it permeated the speech and music of the city. Paul wanted to make sure this influence did not creep into the church. Perhaps there were also songs from pagan religions as well that the members refused to forsake.
I agree totally that Christians can have fun without the world's nonsense and fads. I also say that unless the "nonsense" or "fad" violates scriptural principles directly - IT IS HARMLESS AND NEUTRAL. Where it become questionable is the point where a fad is adhered to simply to "fit in" with evil companions. I would definitely put secular rock music in this category, along with body piercing, tattoos, smoking, etc. My experience, however, is that listening to Christian rock is the "kiss of death" to being popular. The other kids figure out what the music is - and reject the Christian teenager. Now, if John's assumptions were correct, the secular, unsaved, rebellious kids should welcome the Christian kid who listens to Christian rock. What is more, if it were truly satan's music, the hard core unsaved kids would be listening to it as eagerly as they do secular. A few of them do, but they do so basically because they are more tolerant of the Christian idea than some of their friends. The Holy Spirit is already working on their hearts through the music. I see this up close in my own home with a 17 year old girl who lived with us. She is a Christian, and likes Christian music - but listens to other styles because her friends would not tolerate Christian music no matter what the style. Without a lot of strong encouragement from the church, and the development of large Christian peer groups to re-enforce good musical habits - most Christian kids are really out there on the fringes. It takes extraordinary dedication and strength to take a stand for Christian music. We should be on our knees thanking God for every Christian kid who has the strenght to stand up to his peers and say "I only listen to Christian rock". They are risking their entire social life to do so.
I hardly think the extreme detail I have gone to in my essay on scriptural support is "rationalizing". I have read the critics extensively, and they have yet to convince me that Christian rock is anything more than a controversial issue, a grey area that the Bible is ambiguous on. Therefore - all they have to go on is their interpretation of general scriptures that apply to the church, but do not "forbid" or "encourage" anything in specific other than to be in accordance with the Holy Spirit, and avoid the world. I believe it is possible to avoid the world and yet listen to Christian rock music. I have never seen one shred of direction from the Bible or any critic about what combinations of instruments, rhythm, beat, melody constitute "sin" and which do not. There needs to be a clear, Biblical dividing line. Nobody has proposed one, except Dial the Truth - whose enormous essay on church music is so fatally flawed from the start I do a parody of a section of it: The Hallelujah Chorus is Satanic!. Go there if you need a good laugh - these guys are dead serious in their ridiculous Christian music essay. Drums are supposedly of the devil. UGH! Better go to your local high school and slash the band's drums ----
DON'T really do it! I never encourage vandalism ----
On the subject of those testimonies - I have some serious doubts about whether those letters are real. In spite of my request to "Ken", who left a very rude and un-Christlike message in my guestbook (go there and look at the mentality of some of these critics) - nobody has ever given me the information I need before I will retract my statement that these letters are PHONIES! I am waiting - even ONE verifiable contact that actually wrote the letters - and I will retract and apologize!!!
I agree that any artist who loves money more than lost souls should be purged completely from the Christian music business. We need purity of intentions in the the artists who serve as role models to Christian young people, and minsiters to lost young people. I am considering endorsing The Steve Camp Statement on Christian music, but there are a couple of points I would like for him to clarify first. I do notice he continues to record music that is played on Christian rock stations. His music tends to be on the mellow side, and I wonder if he is encouraging a return to mellower music for selfish purposes. I am pretty sure he is on track, but it is a question that needs to be asked.
OK, he wants to get ridiculous and compare Christian rock to the Christian laughter movement. I haven't heard of that cult for several years, I am surprised it is still around. We can laugh at ourselves as Christians, and I am sure Jesus had many a good, clean joke to tell to His disciples around the fire in the evening. No doubt each joke included a lesson, but I believe there was a lot of time for good fellowship and friendship not related directly to ministry. I don't think anybody, even Jesus, could retain the company and loyalty of 11 men for three years without genuine friendship and good times being a part of the relationship. Even with the power of His presence, he still lost one disciple to satan.
He quotes two scriptures, but my discussion above more than adequately proves my point that acceptable music can be of any style. I do agree that the behavior of Christian kids in concerts is questionable, and I encourage every youth pastor to deal with this issue directly before every concert.
I do not agree that Christian rock is encouraging kids to get into the rebellious secular rock scene. No doubt many parents are dismayed that their kids have different musical taste than their own - certainly my parents tried to push me into classical music. But I can understand where their musical taste came from. My mother, from a heritage of classical musicians in her family - her father and grandfather. And my father - from a disdain for the crudeness of Navy collegues in World War II. His only way of maintaining distance from their banality and crudeness was to establish his own identity - and attend classical concerts, plays, and tour museums and historic sites during frequent lulls of active combat duty nearing the end of World War II. My musical taste came from them initially, but one of the miracles of life is the development of an independent, reasoning will in a child. I enjoyed my parents music, but developed broader tastes. My taste does not include country music, opera, southern gospel, or "praise and worship" music. But I enjoy the beauty and creativity in the rock musical style, where my father could do without it. Although he has admired Lennon McCartney, Beach Boys, Peter Paul and Mary, Simon and Garfunkle and other artists. My love of rock music is not "rebellion", it is a conscious difference in musical taste made by me at a time when my adult personality was developing in my early teens. I have seen more than one Christian rock critic, including John, betray the fact they cannot deal with their kids growing up and becoming individuals. They would prefer clones, because clones are easier to deal with. That will not happen! Your kids will become teenagers and differ with you on several points. Don't add fuel to the fire by forcing the issue with them, or you WILL have rebellion. How would you like somebody forcing their tastes on you? When you are dealing with teen and even pre-teen kids, you are dealing with people that are rapidly becoming functional, adult personalities. Your role becomes one of peer and gnetle guide, not rigid authority. If you don't adapt to that role, you will be miserable and screw up your kids. Their spirit will close to you completely, and they will no longer care about your approval.
I have a separate essay that deals specifically with scriptures that these critics quote - because they borrow references from each other. To avoid repeating myself endlessly, I researched the scriptures separately. I recommend you go there and read my responses to these scriptures.