The argument here is that the persecuted church in Russia is somehow "better" than the church in the United States. Since they are "more spiritual", they are therefore closer to God than we are, and have better insight into the matter of Christian rock music. It is funny that the critics do not come right out and say this on their page. They are smart enough not to do it, because it is downright insulting to the millions of believers in this country who are just as spiritual as anybody in Russia. You do not win your point by insulting people!
Here, then, is the letter:
For thirty years we have suffered intense persecution. Now freedom is bringing another great harm to our churches. This damage is coming from Christians in America who are sending rock music and evangelists accompanied by rock bands. Our young people do not attend those meetings because we have all committed not to participate in secular entertainment.
This is a great burden to our hearts. Many come with Bible in hand and rock music. We are embarrassed by this image of Christianity. We do not know what words to use in urging that this be stopped. We abhor all Christian rock music coming to our country.
Rock music has nothing in common with ministry or the service to God. We are very much against Christian Americans bringing to our country this false image of "ministry" to God. We need spiritual bread... not false cakes. It is true that rock music attracts people to the church, but not to Godly living.
We were in prison for fifteen years for Christ's sake. We were not allowed to have Christian music, but ROCK MUSIC was used as a weapon against us day and night to destroy our souls.
We could only resist with much prayer.
Now, we have a time of more openness. We are no longer taken to prison. However, now it is Christians from America who damage our souls. We do not allow this music in our church, but these "evangelist" rent big stadiums and infect teenagers and adults with their rock music. We, the leadership and congregations of the Unregistered churches urge you to join with us, and we advise you to remove rock music from America.
Do not desecrate our teenagers with it. Even the unbelievers recognize it is unholy music. We call this music, "music from hell." We urge all Americans to stop giving money for the organizations of such concerts in Russia. We only want traditional Christian music in our churches.
This is the unanimous decision of all our leaders.
Peter Peters and Vasilij Ryzhuk, Unregistered Union of Churches, Moscow, Russia, April 15, 1992"
"From the "Head of the Unregistered Union of Churches in Russia" appeared in "Life", dated 21, May, 1992
For Christian rock critics to use this letter to prove their point is a very low blow. These sainted men were tortured for their faith and came very close to being martyred. If I were to encounter them I would politely agree with them no matter what my personal convictions were. After the suffering they have endured, no person with any compassion would do differently. But does this automatically make their point of view correct? Of course not! Can't you read between the lines? They were tortured with rock music, probably at high volume. I would no sooner subject them to more of it than I would continue any other form of torture. I wouldn't shoot off firecrackers at the old soldiers home. These men have been through hell, but the hell was imposed by evil men, not by the music itself. No doubt the same sadistic men would subject me to opera or country music if I were imprisoned for my faith, and transform a dislike into a torture. Interestingly - our soldiers did this same thing to Manuel Noriega --- no doubt he nows shares this opinion of rock music!
No doubt many young believers in Russia do not agree with this letter, and they should have the right to listen to whatever music uplifts their spirit and leads them closer to the cross. This has become a personal prayer topic for me, that these sainted men who wrote this letter will not lose young converts because of their personal opinion. I frankly think that nobody who is "walking wounded" should make value judgements of this sort. These men need to let somebody more able to see the situation objectively make the call on Christian rock. That, or hand over the reigns of leadership completely, to Godly men who have not had their minds tortured and who therefore might make more informed, scriptural decisions not based on horrible memories of torture.
I recall the vice presidential choice of Ross Perot - Admiral Stockdale. He was a great man who had been a prisoner of war. Certainly worthy of the highest awards our country could give. But he was so obviously senile it hurt to see him embarrass himself on TV. He was worthy of praise and honor, but unfit to lead the nation if anything happened to the president. Same situation here. These men are worthy of praise, honor by the church --- and retirement after a job well done.