Well, here I am again! It has been almost 2 years since the Christian Rock Apologetics site was completed, and I though it was a "job well done". The Lord had other plans. I received a letter from a critic today, and it started me to thinking. He was saying "surely you can't believe that heavy metal music is of God with its fleshly sound?" Well - do I or don't I? Readers of the apologetics site will know that I do not personally like metal. I am more of an alternative fan. Metal is not my personal taste, but I know there are a lot of fans out there, fans whose walk matches their witness - sincere believers in Christ. What do I think of that? Do I have any lingering suspicions about a musical style so strident and so extreme? Until today, I did. But not after the Lord got hold of me!!!
Some people who email me on this topic regularly are much more conservative than I am on the topic of music. More than one have emailed me and made the statement that a believer's musical taste will - and should - become more mellow as they mature in Christ. To that - I say NONSENSE!!!! My musical taste is developing into more and more extreme styles of music as I mature in Christ, and I know many Christian young people who got saved on Amy Grant and other mellow artists who now have graduated to more sophisticated, more complex, more extreme styles of Christian rock.
I talk a little more about this below. At the risk of being redundant, I will say it again here at the beginning - I think that this viewpoint that the believer will "mellow out" comes from too many people, particularly women, teaching that Jesus is our "Abba daddy", and we should always go to him like a child whenever our feelings get hurt. Whatever. Ladies - at the risk of hurting your feelings - I am a SOLDIER for Christ. Soldiers don't go home to daddy crying whenever we get hurt. We get back up again and enter the battle, unless mortally wounded. Maybe your "Abba Daddy" stuff blesses somebody, I hope it does - but not me. I am in the middle of a pitched battle with the enemy. I don't have time to go running around crying "daddy daddy" all the time. I have good evidence from scripture that some of the trumpets may have sounded, and the horsemen are riding. This is not the time for me - or anybody engaged in battle - to go running around crying "daddy daddy" - or listening to nursery songs. Give me strong, strident BATTLE ANTHEMS that inspire me to battle the enemy! Not fluff like "praise and worship". It lulls me to sleep. It bores me and makes me complacent. I am not like the children of Israel that want "smooth things" or baby believers who live on milk. Give me MEAT in my teaching, and MEAT in my music! Perhaps Paul was right - women should not teach too much in the church.
Christian rock critics will often concentrate on the beat, the staccotto beat, and the stridency of Christian metal music as proof it cannot be of God. They believe if music is of God, it should be soft and melodious, the lyrics sung softly and clearly audible. They hammer home the point that it is the music, not the lyrics, that determines whether something is of God. No matter how good the lyrics are, if they are sung to a heavy metal beat, they are lost. The heavy metal music will inspire the listener to rebellion, lust, and satanism, no matter what is being said. A couple of seemingly insignificant things make me wonder whether they are applying a double standard:
Heavy metal style music, then is associated primarily with POWER and STRENGTH. Are either of these incompatible with the gospel message?
The teaching goes something like this:
Did Christ teach a ministry of love and compassion? Yes! But also one of the sword. Of pitting man against his parents, of cleansing a temple from sin. His cousin, John the Baptist, was a man like no other - according to Jesus own words. Did John teach a gospel of love? NO! He taught people to repent, for the Kingdom of God was at hand.
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, `We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." - Matthew 3:1-2,5-12
"I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it." - Matthew 11:11-12
People are quick to point at the Jesus of compassion, healing the sick, forgiving the sinner. They forget that this is the same Jesus that forcefully confronted sin in the temple - driving out the moneychangers with a WHIP!
Let's examine the moneychanger incident:
I have to ask you, in light of these passages:
I hope you think long and hard about the answers to those questions, because they involve the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Beware of taking away the power of the King of King and Lord of Lords to excercise righteous judgement over those who practice habitual disobedience.
No matter how you try to explain it away, Jesus was capable of assuming a position of POWER and AUTHORITY - of being STRONG when the situation called for it:
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean." - Matthew 23:26-28
This does not set well with the "laid back", non-offensive "Jesus is my 'abba' daddy" style of sharing Christ that is almost univerally advocated today. Sometimes, we are called upon to be SALT, instead of LIGHT. This applies to music as well:
"Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise." - Psalms 33:3
Sounds a lot like Christian metal music to me! Jesus PERSONALLY expressed a preference for LOUD, raucous, joyful music:
"When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 'Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!' Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, 'Teacher, rebuke your disciples! 'I tell you,' he replied, 'if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.' - Luke 19:37-40
That is a far cry from the wimpy, Hosanna Integrity praise and worship stuff I have heard promoted as the only "Godly" contemporary music.
By feminizing the gospel, and trying to portray Jesus as a loving wimp, these well intentioned ministries are robbing the gospel message of its power. John the Baptist was a preacher like no other. He was ragged and filthy, probably smelled bad - and yet people flocked to him. He was not preaching a loving, non-offensive gospel message! His message was one of repentance. He confronted sin openly and unabashedly, calling people to turn from their sin and be Godly men and women. Far from scaring people away from the coming revelation of the gospel, the Bible says that he made the way open for Jesus, the Christ. If music had been a part of John's services, I really doubt it would have been wimpy Hosanna Integrity praise and worship music. He would have wanted something with some power and strength - to match the harshness of his condemnation of sin. Just as modern day preachers select hymns to prepare the hearer for the sermon to come.
I believe there is a place for the loving gospel prevalent today. Many are being reached by it. It is the LIGHT that guides people out of darkness. I also believe there is a place for the convicting gospel message, the call to repentance. It is the SALT that burns, but also heals. The disciples knew this well, because three of them recorded the concept:
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. - Matthew 5:12-14
"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other." - Mark 9:49-51
"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? - Luke 14:33-35
An early CCM artist said it more clearly than any other source I can think of: "Salt makes people thirsty". That is why John's ministry was so popular. Jesus is the living water, that can quench that thirst. But if the sinner has not had any salt, they will not get thirsty, and YOU - the salt of the earth - are only fit to be thrown out.
Not everybody is called upon to preach the gospel of repentance. Personally, I think it would be out of place coming from a 4 foot 10 inch woman - but if you are one called to preach repentance, go for it. But it might be received better coming from a powerful, large man, who has the personna of authority. A lot of sinners might not like to hear it, but they need it:
These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD's instruction. 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. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!" - Isaiah 30:9-11
The KJV calls pleasant things "smooth things" - smooth like in the smoothness of music as well?
By the same token, not all of us are called to preach the gospel of love. If we are not out there with our "Four Spiritual Laws" books on street corners, don't look down on us. We are on the front lines, getting Godly men elected, stopping abortions, fighting the spread of perversion. If there is sin, we will expose it. We will speak forcefully and effectively against the trends destroying our society, and cleaning up the pig stye of moral relativism, situational ethics, and forgotten gentility. It is a dirty job, but somebody needs to do it, or our society will be abandoned to the worst satan can offer. When we lead a worship service - we are not going to use your praise and worship junk. We are going to use some music that has some spriritual and musical MEAT to it. We are not going to feed hungry sinners milk. We are going to give them something to chew on musically and spiritually.
I remind you, the Word of God is portrayed as a sword, and swords are made of METAL. Shields, too, are made of metal - and our metal music shields us from the attacks of the enemy, just as your wimpy praise stuff reminds you of the love of Jesus. This may be a trite example, but perhaps it has some meaning.
Salt adds FLAVOR to food. Our metal music adds FLAVOR to our worship experience. You can't drink milk and eat ice cream and candy all the time. You will become a fat slob and DIE. The same will happen spiritually. Excuse me if I want off the milk diet and want something salty, or spicy, or at least some solid food. Your praise and worship music is LUKEWARM to me:
"So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth." Revelation 3:16
Yes, I know that is talking about spiritual lukewarmness, but that IS the quality of worship that I give to my Lord to your wimpy praise and worship. I would rather joyously belt out rock-and-roll worship that comes from my heart than yawn (literally) like I do to praise and worship. Another trite example is "making a joyful NOISE to the Lord". Well, anything I sing is noise anyway - I am almost totally tone deaf and one of the few people actually asked to LEAVE a church choir because I am so awful. Give me Christian rock, and I sound pretty good. It is easy music to sing along with, and FUN! Isn't that the worship of our Lord ought to be - joyous and fun, from the bottom of our heart, instead of trying to follow harmonies and tone scales that include 90% of the notes I just cannot reach? I concentrate on the music, not the worship in traditional services. When the music is easy to sing with and fun, I concentrate on the Lord - and I NEVER yawn.
I strongly endorse Christian heavy metal as a useful tool for ministry to young people and for worship.