Thursday, June 30, 2011

Music: Does It Glorify God If It Is Unintelligible?

Please read the following paragraph before proceeding - if you need help please copy and paste it into the decoder at - use 777 as the KEY to unlock the message.

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Also watch the following video before or after reading this post for a little insight into the genre I am talking about

Music…… Some say that it is “just music” without any kind of mental or emotional connection. I think they are sadly mistaken and that music actually can cause certain emotions to be felt and certain moods to be enhanced or even produced. This is most easily proven by simply turning on your TV or watching a movie. The whole program or movie will be filled with music in some sort or fashion. Also notice during the commercials, which are laced with music too. These soundtracks are carefully chosen to illicit certain mental, emotional and psychological reaction. This is also very evident in genres of music, which I want to explore in speaking about “screamo”, “black metal”, “death metal”, “white metal”, “punk” or whatever other moniker is given to it.

Let me first say that I am not anti-music. I happen to love music, all types, all genres, even the music that I will be writing about. I am not out to demean or call these bands spiritual standing into question. I happen to have seen several videos of these performers speaking to their audience about some very sound theological matters. I believe that some of the bands I will discuss are true children of God, but I also believe that some are not, which ones is not for me to decide. I will simply do as scripture dictates and judge with righteous judgment what these bands portray in a public manner. I am not out to attack their Christianity at all. While I am what a lot would called ultra-conservative I am perceived as very liberal by others. My musical choices run from bluegrass to rap to heavy metal, but with the same thing in choosing any along the vastness of my tastes - that they glorify God.

What will be the hotbed of this post is, “What actually glorifies God?” - the music or the people. My number one gripe with this particular genre of music is that you cannot decipher the lyrics on 99% of the songs. The instrumentation seems to be the crux and vocals secondary, but within the same vein. Screaming would be putting it mildly as most of these vocalizations are very different from screams. These are more growls than anything else. I have also heard that this genre of music squeal like a pig or hog, which is present in some that I have heard. What is very disturbing is a lot of these vocalizations sound almost animalistic or demonic, or at least what we perceive as demonic because of our cultural references. I’d like to ask the question, “If you can’t understand what the ‘singer’ is singing, if you must look at the liner notes to follow the message of the song, if someone that did not know that the band professes to be Christians, does it truly glorify God?” Not the group themselves, not their “message” between songs, not their love for the brethren, not that they teach Sunday school, but the music itself - does it glorify God?

This brings me to my next point - The original genre of this music, before it was “Christianized” is very violent and geared toward the young, male that is continually looking for outlets to display their dominance in some form or fashion. This is displayed mostly by the posturing and “dancing” that goes on at live shows as guys strut around, arms flailing, slamming into one another, push each other around and many other things too graphic to mention. With the “Christianization” of this genre it also brought along that angst of testosterone and posturing. I know that “Christianizing” everything in the world happens, it is easy to see all around us, in almost every church building across the globe is the influence of the world. We must come to some kind of understanding of verses like Romans 12:2 , 1 Peter 1:14 and 1 John 2:15 that tell us to not be conformed to this world or to love the things of this world. Of course “things of this world” is a broad stroke and people say that we must use these devices to reach this dark world, that we must “become all things to all men”, which is grossly taking 1 Corinthians 9:21-23 out of its context. I will not delve into how it is taken out of context in this posting, but refer you to the wealth of writing across the web.

The main argument that I have heard in favor of music like this is that it reaches the lost that would otherwise not cross the threshold of a church. Really? So, with that statement I gather that those saying it do not believe n the power of the Holy Spirit to work in someone to draw them and lead them to the gospel. We often times think we must become like something to reach them, which is a false statement. “But those in this subculture will not listen to somebody in a button down, khakis and a tie”. Who says? Also, who says that it must be from someone dressed like that anyway? My normal attire is jeans and a t-shirt and have only worn a tie once in the past 10 years, counting to church. It is this mindset that says that we must “do something” to get someone saved instead of sowing the seed and letting God take care of it. Most people that look at this genre of music from outside of Christianity think of it as a cheap knockoff, just as they do any other genre of music, be it rap, country, bluegrass or rock. They may think that it sounds alright, but they discount it from the get go and if they are duped into attending a concert by one of these bands the first decipherable words they hear that mention God turn them off and they’re out of there.

My final point is another question, “Why does Christianity need this?” Is it because we think that God no longer changes people or pulls them out of these areas? Where is the disconnect between saying that someone who is a thief can be saved but will stop stealing and saying that someone who listens to the secular version of this music will be freed from it as well? Why must there be a transition from indecipherable worldly lyrics to indecipherable “Christian” lyrics? Is God not mighty enough to change the worldly lusts in a person? Why must we (Christians) try to knock off the worlds entertainment with the mindset of it being the only way to reach our dying world? What ever happened to just preaching the Word in season and out of season? Why must we try to make the Gospel, which is offensive, palatable to the world? Must we look like the world to proclaim the Gospel? Do we not want and desire and long for our Home and not for the things of this world?

This goes much deeper than personal tastes in music. My tastes in music changed almost instantly when God saved me. The new heart He gave me did not find joy and happiness in the music I listened to any longer. My old excuse when a false convert of “I only listen to the music, not the lyrics” was burnt up with the fire of God. It is very hard for me to understand how a true child of God can enjoy music that is so blatantly anti-God in lyrical content. My genre choices changed as a result, since my main objective in listening to music is to glorify God, not entertainment, which is secondary. With the indecipherable lyrics, testosterone induced angst and well, indecipherable lyrics I do not see the viability within the Church of this music. Not as entertainment, because you can’t understand it and definitely not as an evangelical tool, because it is an imitation of the worldly music it patterns itself after.

As a side note, God also has dealt with me on lack of lyrical content that glorifies Him with artists and songs within the mainstream of “Contemporary Christian Music”. My blossoming music collection has taken several slices through the years as God prunes certain musicians from my listening. Most of the latest ones are because they are filled with a man centered message, look like the world without God focused lyrics or simply twist the Word for a catchy lyric. Certain groups such as Phillips, Craig and Dean are banned from my ears for good because of their heretical religion of Modalism, even though they sing songs that are sung by other groups. I know their god is not the God of the bible, hence they are very dangerous. I do not actively search out musicians theology, but do take note when I hear them speak and examine their lyrics. After all, shouldn’t we be concerned about what we are putting into our bodies, be it food, entertainment or bad theology? We are concerned more with being physically sick that we are concerned with spiritual sickness. We are too afraid that we will offend someone or be called a Pharisee for questioning something or someone that is blatantly heretical and in need of judging and exposing. If the true followers of Christ would actually stand up for what the Word says then this world might be changed. Instead we try to placate and please everyone else, not step on any toes even when someone says “I’m a Christian” in one breath, but in the next tells of the Mormon god that lives on another planet.

Were you able to read the first paragraph without taking extra steps to decipher? Yeah, I couldn’t either and I know the original text. That is my main point in this posting - even if it is 100% scripture if it is indecipherable does it really glorify God or does it just cause confusion?

Wake up Church! Be different than this lost and dying world! Live boldly for Christ and leave the rest to God. Be Ye Separate and stop trying to be the world to please the world. Be Holy and please God.

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