The Battle in Religious Music
Music was created to be a language of the human spirit. It was never meant to be called the language of the soul. Man is a spiritual creature and singing is one of man’s highest ideals. Life without music and singing would be dull and empty. Not only is music a language of our human spirit, it is also a primary language of our worship. The human spirit is our direct line of communion with God. Spiritual singing unites us to Him for fellowship and life. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).
Singing was ordained by God to be full of Him, His words, and answers that satisfy our daily longing after Him. Modern music is similar to Modern art and Modern living, it is full of questions with very few answers. It is like a painting full of color with no capturing scenes. Modern music is almost totally the same theology as the “positive thinking” ideas of Robert Schuller. Rick Warren calls his church, “The flock that rocks.” You are not likely to find a liberal church that is now called “The Emerging Church” that sings Gospel music. Modern/Contemporary music is the music of churches that have left the fundamentals of Holy Scripture.
I have spent about two weeks trying to listen as much as possible to music from both the Gospel styles and the Modern styles. As I have listened, I have kept extensive notes. I use these two terms to cover the many variations of each category. Please understand that I know there is a little decent music in the Modern variations, and there are some very bad songs and styles in the Gospel variations. My words are not meant to sweep with a broom that is too broad, but I must speak truth.
While listening to Gospel music, I have found an overwhelming abundance of themes straight out of Holy Scripture. Here are some of the actual words that fill the songs: Calvary, forgiveness, being Born Again, repentance from sin, and the consequences of living an unholy life are constantly present. The Blood of Christ is also a constant theme. The Born-Again life of happiness and holiness is heard over and over. Terms like “straight and narrow,” “whosoever will,” “Jesus Christ died for one and all,” and “He set me free” are sung in many songs.
There is an extremely strong presence in Gospel singing of the prophetic messages in the Bible. “The Rapture,” “the sounding of the trumpet,” “going home with Jesus,” and “in the twinkling of an eye” are some happy themes often heard. Our future robes of “spotless white” and the great “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” are never forgotten. In fact, after one straight session of only ninety minutes, I had heard every theme I could name out of the Holy Bible. By listening to Gospel music — including Southern Gospel, Church Hymns, etc. — you will get an understanding of the Christian life, along with the great truths that we believe and love. It’s easy to understand that Gospel singing is going to be the music of any strong Bible-believing church.
Listening to the Modern music has really been an education for me. I find it almost impossible to explain my experience. I have not heard one whisper of prophecy in all the Modern music to which I have listened. I heard the Blood of Christ casually named one time. I made a note for myself after a full hour of listening, “One hour and not one word of His blood or Calvary, not one word of repentance or sorrow for sins.” That hour had been nothing but “praise and thanks” that gave no valid understanding of what brought them to such a state of ecstasy. Believe me; the “state of ecstasy” had been on a pitch above normal even for a Pentecostal like me.
After Sirius XM, I tried the Billy Graham station in Black Mountain, NC, and all the songs were of no understandable difference. I heard one requested song that was played for a woman in the hospital. The theme was, “I waited for you today, I needed you today,” but there was never an answer given to that lady’s needs. As I said earlier, the only answers in the Modern music I heard was to just “praise Him” regardless of the situation. It’s like praising someone that you have really never come to know in the great revelations of the Holy Bible. It was religious “positive thinking” saturating every song.
It appears to me that once an individual is hooked on Modern/Contemporary music, there is no turning around. It is soulical music and it creates a strong religious satisfaction and bondage that defies escape. It’s religious noise that drives the human emotions wild. It’s a “god” without standards, convictions, or adherence to Biblical truth. Their response is “I just like it so, leave me alone.”
I have come to believe more strongly than ever that Gospel music is music that is full of answers, while Modern/Contemporary music is full of vain repetitions. While most of the questions are not bad, modern theology and music has forgotten how to proclaim God’s straight Biblical answers to human life. Gospel music is Christ-centered and Bible-centered, while Modern/Contemporary music is man-centered and emotions-centered. Gospel music is the source of great joy because it blends the answers with the questions. Gospel music is also full of praise, but with great understanding of the God and Christ we are praising.
I know this article is incomplete because no one person has all of God’s answers. Please be a part of discussing this article by going to our Internet and adding your own postscript. It is located at the bottom of the page containing the full article. I will be reading your opinions and watching for what I expect will be a healthy discussion. The URL for this article, “The Battle in Religious Music,” is http://www.pawcreek.org/salty-saints/the-battle-in-religious-music. Please be a part of these discussions.
Joseph R. Chambers