Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Real Christian Music

The question of Christian music is one that has followed the church for quite some time. With every different genre of music having its own section calling itself Christian we are left with the question: "what is Christian music?" Music has been used as a tool to convey a message as long as it has been around. But have we forgotten that in our culture today? Within the church there exist two seperate sub-cultures that sit opposite sides of the fence on this issue of music. There is the extreme fundamentalist side that label any contemporary style of music as "worldly" no matter what the words are. Then there is the other end of the spectrum that claims all music to be amoral. Granted these are the two extremes of the spectrum, but they do represent both sides.

While I decline to argue with either of the positions stated, I do think that it is important to understand that music is a tool to convey a message. When we pop our headphones on we are letting an artist pump his or her world view into our minds. This is what we must be aware of. Music must be enjoyed with a critical ear otherwise it can prove to be a dangerous form of entertainment. For example, if you want to hear some of the worst theology you will ever hear, then turn on your local Christian Radio station. There is a good chance that at least one of the songs you hear will be filled with mind-numbing theology. And lest I sound too much like a "Flaiming Fundy" open up you hymnal and I am sure that you can find a song that will not match up with your theology. Take for instance the song "In the Garden." Most of us grew up singing this song, but have you ever really thought about it.

'I come to the Garden alone, while the dew is
still on the roses; And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses. And He walks with me, and He
talks with me, And He tells me I am His own; And the joy we
share as we tarry there None other has ever known."

I would hope that from the pulpit you pastor is not instructing you to listen for the audible voice of God to provide you with the joy that you need. Rather I would like to think that he is encouraging you to dive deep in the grace God has made available to you so that you can experience the joy inexpressible that is described in Scripture. But how often do we sing this song? I must admit that I know all the words to it, and I still enjoy the tune. But I have to listen to it with a critical ear. This is my point. We must understand that every song was written with some type of bias. When we understand this we can hear the theologically bankrupt music with out letting our minds become theologically bankrupt.
This brings me to what I intended to write about all along today, "real Christian music." What is "real Christian music" you ask. It is music that builds up the body of Christ by worshiping in Spirit and in Truth. Throughout history it has been hard to find music that causes the spirit of sinful men to accept the truth, and fall down in worship before the Lord. The only thing that has changed in today's world is the style of music. But there is music out there that is "real Christian music." Take for instance Derek Webb. His music is real because it builds up the body by worshiping in Spirit and Truth (I know because I am listening to is now). Webb's music has such an awful view of sin, and an awe-inspiring view God that you may just find yourself on your knees before the song is over. Just read the lyrics to one of Webb's most convicting songs of his new album "I See Things Upside Down"

I See Things Upside Down

I repent
(words and music by derek webb)
i repent, i repent of my pursuit of america's dream
i repent, i repent of living like i deserve anything
of my house, my fence, my kids, my wife
in our suburb where we're safe and white
i am wrong and of these things i repenti repent,
i repent of parading my liberty i repent.
i repent of paying for what i get for free
and for the way i believe that i am living right
by trading sins for others that are easier to hide
i am wrong and of these things i repent
i repent judging by a law that even i can't keep
of wearing righteousness like a disguise
to see through the planks in my own eyes
i repent, i repent of trading truth for false unity
i repent, i repent of confusing peace and idolatry
by caring more of what they think than what i know of what we need
by domesticating you until you look just like me i
am wrong and of these things i repent


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