Editorial: Is Christian Music Really A Thing? | Christian Music Zine
June 20, 2011Posted by on
There are few larger topics within Christian music circles than if Christian music is a term that should exist or if a band can be a “Christian band”. We all have our favorite ways of putting things and there are many who don’t understand how someone could think differently than they do on the subject, but I want to take a look at these things in a Biblical way to see if there is an answer that would suffice.
The first thing that I wanted to consider is how music is used in the Bible. There are, of course, 150 Psalms, which accounts for quite a large percentage of the Bible itself, plus the other poetic books, including what many scholars believe to the first written book of the Bible, Job. That alone tells me that our creative God loves art, particularly the art of music and singing.
Then there’s music in action. In Exodus 15, Moses’ sister Miriam led Israel in a song after God had brought Israel across the Red Sea on dry land, then crushing the Egyptian army. Nearing His crucifixion, Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn before heading to the Mount of Olives. While in prison, Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to God, which the other prisoners heard, before God sent an earthquake to free them from their chains, eventually leading to the salvation of the prison keeper.
So obviously music and singing were something that were made for our use and were then used by people in the Bible, even our Lord Jesus! But what for? I believe Colossians 3:16 has something to say about that.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Now, Psalms we know, as I said earlier there are 150 of them in the Bible, with a surprisingly high number of them including Messianic prophecies (look into it, seriously). Then there are hymns, which are songs that are written based entirely on Scripture and are what we would generally refer to as the “worship” genre, which we would use in our congregations.
What about that last one, though. Spiritual songs? What could that mean? Those are the ones that are generally at most debate among Christians because not everyone takes the time to explore the options that spiritual songs give. I consider a spiritual song to be one where a Christian sings about life from a Christian worldview. In other words, there are a lot of things in life that merit discussion and Christians should be able to sing about those topics based on what the Bible and their relationship with Christ has shown them.
So when we talk about “Christian music”, I believe it is generally sufficient to say that music that is in the form of Psalms, hymns or spiritual songs, then we are pretty safe in calling it Christian music, as it is music made by Christians in a way relating to Christ.
Then there comes the tricky stuff. What about bands and musicians that make music that can be classified along those lines, but then also write songs about how pretty they think that one girl is or about how much fun they had at Disneyland? What about when a band writes one album that is totally about spiritual things, then another that is cover songs of secular pop stars? What about when a band has some members who are Christian and others who aren’t? What about Christians who play music that sounds just like secular music (yes, many Christian artists listen to secular music)? How do we know what to listen to?
This is the point at which my brain fries and I have to come to one simple conclusion: grace.
It is easy for us to get carried away with one side or the other. We can either be legalistic and say that everything has to be one certain way, according to our liking, deciding that everyone else is wrong. If we don’t like that approach, we can go the other way and pretend that God’s grace is a license to sin, that everything goes. Neither are true.
The key word? Edification. 1 Corinthians 10:23 says “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” Romans 14:19 says “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”
I run this website because of love. I love Jesus Christ more than anything. Because of this, I love His people and I love those whom He wants to be His people. I also happen to like music a lot. I love it when Christians make music because it is a chance for edification. I love to share this edification with all of you. I love to mutually be edified both the artists we cover and their fans.
I won’t always make the “right” decision on who to cover, because we will probably never agree completely on terms of Christian music and Christian bands.
There are many more things we could have covered. Can a band be saved by grace through faith? No, but their members can be, just like a church body. Is there such thing as a Christian musical note? No, but those who play them can play them unto the Lord.
We can get caught up in terminology so easily. Instead, how about we all get caught up in love and edification in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord? Let our light shine brightly for Him, instead of squabbling over terms and worrying about status and labels.
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Editor, Christian Music Zine