In beginning this blog about Christian rock music, I first wanted to talk about the definition of Christian music, and Christian rock in particular. I also wanted to answer some questions like:
“Is Christian rock an oxymoron?”
“What makes a musician a Christian artist?”
“Does Christian rock music really bring praise and glory to our Lord?”
I want to answer all of these questions and more about the truth behind Christian rock music, and how it relates to the Bible.
The first question is, “Is Christian rock an oxymoron?” Before we can answer this question, we must first take a look at the definitions of oxymoron and rock and roll. An oxymoron happens when two contradicting terms are combined into one. According to yourdictionary.com, rock and roll means, “a form of popular music that evolved in the 1950s from rhythm and blues, characterized by the use of electric guitars, a strong rhythm with an accent on the offbeat, and youth-oriented lyrics.”
This definition simply states the meaning of rock music. There are no religious, Christian, or non-Christian implications in this basic definition. Some people and musicians have taken this definition a step further and made rock and roll into a lifestyle, not just a type of music. Some people associate rock music with tattoos, drugs, alcohol, sex, parties, etc. This type of lifestyle has nothing to do with the style of music a musician plays. Yes, there are rock musicians that engage in this lifestyle, but there are also rap, country, and pop artists who engage in this lifestyle as well. This lifestyle is simply an occurrence in secular rock music, it is not the definition of rock music. Rock and roll is simply a style of music, just the same as saying gospel, country, hip-hop, or jazz is a style of music. Music by itself has no religious implications. Music is simply an avenue. Therefore, Christian rock is not an oxymoron because rock and roll is a style of music, not a lifestyle. You can play rock music without engaging in an immoral lifestyle.
The second question is, “What makes you a Christian rock artist?” I believe there are three criteria that you must pass before you become a Christian artist. The first one is very simple: are you a Christian? I know this point seems obvious, but to be a Christian musician, you need to have Jesus Christ in your heart. Yes, I know the Christian music industry is not perfect and there are people in the industry that are not Christians. But, for the truly honest musicians, you first need to be a born again Christian before you can be called a Christian musician.
According to titletrakk.com, this is what Nadaddy of Family Force 5 had to say about what makes a Christian artist, a Christian artist. “What makes a Christian artist a Christian artist is whether or not they’re walking with Jesus. If they’ve given their heart to God, then they’ve given their heart to God.”
Second, I believe the musician’s lifestyle also defines you as a Christian artist. The type of music you play is not what defines you as a Christian, but the life you lead before Jesus Christ and others is what defines you as a Christian. Now I am not saying go out and judge every single musician you see and say, “They’re a Christian, this band isn’t Christian, this musician is a Christian,” and so on. I am not saying judge Christian musicians. In the Bible it specifically states in Matthew 7:1-5, that you should not judge others or you will be judged by God accordingly. God tells us to judge what is right and wrong, not the validity of someone’s faith and how they present their faith to others. That is for God and ONLY God to judge. What I am saying is the musician’s lifestyle should be a major factor in deciding if this band is Christian or not. It should be very evident in the musician’s life whether or not they are a follower of Jesus Christ.
Here is what KJ-52 had to say at titletrakk.com about what he believes makes a Christian artist. “What makes a Christian artist, at least in my definition, is that obviously it starts with a faith in Christ. But I would take it a step further and say that your music should reflect your faith, not that every song needs to be a seven-part eschatology teaching, but I think it should reflect who Christ is in your life.”
The final reason is lyric based. There are really two major types of lyrics in the Christian rock scene. I will go into this subject much deeper later on, but for now I will give you a brief overview. The first type of lyric is worship lyrics. These lyrics are pure worship songs unto God. The main focus of these songs is bringing praise and glory to God. The second type of lyric is issue based. Most Christian rock bands, since they are geared towards teenagers and young adults, talk about issues that are occuring in teenager’s lives today. When it comes to subject matter, most bands have a wide variety that they choose from. The subjects can be everything from prayer and witnessing, to alcoholism and cutting.
You may ask, “how can singing about alcoholism and cutting be Christian?” There is a very fine line that Christian bands walk on when singing about these subject matters. Most bands choose to sing about these subjects because kids are dealing with these subjects everyday. Most bands believe that they can reach out to kids and witness to them by meeting them wherever they are. They want to show teenagers that even though they are alcoholics, or they are cutting themselves, or they are doing drugs, that God still loves and cares for them. With this subject matter, there is one major difference between Christian rock bands and secular rock bands. Secular rock bands glorify these subjects. Secular bands glorify alcohol, drugs, and suicide. On the other hand, Christian bands are showing kids that these are wrong, but God still loves and cares for them. That is one major difference between secular and Christian rock music.
In an interview with jesusfreakhideout.com, John Cooper of Skillet talked about how some of Skillet's lyrics are about darker subjects. “Despite all the things you go through, there is a hope. Coming back to the record [Collide], there are a lot of dark songs and dark issues on the record. I do think that this record is less of a youth group album than Alien Youth. I mean, it is and it was supposed to be. And we really believe this record was supposed to be written for a different audience as well. And I don't mean unbelievers, but I mean people who are going through some of those issues. And I think the only real difference between this and a Korn record or Tool or something like that is we do talk about some of those issues but there is an underlying hope.”
The third question is, “Does Christian rock music really bring praise and glory to our Lord?” My answer to this question is yes. In the Bible, there are many scriptures about singing and praising God through music. In Psalm 101:1 it says, “I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will sing praise.” Many critics of Christian rock music stand firm on two subjects: they believe Christian music should only be used to praise God; it should not be used to evangelize to the lost. Second, they believe Christian rock music does not make a joyful noise to the Lord.
First, I disagree with the statement that Christian music should only be used to praise God, and not evangelize to the lost. Why can’t Christian music be used to evangelize? Yes, music should be used to bring praise and worship to God, but it can also be used to evangelize. Evangelizing to the lost, IS bringing praise and worship to God! God rejoices when we bring people to know God. Thus, music evangelism is a form of praise to God. In Acts 16:25-34, Paul and Silas were singing praise hymns to God in prison. Later on in the story, a jailer and his family were saved and baptized through the ministry and overt praise of God. Their singing, along with God’s miracle of the earthquake, helped lead a family to Christ. Once again, music can and should be used to not only praise God, but also evangelize to the lost!
The other statement was Christian music should make a joyful noise unto the Lord. I actually thought about this statement for a long time. I kept thinking to myself, what is a joyful noise? What does God consider a joyful noise? I kept coming back to one answer: sincerity of the heart. It doesn’t matter what you are singing, whether it is Christian rock, Contemporary Christian music, Hymns, or Gospel music. But what does matter is whether you are singing with a sincere heart. It doesn’t matter if you sing bad, good, loud, soft, scream, or whisper. What matters is if you are sincerely offering this song up to God, giving praise to him. I think that is what makes a joyful noise to the Lord.