Now I believe that basically speaking, rock music in and of itself is problematic—period. And I believe that for many reasons. One is: rock music is a product of a disoriented, despairing, drug-related sex-mad generation. There’s no question about that. The first big rock singer was Elvis Presley, who killed himself with drugs and who went through women, you know, continuously. And he gave rise to the whole rock generation. He was the first, and his whole act was sexual, sensual, you know; it was terrible. Nowadays we think he was comical because we’ve come so far. But the vernacular of rock music at this particular point represents a generation that I have real trouble identifying with. And what happens is if you put a Christian message in that vernacular, I think Christianity suffers immensely because I don’t think you can take that kind of medium and use it to propagate a Christian message.He also said:
For example, in the sixteenth chapter of Acts, you have the Apostle Paul on his missionary journey, and he came to Philippi. And a demon-possessed girl came out and started following them around. And the demon-possessed girl said of Paul and his traveling companion, Barnabas, “These men have come to show us the way
of salvation.” Now, was that the truth? That was the truth. They did come to show the way of salvation. Paul turned around and rebuked that girl and cast the demon out of her, because God does not use demonic mediums even to propagate true doctrine. Do you understand? And basically the whole rock thing is tied in with drugs and sex, and the occult, the whole shootin’ match. And people who come out of that scene find it very difficult to listen, say to Christian “rock” without being pulled back into all that stuff that they had in their former life.
I don’t want to say that, you know, now you get into the fine line of what is rock music and what isn’t. I think that’s a decision each individual has to make in a sense. And the older you are, the easier that decision is. I understand that, but you want to be sure that you don’t identify Christ in a medium that is demonic or drug-related, sex-related, and so forth. You want to make sure that Christian music is distinct.
I’ll never forget two guys who walked in—I was speaking at a rally in San Diego for Youth for Christ—a couple thousand kids. I was sitting in the back row waiting to do my thing and there was this group up there, and they were just ripping the place up. And you know, I don’t know what they were saying. Nobody knows what they were saying. God would only know what they were saying. But it was just, you know, a din. And two guys walked in—I’ve never forgotten this—and sat down beside me. And they were pretty cool guys, just rollin’ in. They had the long hair and the whole
bit. And there was a bunch of kids there and they thought they’d come in and see what was going on . They sat down and they heard this stuff, and after about 10 minutes of this, the group finally stopped. And this one guy said, “Hey, man, I thought these Christians had something different. We could hear this anywhere; let’s split.” I never forgot that; they just took off. In the Old Testament, particularly, and you can compare the New as well, the word new is used more times with song than it is with any other noun, more than new birth, more than new life, more than new creation, more than new anything is new song. If there’s anything that identifies a Christian it’s a new song, something different. So I think we have to be very careful about that, all right?
There are all kinds of tests that have been done on the various kinds of beat--what they call the "anapestic beat" where you have two longs and a short and all that. You have read about the things that kills the flowers; you know, you put flowers by a radio and play that stuff and they die and so forth. But I would say that there may be some inherent truth in that, but still it wouldn't be moral: killing the flowers isn't necessarily a moral issue. But I think cultures give to music their moral identification--I think they do that. I could hear a song on the radio and you can tell me that in and of itself that song is not a moral issue; those notes aren't moral, but that music makes me think of something sinful because that is the way the culture has portrayed that sinful act through that style of music.
It is like listening to a song that is on strings and violins and thinking of a blue sky and wind blowing through a meadow. Music can do that because of our cultural orientation. So I think that it is an over simplification to just say that rock music is so non-moral that any kind of rock music, if you stuck the right words in it, would honor the Lord. I don't believe that. I think there is a genre of music that has given such a cultural identification that it is impossible to cross the line of putting that into a Christian vernacular without bringing total confusion to what you are trying to communicate.
I also think that the vehicle should be distinctly Christian in some sense. In other words, if we simply mimic the styles of the world in what we do, we have admitted that they have something we want. And, I’m not sure that’s true. . . .And John MacArthur said this too:
I think, that the best thing to do is to have you listen to the series. There are physiological problems with a hard driving beat and stopped-anapestic rhythm. I went into all that kind of stuff when you have two longs and a short, and so forth. Literally, they planted flowers and they put that music in there and the flowers will die in a few days because it will destroy the cells of the flowers. It destroys the ears of young people. A lot of people even in our own church who play in the music, in the studio music thing, say that they’re losing their ability to hear tones and so forth over a period of time because it just destroys their inner ear. Anyway, I think, the best thing is to listen to that thing--that series of tapes, if you can, because I tried to give a full range to it. . . .
I don’t think anything is wrong with rhythm. God gave us that. Right? I mean, we walk with rhythm. That’s why we walk. I mean, everything in our life is rhythm. My heart beats with rhythm. People say, “Well, you shouldn’t have any rhythm.” You know, they sing stuffy, stodgy things. No, I think, rhythm is part of life, and, I think playing a rhythm is a very normal thing. I mean, when you were a baby, your mother rocked you to sleep with rhythm. You know, that constant rocking. That’s rhythm. And, she sang you a lullaby. I mean, there is rhythm. And, rhythm is a good thing. And, there’s nothing wrong with that, but what when you have a hard constant, driving forcing beat which has sexual connotations or whatever, that’s when you get into trouble.
I don’t ever want to use a style that will drag down the content. It’s highly unlikely that I can put the gospel, for example, in a very contemporary musical genre, and elevate the genre, you understand? The tendency is going to be to pull the gospel down to that level. This isn’t new. There was a song--and I’ve used this illustration before, I’ll use it again--there was a song that came out in the schmaltzy 40s, when everything was sleazy barroom kind of crooning. The pop music, the big time music was all the crooners. And, songs were written for the church like that. And one of them that was very popular, and I remember it even a kid: “I’m in love, deeply in love with the lover of my soul”--yuck!! That is terrible! Because now what you’ve got is you’ve reduced loving God to such schmaltzy sort of sexy relationship that you put in a song sung in a barroom! So, the church isn’t new at doing that. So, what I’m saying is you have to be very careful because musical style can communicate so much culture that all it does is take profound gospel truth and pull it down, rather than the truth elevating the music--it usually works the other way.He also said this:
Those who don't know God have tried to come up with their own music but it only mirrors their evil. The pulsating rhythms of some native African music mimics the restless, superstitious passions of their culture and pagan religion. Much of the music in the Orient is dissonant and unresolved, going from nowhere to nowhere, with no beginning and no end--just as their religions go from cycle to cycle in endless repetitions of meaningless existence. Their music, like their destiny, is without resolution.The man who organized and set-up the Resolved meeting for which this trailer was made and from which it comes, Rick Holland, writes this in the book generally edited by MacArthur, Fools Gold?:
The music of much of the Western world is seductive and suggestive, reflecting the immoral, lustful society that produces, sings, and enjoys it. And a good percentage of rock music, with its bombastic atonality and dissonance, mirrors people who reject both God and reason and float without orientation in a sea of relativity and unrestrained self-expression.
Many of the physical and emotional effects of modern music have allegedly been demonstrated scientifically. Dr. Howard Hansen, director of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester has stated that "music can be soothing or invigorating, ennobling or vulgarizing, philosophical or orgiastic. It has the powers for evil as well as for good" (The American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 99, p. 317). He notes that the further the tempo of the music is accelerated, the greater becomes the emotional tension, concluding that rhythmic tension is heightened by the increase in dynamic power.
I remember reading several years ago about a study of the effects of music on plants. The experiment was done on identical plants in an identical environment. Plants exposed to beautiful, soothing music thrived and turned toward the speaker. Plants exposed to hard rock music turned away from the speaker and within three days shriveled and died! Further experimentation indicated that the sound waves of the rock music had actually destroyed the plants' cells.
Whether rock music therefore has the ability to damage the human body or not, things of infinitely greater value have the potential of being destroyed--the hearts and souls of men and women who allow Satan an open door because of what things they put their affections in. When music--regardless of what style it is--is coupled with blasphemous, lewd lyrics, and suggestive body movements, the brain is bypassed, emotions are mangled, and the conscience is hardened. The Greek philosopher Aristotle wisely observed that represents the passions of the soul, and if one listens to the wrong music he will become the wrong kind of person (Problemato, book xix).
In other words, the fundamental presupposition is that the gospel is best packaged in a culturally relevant way. But the Bible and its message are fundamentally countercultural.Earlier, Holland chides a new version of the "Bible," called Revolve:
It is an edition of the New Testament that uses as much camouflage as a Stealth B-2 bomber in its efforts to disguise itself. Looking nothing like any other Bible, Revolve was designed to spare teenage girls the embarrassment of being caught with a traditional copy of the Scriptures.Doesn't it sound like MacArthur and Holland and others believe there is something to the packaging, the means of communication, associating something holy with profane? They do. So why do they do keep doing it themselves, especially when they also claim to have the high view of the sovereignty of God?
I'll write more about this to explain what it is.