Monday, May 03, 2010

Rock and Rap Music Are Becoming a Non-Issue in Fundamentalism part 2

I'm quite sure that most professing fundamentalists still wouldn't allow for rock music in their church services. Even if much of fundamentalist worship isn't acceptable to God, they won't use rock music at their churches. But I do believe that the relationship to rock music has changed in fundamentalist churches. Before they were sure that the Bible taught that rock music is wrong. Now you hear even some of the most conservative of the fundamentalists say that its difficult to judge whether it's wrong or not. To many now, it's just a preference they have, not playing rock music, but they would have a hard time explaining why they shouldn't allow it. They often sound tentative in their opposition to rock music.

What is the evidence that I see that says that rock music is becoming or already is a non-issue in fundamentalism?

Here's what I see. Rap music is played at the Together for the Gospel conference and professing fundamentalist men get together with those men at that conference. Some of the music at the same event is played with rock music. Most of the primaries find rock and rap acceptable. They may not like it personally, but most of their churches play it. That's not a problem for them.

MacArthur isn't criticized by fundamentalist leaders for the rock music played at his church. The Resolved Conference plays rock music for the young people that come---this is a Grace Community Church conference. That doesn't stop fundamentalists from fellowshiping with MacArthur and Grace Community Church. You don't hear this as a criticism coming from major fundamentalist leaders.

You will see at SharperIron, which represents a large segment of young fundamentalism, that there is stronger argumentation for rock music than there is against it. Some of their blogroll don't have a problem with rock music. They may not like it, but they aren't against it. Nobody suffers any repercussions for supporting rock music or fellowshipping with it. It's reasonable now not to have a problem with rock music at SharperIron. SharperIron is much more against the doctrine of perfect preservation than they are against rock music. Anti-perfect preservation is nearly at an essential doctrine with the rock music being a liberty.

You don't hear fundamentalist leaders writing this: "rock music is evil," "rock music is wrong," or "rock music is sinful." If they say anything at all, you hear or see them saying that it is a non-essential and a liberty issue.

Probably the major voice in fundamentalism against rock music now is Scott Aniol. You know Scott is against rock music. You can tell that Scott is not a favorite among the fundamentalists because of that. He is not respected by many because of how strong he is. And yet, when he talks about rock music, you will not hear him say that rock music is sinful, wrong, or evil. In a sense, I hate to say it because I like Scott's stand, but he tip toes around the issue. In a recent conversation on his blog, he and a colleague talked about how that cultures should be learning from each other and allowing other cultures to reveal our blindspots.

Promoted fundamentalists are friends with those who listen to and promote rock music. You see Dan Philips, one of the Pyromaniacs, go to a Chicago concert and promote rock music of various forms, secular and "Christian" on his blog. And he gets zero criticism from fundamentalists. None. Chris Anderson of SharperIron and in with fundamentalism and SharperIron, even Bob Jones University, considers him a friend. Rock music doesn't break friendships with fundamentalists. It's totally a side issue any more.

Why Is Rock Music Becoming a Non-Issue in Fundamentalism?

First, fundamentalism is being influenced much by conservative evangelicals. This is obvious. They want to fit in with those guys and mostly those guys use rock music in their churches. That's got to be overlooked.

Second, young fundamentalists listen to Christian rock and even secular rock. Fundamentalists know that. They don't want to come down too hard. I hear from credible sources that most kids on Christian campus are listening to rock music.

Third, the universal church belief and the consequential belief about unity has ditched rock music as an issue. If all believers are going to get together and most professing believers are using and listening to it, there's not going to be that unity they think we're supposed to have. So rock music has become a casualty of Christian unity.

Fourth, the people who do preach against rock music are not respected. Many of them use the King James Version and that is more odious to many fundamentalists than rock music. They would rather have rock music than KJVO. I sense this personally. It's easy to pick up. The major leaders that themselves don't like rock music preach all around the issue without actually saying the words "rock music." Kevin Bauder at Central is one of these. You know he's against it, but you don't hear him come right out and say it.

Fifth, fundamentalist churches had already started thinking about the audience, when it came to their choice of music. They weren't thinking so much about the unchanging nature of God as they were what people liked and what people would feel. Without the right purpose of music to anchor them, they have veered away from the right purpose. Some of that is seen in the influence of Patch the Pirate and certain fundamentalist 'evangelists' upon fundamentalist music. To their credit, some fundamentalist leaders, like Bauder and Aniol, understand the similarities between some of the Majesty Music and rock music. It's harder to oppose the rock, at least for them, when fundamentalists have entertainment oriented music themselves. The trite lyrics and show-tune music of revivalists in the midst of even conservative fundamentalists make fundamentalists seem as guilty. This kind of music has been acceptable in even the Bob Jones University branch of fundamentalism and the relations between those forms and rock music is very close in the minds of a Bauder and Aniol, among some others. If they were going to come down hard on rock music, they likely feel they would need to disparage a huge chunk of those with whom they have the closest affiliations.

There are probably more reasons, but these above are the major ones. I don't mind being wrong. But I think I'm right here. Rock music has become a non-issue in historic fundamentalism. What do you think this means for the future of fundamentalists?


d4v34x said...

You left off the two biggest reasons (some of) the fundys don't treat rock music as a major issue.

1. The Bible does not explicitly address musical styles/genres/forms. Many would say if the Bible doesn't explicitly adress it, we shouldn't major on it.

2. We've been blasted with too many bad arguments against rock music (melody=soul, rhythm=body) and not enough of the right ones.

I don't think your universal church and KJVO assertions hold up. Members of the household of faith ought to be in unity with one another as much as possible. Most fundys I know want to hear good, careful preaching. The version that preaching comes out of in no way negates the message for them, even if their preference is to hear it from another version.

Which sort of brings me too a larger point. It doesn't seem judicious to me to tar so broadly an entire movement, or, better, the various remnant fragments of a movement.

I could turn around and say KJV Onlies, in general, have fail to choose the most God honoring music Sunday after Sunday.

Aniol's point isn't just that we shouldn't use rock. He says we should use rich texts set to no popular form from any era. This cuts out alot of the Majesty Hymns or Living Hymns, etc.

How many KJV Only churches were singing "Sun of My Soul", "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent", or even "O Sacred Head Now Wounded" this past Sunday?

For that matter, what were the six hymns your church sang Sunday?

This question is bigger that just Rock/No Rock. Or Fundys/Evangelicals/IBs.

Kent Brandenburg said...


On #1---yes, but the Bible has never had a play button, and it doesn't forbid crack pipes either or four letter words. That didn't stop almost all evangelicals opposing rock music when it came out and then all fundamentalists. You know this.

On #2---some of the bad arguments weren't so bad, in my opinion. They've been ridiculed, but I don't think they are as bad as people say. So you think that rhythm has no physical component? Why do three year olds, who have no clue on associations, sway their hips to the rock beat? Turn on rock music to a bunch of three year olds and watch what happens. That's one of those "bad arguments." I would grant that we have more and better arguments than ever today, and we have more rock music. Why is this?

You say I'm broadbrushing, but as you can see in the title, I say "becoming a non-issue." You yourself seem to agree with that.

I really don't speak for every church that uses the King James, but there are many more KJV churches preaching against rock music than the non-KJV. You are preaching to the choir about not using the "right music," but that's why the post says "rock music."

I'm surprised that you don't know that I'm the wrong one to ask the question about what hymns we sang.

We use the Trinity Hymnal, Baptist edition, and a Scottish Psalter. We started off both our AM and PM services with Psalms out of the Psalter. We sang Psalm 10 in the morning service and we sang Psalm 107 in the evening. One of our other hymns was a versification of Psalm 51 done by Isaac Watts. I would get back to you on the other three, because I can't remember the titles, but I think you get the picture.

My big point is that we are not taking rock music seriously. I do believe that your first argument is one of the ones being used. And I also believe that the switch in purpose of songs is a factor. I'm going to add that to the post. You reminded me of that.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I didn't answer the unity question. Universal church and unity are major here. There is some ignoring of heteropathy for the sake of the expository preaching.

I'm traveling today, so I won't be available to comment or post comments until late tonight.

d4v34x said...

I'm suprised I didn't know as well. You are the wrong one (or perhaps a right one!) to ask.

1. The Bible forbids intoxication and corrupt communication. My point is that musical discernment involves deploying principles that don't necessarily "live right next door" to the issue. That's not quite the same as with the items you mention.

2. Sure rhythm has a physical component, but so does melody. And rhythm also impacts the mind. But the line of reasoning FG uses in that book falls apart. He classifies the rhythm guitar as a strictly rhythm instrument. This is simply not so. By his logic many pianos accompanying the conservative church choir on Sun morning are strictly rhythmic instruments. Are they "out of balance". People read this stuff and turn away. Lets drop the tenuous arguments and implement the stronger.

As to rock becoming a much lesser or non-issue over the spectrum, I don't deny it; I think it's self-evident.

What to do about it is the question.

Anonymous said...

Gee, do you feel better now after that screed? I really hope you do...

I mean, wow, we get it. You don't like Mac or the T4G guys, and you really have a burr in your saddle for the guys over at SI who have wisened up and have had enough of the utter foolishness that has become radical fundamentalism (which, BTW, doesn't even come close to resembling historical fundamentalism, I don't care how many ways you slice it). I mean, far be it from anyone to strive to actually be Biblical rather than conformist. What a novel approach.

Anyway, keep up the great work. You guys are successfully driving the final nails in the coffin of something that needs to die anyway. Sadly, there is something strangely fitting about this death coming from within rather than without. I guess that old phrase "Us 4 and no more" will wind up applying after all.

Now, back to life in real time. I've had my dose of fundy humor for the day...

david w. said...

Two excellent articles; I commend you. It is quite revealing to contrast the good spirit with which these were written to the arrogance displayed by "anonymous". Keep hammering the point - some of us agree wholeheartedly.

Claymore said...

What to do about the indifference to sin:

1. Preach against it. Hopefully, it will help some at least to know what is good and what is evil about the "music" of modern, pseudo-fundamentalism.
2. Separate from those who consistently refuse to hear what Scripture says, all the while continuing to preach against the sin of ccm.
3. Am I missing anything, or do these two cover it?

Terry McGovern said...

Great Article! Notice how no one has addressed a primary premise of your articles. That not so long long ago, all were in agreement to the sin of rock music. What has changed? How one cannot see the massive appeal of rock music to the flesh, is beyond me. Last time I check we are to worship God in spirit and in truth.

I find it appalling all these churches who have turned to "worship leaders" to lead their rock music to the congregation. They seem to have no idea of true worship. I believe this is where a true reason lies as to why rock music has become so acceptable. People feel good when they hear the music. The feeling they have is powerful and controlling. Because they are in a religious setting, they relate this to God, and believe it is "worship." What I would like to point out is, when you go to a secular rock concert, you have the EXACT same feeling. I have been there. In a rock concert they lift their lighters in the air when the feeling hits. In a church setting, they lift their hands. How sad today we are so deluded as to what true worship is!

d4v34x said...

Claymore, Preach what? Thou shalt not? It's simply not there. There is a whole gamut of theological education that's needed.

Beyond that, there's damage done by teaching that has fallen short of being biblical. We tell people that we don't trust experience, only the Bible. Then we tell them rock is manifestly wrong because our experience is that when little children hear it they shake their hips, or that the heritage of the saxophone renders its use unredeemable.

I don't think this is a three visits (reduction for sake of argument) and separate issue. I know now I've just said its a lesser issue. But much of the blame lies with us for failures of teaching and/or articulation.

Of everybody, I think Aniol's taking the best tack.

Unknown said...

Anonymous, before you return to "real life" I wanted you to know that truth is immortal (and priceless, might I add). No final nails, no coffins here. Just pure Biblical convictions. BTW, there's also no "how-many-ways"-of-slicing going on neither because I don't think Pastor Brandenburg, nor others here care to even resemble historical fundamentalism.

Gary Webb said...

I am working on the second of a 2 message series from 2 Peter 2:6-10: Part 1 = Vexing Our Souls in Seeing; Part 2 = Vexing Our Souls in Hearing. Lot, though he was righteous by faith and was vexed by the filthy behavior in Sodom, also "vexed" [tortured] his own soul "in seeing and hearing." As a part of his carnal choice to live in Sodom so he could prosper materially (the land was good for cattle), he also chose to defile his soul in the things he watched and heard. No doubt, one of the things he willfully listened to was the lyrics & music produced by the sodomites. He destroyed his life & ruined his family for many generations. When "anonymous", d4, etc. argue against the tremendous, spiritual impact of music, they certainly appear to be in the group described by 2 Peter 2:10- "But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities." They walk after the flesh, have no regard for spiritual authorities ("government" = kurioths), and don't hold their tongues against the glories of God manifested in righteous living ("dignities" = doxa).

Claymore said...

D4, preach against it by giving the true Biblical Principles of the music. God does not always give something in principle - for instance, it does not say "thou shalt not smoke" but it does have Biblical principles - the same with music. Give the Biblical principles of it, and preach against the sin of it.

d4v34x said...

I am all for teaching the biblical principles of music and interaction with culture. That doesn't seem to me to be something that we've historically been good at.

Look at Bro B's initial post. I grew up in the same Fundamentalist culture he did. It was obvious that alot of the secular music was wicked due to the content. When CCM came around though, the articulation and application of principle was often hackish.

Claymore said...

One cannot take drugs, place them on the altar, and declare that he will be an addict for Jesus. One cannot do this with liquor and claim to be a drunk for God. One cannot do this with tobacco. One cannot do it with pornography and claim to be a fornicator for Christianity. (Get the point so far), and one cannot take the music (not lyrics but the music) of rock and roll, put "Christian" lyrics to it, and call it CCM.

Recently, I read an article (I am not sure from what source, or where it is in my files now) about a secular Jewish woman who criticised Christianity for having a "Christian" counterpart to everything worldly - her personal favourite was "Christian professional wrestling." Probably the most mind-boggling I have ever heard of was "Christian strip-teasers". (If I am lying, I am dying). How did Christianity get to this point? It may easily be that we got there by CCM.

d4v34x said...

Dear Claymore, The Bible forbids intoxication. Where does the Bible forbid any musical style. Apples and oranges, sir.

You have an a priori problem here.

Claymore said...

If one does not have principles, he has patterns to go by, my good man. This is not a problem of a first-principle truth. The Bible does not expressly forbid other things either, but that does not make them right. This holds true with doctrine and in practice. For instance, the Bible does not say that a church cannot have a piano or organ - though some churches have said they would not use one because it is not found in the book of Acts (saying it right there on their websites). Rock "music" is a type that, in the secular, glorifies these sins listed in my previous post - even you could not deny that. Take the pattern of the altar in a previous thread: does the gift (the lyrics) sanctify the music (that which was once universally believed wrong) as the altar, or do we need to repair the altar of Jehovah instead? Perhaps when my book is finished and published, I will post a way to obtain it, and you can see it through the a priori of the study of holiness - that is, I endeavour to give principles of holiness and build the practical upon that foundation.