From the "O TIMOTHY - Keep that which is committed to thy
Trust..." Magazine - 2007
CONCERNING CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC
Isn't the Sincerity of the Musicians the Important Thing?
by David Cloud
Those who defend Contemporary Christian Music often argue that
the only thing that matters is whether or not the musicians are
sincere. Note the following statement by Christian rocker Mylon
"Music is not good or evil because of the formation of the notes
or the structure of the beat. Music is good because the heart of
the person playing it is innocently and sincerely giving praise
to our God" (LeFevre, interview by Pastor Rick Anderson,
Minneapolis, Minnesota, Rock Music--What's the Real Message?,
cited by Jeff Godwin, What's Wrong with Christian Rock?, p.122).
WE WOULD ANSWER THIS, FIRST OF ALL, BY REMINDING OUR READERS OF
THE DECEPTIVE NATURE OF MAN'S HEART.
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:
who can know, it?" (Jeremiah 17:9).
"He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh
wisely, he shall be delivered" (Proverbs 28:26).
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end
thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12).
These verses remind us that man's heart cannot be trusted. It is
possible for a man to deceive himself and others. It is therefore
impossible to know whether or not someone is sincerely seeking to
please God. It is impossible to know for sure whether or not a
person has sincere motives for doing what they do. Man's heart is
complex, and he often has many motives for what he does.
SECOND, GOD REQUIRES OBEDIENCE TO HIS WORD AND DOES NOT ACCEPT
MAN'S SINCERE DISOBEDIENCE.
There are many examples of this in the Bible. Moses was very
sincere before God, but when he struck the rock instead of
speaking to it, God judged him and refused to allow him to enter
Canaan (Num.20:7-14). There is no question that Moses was sincere
when he struck the rock, but God did not accept his sincere and
earnest disobedience. When Aaron's sons offered strange fire, God
struck them dead, paying no attention to whether or not they were
acting sincerely (Lev.10:1-7). When Saul disobeyed in the
seemingly minor matter of refusing to destroy all of the cattle
belonging to the Amalekites, God judged him and removed the
kingdom from him (1 Samuel 15). Saul protested that he had done
the deed in the sincerity of his heart, but this did not change
God's mind. When Uzzah steadied the cart holding the ark, God
struck him dead (I Sam.6:6-7). It appears from the record that
Uzzah was sincerely trying to assist in the service of God, but
God did not accept it because it was not done according to His
Dr.Frank Garlock, who has a doctorate from the respected Eastman
School of Music, observes:
"Sincerity and motivation have never been a test of real
spirituality or even of Christianity for that matter. The Word of
God is that which will abide forever, and it is upon His Word
that God hinges all spiritual truth. It is not right to ignore
the Bible, to become worldly in philosophy and practice, to call
things Christian which are not, nor to disobey the Word of God,
even to try to win people to Christ" (Garlock, "Can Rock Music Be
Sacred?" 1974, p.39).
THIRD, THE BIBLE SAYS THAT THE CHRISTIAN RACE MUST BE RUN
ACCORDING TO THE DIVINE RULE OR THERE IS NO REWARD FROM GOD.
"And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned,
except he strive lawfully" (2 Tim.2:5).
This was one reason why Paul exercised his life and ministry so
carefully and strictly.
"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one
receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man
that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now
they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an
incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight
I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and
bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have
preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (I Cor.
FOURTH. IF THE CHIEF TEST OF THE SOUNDNESS OF MUSIC IS THE
SINCERITY OF THE PERFORMERS, IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE
HEARER TO TEST IT.
As already noted, we cannot know for certain the sincerity of the
musician. Many Christian rock musicians have admitted that they
wrote and performed Contemporary Christian Music even while they
were drinking and committing adultery and seeking fortune and
fame. The members of the Christian rock band "Stryper" admit
that they drank and partied in carnal rebellion during part of
their touring career. Michael English, Sandi Patty, Kirk
Franklin, among others, admit that they were living in
fornication and adultery during part of their careers. Mylon
LeFevre admits that he wrote and performed music for years before
he got right with God, that he was using drugs heavily and
drinking and carousing even while producing Christian music.
After their success with the "Supernatural" album and tour,
Michael Tait of de Talk admitted that he "went through a time
where I dabbled in a lot of [wicked] things" (CCM Magazine, May
2001, p.42). He calls this his "dark days." Many CCM spokesmen
honestly admit that this type of thing is a big problem in their
midst, but a great deal of it is covered up to protect the
careers of the worldly musicians and to protect the reputation
and financial bottom line of the CCM industry. How, then, are we
to tell if a musician is "sincerely" walking with God? How can we
know that "his heart is right"? We cannot know this for sure, so
it is unreasonable to make this the measure of whether or not the
music is sound.
While it is important to examine the musician's life, it is not
possible to examine "his heart." A more reasonable test is to
examine how the musician lives and the character and lyrics of
the music itself.
WHY DO YOU CONDEMN All CCM?
From the editor:
Responding to our warnings against Contemporary Christian Music,
some have charged us with "throwing the baby out with the bath
water." They argue that we are wrong to condemn all CCM.
Following is my reply to this:
First of all, I have personally examined hundreds of CCM songs,
and I have found that THE VAST MAJORITY of it is unacceptable. In
the book "Contemporary Christian Music under the Spotlight" and
in our video presentations on this subject, we do not use extreme
examples to paint the entire CCM movement with a broad brash. It
is an irrefutable fact that the movement as a whole is
overwhelmingly ecumenical, charismatic, shallow, and worldly.
Exceptions do not overthrow, the rule.
Second, I do not condemn sound music, regardless of how new or
contemporary it is. There is some spiritual and sound music being
written by contemporary Christian musicians. Some of the praise
music, for example, is lovely and Scriptural. A bit of it is only
sacred as opposed to worldly in its sound. If a piece of music is
sound, I do not condemn it, though I will warn of its dangerous
Third, I will hasten to add that to find truly sacred music
within CCM one must wade through tons of musical pollution. For
example, Carman's "I Surrender All" album contains an "Old Rugged
Cross Medley" which has some beautiful parts, but the very next
cut on the album launches into a heavy, sensual boogie-woogie
rendition of "Peace Like a Rivet"! The music of Twila Paris is
another example of the danger of CCM. While some of her songs
have full orchestration, acoustic strings, no bass or drums
pounding out the rock back beat, there are rock songs on the same
albums. For example, her rendition of "When the Roll Is Called up
Yonder" is sung to a funky beat with heavy bass and constant
snare drum. The song "We Seek His Face" is sung to a strong disco
style rock rhythm. Also many of her songs that begin in a
traditional and sacred style blend into a rock style. "Be Thou My
Vision," for example, begins with Paris singing to a traditional
sacred organ background, then morphs into a strong back beat with
drums and bass guitar. Therefore. those who purchase Twila Paris'
albums for the non-rock songs will be enticed to accept the rock
music on the same albums.
Fourth, CCM creates an appetite for unholy music and is a bridge
to secular rock. Contemporary Christian Music uses the world's
sensual dance music, and this music appeals to the flesh. The
flesh, in turn, is never satisfied. Note the rapid progression of
rock music itself, from the relatively mild character of '50s
rock to the strangeness of '60s rock to the wildness of '70s rock
to the insanity of '80s rock. In our book "Contemporary Christian
Music under the Spotlight" we have documented that the CCM
musicians themselves love secular rock music. They also perform
secular and record rock music. There is absolutely no separation
between CCM and secular rock, and those who listen to CCM are
creating and sustaining unholy appetites for the things of the
world and bridges to the world.
Fifth, the CCM world is constantly moving, and the movement is
toward harder rock and a more obscure, more unscriptural message.
The CCM musicians themselves continually move in the direction of
a harder and more eclectic rock style. Many of those who began
with soft rock have progressed to harder rock. The Gathers
illustrate this. Sandi Patty illustrates this. She has gone
deeper and deeper into hard rock music. Her 1993 album "LeVoyage"
does not mention the name of Jesus but it rocks so heavily that
CCM Magazine made this statement: "... old-line Patty fans are
either going to be seeking refunds in droves, or be so
flabbergasted at seeing an entirely new side of her..." (CCM
Magazine, May 1993, p.40). Of course, what actually happens is
that the "fans" are carried along on the journey. The dramatic
changes that have occurred in CCM in a mere two decades were
described by John Fischer in CCM magazine: "In 1978, Christian
music was unquestionably Christian in content ... Almost every
song had a distinctly gospel message of some sort. Many songs
[from the '90s], however, were hardly recognizable as 'Christian'
songs, at least not in the traditional sense. Lyrics were
sometimes unintelligible; not every song was about Jesus" (John
Fisher, "Two Nights Out," CCM Magazine, July 1998, p.145).
Consider the following goal de Talk had for their "Jesus Freak"
video: "The intention of the clip was to 'PUSH THE ENVELOPE' of
the Christian music community ... they expect some of the more
conservative members of the Christian community to frown on the
adventurous clip" (Billboard, Nov.11, 1995).
CCM Magazine admits that Arm Grant has continually, pushed the
barriers of Christian music (CCM Magazine, July 1998, p.42).
As CCM rockers "push the envelope" of acceptability, they are
drawing generations of professing Christians with them more
deeply into complete and total acceptance of every sort of
sensual rock music and ever closer to the world.
CCM is dangerous. All of it is dangerous. It is moving further
and further away from the Word of God with each passing decade.
It is moving increasingly deeper into the world. It is taking its
listeners not only closer to the world but is yoking them in
fellowship with the unscriptural ecumenical-charismatic movement.
The only sure protection from its unscriptural and unholy aspects
is separation from all of it.
"Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners"
SOME COMMON QUESTIONS ANSWERED.....
DIDN'T GOD CREATE ALL MUSIC?
Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California says: "God loves
all kinds of music because he invented it all - fast and slow,
loud and soft, old and new. You probably don't like it all, but
God does!" (Warren, "The Purpose Driven Life," p.65).
God did create music and created man with a capability to create
and enjoy it, but the world is no longer in the pristine
spiritual condition it was when God made it. Man has sinned
against God and has created a world in rebellion against Him and
against His laws. The Devil is called "the god of this world" (2
Cor.11:4) and "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit
that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph.2:2).
Music is one of the powerful influences in modern society, and
there can be no doubt that the god of this world is intimately
involved in helping wicked men create music that will satisfy
their illicit lusts. The apostle John taught, "And we know that
we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness" (I Jn.
5:19). If the whole world lieth in wickedness, what does that say
about the world's music? Obviously man's wickedness has corrupted
the field of music as it has every other field.
ISN'T THE ISSUE OF MUSIC JUST A MATTER OF DIFFERENT TASTE?
There are subjective areas in music, but this is not to say there
are no clear biblical guidelines about music. Everything is to be
tested by the Word of God. Ephesians 5:19 tells us to make
"melody in your heart to the Lord" and describes what type of
music pleases the Lord: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
Spiritual songs are not the same as unspiritual, hymns are not
the same as rock music, melody is not the same as raucous noise.
The Bible also gives instruction about the Christian's
affiliation with worldly things, and any music that draws the
child of God into fellowship with the world is to be rejected
(1 Jn.2:15-16). Further, the Bible gives instruction about the
Christian's relationship with doctrinal error, and music that
contains the same is to be avoided. Everything must be brought
into subjection to God, and everything pertaining to the world,
the flesh, and the devil is to be rejected.
"Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth
itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity
every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor.10:5).
"That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man,
which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed
in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which
after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph.
"For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When
Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear
with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon
the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil
concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry" (Col.3:3-5).
SHOULDN'T WE USE ROCK TO REACH YOUTH TODAY?
SINCE YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY AREN'T LISTENING TO TRADITIONAL
CHRISTIAN MUSIC, SHOULDN'T WE USE ROCK TO REACH THEM?
Our answer to this challenge is as follows:
First, the lost are reached not through music but through the
preaching of the Gospel. Nowhere in the New Testament do we see
music used for evangelism. "For after that in the wisdom of God
the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the
foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (1 Cor.
Second, obedience to God does not allow us to use the world's
music or methods. Romans 12:2 forbids us to be conformed to the
world. God is never pleased with disobedience to His Word. The
Bible says that the Christian race must be run according to the
divine rule or there is no reward from God. "And if a man also
strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned except he strive
lawfully" (2 Tim.2:5).
As we have seen in Question #4 of these studies ("Isn't the
Sincerity of the Musicians the Important Thing"), even sincere
disobedience is displeasing to God. When Uzzah steadied the cart
holding the ark. God struck him dead (1 Sam.6:6-7). It appears
from the record that Uzzah was sincerely trying to assist in the
service of God, but God did not accept it because it was not done
according to His Word.
Third, the apostles did not use the entertainment of the world to
reach the world. Nowhere do we see Paul attracting people to his
preaching through worldly means or through any sort of
entertainment. The Word of God calls people to holiness, and it
is foolish and deceitful to use unholy things to draw people to a
Fourth, what you win people with, you win them to. If people are
won through worldly things, how could they ever be expected to
separate from the world as the Word of God demands? Those who are
reached through New Evangelicalism, usually become New
Evangelical. Those who am reached through a tainted gospel and
unscriptural doctrine usually cleave to those things.
SINCE GOD LOOKS ON THE HEART, WHY BE CONCERNED ABOUT APPEARANCE?
The following is excerpted from the book "CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN
MUSIC: SOME QUESTIONS ANSWERED AND SOME WARNINGS GIVEN." This
book begins with the author's own experience of living the rock &
roll lifestyle before he was saved and of how the Lord dealt with
him about music in the early months of his Christian life. The
next section of the book expounds on four REASONS WHY WE ARE
OPPOSED TO CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC and the contemporary
praise music. The third section answers 27 QUESTIONS THAT ARE
COMMONLY ASKED ON THIS SUBJECT. These include the following:
Isn't music neutral? Isn't the sincerity of the musicians the
important thing? Isn't some of the contemporary Christian music
acceptable? Didn't Luther and the Wesleys use tavern music? Isn't
the issue of music just a matter of taste? Doesn't the Bible
encourage as to use cymbals and stringed and loud sounding
instruments? Since God looks on the heart, why are you concerned
The final sections contain TIPS FOR KEEPING CONTEMPORARY MUSIC
OUT OF THE CHURCHES and SUGGESTED RESOURCES FOR SACRED MUSIC.
177 pages. $5.95. Available from "Way of Life Literature,"
866-295-4143, www. wayoflife.org
One of the challenges of the contemporary Christian movement is
that we shouldn't be concerned about appearance since God looks
on the heart.
In reply we say that while it is true that God looks on the
heart, the same passage of Scripture also reminds us that man
looks on the outward appearance.
"But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or
on the height of his stature: because I have refused him: for the
LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward
appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart" (I Sam.16:7).
The Christian must be concerned about how his appearance
Further, God's Word has something to say about man's dress and
appearance. When Adam and Eve sinned, one of the first things God
did was clothe them properly (Gen.3:21). He put coats on them.
Before man sinned his mind was pure and his nakedness was not a
problem, but after he sinned his mind became impure, and in this
sinful world steps must be taken to avoid sinful temptations. The
Lord Jesus warned, "But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on
a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her
already in his head" (Mat.5:28). The Bible forbids a man or
woman to look upon the nakedness of someone other than one's own
wife or husband (Leviticus 18,20). Therefore it is wrong before
God to dress in such a manner that our bodies are displayed to
the view of others or in such a manner that they would be tempted
A person can be right in his external appearance and not be right
with God in his heart, but when a person is right with God
internally he or she will be concerned about dressing modestly
and not causing others to stumble.
Entered on this Website February 2008
From what I have seen on some TV news programs it is surely true
that so-called Contemporary Christian Music is as WILD as the
secular Heavy Metal Music of modern Rock' n' Roll world. They all
have over-powering blasting amplifications of sound, screaming
voices, crazy clothes, various flashing lights, and most of the
time, words shouted (I deliberately do not to use the word
"sing") that cannot be understood.
Truly in many ways the popular Christian world in its "music"
cannot be distinguished from the popular secular world and its
Have you also noticed in the last 20 years or so that "Country -
Western Music" is sounding and competing with the Heavy Metal
More on this subject will be uploaded as time permits -