God’s Not Dead, He Is Surely Alive…but, What About Contemporary Christian Music?

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  1. brendahovius says:

    i have to agree with you. when i first heard the song i didn’t know what to think…i thought it was umm…not sure of the word, maybe harsh? it is catchy for sure…i find myself humming it often. the song “glorious day” is one of my favourites!! there are some really great songs out there that i would LOVE if our church could sing in our services.

    • One Christian Dad says:

      Hi Brenda, thanks for the comment I totally agree. There are 1000’s of songs and hymns that would pass the rigorous testing of the song committees of the CanRC. However, I think it wold be a long time before a casting crowns song is sung in our services. Which is too bad in my opinion. While I am saddened that we can’t sing such favorites like this and “how great thou art” and “blessed assurance” and so on, I understand why we can’t, and the good behind it. We really do have a blessing in our book of praise. It is a fence that keeps us from heresy and the problem of watering down the gospel. With the psalms and hymns we have in there we know they are scriptural…1 fence. With the church order, we have rules guarding our churches attachment to unscriptural books, songs, preachers and teachers…a second fence. with the 3 forms of unity we have our doctrine set out for us, easily accessible and easily recognizable, a 3 rd fence, and finally we have a liturgy that keeps our focus on God and off of us. a fourth fence. We are safeguarded with this fence on all sides to keep the world and sin out of the church, but we need to ensure that we do not make the fence into a hedge or a wall and keep our light in. we are to be a light on hill, but we have to be outward looking while remaining doctrinally pure… that is the blessing and the danger…done. Sorry I can ramble 😛

  2. Megan Admiraal says:

    “Glorious Day” is one of my favourites!!! and mainly for the reason (like u mentioned) that it is a true Christian song. I love how Christ centered and doesn’t forget that he rose!! So often it is easy for people to remember that he died, but we can’t forget the importance of his rising from the dead…. Such a “full” song:)

    • One Christian Dad says:

      hi Megan, thanks for the comment. You are right. The resurrection is the forgotten part of the gospel. 🙂 He rose. Christ did not just live a sinless life. He did not just die our death, suffering complete separation from God. no, he also rose again! Why did he rise? In his Resurrection he defeated death, he justified us, his chosen people. so that we can enjoy resurection life. This is the hope to which we long for, to which we hold. Glory to God! Yes it is a full song and I wish there were more on the radio!

  3. Glorious Day is actually an old hymn that has been retuned. A lot of the old hymns have rich lyrics which is why many of them are being retuned. At the Worship Symposium we went to I attended a workshop put on by Bruce Benedict and Kevin Twit who have both been instrumental in leading the hymn revival movement (see http://cardiphonia.org/ and http://www.igracemusic.com/ ). I also love the new hymns by the Gettys/Townend.

    • One Christian Dad says:

      I know it is an old hymn. 🙂 I love the richness of these lyrics, and I appreciate the revival in contemporary music with them. Not only is there a revival of these old hymns (I love Aaron Shust`s My Saviour My God as well…) there is a a return to the emphasis on the gospel, particularly in the hip hop corner of the CCM. I am grateful that there is doctrine returning and I pray it goes full circle to the time when men wrote songs like `ìt is well` and `blessed assurance.` I will check out the links you provided 🙂

  4. Garrett says:

    I find it very sad when it is almost impossible to hear the difference between christian music and the popular worldly music, but I am a little bit of a traditionalist when it comes to music and I think the the difference in the music should be night and day.

    • One Christian Dad says:

      I agree that the difference in lyrics should be night and day. I don’t think that the music – that is the notes that are sung/played or the melody and harmony – is of any consequence. There are hip hop songs that glorify god and rival the great hymns in their lyrics. I think, for instance, of Shai Linne’s “All Consuming Fire.” Let me be clear… I am not fond of RAP or HIP HOP, but after examining much of this “Christian rap” against scripture, I have no choice but to concede that this music is God honouring. Watch it here if you can 🙂 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJzVzEr_6DQ

      • I can’t remember where but I remember hearing/reading once that “there are no Christian tunes, only Christian lyrics”. So true! Even the Genevan tunes are tunes that were popular in the days of the Reformation to secular tunes and set to Christian lyrics. And the organ was played in bars and parlours! Maybe there is a reason the psalms and songs in the Bible don’t have tunes attached to them. I happen to enjoy listening to the Christian music station – while I don’t love every song I’d much rather listen to them than the secular music that glamorizes sex, cheating, and alcohol abuse! At least I know my kids can safely listen.

      • Garrett says:

        Ryan, you said “I don’t think that the music – that is the notes that are sung/played or the melody and harmony – is of any consequence”. I am not sure that I can fully agree with you. To a certain degree you are right, but we are called to be in the world not of the world. If the sound of our music sounds the same as the worldly music are we being a light? Are we trying to get as much of the world into our lives as possible by having similar sounding music?
        Think about this young man is driving to church with his christian rap cranked up on his radio and people are watching him drive and hearing his music and see him drive into church. What will mr. and mrs. worldly think about this young man? How often have we heard that people think that Christians are hypocrites because the go to church once or twice on Sunday but for the rest they are like the rest of the world? Should we not guard against these accusations even with the music we listen to?
        I am not saying that I only listen to psalms, and hymns, you know that is not the case, I also enjoy some of the casting crows, newsboys, jars of clay etc.
        Just a thought, i think this is a conversation you and I have had in the past. 😉

    • One Christian Dad says:

      I know this issue is debated by everyone… including us in the past 🙂 I guess the question comes down to whether melody, harmony and rhythm can in and of themselves be sinful. My answer is no they can not. Why? Because Colossians 1:16 says “For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him.” This includes music. It is my belief that music only becomes sinful when the focus of the music is taken off of glorifying God. Music will either glorify God, or wont.

      That teenager blaring the christian rap music is sinning yes, but not because the music is sinful, but because the focus is no longer on God, he is bringing the attention to himself. It is not the music, but the person listening to it, playing it, or writing it that makes it sinful. If I take a psalm set to a genenvan tune and blare it on my radio at home at 3am on Thursday morning thus disturbing my neighbours and making it out to be foolishness, then I am sinning, just as much as young mr. beatbox car and his “christian rap.”

      As for the question of whether we are to be of the world. I understand this concern, but someone, somewhere had the talent to rap. Where did this talent come from? From God. Perhaps he misused the talent to sing about drugs or gangs or alcohol, but the talent still comes from God. If the first rapper used his talent to the upbuilding of the church and to God’s glory would we even have this discussion? This is a discussion that will never be resolved because there are arguments on both sides. I admit that I could very well be wrong…about 50% of the church already thinks I am 🙂

  5. theyink says:

    I wish to disagree with Katrina Bosch who states, “even the Genevan tunes were tunes that were popular in the days of the Reformation to secular tunes and set to Christian lyrics.” That’s a current myth being circulated.

    Quote expert Ron Dykstra in his article The Psalms and Genevan Melodies: “Calvin determined the following criteria: no folk tunes, but melodies which are pleasing to God and the angels. These melodies must also measure up to high musical standards, and everyone must be able to sing them. They have to be suitable for children as well. It must be mentioned that it is a remarkable achievement to compose melodies which children can sing, but which are not children’s songs. In 1539 the first psalm melodies of master composer Louis Bourgeois appeared in print, and slowly the number grew, till in 1562 the Psalter was complete: a monument of texts and melodies. Every single psalm could now be sung on a skillfully composed melody.”

    Having said that, I appreciate that she is concerned with what she and her children listen to, musically speaking. There is so little the world has to offer.

    • Thank you for making me aware of another viewpoint on the origin of the Genevan tunes – apparently I was not the only one who was under that impression as I have heard that statement quite a few times and after doing some research have found that it has even been a view that has been published (see literary works by Josua van lperen and Orentin Douen) – unfortunately Mr. Calvin isn’t available to clarify! 🙂 Regardless, I have always found the psalms have rich lyrics but as a person who grew up singing the Genevan Tunes I never truly appreciated them – I found them difficult to sing and was often frustrated with a slow playing organ and other parishioners singing joyful songs as though they were funeral dirges. I also felt hypocritical when singing lyrics that spoke of praising God with a multitude of musical instruments (strings, cymbals, trumpets, etc) and raising/clapping our hands and yet we only had the musical accompaniment of an organ and any physical audience participation was widely frowned upon. I always “blamed” the tunes but have recently heard new arrangements of them that have been beautifully updated (see http://www.thepsalmproject.com/ for some examples). I greatly appreciate the efforts of composers and songwriters who are working hard to provide worship songs that have rich Biblical lyrics with updated/contemporary tunes that utilize a wider range of musical instruments – there is much happening in this exciting time with so many fantastic praise and worship songs to choose from, some traditional and some contemporary. It is a wonderful thing to praise the Lord with singing! While there may be some “not so great songs” out there, we should focus on the ones that are God-honouring and Biblical. It’s good to have our own moral standard but I have found that it’s much better to focus on the positive and ultimately allow God to be the final judge on who has honoured him with their singing and who hasn’t.

      • Ryan, I agree that all talent comes from God, regardless of what men choose to use that talent for (whether to glorify him or defame him). And I’m sorry to hear your last statement that 50% of your church thinks you are wrong – and I hope you are incorrect as I find that extremely sad. Just as an interesting side note, Colin and I were discussing this and he found a website that shares early christian views on things and one topic was instruments in worship: http://bible.ca/H-music.htm – both John Calvin and Martin Luther were vehemently opposed to the use of any musical instruments in the worship services – stating the reasons as idolatry and because the use of instruments is not mentioned anywhere in the New Testament. Strange since many psalms mention the use of instruments and Calvin used the 150 psalms as the basis of his psalter. As a Calvinist Christian I actually find that information a bit disturbing.

      • One Christian Dad says:

        Katrina, When I say “the Church” I mean the Church in general. So I was saying that the church in general is split 50/50 on the topic regardless of denomination.

  6. Kevin says:

    Must a song explicitly use some of the words: ‘Jesus’, ‘Christ’, ‘sacrifice’, ‘sin’, etc. to be a “Christian” song? Isn’t this somewhat analogous to letting people see you’re a Christian by your deeds, and not necessarily saying doctrinal words?
    From the music video, it seems like the Newsboys are responding to the belief that God doesn’t exist in particular.

    • One Christian Dad says:

      HI Kevin, Thanks for the comment. In answer to your first question, I believe songs must mention Christ, etc. in order to be considered christian. What I am getting at with this post is that I want a return to the gospel in Contemporary Christian music. I do like the song, really i do (did you read the post?) but it is so shallow that any monotheistic religion could claim it as their own. In response to your second question…yes it is the same. We are commanded to be salt and light, and to have an answer to all who might ask us of the hope we have. Also with the great commission, we are told to go out and make disciples…which indicates that we should share our faith, and not just be good people. Just my 2 cents. Thanks for reading!

      • Kevin says:

        haha – Yes I did read your post. And for the most part I agree that Christian music is quite shallow, and that I also do enjoy the slower, deeper songs more. One of my biggest issues is that often a good-sounding line is simply repeated over and over. To me that does the worst shallow damage.
        The point about any monotheistic religion could claim this song is also interesting…but I think that the references to the resurrection, the ‘lion of the tribe of Judah’, ‘freedom’ of grace, are quite particular to Judeo-Christianity. As such, to claim this isn’t a Christian song, I’m not quite sold.

        • One Christian Dad says:

          I am not trying to sell you anything… I am just a dad with an opinion, not a pastor or a theologian. I agree that the issue with most songs is the repetitive nature. I agree with you that this song has Christian elements in it, however they are hidden from the average person…in rebut the song never references the resurrection, it says that “my faith is dead…I need a resurrection somehow.” But never elaborates on what will raise his dead faith. It says that God is “Roaring like a lion” but does not mention Judah or the lion of Judah. You and I can make these inferences because we are mature Christians who know scripture, but what about the unbeliever? What about the immature Christian? Anyway, I think we both really do agree here. Perhaps my hard-line “this song is not Christian” is harsh, I do see your point, hopefully you get mine lol 🙂

      • Kevin says:

        Ya I hear you. Perhaps we need 3 classes (narrowing subsets) when discussing Christian music to differentiate their respective purposes:
        1) Christian music – music that is pleasant to listen to (background) for the Christian. ie. not worldly, contains Christian ideas.
        2) Christian praise – music directly praising God and His work of salvation, but more casually (maybe day-to-day is a better word) then (3).
        3) Christian worship – music / song meant to be used in a worship service, both to praise God, and teach.
        Just a thought.

  7. Kevin says:

    One more comment to think about…Is the book of Esther a Christian book?

    • One Christian Dad says:

      I like you Kevin. You take a simple post I wrote about a song i heard and turned it into something deep! 🙂
      The Book of Esther is not respected by Christians in general. I don’t remember the last time I heard a sermon on it. How about you? Anyway, all events of the Old Testament occur in the context of the redemptive “story” of Christ. To suggest that Esther is not a “christian book” is to suggest a discontinuity between the unity of the old and new covenants, and instead of a single plan of God to believe in two contradictory wills in God and Christ. Which of course is simply absurd. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow! Esther teaches us the sovereignty of God in limited atonement, and the doctrines of grace. Asking if the book of Esther is a Christian Book is like asking if the trinity is a biblical concept. I need to hit the hay…no more thinking questions tonight please 🙂

      • Kevin says:

        My comment about the book of Esther was connected to my earlier comment. The book of Esther doesn’t mention God, Jesus, etc. yet we still consider it a Christian book.
        In that sense, it is very similar to the Newsboys’ song, which also doesn’t mention these words explicitly, but has the content very much there.

  8. Maria says:

    You posit that the only basis this song has in scripture is an obscure reference to Hosea, but there are multiple references in Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Revelation to God “roaring like a lion”, often in signal of His returning, which sounds an awful lot like Jesus to me.
    Aside from that, I think it’s a bit ridiculous to suppose that in order for a song to be “Christian” it must use the appropriate words. I feel like that is completely UN-Christlike. Jesus didn’t continuously mention Himself in His teachings. He often used stories that were relevant to the world in which His followers lived to relate His message. Daniel Bashta, the original composer of this song, was doing just that. I get really tired of “Christian” music as a genre because I feel like most of it simply regurgitates tired Christian cliches. Christianity doesn’t end with the Gospels. The whole point of Christ’s coming was for His church to continue His ministry in our everyday life. The most Christlike songs, to me, are the ones that dig deeper into scripture and how Christ’s life should infiltrate our own human experience. Jesus’ entire ministry was to meet people where they were at, and leave behind religious jargon. He spoke in stories so that people would get it. In our world, we face the lie that there is no God on a daily basis. Bashta and the Newsboys are combating that myth with scriptural references to the returning of Christ. If that isn’t “Christian”, I don’t know what is.