Whatever Happened To Christian Music?
By T. H. Parrow
I. Musical Forms Reflect Beliefs
Music itself, apart from Lyrics, conveys a message to the listener. Music, as such, is a very powerful medium by which much is taught, dramatized, and symbolized. Music is the medium that mirrors the soul of the composer, singer, instrumentalist, or listener, provided that such be truthful to himself in that expression. Therefore, if the soul be sensual then such will be the music. If the soul be rebellious then the music will be revolutionary. If the soul be carnal then the music will be fleshly. If the soul be Spiritually minded then the music will be characterized by Godliness. Each kind of music teaches, dramatizes, and symbolizes all of the components of that particular philosophy expressed. Music coupled with complementary Lyrics doubly intensifies its effects. Music coupled with complementary Lyrics and dramatized by co-ordinate visual sensations teaches a lesson not soon nor easily forgotten. Rock music teaches the philosophy of revolution, dramatizes revolution by the productions of its performers, and symbolizes revolution by the appearance of its performers and followers. Rock music is true to its philosophy, rebellion and revolution. Country-Western music teaches the philosophy of loose and easy livin'. It is dramatized by the production of its performers, and symbolized by the appearance and lifestyles of both performers and followers. Country-Western music is true to its philosophy, eat, drink, and be merry! Each particular kind of music, including Lyrics and visual sensations, runs true to form and generally so do its followers.
II. The Standard Form Of Christian Music
Christian music used to teach the doctrine of Christ as revealed in God's Word. Its musical notation characterized the attributes of God. Its lyrics echoed the Word of God, scripturally. It was dramatized by the Godly presentation of musicians whose daily lives and private and public appearance emulated true Godly attributes as defined in God's Word. It was symbolized by its followers who also derived their deportment and absolutes for living from God's Word. In short, it ran true to form in all of its facets, that form being God's blessed and holy Word, the Bible.
III. The Corruption Of Christian Music
What, however, has happened to Christian music? Christian music has departed from following its true form. No longer does Christian musical notation attempt to characterize Godly attributes, but it does characterize sensual feelings through sensual rhythm and harmony. No longer do Christian Lyrics strongly and scripturally echo God's holy Word, but weakly squeak of moral platitudes and vague, subjective, pious feelings. Its musicians derive their dramatization from Rock musicians, Country-Western performers, or Easy Listening artists, and its symbolization is a mix-mash of pseudo-religionists wallowing in a good god, good devil, good man mire. Such musical mush is a doleful departure from anything that might be scripturally termed "spiritual."
IV. The Inclusion Of Corrupted Christian Music
Many fundamentalists have become enamoured with this pseudo-Christian music because of its sensual fleshly appeal, and defend its "spirituality" with great vigor and apparent offense. As music mirrors the soul of an individual, so does this pseudo-Christian music reflect the carnal condition of the souls and lives of such persons, be they clergy or laity.
Many pastors of fundamental churches consistently fill their auditoriums and congregations with this kind of religious musical mush. Often such pastors wonder about the quality of spiritual growth in their church members not recognizing that such spiritually weak, carnal, sensual music is one of their problems, personally and ecclesiastically.
V. The Correction Of The Problem
The Bible, that discarded standard says, "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." (Gal. 5:17.) Thus the fleshly music used in many churches today and absorbed daily by many Christians hinders the true work of the Holy Spirit. That which appeals to the flesh cannot also appeal to the Holy Spirit! "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace (not sensuality) unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." (Eph. 4:29-30.)
Recognition of the fact that such corrupted music is displeasing to God will demand repentance from the usage of it as well as repentance from the carnal condition of the soul, that condition which gave freedom to embrace such music in the first place. Then replacement must follow, replacement of corrupted music with true Christian music. "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in you heart to the Lord. " (Ephesians 5:19.)