Many of you know that I have stopped listening to Christian radio. As a theologian and a pastor, the music no longer brings me joy as I see a how a powerless God is spoken of in their broken praises. And sure, there are still many good songs out there that still bring glory to God. It just seems that the powerless gospel songs are much more popular and prevalent.
Every once in a while, I turn the dial to 98.5 hoping to hear some great songs about God. And like most times, this morning I cringed as I listened to the lyrics of more songs of a gospel with little to no power. I continue to try and put my finger on just what turns me off to many of these songs, for they still talk and teach about God. Here is what I have found so far.
The Word of God is Life. Jesus is the Word and in Him is Life. Therefore, as we speak or sing the written Word, we hear Life and it is music to our hearts because “in Him” is all peace, hope, and joy. Do we know how large our Bible is? It has many Words and phrases than we can use to share this Life with others as we worship God. However, the Christian music industry has shifted away from quoting scripture in their lyrics. Instead, we are shown a basic elementary view of God.
What does the Christian music industry’s God look like? You will hear phrase after phrase that God loves you, that he is holy, that he is faithful, and that he cares about you. No matter what you have done, you are forgiven. You will hear time and time again that Jesus knows your struggles, and that he has got you covered. You hear plenty of songs about freedom in Christ and that we are to share our burdens with each other. God is Good.
So, what is the problem with a powerless gospel? Well first, what you see above is much of the totality of the theology and Light of these new Christian songs. I don’t even know if Paul would even classify the extent of what is listed above as spiritual milk, for most of these songs never develop the basic theological concepts they illude to; rather, they just like using the top 50 words in Christian music like “Praise”, and “Hallelujah”. With a Bible so deep and so wide in the knowledge about God, it saddens me that our music has the intellectual level of a 1st grader learning about God in Sunday school.
Many people argue that our music is supposed to be evangelistic in nature, so we really can’t put too much into our songs. Do we not understand how horrible that concept is? For if we truly believe that the Word of God is the Logos or breath of God, how could the Truth and Life of God turn those away from any who are seeking after it? In reality, our music is so elementary because we want to make money. Evangelism never works by hiding the brightness of the Gospel, hoping that those living in darkness will one day be able to slowly accept more Light as time goes on. And maybe that is the key of why I no longer listen to Christian radio, for it used to share the Light of Christ. Now it shares just enough Light to keep those living in darkness entertained.
Listen to me carefully. When you hide the Light in our music, it gives more room for darkness to remain. The new songs coming out do have some Light in them, but do we realize how much pain and suffering are in these worship songs as well? In fact, if there were two words to describe the major theological concepts shared in Christian music in the last few years it would be brokenness and suffering. And we can sprinkle in some hopelessness to round it out. The world is broken and our Christian songs show a Christian people who are also broken.
Now you could argue that none of these songs want people to feel defeated and overcome by their struggles and burdens, and that they all point to the fact that God can help them. Yet when you look at the first verses of many of these songs, you hear just that. So many songs are being written for the person that is struggling in sin and being overcome by their situations. Is this the type of Christianity we are proclaiming today? A God that knows your struggles and temptations, but can’t really help you this side of heaven? I remember a time where Jesus came to save us from our sin and struggles, yet today we sing about a God who knows our pain and saves us in our sin and struggles. We use to have victory in our lives, but now we are called to claim a powerless victory while we remain in the anguish of our pain. Do we not understand that these are two different gospels?
Let this Truth from the Word of God guide us as to what types of songs Christians should sing as we praise the Lord. Paul writes, 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all people. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Phi. 4:4-8
There was a time, not so long ago, where the music we sang was drenched in the Word of God. And His Word helped to train, correct, and rebuke His people as the praises being sung would purify our hearts while the Word of the Lord washed us as one body standing before a Holy God. Oh, how I wish we would realize how powerful His Word can be when sung in unison.
Therefore, this is not about style, instruments, or methods; this is about content. Contemporary music is not evil in itself. In fact, there are many contemporary songs that I sing as I praise the Lord independently. But we have to realize that darkness and Light can never mix, and a watered down gospel is a false gospel. Either our lyrics praise the True Name of God, or they adulterate His Name to make as many people feel comfortable while withholding much of the Light of Life. It is not Christian to sing praises to God by focusing on our struggles and accepting a hopeless gospel that has no real power to give us victory in this life today; a life filled with Peace, Faith, Hope, and Love.
Therefore, I urge us all to make one realization. Much of the new Christian music coming out is no longer safe for our families to hear. It preaches a different gospel where the focus shifts off of God and His living Word and focuses more on our struggles. If I could give any advice as to how to move forward, I would start to vet the music our families listen to. Take the time to read the lyrics of these new songs and decide if they are sharing the True Gospel.
You may wonder why it is so important to stop your children form listening to these songs? The answer is because the gospel they share has no life. We are about to enter a time where millions of people are going to leave the faith. Many will do this because they feel the same depression and struggles as they did before they became Christian. A powerless gospel is no Gospel at all.
I beg us all… Don’t feed our children moldy bread. Don’t quench their thirst for God with stale water. For one day, that may be all they desire to eat and drink. I tell you the truth. It is better to listen to secular music than to listen to a false gospel, for one is just a beat and lyrics, the other is a snare to steal our very souls.