Examining Your "Christian" Music Style

The late Gordon Sears, who had an evangelistic music ministry for many years and ministered with Rudy Atwood, was saddened before his death by the dramatic change that was occurring in many fundamental Baptist churches. He warned: “When the standard of music is lowered, then the standard of dress is also lowered. When the standard of dress is lowered, then the standard of conduct is also lowered. When the standard of conduct is lowered, then the sense of value in God’s truth is lowered.”

Frank Garlock of Majesty Music warns, “If a church starts using CCM it will eventually lose all other standards” (Garlock, Bob Jones University Chapel, March 12, 2001).

The late fundamentalist leader Ernest Pickering gave a similar warning: “Perhaps nothing precipitates a slide toward New Evangelicalism more than the introduction of Contemporary Christian Music. This inevitably leads toward a gradual slide in other areas as well until the entire church is infiltrated by ideas and programs alien to the original position of the church.”

The pastors who follow the contemporary church growth principles claim that they are not changing doctrine, only style. That is simply not true. Many of the so-called “style” changes are doctrinal. To allow church members to dress immodestly like the world without any reproof or correction is a doctrinal issue. To borrow the music that the world uses for sexual pleasure and to incorporate that very music into the church program is a doctrinal issue. To claim that music is neutral is a doctrinal issue. To yoke ecumenically with charismatics and such is a doctrinal issue. To say that preaching should focus on the positive is a doctrinal issue. To take Matthew 7:1 and Romans 14:4 out of context to approve a non-judgmental, doctrinally non-controversial approach to the Christian ministry is a doctrinal issue. To use community surveys for planning church policy is a doctrinal issue. To adopt a New Evangelical philosophy is a doctrinal issue.

When a church changes its “style” in these areas, it is undergoing a radical doctrinal change; and continual boasting to the contrary is mere noise without meaning and only deceives the willfully blind.

- From Way of Life

All it takes is a little leaven to leaven the whole lump (1 Cor 5:6). When the holy is mixed with the unholy the holy is defiled and we do well to remember that God utterly hates mixture (Hag 2:12; Rom 12:2; James 4:4; 1 Jn 2:15).

“Never had the Church so much influence over the world as when she had nothing to do with the world!” ―L.E. Maxwell

“Any spirit that permits compromise with the world is a false spirit. Any religious movement that imitates the world in any of its manifestations is false to the cross of Christ and on the side of the devil.” ―A.W. Tozer

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” ―1 John 4:1

Questioning Music

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” ―1 Thessalonians 5:21

Does God accept all music as worship? Are all musical styles accepted by God? How are we to distinguish between true and false “Christian” music today? Is it really just a matter of preference?

In light of these questions and others I propose the following guidelines in order to correctly judge music. For those who assume the manner of worship means little, remember that Nadab and Abihu were consumed by God’s fire for offering unfit worship (Lev 10:1-2).

1) Is the music in question an attempt to appeal to the world and/or emulate the world in order to gain acceptance with the world (Rom 12:2)?
2) Does the music in question contain sound doctrine, promote true holiness, confront sin/error and declare a clear witness of Jesus Christ (Col 3:16)?
3) Concerning the lives of the musicians: are they men of integrity and sound witness? Are they under spiritual authority? Are they living in victory over sin (1 Thess 5:12)?
4) Does the music promote an attitude or cultivate any rebellion (1 Cor 15:33)?

If “yes” could be answered to question 1 or 4, it is not fit to be used. If “no” could be answered to 2 or 3, it is not fit to be used.

- From Open Air Holiness Ministries