“Christian Music” and Good News

A good bro. recently wrote me a personal email which I tried to answer with a very clear and hopefully, understandable reply.The same questions come up from time to time, so I thought it might be good to share my response here.He Writes (H.W): It seems that a lot of today’s “Christian” music is widely accepted by many non-believers.GK: Depends on what you mean by “accepted”. Amazing Grace and a few other songs have long been sung -even by unbelievers in front of unbelievers… plenty of folks are deeply touched but don’t repent, believe and follow Jesus in response. Excellent song, powerful lyrics, even when sung by followers of Jesus plenty of folks walk away unchanged. Sad truth. Sometimes symbolism and dual-meanings (nothing fully wrong about using, I use them all the time in my own lyric writing) may seem to dilute the gospel message- and of course you and I at times (or all the time?) may not appreciate subtlety… but I’m pretty sure God is more gracious than we are with such things.Consider God reveals Himself via nature but John 3.16 isn’t literally written in the stars as we look up on any given night.Oh, I do recall writing an article that ended up in an earlier blog (somewhere in the glennkaiser.blogspot.com blogs) about Christian music clarifying that I really don’t believe there is anything about any music (set apart from lyrics, I mean just the music itself) that makes a sound or song “Christian”. So we are talking about lyrics that may bring a distinctly Christian view… or not.HW: Am I missing something? Paul wrote that the Gospel is foolishness to those who don’t believe. I would think that if the music was carrying the message of the Gospel then it would be offensive to the world (unless the Holy Spirit was drawing an individual).GK: Again, depends on what you, I, others and especially the Lord means, how He defines “the Good News” in detail. Most believers would agree it’s about the birth, death, resurrection of Jesus, that our sins can be forgiven and eternal life granted via faith and resultant following the risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But how much of this should/must we insert in every, most or at least some song lyrics? This is perhaps the deeper question and I’m not sure there is a one-size-fits-all answer.Apostle Paul is certainly correct when he tells us the good news IS an offense to those who are lost and at core, live in darkness. In at least some cases they live in it largely by choice. It’s always a challenge when you can’t pretend to be God any longer…But the punchline is that I think what you mean to say is that a lot of supposedly Christian music does not contain clear messages about Jesus’ sacrificial death, resurrection and offer of eternal life, forgiveness of sins, little about repentance and so forth. If I am correct, I’d say you are correct in thinking that when one considers each and every song lyric that is somehow considered “Christian” or performed by a band containing those who profess to be Christ-followers, there truly isn’t a clear (for example, Rom. 10.9&10) good news being offered. You’d be right in that sense.Going further- and this comes from an evangelist (me…) John 3.16 is only found once in the Book. There are Old Testament Psalms that actually do not offer what we’d consider good news… rather bad news in fact. But they are honest and real to life, even the life of a believer. The largest category of lyrics in Psalms (the hymnal of Israel) are laments. Pain, struggle, temptation. This is not to say there is zero good news in many and most of them, rather if one takes the Bible as the measure, God’s Word itself gives us other truths that wouldn’t strictly fit in my and your concept of “the good news of Jesus”.Apostle Paul is certainly correct (the entire Word of God, the Bible is absolutely true) re. the gospel being an offense, but it is equally true that genuine love (such as Jesus commands in Mt. 25 for “the least of these”, etc.) and lyrics, lifestyles and individual’s witness of the Lord Jesus present in the Christian’s life are -all- a witness, and a witness that sometimes offends while other times is welcomed. Agape love is different than the love of humankind without God. Sometimes a witness sourced in the love of Jesus is quite welcomed though it isn’t as direct as you and I may be wishing for.As a person is ready to open up and face their own lack, sin and need, even that offensive Truth is light to them. I’m saying there are a number of ways to proclaim the Good News of Jesus that may or may not include an in-your-face direct witness via words.Also, not all have the gift of evangelism. And, not all will write/sing/preach the gospel in as direct, “evangelical” style as you and I may like or be accustomed to. Again, I would argue neither does every verse or chapter in the Bible! And yet myself and a load of scholars would argue there is Good News in every book in God’s Word. At times subtle, but present.A bit off the subject, but there is also of course need and room for Christian edification in speaking and writing, the need for songs and entire worship services or concerts where the teaching of solid Bible doctrine and practical Christian living for Christians is the focus and exactly what the Spirit is leading for those people in that time and place. So in essence, an evangelical witness of the core of what we call the gospel is not always going to surface in such messages, song lyrics and such.I’m not saying I don’t wish more people would share the clear gospel of Christ in a more direct way, including via their lyrics, and I do it quite a bit. The Good News is something we believe, speak, write, sing and live out in our treatment of others. Sometimes the genuine love of Jesus draws people. Sometimes it repels them due to their own sin and desire to -be- God. Sad reality.HW: I just found your site and haven’t had time to go through allof the articles, so maybe you’ve addressed this.GK: Lots of articles in my older glennkaiser.blogspot.com account, lots of years so yes, I have written on this in some of those blogs.HW: I think back to Larry Norman who was quite blunt in his lyrics.GK- In many cases he indeed was, sometimes not, but I hear you. Most of my acoustic blues and the majority of my and also GKB electric blues and blues/rock are rather direct.HW: He not only offended the unsaved, but quite a few Christians as well.GK: Ha, well I have that covered I think :)HW: If you are able, I would enjoy a response.Your brother in ChristGK: And here you are! Glad to dialogue bro.!-Glenn

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3 thoughts on ““Christian Music” and Good News

  1. Glenn Kaiser: when you talk about songwriting and singing about the Holy Spirit. You are correct that the unsaved people of the world and the Christians are going to be easily offended; but when God has given you a song to sing and reach people where they are at; then that is what you are called to do. I am not a songwriter, but I have written a song and the title is "There Are People Around The World"1. You try to tell the Unbelieving, That Satan’s Lies Are Deceiving; That the World and its Compromise Can quickly be the Worlds Demise… "There Are People Around The World."2. You try to tell the unbelieving about Christianity,And they say I don’t wanna hear Religious Insanity;You try to tell them the Good News;But, they still Refuse…"There Are People Around The World."3. And when the unbelieving see their own Plight, And through their blindness receiving Sight; And there is still hope that they Might, Finally see the Light; And accept the Love of Christ… "There Are People Around The World."

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