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Why I Don’t Like Christian Music

Well, the title gives away my lack of passion for Christian music, so I am not going to do an inductive blog. There, I got it out. I don’t like Christian music. In fact, I think Christian music is theologically wrong. It is like saying “I like Christian cooking.” There is no such thing . . . or at least there should not be. I know that some of you are not going to agree with me, and that is cool. Your probably right. This is not that big of a deal. Nevertheless, allow me to express my odd passion here anyway.

Why don’t I like Christian music? That is a good question. I have often asked this of myself. What happens is this. I am driving down the road, listening to talk radio. The Renewing Your Mind broadcast ends, and is replaced by an hour of Christian music. I immediately change the station. I look for other music. Maybe something in the 90’s. The 90’s was a great decade for music. Here is my order of preference:

  • U2
  • Lifehouse
  • Creed
  • The Fray
  • Cranberries
  • Alanis Morresette
  • Smashing Pumkins
  • Switchfoot
  • Matchbox 20
  • Nickleback
  • REM
  • Pearl Jam

Oh, and (cover your ears boys and girls) . . .

  • Just about anything Country

That is my list. In fact, you can check my iPhone and see the same on my favorites list. I know what you are thinking. None of these, other than Switchfoot, are Christian groups. In fact, some have been thought of as anti-Christian. Even U2, Lifehouse, The Fray, and Creed, although they have Christian members, are not Christian bands. I like that. In fact, if they were to change and exist under the title of “Christian rock” I would probably bow my head in sadness and cease to listen to them so much. I would think to myself “They have caved to the pressure of the Christian sub-culture network.

It would take much more than one blog to explain my reasonings for this (especially since I do not completely understand them myself), but let give you some thoughts.

Broadly speaking, I don’t like the Christian mentality that Christians must create Christian sub-cultures in order to be truly Christian. We have a sub-culture for everything. When people come into Church they have to learn a different language, change the way they dress, only read Christian books, start liking the organ, and limit their cinematic entertainment to Fireproof and Facing the Giants. Why? Because we must conform to the sub-culture that says everything outside the Christian sub-culture is evil at worst and dangerous at best.

I especially don’t like a sub-culture in a genera that is a human genera—music. What does this mean? I believe that the Church is to exist as the Church, representing Christ in culture. This does not simply mean that we are out giving the Gospel to every person we see (as important as evangelism is), but representing Christ by being human. We are part of the culture, we are not a sub-culture. If a person feels musically inclined, he or she can honor God with their music, but this does not necessarily mean that every song they sing contains the words “Jesus, “God,” or “saved” anymore than saying that every pancake they cook has to have Jesus on it.

Why is it that when people become Christian in the music business they feel pressured to only sing songs exclusively about Jesus?

Let me just say it. I think that most Christian music is fake. I would much rather hear about people’s real lives, real struggles, and real passions than the shallow stuff that I hear coming out of the Christian music industry. Transparency is the key. I would rather hear someone honestly wrestling with the difficulties of life than listen to those who act like they have all the answers when I know this is not really the case. I would rather hear someone honestly cursing God than hypocritically praising His name. Music is about touching the deepest part of the human soul, grabbing a hold of the passions in a way that no other form of communication can. One Greek philosopher once said, “You can have the government and education, but give me the music and I control the people.” Music is about meeting people where they are. For example, Disarm by Smashing Pumpkins asks more questions than it answers. Cumbersome by Seven Mary Three, while depressing, speaks to real situations where life is overwhelming and sad. Lead On by George Straight tells a short simple story about two people trying to work out their fractured relationship. You Found Me by the Fray is a muffled cry out to God for seeming to be absent when everything was falling apart. This is an essential component in music. It enters your struggles, joys, angers, frustrations and says “This is life.” It should never put on a veneer of a sub-culture, but speak to people where they are. Didn’t David do this in the Psalms? Aren’t the Psalms music? Yet the Psalms are real. Some cry out to God in real anger, some praise his creation. Even the Song of Songs is about real life. It is about sex and it does not need to mention God once to honor him.

I am not saying that music should seek to normalize or glorify sin, but neither should it seek to avoid the real holes that we find ourselves in. Neither am I saying that the music that I have listed above necessarily honors God, but at least it is real. U2 sings real songs. Bono, the Edge, Larry Mullin, and Adam Clayton are all Christians, but they are not a Christian band. Why? Because they want to make an impact in the real world, speaking about real issues with honesty, openness, and transparency. If they were to enter into the “Christian music” genera, they would have to wear the same mask as all the others. They know this and they wisely stay out of the Christian music sub-culture.

There is no reason for Christians to create sub-cultures. In fact, this is a concession. God created music. He does not require you to mention His name in every song any more than He requires it in every email or conversation that you have. Real life can honor God without mentioning His name or acting like things are okay. Sometimes they are not okay. I am not against mentioning God at all, but let your music reflect the real world. He should be honored in all things. The same thing can be said about all entertainment. I don’t like the Christian movie industry for the exact same reasons, but that is another blog.

(I  hope you also see that this is really about much more than the value of Christian music.)

Okay, let the roasting begin.

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123 Responses to “Why I Don’t Like Christian Music”

  1. Yes, this is an update of something I did years ago. I thought I was going to go back to this and see that I have changed, but came to find out I only had things to add, tweak, modify, and intensify. 🙂

    • Thank you for this article. I thought I wasn’t Christian enough because I don’t like Christian music. I share your views. God knows our hearts and I can’t fake the way I feel. I can love and serve God without conforming to what other Christians think you should like. I have to be real and true to myself. Your article help me to realize there is nothing wrong with my views. Thank you Kathy

  2. I completely agree. I’m a big fan of Flyleaf and Anberlin. I love what Lacey Mosley of Flyleaf said in an interview when she was asked about being a “Christian band”:

    Interviewer: “How did that work with you being in a Christian rock band?”

    Lacey: “Well, you know what? I don’t know what you mean by a “Christian rock band.” It’s hard to say that because people all have a different definition of what that means. If it means that we’re Christians, then yeah we’re Christians, but if a plumber’s a Christian, does that make him a “Christian plumber?” I mean we’re not playing for Christians. We’re just playing honestly and that’s going to come out.”

    Source: http://bit.ly/cUAyfm

    And Stephen Christian of Anberlin was quoted as saying:
    “My faith affects every single aspect of my life, but I’m not a preacher, I’m an entertainer.”

    Source: http://bit.ly/dkjf7d

  3. I was going to mention Flyleaf. I connect to their music a lot. And I relax knowing that they’re like me, Christians, but real at the same time.

  4. I think Switchfoot is pretty good at this as well.

  5. Hi Michael,

    Fantastic article, and far from “roasting” you, I totally concur. As a musician myself I have struggled with directing my gifts, wanting of course to be God-honoring but at the same time abhorring the triviality and superficiality of much Christian music and knowing I simply would not be able to fit into that subculture.

    What you’re writing here is freeing. This kind of thinking could help musicians like me actually use our gifts in a more powerful, creative way. Because I’m called to be ambassador for the Truth, not to present a politically correct version of Christian faith, as part of a subculture that apes the world rather than transforms it.

    Christian musicians should still aim to be pure and holy in creating and playing music, but not by pretending we still don’t struggle with the same dark impulses everyone else does, or that we never have questions or doubts. The humanity in Christian music is what has been lacking! Let’s bring it back!

    Amen, brother!

  6. Being a bit older and dealing with a mental illness, I find a lot to identify with in the music of Pink Floyd. Real life sometimes isn’t pretty, or nice. That said, there are some “Christian” artists that I have enjoyed listening to over the years. However, by and large, I share your thoughts, Michael, “Christian” music does often sound fake, or, as I call it, cheesy.

  7. I agree with you Michael. As a musician, I find most Contemporary Christian music to be bland. The Christian subculture thing is a problem also because it can forward, promote and confirm Christian stereotypes inside and outside the culture. This then becomes the litmus test of Christianity.

    Maybe we should start rebelling against all things “Christiany”. Let’s start with blogs that are seen as a type of informational subculture within Christianity.

    Any ideas on which “Christian blog” would go first?

    Don’t forget about “Christian” buildings too.

  8. The only Christian band that ever grabbed me was Five Iron Frenzy, but what grabbed me about them was the reality of them. They didn’t write JUST about Christianity. They talked about things as serious as Columbine HS and disrespect to Native Americans and also sung a silly song about how great Canada was. The Christian songs were excellent though because they reflected something that made sense to me. There was identity crisis over what it meant to be Christian, there was struggle with human nature while facing Christ and songs about how God honored all women by lifting up Mary to be the mother of Jesus. All great stuff.

    The thing I liked the most though? They listened to not Christian bands. It was like getting permission to like all the good bands and not being restricted to the boring bands.

  9. CMP I have a question; what do you do if one of the songs has really unsavory lyrics or the movie has crass, crude or totally inappropriate content (glorifying sin rather than describing it)?. Do you press the ‘skip’ button or ignore it?

    I never analyzed this issue theologically but almost unconsciously found myself moving away from Christian music in the last 7 years or so. When I visit a Christian bookstore I occasionally sample the latest Christian tracks but can’t seem to convince myself to part with my money. It sounds the same as it did many years ago. Especially what is called ‘contemporary Christian music’. I find the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir or Country Gospel more exciting but even that has limited appeal to me.

    From the non-Christian variety I like rhythmic music and enjoy funk and hip-hop, so I must be standing at the precipice of the abyss given some of their lyrics!!!

  10. I think you’re generally accurate. However, there are a few exceptions (the previously mentioned Switchfoot, for example). Others I recommend:

    Jon Foreman (his independent stuff)
    Brooke Fraser
    the ever reliable Relient K

    A thought for people to chew on: can any instrumental music ever be explicitly “Christian” in the sense we use the word of music in general?

  11. I’m with you on this as well Michael. As a musician now approaching 50yr of age, I wish I could have had this type of council when I started playing music over 35 yrs ago. It was often a mental struggle for me as I played “Christian Music” and yet enjoyed many mainstream artists. I was made to feel that I was a bad Christian because of this. My 20 yr old son did not have this disadvantage. (he is also a musician and I did not teach him what I was taught) and agrees with you as well. He really doesn’t like most Christian music and thinks it is rediculous that we have yet another sub-culture. Having said that , there are a handful of “Christian” artists who are really trying to write honest yet encouraging music and I apprectiate their efforts…even if in many cases they fall very short of this.

  12. A passion of mine – Christian music – you obviously don’t listen to the same Christian music I do, things like Natalie Grants – Held, Casting Crowns – Praise you in the Storm, I could go on. I used to do 2 1/2 hour radio programs that were filled with music that wrestled and grappled with real problems conquered by faith in God. I dislike Christian categorisation and segregation, however I do think we need music that glorifies God. It’s actually biblical! We are instructed to praise God with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. That doesn’t mean they have to be boring and sung to an organ. I would be lost without my Christian music to challenge, inspire, call me forward and help me through. When that music goes on it connects me to God in a way I cannot connect without it.

  13. I totally agree, an obscure Christian book I read many years ago made this crystal clear to me (“Let Me Out” is the title) in it God is giving a statement of His issues or gripes with the church, he says something to the effect of “why do you only listen to so-called Christian music when many composers and artists of the world glorify me with their work, why are you so afraid?” and in the next page God simply says “I am music..” That woke me up to the false distinctions we make, all good comes from God.

  14. Leslie Jebaraj 2010-10-13 at 5:01 pm

    CMP: I am totally with you. U2 is my fav; but I also like Wayne Watson, Russ Taff for their realistic lyrics.

  15. Here’s a John Piper quote that helped me a while back. What do you guys think?
    “If a song is not written to God, for God, or about God — it is blasphemy.”

    Is music for us (Entertainment)? or is music for God (Glory)?
    I find myself being too “American” when it comes to music (and all entertainment for that matter)…I think we are way too obsessed with being entertained when our striving should be holiness and godliness through the Gospel of Christ by the grace of God.

    That being said, I love entertainment, so looking for some thoughts on the balance.

  16. Michael,
    Thank you for that article. I don’t think this will really be a roast. You have brought up a very good point about Christian music. However, I think that you have missed the point of many Christian music artists. Many of their roles is to uplift the members of the Body of Christ, much like what we do when we get together in fellowship. Others’ roles is writing songs of worship. As you said, people do hurt, but that should not keep us from worshiping or seeking comfort from other brothers and sisters (even if its just through music they have written).

    I kind of agree that a sub-culture should not be created, but that is what happens when we have a worldview that is antagonistic to the world. Truth divides, it does not necessarily unite.

    Christian music artists are an important part of the Body of Christ and all of them perform their roles even though they are sinners, just like the rest of us. We should support them as they support us.

    Also, just a note. The Theology Program provides much in depth understanding about God that makes my worship mean so much more and brings me closer to God. Sometimes the songs from Christian artists become deeper with a more complete understanding of Who we worship. Theology brings the mind closer to Christ, music combined with theology brings the heart closer.

  17. Michael,
    I agree with you. I think there are some exceptions to the rule but I find much Christian “entertainment” shallow and, for me, ineffective. I find “Christian” movies almost uniformly bad. Who would want to have to explain the theology of “Left Behind” or “Facing the Giants” to your unsaved friend.

  18. NS,

    It usually depends. When I am evaluating entertainment, I ask three questions:

    Does it glorify the bad behavior?
    Does it normalize the bad behavior?
    Is the bad behavior accessible?

    “Bad words” however do not offend me. While I almost never use them, they are the least of my worries.

  19. Michael,

    You had me until this:

    “Just about anything Country”

    I could read no further. 🙂

    Bill brings up a great point. I wonder if your counter point could be attributed to religion as moralism versus religion as glorification of God through truth? We like the generic Veggie Tales type Christianity, but it does seem absent of Christ directly. Of course, we can make a lot of “secular” music about Christ if we choose, since all we have to do is switch the deities for whom the songs are sung from self to Christ.

  20. Hey – thanks for the article; it resonates with where my heart is. As someone who God has spoken to through profoundly unChristian music (Doobie Brothers and Nirvana!), I think that when we limit our musical choices, we limit opportunities for God to speak to us. William Booth said “Why should the devil have all the good music?” Often, it is only because we actively consign non-Christian music to Satan that God isn’t able to use it. That said, there are Christian artists past and present who have realised the issue of cultural isolation in the church, and have spoken against it – specifically Keith Green’s “Asleep In The Light” and Chris Rice’s “Me and Becky.

  21. CMP, I generally prefer to stick to either instrumental or outright spiritual music. I’m picky about mainstream, but some of it’s good.

    I’m with you on the country thing, also. At least, until country went pop in about 1997. I can’t stand what’s become of country music these days. “She’s got it going on like Donkey Kong.” Not just does the line not mean anything, but Donkey Kong doesn’t belong in a country song. Ugh!

    Much of the problem with contemporary Christian music is that it’s just too danged happy. I ran across this problem in Churches of Christ, and I ran across that problem at Bridgeway, also.

    We need a balance. I think we need to incorporate the Psalms into our worship music, including genres other than the praise psalm. There’s confession, supplication, and thanksgiving psalms. There’s indictments against the powers of this world. But none of that’s in our worship today.

    As for Christian artists who produce mainstream songs, Brianna Gaither is someone to look up. She’s a friend of mine who’s produced an EP and is producing her first full-length album (which should be out in January). Download her EP tracks from iTunes! Her songs are real, and they range from silly to spiritual.

  22. Regarding that John Piper quote, I think that if a Christian artist (or a Christian anything for the matter) does his work to the best of his abilities He does it to God and glorifies God. So everything one does glorifies God no matter how secular it is.

  23. I do not like Christian music either, especially what is typically known as CCM. I dislike praise bands. I just went to a pastor’s conference where the band was so loud it did seven things:

    1. Hurt my ears
    2. Shattered any semblance of a tune or melody
    3. Stopped me from hearing most if not all of the words
    4. Contained little or no theology (from reading words on screen)
    5. Reinforced my distaste of CCM and praise bands
    6. Reinforced my love for a good old slow George Jones ballad
    7. Caused me to shake my head in wonderment that anyone could think that God could really receive any praise from what transpired

  24. Thank you! I thought I was going insane!! Why couldn’t I appreciate this “christian message” put to music? Had I not come far enough in the Holy Spirit to airily wave my hands and close my eyes to these Hot Topic-clad yet buttoned-down rockers? I have recently returned to Jesus and when I did, it was as if, over time, I could speak “christian-ese” (no disrespect intended- only humble humor)! The message of the bible became very clear and I wondered (almost in horror!) if I would begin to like these paltry examples of “music”. Thankfully, I believe God knows me better than that!

  25. Country music is = to organ music.

  26. I too hate most “christian songs”. I agree that there are many that are biblically wrong. I like stuff like “Creed”, Audioslave, Alterbridge. I know some of these bands are rock, but they contain more spiritual truth than most so-called Christian songs of today in my opinion and belief. I thought I was the only weird one that had a pet pieve about this music. Guess I was wrong.

  27. “So everything one does glorifies God no matter how secular it is.”

    How do we account for Revelation 16:9, where men do not glorify Him. I think we need to understand that everything ULTIMATELY gives glory to God, but everything does not IMMEDIATELY give glory to God. It used to be said in evangelical circles that Michael Jordan slamming a basketball through a hoop gives glory to God (perhaps in an ultimate sense), but giving glory to God in the immediate sense is what we are to concern ourselves with as Christians, not what God will ultimately use for His glory (like the wicked action of Joseph’s brothers). Hence, we need to ask whether what we are meditating upon is something that gives glory to God. I don’t think evangelical poppy songs do that, but neither do many secular songs. As I said before, it is really the Christian that has the duty to purify the song by the way he thinks of it. Some songs cannot be purified. Some can; but not all glorify God in the immediate sense.

  28. Nice article…. As a “metalhead” I have faced an interesting struggle balancing my spirituality with my musical tastes… The 80’s & 90’s had no shortage of Christian counterparts to every genre of rock, which was great – unfortunately Bart Simpson may be correct in saying the devil has all the best music… Tongue in cheek of course…

    One band comes to mind, TOOL, which has plotted a course of serious spiritual growth over the course of their career – nakedly exploring the essence of spirituality & meaning in the world – mostly hinging on the singer’s experience of witnessing his devoutly Christian mother being subdued by a stroke & the subsequent actions of her fellow belivers….

  29. I believe there is a genre of music that is completely Christian. It is called “worship”. It is made “Christian” by its purpose. That purpose is worship of our God. Not that worship is only music. But it is a modality of worship that can be communally joined in and a way of speaking God’s word into a worship space dispelling the darkness and inviting the spirit of God into the space. And creating an energy of corporate worship, something beyond what you can create in your own singing. I think this applies when you are at home playing “Christian” music to fill your house. One night I heard a noise that sat me up in my bed. I sensed something less than good. I couldn’t detect what, but to dispel any “nongood” I turned on some Christian music low to fill the house with the words of God. Anyone who has witnessed Steve Green perform “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” especially in person and a capella , has felt this presence. It is not innocuous. The words of God have power. I do agree with you however, that not all Christian music fits this bill.

  30. That’s believers (not belivers)
    To continue… I find it interesting that most iconography in metal music owes a huge debt to the Christian religion – the irony of most metal music is that it affirms and substantiates Christianity in it’s rebellion against it. In other words, why rebel against something you claim has no sway over you – why not just ignore it all together if you really don’t believe…. But, I digress…

    I am a bible believing God fearing Christ following metalhead who believes that all things are to the glory of God even absent of the original intent!

    From St Paul’s basilica:
    Lector, si monumentum requiris circumspice

  31. Here’s another question that came to mind after reading some responses:

    There are churches that use Beatles songs, Dave Matthews Band songs, etc… during corporate worship because they can be “redeemed.” Is this okay? Is there a different standard of what we listen to in our “private” times as compared to our corporate times?

    Interested to hear what you guys think. Trying to work these things out for myself.

  32. Michael, Not a lot here yet, but you are always welcome to check out my well reasoned views on music….

    http://woodbetween.blogspot.com

    And if you are serious about Country (of the not so glossy variety) I recommend these

    Billy Joe Shaver
    Johnny
    Patty Griffin (Downtown Church)
    Julie and Buddy Miller
    Bill Malonee (More alt folk-rock)
    and Mo Leverett (more folk cajun blues)
    Buddy Rufus Green (Bluegrass and beyond)

    MarK Heard (No longer living, but essential) Not country persay, though his last recordings veered heavily in Creole and alt country.

    Buddy Miller is perhaps the best unsung Country/singer writer in Nashville, in a league of his own. If that is what you mean by country, I’m with you. If you mean the stuff they play on the radio… How could you.

    Ps. Someone mentioned John Foreman. (Frontman for Switch-foot) His last 2 CD EP collection Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer is hands down, one of the finest collections ever unleashed on the planet. Not country (or Rock) but renegade alt folk….and it is honest, lovely, dark, experimental, passionate, broken, holy, ….. vibrant with scripture while not sounding at all like the stuff of Christian radio.

    Ps. The fact that you included Nickleback has me wondering…is it too late to teach aesthetics….

  33. As a musician, and regarding the Piper quote:

    “If a song is not written to God, for God, or about God — it is blasphemy.”

    Is the Muzak playing quietly in the grocery store blasphemous? How about the mom singing “Rocka-bye Baby”to her child? How about “Take me out to the ball game” during a seventh-inning stretch? Does he ever sing “Happy Birthday” at a party?

    Assuming he meant the comment as it sounds, I have no idea how he could come to such a conclusion.

    That said, I’m not fond of CCM either. Being a dinosaur, I prefer music by Bob Dylan (Infidels is one of the best “Christian” records I’ve ever heard), Clapton, Django Reinhardt, Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard and Benny Goodman. I recently picked up a CD by a new girl named Priscilla Ahn and I absolutely love it.

    Oh, and The Stanley Brothers.

  34. Augh… How could I have forgotten Peirce Pettis. The finest songwriter of the lot.

  35. There are some Christian musicians, writers and artists who hang out at http://www.rabbitroom.com. The music produced by the “residents” of the room is generally thoughtful and thought provoking. I’d highly recommend the music of Ron Block (banjo/guitar with Alison Krause and Union Station) who writes songs that are theologically deep and spiritually challenging – never cliche or trite. Powerful stuff. His most recent CD is called “Doorway.” Pick it up.

  36. As an ex-christian who dabbled very briefly in Christian music before giving it up for a joke, I applaud this post.

    Even when I was in the church, I always veered more towards song writers who just wrote about life, without having to give in to that posturing so that so much christian music does.

    A long time ago I was an Amy Grant fan – the best music she ever wrote was just about her struggles, with her marriage, with motherhood, with the church – it was real. The real Amy came through. There should be more of that.

  37. Thanks Dave, I am always enjoy a trip to the rabbit room, but do not know the music of Ron Block. I will look him up.

  38. Howdy all

    I agree and disagree with the main article in the sense that there are some Christian bands that do make good “Christian” music. It has its place. One band that comes to mind is Casting Crowns. Their music is awesome and “real”.

    I will also use this opportunity to promote my own music. 🙂 I produce music electronically and it is all in honour of God although it does not always mention God or Jesus directly. It is an expression of life and my journey through it, which includes God majorly. My songs are mostly vocal-less so it is much more open to interpretation and the only thing that usually points to my intention for the song is in the title.

    You can download all my tunes for free here – http://thexstructure.com

    Let me know what you think.

    Another artist that is Christian but also sings about things like love, surfing and life, is Paul Wright. He rocks! Check him out.

    Cheers

    Starrzan

  39. Right on.

  40. Everything done in a spirit of appreciation and love for the Creator gives glory to Him. Even if one does not mention Him. However I do agree that what we do should be consistent with Him.

  41. I get your point, i share most of it, but not the spirit in which you write. You say: “I would rather hear someone honestly cursing God than hypocritically praising His name.” Hmm..no, i would rather not listen to none of those. Some Psalms are written in anger, and some are REALLY depressing, yet they finish worshipping and glorifying God…something that many songs out there do not do…which just leads people to more depression.

  42. Johnny Cash set us all straight with his box set: Love, God and Murder. And, accepting that “Murder” is a broader category than just killing someone, he pretty much captures the essence of human existence.

    I travel quite frequently and my wife made me a three cd set called: Love, Travel and Jesus. On the Jesus disc are the following songs:

    U2: 40
    If God Will Send His Angels
    Wake Up Dead Man
    Breathe
    Moment of Surrender
    Love Rescue Me
    Chris Tomlin: Famous One
    Jamie Smith: Faith in You, Your Grace is Sufficient
    Johnny Cash: Why Me Lord, The Kneeling’s Drunkard’s Plea, My God is Real
    Alison Krause: Down to the River to Pray
    Charlie Hall: How Great Thou Art
    Matt Redmond: Blessed Be Your Name
    Robbie Seay Band: Song of Hope
    Ali Rogers: I Caught Sight, New Today

    So, my Jesus songs seem to tilt heavily toward “non Praise and Worship CCM” and of course, U2.

  43. Jay Provost 2010-10-14 at 9:14 am

    I like the post about music. Personally, I am a music junkie. My iPod is full of all kinds of music: Hard Rock, Country, Jazz, Classical, and Top 40. I find myself uplifted by all of it at different times.

    A few years ago, I was listening to Metalica’s “Nothing else matters” and thought it could be a great way to possible witness to the hard rock guys. I was at a discpleship seminar at my church when a young man (ok young is realtive to me) got up and offered his personal testimony.

    He was a tough guy in prison for a violent crime and spent a lot of time in solitary because of his behavor. He was listening to that song on headphones. The Holy Spirit had began a conversation with him using the song lyrics. He was convicted of his violent and sinful ways. He realized that he Jesus Christ in his life as his personal saviour. He had a huge change of heart and behavor. He have cleaned up his life, got out of prison, and is working with prison ministries to bring the Gospel to other prisoners.

    The point is God will use whatever tools He sees fit to use.

  44. *Read* _The Liberated Imagination: Thinking Christianly About the Arts_ by Leland Ryken. It was a text for my arts classes in college, and totally changed the way I look at creating. I’m a writer, singer, dancer, and actress that is also a Christian.

  45. Leslie Jebaraj 2010-10-14 at 9:32 am

    Anita:

    #28 – It’s interesting you bring up “worship songs”, but the reality is, very few “worship songs” are truly worship songs. You rightly mention Mighty Fortress, as it has theologically sounds lyrics. But the recently written songs seem to focus on self rather than our Savior. And personally, these days I only listen to George Bev Shea when it comes to worship songs.

  46. What is known as CCM seems to be more manufactured than much of what passes for pop music these days. Instead of creating original music with honest lyrics, a lot of it seems to imitate whatever is selling at Walmart with safe lyrics written for the Christian listener.

    For an honest musician who happens to be a Christian and is not shy with expressing his faith through his lyrics, may I suggest Wovenhand? Check them out at http://www.myspace.com/wovenhand

  47. Michael,

    I think you have a pretty accurate take on this. I don’t care much for most Christian songs either. There are a few contemporary songs my church does that I actually like, but very few. As bad as the lyrics are, I think the music is usually worse. Usually, I rank most of the songs by which ones I dislike the least. But it’s appropriate to sing something in church, and singing secular music in church feels inappropriate.

    One group I’m a big fan of is a little known band out of Australia named “Sons of Korah”, but they don’t write any of the words, they set the Psalms to music and do a fantastic job of it. Other than that, I don’t listen to any Christian music outside of church.

    I’m not opposed to listening to secular music, but the thing I struggle with is the old I.T. concept of “garbage in, garbage out.” Meaning it doesn’t matter how good the hardware and software are, if you’re putting bad data into it, you’re going to get bad data coming out the other side. Similarly, if a Christian is putting garbage into their eyes and ears, bad things are going to come out of their heart. There is stuff I used to listen to as a non-Christian that I won’t listen to today, other stuff I will. But for better or worse, I find myself listening to a lot less music than I used to.

    I may try to look into a few suggestions people have made here, hopefully I’ll find something I like.

    Mark

  48. I do think we have to be careful not to be too denigrating towards CCM and today’s worship music. I’s easy to fall into the idea that we’re above all that drivel. We should remember that the music written today may really be the cry of a worshipping heart, not just “crank-out-another-song-to-make-another-buck.”

    I heard a song on Air1 yesterday. Heard it twice in fact. It struck me as pretty lame and poorly written, though I suspect it’s a “hit.” It was by a known guy, but I can’t remember who. Anyway, I thought “Maybe all this lame music won’t seem so lame when we’re gathered at the throne of God. Maybe we’ll rejoice with every expression of worship and praise.”

    And maybe we should learn from C.S. Lewis, who wrote this about the churches he attended:

    I disliked very much their hymns, which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren’t fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.

    I think it’s dangerous to dismiss today’s (or yesterday’s) music as shallow or self-focused or theologically weak. I’ve heard too many people say “They all start with ‘I’…” And yes, many of today’s songs do, just like many of the Psalms.

  49. CMP

    I did indeed recall you writing this before… can’t recall my comments back then, but with a bunch of teens hanging around here’s some stuff I’ve been diving into for the last several years.

    Pillar
    7th day slumber
    Kutless
    Skillet
    ….

    Someone already mentioned Switchfoot and Flyleaf.

    Coming from a guy who’ll play “Still haven’t found what I’m looking for” and “Comfortably Numb” (Floyd) right before “Shattered Life” (7th day slumber), I’ll go back and forth.

    But then again… I also have an iPod playlist for every single Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven symphony loaded on it… I’m not sure I’m a good reference base 😉

    My main question is this. Consider we live in a fallen world, with hurt, pain, loss, …. If our writings and music are a reflection of who we are, why can’t it reflect these painful things and how we struggle with them ? Ultimately we know it all points back to our redeemer and our hope in Christ. So as with anything else, it’s a balancing act. I feel that most mainstream Christian music tends to gloss things over. So even though I have a bunch, I’ll only play it on Sunday morning on my way to church 😉

    In Him
    Mick

  50. Leslie Jebaraj 2010-10-14 at 10:57 am

    I just got reminded of my “righteous” anger when Amy Grant converted to “secular”. To me then, she had sinned. How could she! Now I look back in shame at my immaturity. But I am so glad that I have now come a long way … the way of grace!

  51. Michael, I am in total agreement with you. I was a professional drummer up to age 28. As a working drummer, I had to play every genre imaginable. For me, so much of today’s contemporary music is not only inferior (on a professional level); but the theology is shallow (if not altogether wrong); but it is also too “saccharine -sweet” in my opinion. This is NOT to say that there is nothing good about contemporary Christian music–there ARE some good artists and music. But knowing the music industry as I do, its obvious that the producer’s are likely having too much control over the artists themselves. After all, music IS a “business.” I wish more artists would emerge who break the cookie-cutter mold. But, alas, the recording industry often stifles artists for one simple reason: What will sell and bring in the big bucks!

  52. As Martha said to Jesus outside Lazarus’ tomb: “It stinketh.”

  53. EricW

    That has to be KJV ! In more contemporary translations it’s “It smells” It’s more PC 😉

    Mick

  54. Michael L:

    Well, the KJV (John 11:39) reads: “Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.”

    But since the Greek verb (ozei – from ozô) can mean “he,” “she,” or “it,” it’s allowable to translate it has “it stinketh” – which could mean either the body or the tomb, or both in general – or much of Christian muzak.

  55. Charles Rich 2010-10-14 at 3:57 pm

    “Your probably right” is properly written “You’re probably right”.

  56. EricW.

    I got it…. I was paraphrasing CEV and NLT…. “There will be a bad smell” or “terrible smell”. Wasn’t pointing to the translation.. more to the use of Stinks, which is no longer PC… now one has to use smell to be polite.

    But what’s in a word… same result… I guess same bad joke.

    Cheers.

  57. Guess I will venture out and say I disagree with this post intent. Though in general I would be foolish to agree/disagree with your musical tastes, I think your strong dislike for “Christian music” requires a definition. Not sure what groups you are listening to or even what you mean by Christian music.

    Is it the label you dislike? Or is it people thinking you are less-Christian if you listen to other bands? If it is just that the songs are not “gritty” or real enough then that may be a generalization (depending on what you are calling CM).

    Many of the “Christian” bands I like do not only do praise songs (typically worship album projects) but also deal with relationships (good and bad), humor etc. I like that some are just Rock-anthem style songs and I like that they also sing about how awesome God is.

    Lastly I would say many “secular” bands can be just as cheesy (not real/gritty etc). Most Top40/Pop would fit here IMO. (Sorry to those into Top40/Pop).

    Personally I like Hard Rock – Pillar, TFK, Disciple, Kutless etc.
    Many of the bands I like and grew up with (Motley Crue, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Ozzy/Black Sabbath) are just great to listen too (musically) but the vulgar lyrics and glorifying of sin make it so I seldom listen to them. Its not because I don’t struggle with sin but because I do that I only listen to select songs. OK, I still really like Paranoid and Crazy Train.

    But I like the fact that other bands (some “secular” and some “Christian”) play and rock without resorting to “garbage in” lyrics.

    BTW: these comments reflect thoughts on music for personal listening vs. corporate gathering & worship.

    MikeB

  58. “…let your music reflect the real world.” An interesting comment. So we should sing of drugs, illicit sex, rebellion, murder, sodomy, etc.–acts clearly condemned in the Bible–and glorify God through this? Look how many times “I” occurs in the article–“I think,” “I feel,” “I believe,” etc. It’s all about what we like. Go to the Scriptures and see what He likes. Read about separation from the world, separation unto God. I Cor. 10:31 and Romans 12 are good starting points.

    We do not know what the music of the Bible sounded like. God did not give us melodies and chord progressions; however, there are many references to music, and almost all of them deal with an offering to God, a sacrifice of praise, coming before His presence with singing. Would we really want to approach a holy God with songs about lust?

    Get back to the Bible.

  59. “Smell” is a bad word to replace “stink” because it can be used of both what one detects by one’s nose and what one does with one’s nose.

    If I say, “He smells,” I could mean either that his nose is working properly or that he stinks.

    Therefore it’s necessary to retain the word “stink” as a verb in our vocabulary, though if the context is evident, “he smells” is probably more polite than “he stinks.” 🙂

  60. I think this blog has turned into English 101.

  61. leavingthegray 2010-10-14 at 11:57 pm

    I guess i’m not all that bent out of shape over the whole “Christian Music” label as opposed to that music that does not have that label. What bothers me more is that much of the music under the Christian genera is not theologically sound- forget whether or not it is a psalm-type song of struggle, fear, worship, repentance, etc. The spiritual truths communicated in the scriptures can be communicated without necessarily requiring the lyrics to include Christianese language. Read the parables of Jesus as a case in point.
    I guess my request for those who are in the Christian music genera is that if they are going to sing/write a Christian song, be certain that there may be many undiscerning ears that hear your lyrics and will equate them as communicating orthodox Biblical/Christian doctrine, and that they should be certain that the lyrics are theologically sound.
    I don’t listen to very many groups, but one in particular has hit it out of the park IMO on this issue. Check out Shane and Shane’s album: Pages. Brilliant music arrangement, powerful and God-honoring lyrics– it will move the soul.

  62. Since however, non-Christian subculture is deliberately generated and driven, it is natural that Christians form an alternate Christian subculture.

    What you wish for will never happen (a general culture all share, that doesn’t push underage sex, hard drugs, and alcoholism on minors).

    The fact of the matter is, that it is right and now necessary to create a counter-culture that offers any credible and practical alternative to the advertizing-driven drug culture, which is truly destroying all culture.

    Anyone who thinks the current overwhelming peer-pressure/culture pressure to engage in drugs and sex from the age of 12 on up can be ignored is naive to the point of criminally insane and dangerous.

    Facebook is the latest in a series of enabling “weapons” that allow children and teens to ‘network’ behind their parents’ backs, hook up for sex and drugs, and live an entirely separate ‘secret life’ as binge-drinking dare-devils addicted to sex and recreational drugs.

    Our whole civilization is in serious danger of total collapse because of these “tsunami”-size forces. Christian subculture is the only stemming tide that can provide any oasis for victims and those who don’t want to participate in the wholesale destruction of civilization.

    Let Christian sub-culture be, and even flourish, so it can provide some stable soil at least for a lifestyle and future that isn’t littered with abortion, murder, suicide and prison.

    peace
    Nazaroo

  63. I agree with the major point of your blog and I love many forms of music, but some of the bands you suggest have some questionable lyrics that I do not think we should be filling our minds with, as believers. I think we have to be careful what we put into our hearts and minds. That having been said, I love a lot of music that is not Christian because it does speak to the human condition and can be very thought provoking or simply enjoyable.

  64. While I understand where the writer is coming from, I always think about 1st Samuel and the issue of the heart. Be it rock, folk, hip-hop, or “Christian” music, God alone knows the heart of the writer, publisher, performer or listener. As illustrated in numerous posts, God can use whatever He chooses in the hearts of whomever He chooses. Even Christian music…

  65. Allen Christensen 2010-10-15 at 9:44 am

    Contemporary “Christian” music, as opposed to the great doctrinal hymns of the faith, can lead many astray. However, secular music with lyrics rife with messages pertaining to secularism, humanism, neo-paganism, etc. does harm to our culture but is not subtle in its negative impact as is “Christian” music.

  66. Re-reading the article and some of the comments here, I still agree with the overall thrust of the article– as a critique of the state of Christian music. However it may go too far at times– I think we need to be careful with listening to secular music all the time, even if we think it’s musically superior. Also I believe that the article could have better defined what it means by Christian music—I believe Michael was referring mostly to CCM or Christian music that gets played on the popular radio.

    The thing that bothers me about much Christian music, be it CCM or praise/worship music, is that from a musical standpoint it does not sound as creative or inspired as the better secular music out there. Of course there are exceptions, but even then, are there Christian artists out there whose music has been as inventive and inspired as some of the great secular groups?

    My theory about the lack of creativity is that perhaps many Christian musicians, producers, etc, try to create and fit their music to a genre and then market a product. As opposed to writing about their real life experiences and bringing Christian faith to bear on that experience. So they too often copy the musical styles the world is producing (even its videos and fashions). They try to “Christianize” a worldly product by adding to it bland and theologically weak Christian messages. Originality is not produced by such a methodology, but by writing about one’s own reality and by being transformed by God and His word.

    A Christian music that is strong theologically and inspired musically would be the best reflection of our great God, who is the Author of all Originality and who is honored most by great and profound thoughts about Him and His ways.

  67. In response to nazaroo, I think I know where you are coming from, however the Christian subculture is not much different from the world in that it is shallow, money driven and prone to trends. The same consumerist mentality. For me it’s better to be discerning and celebrate good music, movies, or art wherever it comes from. It’s surprising to find hints of grace in many movies, songs, etc that have no overt connection to Christianity. Like S. S. Lewis says God uses these media to also promote His agenda.

  68. As a woman, I like stories, music, movies, art, etc., that touch me deeply and change me for the good. I do notice that whether in the secular or the Christian circles, I find sadly, that in these two realms only a certain percentage does it for me.
    When I listen to music in the car, I like to hear the words for I want them to impact me. If I can’t really hear it, I spend too much time trying to hear what it is about and really then did not get much out of it. Furthermore, I do like both rock and country and probably most kinds of flavors of music: if it is a heavy rock song, I do like quality. If it is country, I like to be touched by it.
    I noticed in the Jesus Movement of the 1970’s, people who sang for the Lord knew they were not going to make much money. Things did change, and I think that is why we have what we have. I like that word sub-culture, because it does seem like that is what absolutely evolved. Oh, I do love Skillet’s Last Night You’ll Ever Be Alone… and I so love David Crowder Oh, Happiness…
    But I also love Gaither and So many flavors of music.
    I don’t like meaningless…watered down fluff.
    I guess that is also why I have to agree in part with this discussion, because over time I have found very meaningful stories and movies in the secular and very recently I saw a couple of Christian movies that left me very disappointed.There was barely a scratch of Christian content,& I could have seen a non-Christian movie that had more backbone to it, at least. That is very sad to say.
    But I sure have not been disappointed with Jefferson Moore’s Clancy movie, for example.Very meaningful to me. A whole different side of the spectrum,a great modern Christian movie.
    The irony in all this is that I totally dislike sensationalism with the express purpose to aggravate or manipulate the mind.
    Perhaps what is evident whatever circle, is the heart of the performers.I think that is what is showing up in however one displays their creativity

  69. Part of it for me is that, as a musician, I like music that features instruments. But Christian music is defined as Christian by the lyrics – the instruments are just there as accompaniment.

    I was listening to christian radio one day and feeling frustrated. Flipping through the dial, I came across Santana’s Europa and realized what I was missing on the other station – musicians expressing themselves through their instruments.

    So I tend to listen to forms of music that have an emphasis on musicianship, especially improvisational, such as bluegrass, jazz and blues.

  70. Sheesh, CMP, how do you really feel about this topic? Although I agree with you in part, I think that much of what separates CCM as mediocre is simply poor musicianship. Instead of consistently producing insightful lyrics and great hooks, too many CCM artists are content to rely on the dollars of the subculture. That said, it would seem to me that the radio is only going to play what is most popular, which is rarely of the highest quality CCM produces.

    But I do think that it is important that we show great discernment when considering the consumption of art created by those that hate God. I am not convinced that music can be judged completely apart from the artist that produces it. I am drawn to some music that I find great pleasure in consuming, but only because it drives feelings of power and anger. Music has a special ability to influence the emotions and and thought life of the listener and so we must carefully consider our musical choices. Eminem is a brilliant lyricist and has fantastic hooks, but his message and lifestyle have eliminated him from my Ipod.

    Would you apply the same set of standards to the books that you read? So much of what I see in bookstores is garbage produced by a Christian subculture. Same yardstick?

  71. So, Creed and Nickleback are “real,” but anything country is NOT? How is THAT possible? Sure, there’s plenty of country “fluff” out there…but how can you say you don’t like ANYTHING country. Sounds like more of a stylistic issue than liking something real. What about jazz? Classical? Are those styles fake as well? Not liking anything country for your reasons is such a huge generalization and a mistake.

    And how is singing praises to God any less fake than singing ANYTHING by Creed or Nickelback? Michael, I agree with your point that there shouldn’t be a sub-culture of Christian Music, but hammering on Christian music has always been such an easy target with a lot of complaining and no real answers.

  72. Michael,

    The singular of genera is genus.

    Apart from that I’m pretty much on the same page with you.

  73. Someone said they don’t like bands like acdc because of the garbage lyrics, and therfore won’t listen to those songs. My question is what does this have to do with Christianity? If we listen to these songs in public especially, we glorify God even more. We are showing the world the power of JEsus to save us all by himself. Of course, people will persecute you and some will even believe you are unsaved because they believe a false gospel of works (fleshly works) as necessary for salvation. Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage (the law of works). Yes, this is KJV and not secular literature.

  74. I’ve got to say I completely disagree!!

    My experience and the viewpoint I’m coming from is a very conservative church where most hymns in Sunday worship are a couple hundred years old – we keep singing them because the words and the message are great. Christocentric. So my following comments are not on what is commonly sung in many churches today because there I’d agree that they’re shallow.

    The author, however, seems to be singling out CCM and in my opinion it seems patently obvious that he hasn’t listened to much of it to really know what he’s talking about. I mean (over the years) from Kieth Green to Petra, to Newsboys to Steve Curtis Chapman to Casting Crowns (to name a very small few) one cannot claim their lyrics as disconnected to life or empty sugar coated cheerleading. On the contrary they have so may times met me in my heartache and doubt and lifted me to Jesus. I’m a missionary serving in Africa and last year a 36 year old colleague was killed in a road accident. What a great comfort “Love them Like Jesus” was to me & numerous songs of Chris Tomlin to the man’s surviving family. I grew up in Africa and went to high school, college, and seminary training in the U.S. As a 3rd culture kid struggling in a land where no one understood his perspective and background how wonderful it was to run to the Word in song. Sure many of these groups were good enough to have had extra-Christian success but I was so appreciative that they chose to minister to Christians like me who were lonely and hurting and desperately needed to be strengthened in the love of their Savior. To me all of those groups he mentioned in his article were part of the problem – people hurting just as much as I and providing only questions but no answers. How wonderful it was to have music that I enjoyed with a message that met me in my sorrow and renewed me in Jesus my Savior. I’d have been lost in a depressive funk without it.

  75. @74

    Someone said they don’t like bands like acdc because of the garbage lyrics, and therfore won’t listen to those songs. My question is what does this have to do with Christianity?

    Guess as the lone poster liking AC/DC etc, I’ll respond… 😉

    First I actually really like the music. However there are many songs in that genre that I don’t listen to anymore. Lyrics that curse at me or degrade women or encourage illicit sex and drug use are certainly not going to renew the mind or put thoughts in my head that glorify God. Think Girls, Girls, Girls by Crue. The fact is that music and lyrics will stick in my head longer than any verse I read that morning. I call it drawing boundaries.

    If we listen to these songs in public especially, we glorify God even more.

    find that difficult to see. I thought we bring glory to God when we do good works (note not saying anything here about being saved or salvation). love to hear the rationale here behind this statement – especially the “even more”.

    We are showing the world the power of JEsus to save us all by himself.

    By that logic I would be curious about your views regarding say “adult” magazines and cursing at others. Maybe looking at some of these would show the world that Jesus has the power to save too.

    I think Jesus prefers we use our liberty far differently than you allude in this post.

  76. Oh my goodness, I could not agree more! Most Christian music is like cotton candy… fluff and syrupy. I could have written this post word for word. And the part about not needing a Christian sub-culture – spot on!

  77. This issue reminds me of a Soap Box of mine…. i.e., “Full-time Christian Service”.

    We are ALL, if one of his Sheep, i.e., the Elect, in “Full-time Christian Service”. We may be poor servants and thereby calling into question our very election, but Servant Sheep non-the-less. There is no dichotomy between “Christian” and “non-Christian” service for the believer. ALL actions done by a Child of God are acts of service and worship. It’s not like a Time Card we check in and out of as thought we were factory workers.

    Perhaps “Professional Christian Service” might be a better choice to communicate the concept that one earns his/her living and the means by which to pay bills as a missionary, pastor, etc.

    Dean, Founder/Owner of Sovereign Grace Singles

    http://www.sovereigngracesingles.com/j15a/

  78. The late Keith Green was a contemporary Christian artist that wrote his own songs but always gave God glory– he wrote and sang with conviction. He even held some concerts where he gave away albums to those who couldn’t afford it–he was not in it for the money.

    He might not have been Calvinistic in his theology, but he had intimacy with Christ.

  79. Eph 5:19-20 “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;”
    I’m not sure Paul was thinking about secular music when he wrote this..

  80. Just so everyone knows, we DO have SOME Christian music playing here at the Credo House on the Credo House playlist (but not much).

  81. Rob, not sure if you have read many of the comments, but there seem to be quite a few people heavily involved in the Christian music industry who agree.

  82. Hope,

    Touche, but I would not include hymns in this “critical” mix simply because they are not attempting to parallel and take part in the broader genre.

  83. Mike B,

    First off I want to say I think you must be a pretty cool dude. Most people who don’t see where I am coming from, immediately judge me without hearing me out. My hat is off to you for that. We need more people like you who are not so quick to judge. However, to answer your questions, you could check out some of the bible studies on my website that show through scripture our true liberty in Christ. You can find these at http://www.spiritualbiblestudy.com/articles.htm. To sum up my beliefs, I will give only one of many examples that are shown on my website.

    I believe salvation is by grace through faith, not works. I believe good works in the bible represent trusting in faith, not works. When we live a life like doing things the bible appears to speak against, we are glorifying God, showing his power to save us even though we don’t deserve to earn or keep salvation by our own works. It shows his power to save us without anything being required of us other than faith and trust alone in Jesus. You may ask how do I get this. I believe the bible contains hidden wisdom hidden from the lost. Only those who are born of the spirit can see the mysteries of God, the rest are spiritually blind. Thank God JEsus has opened my eyes to see spiritual truth that has set me free from all religious rules. To give one small biblical example of the hidden wisdom/mystery of God. Let us look at 1 John 2:22. This verse tells us God’s definition of a liar. It tells us those who deny that jesus is the Christ are liars. Liars are those who don’t believe Jesus is the Christ, they are in unbelief. When we believe the gospel (faith), we no longer deny Jesus is the Christ, and therefore are not liars according to God’s definition. We therefore keep the commandment not to lie through faith in Jesus alone, not by not telling natural lies. The bible itself tells us that the natural man cannot understand the things of God, it also tells us the law is spiritual.

  84. Mike B continued,

    God gave us natural things to help us understand spiritual truth, things we know to understand things we don’t. Paul tried to display this through the circumcision. He taught us we are not to be circumcised naturally, but spiritually, even though the commandment was given to be circumcised naturally. This commandment as well as all others were a picture of spiritual things, as Hebrews tells us the law is a shadow of Good things to come, but not the very image. Circumcision represents the entire law, this is why Paul used only this commandment. He believed that by this we should see the truth, if the one commandment that represents the entire law is kept through faith in Jesus alone and is not to be followed based on the natural understanding, he believed we should understand all other commandments have hidden wisdom behind them as well. He taught us circumcision is of the heart in the spirit, not in the letter (or based on the natural meaning). When we believe in JEsus, we are circumcised spiritually. This commandment as well as all others are fulfilled through faith in Christ. We are to keep the spirit of the law, which is faith in JEsus. When we believe in Jesus, we are circumcised spiritually, we are no longer liars spiritually, etc. It is all about Jesus. you may wonder about all other commandments, on my website, I show through the scriptures many other commandments and their spiritual meaning. All the commandments mean for us to trust in Jesus alone for salvation, not works. As the bible tells us, who the son has set free is free indeed. wE are free to live without condemnation because of how we live because of Jesus. Of course this belief will cause persecution because the world does not understand us or the bible spiritually. Another quick example. John chapter 10 tells us God’s definition of theives. To climb up any other way than Jesus. When we trust in Jesus alone, we are not theives, not stealing spiritually.

  85. I am a christian, and no lyrics from any acdc song bother me. However, because of this may believe I am unsaved. I encourage you to check out my site, it shows more hidden spiritual truth from the bible, there is none like it on the web, or at least that I have found yet. The world hates me because they don’t understand me, but neither did they Jesus, they said he had a devil, just like they do to me. That’s ok because the freedom I have in Christ is greater to me than any approval of man. I know what I see in the bible is true through years of study, it is awesome that even though some may read this, they still can’t see it. Why? Because only JEsus can open the spiritually blind eyes. Sorry I am so elaborate with response, I usually am not, but you we not judgmental and I felt obligated to share truth with you. Those who are judgmental are dogs, the bible says not to cast that which is holy unto dogs, not pearls before swine, they will trample the truth under their feet, and turn again and rend me, or attack me. However, you were different, you didn’t rend. You were curious to understand where I am coming from. For that I am thankful. you may not agree but at least check out some of my studies on the site. At the least, I’m sure you will find it interesting. Remember when reading the bible, we cannot understand it with natural wisdom. Romans 7 tells us the law is spiritual. The bible speaks many times about the wisdom of God/ mysteries of God. Jude speaks of those who speak evil of what they don’t understand. WE must have our mind reNEWed. The new covenant thinking, spiritual thinking, the mind of Christ. God bless. Oh Peter said scripture is not for private interpretation, we must let bible interpret bible to understand.

  86. Being a Christian in a non-Christian rock band, I agree and appreciate what you’ve written here. Everyone in my band is a believer, but our songs are just about real life and real struggles. But on top of that, we are entertainers working in the entertainment industry. I seek to glorify God in everything I do, whether i’m on stage or off. But none of our songs are praise songs or anything like that.

    As an artist, I just can’t wrap my mind around those who only want to write “Christian” songs. Unless, that is, i’m just trying to sell records or something. But i’m like you, Michael, in that I never ever listen to “Christian” music. Most of it is cheesy and about 10 years behind.

    But if people want to listen to Christian music, then great. I’m just not into it.

  87. I disagree with the generic criticisms of CCM. During the boom of substitute-artists of late 90s-early2000s, I could see it. But not now.

    Give me a style or genre and I can give you a band or artist that rivals any non-Christian. Songwriting skills, technical ability, production value, passion, talent, authenticity… you name it.

    However, music is such a subjective thing, I probably couldn’t convince you (the collective you, not anyone particular) anyway. You have your minds made up.

    Is there fluff or uninspired music that record companies seem to love and push down our throats? Certainly, but that’s not just in the Christian market. You wouldn’t make all of your judgments about rock and country based on the top-40 stations, would you?

  88. AMEN!!!!!! I almost hate Christian music. At least what is marketed as Christian music to white American Evangelicals. It’s above all ‘safe’ which makes it useless as an artform.

    My favorite band is Hanson. Yep, the MmmBop Hanson. They have a song for every situation in life. It’s honest quality. Better than every Christian band on the planet.

    http://www.hanson.net if you do not believe me. They’re awesome.

  89. Hanson is ok, but I didn’t know they were still around.

  90. @BibleStudy:

    Seems weird to address a comment to someone named BibleStudy, but appreciate your willingness to explain your self…

    I believe salvation is by grace through faith, not works.

    On this we are certainly agreed.

    I am a christian, and no lyrics from any acdc song bother me. However, because of this may believe I am unsaved.

    I would not say listening to AC/DC is a sign of salvation one way or the other either. For me listening to some of their (and other) songs make it harder for me to think about good, pure things (Phil 4:8) and capture every thought for Christ (2 Cor 10:5). Not a salvation issue but a boundary I choose to draw for me.

    I believe good works in the bible represent trusting in faith, not works.

    Does the term “good works” have only the meaning of faith in Christ. Does Jesus have no expectations of our lives after we come to faith? Why does Paul tell us to “walk worthy of our calling” in Ephesians 4?

    When we live a life like doing things the bible appears to speak against, we are glorifying God, showing his power to save us even though we don’t deserve to earn or keep salvation by our own works.

    How would Paul’s admonition in Romans 3:8 be interpreted? Or Jesus statement in John 8:11?

    Liars are those who don’t believe Jesus is the Christ, they are in unbelief. When we believe the gospel (faith), we no longer deny Jesus is the Christ, and therefore are not liars according to God’s definition. We therefore keep the commandment not to lie through faith in Jesus alone, not by not telling natural lies.

    Is that the only definition for lying or just the worst case example of a liar? Is telling “natural lies” something God condones or something we do that caused Jesus to die on the cross and pay for?

    Peace,
    MikeB

  91. Your statements about Christian sub-culture have some worth. While Christians should never be isolationists when it comes to culture, we must remember that “conforming” to the world’s culture is a danger. Christ’s culture ran counter to His teachings, and he even called the disciples to lay aside culural norms and views in order to preach the Gospel. The point—the Gospel transcends cultures rather then working within them. Can a Christian enjoy today’s culture without being conformed to it? Absolutely, but only in so far as he is renewing his mind with the truth of God’s Word on a regular basis. Apart from that regular renewing, conformity is more likely. And as Christ said, “Friendship with the world is emnity with God.”

    Also, the notion that cooking, or any other task for that matter, cannot be done in a Christian way is utterly false. I Corinthians 10:31 gives a strong command that whatever we do, we must do as unto the Lord—this includes playing music and listening to music. The grandest music—culturally popular or not—played for self-motivated reasons will meet with only an earthly reward. But the must mundane of tasks done in Christ’s name has eternal significance.

    Some of your views seem to accomodate your own tastes in music rather than reconciling your listening habits with the truth of God’s Word.

  92. @Mike B,
    If you will check out a couple studies at my website, you will see exactly what I believe on the topics you have mentioned. Check out the study on the law is spiritual:thou shalt not bear false witness as well as some others if this one doesn’t answer your questions. In short, yes I believe God does not require anything of us other than faith in Jesus, even after salvation. I have proved this for myself in scripture, and have tried to prove many things through my website to others. Check it out. Oh, and yes, I believe the definition (Gods definition of a liar) is given in 1 John 2:22. And no, I don’t believe we have to refrain from telling natural lies in order to please God. And who could if this was he case, who doesn’t tell little white lies about everyday. Another example, for medical professionals who document medical care may not remember the exact time something occurred and may estimate, wouldn’t this be considered a natural lie? It is not the truth. No one could ever live life without telling at least one little white lie, like telling someone they look good when they don’t, etc. Thank God he doesn’t require the impossible, only faith.

  93. CMP: I agree with what you said and for the most part most of the responses have been positive in support of your position. I find that being a Christian is for the most part is being misunderstood, which is a given. Scripture gives us a lot of good examples of how we should be, but often we fall way short of ideal. I think that the whole sub culture of Christianity comes off as being fake or cheesy, and this is the struggle that we all deal with being under the label, and not the law. What gets me is the criticism for listening to music which is non-christian. So what! I like Evanescence, Creed, Breaking Benjamin, Kid Rock, Montgomery Gentry, some rap, Michael Jackson, old skool, and even Christian music. I like classical, jazz, alternative and just about any kind of music which soothes my soul at the given moment. What I think that everyone forgets is that ALL MUSIC is a gift from God! Not all music honors God, but we were given the freedom to choose what to listen to or not. I just don’t like being criticized for listening to whatever suits my fancy. Just because I call myself Christian, does not mean that I am not subjected to all the other junk that everyone else who does not call themselves Christian, have to deal with. IM NOT PERFECT, JUST FORGIVEN!

  94. After I wrote my message the other day, I realized that I did not communicate it very well. What I meant at the first part, was music or anything in the arts that “REALLY” did it for me, where it just was something I wanted to play over and over and over again. I love a lot of things I have seen and heard. For some reason I might be one of those people that once having found something that is awesome, I like to watch or hear it a lot–and it really does it for me.
    Also, my message did not convey all of my reality, which is important. There is a lot of loud music in my world, and in my world there is even a sole inventor of a subharmonic processor that even Brittany Spears used. What I realize is that so much of this talk about music, might simply be us. Our expectations of others might be too high. Or we won’t let Christians laugh or be silly in song because we are simply too serious All the time. Sometimes I think about the people I know and myself included…will we wind up as old people who just work and work and grind and grind and lost our first love (because we want to call the shots)? Is the question: are we allowed to be joyous, laugh, be silly in this life? What is this sub-culture demanding of us? Conformity? I think God wants individuality. And He wants our heart, and we come from every walk of life.
    Another question…should our life consist of dissecting God or having a relationship with God and the world/people He wants us to love, but not be conformed to it (what is evil)? Does not the Bible say that to the pure all things are pure? Titus 1:15

  95. On a related note, I don’t like Christian preaching. Christian preaching is theologically wrong. It’s like saying “I like Christian beverages.” There is no such thing, or at least there should not be.

    Why don’t I like Christian preaching? What happens is this. I am driving down the road listening to music and then John MacArther comes on. I immediately change the station. I look for other preaching. Maybe something from the 90’s. That was a great decade for preaching. Here is my order of preference:

    Alcoholics Anonymous
    ACLU
    Rush Limbaugh

    I know what you are thinking. These aren’t Christian preachers. I don’t like the Christian mentality that Christians must create a sub-culture for preaching to be truly Christian. When people come to church they have to learn Bible words like redemption, salvation, and sanctification, and limit their audio input to Walk in the Word, Let My People Think, and Chris Fabery Live. Why? Because we must conform to the sub-culture that says everything outside is evil and dangerous.

    Instead of giving out the gospel, we need to represent Christ by being human. If a person feels so inclined, they should listen to Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, G Gordon Liddy.

    Let me just say it. I think that most Christian preaching is fake. I would much rather hear about people’s real lives, real struggles, and real passions than the shallow stuff that I hear coming out of Christian preaching today. I would rather hear about a drug addict honestly wrestling with the issues of life, than listen to those who say they have all the answers from God’s Word when I know this is not really the case. I would rather hear someone honestly cursing God from the pulpit than hypocritically giving glory to God in the assembly.

    Hopefully you can see that my post is satire. But your post is not. Your post is full of “I would rathers” and “I don’t likes” instead of scripture.

    Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

    -The…

  96. Marisela Rios 2010-10-19 at 1:21 pm

    Great article! I don’t like most of the Christian music because its about self and not praising God. The sad part is its in many churches. Like your music picks. You should try VAST I’m Dying — great song.

  97. When I placed my first message on this topic on Oct 15, I felt that it was an interesting topic, but since have been on edge about it.
    I am sorry I wrote anything on this topic.
    I realized, as for me, this topic serves no purpose.
    It does not lift up.
    I do not think it helps anyone or the cause of Christ.
    I am ashamed of myself for writing anything at all.
    Here is one repentant woman.
    Please forgive me – all the way around. Tears.
    Love in Jesus’ Name.

  98. As a former avid heavy metal fan, I think there are both values and detractors from any style of music. However, as much as our culture tries to deny the truth, the messages expressed in music do have an effect on the listener. Not that listening to Ozzy makes you a murderer, but repetitive lyrics set to a hypnotic beat take up residence in your mind. Just watch how any 5 year old will be singing a catchy tune for months after listening to it a few times.

    That being said, Scripture instructs us to focus our minds on what is good, pure and pleasing to God. Christian music, simple or not, focuses our attention on the glory of our God, and praise becomes instilled in our brain. Secular music also instills itself in our brain – so we have to use discernment to determine what messages we allow there.

    There is definitely benefit to music that challenges our thinking and connects with the struggles and emotions of life we all face. But our society is way too lax in allowing casual sin to become our focus.

  99. There is nothing wrong with listening to Ozzy Osborne music. I do it all the time and still focus upon things that good.

  100. Let me be a voice to sound a different chord in this echo chamber. While your point about Christians retreating into an irrelevant sub-culture is valid, you really didn’t support that point with anything. In fact, I think your article to be a mere strawman argument.

    “Let me just say it. I think that most Christian music is fake.” Who is fake? What artists are frauds? Tell us so we can evaluate their lyrics and their lives so we can decide for ourselves. You seem to dislike “Christian” music because they all are frauds. Or do you throw the entire industry out with the bath water?

    Christians have entered the culture to bring it under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. You as a Calvinist ought to understand that. Before you strike out against the Lord’s annointed, you should examine why you reject what is good, what is lovely and what is of a good report. Christians now have an alternative that leads them to worship God. The culture now has the Truth, and a God in which to direct their helpless, hopeless cries. That Gospel message is provided by what you call the Christian sub-culture.

  101. I think post 17 by Tony Hicks is revealing. “It is awkward to watch Christian movies or listen to Christian radio because we might have to explain the hope that lies within us.”

    God did not call us to a life of ease or comfort. He called us to be salt and light to a dying world. He HAS called you to “explain the theology of “Left Behind” or “Facing the Giants” to your unsaved friend.”

  102. Finally somethin I’m comfortable with (not Soveriegnty, Trinity, or Hermanuetics). No offense but this is silly. Any genre, subgenre, band, song, lyric, melody, chord progression, lead or break, etc. can be good or bad. All of those things are a matter of taste. Most musical genres are dictated by and strained thru the folks who purchase the product. Music is simply a mirrored image of its listeners. If the listener is complex then the music is complex (either musically or lyrically). If the listener is cheesy (fake) then the music is cheesy (fake) also. The goal of a songwriter should be to connect with the listener in a way that effects them. In other words the heart of the song must connect in some way with the emotions of the listener. Some CCM may seem shallow, but this is because most Christians are shallow. Mr Patton, you may do well to remember your own ministry is to change that! CCM does a good job at holding those “cheesy” Christians until someone like you can come along and add some spice to make old cheese into Nachos Bellgrande! The bands you mentioned are lyrically complex but lack complexity musically. Does this reflect your heart? To generalize musical genres as tasteful or shallow is like generalizing pastors or teachers or theology minded ministers. To what ministry are we called, only the complex, well grounded, eager to learn, truth seeker? Or are there those sheppards who are called to guide a flock of mindless sheep to safety from the wolves of the world? I love many kinds of music although I spent some time in some hair metal bar bands in the 80’s and 90’s. Talk about a subculture, I know all about drugs, sex, and rr. I think Michael Sweet might say to work in that genre and stay true to your faith is almost impossible. So let’s not compare apples to oranges. Let’s be real. Change Christians and Christian music will either change or get left behind. Otherwise, if you don’t like what your listening to then the only thing you need to…

  103. Oh yeah, I write and perform some of my own “cheesy” CCM now. I write down thoughts that are sometimes very simple and other times very complex. Most of the time it is the simple lyrics that minister to congregations. If you want to get a preacher riled though, the more complex, Christianity critical lyrics do the trick. Throw in some detail about your sinful past and the youth want more. Then say somethin about the rapture and the old people raise their hands. Now I know that “tension” filled, unanswerable questions is what I need to write about. Anyone have money for a bus ticket to Nashville?!?
    To the moderator, he asked for it.

  104. …change is the channel! Oh yeah, I write and perform some of my own “cheesy” CCM now. I write down thoughts that are sometimes very simple and other times very complex. Most of the time it is the simple lyrics that minister to congregations. If you want to get a preacher riled though, the more complex, Christianity critical lyrics do the trick. Throw in some detail about your sinful past and the youth want more. Then say somethin about the rapture and the old people raise their hands. Now I know that “tension” filled, unanswerable questions is what I need to write about. Anyone have money for a bus ticket to Nashville?!?
    To the moderator, he asked for it.

  105. @Karen,

    I personally found your comments interesting and contributive in that it seemed you were grappling to find what it is about certain music that really blesses you and others. I think you were onto something when you mentioned that God may be wanting our individuality to come out (which I would call originality).

    Also I think it’s important to realize that people listen to music differently and are affected by different parts of it. I personally am probably affected most by the music, than by the lyrics of songs. Not that I don’t consider the lyrics important, but the music hits me first and most strongly.

    So I find if I am listening to melodies or music I don’t find very interesting or exciting, I am also not as inclined to listen to the words of those songs. I believe this is why I don’t necessarily get blessed by some Christian music, despite the fact that the words may be trying to bless.

    Also, perhaps it is possible for me to listen to some music that is secular (appreciating its musical creativity) without succumbing to the false messages of some of its lyrics.

    However I feel that the music in itself-apart from lyrics–carries a certain message. For example to me much metal music conveys extreme anger and even rebellion, even apart from any lyrics. I find it hard to believe that certain forms of music that sound very angry and ugly (again apart from their lyrics) can be listened to without it affecting the person listening.

    I do believe we have liberty in what we can listen to, because in our individual make-up and level of Christian maturity, one person can listen to certain music and not be sinning while another can listen to the same music and for that person listening to it would be causing them to sin. Yet when the Bible says “whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable”, etc and counsels us to focus on such, I think this applies not only to the lyrics, but also to the music. Some is beautiful and…

  106. (cont from above) some is not. Of course there is a certain level of subjectivity that comes into these opinions about music, that derives from our own unique life experiences. Still I also think that objectively speaking, some music is more beautiful than other music– but perhaps God is the only One who can objectively discern what is truly beautiful, being uniquely holy and without sin?

  107. PH 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

    I agree with the last post that PH 4:8 should be our guide. I don’t think most Christians would agree with your characterization: “When people come into Church they have to learn a different language, change the way they dress, only read Christian books, start liking the organ, and limit their cinematic entertainment to Fireproof and Facing the Giants. Why? Because we must conform to the sub-culture that says everything outside the Christian sub-culture is evil at worst and dangerous at best.”

    Anyone that believes this is acting like a “dumb sheep” and not using thier free will to make choices. Having said that- our choices should be in line with PH 4:8 and most (90+%) of the culture (music, books, movies, TV) does not line up with PH 4:8. Thus, an alternative is necessary.

    I’d say there is alot in country music that is okay. But in movies- it is usually the movies that are closer to PH 4:8 that are panned by the critics (like The Last Song- Life As We Know It- Secretariat- to name a few recent ones).

  108. This article is based on a faulty basis, that all artists within the confines of a musical genre are the same. It commits the exact same sin of labeling for an entire musical subculture–of judging–based upon the record label an artist is on, and not on the individual quality of their work.

    I have a diverse collection–both Christian and not, both praise and worship and CCM, and folk, alternative (what does this even mean?–if alternative becomes the most popular, wouldn’t that make it mainstream?), and many other genres. When I do listen to Christian music (a substantial amount), I find the great majority are from artists that aren’t necessarily associated with Christian radio–a medium whose focus is solely on a demographic (thirtysomething soccer moms) which I do not fit in. Big deal. Welcome to new media. Welcome to iTunes, Pandora, the plethora of music fan sites, and an online-roster of artists who play the annual Cornerstone Festival. Artists with integrity, artistry, poetry, skill, and are subsequently dirt poor for it.

    Articles such as this are useless in today’s digital climate.

  109. I get ya, but you seem a bit cynical. I think there are a lot of great musicians in the Christian music industry who are both talented and authentic. I like to support those individuals. Have you ever heard of the Lost Dogs for example?
    http://www.thelostdogs.com or other rock groups like Sanctus Real, Remedy Drive, and many more. It’s music that glorifies Jesus and encourages young people. What’s not to like about that?
    My $.02

  110. cowboydisciple 2010-10-22 at 11:44 am

    Hodge, please don’t throw Bob and Larry under the bus! I learned everything I know about theology from Veggie Tales!

  111. Great post. I agree with you on the disliking of Christian Music, I disagree about Creed, I don’t like them at all. The 90’s were a great decade for music, Counting Crows! I got blasted one time for saying most Christian artist weren’t any more Christian then most secular artist.

    Rock on.

  112. Our music should simply reflect a creator the way that creation reflects a creator.

    Some secular music brings glory to God more than Christian music… in a way there’s freedom for secular musicians, christian or non-christian, to resist a subculture and instead explore creativity and develop their talents without pressure. I see most CCM the same way as most mainstream artists… predetermined by record A&R reps and defined by charts.

    I get distracted by the hipsterness of most contemporary christian worship music, and can’t ignore the obvious indie-rock influence.

  113. I dont know I like Christian music bob marleys great !

  114. C Michael Patton,

    Ah, I have found something we can agree on. Sorry I called you a liar on another post. Maybe that’s a little harsh. Your intentions are well-meaning, I’ll give you credit for that.

    Any way, no, Switchfoot is not a Christian band. You implied in your article that they were. We definitely have different taste in music but I like the fact that you don’t listen to Christian music. I was raised in a Christian family that forced Christian music down my throat!

    No Iron Maiden, no Helloween, no Gamma Ray, no Blind Guardian?!? What?!? I personally prefer black metal, death metal, power metal, speed metal, traditional metal, and folk metal. I like what you said here: “I would rather hear someone honestly cursing God than hypocritically praising His name”.

    I do think there are actually a few good Christian bands like Forst Like Ashes and Extol but the really good Christian bands I listen do NOT mention God in every other lyric and one of the bands actually recruited the drummer from the blakc metal band Mayhem to perform on one of their albums! Mayhem has been a band associated with Satanism, Church burnings, murder, cannibalism, and suicide.

    I like how you said most of Christian music is fake and that you would rather hear someone curse your god filled with passion as opposed to someone hypocritically praise your god. The black metal music industry seems to be something that you would prefer over Christian music.

  115. I very much disagree with this… You are thinking of typical “Christians” …they are not all that way. The reason why us Christians like Christian music is because it helps us praise and connect to our great god. All Christian musicians have experienced many amazing miracles and they want to express their love or Jesus and share it with the world. And the different genres we have now days for Christian music is to reach out to everyone because everyone has a different style of music they like. The whole idea of modern Christian music is fantastic in my opinion.

  116. Ron Christensen 2013-09-23 at 8:58 am

    I was interested in this article until I saw the “list”… if Led Zeppelin isn’t number one on the list, the article is ridiculous…. lol

  117. This ‘i don’t like christian music because it’s a christian sub-culture’ is starting to sound like, well… a christian sub-culture.

  118. Mike Walker 2018-01-25 at 5:05 pm

    Its not just in music. The great Christian novels like The Brothers Karamazov and Les Miserables are not “Christian Novels,” they are simply Great Novels that contain Christian Truth. C.S.Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers and Malcolm Muggeridge were published by secular publishing houses and related to Christians and non Christians alike. Tolstoy, another Christian author, understood that Christians are beggars like everyone else, they have just found bread and want all the other beggars to have a full stomach. Why do we have to have an Us/Them mentality. We are “them,” we have just received grace. One of the few Christian songs I actually like is “Hard to Get.” by Rich Mullins, it is genuine and real and reflects the conflict of understanding Christ in a fallen world unjust world. Thank you for your article.

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