Christian Rock Evangelism?
Promoters of Christian rock music argue that God is blessing it and that many young people are saved through it. Hard rocking Mylon LeFevre claims that tens of thousands have signed decisions cards at his concerts:
“There are 52,000 people who have signed a little card that says, ‘Tonight, for the first time, I understand who Jesus is and how He does things, and I want Him to be my Lord’” (LeFevre, cited by John Styll, “Mylon LeFevre: The Solid Rocker,” CCM Magazine, March 1986).
This is an amazing statistic by any standard, especially in light of the fact that LeFevre admits that he did not get right with God until 1980 and the aforementioned statement was made in 1986.
Many other CCM performers claim that people are being saved through their ministries. The book Soul 2 Soul contains salvation testimonies from CCM groups such as 4 HIM and dc Talk. They claim that people have even been rescued from committing suicide through their music.
I am thankful for every soul who is saved and blessed regardless of whether or not we agree in all matters with those involved. I do believe that some CCM groups are genuinely concerned for the salvation of young people through their music and concerts, and I do believe that some young people are being saved in the context of Contemporary Christian Music.
The fact that people are being saved does not mean a ministry is to be commended in its entirety, though. Many have been saved through Billy Graham’s ministry, including my own wife, but this does not mean we should overlook the dangerous and unscriptural methodology of his ecumenical evangelism. Jehoshaphat was a godly king who did many things to glorify God in his life and ministry, but the prophet of God was instructed to rebuke him for his serious disobedience in yoking together with Ahab.
“And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD” (2 Chronicles 19:2).
The disobedience of Jehoshaphat is akin to that of evangelical ecumenists (including those within CCM) today who refuse to practice biblical separation. Just because a church or ministry pleases God in certain areas does not mean that God will not rebuke it for unfaithfulness in others. The Lord’s admonitions to the seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2-3 illustrate this. God did not overlook areas of disobedience even in the best of the churches, and it is the preachers whom God uses to rebuke error today (2 Timothy 4:1-2). Paul did not overlook Peter’s disobedience in a seeming insignificant matter (Galatians 2:11-13).
I would also remind CCM defenders that God has told us how to do evangelism, and there is absolutely nothing in the Bible about entertainment evangelism or music evangelism. The Bible says that God has chosen to save people through the foolishness of preaching (1 Corinthians 1:21).
I don’t believe people are saved because of Christian rock music, but in spite of it.
FOLLOWING ARE THE REASONS WHY I QUESTION THE STATISTICS THAT ARE GIVEN ABOUT GREAT NUMBERS BEING SAVED THROUGH CHRISTIAN ROCK MUSIC.
FIRST, THE DECISIONS ARE SUSPECT BECAUSE OF THE MESSAGE.
Salvation comes only through repentance and faith in the one true Gospel of Jesus Christ. True salvation comes through true doctrine. Salvation does not come through a false doctrine of the gospel. Note the following Scripture carefully.
“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but YE HAVE OBEYED FROM THE HEART THAT FORM OF DOCTRINE WHICH WAS DELIVERED YOU” (Romans 6:17).
The following verses remind us that salvation comes through hearing and believing the right WORDS of the Gospel:
“Who shall tell thee WORDS, WHEREBY THOU AND ALL THY HOUSE SHALL BE SAVED” (Acts 11:14).
“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard THE WORD OF TRUTH, THE GOSPEL OF YOUR SALVATION: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13).
“For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in THE WORD OF THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth” (Colossians 1:5,6).
A corrupted message of salvation does not produce biblical salvation.
The Bible warns that there are false gospels and false christs.
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth ANOTHER JESUS, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive ANOTHER SPIRIT, which ye have not received, or ANOTHER GOSPEL, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him” (2 Corinthians 11:3,4).
The Galatians were sharply rebuked because they quickly turned aside to a false gospel:
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto ANOTHER GOSPEL: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6,7).
In light of these Bible warnings, we must ask some serious questions about Contemporary Christian Music claims. What gospel, what doctrine of salvation, is being preached? What christ is being presented?
The answer is that the Gospel is rarely clear and sound in the context of an ecumenical-charismatic CCM concert. There are exceptions, of course, but some key men from within the CCM movement have admitted that this is true in general:
“One of my criticisms of those of us who use music in evangelism is the nature and content of the ‘gospel’ which is preached. ALL TOO OFTEN, A SUPERFICIAL KIND OF BELIEVISM IS OFFERED, along with promises of large helpings of love, joy and peace” (Graham Kendrick, CCM musician and organizer for British rock festivals, Pop Goes the Gospel, p. 142).
“An analysis of the lyrics of MOST gospel songs indicates A VERY SUPERFICIAL VIEW OF SALVATION and of Christianity” (Garth Hewitt, CCM musician, Pop Goes the Gospel, p. 142).
Stan Moser was the former head of Word Records and CEO of Star Song Records. He was one of the pioneers and most important executives in CCM and was the man responsible for signing Amy Grant. In 1995, after 26 years in Contemporary Christian Music, he left it and expressed disgust with what it has become. Note his testimony about the doctrinal content of CCM:
“But to be candid, I look at THE MAJORITY OF THE MUSIC I HEAR TODAY AND THINK IT’S VIRTUALLY MEANINGLESS. ... I would probably be more inclined to call the industry ‘commercial Christian music,’ rather than ‘contemporary Christian music’” (Stan Moser, “We Have Created a Monster,” Christianity Today, May 20, 1996, p. 27).
Michael Card, a very popular and influential CCM musician, made the following observation:
“THE LYRICS OF A GOOD NUMBER OF THE SONGS DON’T BETRAY ANYTHING SPECIFICALLY CHRISTIAN -- they may have some moral message, but not a lot of the big songs are identifiably Christian. . . ‘What happens to the message when we start getting the music to as many people as possible?’ There is an essential part of the gospel that’s not ever going to sell. The gospel is good news, but it is also bad news: ‘You are a sinner, and you are hopeless.’ How is a multimillion-dollar record company going to take that? That’s a part of the message, too, AND IF THAT’S TAKEN OUT -- AND IT FREQUENTLY IS IN CHRISTIAN MUSIC -- IT CEASES TO BE THE GOSPEL” (Michael Card, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” Christianity Today, May 20, 1996, p. 25).
There are countless examples we could give of how the Gospel is unclear or is corrupted in Contemporary Christian Music.
Kerry Livgren, former guitarist/songwriter for the secular mega rock group Kansas, claims that many people have been saved through a song he wrote before he became a Christian! “More people have been led to Christ with [the song Dust in the Wind] than with everything else I’ve ever written. Not only did that song not mention Jesus, but I was not a Christian at the time. It just happened to be a truth that the song emphasized” (Kerry Livgren, CCM Magazine, Feb. 1989, p. 8).
The late Rich Mullins was a very popular CCM writer and performer. He wrote songs popularized by Amy Grant and other well-known singers. His gospel, though, was very murky. When he was killed in 1997, it was reported that he was in the process of joining the Roman Catholic Church. In his song “Screen Door” he presents the false gospel of faith plus works:
“Faith without works baby/ It just ain’t happenin’/ One is your left hand/ One is your right/ It’ll take two strong arms/ To hold on tight” (Mullins, “Screen Door”)
This song presents the false gospel of Roman Catholicism and of every cult. One of the marks of false Christianity is to confuse faith and works, to somehow mix faith and works together for salvation. While it is true that faith without works is dead and that true saving faith produces works, it is not true that faith and works are the two strong arms by which we hold on tight to God and salvation (Ephesians 2:8-10), yet that is exactly the heresy what this song teaches. “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Romans 11:6).
The name of Jesus Christ does not appear even once in three of Michael W. Smith’s albums--Change Your World, I’ll Lead You Home, and Live Your Life. The lyrics to the albums contain more than 6,000 words, but the name of Jesus is not heard even one time. The Bible says there is none other NAME under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). It is impossible to preach the Gospel clearly without naming the name of Christ Jesus.
Consider the words to the song “Bargain” which Rez Band has popularized for Christian young people:
“I’ll pay any price just to get you/ I’ll work all my life and I will/ To win you, I’d stand naked, stoned, and stabbed/ I’d call that a bargain/ The best I ever had/ The best I ever had ... I’ll pay any price just to win you/ Surrender my good life or bad/ To find you/ I’m gonna drown an unsung man/ I call that a bargain/ The best I ever had...”
Rez band got this song from legendary rock guitarist Pete Townshend of the violent/immoral/ occultic rock band, The Who. Townshend wrote “Bargain” as a tribute to his Hindu guru Meher Baba. Townshend has testified: “Baba is Christ, because being a Christian is just like being a Baba lover” (Bob Larson, Rock, 1984, p. 140). Not only is it blasphemous to take a song by an immoral rock star about a Hindu guru and sing it as unto Jesus Christ, but the song itself promotes a false gospel. We do not and cannot win the true God by sacrifice and works. Salvation is “not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Further, the sinner has no “good life” to surrender. All our righteousness is as filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6). There is “none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:12).
White Heart is a popular CCM group. Note how unclear the gospel message is that they present in “Redemption” from their 1997 album entitled “Jesus” --
“Stop, do you hear there’s something in the distance that is rumbling/ I wonder if it could be the sound of prison walls that are crumbling/ In case you hadn’t noticed/ Dead hearts locked up tight as graves are opening/ It’s not politics/ Not economical/ Not theological/ Oh it is spiritual, spiritual, spiritual. It is Jesus/ One faith/ One hope/ One love/ One Lord/ Jesus” (White Heart, “Redemption”).
Note the following song by the popular CCM group, Delirious. This is “Revival Town” from their King of Fools album (which is #13 on the album chart for August 1998):
“Well I’ve got a message to bring/ I can’t preach but I can sing/ And me and my brothers here/ Gonna play redemption hymns … Well I’ve got a story to tell/ About the King above all kings/ He spoke for peace, hope and justice/ Things that we all need today/ You let a broken generation/ Become a dancing generation/ That is revival generation/ You may not hear it on the radio/ But you can feel it in the air.”
This doctrinal murkiness is typical of the gospel message preached by most CCM groups today.
The following song is from “Adventures of the O.C. Supertones” (1996) --
“You probably ask yourself, how’d this Jew boy get so crazy/ Come from kickin’ mad knowledge, didn’t come from being lazy/ We got the rhythm and the rhythm’s got roots/ I’m a crazy little Hebrew onstage wearin’ monkey boots/ I love to be onstage and sing and bimskalabimmin/ I love to be out in the crowd a skakin’ and a swimmin’/ King David, my great grandfather, was a dancer/ King Solomon, my great grandfather, was a romancer/ Jesus came from Jesse, but Jesse came from Jesus/ Now come to the Lord cuz Lord Jesus frees us.”
Is that a plain presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Could someone be saved through a mixed up message like this? Not according to Romans 6:17.
The following is an eyewitness description of a Deliverance concert:
“When it came time for the ‘preaching,’ the members of Deliverance took turns talking about love and victory and not being a ‘wimp.’ Nothing about repentance. Nothing about salvation or separation from the world. Instead of an altar call, there was a cattle-call yodel where all the Christians were instructed to yell for Jesus” (Jeff Godwin, What’s Wrong with Christian Rock?, pp. 225,226).
Aaron and Jeoffrey are a father and son music team. As much as we enjoy seeing a close father/son relationship, we cannot support Aaron and Jeoffrey because of their jazzed up worldly music and the unscriptural doctrine they sing. Note the following message from “Moment of Mercy” from The Climb album (1997) --
“We’ve all been weakened by the choices we have made/ Wrapped in chains it seems we can’t undo/ It doesn’t matter what we’ve done or where we’ve been/ With one honest prayer/ We can be forgiven … And with a simple act of faith we start to see/ Our failures are forgiven” (Aaron and Jeoffrey, “Moment of Mercy”).
This is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ which Paul preached (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). The Gospel of the Bible says that Jesus Christ died for OUR SINS according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. Aaron and Jeoffrey speak not of forgiveness of sin, but of “failures” and of “choices we have made.” A failure or a bad choice is not the same as sin, which is disobedience to God’s law. This is a humanistic approach to salvation and it is the common approach found among CCM performers. Further, Aaron and Jeoffrey’s gospel is not achieved by faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ for sin, but by an “honest prayer” and “a simple act of faith.” People can honestly pray many things to God and not be saved, and a simple act of faith in itself does not save. The act of faith must be directed to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many people have faith in God and faith in God’s goodness and faith in God’s love who are not saved (James 2:19), because they have not put their trust in the finished cross work of Christ.
The following lyrics by the group Big Tent Revival to the song “Lovely Mausoleum” (from Open All Nite, 1996) illustrate the hazy, erroneous CCM gospel -
“Sunrise open your eyes/ When are you gonna see? New day coming your way/ What is it gonna be? Chorus: Your choice, your voice/ You are in control/ Jesus, Jesus/ He will make you whole” (Big Tent Revival, “Lovely Mausoleum”).
There is no Gospel here. What new day is coming my way? What is my choice? I am in control of what? Who is Jesus? What does He have to do with a sunrise for me? How does He make me whole?
Consider Don Francisco. When he does give the gospel in his songs, it is often an unclear message. Consider the words to “Step Across the Line” from his Forgiven album: “You gotta take a step across the line/ Let Jesus fill your heart and mind/ I can show you where to look/ but you gotta seek to find.” Is that a clear presentation of the gospel? Could someone be born again through that? Contemporary Christian Music evangelism is almost always this hazy. Consider another example. This one is from Francisco’s song “I Don’t Care Where You’ve Been Sleeping.” “I don’t care where you’ve been sleepin’/ I don’t care who’s made your bed/ I’ve already gave my life to set you free/ There’s no sin you could imagine/ That’s stronger than my love/ And it’s yours if you will come back home.” It is wonderfully true that Christ died for all of our sins and that His grace is sufficient to forgive any sin, but how do we receive His forgiveness? How can a person be born again? A hazy “come back home” is not the answer. Come back home to what? The unsaved portion of Don Francisco’s audience is a mixed multitude of pagans and religious lost. What does “come back home” mean to them? Come back home to the Roman Catholic sacraments? Come back home to baptismal regeneration? Come back home to the “hold on tight because you might lose it” insecurity of an Assemblies of God gospel? Come back home to what? Most CCM musicians do not make the message clear because they do not have a strong understanding of Bible doctrine and because they do not want to cause doctrinal divisions.
Here’s another example of Don Francisco’s gospel. This one is from his song “Give Your Heart a Home.” “If you are tired and weary, weak and heavy laden/ I can understand how it feels to be alone/ I will take your burden/ If you let me love you/ Wrap my arms around you and give your heart a home.” Is that the Gospel? It is not the message that the Apostles preached.
CCM performer Dallas Holm was trained by Pentecostal evangelist Dave Wilkerson. Note the following feeling-oriented gospel message from the song “Love Has Come Over Me” (from the album Chain of Grace, 1992) --
“So won’t you make a fresh evaluation/ Think about your life, about your soul/ He can touch your heart and make you whole/ Then you will have a wonderful sensation/ When you decide to give Him everything/ Then you’ll join the holy celebration/ And lift your voice and begin to sing. Chorus: Because/ Love has come over me/ Captured my spirit/ Set my soul free/ Now I just can’t believe/ How different I am since/ Love has come over me.”
Is salvation deciding “to give Him everything”? Who is “Him”? There are many false christs and false gods in this world. Which one is Holm singing about? His fans won’t know from listening to this song. Is salvation a wonderful sensation? Not necessarily. Salvation is often a sensation of struggle and trial. The hazy message of “love coming over me” is too general to be of help to the young people who listen to CCM. In the context of the ecumenical confusion which surrounds Contemporary Christian Music and the New Age confusion which surrounds young people today, this message could mean almost anything. It could refer to a faithful Catholic attending Mass or a baptismal regenerationist at his baptismal service or a Laughing Revival proponent becoming “drunk in the spirit.” The ecumenical movement thrives on hazy doctrine like this.
Note the following “gospel” message by the Imperials:
“Friend, I know where you’re comin’ from/ Seems your life’s under the gun/ With no real chance of escape/ There is hope right outside your door/ It’s what you’ve been searchin’ for/ A love that will never fade/ So don’t you run away/ Don’t run away/ You can’t hide/ Gotta keep reachin’/ You must keep reachin’/ Gotta keep reachin’ for higher things” (“Higher Things,” The Imperials, 1988, Free the Fire album).
What does this song mean? It’s hard to tell. If it’s for the unsaved, it presents a false gospel, that salvation is obtained by a continual reaching for God. “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:8,9). If the song, on the other hand, is for the saved, it says our hope is “outside your door.” This is false. The Bible says “Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
Following is an eyewitness account of the message which was presented by the News Boys on their 1997 “Take Me to Your Leader Tour.” This tour was voted #1 by CCM Magazine.
“Then the music stopped and what was to be their gospel message began. The band member who spoke said to the effect, we should have a passion for our faith, that people should see we are different, we should be salty Christians, that we should tell our friends what Jesus did in our lives and how God has changed us. He told how salt preserves, and how we can help stop the spread of decay and corruption and how if we lose our saltiness we are good for nothing. ... In conclusion he said to those who didn’t know Jesus to ask those they came with or ask someone around them about what Jesus did in their lives and he said to the effect, before going back into their rock music, ‘I know you don’t want to hear anymore preaching’” (John Beardsley, “The Invasion Begins: A Review of the News Boys Take Me to Your Leader Tour,” The Christian Conscience, 1997).
That was the only message that was given. The young people were not told about their fallen condition. They were not warned of eternal Hell. They were not told the Gospel. They were not told how to be saved. We must recall, too, that the lyrics to the rock songs performed by the News Boys are vague and almost impossible to understand because of the riotous music. When these elements are combined (no Gospel preaching, vague lyrics, and deafening music), it is impossible to believe that large numbers of young people are being genuinely saved through this medium. Emotional decisions and experiences, vague faith in God, reformation, religious commitments, rebuilding of self esteem--none of these things add up to biblical salvation. Biblical salvation is a supernatural new birth, and it comes through faith in the Gospel.
Reviewing the News Boys Take Me to Your Leader concert, even the local secular newspaper noted the lack of clarity to the message: “Although most of the choruses are straightforward, THE VERSES ARE HARD TO FOLLOW, A FLAW THAT SERVES TO TRIVIALIZE THE BAND’S CHRISTIAN MESSAGE. ... Built on lyrics that leave too many holes to be filled, THE BAND’S MESSAGE GETS LOST SOMEWHERE IN THE ALTERNATIVE MUSIC” (Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, South Dakota, May 13, 1997).
The WOW 1998 CD contains 30 top CCM songs for the year, thus giving us a clear window into the world of Contemporary Christian Music. The CD jacket says, “This is music that can make an eternal difference,” yet there is no clear gospel presentation in the music and it is filled with unclear and false doctrine. How can it then make an eternal difference? Note the following examples, remembering that these are the most popular CCM songs today:
Out of Eden, in their song “More Than You Know,” sings: “There’s a way out of this world we’re livin’/ There’s only one who can make you feel secure/ He’s waiting just for you.” Is the Gospel about making sinners feel secure? Who is the person they are singing about? In what sense is “he” waiting for the sinner? No one could get saved through such an unclear gospel.
Rebecca St. James, in “Abba,” sings: “You make the road rise up to meet me/ Make the sun shine at my back/ The wind is at my back and the rain falls soft.” That is unclear and almost meaningless. Is this the gospel? Is this a description of the Christian life?
Jaci Velasquez, in her song “We Can Make a Difference,” sings: “We can make the world a better place/ We can make the sun shine through the rain.” What does this mean? Is this the type of message we find in the New Testament epistles?
Petra, in their song “We Need Jesus,” sings: “When will the world see that we need Jesus/ If we open our eyes we will all realize that he loves us/ When our hearts are as one and believe that he’s the son of our God/ When we share the love of Jesus/ See each other as He sees us/ Then his love will see us through.” What does this mean? It is difficult to tell. Are they singing about the world needing Jesus or Christians needing Jesus? Do they mean that when Christians are united the world will believe in Christ? The song is a murky mess, but then, it is good rock music and that is the main thing the Christian rock lover wants.
The message presented by dc Talk is frequently too hazy to be understood. Note the following example from “Mind’s Eye” --
“You know what I’m going through/ I know (that) it’s true/ Cause you’ve stood in my shoes/ Desire’s inside of me/ But, it’s hard to believe/ In what you cannot see/ Can you catch the wind? See a breeze? Its presence is revealed by/ The leaves on a tree/ An image of faith in the unseen/ In my mind’s eye/ I see your face/ You smile/ As you show me grace/ In my mind’s eye/ You take my hand/ We walk through foreign lands/ The foreign lands of life/ In my mind/ I’m where I belong/ As I rest in your arms/ And like a child I hold on to you/ In my moment of truth/ We can ride the storm/ Endure the pain/ You comfort me in my hurricane/ And I’ll never be alone again/ ... In my mind I can see your face/ Love pours down in a shower of grace/ Life is a gift that you choose to give/ And I believe that we eternally live/ Faith is the evidence of things unseen/ People tell me that you’re just a dream/ But they don’t know you the way that I do/ You’re the one I live to pursue” (“Mind’s Eye,” dc Talk).
Nothing is clear about this message. Who are they talking about? Jesus? They don’t say. It could just as easily be about Krishna or Buddha. The listener could easily fit any false god into this song. If the song is about Jesus, what Jesus? The true Jesus of the Bible or one of the myriad of false christs in the minds of those who hear dc Talk’s music? The song speaks of living eternally, but there is no clear Gospel message so that the hearer can know how to have eternal life.
It is obvious that a large percentage of “decisions” made in the context of Contemporary Christian Music are suspect because the message being presented is either unclear or overtly unscriptural.
SECOND, THE DECISIONS ARE SUSPECT BECAUSE OF THE ATMOSPHERE.
Not only are the CCM salvation statistics suspect because of the murky message, they are suspect because of the atmosphere created by the music itself. Powerful music can produce emotional decisions, but biblical salvation is not the product of an emotional decision. It is the product of Holy Spirit-wrought repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ through the preaching of the biblical Gospel. Note the following warnings from men who are very knowledgeable about music:
“The element of relentless beat in rock music increases THE DANGER OF A SHALLOW, EMOTIONAL, UNTHINKING RESPONSE, made at the wrong level and for the wrong reasons” (John Blanchard, Pop Goes the Gospel, p. 23)
“In loading our evangelistic programmes with manipulative music, are we not greatly increasing the RISKS OF PRODUCING ‘CONVERSIONS’ THAT ARE PSYCHOLOGICAL RATHER THAN SPIRITUAL? The set-up could not be more perfect. Impressionable young people can undoubtedly be so conditioned by the music that they are much more likely to accept whatever the preacher says. Add a good communicator and the chances are that he will produce an impressive number of ‘decisions.’ However, the danger is that these ‘decisions’ are the result of musical conditioning rather than spiritual conviction” (John Blanchard, Pop Goes the Gospel).
“One day I talked with a pastor who had been in charge of follow-up after a large city wide evangelistic campaign. Christian rock had been used prominently throughout the meetings. Several hundred young people had responded to the invitation at the close of the services. This is what he reported: ‘A few weeks after the meetings I had difficulty finding any who had signed decision cards. There were none in the churches, none attending Bible studies, NONE GOING ON WITH THE LORD AT ALL.’ He concluded that THE YOUNG PEOPLE WERE RESPONDING TO THE MUSIC MORE THAN TO THE MESSAGE” (Lowell Hart, Satan’s Music Exposed, p. 180).
“Here is the testimony of Phil, a young man who had been saved out of a rock band: ‘In 1973 I became a Christian after playing with rock bands and being in the music business for about seven years. … Some well-meaning Christians encouraged me to ‘use my talents for the Lord,’ so we formed a group to play what we considered to be the new Christian sound. It was nothing more than secular rock with Christian words. We thought that the type of music we played, the length of our hair and the way we dressed would more effectively reach these young people. We gave our testimonies with soft, slow music in the background. When we gave the invitation sometimes a hundred or more teenagers would come forward. Were these conversions genuine? We decided to begin a follow-up. WE WERE SHOCKED TO FIND THAT ALMOST EVERYONE WHO HAD GIVEN US AN ADDRESS HAD GONE BACK TO THEIR OLD WAYS. I CAN’T THINK OF ONE PERSON I COULD SHOW YOU TODAY AS FRUIT OF OUR MINISTRY. I REALIZE NOW THAT THEY WERE RESPONDING TO THE MUSIC, NOT TO THE HOLY SPIRIT’” (Phil Wilson, June 1978, quoted by Lowell Hart, Satan’s Music Exposed, pp. 180, 181).
THIRD, THE DECISIONS ARE SUSPECT BECAUSE OF THE MEDIUM.
A large percentage of CCM is so loud and raucous that the words are not clear. How can the Gospel be presented in its saving power if the very words are not plain! This exposes the hypocrisy of CCM defenders. They know that the message is frequently unclear, yet they claim that the message is what is important! If they would be honest, I believe they would be forced to admit that what is preeminent to them is their love of sensual music.
A man who attended an Audio Adrenaline/dc Talk concert in Rapid City, South Dakota, testified, “All the while the music was so loud if anyone could hear the words it wasn’t enough to get a message from; hence, the reaction was to the ‘rock’ beat not the words” (John Beardsley, “DC Talk Examined,” The Christian Conscience, June 1996).
Consider the following description of a Sheila Wash concert: “For some of us, however, communication ended when she sang because, more often than not, the band was too loud for us to catch the words” (Pop Goes the Gospel, p. 159).
While visiting in the Nashville, Tennessee, area (one of the headquarters of the commercial music industry in the United States) recently, I listened to WAYFM radio station, which advertises itself as “Christian Hit Radio.” They played a skit which made fun of using Bible terms to reach today’s generation, alleging that no one can understand terms such as “justification” or “sanctification” or “grace.” Instead, “Christian Hit Radio” claims to communicate plainly on a level people today can understand. Having heard that, I listened carefully to song after song to see what message they are presenting. Though I listened off and on for hours, not one song gave a clear Gospel message. There was not even a clear Bible message of any sort. In fact, the words to many of the songs were difficult to impossible to understand. I concluded that while it is true that they are not using difficult Bible terms, they also are not communicating a clear Bible message, so their boast is meaningless. This is true for CCM at large.
FOURTH, THE DECISIONS ARE SUSPECT BECAUSE OF THE FRUIT.
If Contemporary Christian Music is of God, the fruit will be genuine salvation, holiness, perseverance, sound doctrine, Christian discipleship. In a nutshell, the fruit will be obedience to the Bible.
“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3,4).
“They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16).
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
“And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:3).
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
“He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God” (John 8:47).
John Blanchard researched 13 missions agencies in Britain to see how many of their missions candidates were converted at Christian rock concerts. Not one was found. The following reply was typical: “I cannot call to mind anybody who has been converted through this type of youth evangelism and has subsequently gone to missionary service” (Pop Goes the Gospel, pp. 110-112).
Follow-up on decisions made at Christian rock concerts in Britain found that very few were genuine. For example, of 200 decisions recorded at one youth meeting, only four attended a follow-up session. Of the 100 students who made “decisions” in a school visited by a CCM performance, only one later showed even “a mild interest” in Christian things (Pop Goes the Gospel, p. 110).
The Devil has provided many alternatives to the new birth, and multitudes are confused by false professions of salvation. Note the Bible’s warnings:
(1) A person can believe in God and not be saved (James 2:19).
(2) A person can pray to Jesus and not be saved (Matt. 7:22-23).
(3) A person can prophesy in Jesus’ name and not be saved (Matt. 7:22-23).
(4) A person can do wonderful works in Jesus’ name and not be saved (Matt. 7:22-23).
(5) A person can have a zeal for God and not be saved (Rom. 10:2-3).
(6) A person can have a zeal to make proselytes for God and not be saved (Matt. 23:15).
(7) A person can be very interested in Jesus Christ and not be saved (Matt. 19:16-22).
(8) A person can profess to know God and not be saved (Titus 1:16).
(9) A person can follow and serve Christ and not be saved (John 6:70).
FIFTH, THE DECISIONS ARE SUSPECT BECAUSE OF THE SCANT EMPHASIS ON THE GOSPEL.
I have been investigating Contemporary Christian Music off and on for 25 years and intently for several months. I have listened to and read the lyrics to hundreds of songs, to many others, visited at least 300 web sites produced by CCM musicians and their fans, listened to CCM radio stations in various parts of the country, etc. There is some Gospel preaching done by CCM artists, but this is definitely not the main emphasis of the CCM world. In fact, evangelism comes across as a very low priority, generally speaking. Very low. Consider the songs themselves. Only a VERY tiny percentage of CCM songs present a clear Gospel. Consider the websites. The LARGE majority of websites produced by CCM artists or fans do not contain a Gospel message or a challenge to the unsaved. Most biographies or interviews of CCM artists do not contain a clear testimony of salvation or any challenge to the unsaved. As we have seen, it is common for CCM concerts NOT to give a clear Gospel message. There are exceptions, but we are speaking here of the overall picture.