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Bible Questions with Michael Pearl
Episode 031: Is Contemporary Christian Music Godly music or Satan's music?

By Michael Pearl

Episode Transcription:

Michael Pearl:  Mike Pearl here again to try to answer your Bible questions. Jared behind the camera. You've emailed in these questions, and I haven't gotten a chance to see them before this morning. So Jared's going to read them off, and we're going to see what we can find for you in the Word of God. What do you got, Jared?
Jared:  There seems to be a lot of debate among professing Christians, to whether or not contemporary Christian music is godly music or Satan's music. What does the Bible say about this?

Michael: Well, [laughter], before I go into what the Bible says, just the other day I was reading the news, and I came across an article. I wish I had had time to get some of this information together for you. But I'll just tell you what I read anyway.

It was an article by some scientists who had done research into music. Now, they were secular scientists. Their conclusions were that music is based on speech; that the expressions of music, whether it expressed sadness, or joy, or drama, or pain, or whether it was weepy, or laughing, or dancing, or exhilarated, or marching, and dynamic, warlike, or the old college football sound.

The music was based on the cadence and emotion of speech. When we are in a saddened state, and we're talking about things that are just really sad, our voice sort of trails off at the end and breaks.

But if we're talking about exciting things, then our voice gets loud, and we're just, "Jingle bells! Jingle bells!" You know? [Laughter] It's high pitched, it's excited. "Oh! Did you know what I saw?!"

I looked at that, compared that to the different songs we sing, in church, like, "I'm a poor wayfaring stranger, just wandering through this world of sin." Do you hear how sad that is, [laughter] , how weepy that is, the poor stranger? The music is totally appropriate to what we're singing.

If we sang a song like, "Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms. I'm leaning, leaning." That's got a militant, confident, aggressive, certain sound to it. There's nothing sad about it.

I remember when we had a ministry one time, next door there was a nightclub, and there were concrete block walls separating us. [Laughter] And they had this song for about three years, we heard it four or five times every night. And it was, "Why did you leave me Lucille, with four hungry children and a crop in the field?" [Laughter]

See how humble I am, singing on the camera. [Laughter] And so, can you imagine singing something positive to a tune like that?

Take blues music. Blues music always has the feeling of an underground room somewhere. Dark, very dark, cigarette smoke. And scantily dressed people, half drunk, sad, leaning over their tables, two o'clock in the morning. [Laughter] And if you took the words out of blues and just play the music, that's the feeling it's got.

Whereas if you take the music, say the music on "Sound of Music." Take that music and try to put the blues words to it, or rock music words to it. See how inappropriate it would be.

The tempo, the beat, the rhythm, the pitch, and the way the notes relate one to the other, the way they rise, or fall, or whether there's augmented sounds, or what's the other? The minor keys. All of that creates a mood and communicates a message, the music in itself. Good music is when the melody and the way the music is constructed, and the words, are the same. They communicate the same message and that way, the sound enforces the words.

So, there is a place, I think, for all forms of music and all expressions of music that are possible. There's a place for it. For instance, if you were making a movie about Christ's life, and in that movie you wanted to depict the soldiers and their violence, then a few scores of rock music, or even something like rap, which is so obnoxious.

Rap music is the music of the street corner, of gangs, of violence, of rape. It's a bloody music without joy, without peace. You just have to listen to rap music and see that's the content of it. So it's the exact appropriate beat for a gang member who's into violence and rape.

So if you take rap beats and rap music, and try to put Christian words to it, you're in total conflict. You're saying one thing with the music and another thing with the words. You take a heavier rock music and try to put Christian words to it, then you're communicating, a bunch of kids, 10,000 of them, out in a field, high on drugs, half naked, carrying on with a lot of nonsense.

You've got one kind of beat and one kind of music and another kind of words, and the two don't go together. You're communicating two different messages, two different times.

I say, if we're going to worship God and the beauty of holiness, if we're going to exalt Him and praise Him, if we're going to take our spirits into heavenly places, then we're going to have to have music that takes us into heavenly places. That's going to have to be the best, highest quality music.

With four part harmony, the stuff that Bach and Beethoven, and the music that was written in the 1800's by the Scottish and the Irish and by the churches and some of the German music, the music was at its highlight, and was at its most complex.

So, one final thing, scripturally. I was in a foreign country one time and there was a church there. A Jewish man who was ministering to Spanish speaking people, it was a charismatic church. And in their worship service they used a background praise sound that had four notes to it. It was the basic major chord notes.

He said that he taught his church to never use minors in the worship of God like that, because in the Old Testament, it said praise God on the trumpet. He said the trumpet they used did not have the notes, making half notes and augmented notes and minor notes. But the trumpet they used was as the straight trumpet, like the bugle, or a piece of horn that was constructed, or a goat horn, you know?

With that, you could only make the major sounds, and so it was beautiful what they did. From a scriptural standpoint he felt confident that the major sounds was the sound for worshiping God, not the minor, saddened sounds that you'd find in country music where somebody's blubbering in their booze.

Most gospel music today is pretty sick. I listen to it on the radio once in a while and about one out of five songs is decent, on the best of stations. The rest of it is pretty low class and pretty pitiful. So that's my personal view, and I think it's somewhat based on science.

Finally, I'll say this: if the spirit of God leads you, and the spirit of God reaches out and grabs people's hearts with the music and creates holiness in them, and joy, and elevates them to heavenly places, then that's God's music.
If it doesn't, if it leads people with a sexual passion, or a sense of violence, or a sense of sadness, or anything other than the highest forms of praise, then I have no place for it in my life.

Announcer:  If you would like to ask a Bible question, email us at [email protected] or call at 931‑805‑4820.

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7 comments on “Is Contemporary Christian Music Godly music or Satan's music?”

  1. My husband & I both love godly music, that being good, inspiring, Biblical lyric- music/songs. We like a good amount of variety. We like music from
    Mars Hill Church bands (creative re-made versions of good old hymn songs) ex-,
    very calm musicians like Gungor ex-
    Some general similar style music by well-known bands like, Kari Jobe, Toby Mac, Mercy Me etc.
    And then there's the dramatic stuff. At first I didn't like it bc. I couldn't understand some of the lyrics, but now I do and it's very inspiring, because the words are very deep and this man has helped so much youth and previous gangsters etc. come to God. His whole life and way of life is a huge testimony, anyway, here's one of our many favorite songs by him.
    Basically all of these are different yet very inspiring for us. However what you say is definitely not supportive of some of the music we listen to. I haven't yet found verses that really support or don't support any type of music and wanted to know. Does the Bible say anything about music being godly or not godly? Is it considered good if it brings fruit and brings people to repentance?
    I want to know these things so that my kids and family (as they get older) that we are a good example to them in every way, including one thing we all love- Music.
    Thank you!

  2. Ill hafta disagree on this one.
    See a G note is a G note, whether being played in a club or a church. the music in itself has no mind. It music.
    For the Christian music fan we can run three classifications of music.
    1. Praise: to praise is to tell God thank you for the stuff youve done for me, for making stuff pretty etc.
    2. Worship: Is telling God who he is. How great and mighty he is.
    3. Class/Lesson: songs about a lesson or event in the bible
    So now we come to delivery. Some folks have been up in arms about thinking the music of the 50's church is the only way to do it. The gospel has NO standard soundtrack. Music in the 12th century didnt sound like it did in the 50's did it? So why would you think anything different is evil?
    So, we see that genre makes NO difference. Punk, Country, Rock, Metal, Techno, Trance, Thrash, all personal preference. Its all delivery methods of the same Gospel appealing to differnt types of folks.
    I dont like Screamo but if the lyrics are theologically correct its fine by me. I just wont listen to it and I wont start a smear campaign about how evil it is. (lol)
    Some folks think once saved they have to listen to Hillsong type music all the time. Thats like saying once saved you gotta wear kaki pants and polo shirts all the time too!
    I personally dont like the local radio music or top 40 Christian. To me it all sounds like one long U2 album. (Over delayed guitar, strong bass line, keys....) But i dont tell others not to listen. I dont chide the bands for doing what they do.
    My wife loves top 40 but i dont smear it or pronounce it evil.
    In essence it comes to the reality of the lyrics. Praise, Worship or Class/Lesson.

  3. Thank you for this excellent treatment of godly music types. I appreciate your examples of the trumpet and how you allowed that certain scenarios fit certain music types, but they shouldn't be mixed with worship.

  4. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, "'The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'"
    I am a young church musician, and I listen to and play a lot of worship music by a band named Kutless. Now, the style of Kutless' music may be seen as too harsh, rockish, or even "ungodly" by some, and this is absolute hogwash. For one, musical tastes are entirely subjective personal preference on a human level, and subjective, human personal preference has no place in telling what others should or should not do in religion or in life as a whole. Just because YOU don't like the style of worship music doesn't mean that God also doesn't like it. Beyond that, style is the outward appearance of a song. The lyrics, message, and intention are the heart of a song. 1 Samuel 16:7 makes it blatantly clear that God has no concern for the style of worship music so long as the lyrics, message, and intent are to glorify and praise God. The fact that a song is in a minor key or in Drop D does not override the fact that the song's lyrics are based in scripture and that the musicians and those listening to the music are worshiping the Lord with all their hearts.

  5. Thanks for this talk on music. We so agree with you, even though in the past we were more open to different types of music. I think your point about the sad tones of the minor chords was also good. What category would you say the classic Hebrew music was in? I often think it has both the sad and the triumphant in it (we are not Torah Christians - just like the music). 🙂 Thanks for all the posts you do. We am new to your ministry and appreciate it very much!

  6. I agree, and most of it is not even good music, not well put together or even well played, very sad and pitiful. I like some of the Christian spoken poetry, they speak with the tempo of a good passage of Shakespeare. Many "Country" singers like Dolly Parton and such sing good Christian music on occasion, likewise people brought up in the church who becomes singers like Aretha Franklin, but they are good because they are genuinely skilled. I don't like much in the genre of "Christian Rock' because like they said on King f the Hill " It's not very Christian, and it sucks as rock", it is the worst of both.

  7. This was all quite interesting, thanks. I noticed the question at the beginning was \"what does the Bible say..?\" So I persevered to the end of the article, to hear what Scripture would be referenced. Did I miss something? I didn\'t find anything from the word of God. But it was interesting to hear what the scientists say.

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