12 Stones, Amy Grant, Campus Mirror, CCM, contemporary Christian music, creativity, Creed, Jeremy Camp, Lagos Varsity Christian Union, Larry Norman, Lecrae, LPG, LVCU, metal music, Michael W. Smith, music, ozzfest, P.O.D., Petra, rap music, Rock music, Scott Stapp, Tolu Awobusuyi, Tonex
By Tolu Awobusuyi
Until recently, the general ideology was that Christian music was strictly ‘worship’-oriented; Halleluyah-chorusing music that only edified the souls of Christians worldwide. But in the last four decades, Christian music has grown to include various forms of music (rock, metal, rap, reggae; name it! It has a Christian alternative). And in defiance of the stereotypes set down by the previous generations, these emerging music ministers have branched into all sorts of music, spreading the Gospel as they say they are. But tell me; is this good news or what?
Artists like Lecrae (rap), Petra (metal) and Jeremy Camp (rock) believe they are to proselytize using the Gospel of Jesus Christ through all forms of music, arguing that we are in a world full of changes, and if we keep preaching the old-fashioned way, no one would be open to the Gospel. They also say that all music is from God, and so the devil should not be allowed to use God’s gifts as his sole property (see Why should the Devil have all the Good music? by Larry Norman).
But artists like Creed (rock/metal), 12 Stones (rock) and LPG (rap), say they are simply artists who coincidentally happen to be Christians. They argue that as Christians, they should be allowed a degree of freedom in their expressions, though a lot of their songs tend to be centred on their faith. Says Scott Stapp, front man of bestselling band, Creed: “I’m a Christian. If my music doesn’t turn out to be evangelistic, deal with it”.
They also argue that there are other life issues that need to be addressed through music, though they are not necessarily Christian in nature (see Underoath).
But the two sides of the camp have not been fully accepted by the conservative Christian populace. Many Christians believe music like rock and rap are devilish, and for good reasons. The genres of music the new “ministers” use have been noted for their violent, sensual, anti-Christian nature through the years, especially rock and metal. They believe, rightly at that, that we should be separated from the world in all appearances. They point out that the new forms of Christian music have become money-oriented, not gospel-oriented as they should be, and that the artists have begun to behave like their secular counterparts: immorality is becoming rampant (see Tonex, the Christian rap love triangle), the music is becoming more important than the Gospel, the artists cannot be differentiated from their secular counterparts in dressing (see P.O.D.). Some even go as far as to point out cases of Christian musicians releasing secular albums (see Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant). Some also point out Christian acts who have actually supported secular festivals of immorality, anti-Christian sentiments and open Satanism (Ozzfest had P.O.D. and Chevelle make appearances)
The secular market has been less supportive of the whole affair, calling it “crappy rip-offs”, “wannabe rock stars” and the like. With good point, I’m ashamed to admit. Most of it actually sounds banal, drab and half-baked. The albums of most top Christian artistes would not pass for underground secular artistes because the overall production quality is at best sloppy. And there is a general turn-off because of the message- the Gospel.
Now, I’m not forcing Christian music down anyone’s throat, but if we are Christians, I do not see why the world should be laughing. Sure they would mock us for our beliefs and all that, but that doesn’t mean we should give them good course. Joseph, Jesus’ father, was apparently an excellent carpenter, which was why Jesus could have been described as the carpenter’s son. Sure, we should never relent in our mission to spread the Gospel, but that does not mean we should not put our lives into it. I can’t say if the whole CCM thing is right, but no matter what, Christians should realize it is time to rise. It is time to get creative and be the light to the world. And as I come to this conclusion, I pray God gives us the grace and that we tap into our rights as God’s children so we can lead in ALL things.
This piece was originally published in the 2010 Edition of Campus Mirror, an annual magazine of the Lagos Varsity Christian Union, University of Lagos, Nigeria and has been slightly modified. Tolu Awobusuyi studies Chemical Engineering at the University of Lagos.