May 5, 2017

Modern Psalms (Psalms part 8)

I have a confession to make: I did not grow up in a churchgoing family, nor did I become grounded and well-versed in scripture until over a decade after I was saved. It was at this time, about 2010, that I finally began to listen to contemporary Christian music - bands like Third Day, Tenth Avenue North, The Newsboys, and others.

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I was surprised to catch phrases from hymns found in the Baptist Hymnal peppered through many of the songs I would hear on Christian radio (I had, by that time, spent a good number of years attending a small country church and singing exclusively from the Baptist Hymnal during services). It wasn’t until I began really immersing myself in scripture that I discovered the link between these two vastly different styles of music was actually (drum roll….) the Bible. It seems terribly obvious now, but at the time, it was a revelation which really helped me connect to what I was reading in God’s word.

Much of today’s popular Christian music contains ideas, phrases, and even whole verses from the Bible. The same has of course been true of all past styles of Christian music, but there has never been a time in history when so many different styles of music have been so readily available to so many people. The result? There is more opportunity for Christians to reach out to the world through music than ever before.

Let’s face it: your grandparents’ music was lame, right? There are very few young people who enjoy and connect with music from the past, especially music from a hundred or more years ago (when so many of our traditional hymns were written). This is why it is so vitally important for contemporary Christian musicians to continue to write new songs which will forge strong emotional and cognitive connections between new listeners (especially young listeners) and God’s Word. As people mature, they may learn to appreciate music from past generations, but ideas and concepts which impact human beings during childhood will stay with them for a lifetime.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
~Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)

There has been a lot of controversy in recent decades over “worldly-sounding” Christian music. The fear is that music which sounds like that of the unbelieving world will serve as a gateway to apostasy for our children. As a parent myself, I understand the great concern for your child’s well-being, both physically and spiritually. As the holder of multiple degrees in music, I can also assure you that any worries over what the music sounds like are quite unnecessary. Yes, music does open a doorway into our hearts through strong emotional connections, but it is through the words of a song that ideas are transmitted to the mind, and that is a vital distinction.

Without a doubt, your child will be exposed to music which conveys non-Christian, even anti-Christian ideas. There is no avoiding this, and as most parents have probably discovered, forbidding a thing or an activity can often result in making it that much more desirable to our kids. Rather than lamenting the “worldly” sound of new Christian music, we should be exceedingly thankful that God has provided music which will communicate His message to our kids in a way which will appeal to their contemporary sense of style.

Sing unto him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise.
~Psalm 33:3 (KJV)

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