Volume. XIX, No. 40
Sunday, 17 April 2005

From the pastors heart: False claim of CCM-Its neutrality (Part 1)

In July last year in Japan, I met Dr. David Innes, one of the leaders within fundamental churches in America. It was a good time of fellowship with him. I desired to know his thoughts about the future of Christian churches. I asked him what would be the most challenging threat to Christian churches in the coming years. His answer was short and very simple: music. We all have likes and dislikes of certain style/s of music. If his answer is correct, what are the problems of church music today? Hope Church uses only hymns during worship services, of which some newcomers feel somewhat uncomfortable. They feel that singing hymns is boring. Their spirit is not perked up towards God. All services seem to be dull and there is no spiritual taste. Some people even go further to say that our worship services are not spiritual enough. One of the frequent comments from them is that they cannot feel any spirituality through hymn singing. In fact, many of them are not familiar with hymns at all! When they hear that Hope Church does not promote Contemporary Christians Music (CCM), they are even shocked. They quickly make a conclusion that Hope Church is ancient and her pastor is a stubborn traditionalist (though they do not say it in my face, but I feel that way at times). Some are angry and get upset. They feel that Hope Church does not like new things and that she is behind the spirit of the age. Some people actually told me that the future of Hope Church would be bleak because she did not like changes in this rapidly changing world. Then, they showered me with questions. “Why don’t you like CCM?” “Why are you so judgmental and do not accept new and lively music ministry?” “Why don’t you see that CCM is available to reach out to the young people who are used to this sort of music style?” “How can music harm us?” “Can’t you see such and such churches and their music ministries?” “We know what is right and what is wrong. If music is that bad, we can handle it.” “How can you explain that the CCM musicians and Praise and Worship (P&W) leaders love the Lord, if their music is so bad?”

These are only a few examples of cries from those who love to use CCM as a part of their worship. All of them are real challenging questions. The difficulty to answer these questions can be easily noticed. For example, I do not believe that a drum set should be used for worship music. Some people have raised a question to me by saying, “why not?” Well, I may say, “I just don’t like to use it in worship.” Or, I may say, “When I hear the sound of a drum, I lose my calmness. There must be something in it.” Or I may say, “I heard drums being beat by witch doctors to cast evil spirits through the night in the deep bushes in the African continent. I saw a shaman woman beating her small drum deep in the mountains in pitch dark nights to get connected with spirits. I feel that a drum is not a good musical instrument that can influence us with positive effects. Therefore, I do not like it.” However, all these answers will be quite easily rebutted by those who are in favour of drums. They will dismiss all my answers in a word by saying, “you are too subjective.” They will say, “Why do you want to influence your people with your preferences or subjective and personal taste of music?” Thus, they will demand me to produce more Biblical proofs and evidence, by which they may be fully convinced. An awesome responsibility is before me. Who am I? Do I play any music? No. Have I studied any particular genre of music? No. Then, how can I justify my views on CCM and the use of certain instruments? Before I go further, I must sigh first and congratulate them for their smartness that has put me into a corner. Now, you can imagine that I have a giant before me, and all I have is five pebbles. Let me try to put each pebble into my sling shot and attempt to throw it to the walls of your doubts. There is one thing that I need to remind you. It will be a long and gruesome journey till I can lay my slingshots down beside me peacefully.

The opening remark has to be related to the nature of music. It is because those who are in favour of CCM have said that music is neutral and music itself does not have any influence on our mind. With this justification, they use rock music with Christian lyrics. They say that music will not hurt us as long as it has the right Christian lyrics. However, it is only the beginning of their wrong perception of music. Alf Gabrielsson said in his article, “Perceived emotion and felt emotion: Same or different?” in Biannual Journal Special Issue for Musicae Scientiae, 2001/2002, “A distinction is made between emotion perception, that is, to perceive emotional expression in music without necessarily being affected oneself, and emotion induction, that is, listeners’ emotional response to music.” In other words, music can induce certain types of emotions from its listeners. It is done purely apart from lyrics. Graham Cray said in Time to Listen, Time to Talk (Quoted in John Blanchard, Pop Goes the Gospel, Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 1991, 100), “In all pop music, lyrics are secondary. Pop is [the] music of feeling, spoken primarily to the body and only secondarily to the intellect.” Stuart Goldman, who himself is a rock musician, said, “Rock stands essentially for the liberation of emotion from the tyranny of reason” (“The Old Devil Music,” National Review, Feb. 24, 1989, 30). If music had been neutral, Hitler would not have used music to lead the crowd, and the Great Leader of North Korea threatening the whole world with nuclear arsenals has not used music to brain wash his people. If music is so neutral, then why expensive restaurants do not play rock music, but big shopping malls often play marching music?

Listen to what Damian A. Ritossal and Nikki S. Rickard from Monash University had to say about music in their article, “The relative utility of ‘pleasantness’ and ‘liking’ dimensions in predicting the emotions expressed by music,” Psychology of Music, vol. 32, no. 1, 2004, 6.

By and large, music is considered to be a potent stimulus for expressing and evoking emotions (Bruner, 1990; Storr, 1992). The value of music is evident in its widespread use in marketing (Alpert and Alpert, 1990; Areni and Kim, 1993), entertainment (Bruner, 1990; Seidman, 1981) and therapeutic applications (Bunt, 1997; Gfeller, 1990). It has been shown that the emotional characteristics of a piece of music contribute significantly to the capacity of music to influence behaviour (Alpert and Alpert, 1990; Areni and Kim, 1993; Bunt, 1997). There has been considerable interest, therefore, in describing the emotions expressed in music such that suitable pieces of music can be selected for the desired emotion.

Jefferson Airplane was a famous rock band in 1960s and 70s. The group has been quoted to have said that rock “is intended to broaden the generation gap [and] to alienate children from their parents” (Dan Peters and Steve Peters, Why Knock Rock? Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1984, 105). According to punk rock manager Malcom McLaren, rock ‘n’ roll is pagan, and its true meaning is “sex, subversion and style” (Calvin M. Johansson, Discipling Music Ministry, Hendrickson Publishers, 1992, 24). Rock music’s appeal is a “barbaric appeal to sexual desire” (Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987, 73). During his address at Harvard University graduation in 1978, Alexander Solzhenitsyn said, “The human soul longs for things higher, warmer and purer than those offered by today’s intolerable music.” Who will say that music is neutral? This sensual music has conquered many churches and their congregations. Shall we laugh or cry over Christian rock concerts?

Lovingly, Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



Shorter Catechism Question 98: What is prayer? Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgement of his mercies.

Please pray for God’s healing for Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Clements; Bros Sung Sub Chung, John Tann & Kevin Tye; Sisters Myung Ki, Michiko Law, Luan Price, Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Varadi, Melissa Wong & Angie Yuen.“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).

Please pray for - Journey Mercies - Ps Ki (S’pore/Cambodia), Bro Joseph Selvanayagam (UK) & Bro You Wen Yiep (Adl); Cambodia Missions: God’s guidance and protection for Ps Ki; Rev & Mrs Stephen Choi and ministry in Phnom Penh & Kandal Province; Rev & Mrs Moses Hahn & ministry, & Preacher Chang & ministry in Sihanoukville; FEBC Khmer Bible Students (S’pore); Bro Hai Seng Lim - Sketch & Tell ministry in Singapore & Thailand; Bro Surish Dharmalingam and his ministry in Laos; Provision of job for Bro Simon Yeo; & Expectant mothers - Sisters Sherrin, Michiko, and Katie.

Praise and thank God for - Blessed YAF & NBS meetings; Journey mercies granted to Dn David Yeo (S’pore-Adl), Mdm Winifred Chin (KL/London), Sis Su Sim Toh (Syd), Bros Bob Chen (Syd), & You Wen Yiep (Melb), and all others who have travelled recently.

English & Chinese RPGs (April-June) available on the literature table. Donation: $1 per copy.

Bible Witness for Jan-Feb 2005 now available. Please help yourself to a copy.

YAF Event - 29 April: Special appreciation Dinner/BBQ at the Stone Mansion for drivers.

Looking Ahead: Church’s 19th Anniversary Service on 1 May. Speaker: Rev John McKenzie. Please invite your family and friends to praise God with us. Invites on the literature table.



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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041