Volume. XIX, No. 41
Sunday, 24 April 2005

From the pastors heart: False claim of CCM-Its neutrality (part 2)

As we have seen last week, CCM leaders have tried to impress on the hearts of believers that music itself is neutral, which basically means music being amoral. However, we found that music is neither amoral nor neutral. Martha Bayles says in Hole in Our Soul (Tim Fisher, Harmony at Home, Greenville, SC: Sacred Music Services, Inc., 1999, 83), “So many people seem intent upon ignoring the fact that the West is the only civilization to have created a form of art [rock music] whose sole purpose is to attack morality.” Listen what Mick Jagger had to say about his rock music, “You can feel the adrenalin flowing through your body. It’s sort of sexual. I entice my audience. What I do is very much the same as a girl’s striptease dance” on July 17, 1975 (Ibid.). How much more should I quote from the very lips of rockers themselves? Richard Oldham, manager of the Rolling Stones, said, in Rolling Stone, on January 7, 1971, “Rock music is sex and you have to hit them [teenagers] in the face with it.” David Noebel said in The Legacy of John Lennon, “rock ‘n’ roll is musical pornography.” Again and again we can find such quotes from the books penned by concerned Christian musicians and Bible scholars. We must lament over such rotten music that has degraded and degenerated the minds of Christians. However, rock music has crept into churches. Sometimes, I can hear such rotten music from the cars that the Hopefuls are driving. Amazing fact is that Christians are going after such concerts. We must turn our Scriptures to Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” There are many arguments to defend Christian rock and CCM. I’ll explain their problems point by point in the near future.

The following is the abstract of R.J. Watt and R.L. Ash’s article for Biannual Journal, Vol. 2, no. 1, Spring 1998, “A psychological investigation of meaning in music,” in Musicae Scientiae (The Journal of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music):

Music has a strong effect on people's mental state and behaviour. This effect can be at a simple motor level, or it can be at a more complex level of arbitrary association or it can be at a much more complex cognitive and representational level. This latter case is of specific interest because it implies that, to some degree, music can be said to have a content that is not musical. Thus, when music is taken to depict a rough sea, then something in the music causes that: the music contains something that is being taken to signify roughness-of-sea. The existence of a large, natural yet arbitrary vocabulary (as is demonstrably the case for language) to relate musical expressions to non-musical events/objects seems implausible. In this paper, the possibility is explored that the vocabulary of musical expression concerns psychological aspects of people. Thus music, it is hypothesised, can express male/female-ness and good/evil-ness and happy/sad-ness and so on. Data obtained in a novel paradigm designed to test this hypothesis are described. Substantial support for the hypothesis is found: the implications of this are discussed.

By reading this, some of us may think that the influence of music is just a theory which is still being tested. Vladimir J. Konecni said in his article, “Social Interaction and Musical Preference,” in The Psychology of Music, edited by Diana Deutsch, Academic Press, 1982, 508:

However, to the extent that music may affect moods and emotions (a point that everyone readily agrees with) and given the social context in which music is so often appreciated, it would be very surprising if people’s exposure to aesthetic stimuli, including music, would not have quite considerable effects on their social behaviour. Paradoxically, this would also suggest that perhaps some of the most important effects of music . . . may be quite transient in that they are primarily mediated by emotional changes that ordinarily dissipate quite quickly. . . . Does listening to melodies varying in complexity differentially affect the amount of subsequent aggressive behaviour? If so, does the effect of the melodies presented play a part in determining the amount of aggression that ensures? . . . . It would thus seem that there is at least some tendency for the arousing complex melodies when they are played at a very high listening level to incline the subject toward aggression. One could well imagine a situation in which people aroused by loud complex music would tend to overreact to relatively slight additional provocations that would ordinarily be brushed aside. . . . As predicted, angry people who had been exposed to loud complex melodies displayed the greatest amount of aggression in the experiment, significantly more than the angry subjects who had heard no melodies.

What I am trying to show is that music is neither neutral nor amoral. It has great amount of influence on our minds. Regardless of lyrics, music itself has its own dominance in the minds of people. Thus, types of music we listen affect our behaviour and furthermore our spirituality. Dr. Howard Hanson said in American Journal of Psychiatry, “Music can be soothing or invigorating, ennobling or vulgarizing, philosophical or orgiastic. It has powers for evil as well as for good.” Worldly music appeals to flesh and fleshly senses. Flesh is sinful, and senses are not reliable. CCM appeals to our senses. Anaxagoras (ca. 499-428 BC) said, “Through the weakness of our sense perceptions we cannot judge the truth.” Boethius, the leading music theorist of the Middle Ages and a strong follower of Pythagoras, wrote in De Institutione Musicae, “For what need is there of speaking further concerning the error of the senses when this same faculty of sensing is neither equal in all men, nor at all times equal within the same man? Therefore anyone vainly puts his trust in a changing judgment since he aspires to see the truth” (Diana Deutsch ed., The Psychology of Music, 1982, xiii). Gordon H. Clark aptly said, “Believing is an intellectual process; emotion believes nothing” (Ephesians, Trinity Foundation, 1985, 121).

By now we must be able to evaluate the following statement known as “Christian Rocker’s Creed”: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all music was created equal-that no instrument or style of music is in itself evil-that the diversity of musical expression which flows forth from man is but one evidence of the boundless creativity of our Heavenly Father” (Contemporary Christian Music, November 1988, 12). Examine the following statement made by Rick Warren, “Music is nothing more than an arrangement of notes and rhythms; it’s the words that make a song spiritual. There is no such thing as ‘Christian music,’ only Christian lyrics. If I were to play a tune for you without words, you wouldn’t know if it was a Christian song or not” (Purpose Driven Church, 281). Notes and chords themselves may be neutral; however, music style is not amoral. Music influences our minds.

Lovingly, Your pastor

More Lively Hope



Shorter Catechism Question 99: What rule hath God given for our direction in prayer? The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer; but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer which Christ taught his disciples, commonly called The Lord’s Prayer.

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 & Anna Wong, & Angie Yuen. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;” (Hebrews 12:2a).

Please pray for - Journey Mercies: Ps Ki (Cambodia/Adl), Rev George van Buuren (Qld) & others travelling during the school vacation; Cambodia Missions: God’s provision & care for Ps Ki; Rev & Mrs David Koo & family and ministry in Sihanoukville; Khmer pastors in the village churches; FEBC Khmer Students preparing for semester exams (S’pore); Bro Hai Seng Lim - ministry in S’pore & Thailand; New location for Faith Presbyterian Church-Perth; Bro Surish Dharmalingam and his ministry in Laos; Provision of job for Bro Simon Yeo; & Expectant mothers - Sisters Michiko, and Katie.

Praise and thank God for - Blessed YAF on Friday night; Journey mercies granted to Ps Ki (S’pore/Cambodia), Bro Joseph Selvanayagam (UK), Bro Peter & Sis Mary Ting & family, Bro Simon & Sis Demelza Ting & family (Malaysia), Bros You Wen Yiep & Simon Yeo, & Sis Su Sim Toh (Adl), and all others who have travelled recently.

Congratulations & God’s blessing to Sis Sherrin Balnaves (nee Law) on the birth of her second son, Frazier, and also to grandparents, Dn Tony & Sis Sally Law.

Special Warm Welcome to Rev James White, the Lord’s messenger today.

Hope Church’s 19th Anniversary Thanksgiving Service Next Lord’s Day. Speaker: Rev John McKenzie. Please invite your family and friends to praise God with us. Invites available on the literature table.



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