If Music Is Neutral?

April 23, 2008

If music is neutral?


“We must be willing to adjust our worship practices when unbelievers are present. God tells us to be sensitive to the hang ups of unbelievers in our services.”
(Rick Warren, quoted in “Church Growth Gone Mad,” By Clay Miller, Associate Pastor, Outreach Ministries, Grace Community Church)

There’s no such thing as Christian music. There are just Christian lyrics. To insist that all good music came from Europe 200 years ago; there’s a name for that – racism.”
(Rick Warren, SuperConference 2003, at Liberty University)

“Saddleback is unapologetically a contemporary music church. We’ve often been referred to in the press as “The flock that likes to rock.” We use the style of music the majority of people in our church listen to on the radio. Years ago, after being frustrated trying to please everyone I decided to survey our church. I passed out 3 x 5 cards to everyone in the Crowd service and asked them to write down the Call Letters of the radio station they listened to…What we discovered was that 96% of our people said they listened to middle-of-the-road adult contemporary music.”
(Rick Warren, Selecting Worship Music, July 29, 2002)

“I will admit that we have lost hundreds of potential members because of the style of music Saddleback uses. On the other hand, we have attracted thousands more because of our music.”
(Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Church, p. 285)

“If you were to tell me the kind of music you are currently using in your services I could easily describe the kind of people you are reaching, without even visiting your church. I could also tell you the kind of people your church will never be able to reach.”
(Rick Warren, Selecting Worship Music, July 29, 2002)

Well we all know that Rick Warren is a master at appealing to peoples flesh.
Thats why Rick asked unsaved people how to build his church instead of seeking how to build a church according to the scriptures.
Is music neutral?
Is it just the lyrics that matter.
Anyone listening to some of the new heavy metal music/death metal (whatever they are calling it these days) inspires aggressive behavior.
Lyrics are what define a song?
Can you even tell whats being said in some of the songs played by some of the heavy metal bands?
And its the musicial intro that is sans of lyrical content that sets the pace or groove for how you act.
(Head for your honey or the mosh pit)
Remember Walk This Way by Aerosmith?

Rick Warren is wrong on all counts.
Again people speaking about what they dont have any working knowledge of.
Like music, The Bible etc..
Here is a article sent to me from a mate in New Zealand.


The foundational philosophy for both Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) and Contemporary Christian Worship (CCW) is the idea that music is neutral or amoral and that any style of music can be used in the service of a holy God. Consider the following examples:

A representative of Contemporary Christian Praise music: “…we need to stop advocating one music style over against another. Our tradition, our style, our renderings have to do with ourselves, not with God.” –Anthony Gentes, The Worship Thought, July 2003.

A representative of Contemporary Christian Music: “There is no such thing as ‘gospel music.’ Every style and form of music can become gospel, whether it’s jazz, pop, rock ‘n’ roll, or rap.” –Don Butler, Gospel Music Association

A representative of contemporary Southern Gospel:
“God speaks through all different kinds of musical styles” –Bill Gaither

I have some questions to ask about this philosophy:

If all musical styles are neutral, WHY IS IT THAT THE MOVIE “TEXT PAINTER” CAN USE DIFFERENT STYLES OF MUSIC TO CREATE DIFFERENT EMOTIONS? This can be illustrated by the old silent movies. There were no words to the movies except the text shown on the screen, but the musicians (sometimes alone pianist or organist; sometimes an orchestra) could create feelings of fear, haste, happiness, sorrow, romance, anger, indignation, tension, uncertainty, merely by changing the style of music. If there was a scene with the bad guy slowing sneaking up on the unsuspecting, sleeping heroine, the music would be tense and gloomy. If upbeat classical or peppy march music were put to that type of scene, the movie would be like a comedy, because the acting would be saying one thing and the music would be saying something different. The movie text painter can create different emotions with different styles of music, because music is not neutral.

If all musical styles are neutral, WHY CAN AN ORCHESTRA CREATE DIFFERENT FEELINGS BY CHANGING THE STYLE OF THE MUSIC? Orchestral music ordinarily doesn’t have words; it is strictly music; but anyone who knows the power of music can testify that each style of music played by the orchestra creates different feelings and thoughts in the listeners. Put a different way, if all musical styles are neutral, why does a military march never sound like a romance ballad or a baby lullaby sound like a punk rock concert? The reason is that music is not neutral; music is a language.

If all musical styles are neutral, WHY DO TAVERNS AND NIGHT CLUBS ALWAYS PLAY A CERTAIN KIND OF MUSIC? This is the case, because music is not neutral, and taverns and bars play a kind of music that fits the lifestyle of that setting. Music is a language.

If all musical styles are neutral, WHY DID THE OLD BLUESMEN BELIEVE THAT CERTAIN KINDS OF RHYTHMS CAUSED WOMEN TO BE MORALLY LOOSE? For example, Professor Longhair’s boogie-woogie piano music is said to have caused women to “jump and wriggle” in a lascivious manner. Robert Johnson, one of the pioneering bluesmen who died young because of his womanizing, said of his blues rhythms: “This sound affected most women in a way that I could never understand.” B.B. King, one of the biggest living names in the blues, said in his autobiography, “The women reacted with their bodies flowing to a rhythm coming out of my guitar” Those are powerful statements about the effect of a specific kind of music and rhythm. Were the bluesmen confused about their music? No, music is not neutral; music is a language.

If all musical styles are neutral, WHY DO ROCK MUSICIANS CLAIM THAT THEIR HEAVILY SYNCOPATED RHYTHM IS SEXY? Following are just a few of the many quotes we could give along these lines.

“Rock music is sex. The big beat matches the body’s rhythms” (Frank Zappa of the Mothers of Invention, Life, June 28, 1968).

“That’s what rock is all about–sex with a 100 megaton bomb, the beat!” (Gene Simmons of the rock group Kiss, interview, Entertainment Tonight, ABC, Dec. 10, 1987).

“Rock ‘n’ roll is 99% sex” (John Oates of the rock duo Hall & Oates, Circus, Jan. 31, 1976).

“Rock ‘n’ roll is pagan and primitive, and very jungle, and that’s how it should be!” (Malcolm McLaren, punk rock manager, Rock, August 1983).

“The great strength of rock ‘n’ roll lies in its beat … it is a music which is basically sexual, un-Puritan … and a threat to established patterns and values” (Irwin Silber, Marxist, Sing Out, May 1965).

“Rock and roll aims for liberation and transcendence, EROTICIZING THE SPIRITUAL AND SPIRITUALIZING THE EROTIC, because that is its ecumenical birthright” (Robert Palmer, Rock & Roll an Unruly History).

“Rock and roll is fun, it’s full of energy …It’s naughty” (Tina Turner, cited in Rock Facts, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum).

“Rock and roll was something that’s hardcore, rough and wild and sweaty and wet and just loose” (Patti Labelle, cited in Rock Facts, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum).

Rapper Missy Elliot’s 3rd album, “Miss E … So Addictive,” is described as “a seductive cocktail of quirky rhythms and hypnotic beats.”

The blues music (predecessor to rock and roll) that was played in Gayoso brothels in Memphis, Tennessee, in the early part of the 20th century is described as “sexually syncopated sounds” (Larry Nager, Memphis Beat: The lives and Times of America’s Musical Crossroads).

Why do these secular rock lovers describe the heavily syncopated rock rhythms as sexy, primitive, seductive, rough, hardcore, loose, wild, and hypnotic? What do they know, or what are they admitting, that the Contemporary Christian Music crowd denies? They are admitting that music is not neutral and that the heavy backbeat of rock & roll is sensual. Music is a language.

If all musical styles are neutral, WHY DOES ONE OF THE FOREMOST EXPERTS IN DRUMMING CLAIM THAT CERTAIN RHYTHMS CAN ALTER THE STATE OF ONE’S CONSCIOUSNESS? Mickey Hart, drummer for the Grateful Dead, has traveled the world researching the power of drums. In his book Drumming at the Edge of Magic he observes: “Everywhere you look on the planet people are USING DRUMS TO ALTER CONSCIOUSNESS. S I’ve discovered, along with many others, the extraordinary power of music, particularly percussion, to influence the human mind and body. . . . There have been many times when I’ve felt as if the drum has carried me to an open door into another world.” Why does he say this? Because he knows that music is not neutral, that certain music and certain rhythms produce certain results, that music is a language.

If all musical styles are neutral, WHY WOULD A VOODOO PRIESTESS SAY THAT HER GODS RESPOND TO CERTAIN RHYTHMS? Consider this quote carefully: “The rhythm is more important than the meaning of the words. Our gods respond to rhythm above all else” (a Macumba priestess in Brazil, quoted in African Rhythm & Sensibility). The voodoo priestess says that because she knows that music is a language and that certain rhythms interact with the spirit world.

OWN MESSAGE” (Leary, Politics of Ecstasy). Leary said that because he knew that music is a language.

If all musical styles are neutral, WHY DID JIMI HENDRIX, ONE OF THE FOREMOST EXPERTS IN ROCK RHYTHM, CLAIM THAT CERTAIN MUSIC CREATES A CERTAIN ATMOSPHERE? “Atmospheres are going to come through music, because the music is a spiritual thing of its own” (Jimi Hendrix, rock star, Life, Oct. 3, 1969).

If all musical styles are neutral, WHY DID ROCK AND ROLL HISTORIAN ROBERT PALMER SAY THAT THE (IM)MORAL INFLUENCE OF ROCK AND ROLL INHERES IN THE RHYTHM? “I believe in the transformative power of rock and roll S this transformative power inheres not so much in the words of songs or the stances of the stars, but in the music itself–in the SOUND, and above all, in the BEAT” (Robert Palmer, Rock & Roll an Unruly History).

If all musical styles are neutral, WHY DID THE HOWARD HANSON, WHO DIRECTED THE PRESTIGIOUS EASTMAN SCHOOL OF MUSIC FOR 40 YEARS, SAY: “MUSIC CAN BE PHILOSOPHICAL OR ORGIASTIC. IT HAS POWERS FOR EVIL AS WELL AS FOR GOOD”? (cited from Frank Garlock’s The Language of Music; Dr. Garlock is a graduate of Eastman and sat under Hanson).

If all musical styles are neutral, WHY DID THE WORLD FAMOUS CONDUCTOR LEONARD BERNSTEIN SAY THAT MUSIC IS A LANGUAGE THAT REACHES THE HEART: “Music doesn’t have to pass through the censor of the brain before it can reach the heart. An f sharp doesn’t have to be considered in the mind; it is a direct hit, and therefore all the more powerful”?

If all musical styles are neutral, WHY DOES THE BIBLE SPECIFY THAT BELIEVERS SHOULD SING A CERTAIN KIND OF MUSIC? “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). The word “spiritual” means set apart for God, different from the things of the world. A tavern or nightclub owner would never play psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs over the music system, even if the words were not included. It would create the wrong atmosphere. Why, then, should believers use the same music that tavern owners use to entertain and lull or stir the drinking crowd to their lascivious pleasures?

If all musical styles are neutral, THAT MEANS THAT THE DEVIL HASN’T CORRUPTED MUSIC, but such an idea is nonsensical. The devil hates God and has attempted to corrupt everything that God has created. He is called “the god of this world,” and he has corrupted religion, literature, art, fashion — you name it. Music is one of the most powerful influences in society. To think that the Devil has not corrupted music to his own wicked purposes and for the enticement of fallen man is contrary to everything the Bible teaches us.

If all musical styles are neutral, WHY DID JOSHUA DISCERN THAT THE MUSIC COMING UP FROM THE CAMP OF ISRAEL WAS “A NOISE OF WAR”? (Exodus 32:17). If music is neutral, how could he make any judgment at all about what he was hearing?

If all musical styles are neutral, WHY DO CHILDREN REACT DIFFERENTLY TO VARIOUS KINDS OF MUSIC? One of my readers submitted the following, “Why did my children behave properly during the traditional morning service, but jump around like they had ‘ants in their pants’ for 45 minutes during the loud rockish night service at a church we were visiting?”


Question: You mean that a b flat note has a moral quality, Answer: No, a b flat note is nothing in itself, and a b flat note is not music. But when that B flat is put together with other notes and components of music and is made into a musical piece, that musical piece becomes a language (music is rightly called the “language of the heart”) and has a moral quality. It is like the alphabet. The letter “d” has no moral quality in itself, but when it is placed with other letters to make words and sentences and paragraphs, that piece of writing assumes a moral quality. The letter “d” can become either “DIVINE” or “DEVILISH.” It is the same with art. Lines and circles in themselves have no moral quality, but when they are placed together into a piece of art, it ceases to be neutral and becomes a language that spells out a certain message in this world and has a certain influence upon men.

We conclude that music is not “neutral” or “amoral.” Music is a language, and in the Christian realm the message of the music must match the message of the lyrics. There are many styles of worldly music that preach a message that is contradictory to the Bible and therefore cannot be used in the service of a holy God.

I close with the testimony of a man who left the contemporary music scene after having led contemporary worship teams in two churches:

“I am now convinced that God will not accept our worship when it is offered with music styles that are also used by pagans for their immoral practices. If I am wrong, why was he so harsh in judging Israel when they sacrificed to him using the pagan high places and rituals? He is a jealous God. If you grasp this principle alone, it will change for ever the way you lead a worship service. S The true heart of worship is the heart that bows before God and submits to his Word, no more and no less” (Dan Lucarini, Confessions of a Former Worship Leader, p. 57).


3 Responses to “If Music Is Neutral?”

  1. […] webmaster2007@bmi.com wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptThe foundational philosophy for both Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) and Contemporary Christian Worship (CCW) is the idea that music is neutral or amoral and that any style of music can be used in the service of a holy God. … […]

  2. dave k said

    interesting thoughts, need more biblical basis and less secular proof(of course they are going to equate their music to sex, that’s what sells to this world unfortunately, check-in with Casting Crowns or Mercy Me for their side of this arguement.)I’m a mid 30’s guy from ozzy, maiden, later robert palmer era. I played drums in high-schol band, love music of all styles, and thank GOD there is an alternative to the morally decrepid garbage-rock out there. As far as music causing ungodly actions, people are not robots-they know what they are doing, and should review therir actions. the big question is how would you distinguish good from bad musically. The rock urge to “go forward” could be to defy satan’s attempted influence in our lives-music of war-spiritually. I am still not convinced that only psalms will do. Paul went into the pagen worship areas to bring souls to Christ, showing them that they didn’t even know who they were praying to(many kids don’t even know what they are listening to). He would never have reached them if he didn’t go there. Why shouldn’t God take rock-music back from corruption and use it for His Glory? It is an avenue to reach souls who will never walk through the door of a hymn-style church. If a christian realizes they are being adversely affected by their music choices, it is time to re-evaluate their choices.

  3. Well I dont think that all rock is bad and its hard to put music in a box as well. I have played with Steve Camp and he has very rock type style of singing and playing. I like Casting Crowns but I think Mercy Me is cheap and a sell out. I have seen their concert where they opened up with a pretty weak version of Phil Collins “In the air tonight”. I think its awful when Christian musicians take the fast and easy way to stimulate their audience. Its a cheap trick that stirs up emotions not the spirit.
    I by the way love Phil Collins music and I dont believe he will be playing any Mercy Me songs.
    I dont mean this as a attack on you or anything but you state
    “Why shouldn’t God take rock-music back from corruption and use it for His Glory?”
    My answer to that is why dont Christian musicians start honing their skills and stop writing such cheesy three chord progression songs (ala Brownsville and other cheap imitation revivals). And mantras ala Gaither chorus’s
    Why not start playing with some skill and write some music the Holy Spirit stirs in you.
    Why you may ask?
    Because it wont sell out in the world and thats really all Christian music companies (who are owned by the world) think about is money.
    Again I dont mean to sound like Im ranting but we have turned music into something the Bible never meant it to be such as evangelism, spiritual warfare etc..
    Music was meant to give glory to God.
    Its not about us.
    Its about Him.

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