Dr. Jobe Martin
Biblical Discipleship Ministries
Much of the following comes from:
• Contemporary Christian Music Under
the Spotlight, David Cloud
• “Issues Facing the Church” series
• Sound Christian Music vs. Contemporary
Christian Music
• “Contemporary Christian Music is built
upon the premise that music itself is a
neutral force and that only a song’s words
determine its morality. CCM therefore
incorporates the full spectrum of modern
rock/folk/jazz/rap/country music, believing
that any style of music is acceptable to
carry the Christian message and to glorify
Jesus Christ.” David Cloud
• “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” (CCM
Magazine, November 1988, p. 12).
• “…we have to remember that, strictly
speaking, music is amoral” (William J.
Peterson, “O, What a Fantastic Day for
Christian Music,” Eternity, April 1971).
• “I believe music, in itself, is a neutral force”
(Keith Green, Can God Use Rock Music?).
• “We’re like Billy Graham with guitars,
basically,…rock and roll is neutral. It depends
on the spirit” (Michael Bloodgood, Duluth News
Tribune, Oct. 9, 1987, p. 1C).
“Music per se can be considered morally
neutral—it is neither sinful nor holy. Its morality
is determined by the use to which it is put”
(David Scheer, PG: A Parental Guide to Rock, p. 167).
“I believe that music, particularly instrumental
music, is absolutely void of moral qualities for
either good or evil” (Dana Key, Don’t Stop the 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, Inhouse Music,
March/April 1991, p. 27).
"There's no such thing as Christian
music. That's because all kinds of
music are capable of expressing
Christian thought. It's not the music
that's Christian, it's the lyrics" (John Styll,
"What Makes Music Christian," CCM Magazine, June
1991, p. 22; reprinted from the April 1987 issue; Styll
[1952- ] is the Founder and Executive Editor of CCM
Magazine and President of the Gospel Music
"We take the music of the street and
apply Christian lyrics to it" (Billy Ray Hearn,
owner of Sparrow Records and creator of ABC's Myrrh
label, cited by Ric Llewellyn, "Christian Rock,"
Foundation, Vol. VI, Issue 2, 1985, p. 16).
"We need to know rock 'n' roll. We need
to know the gentleness of a folk tune.
We need to know the majesty of
Handel's Messiah. We need to know the
awesome reverence of the Gregorian
chant" (John Michael Talbot, CCM Magazine, July
1998, p. 28).
• "Music is not good or evil because of the
formation of the notes or the structure of
the beat. Music is good because the heart
of the person playing it is innocently and
sincerely giving praise to our God" (Mylon
LeFevre, cited by Jeff Godwin, What's
Wrong with Christian Rock?, p. 122).
• "Music is just music. It's the message
that's important" (Mylon LeFevre, Seattle PostIntelligencer, Seattle, Washington, Oct. 11, 1984).
• "God is the King of Soul; He's the King of
all rhythm" (Phil Driscoll, cited by Tim Fisher, Battle
for Christian Music, p. 82).
"There's no such thing as Christian
music. Music is generic" (Chris
Christian, cited by Kit Frieden, "Christian
Music Guru Says There's 'No Such
Thing,'" The Patriot, Harrisburg, Penn.,
Nov. 29, 1986).
"God gave rock and roll to you/ Put it in
the soul of every one/ If you love the
sound/ Then don't forget the source"
("God Gave Rock and Roll," Petra).
"All music was His to begin with and He'll
use any medium necessary to convey
this message"
(Editorial in the Christian rock magazine
Take a Stand, July 1987).
"The problem, essentially, is there is no such
thing as 'Christian music.' There is only
music and what it's about. ... Every genre,
every style, every media needs to be
claimed--or reclaimed--to glorify God" (Chris
Well, 7Ball, July-August 1998, p. 66; Well is Editor in Chief of
7Ball, a bimonthly publication which reports on alternative rock
Christian music, such as metal, punk, rap, and ska).
• “Using WHAT IS NEUTRAL in a society
as a vehicle for the gospel is not only
acceptable; it is sound missionary
strategy” (Steve Miller, The Contemporary
Christian Music Debate, p. 49).
• Common sense tells us that music is not
neutral, that all music is not the same. Such an
idea is strictly contrary to our experiences in
life. There is sensual music and spiritual music,
music for partying and music for worship, music
for marching and music for dancing, music for
romance and music for warfare. The notes and
components of music are neutral, but when
these are arranged in a pattern, that piece of
music no longer is neutral but becomes a voice,
Continued from last slide:
voice, a language. Just as vowels and
consonants can become blasphemy and
pen and paper in the hand of an artist can
become pornography, so notes and
rhythm, in the hands of a composer or
artist can become sensual (Frank Garlock,
Music in the Balance).
As soon as alphabet letters are combined to form
words and sentences, a message is
communicated and those letters are no longer
amoral and neutral.
The letter “E” alone is amoral and neutral.
Combined with other letters, “E” can spell lovE or
hatE; JEsus or dEvil; mEn or womEn, etc.
In the same way, musical components are neutral
as long as they remain by themselves. But as
soon as they are arranged into a piece of music
that piece of music communicates a
message which can be sensual or
spiritual, godly or satanic. The idea that
music is neutral and amoral is contrary to
common sense and observation!
• During a chase scene in a “cops
and robbers” movie, is a Brahms
Lullaby softly and sweetly playing
in the background?
• Music is definitely not neutral!
Secular and religious men of the past have
recognized the power of music for good or evil.
In fact the strange idea that music is neutral is
only a few years old.
Plato, B.C. 428-348:
“Musical training is a more potent instrument than
any other, because rhythm and harmony find
their way into the inward places of the soul”
(Plato, Fourth Book of the Republic)
ARISTOTLE, B.C. 384-322:
• “Music directly represents the passions or
states of the soul—gentleness, anger, courage,
temperance. If a person habitually listens to the
kind of music that rouses ignoble passions, his
whole character will be shaped to an ignoble
form. In short, if one listens to the wrong kind of
music he will become the wrong kind of person;
but conversely, if he listens to the right kind of
music he will tend to become the right kind of
person.”(Aristotle, Republic, Politics,1340, History of Western Music 1980 p.8)
BOETHIUS, A.D. 480-524
• “Music is part of the human nature, it has the
power either to improve or debase our
character” (Boethius, De Institutione Musica, cited in Paul
Hindemith, A Composer’s World, Cambridge, 1952, p.7).
JOHN CALVIN A.D. 1509-1564
• “We know by experience that
music has a secret and almost
incredible power to move hearts.”
(The Works of John Calvin, vol. 6)
John Calvin would not say that
music is neutral?
MARTIN LUTHER A.D. 1483-1546
• “For whether you wish to comfort the sad,
to terrify the happy, to encourage the despairing, to humble the proud, to calm the
passionate, or to appease those full of hate–
and who could number these masters of the
humans heart, namely, the emotions, inclinations and affections that impel men to evil
or good?—what more effective means than
music could you find?” (Martin Luther, quoted from
Friedrich Blume, Protestant Church Music, p. 10).
Dr. Max Schoen, The Psychology of Music, 1940:
“Music is the most powerful stimulus known
among the perceptive senses. The medical,
psychiatric and other evidence for the non-neutrality of music is so overwhelming that it frankly
amazes me that anyone should seriously say
• Howard Hanson, 1942 - "Music is a curiously
subtle art with innumerable, varying emotional
connotations. It is made up of many ingredients
and, according to the proportions of these
components, it can be soothing or invigorating,
ennobling or vulgarizing, philosophical or
orgiastic. It has powers for evil as well as for
good" (Dr. Howard Hanson, American composer, conductor, and teacher,
Director of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester,
American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 99, p. 317; the quotation is from an
address entitled "A Musician's Point of View Toward Emotional Expression,"
delivered by Dr. Hanson at the 98th annual meeting of the American
Psychiatric Association).
• Dimitri Tiomkin, 1965 - "The fact that
music can both excite and incite has been
known from time immemorial. Now in our
popular music, at least, we seem to be
reverting to savagery and youngsters who
listen constantly to this sort of sound are
thrust into turmoil. They are no longer
relaxed, normal kids" (Los Angeles HeraldExaminer, Aug. 8, 1965; Dr. Tiomkin is a famous
composer and conductor).
• William J. Shafer, 1972 - "Rock is
communication without words, regardless
of what ideology is inserted into the music"
(Dr. William J. Shafer, Rock Music, 1972).
Richard M. Taylor, 1973 - "We cannot change the basic
effect of certain kinds of rhythm and beat simply by
attaching to them a few religious or semi-religious
words. The beat will still get through to the blood of the
participants and the listeners. Words are timid things.
Decibels and beat are bold things, which can so easily
bury the words under an avalanche of sound. There
are music forms, whether secular or sacred, which
create moods of pensiveness, of idealism, of
awareness of beauty, of aspiration, and of holy
joyousness. There are other forms of music which
create moods of recklessness and sensual excitement.
Surely it doesn't take much judgment to know which
forms are most appropriate for religious functions.“
(Dr. Richard M. Taylor, The Disciplined Lifestyle, 1973, pp. 86, 87).
Steven Halpern, 1978 - "Words are incidental at
best, or monotonous and moronic as usual. But
the points is, that they don't matter. What you
dance to is the beat, the bass and drums. And
with this mix and volume, not only is the beat
sensed, but literally felt, as this aspect of the
rhythm section takes precedence over melody
and harmony" (Dr. Steven Halpern, Tuning the Human
Instrument, 1978, p. 14).
Steve Halpern and George Winston are known
as the “deans” of New Age music. If music
is “neutral,” how can there be music known
as New Age Music?
Leonard Seidel, 1980 - "There is a certain
type of music around which demons
feel very uncomfortable. Check the
other side of the coin. There is a type of
music under which evil spirits find it
quite easy to progress with their work
and influence" (Leonard Seidel, concert pianist,
lecturer, God's New Song, 1980, p. 9).
Simon Frith, 1981 - "Most rock records
make their impact musically rather than
lyrically. The words, if they are noticed
at all, are absorbed after the music has
made its mark" (Simon Frith, sociology professor
at University of Warwick in England, Sound Effects, 1981,
p. 14).
Mike Coyle, 1983 - "Since music is an
emotional language, and since some
emotions are wrong for the child of
God, then some music is wrong for the
Christian" (Mike Coyle, former world-class
professional French horn virtuoso, "Music: Is There an
Absolute?" Baptist Bulletin, April 1983, p. 10).
David Tame, 1984 - "Music is a form of
language ... music is more than a
language. It is the language of
languages. Like human nature itself,
music cannot possibly be neutral in its
spiritual direction" (David Tame, musical
researcher, The Secret Power of Music, 1984, pp. 151,
Carol Merle-Fishman and Shelley Katsh,
1985 - "Music is a form of non-verbal
communication" (Carol Merle-Fishman and
Shelley Katsh, music therapists and instructors at New
York University, The Music Within You, 1985, p. 206).
Gilbert Rouget, 1985 - "What we need to
remember is that music has a physical
impact upon the listener and that it
produces a sensorial modification in
his awareness of being. This physical
impact, of course, is what pop music is
consciously striving for" (Gilbert Rouget,
Music and Trance, 1985, p. 120).
Leonard Bernstein, 1990 - "Music is
something terribly special. It 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" (Leonard
Bernstein, cited in Katrine Ames, "An Affair to
Remember," Newsweek, Oct. 29, 1990, p. 79).
Tim Fisher, 1992 - "Music is not neutral. It
has the capability of communicating
imbalance and sensuality, and it can
confuse the spiritual effectiveness of
the message. Therefore, I as a Christian
must draw a line. Any music that
cannot appropriately communicate the
message is unfit to use to worship the
Lord." (Tim Fisher, musician, teacher, The Battle for
Christian Music, 1992, p. 56).
Robert Shaw, 1998 - "I believe all the arts
are moral. I can't see how any of the
arts can be neutral" (Kurt Woetzel, "Is Music
Neutral? An Interview with Robert Shaw," distinguished
choral music director, FrontLine, September-October
1998, p. 11).
Philip Merriam - "There is probably no
other cultural activity which is so allpervasive and which reaches into,
shapes and often controls so much of
human behavior" (Philip Merriam, The
Anthropology of Music).
Ask the movie maker:
Music paints a mental and emotional picture, creates
a mood. The television/movie industry
understands this and they spend millions upon
millions of dollars annually to create just the right
musical effect for each scene. Tension and danger
calls for tense music. Romance calls for romantic
music. The musical score must precisely match
the script. How foolish, then, for CCM musicians
to claim that the rhythms of a song do not have to
match the words because the rhythms are
"neutral." There is no such thing.
Ask the tavern owner:
• Why does the owner of a tavern or a night club
choose a certain kind of music? Because that
type of music creates the right atmosphere to
promote the fleshly activities of that
establishment. If a tavern owner attempted to
play traditional hymns, he would create an
entirely different atmosphere which would not
be conducive for the type of recreation his
patrons are engaged in. Every tavern owner
knows that music is not neutral.
Ask the band or orchestra director:
A band or orchestra director understands the
power of music to move people in different
ways, and he carefully selects the type of music
desired to create whatever mood or effect is
required by the situation. I played first clarinet in
a large school band for six years and had an
opportunity to join a symphony orchestra. Music
was never randomly selected. If our high school
band was rallying the crowd for a football game,
we did not play a waltz or a lullaby!
Ask the rock band:
The rock band strives to create a certain reaction
in its hearers, and it uses exactly the type of
music required to produce that reaction. Rock
star Jimi Hendrix understood this:
"Atmospheres are going to come through music,
because the music is a spiritual thing of its
own. ... You can hypnotize people ... and when
you get them at their weakest point you can
preach into the subconscious what you want to
say" (Life, Oct. 3, 1969, p. 74).
Ask the rock band:
• Hendrix was right. "Atmospheres" do
come through music. Consider the
godly atmosphere of peace and
blessing and conviction which comes
through truly spiritual church music,
and contrast this with the atmosphere
which comes through rock music.
Ask the advertiser:
Businesses understand that music is not a neutral
force. They know that certain kinds music can
increase sales while other kinds of music can
actually reduce sales. The Muzak Corporation,
which distributes music for businesses,
describes their philosophy of music: "The
Science of Stimulus Progression -- employs
Ask the advertiser:
Leading companies and commercial
establishments now employ the Muzak
concept to improve environment,
attitudes and performance" (Muzak ad).
Muzak knows that music is not neutral,
because certain kinds of music
produce certain kinds of responses in
the hearers, and other kinds of music
produce entirely different responses.
Ask the rock star:
Rock star Frank Zappa of the Mothers of
Invention said: "Rock music is sex. The
big beat matches the body's rhythms"
(Life, June 28, 1968).
Rock star Ted Nugent says, "Rock is the
total celebration of the physical"
(Rolling Stone, Aug. 25, 1977, pp. 11-13).
Ask the rock star:
Gene Simmons of the rock group KISS
agrees: "That's what rock is all about--sex
with a 100 megaton bomb, the beat!"
(Entertainment Tonight, ABC, Dec. 10, 1987).
Debbie Harry of the rock band Blondie says
amen to this: "Rock 'n' roll is all sex. One
hundred percent sex" (cited by Steve Peters, The
Truth about Rock, p. 30).
Ask the rock star:
John Oates of the rock duo Hall & Oates
says, "Rock 'n' roll is 99% sex“
(Circus, Jan. 31, 1976).
Rock drummer King Coffey observes:
"...the whole idea of rock 'n' roll is to
offend your parents"
(The Truth about Rock, p. 30).
Ask the rock star:
Lita Ford of heavy metal group The
Runaways says, "Listen, rock 'n' roll
AIN'T CHURCH. It's nasty business"
(Los Angeles Times, August 7, 1988).
Malcolm McLaren, punk rock manager,
describes rock music as "pagan and
primitive, and very jungle, and that's
how it should be!" (Rock, August 1983).
Ask Time Magazine:
Time magazine notes: "In a sense all rock
is revolutionary. By its very beat and
sound it has always implicitly rejected
restraints and has celebrated freedom
and sexuality" (Time, Jan. 3, 1969).
Allan Bloom observes: "... rock music
has one appeal only, a barbaric appeal
to sexual desire--not love, not eros, but
sexual desire undeveloped and
untutored" (The Closing of the American Mind,
New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987, p. 73).
Ask Rolling Stone magazine:
Rolling Stone magazine says that "...rock
and roll is more than just music; it is
the energy center of the new culture
and your revolution" (cited by John
Blanchard, Pop Goes the Gospel, p. 12).
Michael Ross, in his treatise on rock
music, observes that the music of
licentious rock groups like the Rolling
LIVING" (Rock Beyond Woodstock, p. 13).
Concert pianist and musical researcher
Leonard Seidel wisely notes: "Rock and
roll's corrupt degenerate lifestyle is
fueled by the language of a certain kind
of music" (Leonard Seidel, Face the Music).
Ask the rock music lover:
If music is a neutral thing in and of itself,
it would be a simple matter for a rock
music lover to give it up. That is not the
case, though! "Any 'Christian' rock
star/fan who thinks music is neutral
should face up to one simple fact:
nobody gets hooked on neutral music.
• Why don't you do a little experiment? Spend
the next 30 days without listening to or
playing ANY rock music. Try it, C-Rock fans.
You'll quickly find yourself going through
withdrawal. Rock music is a drug! Don't
believe it? Go 30 days without it" (Jeff Godwin,
What's Wrong with Christian Rock?, p. 38). The same
cannot be said for many other types of
music. This is irrefutable evidence that all
music is not the same.
Ask the Bible:
The Bible plainly states that music is not
neutral. Christians are instructed to use
a certain kind of music to worship God
and to build up the Christian life.
"Speaking to yourselves in psalms and
hymns and spiritual songs, singing and
making melody in your heart to the
Lord" (Ephesians 5:19).
Ask the Bible:
• "Let the word of Christ dwell in you
richly in all wisdom; teaching and
admonishing one another in psalms
and hymns and spiritual songs, singing
with grace in your hearts to the Lord"
(Colossians 3:16).
Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs do
not describe the world's music. God's
Word is reminding us that there is a
music which is fitting to the Christian
life and there is a music which is not,
and it is the Christian's task in every
generation to glorify God only with the
type of music which is fitting for that
exalted task. The music is to be
spiritual as opposed to carnal.
The philosophy that music is neutral and
that apart from the words it has no
influence or voice of its own is the
Devil's lie, and this false philosophy
could easily be used to aid in building
the ecumenical end-times apostate
religious system.
The fact that music IS NOT neutral is a
loud warning to Christians that we
must be very careful about what type of
music we listen to and what type of
music we allow in our homes and
churches. Some music encourages the
flesh, while some music encourages
the spiritual. Some is demonic and
some is Spirit-inspired.
When I was saved in the summer of 1973, I loved rock
music and I continued to listen to it for the first few
weeks. I was excited when I heard about "Christian
rock," because I thought it would allow me to please
the Lord while retaining the type of music I loved. One
day I was riding along in my car with the radio tuned to
a rock station, and I was praying earnestly about my
new walk with the Lord. I was telling the Lord that I
wanted Him to take complete control of me, that I
wanted Him to receive glory from my life. :
• I believe the Lord spoke to my heart and told me to
turn off the rock music and to put it out of my life. I
reached over and turned off the radio and I have never
again tuned my radio to a rock station for listening
pleasure. I dedicated my radio and tape players to the
Lord and determined that I would not use them for
carnal rock music.
• It took awhile for me to learn to enjoy spiritual music,
because my musical taste was corrupted by many
years of complete devotion to rock music, but I praise
the Lord that He dealt with me about music and that
He gave me the wisdom to know that music is not a
neutral thing.