Can Christians Enjoy Secular Music? – Part 3

Recently over on the Reformation 21 blog, Carl Trueman mentioned his excitement over an upcoming reunion concert of the 3 remaining members of Led Zeppelin. Those who keep up with his blog know that as an Englishman he has an affinity for several of the big British bands that helped define rock music as we know it.

Well, someone has, in an irenic spirit, questioned Carl’s ability as a believer to legitimately justify his indulgence into such worldly music. And Carl has given the same set of answers I have tried to give here and here.

Here’s the summary of each of his points:

1.  There is the general question of Christianity and non-Christian culture. I think that the Bible certainly seems to grant non-Christian culture a legitimacy…most [of] us just enjoy certain things and that, in principle, is not sinful. I would see it as part of God’s goodness, part of `common grace.’

2.  Next, there is the question of music. Again, I don’t think that music which is not specifically sacred is necessarily sinful.

3. Then there is the question of rock music…consistency really requires a rejection of all non-Christian culture, from cooking recipes to cars — for anything produced by someone in rebellion against God.

4.  This brings me to the specific case of LZ. The case against them would be that their music promotes anti-Christian values. This again is complicated…Now, I don’t want to make out that LZ are believers or that there work is biblical in the strict sense; but the music and lyrics are not, on the whole, the moral nightmare which critics think.

I hope that this teases you enough to go read the whole thing and get the full explanation. He does a good job.


10 Responses to Can Christians Enjoy Secular Music? – Part 3

  1. dana says:

    Read your other posts, and I’m definitely am on the same page.
    A conversation I’ve been engaged in lately is how to use secular art as a tool to convey one’s faith. How music and books and literature written by “worldly” artists still contain truth — and that truth can be used to open conversations about one’s beliefs in a nonthreatening way to those who might not understand or think it just couldn’t be for them.
    Most recently: the Christian allusions in Harry Potter and how one can use the parallels as a gateway to describe biblical stories that might feel too foreign to someone who doesn’t believe.
    In terms of music, just wrote on that myself!:

  2. Christian says:

    I had this same discussion with some friends at my old church. They said that we should only listen to music that was definitely praising God. This not only kicked out rock but blues, jazz, classical… When I countered with Duke Ellington’s remark that every song he wrote was a prayer they said that if that was so he should have been more specific.

    So then, no non-Christian music and I guess movies, dance and visual arts as well. Then we need to look for Christian banks, grocery stores, utility companies and home builders.

    I must commend you guys for your patience. But this is what it is…legalism.

  3. Christian says:

    Hey, Dana. Funny meeting you here! 8)

  4. Scott W. Kay says:

    Dana – You are exactly right. There is plenty of good truth nestled in the pages and notes of “secular” authors and performers. There are plenty of things to enjoy, learn from and yes, even bridge the Gospel from. Good point.

    Christian – Yes, that argument is a slippery slope isn’t it? I’ve had the same conversation with the same kind of people. These same people watch non-Christian TV and listen to non-Christian talk radio too, but somehow they don’t see how that is no different from listening to non-Christian music. For them, if it isn’t blatantly Christian, then it is evil. IN fact, they think that secular=profane. It is inconsistent legalism at it’s core, and a denial of common grace.

  5. Seth says:

    What is sacred? What is secular? What makes a song Christian? If a non-Christian writes a song about God, is that Christian? If a Christian writes a song about a boat with no allusion to God, is that Christian? Beyond that, what is music? Further, there’s a fair amount of sex and violence in the Bible, even an erotic poem. The Bible doesn’t condone immorality, but it does depict it. Context is significant to the discussion.

    Sacred and secular is a false dichotomy as far as I’m concerned.

  6. dianarn says:

    “Praise him with the clash of cymbals Praise him with resounding cymbals”(psalm 150). Well if running around with cymbals is praising God, then you might as well pick up a drum and an electric guitar, too.
    Besides, if God, in all of his Omnipotence, Omniscience, and creativity would only want to hear His name in all the songs that sounded the same and boosted his ego, then he must really not be all that wonderful or that creative.

  7. Tim Kurek says:

    Of course we can enjoy secular music… Just as we can enjoy secular music or books! The Holy Spirit acts as a filter to the evil in the world. Be in the world but not of the world, but STILL IN THE WORLD! Of course I added the last part but the Holy Spirit guides us in whatever we do.

    tim kurek

    just wrote a new blog. please check it out and let me know what you think!

  8. This as a big one growing up. And we tended to err on the side of “holiness” which was tossing out anything that was “secular” or not sold at the christian book store. Now I understand better that the “Christian music industry” is owned by the secular music industry. Same labels so what is the diff?

    I refuse to listen to music that is dishonoring to Christ and the Kingdom of God, music that glorifies rebellion towards Gods laws. So that lets me enjoy quite a bit of Secular music. Most of what is labeled Christian music has nothing to do with praising God.

    So we get to enjoy art, and in church we worship God with Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, not “God is my girlfriend” pop worship 🙂

  9. Christian says:

    I liked that; “God is my girlfriend” line. Christian (what a great name!) I think you’ve pointed things in a slightly different direction, one that I am hesitant to suggest. When I converted about 5 years ago it was the first time I was exposed to Christian rock. I loved it! Some of it reminded me of the rock and roll of the early 70’s – you could easily sing along. And they were all so uplifting and energizing.

    Wasn’t long before I realized there were only about 12 songs on my local radio station’s playlist being sung in almost identical styles by about 24 different artists (I exaggerate here), I got bored and now rarely listen to ‘Christian’ rock.

    I still like some of the artists, those that aren’t so much focused on just the individual relationship with God and some that are a bit more ingenious; Third Day, Todd Agnew, and even a guy you never hear anymore, Brian Duncan. As for most of the rest, their songs are ‘milk’.

    Anyone know “Whenever I Say Your Name” or “Dead Man’s Rope” by Sting?

  10. Brian says:

    The Christian music I’ve heard on the radio is terrible. TERRIBLE!

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