Monday, December 7, 2015

Music 4 - Everything Changed

With today's post we come to the hardest section of this series to write. It is my considerate belief that the vast majority of the world's music today is demonic in origin and affect. In effect, it is opening doors to the occult world in the minds of its purveyors and consumers. For the next month or so I am going to lay before you the case for that belief.

This section is difficult to write for several reasons. First, I have to force my own mind back through all the accumulated evidence I have piled up in order to support this contention. It is a mental and emotional exercise for me that is similar physically to wading through an open sewer. Additionally, I expect as a result of what I write to experience an elevated level of pushback. I anticipate a dump truck load of criticism, insult, complaint, and just plain disagreement to land on my head in the process. Many even of my own friends and church members will not agree with me. But as I said to my wife a moment ago what I am going to say over the next month or so needs to be said and I have determined to say it. So here we go…

A funny thing happened in Western civilization sixty years ago – music changed dramatically. Previous to 1955 popular music had a smoothness to it even if that smoothness increasingly had a swing in it. Historically that musical flow was tied to the Western concept of music generically known in our day as the classical style. But even the increasing inroads of ragtime, jazz, and big band or swing music had more flow than rock to them. The charts previous to 1955 were ruled largely by crooners such as Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennet, and Frank Sinatra. While such music did not die in 1955 it was in for a rude surprise. To mix metaphors, it would soon be forced to play second fiddle in the orchestra of American popular opinion.

There is a vigorous historical debate over which song, which producer, andbill-haley-rock-around-1 which artist can lay claim to the first rock and roll song. I have read several entire books or sections of books in relation to this. What is inarguable is that the first chart topping rock song was Bill Haley and the Comets 1955 "Rock Around the Clock." Like a dam that had been gradually weakening and leaking for years and then suddenly bursts that song exploded on the American music scene and the new genre it represented swept everything else before it. What had been a smooth albeit swinging popular music became a beat dominated rhythm oriented beast practically unrecognizable from its humbler forebearers of jazz, boogie woogie, rhythm and blues, and country.

The speed and depth of this change is astonishing. What Bill Haley introduced and Elvis Presley popularized and the Beatles metastasized became in fifteen short years the mindless pulsating sheer noise of Black Sabbath's heavy metal. Certainly the American youth movement and culture of the post WWII generation contributed to this as did the rise of radio. But however you define and describe its birth the end result was a new music form related to its fathers but actively distinct from anything that came before it – rock.

Western music had for centuries been composed of three elements: melody, harmony, and rhythm. In fact, music cannot exist without rhythm of some sort for without it there would be no organized structure. I grasped this first as a small boy growing up in a house with four older sisters who all played the piano. My oldest sister became somewhat advanced on the classical side and I can still picture her metronome ticking away at faster and faster speeds as she practiced hour upon hour in our dining room. Even the stately religious hymns of yesteryear have rhythm as evidenced by the various time signatures at the beginning. Not only has Western music had elements of rhythm in it for as long as we have record but it is also factual that rhythm is mentioned in the Word of God, and in a positive context to boot. Praise him with the timbrel and dance. (Psalm 150.4) The timbrel is a small hand drum essentially rather like the tambourine of our day.

I say that because I do not want to leave the impression in what comes next that I believe rhythm in music is wrong. I cannot and dare not for at least the reasons I have just cited. But although this is true it is also true that something dramatic and deep changed in the music of Western civilization in the 1950's. There developed an ever increasing emphasis on rhythm, and a driving beat that had never before been near as prominent in Alan_Freed_1957any form of popular music. Alan Freed, the Cleveland area disc jockey who did not coin but did first popularize the use of the term "rock and roll", would repeatedly shout into his microphone in those heady days of the 1950's, "Feel the beat!" while simultaneously pounding on a phone book. You can argue with me about the effect of that beat but you cannot argue that it rose up in the 1950's, that it took over everything, and that it is the single most recognizable fact about rock music. Charles T. Brown says in his 1992 book, The Art of Rock and Roll, "Perhaps the most important defining quality of rock and roll is the beat… Rock and roll is different from other music primarily because of the beat." Frank Garlock explains it this way in his 1998 book Music in the Balance, "In order to know what rock is, we must understand the specific characteristics that make it unique. First and most important is the beat. The rhythm in rock is the dominant part of the sound." Alan Freed's biographer John A Jackson agreed titling his 1991 book about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame disc jockey, Big Beat Heat.

Rock music as represented by one sub-genre or another is the most dominant form of music in Western culture and has been for the past sixty years. Indeed, Malcolm Downey asserted in his 1978 book Summer in the City that rock music was "not simply another branch of popular culture. It has shown itself to be perhaps the most significant art form to emerge this century." The only thing I would change about that quote would be to remove the word "perhaps." It is the soundtrack that fills our lives. It backs the majority of television commercials. It is played in almost every restaurant, store, dealership, and waiting room in the country. It is played on the majority of radio stations and streaming internet channels. Talent shows and television specials top-heavy with rock routinely top the Nielsen television ratings. The Pentecostal preacher David Wilkerson said it well in 1985's Set the Trumpet to Thy Mouth, "Rock music is the biggest mass addiction in the world's history."

For centuries Western music flowed. Now for a few decades it has rocked, pounding its rhythms straight into the conscious ears and subconscious minds of billions of people. Music is an emotional language. What has this language been saying? What has this language been telling us?

For the next few weeks I intend to give you the answer whether you like it or not. And if I am right then the ramifications of that answer will ripple through the breadth and depth of your life, your children's lives, and your church's life. Alternatively, you are welcome to assert that I am wrong, but as you whistle past the graveyard of the music in your life know this: the ramifications likewise are just as huge and ignoring that particularly unpleasant fact will not make the fact go away.

Everything changed. Are you going to let it change you?


  1. Music is an emotional language is again the disconnect. You assert this but have not proven it biblically.

    The verses you used dealt with the words (singing) not the rhythm (instrumental music). Even the 8 references last week in context dealt with the words and not the instrumental music.

  2. Matthew, again the disconnect? I would propose that again you have ignored the verses I referenced in the definition post that clearly reference instrumental music.

    Your refusal to accept this standard definition is interesting...

    1. What verses Tom?

      I have not ignored the verses you posted, they just didn't deal with instrumental music.

    2. Here is your definition "Let me begin by saying that when I use the word "music" in this series I generally mean instrumental music. Lyrics may accompany music but they are not music in the strict sense by which I mean by the term."

      Here are your verses:

      Job 29:13 The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.


      Ps 67:4 O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah.


      Ps 71:23 My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed.


      Ps 95:1 O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.


      Ps 98:4 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.


      Ps 126:2 Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.


      Ps 137:3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.


      Pr 29:6 In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare: but the righteous doth sing and rejoice.


      Lam 3.14-15 The elders have ceased from the gate, the young men from their musick. The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance is turned into mourning.

      The reference is 5:14 btw...

      Isa 49:13 Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.


      Isa 52:9 Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.


      Isa 65:14 Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit.


      Jer 31:7 For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.


      Zep 3:14 Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.


      Zep 3:17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.


      Zec 2:10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD.


      Mt 9.23-24 And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.

      Jas 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.


      Largest book of the Bible...words

      That is the disconnect Tom.

    3. If you want to talk about disconnect, Mathew, let's talk about the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) philosophy that preaches that only the words of a song are what matter and instrumentation can be whatever creatively pleases your heart.

      That philosophy has given the church artists such as Group One Crew, Audio Adrenaline, Stryper, and other suspicious music that defines the term "disconnect"

    4. Bill if you would like to define the acceptable genres of music along with the unacceptable ones, I am all ears.

      Also if you would like to define the music that pleases God's heart, again I am all ears.

      What I find many times is that personal preference and tradition trump the Word of God.

      BTW, you left off Lecrae, Bill Gather, Chris Tomlin and a host of other CCM artists.

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    6. Your point is well taken, Mathew. I would not attempt to define the music that pleases God's heart with a specific boundary. However, I like your word disconnect because it defines an incongruity that cannot be put in the language of words. All instrumental sound is spiritual and emotional and cannot sin (as some words can) -- but it can stir the heart to express sinful passions or close the mind. Juxtaposing a passionate beat with Godly lyrics is a common "disconnect" in CCM these days.

      If any guilt can be attached to enjoying music that displeases God, I am as guilty as they come. But I appreciate what Pastor Tom is writing about because I see this issue as a cultural problem and understanding how and why music has been corrupted in our day is a fascinating mystery to me.

    7. At the risk of taking over this blog (I'm sorry) I have one final thought. When I write about a driving beat expressing sinful passions I'm not just referring to sexual passion. I believe rhythmical music stirs up folly, impatience, fantasy, impetuousness, haste, spontaneity, immaturity and everything that strives against caution and rational thought.

      I think our culture reflects that belief.

    8. Bill I'm not sure it is the music that is the cataylst for sinful desires.

      There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

      Mark 7:15-16, 21-23

      I do understand that Christ is referencing food here, but I do think the principle could apply.

    9. Mathew, are you saying that the only reason men sin is their old nature? IOW, is there nothing outside of us, in the world, that moves/influences us to sin?

    10. Actually Tom I was quoting Jesus :)

      Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
      James 1:13-15

      But I do think it is us making the choice to sin. It is my lust that draws ne away and sins, it is my selfishness that chooses sin. It is my thinking that comes from within not the things from without causing me to sin.

      Did you ever think why Jesus never sinned? There was nothing inside leading him too.

    11. Obviously I do not dispute the sinlessness of Christ or the awful power of the old nature. I just preached Ephesians 2.1-3 two weeks ago. It is awful.
      ...but that doesn't mean outside forces have no power of influence for ill in a Christian's life. Yes, they combine as a sort of tag team with the inner old nature but those outside forces are powerfully dangerous in their own right. And the Bible is full of illustrations of such.

      We may disagree over whether instrumental music may be one of those, and probably do, but I don't think we can disagree that negative external influences are highly problematic in living the Christian life.

    12. Those outside forces just reveal our inside. They don't make our inside sinful or spiritual but just reveal to us who we really are.

      A trial and/or a temptation do not make us bitter. Nor do they draw us closer to God but simply show us where we are at in our Christian life of faith.

      I think when we place an emphesis on the external influences of the world we discredit the inward influence of the Spirit. Because greater is he that is in you then he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).

      The difficulty I have with your external instrumental music as a negitive influence is the lack of Scriptural support. Out of the 500 references in Scripture how many are solely in regards to instrumental music? Out of that small handful of references how many shed light on a genre of music that is sinful or wrong?

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  3. Chuck Berry, the Beatles, and the Beach Boys all sang the same song that admitted the power of rythmn..."if it's got a backbeat you can't lose it"

  4. The occult often uses repetition to induce trances or hypnosis leaving the hearer open to suggestion.

    Recently my wife and I attended a seminar where the goal was to lure us with a prize then sit and listen to speaker after speaker try to sell us a timeshare. Afterward, they led us to a room to close a deal where there was noisy, rhythm driven music in the background. I knew we were being played. We insisted to negotiate in a private room with no music. That decision probably saved us $50,000.

  5. Mathew Ward you left out my 2 favorite verses, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel of the Western culture's pre 1955 music" and "if the Son therefore shall make u free, u can be free if u learn the doctrine of classical music."

  6. Correct me if I'm wrong but I'm guessing that Pastor Brennan believes there is a spiritual dimension inherent in most music while Matthew does not believe that most music has spiritual qualities or influences.

    One's belief about the unseen spiritual power of music as it mysteriously relates to the human soul will determine how one classifies music into the three categories of good, evil or neither.

    1. Actually I believe there are songs we sing that talk about the spiritual realm and songs we sing that talk about the secular realm.

      God says: Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Ephesians 5:19

      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

      It comes from our heart to the Lord.

      To try and say that a classical form of music (which starts in the mid 1700's) is the only acceptable form of music is reading into the Scriptures and/or making a commandment of men.

  7. I believe there is a spiritual dimension to most music and here's why. Let's take Pastor's example of "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley. Sixty years ago, that song had a tremendous emotional impact on young people. But if you play that song for young people in 2015 it will have no emotional impact on them whatsoever. Why not? It's the exact same song. If there was an "evil" power in that song in 1955 why isn't there the same "evil" power today?

    Because the power isn't in the music itself, neither instrumental nor lyrical. I believe there's something mysterious influencing worldly music that's creating the emotional response. There's also something mysterious influencing Godly music that creates an emotional response.

    Music is a tool to speak to our hearts. And both God and Satan have messages for our hearts.

  8. I've been reading through this series on music, and this is as far as I have gotten, so I am not sure if it is covered in a future post or not.
    I enjoy reading the comments and taking in both sides of the argument. As Tom put it in Part 2, having the same language is the key in teaching. I think Matthew Wards comments have revealed the foundation of his disagreement. It appears that his worldview (correct me if I am wrong) is such that nothing (physical or metaphysical) is sinful in and of itself, but is only defiled when man's wicked heart engages with it. It is our sinful nature that causes us to be tempted.
    With that understanding, music is not right or wrong but a collection of neutral notes assembled together. I have several thoughts, but I don't want to take away from the subject, so I will only ask one question.
    If this is true, how was Eve tempted without a sin nature?