The Gospel is under attack. That’s a statement that is often used but seldom understood. We hear it all the time and from the most unlikely of sources. A pastor faking miracles is seen as an attack to the Gospel. In his defense, the same pastor says that those accusing him are an attack to the Gospel. It can get confusing. How can the very thing that a person is accused of also be the thing that the person is claiming in his own defense? Is this just another effect of living in a postmodern age?
How can the person being accused of defaming the Gospel defend himself by claiming that the Gospel is being defamed? It doesn’t sound rational, but it is happening every day. Such discussions have often boiled down to a question of perspectives and in this relativistic age we are living in, no decisive action ever takes place in the end. Furthermore, with the media bombarding our minds with all sorts of trivialities, our interest in such scandals only seem to last until the next entertaining news item shows up on the screen.
But my focus in this particular post will not be on Pastors and the Prosperity Gospel, but on Musicians and the Worldly Gospel. Many discussions about the Gospel Music industry in Kenya (and the world at large) have been making headlines more frequently in the past few years both in the mainstream media and within the Christian circles. Some of the topics of discussion range from the style of music to the images being depicted in the music videos. The main bone of contention is the fear that the industry is becoming secularized and the public can no longer tell the difference between a Christian song and any other secular song.
The term “contemporary Christian music” has been dragged through enough mud as most conservative Christians regard it as an excuse to be worldly in the name of praising God through music. Contemporary, they say, is just a synonym of Compromised. The liberals have responded by accusing the conservatives of needlessly adhering to baseless traditions. What complicates the issue even further is that, just like in the case of the pastor outlined above, both sides have scriptural backing for their standpoints.
Other issues arising in the debate include the fact that some artists carrying the descriptor “Christian Artist” have been known to increasingly produce songs that are devoid of any direct reference to scripture, Jesus and preaching what can only be termed as a shallow Gospel. Some of these observations have often been dismissed as baseless by those defending the artists while others have seen this as merely engaging in unfounded quarrels and divisions that the Bible is speaking against.
Yet, even in the midst of this mess, the burden to speak regarding what is evidently a problem in the industry has continued to press its weight upon my heart. I have held back due to various reasons that rendered me unfit to tackle the subject. For instance, I do not know much about music. I am the last guy you will find commenting on musical arrangements, style and the various other aspects that help us distinguish genres and forms of songs.
However, being a writer myself, God finally revealed to me one aspect of music that I can comfortably address, the written aspect. I may not understand exactly why some people have a problem with hip hop, rock and other questionable (debatable) styles of music being employed in songs about Jesus. But there’s one thing that I can comfortably (and informatively) comment on, the lyrics. And this is why I have chosen to pen this particular series of reviews. I do not have to watch the music videos or have an exhaustive opinion on the origins of hip hop in order to know whether a song glorifies God at all or not, but I do have the lyrics to the song before me, and it is only reasonable to expect man’s lyrics to be subject to God’s own lyrics – His Word.
If there’s anything that the lyrics of a Christian song ought to always depict, it is the Christian (biblical) worldview. Of course not every Christian song will be expected to contain the actual message of the Gospel, but each song must project an attitude that reflects the Fruit of the Spirit, a message that submits to the Truth and an objective that is either to edify the Body of Christ or evangelize the world. It is in light of these three aspects (which may not be exhaustive) that I will be doing my lyrical reviews. It is my intention to provide constructive criticism where it is needed, and appreciative affirmation where it is deserved.
With God’s help, I will do my best to give honest opinions.
In His service and for His glory