Radical Music for Radical Times: Has Christian Music Gone Too Far? [Excerpts]
Christian music today is not the same as a generation ago, with some easily crossing over to the secular realm and even heard in the clubs. Has Christian music gone too far or is it just meeting the people where they're at?
Kirk Franklin stated at the beginning of his 1997 song "Stomp," "For those of you who think that gospel music has gone too far, that we have gotten too radical with our message, well I got news for you, you ain't seen nothing yet."
Artists such as Kirk Franklin, TobyMac, Deitrick Haddon, Mary Mary, Israel Houghton – just to name a few – have made young Christians feel comfortable with combining the latest dance beats to their favorite gospel song.
"Jesus didn't hang out in the church," TobyMac told PBS' Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly. "He hung out with the people, where they were. And that's to me where Christian music should be."
Yet, is the shift causing an even wider generational divide within the body of Christ? Older members view the new generation of music to be feeble and full of beats that drown out the message of the song, causing the listener to forget the message of Christ and only focus on the rhythm.
Many Christian music critics have discussed the issue that many artists have blurred lines collaborating with secular artists on Christian albums. Some critics feel that the envelope is not pushed but torn into pieces. They question if the message has been convoluted by the messenger.
Many church youth groups have come under attack by young Christians stating that there is an old familiar way of teaching that really does not work for the youth of today. With the social issues of sex, drugs, depression, mental illness, and everyday peer pressure, many youth find refuge in the lyrics of current gospel music.
[TBC: In finding "refuge in the lyrics of current gospel music" the Church is bypassing the real refuge. Old and now mostly forgotten composer Ira Sankey wrote in 1885, "The Lord's my rock, in him we hide, a shelter in the time of storm." He was simply pointing to our true refuge. Psalm:1:1-2 tells us, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night." Not all modern music is without merit, but for those who "push the envelope," they compromise with the world and in doing so very likely shortchange their listeners, leading them away from the Rock which is our refuge," our "shelter in the time of storm."]