Editor's note: Last week, we ran a commentary titled "Secular, Sacred, or Both?", a thought-provoking essay by Kate Bowman on the topic of Christian musicians "crossing over" to the mainstream. Bowman argued that the line between the secular and sacred, at least in the mind of many artists, is a blurry one—if it exists at all. The article prompted many reader responses, some of which you can read on our Feedback page. One reader, Jim Pruitt, had some major concerns with the whole idea of "crossing over," saying such artists have sold out. We're running Mr. Pruitt's letter here, with a few minor edits, as a "counterpoint" commentary to last week's article.
• Secular, Sacred, or Both?
• Sticking Up for Crossover Artists
• Other Letters from Readers
Professing to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:22).
It's amazing what we can convince ourselves of when it furthers our own ambitions.
The commentary "Secular, Sacred, or Both" perpetuates the sort of self-justifying tripe which has been spewing out of contemporary Christian music (CCM) for the past decade: That we can love the things of the world and Christ at the same time. That we can enjoy the all the benefits of being a "star" and still demand the approval of God which He bestows on his humble servants.
Where is the sound doctrine and biblical basis for this argument? Why is it that you always find lots of rhetoric but little (if any) Scripture quoted in support of their position (other than a complete misunderstanding of Paul's "being all things to all people" and Christ eating with the sinners)?
It's all just an attempt to justify their attempt to have the world and Christ, too. And the problem is not what they're doing but who they are. Their passion is for themselves and their self-expression because that's who and what they love. You can't expect their music to reflect the depth of their commitment to God and their understanding of the world's fate, because their commitment is compromised. They're more concerned with winning the accolades of the world than saving them from hell.
It's just another symptom of our "me" society. It's all about me: I'm an artist (a word we use to try and puff up ourselves and make our meager gifts appear more than they are) … a musician … the purpose of my music is to express who I am and what I feel. Me, me, me.
They don't believe that the primary purpose of their music (not to mention their lives) is to enable fellowship with the Father and to bring glory to his name. They don't see their music as ministry because they don't see themselves as ministers. They are musicians first and Christians second. They're willing to compromise their Christianity in the name of their "art" (if I may use the word loosely), but they're not willing to submit their artistic expression to the Lordship of Jesus Christ to further the Kingdom of God. They believe that Christ was crucified, resurrected, and sits at the right hand of the Father to provide them with the opportunity to be "stars for Christ."
They're more comfortable with the musicians and "artists" of the world than with other Christians and Christianity because they are more carnal than spiritual. They applaud the world and curse the church.
"The greatest commandment is 'Thou shalt be relevant' and the second is like unto it. 'Thou shalt offend no one.' On these two commandments hang all of your effectiveness."
They are "men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain" (1 Timothy 6:5). Dense enough to believe that we will change the world by becoming more like them. Dense enough to think that by "crossing over" from Christian to secular and downplaying the message of Christ that they will somehow convert the secular world to Christian. Dense enough to think that this is some kind of new ministry concept. Dense enough to think that they can have all the trappings of being a rock star and all of the approval that God bestows upon those who commit their lives to ministry.
Matthew 6:24 says, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth" (or music, as the case may be).
And 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 adds, "Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?"
Is there a division between popular Christian and secular music? There used to be; it's all but gone now. And it's not because the secular world has become more like us. Think for a moment where CCM will be a 20 years from if current trends continue. Think where popular Christian culture as a whole will be. Don't you get it? We're not going to change secular culture … secular culture will consume US!
When in the course of human history has real Christianity (as opposed to religious Christian culture) overtaken and consumed popular secular culture? The attempts in the past have produced grotesque caricatures that God never intended. The gate has always been narrow and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14).
Unless CCM as a whole repents, I estimate it will take 10 years at the outside before CCM no longer exists. It will be like country music has been for years, where performers throw in a little of their Christian heritage and values in their songs but their songs and their lives are devoid of the power of God.
Repentance is what is called for. But sadly, we stubbornly continue to insist that there is nothing to repent of.
Revelation 2:5 says, 'Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent."
Jim Pruitt has been a fan of contemporary Christian music since the early 1970s. You can read his bio at his website, the Jesus Artist Resource Center, where he includes other essays on a variety of topics.
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