The Problem of Inappropriate Music
in the Church

Some of the Problems of
Rock Music Highlighted


A Message to the Churches of America
from the Persecuted Church in Russia

[This was written a number of years ago, but its message is still relevant. Sadly, this message was largely disregarded]

For thirty years we have suffered intense persecution, and now freedom is bringing another great harm to our churches. This damage is coming from the Christians in America who are sending rock music and evangelists accompanied by rock bands.

Our young people do not attend these meetings because we have all committed not to participate in secular entertainment.

This is a great burden on our hearts. Many come with Bible in hand and rock music. We are embarrassed by this image of Christianity. We do not know what words to use in urging that this be stopped. We abhor all Christian rock music coming to our country.

Rock music has nothing in common with ministry or service to God. We are very, very against Christian Americans bringing to our country this false image of “ministry” to God. We need spiritual bread, please give us true bread, not false cakes. It is true that rock music attracts people to the church, but not to godly living.

We were in prison for fifteen years and eleven years for Christ’s sake. We were not allowed to have Christian music, but rock music was used as a weapon against us day and night to destroy our souls. We could only resist with much prayer and fasting.

Now, we have a time for more openness, and we are no longer taken to prison. However, now it is Christians from America who damage our souls. We do not allow this music in our church, but they rent big stadiums and infect teenagers and adults with their rock music.

We, the leadership and congregations of the Unregistered Union of Churches, the former Persecuted Church, have made an agreement to not allow rock music in our Church. We urge you to join with us and we advise you to remove rock music from America, and certainly do not bring it to our country.

Do not desecrate our teenagers with it. Even the unbelievers recognize it is unholy music and they cannot understand how American Christians can be so much like the world. We can give you the conclusion that after Russian unbelievers have attended these rock concerts where Christ’s Word was preached, the people were very disappointed and disillusioned with Christianity.

We call this music from hell. We urge all Americans to stop giving money for the organization of such concerts in Russia. We want only traditional Christian music in our churches. This is the unanimous decision of all our leaders.

Signed, Peter Peters, Head of the Unregistered Union of Churches, Moscow, and Vasilij Ryzhuk, Elder, Unregistered Union of Churches, Moscow.

The Origin of Rock Music

The following is from The BDM [Biblical Discernment Ministries] October 1993:

The origin of rock music and the term “rock ‘n’ roll” are interesting ones. In the early 1950's, a disk-jockey named Alan Freed was one of the first white people to be involved in “rhythm & blues” music, which was the direct forerunner of rock ‘n’ roll. Rock ‘n’ roll was a kind of fusion between rhythm & blues and country & western music. Freed was one of the first white people to play this new rhythm & blues/country combination on his radio program, and was perplexed as to what to call it since it obviously needed a new name.

Freed had been receiving bizarre reports concerning kids’ reactions to this new music, so he decided to name it after a ghetto term that black people used for pre-marital sex in the back seat of a car—hence, the term “rock ‘n’ roll” was coined.

One of the myths of our time is the idea that music is neutral. This is a key argument of those who defend blending Christian words with worldly styles of music, such as rock or jazz. This hybrid is then called “Contemporary Christian Music (CCM).” The truth is that music is not neutral. Musical rhythms are a form of communication just as real and powerful as words.

Christian Rock?, by Ric Llewellyn, is a tract published by the Fundamental Evangelistic Association. This tract carefully shows that music is not neutral. Llewellyn goes on to detail the Biblical screens [criteria] any music must pass before it can be labeled as “Christian” (Eph. 5:18,19; Col. 3:16); i.e., the music must be a channel for correct doctrine, and (a) its lyrics should be edifying, spiritually oriented, clear, conforming to biblical truth, and point our focus to Jesus Christ, (b) its score (the arrangement of the musical notes) should not overshadow the message conveyed by the lyrics, but should complement it, and (c) its character (the “attitudes” in the music and of the performers) should be consistent with the purity of the message it claims to convey (reverence, worshipful, etc.).


Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis (not to be confused with the comedian Jerry Lewis) was a pioneer in the early history of rock music. He was known as "The Killer" of Rock and Roll.  As described by those who knew him, he was "a thief, a bigamist, an adulterer, a sexual predator, a family abandoner, and a liar."  He believed the rules of society never applied to him. Lewis was married seven times. Two of his wives died mysteriously.

Jerry Lee Lewis was also the cousin of televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, and Lewis attended Southwest Bible Institute in Texas, until he was thrown out for playing rock and roll versions of sacred hymns. One of his Bible school classmates met him again, years later, and asked Lewis if he was still playing the devil's music.  "Yes I am," Lewis answered. "But you know, its strange, the same music that they kicked me out of school for is the same kind of music they plan in their churches today. The difference is, I know I'm playing for the devil and they don't."

The Worldly Evangelicals

The following is by Richard Quebedeaux, in his book The Worldly Evangelicals, giving a brief history of how the churches succumbed to rock music:

Evangelical teenagers have listened to rock music faithfully (to the chagrin of their parents) from the emergence of the late Elvis Presley and Pat Boone (himself a charismatic) in the 50s, and have, in more recent years, acted out rock rhythms in dancing. But it was the Jesus movement itself that really brought the wider culture and the counterculture of the 60s to younger evangelicals as a whole. Although participants in that movement Christianized rock (“filigreed” it with Jesus), they always kept in touch with the latest trends and performers in secular rock. Evangelical artists like Pat Boone, Cliff Richard (in England), country singer-composer Johnny Cash (now a pentecostal), and B. J. Thomas have never fully discarded in their concerts the earthy and erotic themes and rhythms of secular rock (always present in black Gospel music); nor have Christian rock’s avant-garde, performers like Larry Norman and John Fischer, producers like Paul Baker of Word, Incorporated, and critics like Steve Turner of Rolling Stone. Indeed, rock is inherently a form of music that made its way by outrage against taboo, and there are no taboos left. It is profoundly significant that evangelicals, even the more conservative among them, have accepted the rock mode. This acceptance, obviously, indicates a further chapter in the death of self-denial and world rejection among them.

Allan Bloom

The following piece was written by Allan Bloom (author of The Closing of the American Mind) and published in the Wall Street Journal:

Rock music caused a great evolution in the relations between parents and children. Its success was the result of an amazing cooperation among lust, art, and commercial shrewdness. Without parents realizing it, their children were liberated from them. The children had money to spend. The record companies recognized as much and sold them music appealing to their secret desires. Never before was a form of art (however questionable) directed to so young an audience.

This art gave children’s feelings public respectability. The [moral] education of children had escaped their parents, no matter how hard they tried to prevent it. The most powerful formative influence on children between 12 and 18 is not the school, not the church, not the home, but rock music and all that goes with it. It is not an elevating but a leveling influence. The children have as their heroes banal, drug- and sex-ridden guttersnipes who foment rebellion not only against parents but against all noble sentiments. This is the emotional nourishment they ingest in these precious years. It is the real junk food.

One thing I have no difficulty teaching students today is the passage in the Republic where Socrates explains that control over music is control over character and that the rhythm and the melody are more powerful than the words. They do not especially like Socrates’ views on music, but they understand perfectly what he is about and the importance of the issue.

Dave Hunt

Dave Hunt in The Berean Call [November 2004] wrote the following:

In Born After Midnight Tozer declared the following: “Much singing...has in it more of romance than it has of the Holy Ghost. Words and music [don’t reflect] the reverent intimacy of the adoring saint, but the impudent familiarity of the carnal lover.” Churches have forgotten the fact that worship, far from being for our enjoyment, is supposed to be directed toward God! Rare is the awesome reverence that befits those bowing in His presence to sing His praise. The attitude, dress, and sensuality of many “worship teams” and their “music” would not be tolerated for a moment by God before His throne! The contemporary Christian music industry is almost all about money, popularity, and glorifying the “artists.” It is a performance....Hymns written by those who knew and loved the Lord intimately and expressed it eloquently and with sound doctrine have been cast aside. This rich heritage has been replaced by shallow, repetitive lyrics joined to the pop/rock that Rick Warren says the world loves. We need to recover this spiritual treasure and to sing again in loving gratitude and with reverent awe of “the love that drew salvation’s plan...the grace that brought it down to man...the mighty gulf that God did span, at Calvary!”

Our Desire:
Music That Honors the Lord and
Edifies God’s People


“Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage” (Psalm 119:54)

We are strangers and pilgrims, on earth for just a short time, representing our heavenly Lord as His ambassadors. As we walk the pilgrim pathway, God has promised to be our hiding place, to preserve us from trouble and to surround us with songs of deliverance (Psalm 32:7). His Word is our song. Our Pastor has said, “Read God’s Word until it sings to you.” His Word is our delight. Our meditation of Him shall be sweet. As we abide in Him and stay in tune with Him, the Master Musician produces in us wonderful songs (Eph. 5:19). May His Word dwell in us richly (Col. 3:16)!

George Zeller (2012)


The Middletown Bible Church
349 East Street
Middletown, CT 06457
(860) 346-0907

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