Country Music, and Antinomianism

The Towers recently interviewed Russell Moore about his love of country music. It’s a fascinating piece, and you should read it. I thought one exchange was particularly insightful and prophetic:

Towers: Americans are said to live within a contradiction in which a deep religiosity exists alongside a fairly pronounced ethical Antinomianism and many see country music as reflecting that paradox. Do you agree with that?

Moore: Yes, but I don’t think it’s American, I think it’s Southern Baptist. Most of the country music that we hear is coming from a person who has either been redeemed through a Southern Baptist version of Christianity or damned by a Southern Baptist version of Christianity. So, all of the best aspects of Southern Baptist “Just As I Am” revivalism are present in country music – the idea that no one is too far for redemption, the idea of new beginnings, being born again – all those are present in country music. But you also have the carnal, “Jesus is my Savior but not my Lord,” unregenerate person, keeping the hypocrisy hidden under the church attendance — all that is present too. Even from artists who are not Baptists, but are growing up in a Bible Belt South, where, as one sociologist put it, “Baptists are the center of gravity,” we (Southern Baptist culture) created country music for both good and for ill.

Read the rest here.

3 Responses to Country Music, and Antinomianism

  1. jeff miller March 25, 2010 at 2:50 am #

    Interesting stuff to think about.

  2. El Bryan Libre March 25, 2010 at 6:38 am #

    You know I was just talking to my wife about this a few days ago (not the article but what the topic). I don’t listen to country music but I kind of have a soft spot in my heart for the life it depicts. I find it fascinating how it blends religion (Christianity specifically) and culture. Christianity is just a part of life and deeply woven into it it, even in ways that some might find a bit contradictory at times or at least at odds.

    I was in a store the other day and they had country music on and a song was playing that emphasized this well. The man was singing about his wife and the different aspects of her, the way she was saintly but also naughty as well. How she could be in church praying but out there dancing or cussing (and he loved this about her). It was a great song. : )

    I have a soft spot for the life it depicts because it makes Christianity seem so human instead of artificial. Christianity doesn’t end up becoming its own culture—which I’m not sure it can actually do—but becomes a part of life.

    It reminds of something I read that stated that when Christianity doesn’t infuse with the culture of a place/people, it doesn’t survive (at least not in the long run). I think that might have been Philip Jenkins that pointed that out.

    Thanks for linking that article.

  3. Mark March 25, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

    I don’t think the paradox that Dr. Moore talks about in this interview is restricted to Southern Baptist type Christians. You can find this phenomenon in almost all the major evangelical traditions. Also, it is not restricted to the United States bible belt areas. You can find this phenomenon in any part of the world where Christianity is a so-called common religion.

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