Christianity,  Music

What is Christian Music?

Brent Thomas has some interesting reflections on the question “What is Christian music?” He writes:

‘We must understand that we have created our own sub-culture which runs by its own rules. Just because something may be purchased at a Christian bookstore does not mean it may be trusted. Conversely, just because something may not be purchased at the same store does not mean the people behind it are not glorifying God in what they do. These issues are not new to anyone involved in “Christian” music or books at any level. However, we must be sensitive to the fact that many well-meaning believers are sincerely swayed by labeling, and the lack of endorsement as a “Christian” artist is the death-bell as far as they’re concerned. We must gently teach Christian truth that not only affects the heart, but also the head. We must teach discernment, something sorely lacking in our day and age.’

Read the rest here.


  • Hoey

    Thanks for the link to the article.

    I’ll be honest, with the exception of one or two artists (at most) if I see something is from the CCM stable, I won’t bother with it. It’s almost guaranteed to be apalling.

  • Paul


    It’s all about business, and it’s all about having a “Christian” version of everything.

    Unfortunately, that Christian version of anything is almost always bad.

  • Euphranor

    Good thoughts. I actually think that, properly construed, the state of “christians playing music” is quite well. From Sufjan Stevens to U2, Jeremy Casella, Doug Burr (local guy from Denton), and Aradhna, there is alot for christians to be excited about.

  • Carlito

    I agree that CCM is overall extremely weak in terms of substance and quality.

    When I want to listen “Christian” music, I go straight for worship, rather than entertainers who are more or less trying to mimic “secular” music. You can’t go wrong with David Crowder, Chris Tomlin, Charlie Hall, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Hillsong, Watermark, Brian & Jenn Johnson, etc. etc.

    The Christian music scene, IMHO, is at its best w/ singer-songwriters who are not very well-known. Artists like these are tops in my book: Matthew Peterson, Derek Webb (a.k.a. Caedmon’s Call), Chris Rice, Matthew Perryman Jones and Sara Groves.

    Also, Sandra McCracken is the best. If you haven’t heard “The Builder and the Architect”, you need to ASAP!

    Also, I’m definitely a fan of Leeland. Maybe not the most theologically sound, but they rock.

  • Carlito

    I almost forgot:
    Indelible Grace + Matthew Smith

    I love the whole giving ancient hymns a modern sound thing. I can dig it.

  • Hoey

    Actually, Carlito, I think a lot of those artists are guilty of the same things and more. But we let them away with it because it comes under the banner of “worship music”.

    Now, why we do and whether we should let them off the hook is another matter.

  • Hoey

    Also, it’s worth noting that acceptance of bad music is not limited to Christian circles. I have a lot of experience on the Dublin secular music scene and the vast majority of singer-songwriters who claim to be “all about the music, man” and “real artists” are allowed get away with some serious aural abuse. I point to Damien Rice and his ilk.

  • Euphranor

    I think it is music done christianly, which is to say, reflects the truth of God in Christ. A non-christian can produce christian music so defined. So it matters not to me whether Bono is actually a christian (For the sake of my argument. Of course, I do care about anyone’s eternal state.) but rather that he (or rather, they as it is a band) make music which draws upon themes that are in keeping with the truth of God in Christ: Depravity, redemption, atonement, reconcilliation, and lots of reverb.

  • Paul


    according to your definition, Wharf Rat by the Grateful Dead is the most Christian song of all time (something I pretty much believe to be true anyway). It’s a song about a depraved guy who decides he’s gonna give his life over to God in the middle of the song, and then finds himself comforting the other grumpy guy after he’s found redemption.

    I expect to see Skull and Roses in the local Family Bookstore by Monday morning…

  • Euphranor

    I don’t know the song, but I do like the dead. I dont know much about christian family bookstore, but whether or not they would carry it has little to do with whether or not a song is christian by my definition. What if archaologists discovered secret writings that definitely belonged to John Newton, and that these writings revealed that he was a secret apostate and heretic. Would we stop singing his hymns?

  • Euphranor

    Oops, I should have asked the question, would his hymns stop being “christian music”?

    Sorry, my question in the original post is only an inference from a negative reply to the above.

    So, it doesnt seem that one’s personal salvation has anything to do with a song being christian or not.

  • Jesica

    Has anyone read “Revolution in World Missions” or “Road to Reality” by K.P.Yohnannan?

    His book really opened my eyes to how absurd we can be with how we try to make a “Christian” version of everything. Trinkets. Dish Towels. Candles. etc…..

    All the while, our brothers and sisters in Christ in Asia and other parts of the globe are in desperate need of Bibles and supplies to reach the lost with the Gospel.

    His books are great..and you can get the first one for free by going to

    OK…so did I miss it somehow that Bob Dylan became a Jesus follower? (Not a Dylan fan, but am curious, based on the article.)

  • Paul

    Bob Dylan DID become a Christian. And never, in the entirety of all mankind, did the Christian reaction to a conversion ever push someone away from Christianity quicker. I’ve read story after story about how Christians just hounded him about his conversion that it left a sour taste in his mouth, and eventually, he converted back to Judaism.

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