I can hardly bear to listen to contemporary Christian radio anymore.
In our area we get a nationwide station called K-Love. Their motto is “Positive, encouraging, K-Love.” K-Love is just one of many contemporary Christian radio stations touting their positive message and music to the Christian market in America. And our people can’t seem to get enough.
But I find these stations anything but positive and encouraging. In fact, I’ve changed the motto of our local station to “Positively discouraging K-Love.” (And my kids hate it when I do that.)
But why? I am a Christian after all (though some of you are doubting me at this point).
Maybe I’m just one of those who think drums are sinful, or guitars are from the Devil. Nope. Not me. God cares about the content of the music, not the sounds of the instruments.
No, my concerns are much deeper than the sounds from the stage. My concerns are ultimately rooted in God’s Word and a loving concern for the future of the church in our land.
Let me first say I am thankful for Christian music and radio. I acknowledge the good these artists and stations do for their communities and the church. The only music my children can listen to is Christian music, and most of that comes from Christian radio.
But that doesn’t mean it’s all God calls it to be. In my view, there are two central problems with Christian music today, both centering on its content. Firstly, its exclusive focus on a ‘positive-only’ message is not biblical. And, secondly, the theological make-up of the songs themselves is far below the standards of Scripture.
Is being exclusively positive God-honoring?
The sentiment—to be a source of good news instead of the constant stream of bad news from the secular media—is admirable and appreciated. But we have to ask ourselves is this positive-only dogma really what Christ demands of us?
While we are always to be thankful for what God has done for us, and for His nature and promises, we cannot leave out the negative aspects of His Word to us. We cannot be positive-only when our people (the church in America) are in such open rebellion against God.
Where’s the proof?
What is the evidence of this rebellion you ask? Here are just a few of our more noticeable transgressions:
- We have abandoned the Great Commission within our borders. The average Christian hasn’t shared the gospel in years, if ever.
- We approve of patently evil acts, such as homosexuality, and even ordain those who practice these sins.
- We have given up the exclusivity of Christ in favor of multiple “paths” to God.
- We are full of apathy and self-centeredness, to the detriment to the kingdom of Christ.
- We are worldly and sensual, full of sexual lust, adultery, and pornography.
- We have compromised the Word of God on the altar of science, political correctness, and church ‘growth’.
- We misrepresent the nature and character of God by emphasizing only His love, but not His justice, holiness, wrath, and law.
The signs of God’s judgment on His people are everywhere. Think of the power of our enemies, like those in the homosexual movement. Note the number of our churches that are dying (80-85%) or the number of youth leaving (75-90%). And ask yourself, is our nation really favored by God? Wars and rumors of wars. Massive debt. Political infighting. Unemployment. Fires. Floods. Drought.
We’re too blind to see
God sent judgments on His people in Old Testament times as well, but they were just as blind as we are. We raise our hands high on Sunday morning as if God is so happy with us He could bust, while all along the evidence suggests otherwise.
After the people were “plundered and looted,” they still didn’t get it. “You have seen many things,” the Lord said, “but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing” (Isaiah 42:20).
Are you blind and deaf too?
There are two sides to this coin. First, the content that is delivered is at a first grade spiritual level.
Listen to the lyrics. How many times can we hear the same trite expressions? “Until the whole world hears.” Never heard that one before. “Jesus saves.” While true, is that as deep as we can go?
Read the words on the screen on Sunday morning. Are you bored yet? Getting any deep insight into the nature of God, life, or the Word?
This skin deep lyrical content is a reflection of the biblical knowledge level of not only the musician, but also, by extension, the average believer. In America today, Christians don’t read the Word. We don’t know it, and we don’t really care.
We’re here to live the “great” Christian life, have “great” worship, and feel “great” about ourselves. As one Christian artist put it, we’re interested in something “more like falling in love, than something to believe in.” We’re certainly getting that.
This kind of shallow understanding is condemned by God. “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again” (Hebrews 5:11-12).
What’s not there is worse
But it isn’t just the content that’s there that is the problem. It’s what isn’t there.
Here are some things you’ll rarely hear on the radio:
- An acknowledgment and condemnation of sin, whether inside the church our out.
- The fearful judgment to come, including the doctrine of a physical hell.
- The need for contrite repentance to enter the kingdom of God.
- The cost of following Christ, including complete abandonment to self and possible martyrdom.
- The true place of suffering in the Christian life.
- Non-politically correct issues: Homosexuality, false religions like Mormonism, Catholicism, and Islam, and most of the other items on this list.
We reinforce childish knowledge and unbiblical concepts with more of our manmade, earthly wisdom. Then we lead people to misery and apostasy when our shallow teachings don’t play out in real life.
Both come from the pulpit
Ultimately, the shallowness we see is a reflection of wimpy, ignorant pulpits. The average pastor is a religious shrink, pundit, and comic all rolled into one. His sermons are superficial, unstudied, and biblically empty. He never condemns anybody or anything. He’s there to “love” you and give you a better week, not proclaim the strong Word of God to you.
Once I was applying to become a church planter. I had to go out to the coast to be interviewed by a pastor of a mega-church. While I was waiting for the interview to start, I noticed all the great books he had on the shelves in his office (commentaries, books on theology, biblical dictionaries). After I complimented him on them, he said, “Oh, I don’t use those much anymore.”
You don’t need to when you preach “Three ways to have a better whatever” every Sunday like most do today.
God condemns teachers like these. Paul said, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:1-4).
Unwitting False Prophets
It is in this last sense that contemporary Christian music, and the cosmetic pastors behind it, find their ultimate condemnation. They are false prophets.  Unwitting in some cases, yes. But false prophets nonetheless.
A common trait of the false prophet is to tell the people everything is okay when it isn’t.
But I said, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, the prophets keep telling them, ‘You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give lasting peace in this place.’” Then the Lord said to me, “The prophets prophesy likes in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoke to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries, and the delusions of their own minds” (Jeremiah 14:13-14).
Whether it’s you and me individually, organized groups such as bands and radio stations, or pastors in the pulpits, the end is the same—our prophesies (that all is well), our ministries, and the people taken in by our lies, ultimately will be brought to nothing.
The Lord goes on in Jeremiah 14: “Those same prophets will perish by sword and famine. And the people they are prophesying to will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and sword” (15-16).
What’s really positive and encouraging
Do you want to hear something positive and encouraging from a biblical perspective? Repent of your sins, church. Rid yourself of shallow teachers and shallow lives. Teach the whole counsel of God. Call out sin in your congregations and in the culture at large. Take on the politically incorrect issues of our time. Forsake church growth through compromise and the “all-is-well” marketing campaigns of the Evil One.
Do these things and you’ll be positive and encouraging in the eyes of our Maker and Judge, God.