From rock music to books, movies to games, the debate occasionally raises its head, “Is it Christian, or just created by a Christian?” While I’ve seen this question debated more lately surrounding book genres, I’ve seen this discussion around music for many more years than that. The general consensus is often put forward that Christians write, sing, play, act, or present their thoughts and ideas via genres that are not specifically Christian or secular, these genres just are what they are. Counter arguments often point to the fact that styles of presentation differ markedly from what Christians offer to what the secular scene offers, but this has rarely changed the general consensus.
Before I became an author and a soundtech, I was involved in singing ministry in the various churches I attended growing up and into adult-hood. Being born in 1971, much of both the Christian and secular industry was still built around actual talent and not auto-tuned computerized digital output intended to make the musician or singer sound better than they actually were. In the early ’90’s, I remember hearing of at least one Christian singer who despised creating versions of their songs for radio play, because the songs had to have a certain “ring” to them, be shorter, etc. At the same time I heard these snippets of discontent from professionals, I also began to hear complaints from listeners. Those complaints began to pick up until the 2000’s hit and now any musician or singer worth their salt will complain about the quality of the bands and singers coming out, and what they hear on the radio. The general consensus among critical listeners today is that most of what you can hear on the radio is garbage! The sad half-joked observation is that today’s “talent” doesn’t need any actual “talent” to get noticed or turned into a star. This goes for actors as well as singers, and if you listen in on the author/writer community discussions, there is discontent in the ranks of those with actual talent taking upset pot shots at those churning out poor content that average readers are snubbing their noses at not wanting to read. In all areas of creativity these days, there are now imposters posing as talented individuals, made to look or sound that way purely by the wonders of technology.
That last paragraph may seem like a bunny-trail, but the two thoughts now presented are actually linked, and in a way that most of these discussions have never considered. When my daughter brought this to my attention on a Christian rock group’s YouTube video comment thread, I had to jump on this particular perspective! Take a look at this image (click to expand it if necessary) and look for the word “atheist”. Then look for the word “clothes”. They will appear in two separate comments.
While Christians debate whether to call their writing, singing or acting, “Christian rock” or “Christian romance” or “Christian film” or “Christian comedy” or “Christian pop”, the differences are more easily seen by those who do not espouse Christianity. Yes, apparently to the unsaved, there is such a thing as Christian Rock, and two of these commenters are amazed at what they’ve heard and seen. One of those commenters needs our prayers that what they refer to as “Christian Rock” will continue to ruin their atheistic cred and lead them on the path to Christ. Notice in this image that it was an atheist who called the music, “Christian Rock”.
I sat with my daughter around the table discussing this discovery. She’s 20 years old and works where the radio blares every day while mucking paddocks and stalls, feeding hay, watering horses, etc. She agrees that today’s musical output on the radio is horrible, not merely for the lyrical content but more importantly in the quality being passed off as enjoyable talent. Her biggest beef with secular radio is the general inability to make out the words of the songs. Occasionally she hear a song she can listen to, but then recoils at the content she’s hearing. She says Christian radio on the other hand lets you hear the words without cringing at the lyrics. She says that yes, there is a difference between secular rock and Christian rock, secular pop and Christian pop, etc. I sat there fascinated to hear the next generation talking about this after all my years of hearing my generation and older engaged in these kinds of debates. She says the music feels different, the talent level is higher, and the overall output is to a higher calibre among Christian artists than among their secular counterparts.
If these differences are enough for an atheist to admit to being swayed from his chosen belief system, then I’d say that her observations are more true to what’s going on out on the street in people’s minds and understandings than what is being debated around Christian coffee tables.
The next time you are asked if there are such things as Christian genres, you can answer them with a resounding YES! Then show them this screenshot, or better yet, visit the song itself if you are into Christian rock, and scroll through to see the comments for yourself: