POLL: Which do you think is more harmful to your soul?

Contemporary Christian music has evoked a lot of comments lately on this site.  This poll is related to that.

[poll id=”4″]

Option 5 would be Abba

The serpent was more subtle…  (Gen 3:1)

Feel free to comment with your rationale…


POLL: Which do you think is more harmful to your soul? — 92 Comments

  1. I think there is some really great contemporary christian music out there – for example “In Christ Alone,” by the Getty’s – it is incredible. Unfortunately there is a ton of garbage too. Same goes for contemporary chrisitan preaching and contemporary christian writing.

    I think there is an ocean of difference between the danger posed by CCM and any secular music to the faith of many Christians – regardless of genre. True CCM has many songs with glaring theological errors, even heresy. True, much of CCM is cheesy and intellectually barren – but it does contain the Word of God and it is carries positive messages about Christ – which is far better than what you get out of secular music. As long as there is even a small amount of the word in CCM, then it is better than anything without it. Scripture can be twisted to mislead people, but Christ had perfect faith for me and my righteousness is His righteousness, which is perfect. I can be wrong because He was right for me. I am still covered by His blood inspite of my felicitous inconsistencies.

    When conisidering the dangers to my own soul – what would I be tempted to leave Christ and committ apostacy for? Pleasure, pride, flattery, lust – all of which are encouraged in secular music, and most of which aren’t encouraged in CCM.

    My old man loves classic rock – good hard AC/DC guitar riffs and screaming lyrics. Not very tastefull and encouraging of all the things of which I am now ashamed. Compared to the CCM song “Jesus take the Wheel” – that song tempts me to swear and utter prophanity, but it doesn’t tempt me leave my wife for a hot bimbo. Which is worse? I’m damned either way, but my wife would usually prefer the results of “Jesus take the wheel.”

  2. Okay, let me recap.

    Perry is KISS (wonder if he watches Family Jewels, talk about dichotomy…) Pastor Rossow, ABBA & the Carpenters, Jim, hard metal & the Ramones, Dutch, 80’s Pop & puffy shirts, then we have a rather, eclectic mix. Then we have the shedding of blood, swollen fingers from weather related injuries & might I add a tear or two, on keyboards.
    Only….only….on BJS.

    I’ve had an image of Pastor Rossow rockin’ out to ABBA’s Waterloo, Jim in a leather jacket w/& w/o mullet, Dutch with 80’s neon makeup & puffy stuff & mall rat hair-Stand & Deliver A.A. (I have the pix to prove it).
    The only thing I don’t know, is what Pastor Scheer listened to when he was young. Wait, he still is, let’s say younger. lol
    (my Mum has a beautiful soprano voice, I grew up hearing & singing w/it, it will carry well in anyone’s basement.)
    It is really rare, we get the chance here, to have a bit o’ fun. Let’s take it & have at it, for what it’s worth.
    If we can find a sitter for Feb, I will be asking for pix. I have mine, my hubby knew me when I was 13. The history of decades was told by Dutch’s hair. I know, I saw all the pix on my 40th.

  3. Does falling asleep apply to John Denver, Peter Paul & Mary, & Joan Collins, or the Mama’s & Papa’s? If so, I’m Rip Van Winkle. Wait, I already used that one before here at BJS.

  4. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #22
    Although I wish I had a gold statue of Buddha – Glenn Beck keeps telling me to buy gold…

    There is a solid gold statue of Buddha in a Wat (temple) in Bangkok. For many years it was thought to be pottery because in some period of danger it had been covered with clay. One time it was necessary to move it and the cover cracked, revealing the gold.

    Most Buddha statues are stone. If some appear to be gold, it is the offerings of ordinary people who can purchase gold foil in postage stamp sizes which is affixed to the Buddha. So if someone offers you a ‘gold’ one, be a little careful? 😉

    [We might have bought gold 5 years ago?] 🙁

  5. “You will see that my last comment was referring to secular music, which by definition takes CCM out of the equation.”

    Does it really take it out of the equation? If secular music tastes drive music tastes generally, and folks want their Christian music station to play music that sounds like other secular music. Then they get used to the sound on the Christian music station and want some of their faves from the radio in the service.

    Do you think this doesn’t happen? Just wondering.

  6. CCM because it has led to arguments between myself and loved ones. For the sake of fraternal love and unity we now have to avoid talking about worship and must tread carefully when talking about theology in general. How terrible that Christian family members must avoid talking about the very thing that should be uniting them in a holy bond deeper than blood. It will take more grace than I have within me to forgive the CCM genre for the rift it has introduced. Luckily for me CCM is a genre and not a person, I don’t have to accept or forgive it. Select family members on the other hand? I must and do forgive, but the damage is done and the egg shells will be on the floor at family gatherings.

  7. Young Blood,
    Your not alone, politics, Religion & now Music, is off the plate at my family gatherings. Oh wait….that’s right….I’m not invited to them anymore.
    Must have busted too many shells, lol.

  8. @Phillip #50
    Phillip – you wrote:
    “Perhaps we need a better survey?”

    I agree – the guy who wrote this one up is not very scientific and would not make it long as a pollster…

  9. @Dutch #52
    Dutch – you wrote:
    “The only thing I don’t know, is what Pastor Scheer listened to when he was young. Wait, he still is, let’s say younger. lol”

    I am younger (although each week shows less hair on top), but I prefer older music. I listen to a lot of Bob Dylan, who covers a lot of genres of music (including CCM – see his albums “Saved” and “Slow Train Coming” neither of which are near my favorite) Apart from that, you could on occasion catch me listening to Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Merle Haggard (as well as some others of the honky-tonk, classic country era). A lot of days now, the radio is on talk radio.

    Hope that completes your image of BJS…

  10. @helen #55

    Thanks for the tips on gold… I don’t think the gold buddha would meet with Mrs. Scheer’s idea for home decor – and yes, it may be a stumblingblock in my study at church…

  11. Pastor Scheer,
    Maybe not of BJS, but most certainly better of you! lol
    The Rebels of Country. How very….BJS of you!

  12. @Dutch #37

    A bad pastor is a bad pastor and it tears the people of the church apart. I have seen it from so called confessionals, moderates and the libs. It is a wonder that I am even Lutheran anymore, except Scripture and confessions, oh and the other guys or gals depending on the denomination are just as sinful. I know the district that you speak of, what area does your mom live? I will pray for your mom and those congregation members who are struggling.

  13. Andrew,
    After my Dad went Home, the Congregation, seemed to become a dumping ground, for clergy. My Mum has no love for BJS, nor for my participation (or much for me that matter), but that call, was historic, & epic. Music, yep, agreeable, BJS or the topics, not so much….until today, that is. I wouldn’t hold a Denom, for my story or now..Mum’s. They are both rural & in the same state. Discipline, is an issue in yours & mine. (LCMS, WELS)
    Talk about a rabbit hole, & mad hatters! But, do let’s stick to music. I’m still picturing Pastor Rossow, rockin’ in his car to ABBA & Karen. Abba ya can rock to, Karen….not so much.

    We have time enough, to be weighty & serious…so much is.
    This post, let’s keep light. I was a red herring, but where else could I say anything that would be heard? Still….a red herring. Polkas & waltzs…did I say I used to belong to Bayrische Verein? Anything but those…please! Yes…I have pix of that too!!! On the net to boot!

  14. @Pastor Tim Rossow #29
    I grew up listening to the polka station. Or should I say, I grew up with my dad listening to the polka station and I having no say in the matter.

    We didn’t set the radio station either. 🙂 [Before supper we got to listen to Jack Armstrong and the Lone Ranger but that’s because everyone else was too busy to care right then.]
    But I liked New Ulm … [Until “old time” music was removed from my life, I didn’t know how much!] We did schottisches as exercise in gym class. My cousin could dance really well and would get me dizzy with a polka and laugh at me at the end of it. But waltzes and the songs in waltz time were the best.

    Mostly, I don’t know what you are talking about here because we listened to “old time” as kids and went to “old time” dances on Friday nights as young adults. “New time” (still too old for most of you) was played on Saturday night, which was “getting ready for church” night in our schedule.

    [I do have some friends my kids’ ages who enlighten me once in awhile with a sample.
    One likes a Canadian group called Rush which I can relate to better than most of the stuff. YouTube is a great education!] 🙂

  15. @Andrew Strickland #35
    my hands are chapped from the dreaded winter of MN and it hurts to type. There is blood on the keyboard

    Andrew, I grew up in “the dreaded winter of Minnesota”. When things got that bad we would coat our hands with Vaseline and put an old pair of white gloves over it to wear to bed. It helped.

    In the modern age, “Vaseline intensive care” (I see the current container is labeled “intensive rescue”) can be put on and absorbed, unlike the old fashioned stuff.
    This one is even “unfragranced” so you don’t have to worry about smelling ladylike. 🙂

    [Sorry to get off topic, but it sounded like an EMS call here.]

  16. Andrew Strickland :
    @Pastor Joshua Scheer #38
    Yup- not a fan of winter. I can be glad that it has been warmer the last couple of days, but then there is this http://www.kare11.com/weather/all_alerts_sort.aspx?sort=Winter_Storm_Warning
    Anyway, it seems that CCM may be the last hang up I have before I can officially call myself a Confessional Lutheran. Now I don’t “souly” listen to it, because many songs aint got the same soul as a hymn out of LSB and certainly rock n roll , but there is some stuff I dig.

    You know what finally did it for me? I mean, I still have a number of the “good” ccm mp3’s and all on my cpu…but the thing is, I almost never listen to *one* song. I don’t take the time to dig up “this” song or “that” song by anyone. I listen to albums that are great and can just be left to play, or I listen to mixes I make. And…you know…”The Voice of Truth” just doesn’t fit in between “Over the Hills and Far Away,” and “Interstate Love Song.”

    So I finally excised ccm simply because there wasn’t enough of it to make it worth my time to buy it, set it apart, and push play just for its own sake. Strangely enough, I still listen to to Relient K, since they get played on my pandora emo punk station…but thankfully, only the songs they don’t ruin with mishmashed theology – just the nice happy songs about sunshine and their emo songs about being sad punk rock kids. XD

  17. Helen,

    Rush is great! One of my youth at my first call (he was a Canuck – now it makes sense) introduced me to them. They show up on occasson on the classic rock radio stations I listen to.


  18. Friday night I went to a CD release concert at King of Kings Lutheran Church (KOK) here in Omaha. Their praise band had recorded some of the historic hymns onto a CD and were launching it for sale. I wanted to go to this for a couple reasons. First of all, I had not been to KOK since I was a kid in the mid 90’s and wanted to see what this LCMS megachurch looked like. Secondly, I wanted to see how this band was going to treat the hymns. I was hopeful but not optimistic.

    Needless to say, it was interesting. The singer/”songwriter” of the band felt the need to inject some praise element into most of the hymns. The one the stands out in my mind is Holy, Holy, Holy” (LSB 507). The hymn would go on for a verse like normal and then there would be a praise refrain, which was just frankly odd in my view.

    I think overall, this was a good learning experience for me. Until this Friday, I had very little exposure to nondenominational type praise worship, which I know is probably odd for a young guy like me in his mid-twenties. After experiencing this type of worship, I have come away I think with a greater appreciation for the historic liturgy. Hopefully that will never change.

  19. @Pastor Tim Rossow #71
    Rush was at the MN State Fair this year and they were amazing. 🙂 I expected to be surrounded my more gray hair and bald heads, but there were many teenagers there as well. It seems that the cult status of Rush has been picked up my the kids.

    @revfisk #70
    The local CCM station is in the background in my life. It is played in the car with the family, sometimes on the radio in the house and I hear it at church-it is played between the services -music over slides- that are broadcast on the community cable station that church runs. There are many many cringe worthy songs that are played. I

  20. Rev Thomas Winter @#39 :
    @Helen #7
    @Phillip #13
    This was supposed to be a light-hearted response. I find Sacred Harp (often referred to as ‘Shape note singing”) to be physically painful to listen to. (Sorry, Mom and Dad for ending that sentence with a preposition). From the comments I have heard and read by its participants, it is wonderful to be a participant, not not so much to be a hearer.

    While the shrill cacophony of Sacred Harp is not always on my playlist, I do, from time to time, appreciate and enjoy it. Kind of like listening to bagpipes (and we don’t need to have that discussion again).

    And I think you stumbled on an important point in that last sentence of the quote – Sacred Harp is a method of group singing (meant for participation) NOT a form of entertainment (meant for listening).

    One of the things I appreciate about the Sacred Harp genre is the prevalence of the imagery of the Blood of Christ in the lyrics. Most of the Sacred Harp lyrics I have encountered have been much better than CCM lyrics when it comes to vicarious satisfaction and being clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

  21. @Rev Thomas Winter #39

    I appreciate that your comments regarding Sacred Harp singing are light-hearted, Pastor, but must respectfully disagree.

    I am well-aware of “harp singing” as it was in my family for generations and is an integral part of the Scots-Irish culture in which both sides of my family are rooted (being from the upper South). I’ll certainly grant you that it is more pleasant to particiapte in the singing than to listen, but congregatioanal singing is not performance art.

    As far as performances of sacred harp music go, there are plenty to be found that are of high quality, for those wanting to appreciate the music at a high level. Indeed, my favorite CD is the Boston Camerata’s “Roots of American Folksong”, which contains several harp songs, including William Walker’s “Halleljuah”.

    I wouldn’t want sacred harp music as more of a part of the musical diet of my church than it is (we sing harp tunes 2 or 3 times a month at Bethany), but I really do love them. How much? The funeral service on file in the church office has instructions for the choir to sing Walker’s “Hallelujah” as the recessional, as my body is taken to its place of rest.

    For those who don’t know the kind of music we are discussing, here are some Sacred Harp tunes that are in LSB:

    CONSOLATION – “The King Shall Come”
    RESTORATION – “All for Christ I Have Forsaken”
    DETROIT – “Forgive Our Sins, as We Forgive”
    NETTLETON – “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
    FOUNDATION – “How Firm A Foundation”
    NEW BRITAIN – “Amazing Grace”
    JEFFERSON – “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus”
    BOYLSTON – “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”
    AZMON – “Oh, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” and “Awake, O Sleeper”
    HOLY MANNA – “Gracious God, You Send Great Blessings” (plus other texts)

  22. I can easily avoid the other musical styles. They are unapologetically secular. But when I enter my local LCMS church, I cannot avoid contemporary Christian music. Most contemporary Christian music on the local radio station is “lite rock” songs with vague references to Christ.

    We attend the “blended” service at our LCMS church (1/2 songs are contemporary, 1/2 of songs are traditional hymns). I quietly wait until the contemporary song is over, singing only the traditional hymns. I will always remember the Order of Matins from the 1941 Lutheran hymnal. What would I remember from singing “Amazing Love” incessantly?

  23. I answered (A) because the survey concerned my personal soul. It is sad that so many Lutherans are so weak in their knowledge of doctrine and faith in Christ that they believe that listening to contemporary non-Lutheran Christian music could damage their souls. Perhaps many of us really are just reeds that bend with whatever wind that blows.

    On the other hand, death metal, suicidal “love has ended” country music, and rap music can be very harmful to the unbeliever’s soul, for death metal is deliberately and definitely anti-Christian; areas of the country that favor country music have been shown to have higher rates of suicide; and much rap music encourages violence against both men and women and a radically violent lifestyle.

  24. @Phillip #75


    When you say that “sacred harp music” is “a part of the musical diet” of your congregation, do you mean that you sing hymns that use harp tunes, or do you mean that you have Sacred Harp sings (with the chairs in a square, taking turns as director, etc.)?

    There is something to be said for the egalitarian manner in which Sacred Harp sings are conducted, and the didactic nature of Harp singing in general (training the ear for basic chord structures, rhythm, etc.). Great for just plain fun; a little disorganized perhaps for public worship, though. I haven’t sat for a Sacred Harp singing session in nearly two decades (since I was in college).

  25. Yo, Padre!

    You know well my love for this stuff, as we talked about harp singing at one of the synod’s music conferences a few years ago. I believe you sang in the choir I directed that sang stanza of WONDROUS LOVE in that style.

    No, we don’t have full-blown sings at Bethany, though I do an annual Singing School for the kids. Several adults have asked me to do one for adults, and I’m thinking about having a modified “sing” for adults as part of our 2011-12 season. We definitely would sit in a square and have folks take turns, etc., but we would include some other hymnody in the singing.

    We do teach solfege (“fasola”) in our day school to all the students, starting in 2nd grade, and I do have the choirs sing to each other in a circle on a regular basis. Excellent ways of teaching sight-reading, strengthening part-singing and developing listening skills.

    So, it is a big part of who I am and what I do, but certainly modified to fit my ‘sitz in leben’ (sp) here in a suburban Lutheranland.

  26. Ya know, there is a grand picture over at Sacred Sandwich, entitled, “Catchy Tune.”
    Funny…..very funny. Rather Pythonianesque…and timely.

    (I’m snowed in here. I’ve got way too much time…however always end on an up note,
    no pun intended.)

  27. Just so everybody knows, Sacred Harp is not some sort of activity at our church. It sounds like it gets used out there in a number of ways, from simply helping people learn to sight read all the way to some sort of group or spiritual experience. At Bethany, it is simply a tool for helping day school kids learn how to sight read music.


  28. @Phillip #75
    Cantor Magness, I confess my goal was to get a chuckle from the reader. I appreciate your clear and detailed response. The Sacred Harp singing that you taught in Congo didn’t sound like the typical example I have witnessed; there was much more nuance to the singing. You also made it clear that congregational singing is not performance art, a statement I can heartily endorse. I am quite happy to see that my lighthearted comment has given us all an opportunity to learn a bit more of our musical heritage. If I offended you, I apologize.

    Since I have already hijacked this thread, I feel no qualms about making a hard left turn.

    You said in comment # 80:

    Phillip :
    We do teach solfege (“fasola”) in our day school to all the students, starting in 2nd grade, and I do have the choirs sing to each other in a circle on a regular basis. Excellent ways of teaching sight-reading, strengthening part-singing and developing listening skills.

    This reminded me of a conversation I recently had with my mother. She attended a two-room LC-MS school in the 1930-40s in Connecticut. She told me that in first grade, the learned every song using the “do-re-mi” method before they learned any lyrics. In doing this, everyone learned how to sight-read and gained confidence in singing. She also remembered that the Walther League would get together and sing all these songs in harmony, mostly from memory.

    It sounds as you are taking a similar approach, and I applaud you for this. Is this unique to you, or is there a renewal of this musical education in the Concordias? I entered an LC-MS school in 1963, and we were always singing from the hymnal. Good behavior in our classes was rewarded with more singing time. And we loved it! Yet as good as my LC-MS music training was, it wasn’t as good as that of my mother’s generation. By 1985, it was clear that the love of singing and singing skills had declined considerably in many of our schools. So my final question is this: “What is the direction of musical education our parishes and schools…and what can we do to help bring about a renewal of our musical heritage?

  29. No offense taken, Pastor Winter. Not at all – even if you don’t like harp singing Southern-fried! 😉

    Re: your question, I usually have my children’s choirs sing their parts on solfege (fasola, or “do-re-mi”) before “singing the poetry”. I don’t know how unique this is to me in the LCMS, but I do see, unfortunately, that we are by-and-large an exception. For example, we are members of the Illinois Grade School Music Association so that we can send our junior high choir and band students to contest. Only three other LCMS day schools do this in the entire state. Sure, there are good programs that don’t do this, as there are other ways to elevate standards and motivate students, but I think that statistic is revealing. Here’s another one: many churches with sizable junior highs in Illinois don’t even have a band program.

    I do know there are good things happening in some of our day schools. I know of good programs in Chicagoland, Michigan, Ft. Wayne, Houston, and other places. But the overall condition is not good, and there aren’t signs that the good programs are having much influence.

    What can be done to bring about a renewal of our heritage? I go back to what I’ve said before, quoting our Lord: ‘where your treasure is, there your heart shall be.’ Churches that value the art of music invest in skilled musicians and get results. Certainly there are things that can be done synodically to cultivate these musicians, but the root of our problem is that we as a whole simply do not place a high value on musicianship.

    I consider myself to be extremely blessed to be at Bethany, where the “chief musician” is held in high esteem (what an honor it is to be called “Cantor”!) and where the congregation supports the art of music with a day school music teacher, a part-time associate cantor, and an adequate budget for a comprehensive music program in both the parish and the school. Other colleagues of mine are not so fortunate. Some have left parish music entirely due to lack of support.

  30. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #3

    “Abba is Biblical after all (at least the word)… and if I recall they are Swedish? That would most likely make them Lutheran!”

    As far as I can tell, noboby on this thread caught this. We have a non sequitor here: “Lutheran” does not necessarily follow from “Swedish.” Maybe 100 years ago, but I’d say the odds against your premise are about 100 to 1. Based on the state of the Lutheran church in Sweden, those odds are more likely 1000 to 1.

    No offense intended here–I just want us to have a realistic picture of the state of Lutheranism world-wide. Speaking of that, what’s going on in Latvia these days?


  31. I ended up picking Country partly because I like to pick on country. Although I will add, I really don’t understand why people find it more family friendly than Rock, considering the number of country songs about getting hammered and ogling women.

    I really would have liked the option all the above because each are equally damaging, just in different ways.

  32. No one is saying a person cannot listen to and enjoy CCM. What most of us are saying I think, at least I will speak for myself, is that the vast majority of the music just doesn’t belong in a Divine Service where God is serving us. The nature of CCM (of which I was intimately involved in several years ago as a performer) is to stir up feelings and get the person to think about themselves and their needs. The 7/11 praise songs rarely get to God and His majesty but more about how much We love Him (and shouldn’t He be flattered by that? Ha). Buy your cd’s, buy your videos if you care to enrich that genre, just please keep it out of my worship time.

  33. One wonders what is more important:

    Christians listening to CCM

    or people not believing in Jesus in the first place.

    I wonder what is more important to people at times.

    I’ve been looking through my Scripture trying to find out where it states WHAT type of music ‘belongs’ in a divine service and that which does not. My Scripture says to praise God with all types of instruments.

    Secular rap music vs. CCM? Rap music is less dangerous? Right.

    Steadfast Christian, over and out.

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