A Website for Basic Christian Doctrine

Can We Rock the Gospel? Book Review

By Jeremy Cagle

Debates about worship are nothing new to the church. While it may seem like we are the first ones to wrestle with songs and hymns and decorum on Sundays, that is far from the case. For example, in the 8th Century, an argument broke out in the Greek Orthodox Church known as the “Iconoclast Controversy.” It was fought over the use of icons or statues in worship.

Some said that statues in the church violated the Second Commandment and they had to go.1 They were blasphemous. They promoted idolatry. Others said that they were useful and had to stay because they illustrated biblical teaching for the masses who could not read.

As a result, war broke out in the East. Churches were burnt down. Priests were put to death. Statues and paintings were thrown to the ground and decimated. It got so bad that one author described the situation this way:

[As a result of this disagreement], a mob of housewives with no more than kitchen implements, mops, and brooms, beat to death some soldiers as they were removing their favorite icons from a public building . . . Monasticism was [forbidden], and monasteries were converted into barracks for the use of the soldiers . . . What began as a genuinely religious concern of the emperor and a few strong-minded Eastern bishops soon became the most vital of all political issues.2

All of this is to say that worship has never been an easy thing to discuss in the church. It has always been fraught with confusion and high tempers. It has always led to angry words and hurt feelings. Christians have always had sharp disagreements over the subject of worship, as David Peterson explains:

Considering the outpouring of books on worship in recent years, it is obviously a subject of great interest and importance for contemporary Christians. Yet, sadly, worship is an issue that continues to divide us, both across the denominations and within particular congregations. Even those who desire to bring their theology and practice under the criticism and control of biblical revelation can find themselves in serious conflict with one another . . .

Above all, what seems to be so lacking in congregational life, and in books purporting to advise us about church services, is any serious attempt to grapple with a broadly based biblical theology of worship. What, after all, does the Bible mean by “worship” and how does it relate to the other great issues of the Christian life?3

To help answer that question, in 2006, John Blanchard and Dan Lucarini co-authored the book, Can We Rock the Gospel?: Rock Music’s Impact on Worship and Evangelism.4 While modern-day Christians do not have to worry about icons and statues,5 we do have to worry about wild hair and smoke machines. While we do not have to wrestle with mobs of housewives beating soldiers to death, we do have to wrestle with drums and electric guitars. We do have to figure out what to do with the loud concerts and the crowds of young people showing up at church to “make noise” for Jesus. So what are we to make of all of this? How should we view it? Is rock ‘n’ roll an enemy to the Body of Christ or is it a friend? One answer is found in this book.

In the authors’ own words, Can We Rock the Gospel was written to “confront the use of rock music in the church.”6 It asks the question: “Are there musical forms or ways of using music that violate biblical principles and which Christians should reject? We sincerely believe that there are.”7 In other words, rock music is wrong and should not be used in the church.

Both authors are definitely qualified to write on such a subject. John Blanchard is a popular author whose books have sold more than fourteen million copies and been printed in over forty languages. His writings include Ultimate Questions,8 Does God Believe in Atheists,9 Right with God,10 and Pop Goes the Gospel.11

Dan Lucarini has also achieved a great deal of success. After serving for several years as a worship leader in his local church, Lucarini wrote the best-selling book, Why I Left the Contemporary Christian Music Movement,12 which is now in its 18th printing. He has also written It’s Not About the Music: A Journey into Worship13 and travels the country counseling pastors, song leaders, and Christian musicians in how to correctly worship God.14

So both men have a lot to contribute to this discussion, but what do they have to say? Why do they believe that rock music should be seen as an enemy to the church?

Content.

The book contains 11 chapters which cover everything from rock ‘n’ roll history to its demonic influences, but one of the most helpful chapters was chapter three entitled “Identity Crisis.” It deals with the dangers of rock ‘n’ roll, not just for the church but for society at large.

For example, by its very nature, rock ‘n’ roll music is repetitive. It repeats the same words over and over and over again, producing a hypnotic effect on the listener. It forces him to turn his brain off and his emotions on, which is a dangerous thing to do. To quote from the book:

This insistent repetition immediately raises warning flags about the suitability of rock music in worship or evangelism, because constant repetition has a hypnotic effect . . . Any medium or presentation that induces any loss of self-control . . . and makes the listener unusually susceptible to whatever suggestions are made . . . is clearly dangerous, and will almost certainly encourage a response that will be largely psychological instead of that which God requires.15

Rock music also blurs its words. Anyone who has listened to a rock album or concert would have to admit that the words are often unintelligible because the music is so loud. The sheer volume of the guitars and drums makes the lyrics impossible to hear, which goes against everything we are trying to accomplish in worship. After quoting from several passages about hearing “the word” such as Ephesians 1:13, Philippians 2:6, and James 1:18, the authors ask the question:

How can the work of evangelism be helped by something which makes its message more difficult to hear? How can Christians worship in truth and experience sanctification, instruction and correction when they are unable to hear the words?16

Finally, rock music is not redeemable. Chapter three goes on to explain that the genre of rock cannot be won back for the Lord any more than any genre of music can. Only people can be redeemed. Only people are capable of experiencing regeneration and conversion as the authors explain:

It has been suggested to us that to question the appropriateness of using any particular kind of music in evangelism and worship is to deny the lordship of Christ over part of his creation – but exactly the opposite is true. We deny his lordship when we decide that we can use any means we choose, then bring him in at the next stage and ask his blessing over it . . .

To imagine that by taking any kind of music (or other art form) and using it in God’s service we are somehow “redeeming” or “reclaiming” it for God is another popular piece of wooly thinking. According to Scripture, only believers’ souls (now) and bodies (eventually) are redeemed by the blood of Christ . . . The Christian is under no instruction or obligation to reclaim art forms for God as if they were some kind of lost property.17

So where does this leave us? If rock music is hypnotic, incoherent, and unredeemable, what do we do with it? John Blanchard and Dan Lucarini say that we should throw it out of the church. Believers should not use it in worship. They do not say that we should never listen to rock18 but that it has no place in the church. God is too high and exalted to be subject to such an evil form of entertainment. It is far too dangerous to incorporate it into the Body of Christ.

To add further evidence to this, the next chapter is entitled “Strange Fire” and explores the darker side of rock ‘n’ roll. In a very thought-provoking list, the authors point out the obsession that rock stars have had with the occult. The following may shock you but no one can deny that contemporary musicians have always had an unhealthy interest in evil things. Beginning with the Beatles’ adherence to Hinduism and Jimi Hendrix’s interest in Voodoo, the book goes on to give the following examples:

AC/DC: A hallmark of their albums is the satanic “S” . . .The cover of the album Highway to Hell shows a member with horns and another wearing a pentagram (a satanic symbol).19

Aerosmith: Their album Get Your Wings has on the cover the Winged Globe, an occultic symbol.20

Tori Amos: This female rocker once said, “I want to marry Lucifer. I don’t consider him an evil source – we can all tap into that energy.”21

Black Sabbath: The name of the group refers to an occult ritual and they have been known to introduce their concerts by holding black masses on stage, complete with a nude on an altar, sprinkled with chicken blood.22

The Eagles: The name comes from the chief spirit in the Indian cosmos. The group was formed under the occult influence of Carlos Castaneda, a sorcerer.23

Fleetwood Mac: The group had a hit called “Rhiannon” which was dedicated to a Welsh witch. Lead singer Stevie Nick is reported as having dedicated songs in concert to “all the witches of the world.”24

The Rolling Stones: Still very popular today, their song “Sympathy for the Devil” is a tribute to Satan’s role in history and it has become an unofficial anthem for Satanists.25

Needless to say, such music should be considered armed and extremely dangerous. Christians should be cautious of anything that exalts Satanism and idolatry.

But the question still remains: Is rock ‘n’ roll music wrong? Can it never, ever, ever be used in the church of the living God? Are those who sing to guitars and drums in error or, worse, in sin?

Evaluation of Content.

The book does not assert that Christians are in sin who use rock ‘n’ roll music in the church, but it does say that they are in error. To justify that argument, chapter ten discusses the biblical concerns for rock music. They are as follows:

Words are of paramount importance – nothing must detract or distract from them in any way;

Any kind of psychological manipulation must be avoided;

The Bible’s message must be addressed directly to the mind and not merely to the emotions . . .

The communicator must do everything possible to be eclipsed by the message;

Nothing must be done that will stimulate unwholesome thoughts or appetites;

Extreme care must be taken not to introduce stumbling blocks into any area of Christian life.26

The authors then proceed to list the benefits for abandoning rock music in the church:

Freedom from compromise . . . You would be free from the constant pressure of needing to keep in step with the latest musical trend, idiom, or fad. You would not need to be musically “cool.”27

Freedom from hindering the message. You would also be free from the nagging question of whether your worship or the worship of those you lead was falsely stimulated by the suggestive power of rock music.28

Freedom from the pressure of results. You would be free from the temptation of relying on the music to “get results” . . .29

Freedom from causing offence . . . You would be free from the apostle Paul’s censure of those who flaunt their liberty . . . and knowingly put a stumbling block in the way of their brothers and sisters in Christ . . .30

Freedom to preach the gospel . . . You would be free to concentrate much more on the preaching of the Word of God.31

While there is not time to interact with all of these arguments, it would be helpful to interact with the latter ones.

Freedom from compromise. It would be difficult to prove that everyone who worships to rock music does it to compromise, because that is a question of motives and no one knows someone else’s motives. Many people like rock simply because they like the music. Trends, idioms, or fads have nothing to do with it.

Freedom from hindering the message. Nowhere do the authors prove that Christian rock always hinders the gospel message. Many Christians today do not equate rock music with evil behavior. They equate it with bands like “Third Day” and “Chris Tomlin.” Also, they do not listen to rock music that obscures the words. Some worship to rock music while reading the lyrics on a large projection screen up front.

Freedom from the pressure of results. This is also difficult to prove because it is also based on motives. Obviously, many churches use rock to get results. However, some do not. They use it simply because it reflects the tastes of their people.

Freedom from causing offence. Rock music and traditional music both cause offence to believers, so this argument cannot be used, either. I have met young men who are offended because their church uses hymns and a pipe organ.

Freedom to preach the Gospel. Frankly, this one is a little disturbing because the gospel is about freedom,32 and this book turns that issue on its head. Yes, rock music has been abused in the church. No one can deny that but to say that we cannot use it simply because it has been abused is to give a command that the Bible does not give.

To put it bluntly, the Bible does not say that rock music is wrong. In fact, it never even mentions rock, any more than it mentions country, southern gospel, rap, country, or any other genre. It gives freedom in these things.

Freedom is the ability to make choices,33 and biblical freedom is the ability to make choices where the Bible is silent.34 It is the discipline of not exceeding what is written35 and not adding to the words of this Book.36 To say it another way, freedom is the ability to go where Scripture goes and stop where Scripture stops. And Scripture stops on the issue of musical genres.

Make no mistake, the Bible has a lot to say about worship. Psalm 96:9 says, “Worship the Lord in holy attire; tremble before Him, all the earth.” Psalm 100:2 says, “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing.” John 4:24 says, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Ephesians 5:19 says to “[speak] to one another in psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”

But notice what those passages do not say. They do not say what instruments we are to use in worship. They do not say that, simply because some groups abuse it, rock music is somehow defiled forever. They do not say that louder and peppier is always worse.

When the early church first started, one of the biggest problems they faced was what to do with idols. Idol worship was clearly wrong, but it was not clear how far to take it. Can you use the idols for firewood? The people were not sure. Can you melt them down and sell them for money? Can you eat food sacrificed to idols or use that food at the Lord’s Supper? Here is what Paul concluded in First Corinthians 8:4, 7-8:

Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one . . . However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat.

It is interesting that Paul does not say, “Don’t touch food sacrificed to an idol! The idol has made it unclean. The idol has defiled it forever.” He says, “It is okay if you do and it is okay if you don’t.” And we could say the same thing about rock music: “It is okay if you play it and it is okay if you don’t.” There is freedom in this. There is liberty. As long as you apply biblical principles such as reverence, gladness, integrity, and sound doctrine, (just to name a few), you can worship God in many different ways.

Obviously, it would be hard to make the case that heavy metal or rap music are reverent in many parts of the United States, so they should probably be avoided there.37 And it would be hard to say that traditional music would go well in the unreached parts of Africa. Culture and location have a lot to say in this because, again, there is freedom. “Take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Cor 8:8) and make a choice. Use the liberty that you have in Christ in deciding what kind of music to use in worship.

Biblical Accuracy.

Can We Rock the Gospel? is full of references to Scripture and it gets many of them right. In discussing the necessity of preaching, the authors accurately quote from many excellent passages such as Mark 16:15; Acts 5:42; 8:4; Second Corinthians 1:17; Titus 1:3; Romans 10:13, 14, and then they give the following analysis of modern worship:

We have lost [the correct] emphasis today. As Paul Bassett rightly notes, “We sing of Christ, recite Christ, dramatize Christ, but less and less do we preach Christ.” Straightforward preaching is slowly being sidelined and straightforward preachers are becoming an endangered species!

It would not be an exaggeration to say that music has become an obsession for many of those involved in evangelism today, especially among young people. In one major event after another, the band or group is the main attraction.38

Who would argue with this? So often, the draw to an evangelistic crusade is not the gospel or the Bible but the band. It is not Christ and Him crucified but the electric guitars and the light shows. It reminds one of Mark Dever’s famous statement: “What you win them with is likely what you’ll win them to.39 However, this does not mean that rock music is wrong. At least, that cannot be deduced from these passages. Again, rock music is not mentioned there.

The authors also quote from several passages to prove that Christianity is not entertaining. They state:

There was nothing entertaining about [Jesus’] lifelong struggle against temptation; he “himself has suffered, being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). There was nothing entertaining about his prayer life; we are told that he “offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears” (Hebrews 5:7). There was nothing entertaining about his experience in the Garden of Gethsemane, when “his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).40

The authors go on to surmise:

If not one single element in the gospel message is entertaining, how can the gospel possibly be presented as entertainment?41

While that seems like an airtight argument, again, we need to ask the question: are those passages denouncing rock music? Yes, Christianity is not entertaining, but do these specific verses prevent us from using this style of worship?

To ask that another way: are all forms of music wrong if they entertain people? Many people are entertained by pianos and hymns. Does that mean that traditional music is wrong? Millions today listen to orchestras and choirs, not to worship, but to be amused. Does that mean that we should throw those styles out of the church, too?

It appears that the authors accurately understand the importance and seriousness of gospel preaching. They do not, however, accurately understand the freedom we have in doing it.

Consistency.

The book is consistent in its denunciation of rock music and in its portrayal of the seriousness of what is at stake here. The opening pages quote from several passages to show that music has always been near and dear to the heart of God. In the authors’ own words:

There is more than a hint of this when we are told that at the dawn of creation, “the morning stars sang together” (Job 38:7). This is not mean to be a scientific description or origins, but it surely means something. If God uses a musical metaphor in telling us of the wonder and glory of his creation, we can be certain that he has music in his heart. What is more, the created elements themselves are commanded to join in God’s worship and the Bible tells of times when “they break forth into singing” (Isaiah 14:7).42

Again, they got that exactly right. Music is not a trivial thing to God. It is very important to Him. After all, He devoted an entire book to the subject,43 and He will be listening to it forever in Heaven.44

What is inconsistent is how all of this relates to rock music. Does God’s love of music mean that He hates everything about rock? How so? Where does the Bible say that? Does His appreciation for singing mean that He never wants it to be done with electric guitars and drums?

At one point in the book, the authors go back to the history of rock to show how evil it is and offensive to God. Since it had an evil beginning, as the argument goes, it must be evil today. However, in the same chapter, they also write:

The fact is that rock draws from several streams. It is a complex Mississippi of music, with many different tributaries flowing into the vast river of sound we are now hearing, and it is very difficult to trace all of those tributaries back to their sources.45

In other words, we have no idea where rock music comes from. It comes from several different sources. And how can we say that all of them are bad? How can we say that rock had an evil beginning?

The book also shows the difficulty of defining the term “rock.” Like most musical terms, “rock” can refer to a whole range of things.

To begin at the beginning, what do we mean when we use the phrase “rock music”? . . . There is a common musical thread . . . [But] the music industry is endlessly classifying and reclassifying musical styles in order to market its product more effectively . . . In 2006, the All Music Guide listed no less than 187 variations of rock music, grouped under 12 main headings:

1. Alternative/Indie Rock
2. Hard Rock
3. Rock & Roll/Roots
4.Soft Rock
5. Pop/Rock
6. Psychedelic/Garage
7. Europop
8. Punk/New Wave
9. Foreign Language Rock
10. British Invasion
11. Art-Rock/Experimental
12. Folk/Country Rock46

With such a wide range of styles, it is difficult to pinpoint which one the authors are denouncing as evil. As mentioned earlier, they say that rock music relates to any musical style that is repetitious and loud,47 but country music songs can be repetitious and loud. Rap music is repetitious and loud. There might even be classical styles that fit that description.

To say this another way, John Blanchard and Dan Lucarini need to define “rock” more clearly before denouncing it. They need to be more specific on what they are condemning as evil. Are they saying that it is evil to worship to the sound of a guitar? If so, they need to say so. Are they saying that it is always wrong to worship to the rhythm of a drum? If so, they need to spell that out.

The ambiguity of this book is dangerous. What is it that they are actually censuring? Without having that question clarified, the reader is left unsure and a little bit unsettled.

Scholarship.

As mentioned before, John Blanchard and Dan Lucarini are definitely qualified to write such a book on worship, and they prove it with the many citations in the book. They quote from such excellent authors as Martin Luther,48 Jeremiah Burroughs,49 Albert Barnes,50 Martyn Lloyd-Jones,51 and A. W. Tozer.52 They also quote from the Heidelberg Catechism,53 the Belgic Confession,54 the Westminster Confession of Faith,55 and the Baptist Confession.56 In doing so, they give us many helpful nuggets of wisdom. The book is worth reading simply for all of the insights it provides on worship.

It is also worth reading for all of the insights it provides on secular rock. Can We Rock the Gospel? makes a very good case that the marriage between secular music and Christian worship is a dangerous one and needs to be watched over with great caution. For example, in a chapter entitled “Body Language,” the authors quote from the following musicians to say:

Duran Duran: You’ve got to be pretty sexless to hold a guitar, dance with it on stage, and not put over some kind of sexuality.57

Glenn Frey of the Eagles: I’m in rock music for the sex and narcotics.58

Mick Jagger: You can feel the adrenalin flowing through your body. It’s sort of sexual. I entice my audience. What I do is very much the same as a girl’s strip-tease dance.59

Jim Morrison: I feel spiritual up there. Think of us as erotic politicians.60

John Oates of Hall and Oates: Rock ‘n’ roll is 99% sex.61

Gene Simmons of KISS: That’s what rock music is all about – sex with a 100 megaton bomb, the beat!62

Obviously, we should be very leery of incorporating that kind of material into the church.

Unfortunately, however, the book does not tell us how to do so. It falls short of showing us how to apply biblical principles to guard our worship services. It simply tells us to throw out everything that sounds like rock ‘n’ roll.

CONCLUSION

It might help to end this book review on a personal note. I am not a big fan of much of what is called “Contemporary Worship” today. It sounds too superficial to me. Almost fake. Like a manufactured show.

However, I cannot say that it is all wrong simply because I do not like it. That is my preference. Nothing more.  I can echo the concerns of John Blanchard and Dan Lucarini:

As far as rock music in God’s service is concerned the following themes seem to be consistent:

Worldliness
Irreverence
Strong associations with the deeds of darkness
Sensuality
The use of rock as a mystical new worship experience.63

However, I cannot go much beyond that. Worship music has become far too worldly, irreverent, and sensual in many of our churches. That is an objective fact. Some of it has strong associations with the deeds of darkness. Many Christians think a man is qualified to be a worship leaders simply because he has tattoos and an earring and a prison record, not because he is holy and lives a Godly life. That is all wrong.

But what are we going to do about it? What is the right way to fix it? What specifically are we going to ask the churches to do? Should they start throwing out their icons and breaking their statues? Should they start smashing guitars and burning sound boards in the back of the auditorium?

The answer is a resounding “NO!” because the Bible does not tell them to do so. We have freedom in this area, and we have to protect that freedom at all costs. Our personal preferences have nothing to do with it. Our likes and dislikes cannot be used as commands for people in the church. To attack guitars and sound boards simply because you do not like them is to miss the whole point of Christian freedom, and it is to miss the whole point of Christian worship. Worship is primarily an intangible thing. Why you worship God is more important than how you worship Him. Isaiah 29:13-14 says:

Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words
And honor Me with their lip service,
But they remove their hearts far from Me . . .
The wisdom of their wise men will perish,
And the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.”

A. W. Tozer looked at it this way. He once called worship the “missing jewel of the church” and thought very deeply on the subject. To my knowledge, he never denounced any specific instruments or genre but instead focused entirely on the individual’s motives. In his book, The Knowledge of the Holy, he wrote the following:

The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base, as the worshipper entertains high or low thoughts of God.

For that reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.64

May we all take a cue from that. Instruments and genres aside, we need to have great and high ideas of God. That would fix the problem of our worship. Forget the icons and the statues for a moment; we need to focus our attention on God Himself and, as we do so, give each other the freedom to choose the rest. Let us put God on His throne and “pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”65 Let us love one another deeply and let the brethren worship to rock or traditional music as they choose.

 

 

  1. The Second Commandment occurs in Deuteronomy 5:8: “Do not make for yourself in idol or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath.” []
  2. William Ragsdale Cannon, History of Christianity in the Middle Ages (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1960) 104-109. []
  3. Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1992) 15-16. []
  4. John Blanchard & Dan Lucarini, Can We Rock the Gospel?: Rock Music’s Impact on Worship and Evangelism (Darlington, Del.: Evangelical Press, 2006).  []
  5. Modern Protestant churches, that is. Obviously, Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches still use them to some degree or another. []
  6. Can We Rock the Gospel, 33. []
  7. Ibid., 8. []
  8. John Blanchard, Ultimate Questions (Darlington, Del.: Evangelical Press, 1987). []
  9. John Blanchard, Does God Believe in Atheists (Darlington, Del.: Evangelical Press, 2000). []
  10. John Blanchard, Right with God (Carlisle, Penn.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1971). []
  11. Derek Cleave, John Blanchard, & Peter Anderson, Pop Goes the Gospel (Darlington, Del.: Evangelical Press, 1992). []
  12. Dan Lucarini, Why I Left the Contemporary Christian Music Movement: Confessions of a Former Worship Leader (Darlington, Del.: Evangelical Press, 2002). []
  13. Dan Lucarini, It’s Not about the Music (Darlington, Del.: Evangelical Press, 2010). []
  14. The biography of these two men was found on the back cover of Can We Rock the Gospel? []
  15. Can We Rock the Gospel, 54. []
  16. Ibid., 61. []
  17. Ibid., 64. []
  18. Not that I could find, anyway.Not that I could find, anyway. []
  19. Can We Rock the Gospel, 90-91. []
  20. Ibid., 91. []
  21. Ibid. []
  22. Ibid., 92. []
  23. Ibid., 93. []
  24. Ibid., 94. []
  25. Ibid., 97. []
  26. Ibid., 236-237. []
  27. Ibid., 237-238. Italics mine. []
  28. Ibid., 238. Italics mine. []
  29. Ibid. Italics mine. []
  30. Ibid., 239-240. Italics mine. []
  31. Ibid., 240. Italics mine. []
  32. Galatians 5:1 says, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” []
  33. Webster’s New World Dictionary, ed. by Michael Agnes (New York, Wiley Publishing Inc., 203) 259. This is my own definition, but Webster’s Dictionary says essentially the same thing. It defines freedom as “being able to act freely; ease of movement; a right or privilege.” []
  34. This is my own definition. []
  35. 1 Cor 4:6. []
  36. Rev 22:18. []
  37. Having said that, there is a movement in many urban churches to incorporate rap music into their services with what is known as “Reformed Rap.” The goal is to take the genre of rap music and mix it with Reformed content. They are having a good impact on younger audiences and are very reverent with their approach. It would be hard to make the case that such worship is dishonoring or displeasing to God. For more information about this, see “Hip-Hop Theologians and Preachers” by Owen Strachan, May 5, 2013 at www.christianitytoday.com. []
  38. Can We Rock the Gospel?, 241. []
  39. Mark Dever and Paul Alexander, The Deliberate Church: Building Your Ministry on the Gospel (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2005) 44. []
  40. Can We Rock the Gospel?, 159. []
  41. Ibid. []
  42. Can We Rock the Gospel?, 7. []
  43. The Book of Psalms is entirely devoted to music. []
  44. See Rev 5:9; 14:3; 15:3. []
  45. Ibid., 40. []
  46. Ibid., 51-52. []
  47. Ibid., 53-61. []
  48. Ibid., 8, 121. []
  49. Ibid., 101. []
  50. Ibid., 35. []
  51. Ibid., 57. []
  52. Ibid., 149, 163. []
  53. Ibid., 235. []
  54. Ibid. []
  55. Ibid. []
  56. Ibid. []
  57. Ibid., 115. []
  58. Ibid. []
  59. Ibid. []
  60. Ibid. []
  61. Ibid. []
  62. Ibid. []
  63. Ibid., 32. []
  64. The Knowledge of the Holy (New York: Harper & Row, 1961) 9. []
  65. Rom 14:19. []