Will we ever stop labeling bands Christian?

John J. Thompson

Wale Aladejana
May 22, 2013

This article is simply brilliant, I didnt even know U2 were Christians, Thank you JT, am going to your site. http://mytestimonys.blogspot.com/2013/05/bishop-feb-idahosa-testifies_20.html

Esther Aspling
May 22, 2013

"or to endorse bad art because it is about Jesus"
Man, you couldn't be more right. A lot of 'Christian' artists would never get a recording contract in the mainstream outlets.
As a parent I find myself fighting this idea. I grew up with only 'Christian' music, but my husband was allowed to choose from the masses.
Totally sharing this by the way! :-)


May 22, 2013

I once had a kid in Bible study tell me how he liked some Christian music, especially The Grateful Dead. We had an interesting discussion after that.

Neil Fix
May 22, 2013

This article seems too negative to me, possibly because it is trying to say a lot in a very short space.

It is all very well to want music to be judged on its own merits, and I can see there being a problem if/when people like or dislike music primarily because of the label. But if you go in the other direction and have no indication of where artists are coming from, this has at least two problems that I can see:-1, Christians may miss great music, which could be challenging and inspiring; and, 2, Christian artists could be feeling more and more separated from the rest of the church.
What we need to work towards is both a Christian music industry that is willing to take risks; and a church that is more open to creativity, that will welcome artists at any stage of their journey with God. At the moment, the situation seems to wanting to separate the two-you can either be 'creative' or 'Christian'. And whichever side of the line an artist places themselves, they rarely seem to cross it. Not every artist has to, of course, but the artists who feel that God wants them to use their gifts to communicate Him to a broken, hurting world somehow have to do that. It's not much use saying there is a solution to people's pain if you stop short of telling people Who that solution is.
It is not easy, but kind of hiding your allegiances won't help the situation change. For example, P.O.D. are well known among whose who like metal for being Christian, and generally accepted as being a great band. The more often bands and artisits do this, the less this issue will matter.

John Joseph Thompson
May 22, 2013

Really good points, Tim. I do think my piece reads as more negative than I intended - especially because I think most people are not reading the Buzzfeed article that I was responding to. Let me clarify a few things.

1) I believe that there is a lot of great CHRISTIAN music - meaning music that is made specifically for Christian purposes. I mentioned the main areas that I see Christian music being useful: worship, challenging the church and education / edification. I am glad that we have new songs to sing at church. I love that my youngest son can listen to Christian radio and hear good, sound, Scriptural music. I have absolutely no problem with that. Heck - I work in Christian music and always have! My beef here was with someone looking at mainstream music and feeling the need to brand it as "Christian" because he detected some faith-oriented content- and then also Christians who will dismiss any music not branded as "Christian" or played on Christian radio. But if folks don't read that piece I can see why mine seems harsh.

2. I really do believe that there is amazing music being made by Christians right now - and there has been for a long time. I think it's arrogant for me to lay my musical tastes - which have always leaned toward the obscure - over the current faith-fueled music world and then cry foul. My tastes are MY tastes, not God's. Most people like very mainstream music - be it Kelly Clarkson or Justin Timberlake or even Mumford - most people like simple, catchy, commercial music. That Christian radio plays very mainstream kinds of music makes perfect sense. Most people don't like the stuff I like. That's OK. I have Spotify, interesting friends, some blog feeds and very cool kids. I hear plenty of "cool" music.

I find it interesting that so many comments (not as many here but TONS on my Facebook wall) were from Christians grabbing at the chance to bash CCM music. That was certainly not my intent. There is enough room for all different kinds of music expressing faith. My point was to say that lumping everything from T-Bone, BRMC, TobyMac and Chris Tomlin into one oversimplified bucket called "Christian" didn't make sense.

And anyone that thinks all speciofically "Christian" music is lame needs to check out John Mark McMillan, Gungor, Leeland, Matt Maher, Audrey Assad, Wayfarer, The Followers amd loads more like them. I'd also dare some Christian cynic to show me where Matt Redmon's "10,000 Reasons" is shallow or tepid. That's Scripture! It's a great song too - and happens to be one of the biggest Christian radio songs of the last year. I do wish mainstream radio would play TobyMac's stuff. He's certainly good enough. But I'm glad my son doesn't have to listen to mainstream pop radio to hear a Toby song once in awhile.

No, I love that Christians make great music - I just wish the labels were more honest, more nuanced - more helpful.

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