Phil Vischer On Christian Music

Phil Vischer On Christian Music April 11, 2013

Well, I tried and tried to embed this video, but it looks like I’ll need to consult the embed code gurus again because Godtube’s code is defying me. However, I strongly encourage my readers to hop over to this link to hear VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer’s take on this (awful) article. The topic is Christian music, specifically CCM. The author of this article lays out five reasons to “kill” it. In this 18-minute clip from his podcast, Vischer pretty much nails it as he systematically breaks down this writer’s arguments and why they’re flawed. His two co-hosts play devil’s advocate to some extent, but by the time he’s done making his case, one of them says  that she has done a 180 after initially being impressed by the article. He makes many points that I have frequently made myself in discussion with friends and family, and I think it is well worth a listen. (Note: The author of the article includes a rather frightening image of two heathen metal musicians, so be prepared for that if you choose to read it, though Phil reads the most relevant portions verbatim as he rebuts them.)

I am personally very alarmed by this spirit of destruction that I see among certain liberal Christians when it comes to things bearing the “Christian” label. People like Steve Taylor, Derek Webb and this Catholic writer are not afraid to say in so many words that they want Christian music, movies, etc. to “die,” be “killed,” and other charming sentiments. It’s hateful, it’s bitter, it’s self-righteous, and it’s not building up the body of Christ. Combine all that with shallow reasoning and false claims, and you have a lethal combination.
I’m thankful to Vischer for popping that bubble. Although, there was a bit at the end of this podcast, not included in this clip, where I definitely found myself in disagreement with him. He said that although he supports Christians who make art for the church, they shouldn’t expect to reach any non-believers with that art, be it music, film, or whatever. I wanted to say, really? None? Well, tell that to the people who still hold tent revival meetings. Tell that to the people who got dragged to a Christian rock concert by their church friends and made a choice for Christ. Tell that to the thousands of non-Christians who saw The Passion of the Christ. Such people do exist. It’s a needless exaggeration to say that no unchurched folk will ever hear/see/be affected by a piece of contemporary, explicitly Christian media.
But I still agree with virtually all of Phil’s points. If you have a chance to listen to the clip, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Or if you don’t have time but still have a thought, feel free to share it.

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  • mulac28

    I have yet to listen to the rebuttal but really quickly I have always been of the opinion that more Christian artists should not see their primary focus as an evangelicalism. As you mention, God can use their music to reach non-believers with the Gospel (and I agree with that having experienced it myself when I was in a Christian rock band) but what is wrong with a Christian musician creating good quality music specifically for Christians as an alternative to secular music?
    I think of J.S. Bach in particular who created amazingly beautiful music for the Church and was a much respected composer within the German Lutheran church. It was only later in the 19th century after he died where his music was performed in a secular environment and God was able to use the gospel-rich lyrics to bring people to Christ. I think that people who make reductionist statements that Christian music could never be used to bring a person to the one true light, lack faith in God’s power to draw people towards himself.

  • Luke

    OK, while I don’t agree with most of the music today that falls under the “CCM” label, I have to say, that article was pretty bad. 😛 I would encourage you to read this article though: Now keep in mind, my mention of this article does not constitute blanket endorsement of article, or the website on where it’s posted by myself or The Gospel Review Blog… 🙂 For example, I didn’t neccesarily agree with their statement that only sinners, teenagers, and spiritual babes argue in favor of CCM. There are many sincere God-fearing/loving people that I know/know of that don’t see anything wrong with contemporary as a style. But I do think the article made some really good points.

  • Yes, I think I’ve read that article before. I do think that some of its points are valid, though in the end I believe it misses out on a lot that’s good in CCM while also over-stating its point. I found this bit unintentionally funny: “Do you get pumped up? Do you get psyched? Do you simply start “feeling good”? Do you start playing ‘air guitar’ or ‘air drums’? Do you feel like getting rowdy?”
    I’ve been known to play air guitar/air drums/air B-3 Hammond along with Christian AND secular rock. With some frequency. Welp, guess I’m going to hell. 😛

  • And also, I’m not surprised that you would dislike the article I linked to, since he’s attacking CCM on the grounds that it’s not secular enough—sort of the opposite from where you’re coming from. 🙂