What Is Contemporary Christian Music?

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1. What is CCM?

a. Here is the definition given by The C. C. M. Hot Page

  1. The name Contemporary Christian Music was coined to distinguish this style of music from the more traditional forms of religious music. The word contemporary has proved to be an appropriate description of this music over the last twenty years, as the styles have kept up with its secular counterpart. The ever evolving state of C.C.M. includes such diverse and contemporary styles as rock, jazz, blues, dance, metal, rap, alternative, new age, grunge, punk, thrash, death, gothic and industrial. Yet regardless of the form, the essences of all Contemporary Christian Music is the same-to share God’s love to the current generation in a way that can be both understood and enjoyed.
  2. Some CCM musicians are very sincere. Others are chasing fame and fortune. But even sincerity does not make it right.

b. Here are the main distinguishing marks of CCM

  1. CCM is religious music with a secular style including its rhythm, sound, and delivery as described above.
  2. CCM usually has a backbeat rhythm, whether loud or soft. Emphasis on the 2nd and 4th beats or on other unnatural beats. Listen carefully for the beat. Test it by letting your body respond to the rhythm. Does it make you feel like dancing or jigging? If it does, it is backbeat rhythm. That dance feeling is what makes backbeat music fleshly.
  3. CCM often contains breathiness, sliding and scooping.
    • Psychologists identify humans with three zones: the social zone (five feet or so away); the privacy zone (an arm’s length or so away); and an intimate zone (close up). (Tabernacle Baptist Church, Akron, NY) Breathiness is softening the voice to a sensuous whisper close to a microphone, giving an impression of intimacy which can rouse fleshly lustful feelings.
    • Sliding is slipping down from a note, and scooping is slipping up from a note. This technique also produces a sensual effect that rouses ungodly fleshly feelings.

c. Some CCM is very soft rock.

  1. The words may be good. There may be no breathiness, sliding or scooping. The backbeat rhythm may be almost undetectable, but a close evaluation reveals that it is not a straight rhythm. The up-stroke when strumming a guitar often creates a soft backbeat if not guarded against. Some church musicians do this without evening knowing it.
  2. Unfortunately, CCM that is “soft” opens the door for other CCM and leads down a slippery slope. For this reason, “soft” CCM is very dangerous.
  3. Even soft CCM is very addictive. CCM is appealing, not because it is Christian, but because it is rock.

2. CCM is Worldly by Admission

a. CCM boasts of being like their secular counterpart.

  1. CCM musicians admire secular rock groups.
    • JARS OF CLAY names Jimmy Hendrix and the Beatles as their inspiration. (Dann Denny, “Christian Rock,” Sunday Herald Times, Bloomington, Ind., Feb. 8, 1998)
    • AMY GRANT says, “I love to hear Billy Joel, Kenny Loggins and the Doobie Brothers” (Time, March 11, 1985).
    • The worldliness of DELIRIOUS is evident in their choice of “musical heroes,” which include “U2, Radiohead, Blur and other big British modern rockers”(CCM magazine, July 1999, p. 39).
  2. CCM musicians mimic secular rock groups.
    • The group DELIVERANCE performs songs by secular rock groups. Their What a Joke album has the song “After Forever” by the vile, blasphemous, pagan rock group Black Sabbath. (CCM Groups Love Secular Rock, David Cloud)
    • “If you weren’t familiar with Michael W. Smith’s standing in the world of contemporary Christian music, you might attend one of his concerts and come out none the wiser.” (The Birmingham News, Feb. 12, 1993 p. 5c)
    • MARY MARY “Our aim is to make music that the entire world, every age and nationality can relate to.”(Biography – courtesy of Columbia Records, Christianitytoday.com)

b. Rock musicians admit their music is ungodly

  1. Newsweek once called Mick Jagger ‘the Lucifer of rock, the unholy roller’ and spoke of ‘his demonic power to affect people.’ (Newsweek, 4 Jan. 1971, quoted in Can we Rock the Gospel, Blanchard, p. 97)
  2. “… the whole idea of rock ‘n’ roll is to offend your parents”(Rock drummer King Coffey, The Truth about Rock, p. 30).
  3. “… rock ‘n’ roll is more than just music-it is the energy center of a new culture and youth revolution” (advertisement for Rolling Stone magazine).
  4. “Listen, rock ‘n roll AIN’T CHURCH. It’s nasty business. You gotta be nasty too. If you’re goody, goody, you can’t sing or play it…” (Lita Ford of heavy metal group The Runaways, Los Angeles Times, August 7, 1988).

What does God say about worldliness? (Jas 4:4) “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”

3. CCM is Ecumenical by Association

a. What does Ecumenical mean?

  1. Random House Webster’s Dictionary defines ecumenical as, “Pertaining to the whole Christian church, … interreligious or interdenominational.”
  2. Most CCM bands perform for anyone. Doctrine is not an issue with them. Unity is the theme.

b. How is CCM ecumenical by association?

  1. In an interview with Christianity Today, Don Moen of Integrity Music said: “I’ve discovered that worship [music] is transdenominational, transcultural. IT BRIDGES ANY DENOMINATION. Twenty years ago there were many huge divisions between denominations.” (Why are we opposed to CCM, David Cloud)
  2. Not only are CCM singers ecumenical, but by association their music and concerts encourage listeners to be so as well.
  3. Biblical Christians have very little in common with religious people who do not believe in salvation by faith in Christ alone, a literal hell, godly living, and other sound doctrine.

What does God say about the ecumenical movement? (2Co 6:17) “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,”

4. CCM is Weakening by Affiliation

a. CCM is weakening Biblical standards

  1. CCM weakens Biblical dress standards. Many CCM singers dress like the world. Their clothes are sensual, immodest, and patterned after the ungodly world. Christians who listen to their music want to dress like their heroes.
  2. CCM weakens Biblical morals. Immodesty always promotes immorality. Sensual styles and dancing promotes fleshly thoughts. Guys especially struggle with this.
  3. Listening to CCM leads to listening to secular rock.

b. CCM is weakening Biblical ministries

  1. Emphasis in many churches today is on the CCM not on the Word of God. Preaching is secondary. People who are drawn to CCM are not interested in solid exegetical Bible preaching. In some churches the transition is slow. In others it is almost overnight.
  2. While churches are holding CCM in their right hand, their left hand takes hold of the “new” translations. I know of several churches who changed both their music and their Bible. The two seem to go hand-in-hand.

What does God say about the weakening of Bible teachings? (1Pe 1:14-16) “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

Conclusion: CCM is worldly, ecumenical, and weakening. Knowing these facts, can you honestly say that CCM will help you spiritually? Will it make you a stronger Christian? Will it encourage you to be more godly? Will it strengthen your Biblical stand for the Lord? If not, it should not be part of your life. Giving it up will not be easy. You need God’s help!

Identifying some “soft” CCM is difficult, but listen for the beat. When exaggerated, if it moves you to dance, it is rock music and wrong.

One Comment on “What Is Contemporary Christian Music?”

  1. Outstanding right-on review.
    It’s encouraging to know that some others’ cheese
    is not sliding off their cracker.
    I’ve come to believe that Christian music should sound distinctly
    “Christian” – in the ears of the unbeliever, so that he is forced
    to choose one or the other – God or the world.

    Thanks so much.

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