by Raymond Obomsawin
Original Title: “Modern Music’s Hidden Dangers
& the SDA Church”
From sermons delivered at
the Iron Bridge, Ontario SDA Church April 3, 2004 &
the Vienna NY SDA Church August 7, 2004
(published on sdaglobal.org)
This sermon from a concerned Adventist minister, given about 10 years ago, deals with important issues faced by churches today, not just the Seventh-day Adventist church. Is the vessel of rock music a suitable one for Gospel truth?

In sharing this important and timely message with you, like the apostle Paul, I wish to be innocent of the blood of all men, for I will not shun to declare to you the whole counsel of God on this matter.

2 Corinthians 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,
18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Drums, Shouting, Dancing

I will begin by referring to a letter written in the early 1900’s by God’s Messenger to Elder Stephen Haskell who had just attended a Seventh Day Adventist Camp-meeting held in Indiana. This letter was written in response to Elder Haskell’s troubling description of these meetings which he had recently forwarded to Ellen White. She responded di­rectly:

Selected Messages, book 2, p. 36, 37:
The things you have described as taking place in Indiana, the Lord has shown me would take place just before the close of probation. Every uncouth thing will be demon­strated. There will be shouting, with drums, music, and dancing. The senses of rational beings will become so con­fused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions. And this is called the moving of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit never reveals itself in such methods, in such a bedlam of noise. This is an invention of Satan to cover up his ingenious methods for making of none effect the pure…elevating, ennobling, sanctifying truth for this time. Better never have the worship of God blended with music than to use musical instruments to do the work which…was represented to me would be brought into our camp meet­ings. The truth for this time needs nothing of this kind in its work of converting souls. A bedlam of noise shocks the senses and perverts that which if conducted aright might be a blessing. The powers of satanic agencies blend with the din and noise, to have a carnival, and this is termed the Holy Spirit’s working…No encouragement should be given to this kind of worship.

I will not go into all the painful history; it is too much. But last January the Lord showed me that… the history of the past would be repeated. I felt greatly distressed. I was in­structed to say that at these demonstrations demons in the form of men are present, working with all the ingenuity that Satan can employ to make the truth disgusting to sensible people.

I ask the question,

Is it possible that despite these explicit warnings,
rock bands with their din and confusion,
and dissonant offbeat
that appeals to the physical body in a sensual fashion,
is actually being used this very day
in many Seventh-day Adventist Church services?

Tragically the answer is a resounding yes. There are today many SDA congregations across the United States & Canada who are seeking to worship the God of Heaven with a rock beat. This movement is actually occurring throughout the en­tire world field.

Under the influence of this kind of music, many Adventist congregations in carnival fashion are now swaying their tor­sos back and forth with the beat as is done in Pentecostal churches. A few years ago my sister visited an Adventist church in New Jersey where they actually danced down the aisle to greet her as she entered. Attending this worship ser­vice was a frightening experience for her.

I would here ask, is modern Pentecostalism a movement that we should be imitating? I recall that in his pre-Christian days of high-level spirit worship Roger Morneau was in­formed by the Satanic high priest that the speaking in tongues exhibited in Pentecostal churches is actually demonically con­trolled. Even worse he explained that the unknown words be­ing uttered are actually verbalized insults and blasphemy against Christ and His Father.

A Form of Godliness

So we must pause and ask,

Why is it that so many Adventist believers today
are dancing around the golden calf,
substituting a party atmosphere in the place of
genuinely humble and reverent worship?

The Pen of Inspiration answers:

Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 317:
How often, in our own day, is the love of pleasure dis­guised by a “form of godliness.” A religion that permits men, while observing the rites of worship, to devote themselves to selfish or sensual gratification, is as pleasing to the multi­tudes now as in the days of Israel. And there are still pliant Aarons, who, while holding positions of authority in the church, will yield to the desires of the unconsecrated, and thus encourage them in sin.

For example, in the Pacific Northwest at a recent Adventist camp-meeting a large sign that covered the entire front en­trance of the youth tent read:

“Outrageous Youth Celebration.”

In the words of one objective observer

This was an accurate description of what transpired in­side! It was indeed outrageous! As affirmed in Ellen White’s prediction, “every uncouth thing” was “demonstrated,” “shouting, with drums, loud music and dancing,” all resulting in a “bedlam of noise,” and “a din of confusion!”

The saddest thing of all is the report that some of the in­strumental musicians on the rock band stage who were lead­ing out, were conference pastors! I have myself observed a similar exhibition at an SDA campmeeting that I attended in California.

A Warning and its Reception

Being alarmed about these serious issues, in the late 1990s I submitted a statement to the SDANET archive entitled Music Sounds in the Remnant Church. This statement outlined the spiritual dangers being posed by the introduction of Contem­porary and Rock Music into the worship services of the Sev­enth Day Adventist Church.

The multiple responses that I received to this statement from many church members was to say the least dishearten­ing. Several attacked in contrast to the few who were support­ive. One response went so far as to say

I would most CERTAINLY play Jesus some of my favorite “rock” pieces…Indeed I would be somewhat disappointed if on getting to heaven, I couldn’t dance with my Lord to the loudest angelic rock imaginable.

When one fully grasps the true nature and origins of rock music such a statement represents sacrilege and blasphemy. To suggest that the Creator of the Universe would dance to the very music concocted by the Arch-Rebel Prince of Dark­ness to deface the image of God in man is unthinkable.

Defacing the Image of God

On the point of defacing the image of God in man there is telling evidence of significant injurious psycho-physiological effects of rock music. Whether we label it “Christian” or secu­lar this evidence indicates that willful listening to this kind of music is sin.

God’s Messenger to His final church tells us–in no uncer­tain terms–that the violation of physical law is sin. For the natural laws of life are as fully “sacred as the 10 Command­ments”, because these laws were also written by the hand of God, not upon stone, but upon every nerve and fiber of our being.

I recall that when my wife Marie-Louise and I attended the ASI Convention in Rhode Island back in 1996, Pastor Doug Bachelor made the incisive observation that you might as well speak of Christian Pornography as to speak of “Christian Rock”. He was right on target.

The music of Seventh day Adventist Christians should be what we would play were Christ himself physically standing here in our presence. I wouldn’t dare offer him to listen to Rock Music (no matter what the lyrics) anymore than I would want to offer him a cigarette, or a glass of liquor.

The Music of Heaven

Without question or doubt, harmony, joy and beauty will characterize the music of the redeemed. I truly look forward to joining in the creation of truly majestic music employing harps and orchestra combined, and participating in the uplift­ing voice of harmonious song with the redeemed of all ages.

This music will certainly not be of a discordant, decadent and degenerate nature as exemplifies much of the so-called “contemporary sounds” that are typical of today’s sick and sinful world. Thank God there will be no junk food in the fu­ture life, and no junk music there either.

Indeed, a large part of the atmosphere and joy that the fu­ture life will afford is freedom not only from pain and disease, but as well we will no longer be in a society inundated with the distractive, disturbing and demonic sounds of drug culture music.

Candy for Babies

It is truly sad and frightening that some SDA Church lead­ers have come up with the unfounded idea or excuse that of­fering our young people “rock beat” music in the church, is vital to keep them from leaving the church.

As new believers we are asked to give up those things that are harmful to our physical, mental and spiritual health, and we dare to call this a sacrifice? Do these leaders actually think that asking our youth to turn away from this trash, is asking too much of them? This pathetic prescription makes as much sense as offering a sick man with heart disease high fat steaks and creamy cheeses because his perverted appetite craves for these things. What does that have to do with making him healthy and whole?

Are our young people more Christ-like, self-sacrificing, and better prepared for the perfect harmonies and ennobling atmosphere of heaven because of this unthinking compro­mise? “Soft rock” is like soft liquor, it leads to the harder stuff as the addiction increases. How can our prophetically speci­fied dream of preparing the last generation to meet our Lord in the air happen unless we wake up?

Winning Souls by Compromise

As Seventh day Adventist Christians we have been fore­most in pointing out the tragic folly of Roman Catholicism’s historical attempt to make converts out of pagans by adopt­ing, reinterpreting and “Christianizing” pagan practices. As a means of mass proselytization the “former” pagans were actu­ally encouraged to retain their pagan idolatrous heritage while making mere surface changes in outward terminology.

The “Christianization” of what is called “rock n roll music” in order to make Christianity more palatable to the “teenaged” lost is nothing less than a modern re-play of the great apostasy, albeit at an even more subtle and insidious level.

Since when does something demonic and born out of this fallen world system become Christian by merely “Christianiz­ing” the terminology and placing Christ’s name in front of it? May we similarly “Christianize” liquor by putting a Gospel message on the bottle label, and have Christians buy, use, and promote it to reach drunks for Jesus?

How can we honestly call lost youth out of the world to re­pentance, righteousness and self-sacrifice on the one hand, while permeating their daily lives and worship systems with a vile imitation of a fallen world? Talk about offering before the Lord confused and strange fire. Would anyone receive a spiri­tual blessing by singing the words of The Old Rugged Cross or the doxology to the Beatles’ tune I Wanna Hold Your Hand? This is a ridiculous question because it is obvious that this kind of music is inherently incompatible with the vital principles, Spirit, and message of the Everlasting Christian Gospel.

The Origins of Rock

We speak of the fallen daughters of Babylon the Great, and then blindly choose to forget that so-called “Christian rock” is the daughter of worldly rock. The actual genealogy or lineage of rock ‘n’ roll music goes all the way back to Satanic voodoo, which in turn led to jazz, then blues and finally rock ‘n’ roll [David Tame, The Secret Power of Music, pp. 187-204].

The origin of the term rock ‘n’ roll is also worth noting. In the early 1950s, a disk-jockey named Alan Freed had been re­ceiving reports concerning kids’ strange reactions to this “new” music, so decided to name it after a ghetto term used for fornicative sex in the back seat of a car, hence the vividly descriptive term “rock ‘n’ roll” was coined.

Secular social policy commentator David Tame’s observa­tions on music style and rhythm offers us with a keen “spiri­tual” insight that is often sadly lacking in some Adventist leaders and many believers today. He takes particular offense with rock music:

More than any other form of the misuse of sound, it is rock with which we must deal today…It is a global phenome­non; a pounding, pounding destructive beat which is heard from America and Western Europe to Africa and Asia. Its ef­fect upon the soul is to make nigh-impossible the true inner silence and peace necessary for the contemplation of eternal verities….How necessary is it in this age for some to have the courage to be the ones who are “different”, and to separate themselves out from the pack who long ago sold their lives and personalities to this sound….I adamantly believe that rock in all its forms is a critical problem which our civiliza­tion must get to grips…. if it wishes long to survive.

In his famous work, Laws, Plato lamented the musical revo­lution of his time and its “unmusical anarchy”:

Through foolishness they deceived themselves into think­ing that there was no right or wrong in music–that it was to be judged good or bad by the pleasure it gave. By their work and their theories they infected the masses with the pre­sumption to think themselves adequate judges….As it was, the criterion was not music, but a reputation for promiscuous cleverness and a spirit of lawbreaking.

The Effects of Music

The following insightful and illuminative research findings were excerpted from information provided by the organiza­tion Biblical Discernment Ministries (PO Box 679, Bedford, Indi­ana 47421):

Clinical researchers at the U.C.L.A. School of Nursing in Los Angeles, and at Georgia Baptist Medical Center in At­lanta, found that premature babies gained weight faster and were able to use oxygen more efficiently when they listened to soothing music mixed with voices or womb sounds. At Tallahassee (FL) Memorial Regional Medical Center, pre­mature and low-birth-weight infants exposed to an hour and a half of soothing vocal music each day averaged only 11 days in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit, compared with 16 days for a control group.

How do beneficial forms of music help? Some studies show that it can lower blood pressure, basal-metabolism and respi­ration rates, thus lessening physiological responses to stress. Other studies suggest that soothing music may help increase production of endorphins (which serve as natural pain reliev­ers) and S-IgA (Salivary immunoglobulin A). S-IgA speeds healing, reduces the danger of infections, and controls the heart rate. Music’s Surprising Power to Heal, 8/92, Reader’s Digest.

Dr. John Diamond, a medical doctor, has conducted exten­sive research on the psycho-physiological effects of music. He has noted that man is rhythmic in respiration, heartbeat, pulse, speech, and gait, and when the rhythm of music corre­sponds to the natural body rhythms that God has placed in our being, it will produce feelings of ecstasy, alertness, and peace. Additionally, it energizes both mind and body, and fa­cilitates balance and self-control. These secular medical find­ings correspond with the Scripture account in 1 Samuel 16, where David’s harp music drove away the darkness and the depression of King Saul.

Dr. David Nobel, another medical doctor and an authority on music, has done extensive research on the value of musical rhythms, corresponding to bodily rhythms. He writes that,

None of these qualities accrue to the rock sound. Instead, rock contains harmonic dissonance and melodic discord, while it accents rhythm with a big beat. In fact, the anapestic beat (i.e. two short beats, followed by a long beat, then a pause) as used by many rock musicians, actually is the exact opposite of our heart and arterial rhythms.

Dr. Diamond confirms Dr. Nobel’s findings and adds that the stopped anapestic rhythm
heightens stress and anger, reduces output, increases hy­peractivity, and weakens muscle strength.

It has been also been found that sound stimuli can have a negative effect upon the skeletal muscles. Rock rhythms cause the human heart beat to lose its perfect rhythm, with certain rhythms even causing a rare malady known as “musicogenic epilepsy” with which some of its victims have actually been tormented to the point of committing suicide, or murder.

Extensive research has also been conducted on the effects of music upon non-human life, both animals and plants. I re­call hearing a lecture by a musicologist in which he spoke of experiments on small mammals who were exposed over a pe­riod of time to the sounds of heavy metal rock music. Upon doing autopsies on these animals, there was observable evi­dence of physical damage to their brains.

The plant research findings have shown that rock music actually stunts the growth of a wide variety of plants, but if played long enough, the plants will actually die prematurely.

And even more startling were the findings of Dr. T. C. Singh, head of the Botany Department at Annamalia Univer­sity in India. His experiments demonstrated that not only did certain forms of music and certain musical instruments (specifically, classical music and the violin) cause plants to grow at twice their normal speed, but that later generations of the seeds of musically stimulated plants carried on the im­proved traits of greater size, more leaves, and other improve­ments. The possible significance of Dr. Singh’s findings to hu­man life is evident, and should be at least a little disconcerting to rock music fans.

However, for Christians the most serious concern is the fact that certain spiritistic religions of the East such as Hin­duism actually employ a beat that is common to hard rock music as a means of inducing trances and spirit possession.

We can say that insofar as the mind-body complex is con­cerned, the notion that music has no effect upon man, or that all music is harmless, is absolutely in error. In essence, what the medical experts are saying is that today’s rock sound–even if Christian lyrics are tacked to it–fights against the rhythmic nature of man’s creation.

In the face of such evidence, it is difficult to understand how anyone can maintain that the music itself is neutral, or if it is destructive in nature can somehow be made “Christian”.

Putting Truth in a Modern Dress?

And to bring this issue as it affects the SDA church even more up to date, a “Biblical Study” article under the title of Dead Languages was published in the March 2004 issue of the Adventist Review. It is a disturbing and subtly written arti­cle with some twisted theories that could easily mislead the uninformed. Paul aptly warns the church, “after my depar­ture…from among yourselves men will rise up speaking per­verse things.” That warning echoes down to our time upon whom the ends of the world are come.

This article tells us that the traditional hymns of Adven­tism, such as those written by Fanny Crosby are a dead lan­guage to secular people, as is the King James Bible. In casti­gating those who would prevent modern rock music from be­ing brought into the Seventh Day Adventist worship system, the author Ed Dickerson states:

Some express the fear that certain musical styles contami­nate the gospel. They desire to preserve its sanctity…that same reasoning chained the Bible to the wall and entombed it in a dead language in Luther’s day.

He then goes on to actually affirm the idea that Christ can expel demons from the music that they inspired and possess, just like exorcism expels demons from possessed people. And that what remains in this previously possessed music

may still sound like chaos to us because we are not at­tuned to it.

I ask are Christians to be attuned to that which is evil?

Finally the author dares to pose the important question

Will we say to the listener to modern Christian groups, God doesn’t like country music, or rock, or rap?

In response to this Adventist Review article I would ask,

Is God supposed to now embrace and endorse
a form of music that Satan has used
to bring millions to eternal destruction?
Is this detrimental worldly baggage
born out of rebellion against God,
something that we now want to offer
in holy worship to our God and King?

I would also ask,

Does the Bible teach us that in Christ
all things become new, except for our music?

The Spirit of Compromise

God’s messenger warns us that the great 2nd Advent of our Lord and Saviour has been delayed due to insubordination by His people. It is the spirit and practice of compromise with the world system that has brought deadness to our churches, not the singing of traditional hymns, or use of the King James Bible.

We’ve already embraced the world’s education system, its allopathic drugging system, and now we are being told to em­brace the most destructive elements of the world’s mass en­tertainment system.

Are the next steps in the processes of accommodation go­ing to be that we take up the practice of flesh-eating to win flesh-eaters to Christ, or the drinking of wine to win alco­holics for Christ?

Being the light of the world means that we are to expose and dispel the darkness of this fallen world, not embrace its worse outward manifestations, thinking that Christ will somehow magically neutralize its evil impacts.

Testimonials

To conclude I would like to share a few sobering testimoni­als by youth and young adults who speak of their first-hand experiences with the social and spiritual impact of “Contem­porary Christian” and “Christian Rock” music in their lives (Names are withheld for obvious reasons):

  1. A Sixteen-Year-Old Student From Florida:
    “Christian rock” music has probably been the biggest hindrance to my spiritual growth. When I first heard this kind of music, it really bothered my spirit. But then this music was brought into my church. The more I heard it, the less it bothered me. The less it bothered me, the more I listened to it. It wasn’t long before I was in­volved in secular rock music because I didn’t see any difference. This music caused me to resist the Lord and hold parts of my life back from Him. I was not able to have a freedom to truly serve Him and be totally dedi­cated to Him until I was willing to give up this music.
  2. A Seventeen-Year-Old Student From Missouri:
    When I got started listening to contemporary Christian music, I started out on “mild” music, but it grew to harder music. It grew to the point where the music took the place of Bible reading…it was addictive…This music, which is supposed to promote Christianity, caused me to violate God’s commandments about idolatry.
  3. A Sixteen-Year-Old Student From Oklahoma:
    …my father…told me that if I listened to “Christian rock” it would open the door for Satan. I just laughed, and lis­tened anyway. It totally deadened my Christian growth and led to terrible immorality, rebellion, and rejection of God. It then developed into secular, hard rock…I still have a scar in my life that will never be removed.
  4. A Twenty-Three-Year-Old Student From Wisconsin:
    I personally don’t like “Christian rock,” but at the cafe where I work as a waitress, they have been playing it. Since I have been working there I have had no desire to pray or read the Bible or to even get to know the Lord….it has subconsciously affected my spiritual growth…I have found that I desire to read my Bible and to pray since I have been away from “Christian rock”.
  5. A Nineteen-Year-Old Student From California:
    I began listening to “Christian rock,” and shortly there­after I began a fast, steady pace downhill. This eventu­ally led me into a totally backslidden state…I remember the specific day and the song I listened to first. I remem­ber feeling rebellious…Within weeks, maybe months, a very apparent breakdown of my conscience, morality, and appearance was evident…I had completely fallen away from the Lord. I appeal to Church leaders today….I plead with you to purge your churches, youth groups, and homes of rock and roll…I pray that the devastating results of rock music will be realized in the Church be­fore it steals anymore of the souls of our youth.
  6. A Nineteen-Year-Old Student From Texas:
    I can now say there is no such thing as “Christian rock,” and this type of music should not be in one’s house, much less in God’s holy house of worship!
  7. A Twenty-One-Year-Old Student From Michigan:
    It does not matter whether I listen to secular or “Chris­tian rock,” when the songs are over, I feel the same. I feel an emptiness in my soul, a heavy burden. Even “Christian rock” sometimes makes me feel like going out and getting rowdy or even hurting someone else if they provoke me, and that is against all of God’s teach­ings, and everything God stands for.
  8. A Seventeen-Year-Old Student From Pennsylvania:
    “Christian rock” and Christian contemporary music have, in my life, been stepping stones. Not…up—but down. Just a few months of listening to “Christian rock” and contemporary music led to a life of being controlled by acid rock. This quickly led to and encouraged rebel­lion, greed, moral impurity, and trying to…hide from my parents.
  9. A Sixteen-Year-Old Student From Illinois:
    The music I started with was soft, slow, and contempo­rary, and it took over my life and I became dependent upon it rather than upon God. I did not realize it, but I was a lukewarm Christian, no matter how many times I sought God at the altar. Eventually… God gave me the conviction to not listen to evil Christian contemporary music. He made me free in my soul!
  10. A Fifteen-Year-Old Student From Nebraska:
    When I started listening to “Christian rock” I slowly started to listen to… (soft rock). Then I was listening to something harder and harder. It not only led me into worldly rock, but I was getting rebellious toward my parents, and I was having sensual and lustful thoughts. I also could not memorize or read God’s Word and under­stand it or retain it.
  11. An Eighteen-Year-Old Student From Indiana:
    “Christian rock” had made me a shallow, rebellious young Christian. It made it easy for me to get into regu­lar rock music…I finally submitted to God and got the rock music out of my life, I praise God for His help in releasing me from it.
  12. An Eighteen-Year-Old Student From Indiana:
    I believe God designed the world to conform to Chris­tianity, not Christianity to the world. Please, please, don’t pollute your minds or your spiritual life with this awful music. The same applies to “Christian rock” mu­sic.
  13. A Nineteen-Year-Old Student From Texas:
    I began with a high standard of music in my life. Through my youth group, that became watered down. I gradually began to build a collection of contemporary artists who professed to be Christians. As I collected more tapes and the music’s beat became stronger, I be­came more rebellious…the so-called “Christian music” led me into rebellion.
  14. A Seventeen-Year-Old Student From Georgia:
    “Christian rock” music has divided my youth group. It has kept me in bondage spiritually…Whenever I walk into my youth group, rock is being played. I feel Satan’s control start to tighten….I find it almost impossible to have beneficial, reverent quiet times when the sensual beat pops into my mind.
  15. A Fifteen-Year-Old Student From Ohio:
    Those that think that “Christian rock” is OK because of the words are wrong. When I listen to that type of “Christian” music, I have the same reaction [sensual thoughts]. I cannot listen to any type of this music be­cause when I do, I can no longer worship God or grow in Him.
  16. A Sixteen-Year-Old Student From Texas:
    Now my church plays “Christian rock” and I see it ruin­ing many kids in our youth group. It is so sad. It has ru­ined kids that were so sweet.”
  17. A Nineteen-Year-Old Student From Ohio:
    ”Christian rock” at one time really messed up my view of Christianity. I would listen to it and think, “Look how Christianity is trying to blend in with the world.”
  18. A Seventeen-Year-Old Student From California:
    …we as Christians do not take drugs to witness to drug users, and we do not convert to worldly habits to iden­tify with the world. So I saw no reason to use worldly music with Christian words so that I could minister to the world!

The erosion of musical standards denotes a spirit of com­promise with the world which must be vigorously opposed by strong Christian leaders. As in all areas of our lives believers should ever follow the admonition of Paul:

1 Corinthians 10
31 Whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.

It is my conviction that contemporary and rock forms of music cannot be used to effectively communicate spiritual truth. Indeed, how can rock music, with its origins in demonic activities and its proven adverse psycho-physiological effects, be employed in the totally healing and restorative Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ?

James 4
4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friend­ship with the world is enmity with God?

1 John 2
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him.

Romans 12
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Bibliographic Sources

  1. Cyril Scott. Music, It’s Secret Influence Throughout the Ages. (1958)
  2. Ceril Scott. The Influence of Music on History and Morals. (1933)
  3. Ceril Scott. The Philosophy of Modernism in its Connection with Music
  4. Paul Griffiths. A Guide to Electronic Music. (1979)
  5. Podolsky. Music For Your Health.
  6. Gilman and Paperte. Music and Your Emotions.
  7. Lionel Stebbing. Music Therapy, A New Anthology. (1963)
  8. Frank Tirro. Jazz, A History. (1979)
  9. Orbis Publishing. The History of Rock. (1982)
  10. Egon Wellesz (Ed.). Ancient and Oriental Music. (Vol. I of The New Oxford His­tory of Music.) (1957)
  11. J. Machlis. Introduction to Contemporary Music. (1980)
  12. Peter Yates. Twentieth Century Music. (1968)
  13. Paul Henry Làng. Music in Western Civilization. (1941)
  14. Francis Routh. Contemporary Music, An Introduction. (1968)
  15. Julius Portnoy. Music in the Life of Man. (1963)
  16. Ernest Pickering. The Kind of Music That God Honors. (1988)
  17. John Ankerberg, John Weldon, Eric Holmberg. Rock Music’s Powerful Mes­sages. (1991)
  18. Ken Lynch. Gospel Music: Blessing or Blight? (1987)
  19. Church of the Open Bible (Burlington, MA). Music That Pleases the Lord, (1993)
  20. Jeff Godwin. The Devil’s Disciples: The Truth About Rock. (?)
  21. Jeff Godwin. What’s Wrong With Christian Rock? (?)
  22. John MacArthur. Living in the Spirit Bible Study Guide (Eph. 5:18-20). (?)
  23. Gordon E. Sears. Is Today’s Christian Music “Sacred”? (1993)

Annex A

What kind of music truly honors God? Ernest Pickering lists ten primary guidelines for Christians to follow:

  1. Its message is Scriptural (Colossians 3:16). Good Chris­tian music must present a message that is true to the Word of God and doctrinally sound.
  2. It should lead us to think in Biblical patterns and not be suggestive of evil either in message or in musical ar­rangement (Philippians 4:8). The text and music should not be cheap or tawdry.
  3. It should help us to honor God with our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Music which tends to imitate the effects of godless rock upon the human body or which either destroys or impairs one’s hearing is not Christian music.
  4. It will maintain a balance between “spirit” and “under­standing” (1 Corinthians 14:15). Music that is primarily emotional froth would not fulfill this requirement.
  5. It will contain words that are full of beauty, dignity, rev­erence and simplicity, words that are worthy of the worship of a holy God (Isaiah 6:1-6).
  6. It will be free of mental association with worldly musi­cal styles and evidence a holy consecrated character (Romans 12:2; 1 John 2:15). Music that seeks to “copy” the worldly approach is not honoring to God.
  7. It should be expressive of the peace that accompanies the Christian life, not the clamor, confusion, din, and turmoil of the world (Colossians 3:15-16). The various forms of rock music do not contribute to peace of heart but partake of the constant jangle of the sinful world. Christ promises peace to His people (John 14:27).
  8. It should be characterized by musical preciseness, fi­nesse of poetic technique, and should evidence a struc­ture of harmony and order. God is a God of order and not disorder (1 Corinthians 14:40).
  9. It should promote and accompany a life-style of godli­ness, modesty, and holy quietness, and not modish fash­ion, suggestive acts, or sexual aggressiveness (1 Peter 1:16; Titus 2:11-12).
  10. It should not contribute to the temptation of new or weak believers (Romans 14:13, 21; 15:2). Music that re­minds newly-saved converts of their old life of sin is to be abhorred and rejected.

Annex B

What follows are the concise results of a search of Spirit of Prophecy counsel and observation as to what are the distinc­tive characteristics by which we may know what is Heaven’s music, sacred song, and God’s way. Please take special note of each underlined note or phrase.

Last Day Events, p. 159
Satan will make music a snare by the way in which it is conducted. Let us give no place to strange exercisings,…God’s work is ever characterized by calmness and dignity.

Signs of the Times, June 22, 1882
Those who make singing a part of divine worship should select hymns with music appropriate to the occasion… cheer­ful, yet solemn melodies.

Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, p. 185
Said the angel, List ye! Soon I heard…perfect strains, sweet and harmonious. It surpassed any music I had ever heard. It seemed to be so full of mercy, compassion, and elevating, holy joy. It thrilled through my whole being.

Education, p. 167, 168
Such song [i.e. sacred song] has wonderful power…to sub­due rude and uncultivated natures; power to quicken thought and to awaken sympathy, to promote harmony of action, and to banish the gloom and foreboding…
Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 97, 98

The art of sacred melody was diligently cultivated…. solemn psalms of praise to the Creator, exalting His name and recounting His wondrous works. Thus music was made to serve a holy purpose, to lift the thoughts to that which was pure and noble and elevating, and to awaken in the soul devo­tion and gratitude to God.

Selected Messages, book 3, p. 333
[A] serious, solemn impression… should be the result of sacred music.

Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, p. 195
[What is] acceptable to God…[is] perfect, softened, sweet strains of music…. among the…angel choir…singing..is soft and melodious.

Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, p. 197
…graceful,… softer and more silvery strains, more like angel music,…

The Signs of the Times, June 20, 1900
The harps of the angels will sound forth heavenly music…

The same search revealed the characteristics of the forms of “music” (in some instances referred to as “noise” or “bed­lam”) that the God of heaven and the holy angels spurn. As above, please take special note of each underlined note or phrase.

Last Day Events, p. 159
The Lord has shown me would take place [in the church] just before the close of probation. Every uncouth thing will be demonstrated. There will be shouting, with drums, music, and dancing. The senses of rational beings will become so con­fused that they cannot be trusted…A bedlam of noise shocks the senses and perverts that [music] which if conducted aright might be a blessing. The powers of satanic agencies blend with the din and noise to have a carnival, and this is termed the Holy Spirit’s working….Those things which have been in the past will be in the future. Satan will make music a snare by the way in which it is conducted.

Maranatha, p. 234 (Chapter Title: Drums, Dancing and Noise)
The Holy Spirit never reveals itself in such methods, in such a bedlam of noise. This is an invention of Satan to cover up his ingenious methods for making of none effect the pure, sincere, elevating, ennobling, sanctifying truth for this time…Those participating in [this music and] the supposed revival receive impressions which lead them adrift…No en­couragement should be given to this kind of worship…Men became excited, and were worked by a power thought to be the power of God.

Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 506
Angels are hovering around yonder dwelling. The young are there assembled; there is the sound of vocal and instru­mental music. Christians are gathered there, but what is that you hear? It is a song,..frivolous….fit for the dance hall. Be­hold the pure angels gather their light closer around them, and darkness envelops those [“thoughtless ones” Review and Herald, Mar. 11, 1880] in that dwelling The angels are moving from the scene. Sadness is upon their countenances. Behold, they are weeping. This I saw repeated a number of times all through the ranks of Sabbathkeepers…Music is the idol which many professed Sabbathkeeping Christians worship.

Satan has no objection to music if he can make that a chan­nel through which to gain access to the minds of the youth….He works through the means which will exert the strongest influence to hold the largest numbers in a pleasing infatua­tion, while they are paralyzed by his power. When turned to good account, music is a blessing; but it is often made one of Satan’s most attractive agencies to ensnare souls…Young per­sons…although professed Christians, frequently dishonor God and their faith by their…choice of music. Sacred music is not congenial to their taste…In the judgment all these words of inspiration will condemn those who have not heeded them.

Selected Messages, book 3, p. 333
Brother U has a good knowledge of music, but his educa­tion in music was of a character to suit the stage rather than the solemn worship of God.

Last Day Events, p. 159
Satan will make music a snare by the way in which it is conducted. Let us give no place to strange exercisings,… God’s work is ever characterized by calmness and dignity.

Psalm 46
10 Be still and know that I am God…

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