A review of Mark Joseph’s Rock Gets Religion

"The nuanced personal, practical, theological, and spiritual dynamics of Christian musicians negotiating their professed faith while pursuing careers in popular rock music is the subject of Mark Joseph’s meticulously researched book Rock Gets Religion: The Battle for the Soul of the Devil’s Music." National Review

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Aaron Blumer's picture


FWIW, I don't think we need to be "culturally relevant" at all. Where is that in the Great Commission? (or anywhere else?)

Andrew K's picture

Culture, like its subcategory of fashion, is generally shaped by those who have the strength to be neither devoted to cultural relevance nor intimidated by its existing power. This for good or for ill.

John E.'s picture

The need to spiritualize things like rock music and movies strikes me as an argument on the opposite side of the coin from the anti-rock music/movies argument that I heard growing up.

If you like rock music and you believe that listening to it doesn't violate God's command for His people to pursue holiness, then enjoying listening to it and drop the over-spiritualized rationalization. And, please, by all means, "we" need to drop the cultural relevance nonsense, too. The Apostle Paul told us that the gospel of Jesus Christ is foolishness to the unbelieving world. This "spoonful of sugar" approach to the gospel results in more and more sugar and less and less gospel.  

John E.'s picture

Stick to references to over-produced arena rock bands from the late 70s/early 80s and you won't have to ever worry about being accused of being culturally relevant ;) 

TylerR's picture


I know ... I'm the epitome of "hipness" and cultural-relevance with my classic rock-era references!

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

I'm almost with Aaron there.  The big difference is that if we posit that music--at least Christian music--ought to be one of God's tools for imparting His Word to His people in lyric form, then the genre matters in that it must make sense to the hearers and work with the text.   My kids' homeschool choir sings Christian songs in various genre and languages, and it's striking how they differ per the culture.  

I would argue as well that to have good musicianship, it helps if (a) you've got exposure to world class musicians and (b) you get out of your own bubble once in a while.  A bit of musical training helps a lot as well. 

And on that note, it's looking pretty dismal in a lot of CCM, everything from the more "white" evangelical houses to CCM.  My daughter--who's getting a minor in piano along with a nursing major--notes that many churches are simplifying music from sheet music to guitar chords to save CCLI money.  Combined with some churches actually using autotune to spare singers the burden of singing halfway on key, and it's going to leave a mark on Christian music, IMO.  Put gently, good luck recovering the influence of Booth and Bach if you can't read music, and when the only melody you hear is the lyrics after auto-tune.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.