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Statement regarding “Christian” Bands

 —  April 25, 2014 — 8 Comments

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 4.09.59 PMWell, Jon Foreman has officially issued the best articulated statement regarding “Christian” music and bands I have heard to date.  When asked if Switchfoot was still a “Christian Band” he responded with these words:

To be honest, this question grieves me because I feel that it represents a much bigger issue than simply a couple SF tunes. In true Socratic form, let me ask you a few questions: Does Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonata’s Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds. The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed.

These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty. Many songs are worthy of being written. Switchfoot will write some, Keith Green, Bach, and perhaps yourself have written others. Some of these songs are about redemption, others about the sunrise, others about nothing in particular: written for the simple joy of music.

None of these songs has been born again, and to that end there is no such thing as Christian music. No. Christ didn’t come and die for my songs, he came for me. Yes. My songs are a part of my life. But judging from scripture I can only conclude that our God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken and the hungry than the personal pronouns I use when I sing. I am a believer. Many of these songs talk about this belief. An obligation to say this or do that does not sound like the glorious freedom that Christ died to afford me. I do have an obligation, however, a debt that cannot be settled by my lyrical decisions. My life will be judged by my obedience, not my ability to confine my lyrics to this box or that. We all have a different calling; Switchfoot is trying to be obedient to who we are called to be. We’re not trying to be Audio A or U2 or POD or Bach: we’re trying to be Switchfoot.

You see, a song that has the words: ‘Jesus Christ’ is no more or less ‘Christian’ than an instrumental piece. (I’ve heard lots of people say Jesus Christ and they weren’t talking about their redeemer.) You see, Jesus didn’t die for any of my tunes. So there is no hierarchy of life or songs or occupation only obedience. We have a call to take up our cross and follow. We can be sure that these roads will be different for all of us. Just as you have one body and every part has a different function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each of us belongs to all the others. Please be slow to judge ‘brothers’ who have a different calling.

What are your thoughts?

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Chuck Bomar

Chuck Bomar

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Chuck Bomar planted and is Lead Pastor of Colossae Church in Portland, Oregon and is founder of both CollegeLeader (www.CollegeLeader.org) and iampeople (www.iampeople.org). He is author of 8 books, including the highly anticipated releases of Better Off Without Jesus and Losing Your Religion. When he is not traveling the country speaking at conferences or consulting with church or denominational leaders, he is home with his family, the place he loves to be more than any other. Chuck and his wife, Barbara, have three beautiful daughters: Karis, Hope and Sayla.

8 responses to Statement regarding “Christian” Bands

  1. There was a major backlash a number of years ago when Michael W. smith wrote some “non-Christian” music. As long as the artists don’t start writing and singing songs that contain and encourage obviously non-biblical actions and as along as they don’t start leading obviously non-Biblical lives, then yay for them living the way God calls them to live and work. If, however, they start to be conformed to this world in songs and life-style, then that’s not a good thing.

  2. What a brilliant way to put it! I completely agree!

  3. This is great stuff! I’ve tried to communicate something similar to our students at church about following the passions God has placed within them. They don’t have to be pastors, worship leaders or missionaries to be following His will for their lives. I want them to know that God calls people into almost every single walk of life and vocation (except maybe porn stars, prostitutes and pushers) because He wants His light reflected in every place. He wants business people, factory workers, teachers, lawyers, film makers, etc. who are committed followers of Christ and who will make an impact in their corner of the world in those arenas.

  4. Joel Rutherford May 1, 2014 at 9:03 am

    In so many areas of the Body of Christ, it’s been implied and even stated plainly, ‘if you’re really spiritual, then you’ll only listen to Christian music (‘like ME’ implies the speaker)’.
    That implication presents such a facade of what it means to be a Christian. It substitutes works for grace. It puts ‘obedience’ about what music we listen to (!!?!?!) ahead of obedience in areas that might really make a difference in the Kingdom.
    Jon Foreman is spot on with his statement.

  5. Luther on Vocation

  6. Man, well said. I don’t want to say too much more than that. It’s similar to the words I heard from another “christian artist” recently. He asked something to the effect of, “would you call a christian who bakes a Christian baker?” and things of the like. I agree. I’ve been waiting for someone to say something like this, not realizing that I have. Break down the barriers of our culture and start living freely in the Gospel of Christ.

  7. I appreciate the comments from Jon. I think what people want to know when they ask a question like that is “Jon, are you still following Jesus? Are you still trying to glorify God through your music?”. I think the term “Christian music” has been generally unhelpful as Jon points out, however, I don’t believe many people are really asking if his music has received Christ as its personal savior. That leads to the question: Is it valid to ask someone if they are still following Jesus. My short answer – yes. Obviously someone out there will say would you ever ask that of a baker? Maybe, and I don’t think it would be wrong either, however, a baker likely doesn’t have the sphere of influence that Switchfoot has. Sound unfair? With great power comes great responsibility (I think it says that in the Bible somewhere, or maybe it was Spiderman – whatever)

  8. I think we need to look at Switchfoot’s comments and indeed all comments through this simple yet profound Bible verse:
    So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.1Co 10:31

    How does Switchfoot glorify God in their music? How does the Christian who is a baker glorify God?

    Specfically, how does the Christian band or the Christian baker glorify God in their work in a way that an unbeliever cannot?
    If there is no readily discernable difference between a Christian and a Non-Christian baker…then is the Christian who is a baker truly obeying 1 Cor 10:31?
    I think these questions need to be wrestled through…

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