I flipped through my copy of [i]Set the Trumpet to Thy Mouth[/i] last night, but I didnt find the story that you described. However, I do remember reading about it somewhere. In fact, if I remember correctly, I read it in an old Christian magazine that I found at a yard sale. I dont remember David Wilkerson naming any names in the article (such as Mylon LeFevre and the Broken Heart), but I do remember the story about the rock concert.
I remember Wilkerson talking about people smoking cigarettes and even marijuana at that particular concert. He said that people were pushing him, lighting up lighters and cursing. While he said that the music certain drew the people of the world, he questioned the effectiveness of a rock concert to have lasting impact on the soul. Yes, some of the things that he said (about demons coming out of speakers [dont know if he said that he SAW these or SENSED these things]) was certainly open for debate. But I think that I remember him speaking about a cop who was working security who said that these sorts of problems were associated with Christian rock concerts at that particular arena.
I have to admit that the story was very much out there. The story of just how demonic the events of the concert were is certainly open to debate. Personally, I dont agree with much of the Contemporary Christian Music. However, it has less to do with the music that they produce than it does the motivation and underlying principle behind the music and its industry.
Most of the music produced by CCM artists, in my opinion, is motivated by the artists own musical preferences and the desire/need to create music that conforms to the customers musical preference all in a desire to SELL. A secondary desire, to a much lesser extent, seems to be a desire to use music as a means to evangelize. Another far more dangerous desire lay in the desire of certain musicians who want to achieve fame and stardom with their art. I feel that all of these motivations are less than ideal (as well as contrary to our call as believers).
Music is a language. I feel that it can be corrupted just like our speech can be corrupted. I can use my voice to grumble, complain, mumble, sneer, whistle, ogle, stutter, or even curse. However, I want to avoid meandering into a scientific foundation as to why some music can be considered sinful. The bottom line is that I want the Lord to be with my mouth (as God told Moses on Mt. Sinai). In a similar manner, I want God to be with my musical skill. Like David, I would rather my hands lose their skill than to forget or forsake God with my play. In fact, I would prefer to honor Gods preference for my music than to selfishly play according to my own self-interest or musical preferences.
To this end, I think that some Christian music is worse than some secular music. Controversial? I know that sounds hard to understand but it is even harder to explain. I believe that music that is inspired by a desire to suit the musicians own desire (not necessarily for rock-n-roll, but for fame, fortune or even personal musical taste) might have a more troublesome root than a man who writes a love song to his wife or song of affirmation to his child. The Song of Solomon, after all, is a powerfully romantic love song that never mentions God (at least, in a direct sense). The primary examination of music, in my opinion, should be regarding the root causes and motivations of that music.
I know that there are a lot of believers who are adamantly opposed to secular music simply because it doesnt mention (or is not directed toward) God. However, it is funny that some of these same people embrace some examples of Christian music that is not directed toward God, or only mentions God as a concept or in passing. Or often, the music is written first (with no lyrics) and is only combined with lyrics later. What makes music (without words) to be holy?
I will say this: As a musician, I often write songs that are birthed only after long nights of prayer. In fact, I have some songs that were created WHILE I was praying! I even titled some of them Prayer for (enter name) and Cry for (enter name). There arent any words in these songs; they are just music compositions that express my prayers with the language of musical notes. Interestingly, I often sense that same sort of feeling while playing the song today as I did when praying back when I wrote it. When I play those songs today, it almost feels as if I am praying for that person or group again.
Back to topic: Last night, as I read through some of the chapter on music in [i]Set the Trumpet to Thy Mouth[/i], I noticed that David Wilkerson indeed takes an extremely hard-line stance on music that he feels conforms to the patterns of this world. While I might not agree with everything he says, I do agree with the heart of his message. Wilkerson seems impassioned that much of todays Christian music (especially rock-n-roll) serves to rob God of the glory that He deserves. Instead of presenting God a pure sacrifice via a new song, many Christian artists simply present music that smells almost as if it regurgitated from the stomach of this world. The motive is too often (but not always) fame, fortune or an attempt to evangelize the world through music (with the explanation that other forms of evangelism just dont work for some young people).
I was saved as a teen. At the time, I had everything in the world that I could want. I was smart, popular and quite talented. My parents required that I attend Church while living under their rules (thankfully), so I also had quite a bit of experience in the Church. The thing was that I didnt really believe in God. Sure, I went to quite a few Christian rock concerts at our large A/G church. But I just saw it as a cheap imitation for secular music. I thought of it as a bunch of Christians who liked that type of music a lot (along with that type of industry). While they were probably good natured, their music and often hidden message just didnt matter much to me. In fact, I heard quite a bit of justification for Christian rock music that was more along the lines of justifying the behavior of rock-n-roll music fans as normal and that Christian musicians were effectively catering to an unsaved demographic that wasnt going to change any other way.
In the chapter dedicated toward music, Wilkerson argues that it comes down to the root of the problem. Is our music an [u]attempt[/u] to conform to our own desires or tastes (or the desires and tastes of this world)? Or have we freely given those things to God? To this extent, I agree with Wilkerson. He mentions that, for some, rock music is an addiction. To offer a religious version of this music is effectively like offering Methadone to a heroin addict. Yes, it can possibly take someone off of an addiction to Heroin, but it simply redirects their addiction to Methadone. The root of drug addiction is the physical or mental lust for the effect produced by the drug and not by the drug itself. This is why treatments that call for substitute drugs just dont work very well. This sort of justification for Christian rock (as a primary means of evangelism for todays youth or as a substitute for the entertainment of this world [which is more along the line of how I think that it is viewed by youth]) is a lot like those who tried to create Christian soap operas, Christian movies, or even Christian night or comedy clubs. It is, effectively, an imitation of the fads and forms of entertainment that are fashioned by the world.
That being said, I dont think that God will judge music simply because of its tune, rhythm or the instruments used to produce it. Like I was trying to say, I think that God looks much deeper to the root of motivation and inspiration. I dont judge a baby simply because he uses his mouth to drool or utter words of nonsense. I dont judge a child because he gets on a piano and bangs the keys as eloquently as the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard. I think that the question is much deeper: Have we laid ALL of our personal desires upon the altar? What is our motivation? What is our purpose? Is the music that we produce the result of simple, innocent expressions of faith and thoughts
or ideas (even about God) wrapped up in our own selfish tastes and preferences? There is some music that I listen to that would probably draw immediate fingers of spiritual indictment by some very good and sincere believers. While I dont care for most of the modern songs, there are still some that have spoken to me. But I have noticed that most of those songs are not the ones that conform so easily to the shifting sands of modern taste and preference. My favorite musician, by far, is Keith Green. Before I came to Christ, I wouldnt have EVER listened to a Keith Green style of song (or voice, for that matter). But his music and lyrics strike a passion in my heart for the things of God!
I read an interesting thing in chapter dealing with music in [i]Set the Trumpet to Thy Mouth[/i]. David Wilkerson said that he noticed that, even at evangelic Christian concerts, you almost never hear the band or singer playing an upbeat rock or rap song just prior to an invitation for salvation. What do they play? Ironically, they usually play a worship song (or, at least, a much slower and more understandable song). Wilkerson suggested that the reason is that even those Christian rock musicians recognize the type of songs that both strike the emotions needed for contemplation. Upbeat, fast-paced rock or rap music just doesnt provide the atmosphere in which people expect to stand before God. He has a point, and this really made me think. Would the faster rock or rap music actually [i]hinder[/i] a person from drawing close to God? I dont pretend to know the ultimate answer to such a question, but it is something to ponder.
I noticed a funny thing the other day. I listened to a group of oneness believers at a local UPC (United Pentecostal Church) explain to me the underlying sin of a man who wears a college t-shirt and cargo shorts. Depending upon who was talking, these believers said that my clothes appear either feminine or worldly. Even after I explained that my t-shirt was a free gift when I graduated and the cargo shorts are because it is just so hot in south Texas, they still told me that I was in danger of standing before God in clothes that resembled the fashions of this world. After our chat, some of the guys went to Church in order to practice with their Christian rock band. Go figure.
Anyway, I didnt mean to get off track here. I just wanted to say that I have read the article that you mentioned (about Wilkersons experience at a Christian rock concert). I cant say that I believe it and I cant say that I totally reject it either. As understanding that I feel that I am regarding music, I have literally sensed something wrong at some rock concerts. I have been a member of a youth group in which the musicians and teenagers were bored senseless even during times of upbeat praise and worship. You couldnt get these teens to stand up or sing. But once the rock music played, they were the first on their feet! I watched those teens for years
and wondered whether this music had any effect on the souls or spiritual maturity of such teens. It seemed like the only time they were motivated toward the things of God was while playing or listening to that music. So, in a sense, I certainly share the concern of Brother Wilkerson.
This topic, of course, was about Wilkersons book [i]The Vision[/i]. I think that it would be helpful if we remember the nature of man regardless of who we are speaking of. When I met Leonard Ravenhill shortly before he died, he told me what he said would be the greatest piece of advice I might received: TEST EVERYTHING. He said that I should test everything that I read, hear or see. He said that I should do so regardless of the source. This is a tall order. I am drawn to messages by men of God like Leonard Ravenhill, A. W. Tozer, David Wilkerson, Carter Conlon, Neil Rhodes, etc
Sometimes, it is difficult to understand just how human these wonderful men of God truly are. They are, after all, [u]MEN[/u] of God and not GODS amongst men.
These men are(and were) just as fallible and prone to error as we are. And, of course, we should realize that they were maturing too. This is difficult, sometimes, because we have a collection of sermons from a long period of Leonard Ravenhills life. But I venture to guess that Leonard Ravenhill experienced the same mountaintops and dark valleys that we each experience along our pilgrimage. Men like Ravenhill and Wilkerson were also maturing
and each sermon represents a different stage of that maturity. Of course, truth is eternal. The truths and passion spoken by Leonard Ravenhill in the 1950s and 1960s is just as relevant today. However, perspective is fleeting. It is possible (and perhaps [i]probable[/i]) that their perspectives on certain things changed over time as they drew closer to the knowledge of Christ Jesus as a result of their walk with God. May God help us understand the difference.