Cultural Arts Review: Christian Rock Music

Posted on October 14, 2013 by

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“Christian rock is a form of rock music played by individuals and bands whose members are Christians and who often focus their lyrics on matters concerned with the Christian faith.  Many bands who perform Christian rock have ties to the contemporary Christian music labels, media outlets, and festivals.”  When searching for a definition of Christian rock music, one will often find a description similar to this one.  But are these characteristics really necessary for a band to be considered a Christian rock group?  Can the band members be Buddhists, yet play Christian rock music and still be considered a Christian rock band? In this analysis, I will discuss the history of Christian rock and the social constructs placed on Christian rock.

Throughout the early 1950’s and 1960’s, rock and roll music was looked down upon, bringing numerous negative connotations with it.  Many folks, usually older, more conventional folks, viewed rock and roll as the “Devil’s music”.  It was radical and unreserved.  Rock and roll music brought energy, often perceived as destructive by outsiders, with it the world had never seen before.  And if generic rock and roll music wasn’t controversial enough, now add religion to it!  Many traditional Christians saw these artists as anit-Christians.  Conservative church establishments saw members who played and/or listened to that kind of music as a denunciation to the church. Through the late 1960’s and 1980’s, Christian rock music gained a lot of momentum, with artists such as The Crusaders and Larry Norman leading the way. By the 1990’s and 2000’s, Christian rock music was now mainstream and was starting to develop its own sub-genres of Christian rock music, such as Christian metal, Christian hardcore, and Christian punk.

Overtime, however, these genres of Christian rock have been socially constructed with sets of principles and parameters for how Christian rock music must “be” to be considered that genre.  What “technically” determines this music religiously Christian? Is there even such thing as a defined, “correct” classification?  Well, if one begins to dissect the history of Christian rock, they will find that these “classifications” have changed overtime and have become more diverse in definition.  Churches once rejected Christian rock, and now some say it’s their biggest recruitment tool for new members.  As far as the issue on whether it’s religious or not, some bands will directly state their Christian views through lyrical imagery and direct actions.  Whereas other Christian artists, like Bono from U2, will create spiritually loaded songs expressing his faith in Christianity, yet it isn’t considered “Christian rock” music.  Why? They’re both filling their lyrics with their faith in Christianity, yet only the bands that directly state they are Christian rock are Christian rock.  I find this very subjective, and open to interpretation.  When same belief interpretations on a given subject spread to a macro level, that’s when societies begin to construct a new standard norm of acceptance, in this case, defining Christian rock music.

Thusly, I believe this classification of what defines “Christian rock music” will continue to change throughout history and will continue to be open to interpretation.  People will always have new beliefs on what is or isn’t, and it’ll be up to society at how those ideas will be constructed.

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