The Contemporary Christian Music Debate
Worldly Compromise or Agent of Renewal?
Quotes, Book Reviews, Table of Contents and Ordering Information
Now back in print, The Contemporary Christian Music Debate has helped ministries around the world discover:
- Why choosing the optimum style of worship is critical to helping people truly worship.
- How to evaluate various styles for possible use in your ministry.
- How to deal with controversy when it erupts.
- How the bible, scientific studies, missions and church history can help us to choose the right music for our ministry.
To order from Amazon.com, click the title:
Bookstores can call: 866-308-6235, option 6, to order at a 40% discount.
Quotes and Reviews
A well documented, Biblically based and culturally relevant insight into contemporary Christian Music. Steve Miller has done a tremendous service for the church and the cause of Christ. For every mom, dad and pastor, it is a must." (Josh McDowell - popular speaker and author)
"The Dutch translation of The Contemporary Christian Music Debate has been of tremendous help to many church leaders in Holland who struggle with issues of modern styles and worship. The combination of solid research with a gentle manner has a way of opening otherwise closed minds." (Arjan van den Bijgaart, Manager Ecovata Publishers.)
“I freely admit that Miller has put me in a predicament: the reasonableness of his argumentation has at times, to my own displeasure, won over my aversion to pop music” (Review from drs. P.C. den Uil, Reformatorisch Dagblad/The Netherlands, April 7, 1995)
Thank you very much for your wonderful job. I felt your book was clear and non-offensive throughout. Parts, I felt, will be helpful in our school material as well. I will be highly recommending it to them (other Youth With a Mission bases) as well. (John Salisbury, acting advisor for the Worship Office of University of the Nations and School of Worship.)
As a professor, I am constantly concerned with equipping my students with a scriptural perspective of cutting edge issues in today's youth culture. When it comes to music, I have yet to find a more balanced and thorough work on the subject. (Dr. Bill Jones, president, Columbia International University)
This book will help youth workers to understand why music is so important to students, and it will provide intense food for thought to those who resist today's music. If you want to get a straightforward, clear perspective on the controversial music issue, here it is! (Barry St. Clair, president, Reach Out Youth Solutions)
Steve Miller has done the church a great service in addressing a controversial issue with thorough scholarship and irenic spirit. Music has been a church-splitting and generation-splitting battle ground, so partisans often use overkill. But the attempts to demolish the opposing viewpoint have not diminished the conflict greatly because they have not been very convincing. Miller is convincing. And he persuades with a gentle approach that respects opposing viewpoints by taking them seriously and examining them exhaustively. As a bonus, from long experience he charts practical ways for local churches to incorporate newer forms of music while maintaining harmony in a music ministry for all. Miller has examined the issue of contemporary music with thorough research into the psychological, historical, biblical and practical factors and has presented these findings with sensitivity and grace. Besides its usefulness to sort out all the issues involved, the book makes fascinating reading. (Robertson McQuilkin, author, speaker, chancellor of Columbia International University)
Steve Miller's book deals with the church music issue head-on in a sane, sound and spiritual format. Against a well-reserched background of church music history Steve makes a scriptural case for the New Testament principle of unity in diversity with music as a language to reach the world for Jesus Christ. As I see it, this is a must book for pastors, church leaders and by all means - parents of teenagers! (Paul L. Walker, Ph.D., Senior Pastor, Mount Paran Church of God)
This book offers a balanced and scripturally sound look at a very sensitive subject. Steve Miller has done his homework and has good advice for parent, teenager, minister and musician alike." (Dr. Ed Young, Senior pastor, Second Baptist Church, Houston)
"...the definitive apologetic for Christian involvement in pop and rock culture. Going way, way beyond simple exhortations to teh converted, and using a wealth of his own research material both on church history and current scientific findings, (Miller) sliced through the prejudice and misinformation that has clogged the debate for so long." (Tony Cummings, Cross Rhythms Magazine, 1994, England)
Next to theology, there has been no more contentious an issue throughout the church's history than music. Church fathers, popes, priests, ministers, evangelists, reformers, and laity alike have swayed, sometimes violently, between tendencies toward asceticism on one hand, and accommodation on the other. Every so often, these conflicting tendencies clash openly. We are in the midst of such a time today.
Into the fray of print that has become part of the so-called "contemporary Christian music debate" comes a firm and sagacious book by Steve Miller. Backed by an unmatched breadth of research and facile reasoning, Miller brings the warring factions to the table to dispel misconceptions, open the dialogue on common ground, and, ultimately, to promote healing in an emotionally charged debate. He is not, as one might believe from the title, a neutral moderator, but clearly an advocate for the affirmative position: that "Contemporary Christian music is a medium whose day has come" (p. 1) as an "agent for renewal" for the church and its mission.
In the preface he admonishes objectivity and craves that those who would opine on the issue of music in the church employ prayerful consideration, biblical understanding, particularly of worship, humility, and a fair-minded willingness to be challenged on all sides of the issue. The entire book is filled with a spirit of resolve and gentle persuasion, combined with respect and tolerance for all views.
Miller spends the first quarter of his book dealing with the major criticisms of the Christian Contemporary movement in music, from charges of poor aesthetic quality and worldly accommodation, to the questionable motives and morality of contemporary artists, to evil associations of certain musical instruments and styles of writing. In Thomaic fashion, he offers each objection, then rebutts and replies to each one. The argument is rigorous and thorough, yet never dry or verbose.
Part Two rests the case of contemporary music solidly on the Scriptures, particularly the Psalms, the epistles of Paul, and other passages dealing with worship in general and music in particular. Part Three provides an illuminating glimpse of historical controversies over music, with special emphasis on the Reformation and Martin Luther's writings on the subject. Part Four has the author moving from the defensive mode to offer some prescriptive ideas on contemporary music's potential in reaching children, the church, and the world. A useful appendix provides a look at "How Four Growing Churches Use Contemporary Christian Music."
Miller manages to capture a breadth of material poignantly and succinctly, providing an invaluable resource for pastors, youth leaders, music leaders, and parents. His book is a stimulating challenge for the mind and a refreshing drink for the spirit. It promises to take an important place in the intense struggle over this issue. (Review in Reformed Worship, Michael, Jr. Burgess, teacher of music at Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.)
Steve takes the teaching of Scripture very seriously and makes God's Word the ultimate arbitor in this "debate." But he also uses psychological studies to answer ccm opponents who cite psychological factors. Just as powerful are Steve's appeal to church history and his call for a "missionary mentarlity" in reaching unchurchesd people in the U.S. and beyond through the music of their culture. I wish all Southern Baptists could be exposed to what Steve has to say. It could be yet another tool for God to use in bringing renewal to His church and awakening to the lost. (Review by Ferrell Foster in The Christian Index, March 14, 1996).
This tremendous book has been long overdue and it is my prayer that it will be read prayerfully and carefully by all of God's people so that we can avoid the kind of extremism and division that the music controversy has brought with in turn has been an enormous drain upon our time and resources especially in connection with the task of world evangelism. I personally believe that many of us adults owe many of our young people an apology for our extremism and sometimes even condemnation of their more different styles of music. I just praise God for this brilliant book and believe it will be used to bring great grace and unity among God's people...." (George Verwer, Founder, Operation Mobilization)
In this readable and respectful treatment of a difficult subject, he responds to common allegations which include moral corruption, poor aesthetic quality, even contemporary music's threat to our health. Instead of personal taste, Miller rests his cas on Scripture, music history, and mission strategy. He is to be commended for bringing a good dose of rational medication to a debate that is very much alive but not always well. This is a timely book for pastors, teachers and parents. (Phil Callaway, Servant Magazine, July, 1993, p. 12)
I genuinely believe your manuscript is excellent. It seems to be well balanced and comprehensive. It's evident you spent hundreds of hours on this project. If I can help in any other way, please let me know. (Doug Couch, organizer of the popular Super WOW Summers.)
Here's a book that squarely addresses one of the most complicated inner conflicts between Christians of different generations, written by a guy with experience in youth, music and staff ministry.Steve Miller presents a balanced look at both sides: the traditionalists versus the innovators by their respective detractors as the "stodgy old fogies" and the "wild-eyed, long-haired, devil-music lovers." Miller discusses just how the church music has changed over the centuries and how change in this, as in all things, has been met with cries of "selling out the world" and strongly opposed. What makes his book so interesting to read is to discover how upset certain people were over organized choirs, organs, pianos, pupular melodies with nw religious lyrics, you get the idea. It's well written and challenges the modern church to accept whatever music it takes to win others for Christ, as long as it is delivered in a manner which does not reflect poorly on the Body of Christ." (Dave Kirby, book reviewer, "On the Bookshelf")
Miller presents a strong argument in favor of contemporary Christian music, both for entertainment and for use in worship, citing many scripture passages and using present-day examples to support his conviction that contemporary Christian music is a valid ministry tool.
"The Contemporary Christian Music Debate" is a well-written, easy-to-read book, and provides a very interesting history of church music and hymnody, outlining the ways in which church music has changed through the centuries.
Miller writes: "Because of this [seeing firsthand the impact of contemporary Christian music and musicians on youth] I view these ministries as more than simply alternatives to secular music. For those seeking to minister to the same target groups with the strategy of the apostle Paul, using music becomes more than merely a live option. It becomes a moral imperative."
This book is a "must-read" for pastors and music directors struggling with the contemporary music issue, and for youth directors wishing to lead youth with whom they work to a better understanding of God through music. (Holly Smith, The California Southern Baptist, Oct. 7, 1993, p. 22)
While thousands of believers have been introduced to the gospel or helped in their spiritual life by musicians who have long hair and play loud music, many other believers view the whole Christian music scene with fear and loathing.
Steve Miller has been following the whole debate since he went to his first Christian concert in 1974. Although he awas deeply inspired by the music he heard, he continued to encounter sincere men of God who "dogmatically asserted that this new church music was a subtle form of compromise, a woldf in sheep's cloting designed by the enemy to infiltrate the church with the world."
Miller pledged to God that he would give up the Christian music he so dearly loved if the arguments against it ever held water. Now The Contemporary Christian Music Debate contains the fruits of his nearly 20 years of studying and reflecting on the subject. His conclusion: God is powerfully using today's music to reach people with his love.
The book is easy to read but contains numerous proofs of Miller's dogged research. After hearing critics charge that medical experts claimed rock music harmed the mind and body, Miller dug around in obscure journals like Perceptual and Motor Skills and Bulletin of the New Jeresey Academy of Science and found that the experts had been taken way out of context. Likewise, when critics charged that the American Medical Association claimed that rock music led to immoral and anti-social behavior, Miller investigated the AMA publications and found no such claims. While we've all heard more than our share of stories - about the demon beats, the ailing house plants, and the African missionaries who claimed that rock music resembled the music unchurched tribes used in their pagan rituals - Miller tracked them down and found them wanting.
Miller's survey of the history of church music reveals that through the ages, relevant forms of music have played an important part in spiritual revival. His analysis of Biblical teaching on music reveals that God's people have used all kinds of music, played at various decibel levels and in various settings. And a brief look at some of Miller's favorite artists - Petra, Keith Green, Phil Keaggy, Rez Band and Mylon LeFevre and Boken Heart - provide indisputable evidence that these artists hold to a strict evangelical approach in their songs and ministries.
The book does sufer from minor weaknesses. Some of Miller's research is outdated. And his section on using Christian music to communicate positive values to children is weaker than the material by Al Menconi from which it was drawn. But Miller's practical suggestions on working with Christian artists is very helpful, and his passionate plea to Christian leaders - from pastors to seminary teachers to worship leaders - to open the doors to new styles of music is compelling. As he writes: "The styles that have captured the ears of our culture today...are seldom heard in the church. The styles we use in the church are the ones that made nineteenth-century people weep, laugh, relax or report for duty. How odd. We are scratching people of the 1800s right where they itch." (Steve Rabey, Contemporary Christian Music Magazine, May, 1993, pp. 46,47)
"...brings common sense to the divisive subject of the use of rock music in church services. He rejects the amazing research of psychiatrist John Diamond - who holds that the da-da-DA of rock and roll, as opposed to the DA-da-da of a waltz, reduces muscle strength by some two-thirds, thereby supplying an argument for traditionalists who feel that rock rhythms are satanic. Miller patiently cites several university studies to show that rock rhythms per se have no effect on attnetion span, learning potential, or sexuality. The organ was once thought to be devilish, too, Miller says, in an extendeed historical discussion of church music; his real point is that new audiences require newer forms of communication, particularly in an electronic age. Miller cites the case of a missionary looking for a remote people who might not have heard the gospel; he chose the West African Fulanis, of Burkina Faso. They might not have heard of Jesus, but Michael Jackson was their great hero. Miller profiles acts such as the Indiana band Petra, and singer Keith Green; he also discusses several churches where rock music is used with great success. Helpful wherever this debate rages. (John Mort for Bacon's)
This is a GREAT book! (June 16, 1997)
This is definitely one of the best Christian books I have ever read! Steve Miller takes the reader through the whole history of Christian music, from the time when only psalms were acceptable, all the way up to CCM. In doing this he lovingly shows how all these different styles of music can communicate to completely different cultures and times. He also takes common arguments against CCM and breaks them down to show that our God is a God who can and does speak through all forms of music, whether it be traditional hymns, or more modern-day CCM. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who's open to finding out more about God and music.
Proponents and Opponents of CCM Should Read This Book, by Preston B., Midwest, (February 26, 1999)
Having read MANY books on the subject of contemporary music in the church, this is the best I have ever seen. It is sound, Biblical, thoroughly researched (11 years of research!), and balanced. If you have questions, or just want to learn about the history of Christian music, there is NO BETTER book.
A Complete Explanation and Guide to Christian Music, January 10, 2005, by Francine Larson (Palm Harbor, Florida)
This book is perfect for our times. It is my experience that churches, pastors and congregations are totally confused and uninformed regarding music for their church. Mr. Miller gives a fair and complete explanation of all kinds of music and what it means. The objective view is based on the Bible. I think before we can argue about the "Comtemporary Christian Music Debate" we need to be well informed on every level. Mr. Miller does just that. The book helps to clarify what is true and what we have heard from others. Every Christian needs to be informed on this subject. His research is both fascinating and extensive. This unique treasure of information is a must for anyone searching true answers on Christian Music.
Francine Larson, Co-Author of "Character Keys to a Bright Future."
Great Historical Background to a Current Debate, November 2, 2004, by C. Miller, Book Heaven, Georgia
There is nothing more divisive than the type of music used in churches across the country on Sunday mornings. Yet, do we need to quarrel? Author Steve Miller provides a biblical framework for deciding what type of music will speak to the hearts of people. What other criteria should we use? The best sections of the book deal with the history of church music. Great lessons are here! Can't wait for an updated version to be written by this writer.
Table of Contents
1. The Christian Music Controversy
PART ONE: CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC UNDER FIRE
2. Charges of Health Threats
3. Charges of Moral Corruption
4. Charges of Worldliness
5. Charges of Poor Aesthetic Quality and a Cautioning Inner Witness
6. Charges of Bad Associations, Questionable Motives, and Dangerous Leanings
PART TWO: A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
7. The Bible on Music
8. Biblical Principles for Musicians and Sponsors
PART THREE: A REVEALING JOURNEY THROUGH HISTORY
9. From Early Chants to Reformation Songs
10. From Psalm Singing to Hymnody
11. What We Can Learn from History
PART FOUR; HARNESSING THE POWER OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC
12. The Need for an Alternative
13. Communicating Musical Convictions to Your Children
14. A Christian Alternative
15. Taking It to the Church
16. Taking It to the World
APPENDIX: HOW FOUR GROWING CHURCHES USE CONTEMPORARY MUSIC
To order from Amazon.com, click:
Bookstores can call: 866-308-6235, option 6, to order at a 40% discount.