Pop Goes the Gospel

Title: Pop Goes the Gospel

Author: John Blanchard with Peter Andreson and Derek Cleave

Published by Evangelical Press

The subtitle to this book is "Rock in the church". It is an attempt to highlight some of the origins and associations of popular music in order to repel Christian youth from demanding its place in the public worship of God. So there are quotes from heavy metal groups, anti-Christian musical writers and everyone else in between. Blanchard seeks to establish that most popular music is either anti-Christian or demonic.

I sincerely doubt how persuasive such an argument is to those people who are already fans of such music. Because surely, they will say, there have been enough anti-Christians in Classical music to make Christians reject that too. Is J S Bach (the safest of all composers to Christians) ok if performed by a non-Christian?

The questions multiply and have no end because Blanchard rests too heavily on something which is secondary. The burden of proof does not rest on how bad popular music is (which eventually becomes quite irrelevant) but on what is permissible in the public worship of God.

Blanchard's conclusion is the sound proposition that preaching is the Biblically-appointed means of evangelism and that popular music should be put to one side because it is not preaching. I can't help wondering if it would have been better to start the book by discussing the Scriptural basis for worship and the regulative principle instead of taking a sensational and salacious journey through the promiscuity of popular music. As a trojan horse to hook the reader's interest it is bound to work. But it is never answered. Having brought music into the discussion in a negative sense, we do not get much of a positive balance. Blanchard acknowledges music's legitimacy, but cannot exclude the songs of men from worship. Eager to maintain his traditional, conservative music against the deviant beats of entertainment pop, his test for whether it is suitable is whether it might make people be missionaries or could be sung in heaven. I'm sure some youthful, earnest advocates of popular music would say "yes" to these questions.