A reader alerted us to this post, written by a forum administrator at CMCentral:

In regard to the CCM Patrol thing, no company is perfect. CCM Patrol isn’t perfect either. I totally disagree with CCM Patrol’s attitude toward everything. What benefit is it to say disparaging remarks about Christian bands/ministries/websites? There is no benefit in that. All it does is create division amongst believers and opens huge gaps for Satan to attack community and weaknesses.

There are problems with Contemporary Music Today. I agree. There are problems with the way it’s covered. I agree. But…by focusing on those problems and magnifying them, it doesn’t really promote God’s Kingdom.

Things you should know about me: I don’t appreciate disrespect. I don’t appreciate disunion or any attitudes/behaviors that contribute to disunion.

I’m not saying this to come down on you, Waltrane. Not at all. I’m not saying you’re disrespecting me, either, just to clarify. I just took something that your post had mentioned and expanded on it because it included a reference to CCM Patrol.

Build each other up.

The sentiment is good, perhaps even divine… but while we’re speaking in terms of construction, we can’t avoid speaking in terms of foundations. Without getting too theologically adventurous, I think it is safe to say the Christ is the cornerstone. And most people would agree that building on sand is a bad idea.

And many things are built on sinking sand. Perhaps they’re political ideologies, musical agendas, or the The CCM Patrol itself. But whatever the case, Christ called us to build people up. He did not call us to build up errant ideas or cultural constructs.

If a brother is constructing a building on a quagmire, it is our duty to call him on his mistake.

Instruction’s goal is to destruct falsehoods and construct truths. You can’t do one without the other, and considering the absurd amount of popular “construction,” the The CCM Patrol is justified in its mission to destruct bad reviews and construct accurate reviews. There cannot be a good foundation without removing the bad foundation first.

A bad foundation deserves to be tested, and criticized. However much we may constitutionally sympathize with pluralism, liberalism, and postmodernism, indiscriminate tolerance is not possible for anyone who believes in an object qualitative hierarchy.

In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas. (“In necessary things unity; in uncertain things freedom; in everything compassion.”)

I’m sorry, but there is a necessary disunion between quality and refuse. Read our positive reviews. I love good godly music a lot more than I hate bad pseudo-spiritual music. Compassion? Take what we say with a grain of salt. We may be music snobs, but we are music snobs with a noble goal. First and foremost, we at the The CCM Patrol want GOOD music! I would love to give nothing but positive reviews, but…

There is good music and there is bad music. Music created by Christians tends to be baptized by the church and the Christian press for simply being Christian. If the Christian music were capable of self-reflection, the The CCM Patrol would not need to be nearly as critical. In fact, I hope that this can happen someday—when the music Christians produce is introspective and thoughtful it won’t need to be patrolled by an outside force. The music industry needs checks and balances. If they refuse to make them internally, we’ll supply them externally.

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0 Responses to Building Each Other Up

  1. Kirk Whitworth says:

    Stewart, I think it might be worth your further study of the command to edify in Scripture. While it is true that “edify” does not equal “say only positive things”, what is clear is that if someone doesn’t walk away from your comments more “built up” into Christ and the gospel, there’s something amiss, either with the comments or the delivery. Edifying comments can be criticism, can be a rebuke, can be a challenge, etc, but if it drips with self-righteousness, it isn’t edifying, and it doesn’t honor God. I think that’s something that you guys need to take more seriously, which in turn will help others take your criticism more seriously. Too often reviews here come across as highly self-righteous, and completely unaware of the grace that is communicated to the people of God through often-average music. God uses average people, including average musicians, to do great things. Do you guys have a category for that? Do you believe that, despite its weaknesses, God can be glorified, and the church edified, through simple but true lyrics that use frequent cliche, and formulaic chord structures? You should, or else you might have been sorely disappointed by some of David’s Pslams.

  2. Your point is well taken, and it is something that I, perhaps contrary to appearances, do consider quite a bit. I do agree with Stewart’s point that scriptural exhortations to edification refer to people and not necessarily to say, a product. But at the same time, reviewing an artist I know personally often completely changes the way I phrase things and the language I choose, even if the verdict is essentially the same. In some cases, it’s very fun/tempting to write a “stunning pan” than a constructive review. We are definitely trying to avoid the nebulous, overly-nice “we’ve heard this before” analysis of other review sites, but I don’t think people like unbridled arrogance, either.

  3. Chris Teichler says:

    Well said, Stewart. And I would say that there is a difference between simplicity and simple-minded. I would say most popular CCM songs today fall into the latter category.

  4. Kirk Whitworth says:

    I’d be interested in a defined difference between “simplicity” and “simple-minded.”

    And then please let me know whether Psalm 150 fits into the “simple” or “simple-minded” category in your refined judgment.

    While you are at it, please identify a Chris Tomlin song that is more “simple/simple-minded” than Psalm 150.

  5. Kirk Whitworth says:

    Psalm 117 could probably use a review by one of you guys as well.


  6. Timothy Zila says:

    A crucial question has presented itself since I’ve been writing for the patrol which is this: “Is it a good thing to be super critical?” My answer, at least, is a resounding no. I often question where there is a place for criticism/errant put downing. (Or whatever.) The point remains, that I don’t think any of us hear would mind of every CD we listened to was, in the least, a glorifying and tangible contribution to music, as well as containing some beneficial spiritual comments.

    But, unfortunately that’s not the case, and ultimately what it comes down to me is whether I belive what a song, an album, or an artist is saying. I don’t believe most Christian music, I don’t believe the people singing it really mean, or understand, or are passionate about what they are saying.

    Some of this is because of my personal opinions and likes and dislikes, but there is such thing as a bad CD, and one that doesn’t sufficiently represent itself either as quality music or mature, or at least beneficial, theology.

    I personally love telling people about great music, not critizing mediocre albums. Furthermore Christian Music has become an entertainment industry that, by endless repition of words with no discussion of what that looks like, is the opposite of what I think “Christian Music” should be: Music that makes you thing.

    Finally, David’s psalms were simple, but they were honest and mature. The ones that affect me the most are those that confess inadequacy, mistrust, sin.

    Christian Music as a whole has the tendency to, following after Western Churches, act like everything’s okay.

    We sing about God’s glory, but do we seek to glorify him, or to even learn what that is?

  7. I just emailed the following to Timothy Zila but have partially found my answer. Thought I would post the email:


    I stumbled upon CCM Patrol tonight and am now a committed regular. Just finished seminary and for years have secretly made fun of Christian music (and other myriad disappointments of Christian culture)…to the point where I felt sarcastic and ungodly. It is nice to know I am not alone or necessarily ungodly, but it has me thinking…

    At any rate, I hear your article “Depths Not Searched.” Great writing. Thank you so much for going to depths. A while back, I rolled my eyes into oblivion when I read that Mardell would not carry Derek Webb’s cd because he said “whore.” Wasn’t whore a theme in Hosea? It is frustrating to live in a culture determined to be “safe and fun for the whole family” (KLTY radio). What happened to authenticity and suffering?

    I was convicted with what you said, “It’s certainly not the stuff of a culture that loves angels and heaven but is disturbed by darkness and judgment.” Just yesterday, in the devotional I write for my church, I wrote one that in some ways brushes over the darkness and doesn’t attribute it to sin/judgment. My article: http://deepellumchurch.com/WordPress1/?cat=3

    Like I said, CCM Patrol has me thinking…I read a poor review of Phil Wickham’s cd. (Granted when I first heard his album I heard a bit much Jeff Buckley influence) His music has pushed me closer to the Lord and I felt defensive for Phil. Bad review of Lifehouse too and I used part of their song in a devotional.

    Still processing Christian sarcasm. My opinion is that skeptics are good, cynics are bad. We never know what the Lord is using – He uses broken vessels and even, gulp, FFH. (do you know the horrid song Fly Away about ‘our sudden evacuation’?)

    I’d like to express some of my discontent with the Christian culture in writing. What is your guideline there? I feel like I could quickly become mean. Not criticism of the ‘person’ but the ‘art?’

    Processing! Thanks!

  8. Sean Mortenson says:

    I really appreciate this discussion and think it is extremely worthwhile. In my opinion what appears in the Psalms and mostly lacks in CCM is an original honest voice that seeks, questions, and expresses what comes from the heart of the author with no pre-conceived mold or stock phraseology. I applaud CCM Patrol for calling Christian “artists” to a higher level of expression. Do we not have something greater to sing about? Should we not be inspired all the more? Of course we are all edified by the tenth cover version of “Hear I Am To Worship” but I would much rather be challenged by the unique perspective and voice of someone pointing to something bigger in a way that is not the standard re-hashed metaphor. Art has the power to frame truth in a way that stretches and matures but much of what we are given in CCM today merely recycles and sedates. We don’t necessarily need Radiohead worship, I’ll settle for honesty and originality in the voice of the artist.

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