There was a lot of talk after Phat Fest 2012, the biggest Gospel Music Concert in East Africa on one of my favorite Gospel Music pages Wemix on whether some of the artists who performed at the event where singing gospel music while at the event. This got me and some close friends of mien wondering what gospel music is and how to define. It is with this background that I write this blog post.
According to the Webster dictionary, Gospel music is music that is written to express either personal, spiritual or a communal belief regarding Christian life. I would personally define it as music that glorifies God with the sole of purpose of praising and worshipping as the God of the universe as well as either encouraging others to become Christian or inspiring Christians to hold onto their faith.
Phil 4:8 is a verse that always comes into play whenever I am trying to decide whether a song is gospel or not. it says “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” I believe that if a song meets the above criteria it certainly qualifies to be gospel. However, there are a couple of other factors I put into consideration when deciding to listen to a song. (I am Christian so I only do Christian music). There are:
- Is there a mention of God or Jesus somewhere in the song? And when He is mentioned what is the artist saying about Him? If there is no mention of God then it certainly raises doubts on whether the song is gospel or not. And if only negative sentiments are mentioned
- Are the lyrics based on scripture or the artist is just mentioning his/her own thoughts? Actually some songs alter scripture. A good example is MJ’s We are the world where he says “As God has shown us by turning stones to bread”. We all know Jesus did not turn the stones into bread. If its not based on scripture however good it may sound I personally do not consider it gospel.
- Another great factor to put into consideration, is that alter at which the musician singing the song worships? Do they serve on the Alter of God or they are lukewarm (neither hot or cold. neither secular nor gospel Rev 3:16) or they actually serve on the devil’s alter? I believe if an artist does not clearly declare the alter at which he serves then that raises question marks about him. I believe Gospel music can only come from people who serve at God’s Alter. God clearly tells us that He will spit the lukewarm out of His Mouth (Rev 3:16) so clearly picking inspiration from someone who is lukewarm is dangerous. Clearly if someone can not make up his mind then how can he be a source of inspiration. Finally, we all know no good message can come from someoen who serves at the devil’s alter. The devil has a 3 point mission to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). Clearly no one who serves at the devil’s alter has any message from the alter.
Finally, a good question arises. How do we know the alter at which someone serves. I personally believe that if you serve at the Lord’s Alter then you can’t hide it. It is impossible and unacceptable for a Christian to hide his Christianity. We are called to be the Salt and the Light (Matthew 5:13-16). We all know some things about salt and light. You cannot put salt in soup and hide it from the person enjoying the soup. The same theory is applied to us you cannot be a Christian and hide your identity. If you are in hiding then there are a couple of doubts about your faith. So clearly, we should be able to tell the alter at which everyone serves.
I know there are a number of other factors some of us look out for when choosing what music we consider Gospel. Feel free to share these in the comments section.