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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Switchfoot Sounding Out

Don't know if you have checked out the new Switchfoot album Nothing Is Sound, but I have been mulling over it the past few days. While I do not qualify as a die-hard Switchfoot fan, I do appreciate their musicianship and song-writing creativity. This album would be well worth your money. Although there are a number of songs which I am currently digesting, here's one that is particularly relevant to our culture: Easier Than Love by Switchfoot Sex is currency She sells cars, She sells magazines Addictive bittersweet, clap your hands, with the hopeless nicotines Everyone's a lost romantic, Since our love became a kissing show Everyone's a Cassanova, Come and pass me the mistletoe Everyone's been scared to death of dying here alone She, is easier than love It's easier than life It's easier to fake and smile and bribe It's easier to leave It's easier to lie It's harder to face ourselves at night Feeling alone, What have we done? What is the monster we've become? Were is my soul? Sex is industry, The CEO of corporate policy Skin-deep ministry, Suburban youth, hail your so-called liberty Every advertising antic, our banner waves with a neon glow War and love become pedantic, We wage love with a mistletoe Everyone's been scared to death of dying here alone She is easier than love It's easier than life It's easier to fake and smile and bribe It's easier to leave It's easier to lie It's harder to face ourselves at night Feeling alone, What have we done? What is the monster we've become? Were is my soul? Of course, there are other tracks worth sharing, but I guess you will have to get the CD and check it out for yourself . . .


Blogger Nathan White said...

It’s funny you mention Switchfoot, as there has been some discussion about them lately. Switchfoot has been in the news lately; apparently they are encouraging others to steal.

I’m certainly not faulting you for mentioning Switchfoot, but I just hope you’re not labeling them a Christian band. For there could be nothing further from the truth…


9/22/2005 09:12:00 AM

Blogger Jimmy said...

They certainly are a Christian band.

As to encouraging others to steal, perhaps you should research the situation a bit more carefully, "for there could be nothing further from the truth." There has been a huge outcry from fans who have purchased the CD, and, due to "copy-protection" measures placed on the disc without the band's permission by the record label, have been unable to copy the songs to their PC's or iPods. These actions fall under fair use, as does making a personal backup copy of a CD you have purchased. The main issue has been fans trying to transfer the content of the CD (that they have legally pruchased) to iTunes or an iPod. Tim posted to the band's message board a way to circumvent the copy protection for these folks. Nobody encouraged anybody to steal anything; and why would a band encourage people to steal their own music, which is how they make a living?

9/22/2005 11:08:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with Nathan White. They are christian guys in a band. There are very few songs that mention God or Jesus. Yes, you can read in to it what they are talking about, but they never say His name. I heard them last year at Big Spring Jam and was VERY disappointed. They were on a non-christian stage with one of the biggests crowds ever. What an opportunity! They could have shared the gospel and no one would have left! But no, they never even mentioned the Lord. That was very disappointing.

9/22/2005 12:36:00 PM

Blogger Nathan White said...

Forgive me Jimmy, I was not saying that they were not a Christian band because of the link I provided. Rather, that they are not a Christian band because of the unbiblical lyrics, obvious profiteering, and disgraceful lives that have characterized them for years.

Also, I hold them no fault for wanting to clear the air in regards to copyright laws. But it seems to me that they want the best of both worlds: the fat contract from Sony, while getting rid of music encryptions and its limitations for their fans. Sorry, cant have it both ways.

I do not wish to argue about this. I thought it was blatantly obvious that this band doesn’t sing a biblical message. Nevertheless, if someone believes otherwise, I do not wish to argue. I will however, recommend that you read Steve Camp’s 101 Thesis; to the CCM community.

9/22/2005 01:26:00 PM

Blogger Jimmy said...

Hey Nathan, thanks for the link, I'll read it thoroughly.

I know you don't wish to argue about it, but I'm confused as to what you mean by "unbiblical lyrics," "disgraceful lives," and "profiteering." I've followed Switchfoot closely for a long time; I guess you'd call me a fan. I don't see any of those. But in all sincerity, I'd like to know what leads you to say that... ?

9/22/2005 02:01:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...

I feel like I need to be Apollo Creed at the beginning of Rock IV and say, "Ding, ding."
Just kidding. Well, obviously there is a divide between whether Switchfoot are Christians versus being "a Christian band". Now I do not know Switchfoot personally and don't know their music by heart either, so I am not in the position to answer either of those two questions. But I have some questions of my own?

What is a "Christian band"?

Can you be Christian musicians and not be a "Christian band"?

Is there a spiritual litmus test lyrically to determine the Christian-ness of the music?

Of course as in any situation, there are two extremes to me. I am not for the band who pretends to be Christian but gives no manifestation that they are Christian whatsoever in song or in life. On the other hand, there are Christian bands who feel like every song has to have 35 references to Jesus, 22 to heaven, and 16 1/2 to my commitment to God for it to be a good Christian song. Two things I want to throw in the mix: one, music is a form of art and literature. Consequently as not all Bible literature is narrative and Jesus did this and Jesus said that, there is music that can include allegory, symbolism, and other forms of literature devices to convey the message in a creative, artful way. Second, much of what Jesus said and did was veiled and not explicit to the world around him. Don't get me wrong: he was not trying to hide himself, and there is a sense that he had to hide himself in order to accomplish the mission of going to the cross. But can you make the case that some incredible Christian music did not have a specific, explicit reference to Jesus in it?
I happen to be thinking, for example, of Derek Webb. One of the reasons why I like him so much is that he is very creative and illustrative in his lyrics, all of which glorify God (in my opinion). Yet if you look closely, you may hardly find, "I'm a Jesus Freak" kind-of lyrics to his music.
That's my $.02. I am not a good music critic or a good source of information about the contemporary music culture. But at this point, I am not ready to write Switchfoot off as not being a Christian band. Call me naive or ignorant, but I like their music nonetheless.
Now, I am not looking for a sparring partner, but just in case, I am going to get my mouthpiece . . .

9/22/2005 05:04:00 PM

Blogger Nathan White said...


Again, please forgive me if I came across rather harsh. I really should’ve worded things differently since fans were a part of the conversation. I guess I should’ve worded it like: “they obviously don’t sing a Christian message”.

I have not listened or followed Switchfoot in almost 2 years now, but when I did I was ashamed at what I saw. The vast majority of their lyrics do not have a Christian message whatsoever. Its mostly just vague religious jargon that can be interpreted a thousand different ways. Not only that, but it’s fairly obvious that they hold to Free Will. I’m not saying everything has to be Calvinist or throw it out, but the words obviously exalt and glorify man much more than God. As far as profiteering goes, they hold no qualms about performing side by side with the worst the world has to offer, of course, never sharing the gospel. They have moved more and more towards vague lyrical content in an effort to sell more albums, go more mainstream, and make more money. Their lives I cannot personally attest to, except for the obvious notion that they are ashamed of the gospel, but I think the scriptures can better define why I said 'disgraceful':

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world."

"Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."

I don’t think it’s an arguable point whether or not Switchfoot tries as hard as possible to be accepted by the world. And as hard as it may be to affirm it, Jesus said it best in Luke 6:26: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets”.


What is a Christian band? What is Christian music for? Why would you be labeled Christian as opposed to just a band? – Because Christian music is aimed to worship the Lord. So if we can Biblically define worship, then we would know what Christian music is. Worship can be defined in the Greek as: to crouch, to prostrate oneself, to pay homage, to adore. It is the essence of humility, of reverence, of adoring not yourself but God. (PS 95:6)
Hard rock music fashioned and shaped like the world's form of worship does not fall into this category.

If it is Biblical worship it will be: Doctrinally sound –based on the specific teaching of scripture; God-glorifying instead of man-glorifying; aimed to ‘dwell in, teach, and admonish one another’ (which requires doctrine); it will be separate from the world’s form of worship; it will be separate from influence of the world; it would be free of charge (who charges for the gospel??).

Anyway, I’m really not trying to be negative. But if we examine the teachings of other pastors so carefully, do we not hold the same standard in the area of music? But obviously, if we hold this biblical standard up for the CCM industry, 99% would not meet the standard. I really recommend reading Steve Camp’s thesis, it is as biblically sound as ever. Also, MacArthur has a book entitled ‘Fool’s Gold’ which has a chapter in it that handles the subject very well. And lastly, it may be a little fundamental for you guys, but “Why I left Contemporary Christian Music” by Dan Lucarini is amazing. It is biblically based and biblically sound. I loved the majority of CCM until I read this book and got convicted. It changed the way I looked at a lot of things.

But the bottom line is that we cannot worship in whatever way we choose. God has given us specific guidlines for worship. Cain wanted to worship how he pleased; the wicked king Ahab built an altar to God which was fashioned exactly like an altar to a local pagan God -and was killed for it. Can we really fashion our worship in the same way that the world worships the creature rather than the Creator -through hard rock and sensual music? Consider this one passage:

Col 3:16
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfullness in your hearts to God.


9/22/2005 07:43:00 PM

Blogger Jimmy said...

The "since fans were a part of the conversation" bit makes me laugh... in a good way. Like I'm too thin-skinned to take some good ol' fashioned band-bashing. (I'm not.) ;)

Anyway. If you're remotely interested, you can visit here [on my blog] for my rather long and somewhat well-supported defense of Switchfoot and the biblicality of their lyrics. Obviously I disagree with you on "the vast majority of their lyrics." You may not agree with all my points, and that's okay by me.

I will stand up and tell you that I, too, am disappointed in Switchfoot's recent silence on the gospel. You'll find that at the end of the piece on my blog.

However, as Timmy said, I'm not ready to write them off as not being Christians. I would agree that their viewpoint is probably a Free Will one; but I have friends who feel the same. I haven't kicked them to the curb.

I don't think lyrics like "Nothing is right side right... I want more than simple cash can buy... I'm broken, bleeding, aching, misdirected... Where's your hope if you get the world and lose your soul?" glorify man... it's more an attempt to shed light on our fallen state. Words like those and these-- "Open up your fist / This fallen world / Doesn't hold your interest / It doesn't hold your soul... let it go" --lead me to believe that Switchfoot does not, in fact, embrace or love our world. I think their music betrays a longing for the "kingdom coming down"--and all theological differences aside, I echo that.

I could go on, but just one more. I think another question in addition to Timmy's second one might be: Is all Christian music worship? You did a fine job in explaining what worship music should be (and I read the 'Fool's Gold' essay on music), and I agree, but could our music serve other capacities? I like good art, good literature, good poetry, well-crafted stories, intriguing composition... could our music be these--without the JPM's?

9/22/2005 10:04:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...


I want to first say that I totally respect your convictions on the matter. I think we should hold musicians accountable as well as pastors, teachers, etc. However, I would like to make a few points to consider:

1. The first century Church style of worship was largely influenced by 2nd Temple Judaism culture. Their worship was not unique to themselves but in many ways borrowed from the culture of that time. Were they wrong in doing so?

2. It is important that we address our approach to the world. Sure, we are called to be "not of" the world, but in the world nonetheless. And you are correct in saying that anyone who makes himself a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. But I can't help but thinking that your stance on this so isolates you from the world around you that there is no medium, no dialogue, no opportunity to witness to the world around you. Some approaches to dealing with the world is assimiliation (where you become absorbed in the world), others confrontation (challenging the world), others isolation (removal from the world altogether), and so on. I fear that the stance you have taken has brought isolation. But I may be wrong. We are the salt of the earth. We are the light of the world. And the light is mean to shine in darkness, and the salt is meant to preserve in the midst of a decaying earth.

3. It is clear that throughout church history, Christians have used different means/methods of evangelizing their world. For instance, many have accused early Christians of having been corrupted by Hellinistic philosophy and mystery cults. However, like Paul, and later Church Fathers, apologotists used the culture and its influences for the sake of the gospel, as a springboard of sorts. Music, I believe, can be such a springboard, and a missiological one at that. Any missionary who goes among ethno-linguistic people groups must learn their language, culture, and way of life. You cannot simply start where you are (English speaking, theologically sound, Christianese, etc.). You must start where they are and bring them to Christ. Now learning their culture and language and way of life does not mean that you conform to it, but that you use it for the sake of the gospel. I think that is what Paul was speaking of in 1 Cor. 9:19-24 when he talks about "becoming all things to all men".

4. As far as worldly way of worship, it is hard to support that drums and different styles of music is unbiblical. There have been some (I presume in the book you mentioned) who believe that playing drums in church is of the devil. That charge can be just as much or moreso a product of culture as playing drums itself. Furthermore, what about other cultures and peoples? Say African or Chinese or Indian? With their dances, chants, or playing of their instruments in their language and culture wrong? I think in heaven their will be a chorus and majestic symphony of instruments of all sorts bringing worship and praise to God. "Of all tribes, of all peoples, of all tongues . . . right? It is only appropriate to think that they worship in the context in which they live - not as we expect or understand it from a Western or American viewpoint.

5. In dialogue, we must always keep in our forefront what Mohler calls "theological triage". There are matters of foremost importance, non-negotiables that we cannot waver on. THen there are matters of second importance, and of third, going down to issues where Christians can disagree and still maintain fellowship, unity, etc. I do not think that this matter is of first importance or of second. It would be easy to make this a dividing line, but that would be extreme and unnecessary. I am quite sure that if we were to survey some of the most biblically sound theologians and scholars, you would find many various viewpoints on this subject. Sharing thoughts and challening others to test what they believe is great, but we must not (at least on matters such as this) think it carries the same weight as a pastor preaching "another gospel".

Nathan, you have a great mind and great heart, and I appreciate what you have shared and take it with utmost thought and consideration. Interestingly enough, I have many close people in my life who disagree with me on a number of things, of which I am truly grateful. They sharpen me and edify me, and I hope that our conversation on such matters will only do the same - to the glory of God.

Oh, and by the way, I play the drums in our church. Maybe that's why I don't have a problem with it :).

9/22/2005 10:09:00 PM

Blogger Nathan White said...

Oh man, you guys have left me with a lot to type! But I am thankful for your kindness and desire for dialogue. Timmy, I will respond to you later tonight, because I wont have much more typing time until much later.


I have never written Switchfoot off as being non-Christians; but the Biblical definition of Spirit-filled makes me wonder how they can be filled with the Spirit of Christ and yet stay so attached to the world. Also, how can they appear so unwilling to share the gospel? All outward appearance leads me to believe they serve the almighty dollar rather than the almighty God.

I have not read you blog article yet, but I will certainly do so. On that note I haven’t said that every song without exception glorifies man instead of God, but rather their style of music and obvious infatuation of imitating the world to every degree, coupled with some of the older lyrics and actions on stage that I have looked at definitely glorify man. And although some lyrics express a disassociation from the world, I think we can agree that actions speak louder than words.

Can our music serve other capacities? Definitely so. But no matter what area music serves in our life, it must be properly defined by the commands of scripture –particularly Phil 4:8:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

I don’t see how any of Switchfoots music either by style or lyrical content falls under these guidelines. Define each one of these terms and you will see what I mean.

Lastly, if Switchfoot was really a Christian band, why are they so loved by the world? This kind of argumentation cannot be used unequivocally across the board, but coupled against questionable lyrics and an obvious lack of a sound gospel presentation, this passage applies perfectly. Consider our Lord Jesus:

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20“For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21“But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Switchfoot contradicts the words of our Lord Jesus; do they not? Are they an exemption to the rule, or are they not ‘of the world’?

If Switchfoot sang even a remotely Biblical message, or proclaimed even a remotely Biblical gospel, or performed in any way separate from the world, do you not think they would be hated by the world rather than loved by the world?

The world loves its own…and like I said before this isn’t a blanket statement we can apply to anything and everyone that the world shows some measure of approval for, but given the other questions about this band, and the overwhelming adoration by the world…I rest my case.

9/23/2005 01:34:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen to Nathan White!!!!!!!!!!!!!

9/23/2005 02:16:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...

Dear Anonymouses,

I would like to ask a couple of things of you:

1. I appreciate your interest in this matter, but instead of a hearty "Amen", it would be more profitable for you and us as well that you would actually say something or add something to the discussion. Please consider how you can add to the discussion. Possbily you have something that contribute to a better understanding of the issue.

2. Unlike many who have accounts on Blogger, I have allowed the public (those who do not have an account) to comment because I feel like it is important to have everyone engaged in the discussions. However, it is important that you identify yourself (rather than be anonymous). To do so, please attach your name at the bottom of your comment. Unwilling to do so will either result in me deleting your comment (because I consider it illegitimate and lacking integrity) or changing my policy on comments for the public. I know this sounds simple, but I think it needs addressing.


9/23/2005 03:26:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...


Not to belabor the point, but . . .

I had a few other points I think worth thinking about:

1. The Scripture is clear about Christian opposition by the world. We truly are "the refuse of all things, the scum of the earth" as Paul describes them. Yet Jesus for the most part was very popular in the world for a considerable period of time. It is fair to say that nobody carried a crowd (even of unbelievers) like Jesus did. He ate with "sinners and tax collectors" and identified with the social outcasts (Samaritans, lepers, tax collectors, beggars, etc.). Jesus definitely had strong ties to the world - but in a totally different way than what you have been describing. He planted his life as "Son of Man" and identified with all humanity, not just religiously refined or morally acceptable. Rather, it was those who were most "religious" in that day Jesus denounced the most, and it was the sinners who were socially unacceptable that he most accepted.

2. Back to the literature argument: There are many types of writings employed by Christians addressing the world. There were edificatory writings (centered on Christian behavior and practice in the church), polemical writings (addressing doctrinal errors, heresies, and false teachers, and apologetics (written to describe Christian practices, explain beliefs, and attempt to persuade readers/listeners). Could Switchfoot be considered as a sort of apologetical work? It is definitely not the same form of writing as systematic exposition or narratival preaching. So can it be classified as such and thereby be justified?

3. Along those lines it is fair to say that you do not use the same hermeneutic with parables as you would with poetry or with narrative. Each style or form requires a nuanced and different approach for proper interpretation. Jesus employed many different tools of literature, such as hyperbole, narrative, parable, and symbolic imagery. We cannot simply take each saying with the same hermeneutic. When he said, "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out," and we took that literally, we would all be blind! So what's my point? I think musical lyrics cannot be judged by the same criteria as other forms of literature. I am not justifying Switchfoot's lyrics, as I don't know most of them, but I am saying that we need to have a more contextual approach to the subject matter.

4. I appreciate your desire to be consistent in your criticism of both music and message. Some may think that if you are pro-Switchfoot, then you are inconsistent if you are pro-holiness, or pro-Reformed doctrine. I think that perception can be clarified. We must be consistent in our worldview, and our view is defensible, and we should take care that we are clear, consistent, and comprehensive in our approach. This is what I and you (I believe) hope to do. Interestingly enough, there was a class offered here at Southern by one of my favorite professors (Dr. Daniel Block) called Theology of Worship. A close friend of mine took it and benefited a great deal from it. I will see if I can get him to chime in on this discussion . . .

Man, I totally did not think that posting Switchfoot's album would produce so much thought! It's fun though. Thanks for be engaged in the discussion!

9/23/2005 03:46:00 PM

Blogger Jimmy said...

+ I go to the orthodontist regularly. The doctor is a Christian; I have been told this, and I see Christian art and magazines in his offices. However, I have known him for two years and he's never witnessed the gospel to me! He is a kind man, gentle and intelligent and exceedingly generous. But he doesn't do braces in the shape of crosses--in fact, they're just like the braces that lost orthodontists apply!--or say "Jesus is Lord!" out loud every time someone comes into the office, so... he must be ashamed of the gospel. Right?

+ I am well-liked and accepted by my lost co-workers. I usually am. I must be an enemy of the cross. Right?

+ I am a graphic designer. An artist, if you will. I plan on creating quality art and design, and try to execute that with every project. But every project may not have "John 3:16" pasted in the corner... I must be ashamed of the gospel, right? Or could it be that I am glorifying God simply by using my skills to my best ability?

+ In the specific case of Switchfoot, we don't know that they do or do not share the gospel personally with other individuals in a relational context in their own private lives. I cannot attest to that either way. But I don't feel we can say that they are ashamed of the gospel if we don't know that.

+ Switchfoot's lyrical content falls well under the guidelines of Phil 4:8, in my view. Could you please quote some of these ungodly lyrics from the dark past that you keep referring to? I'm confused.

+ Style... specifically, rock music, is something that has undergone endless debate by numerous individuals, and godly people fall on both sides of that argument. I've spent much of my life in that debate. I don't think it's really fair to drag that into it when we're talking substance.

+ I don't expect to convince you of anything, Nathan, and I do respect your viewpoint; even if I think it's wrong. :)

+ I was going to post some of what Timmy said right above me. :)

+ For the record: I consider myself Reformed (recently) and love it. Some would even call me a Calvinist. I love Christ and his message. I enjoy the study of theology and church history (but I'm no expert yet). I love the Word. I love the hymns of the faith (especially as creatively performed by folks like Jars of Clay [another band villainized for their worldly associations], Matthew Smith, and Derek Webb, etc). I love the Church. I don't really accept most CCM as honest Christian music. I like Switchfoot.

9/23/2005 11:43:00 PM

Blogger Nathan White said...

Timmy, I plan to address some of your questions, but because they cover such a broad range I haven’t had time to type out my response. I will respond to you soon. For now, I am going to respond to Jimmy’s latest post.


Each time I get into this kind of discussion, I get similar responses from those opposed to my view. Unfortunately, I am usually the only one who is using scripture in any kind of meaningful way, and that is also the case here. I offered some examples out of John as to why Switchfoot’s message is anything but Christian. You have failed to refute those arguments on any scriptural basis whatsoever. Therefore, I can only assume that you have no scriptural basis to refute my Biblically based assertions about the world loving its own. Unless we can deduce from scripture that my argument is incorrect, thus my use of scripture is incorrect, then we must conclude scripture as our final authority, meaning that my argument is truth and yours is in error.

To address your comments in order that you made them:

+The orthodontist example you gave is confusing the issues here, and your application of it (he must be ashamed of the gospel) is pretty off the wall. It’s like your arguing separation of church and state or something, except that your argument would be better called ‘separation of religion and daily living’. Sorry, this argument has no Biblical foundation. In fact, I was very sad to see these comments from you. Your argument does not reflect a mindset that is set on serving and glorifying God above all else. Where is the attitude of Paul ‘woe is me if I do not preach the gospel’?? They used to call themselves a Christian band, now they associate with the lost of the lost and refuse to share a true gospel in any kind of public way! What a travesty! How can you even begin to say that they are just doing their profession? They are surrounded by people who are falling into hell and all they seem to care about is being popular and making money. They are a prime example of the unfaithful watchman are they not? Anyway…sorry for the rant, I am just kind of shocked by your argumentation. To go on…

It is possible to be a Christian in a secular profession, but it is sin to: unnecessarily associate with evil; fail to share the gospel to the lost (especially given the opportunities that they have); place money at a higher priority than witnessing etc.

Your original argument was that Switchfoot is a Christian band. So if words mean anything, a Christian band should sing a Christian message right? But now, you’re contradicting yourself by arguing that they can be Christians themselves, be silent on the gospel, and still be a Christian band. Nope, doesn’t work that way. A Christian band would be called that because they sing a Christian message, not because they are Christians on the inside.

I showed from scripture (without even getting into the specifics of their blurry lyrics), that the world loves its own; and they definitely love Switchfoot. Therefore they have no accurate connection with Jesus Christ in their lyrics; otherwise the world would not love them. Mind you I said no accurate connection. So we can rule out that they sing a clear Christian message; and without a clear Christian message, they honestly cannot be called a Christian band. No sound or accurate Christian lyrics = not a Christian band. But you argued that they are a Christian band, and have subsequently provided no basis or scripture that supports this view.

Jimmy: In the specific case of Switchfoot, we don't know that they do or do not share the gospel personally with other individuals in a relational context in their own private lives. I cannot attest to that either way. But I don't feel we can say that they are ashamed of the gospel if we don't know that.

Since when does Christianity become something we share privately? Will you please show an example from scripture? Also, they write music to share with the whole world, what is their purpose in doing this if they don’t write about Jesus Christ? You cannot call that worship, for who are you worshipping? You cannot call that witnessing; therefore you cannot call that Christian. They write music to sell albums, not as worship and witness to Christ; therefore they are clearly not a Christian band.

I would like to respond to more of your arguments, but it takes so much typing to accurately define my argument that I’m going to stop here. I will respond to some of Timmy’s stuff soon, and from that response it will clear my position up a little more.

In all honesty guys, not to sound rude or condescending (I am praying that you take this as coming in love), but I was shocked to see a defense of Switchfoot by you guys. I often get in these kinds of discussions, but it’s usually over bands like Casting Crowns, 3rd Day, DC talk, MW Smith etc. I have rarely had a sound Christian argue that Switchfoot was even remotely God-honoring. NOT to say that you guys aren’t sound, for everything I read on this site has almost always been very very sound and I am thankful to God for what I read on here, but rather I think it would be beneficial for you guys to go back to square one. Look at how the Bible defines true worship; look at what the Bible says about being unnecessarily associated with evil, look at what the Bible says about being a watchman and witnessing whenever the opportunity arises. These aren’t suggestions, these are commands. And we are disobedient if we do not heed these commands. And we can get a good idea of where others stand spiritually by the way they handle these commands (you shall know them by their fruits). My next post will try to touch on a few of these things, so that we can let scripture be our final authority.


9/24/2005 11:50:00 AM

Blogger Jimmy said...

Some final thoughts.

+ Switchfoot's message is anything but Christian

I must continue to disagree, for reasons given in my previously linked blog post, which, incidentally, is filled with Scripture. (I am referring to their message in song.)

+ now they associate with the lost of the lost

"I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people-- not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world." --1 Corinthians 5:9-10

I agree that we should not partake with evil! But I do not agree that we should seal ourselves off from the world.

+ I will agree with you that the "orthodontist" example was somewhat clumsy on my part. All I was trying to say was that it is possible to be a Christian professional--even a professional musician--and to do your craft skillfully and well, and to do the same things the unsaved do--such as dental work or guitar playing--and to proclaim Christ with the way that you conduct yourself as well as using words. I'm sorry if it seemed off the wall, and saddened that you judge my mindset so harshly.

+ Since when does Christianity become something we share privately? Will you please show an example from scripture?

Acts 8:30-39, John 4:7-26, John 3:1-8. Off the top of my head. I'm not saying at all that we should exclusively share privately, with no public voice. But there is a place for it.

+ I'll say one more time that I am very disappointed in Switchfoot for their vagaries in interviews, etc. I feel that their Christian message in song is subtle, but strong. I believe they are doing what they feel best, and are going about it in an unconventional way that some of us (obviously!) do not agree with.

+ I'm resting on this debate. I leave you with one last story, posted to an Internet message board by a person in Arizona: "I used to believe that there was some kind of higher power but I knew nothing about Jesus and I didn't care about Him at all. Then I started listening to Switchfoot. Their lyrics really tugged at my heart and I heard Jon talk about God and how this is love, that He came down and died for us. I decided to learn about Jesus and get answers to my questions and got a couple of books called The Case For Faith and The Case For Christ. On June 14th, 2003 I went to my first Switchfoot concert and met Jon, Tim, and Drew afterwards. I was blown away by the love, kindness, and generousity that they showed to me and other complete and total strangers. I knew they had something special inside of them and I wanted to have it too. A few days later on June 20th, 2003 I was reading in The Case For Christ about the ways Jesus suffered before and on the cross and tears started rolling down my cheeks. For the first time, I felt emotions toward Jesus. He was no longer just some man that those Christian people thought was God. That night I decided to accept Him. I took His hand and the rest is history."

9/24/2005 02:37:00 PM

Blogger Nathan White said...

I read with interest you reply Jimmy, thank you for breaking down your position a little clearer.

Jimmy: I must continue to disagree, for reasons given in my previously linked blog post, which, incidentally, is filled with Scripture. (I am referring to their message in song.)

Me: There is no clear message; no clear gospel presentation. If their message was one of a remotely Biblical message, does the passages I quoted from Jesus not apply? Why are their songs played on MTV the like?

Jimmy: "I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people-- not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world." --1 Corinthians 5:9-10 I agree that we should not partake with evil! But I do not agree that we should seal ourselves off from the world."

I am clearly not saying disassociate yourself from the list; by no means! I am talking about participating and being associated as among them. Switchfoot plays side by side with the most Godless musicians on the planet (like at a recent ‘woodstock –like’ festival held here each summer in Atl-nothing but a drunken party). Not only do they play side by side, but they do not speak out against sin or witness the gospel. You’ve missed the whole purpose of 1 Cor 5! We go out into the world to preach – to present a clear gospel. We don’t go out into the world to make buddies.

Jimmy: that it is possible to be a Christian professional--even a professional musician--and to do your craft skillfully and well, and to do the same things the unsaved do--such as dental work or guitar playing--and to proclaim Christ with the way that you conduct yourself as well as using words. I'm sorry if it seemed off the wall, and saddened that you judge my mindset so harshly.

First of all, I apologize if I came across as harsh. I am thankful you are even taking a few moments out of your day to listen to my feeble opinion. Please forgive me if I did not present that in a loving manner; without love my words are nothing.

Yes it is possible to do a profession well and proclaim Christ in conduct and not solely in word. But this would not constitute them being a ‘Christian’ band, but rather a secular band trying first and foremost to make their Benz payments. However, doing this profession in the area of rock and roll is a theological contradiction. Like the saying goes, ‘Christian Rock’ is an oxymoron. You cannot obey the clear commands in scripture to have ‘no appearance of evil’ and ‘flee youthful lusts’ and ‘what communion does light have with darkness’ and be a part of an industry who’s poster child is sex, drugs and pride. It cannot be justified biblically.

Jimmy: Since when does Christianity become something we share privately? Will you please show an example from scripture? Acts 8:30-39, John 4:7-26, John 3:1-8. Off the top of my head. I'm not saying at all that we should exclusively share privately, with no public voice. But there is a place for it.

I’m sorry for not clarifying better. I meant *only* share privately. We shouldn’t refrain from witnessing in the open public, while only sharing in private.

Jimmy: I believe they are doing what they feel best, and are going about it in an unconventional way that some of us (obviously!) do not agree with.

I know you would affirm that doing what we feel is best does not constitute Biblical truth. Even Paul could not accurately judge his own motives, and he instructs those attempting to judge motives to stop doing so (1Cor 4:4-5). Its not that I don’t agree with them, the scriptures clearly do not agree with them.

I praise God for that story you shared, but unfortunately experience means nothing up against revealed truth. Tons of people have been saved under false teaching, but that does not affirm the message as being true. Millions of people have been saved under Billy Grahams altar calls, but clearly the altar call method is not Biblical. The Bible reveals the proper methods and philosophies of ministry, not what we see as what works.

Switchfoot is part of the world and is therefore loved by the world. If they had an ounce of holiness in their lives or message, you wouldn’t be watching them on MTV.

Just a quick note on style (for you Timmy):
1 Thess 5:22: “Abstain from every form of evil”. Or in the KJV: “Avoid all appearance of evil”.
Secular rock and roll music is evil; the rock and roll industry is evil. How dare someone offer up ‘worship’ to a absolutely perfect, spotless, and blameless God using the same methods as Madonna, Metallica, Britney Spears, Dave Matthews band, Hootie and the Blowfish etc? Will someone please provide some scripture to warrant that? Will someone please explain why 1 Thess 5:22 doesn’t apply to music? The essence of secular rock in roll is described in Romans as ‘worshipping the creature rather than the Creator’; is it not? Does not secular rock and roll worship the pride of man, sex and drugs? Is not God a jealous God? Are you so sure He will accept music styles that are used by pagans to worship the created things?

I shudder to think of ‘how much more worse’ the consequences will be if we fail to let music fall under the same Biblical scrutiny that we apply to preachers, preaching, communion, witnessing, and being set apart from things the world associates with evil.

This is worship we're talking about (well Switchfoot isnt worship). This is something we offer up to God to please Him. How dare we copy the form the Godless pagans use to worship their gods. I'm not saying drums are wrong, I'm not saying all rock is wrong, I'm not saying a certain style is right. I'm saying that the essance of Biblical worship is reverance and holiness. And that is impossible to obtain with many of the popular styles the world has copyrighted.


9/24/2005 04:47:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...


I only have a second today, because I have to edit some photos for tomorrow, and I have not read all of you new posts.

I wanted to thank for your comments on this post. I think for the first time in my life I have been perceived as being liberal, which is quite contrary to almost all of my criticisms. It goes to show that P&P can appeal to all people :).

Second, I haven't given Switchfoot a pass, nor am I endorsing them as the greatest Christian band out there. I am just challenging the way in which we view music, Christian musicianship, and how we approach the world. Admittedly so, I do differ (as has been mentioned) on what and how music is to be applied as a Christian, and if perhaps you hold my convictions and positions suspect, then I think it would be fair to say that our differences could be much worse. I hope that because I play the drums in church (and African ones at that) and because I listen to music other than Steve Camp does not preclude you to think I am carnal. And in heaven, I don't think Steve Camp's songs or any other fundamental liturgical styles will be set to repeat in heaven. In heaven, if God calls us to worship him in dance, I want to know that I have practiced a bit before I get there.
Speaking of dancing, what do you think about that? I don't know if you could dance to most of the style of music you are proposing, unless I guess you sway from side to side like a stiff seventh grader.

9/24/2005 05:02:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/24/2005 05:08:00 PM

Blogger Nathan White said...

Yes I know, you guys are shocked at how serious I take this issue. Yes I know, I sound a whole lot like many fundamental Baptists who say everything with a beat is from Satan. But let me just say, I will only take this issue as far as the Bible does, and no further. And I denounce 90% of the arguments the fundamental Baptists use in this area. We have to look at scripture alone. But thanks for listening to some of my arguments.

One more thing I forgot to add in my last post to Jimmy:

In the previous post, I mentioned Paul’s exclamation ‘woe is me if I do not preach the gospel’. Now, Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit, he was also inspired when he said several times: “emulate me”. So then, taking Paul as an example, do you feel Switchfoot accurately displays this attitude? Now, in my opinion they do not have this attitude (for reasons I have already mentioned). So, understanding that opinion of mine, if the members of Switchfoot are indeed Christians, then they have the same Spirit indwelling that Paul did. So why is their attitude different then Paul’s? -its the same Spirit. And my answer would be that they are either living in disobedience, or they do not have the Spirit of Christ. “Woe is me”; “I should account myself accursed”, this fervor to share the gospel with every single creature in every single arena of life is not demonstrated by Switchfoot’s music, or from what I have read of their words.


P.S. Just read your post Timmy. I have not mentioned drums, I have not mentioned Steve Camp's music. I guess you just assume that is where I am coming from -it is not. I've never heard one song of Camp's (other than what James White plays on his webcast), although I hear it is good stuff. I'm not advocating any particular style whatsoever. But I am pointing out what the Bible portrays as real worship, and reverance is at the top of the list with holiness. But to be clear, what little I have read of Steve's material on this subject is absolutely sound Biblical truth. It would be wise of you to consider many of his arguments, letting the scripture form your convictions.

9/24/2005 05:52:00 PM

Blogger Timmy said...


You are correct that I do not know what particular music you prefer. I took the reference you made to Steve Camp (whom I like by the way) and expounded upon it.
I totally appreciate your convictions that our stance should be undergirded and affirmed by Scripture alone. Yet it appears that you are positing me as not being biblical in my stance. Now I have not laced my comments by Scripture to support it (proof text), but I have no problem doing so if it is necessary for greater legitimacy.
The result of this is (I think) not an either/or but "Yes!" to both. I don't think you are wrong, but I do not think Jimmy is wrong either. And as far as Switchfoot goes, I am not even in telescopic range to make that determination (to my fault).
I am going to check out Steve Camp's theses, but I find it ironic that you would be recommending me to consider something outside Scripture when you are asserting Sola Scriptura. I am picking with you here of course. Scripture is our final authority on all faith and matters, but I do think there should be other considerations. Before I am misunderstood, that is not against "Scripture alone". But Scripture must be appropriated and applied in specific contexts, which we must also consider.

So in conclusion, is it accurate to say that you are resolute in your denunciation of Switchfoot. I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I want to know to what degree (in accuracy) you hold your position. Just curious.

And no, I don't think you are a hard-core fundamentalist. In serious dialogue, I like to present my point sometimes in a less-than-serious manner. Trust me, I have many people think that I am way too serious . . .

9/24/2005 06:23:00 PM

Blogger Nathan White said...


Timmy said: “Yet it appears that you are positing me as not being biblical in my stance. Now I have not laced my comments by Scripture to support it (proof text), but I have no problem doing so if it is necessary for greater legitimacy.”

I have not seen you or Jimmy ‘rightly divide the word of truth’ to support your stance on this subject. That’s not to say that you cant, it just hasn’t been done.

Timmy said: I don't think you are wrong, but I do not think Jimmy is wrong either. I am not even in telescopic range to make that determination (to my fault).

Jimmy and I stand at two opposite ends of the spectrum. Its not that I just think that Switchfoot is not a Christian band, its that I believe that they ‘blaspheme the name of God among the Gentiles’ by their pathetic stance for Christ and their association with Him while living a life contrary to the Christian faith. We can’t both be right; one of us is wrong; one of us is not holding fast to the word; one of us will suffer consequences for this lack of judgment. I pray that you would continue to ‘examine everything carefully’ before you determine your views.

Timmy said: “I find it ironic that you would be recommending me to consider something outside Scripture when you are asserting Sola Scriptura.”

You wouldn’t find it ironic if you examined what I recommended. It is all 100% Biblically based, supported, and has yet to be refuted by the scriptures.

Honestly guys, this is kind of a sore subject for me. So please bear with me if I come across as firm and forceful. I have been attacked, ridiculed, made fun of, and disowned by many other ‘Christians’ who disagree with me. People love their music so much that they get downright mean when someone challenges it [which shows their guilty conscience]. And after I challenge it, they usually come after me personally. All I ask is this: please, above all else, get rid of your presuppositions before you study this subject. Not only that, but resolve to the Lord [right now!] to give up every known sin and misjudgment; therefore resolve to the Lord to abstain from any and all music that is not in conformity with His word. Only when you come with this humble attitude will you see the truth of scripture in this area. Otherwise the fleshly pull of music will sway your opinions in the wrong direction. This is such a serious thing; the consequences of being unsound in this area are great indeed! For music affects our mind and emotions; and if you haven’t noticed, this is where the daily battle against sin is lost or won for believers.


9/26/2005 09:01:00 AM

Anonymous Julie E said...

My comment is extremly late i just now started reading the switchfoot entry. This may not have anything to to with anyone in general. I was kinda disapionted with switchfoot at the Big Spring Jam. there was a big mass of people that could have heard the gospel for the first time, but they didnt. Switchfoot didnt speak up. That didnt stop me from listening to switchfoot. i still listen to switchfoot to this day. Im a big fan. I like switchfoot. My opionion doesnt matter, but hear it is. Sometimes its better to sing about how one feels in different situations. Some "Christian" bands try to say Jesus and God as many times as they can to show the christian community how Christ-like they are. These bands remind me of the Pharasees. The pharasees wanted everyone to know how good or how Christ like they were. Instead of judgeing switchfoot for their non-biblical lyrics. Go judge bands like Releient K, Mae, (Im also a big fan of) or anyone who sings a song that isnt biblical or Christ-like. I much rather hear creativity than remake after remake. This comment wasnt for anyone in general. Its just my opionion.

9/27/2005 05:26:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, you all know that they are SBC, right? They went to Claifornai Baptist College...

12/15/2005 10:56:00 PM

Blogger Cherilynn said...

I just saw Switchfoot live at Riverside County Fairgrounds (Indio). They’ve always been one of my favorite bands & I know all of their hit songs by heart. To say the least, I was GREATLY DISSAPOINTED and SHOCKED when they made absolutely NO PROFFESION OF FAITH AT ALL! Even to the point of removing powerful lyrics such as "Salvation is here" from Dare You to Move. They skipped over lyrics that even mentioned God, let alone come close to saying the "J" word! While giving thanks between songs, he thanked everyone from the fans, the crowd, the community, & even some guy no one had ever heard of! Never a single hint he was a Christian. He made comments about how love is bigger than racism, love is bigger than life... blah blah blah- when I was still a new ager before coming to Christ I would've looooooved them! But knowing what I know now? Switchfoot, I throw your own lyrics back atcha and Dare YOU to move!!!!

2/28/2011 04:11:00 PM


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