Christian Rock Contribution

Christian Rock Contribution

Traditional Christians Conflict Over Rock

Rock and roll music burst on the scene in 1950’s and was universally rejected by the established Christian community. The music was harsh, strident, unruly and impassioned when compared to the conventional melodic tunes popular at the time. The suggestive lyrics and dance moves popularized by Elvis Presley reinforced the negative perception of Christians to rock music.

However, as time went on, Elvis presented himself as a religious person and released several gospel songs—among them the extremely successful He Touched Me.

As rock music continued to develop into the 1960’s and 1970’s it adopted a counterculture element, particularly with the contribution of the Beatles. John Lennon’s comments regarding the Beatles being more popular than Jesus further alienated Christians. At times rock music took a decidedly satanic turn as with The Rolling Stones’ release of Sympathy for the Devil.

All rock music—regardless of whether it was political or not—was painted with same brush and associated with the Vietnam War protest, Civil Rights Movement and general mood of youth rebellion that permeated the country.  

Heroes of rock music such as Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix emerged. They were universally admired by the youth of the day and epitomized what Christians considered wrong with the music.

In 1966, The Crusaders, a Southern California garage band released Make a Joyful Noise—the world’s first Christian rock record. In 1969, Mind Garage, which is recognized as one of the first Christian rock bands, recorded Upon This Rock, the first commercially released Jesus rock album.

Larry Norman, the Grandfather of Christian Rock, recorded Why Should the Devil Have all the Good Music, which summarized his viewpoint and that of many other young Christians. Older and more traditional Christians continued to wrestle with the sudden boom in Christian rock bands and music as well as the popularity of the musicians.

The conflict goes on to this day with evangelical Christians decrying Christian rock in its entirety or picking apart individual bands or their music.