The title explains the uniqueness of Lucarini’s story. The author obviously takes issue with contemporary Christian music (CCM)—many others have done the same. But Lucarini does so from the perspective of an insider. He had devoted much of his life to CCM. He believed in its philosophy, its purpose and its power to aid in worship and attract unbelievers. He endeavored for years to switch the evangelical church from traditional music to CCM and was successful. But as he analyzed the product of his efforts, as well as CCM itself, in the light of Scripture he became increasingly more disturbed. He discovered divisiveness instead of unity, false doctrine instead of Bible accuracy, self-centeredness instead of worship, corruption instead of edification. How could this be in a movement seemingly so devoted to the praise of God? But the more he considered, the more it made sense. CCM has borrowed its methods, philosophy, tunes, demeanor and dress straight from the world. The music and the whole industry of secular music designed to foster ungodliness has been brought into the church through CCM. Could we really expect to do this and have it not negatively affect both worship and the people of God? Lucarini’s thesis is this: “Our acceptance of CCM into worship services has hurt an entire generation of older Christians, has led to church splits, and has created a breeding ground for immorality, selfishness and divisive attitudes in younger generations” (p. 46).
Lucarini knows well the arguments used by CCM adherents and has good rebuttals. For example, to the often-heard theme “Music is amoral, only the lyrics matter,” Lucarini informs us that this motto was created in the 1980s as a justification for CCM. As for the myth that Luther and the Wesleys regularly used bar tunes, that is exactly what it is—a myth.
I am in substantial agreement with the message in this book. What Lucarini writes needs to be considered by God’s people. However, it would not be fair if I did not point out three weaknesses that I see in Why I Left the Contemporary Christian Music Movement.
1) Lucarini claims his views are based on Scripture—and in fact he lays down numerous biblical principles to guide us. But in reality the bulk of his argument rests on the principle of “guilt by association.” His point is, and I would agree, that certain types of music have been created by the secular world which aid in moral corruption. The lifestyles and values of those who create and perform this music is obvious. If we drag this kind of music into the church, change the lyrics and dress it up we have brought a polluting influence into the body of Christ. In other words, can the devil’s music be used for the worship of God? Lucarini says no—and I would agree. But this is highly subjective. At what point have we crossed the line? Lucarini’s best answer is, “If it’s got that swing, it ain’t good to sing” (p. 134). Unfortunately, even determining “if it’s got a swing” is not always easy.
2) In a book dedicated to offering a biblical basis for music, I was disappointed that pertinent Scriptures on the subject were not addressed. A chapter on the purpose of music in the Old Testament, especially the Psalms, would have been helpful. A careful exegesis of music in the New Testament, especially Colossians 3:16-17 and Ephesians 5:19-21 seems almost mandatory, but were not found. Any revision of the book should, in my opinion, include these chapters.
3) The subjective nature of what constitutes CCM in worship services becomes clear when Lucarini lists what you will and will not see in CCM and traditional services. As is often the case, many will agree with the principles but differ widely on the particulars.
So Lucarini has not given the final word on CCM—but he goes a long way. Those entrenched in CCM should honestly consider what he has to say. Those headed down that slope will be given reason to pause and rethink their arguments. Those more traditional will be encouraged to find someone who understands them.