Three Thoughts on Christian Musicians Who Don’t Say “Jesus”


undergraceanthem asked a question:

What are your thoughts on bands that claim to be Christian but don’t ever use the name of Jesus in their lyrics?


Hey my friend, to be truthful: I’d rather look at the Christian band behind the songs than the songs themselves.  There’s a ton of Christian music that says “Jesus” but they ain’t really about Jesus.

I do think it’s important that Christian music is clear about who it’s about, without question.  It’s too easy to turn Jesus into bae.  But here are a few things to consider.


1) Sometimes Christians wait for other Christians to meet a “doctrinal threshold” before they’re considered doctrinally sound. I’m not saying that you’re doing this.  But when we gate-keep too hard and expect every Christian band to yell Jesus with neon lights, it’s probably stealing our joy to simply be blessed by the aesthetic value of their craft. Plus we all like a juicy story of downfall and failure; we wait for artists to “sell out” and we’re all sick like that.  It’s unfair for us to constantly gauge if the song is using “worldly philosophy” or if they haven’t said Jesus exactly seven times.


2) Different Christian artists are called and wired for different ministries.  I think Switchfoot and Lecrae and Brooke Fraser are called to different kinds of people than Chris Tomlin or Phil Wickham.  Not every Christian band can possibly fulfill every role that the church culture expects them to.  Some artists are called to flex both their skill and lyrics to a wider world; I don’t think we need to trade off content for craft.


3) I’m equally concerned about Christian excellence in art.  I think some Christians really believe they can get away with mediocre artform just because other Christians will show “grace.”  I once wrote an open letter about this to Christian artists and creative minds here.

Having said that, there are unfortunately some Christian bands who have “sold out” and become mainstream for the sake of fame, money, acceptance, or appeal, and we all saw it coming.  But who am I to judge that?  If I truly believed an influential brother or sister in Christ was sliding into false teaching and idolatry, I should be on my knees in tears praying for them.  I couldn’t possibly understand the daily pressure they face in the spotlight and the constant temptation they have to leave Jesus behind in their work, and rather than one more Christian eating their own and shooting their wounded, I want to support those artists who are genuinely trying to glorify Him.

— J.S.


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3 thoughts on “Three Thoughts on Christian Musicians Who Don’t Say “Jesus”

  1. Good stuff here. I’ve tended to judge people on the other side–for being too safe and sanitary in their art. But I’ve come to realize that we need all kinds of Christian artists as long as they are following God’s call in their life. Because God’s call looks different in each. I have writer friends who write extremely clean, ‘nice’ fiction where everyone gets saved and there’s a happy ending. Some people really need that kind of positivity in their life, and if that’s the story God gave them to write, good! That’s not what he gave me. I write general fiction that tends to the gritty and the dark. And I do that because I’m following God’s design for me as best I can. It’s a good thing we’re not all the same!

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