Part Two of Four.  Click here for part one.

One version of the Christian-secular music divide was that if a collection of music could not be classified as “Christian,” then that collection of music was not suitable for enjoyment.  Under the auspice of this principle, many of my younger contemporaries abandoned portions of their music collections.

The ambiguous definition underlying this principle is that Christian music is that music which merits the classification “Christian.”  Maybe, a more useful formulation of this term would be music “having contents that deal with aspect(s) of Christianity.”

This definition has some common sense backing, but also has some difficulties.  If we consider all that often passes as “Christian music,” clearly some of that music fits this definition better than other instances of that music. 

But an even deeper difficulty for this definition is its subtle inclusiveness.  Some aspects of the Christian religion–for example, marital love, as depicted in Song of Solomon and as shaped by the commands of the apostle Paul–are highly valued in the music of the irreligious.

Think of the many passionate love songs in Western culture that, if expressed in the confines of marriage, are truly good.  Passionate love in the confines of marriage is an aspect of Christianity.  So, would these songs of Western culture then qualify as Christian music?

Perhaps, the proposed definition could be modified somehow to exclude the passionate love songs of Western culture.  The maker/modifier of this definition would be quite glad to sanctify the term “Christian music.”  However, the new definition would inevitably exclude some songs that currently receive the Christian music moniker.

Herein lies the practical dilemma for our first definitional candidate:  the definition will never be satisfactory.  It will always be too broad or too narrow to be of any utility.

For part three, we’ll consider compatibility with Christian sensibilities as a criterion for “Christian music.”

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