Is good art good religion?
Madeline L’Engle has stated that bad art is bad religion.
What makes art “good” is subjective, and differs from culture to culture, while what makes religion “good” is an objective absolute, doctrinal fidelity to Scripture.
That’s the doctrine side of the issue; as for the art side (and here most particularly the music side) of the equation, I see two Biblical requirements for good music.
First, it has to be from the heart. There are many references in the Psalms to making a joyful noise, among them Psalm 98:4: “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.” (Also see Psalm 66:1, 81:1, 95:1, 95:2, 98:6, and 100:1).
People in other countries and cultures use different musical tonal systems than we do, or even perhaps sometimes an atonal system. While I may not personally enjoy it, I am convinced that in God’s eyes, that’s just as much good art as the finest examples of Southern Gospel I can point out.
Second, it has to be done to the best of our abilities. Colossians 3:32 says to do what we do “heartily” (or “with all your heart”), “as to the Lord, and not unto men.”
The Bible says to make a joyful noise, and do what we do to the best of our abilities. Adding a requirement that it has to fit a certain tonal system, a certain style within that system, or a certain level of musical quality within that style, (here’s a phrase for you, Doug) is superimposing the practices of men on the precepts of God.