Bigot Music?

In a comment on last week’s Dove Awards coverage, a poster criticized the Southern Gospel segment – and the Perrys’ song “If You Knew Him” in particular – as “bigot music” (direct quote).

While I frequently approve posts on this site with which I completely disagree, comments employing slurs or personal attacks are not constructive in any way and will not be approved. Partially since the poster left an invalid email address, and partially since this subject is of wider relevance, let’s address it here.

Let’s define just what a bigot is. According to Merriam-Webster, a bigot is: “A person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.”

Since intolerance is a key part of that definition, its definition is: “Unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters.”

As defined by the dictionary, tolerance (and thus the lack of bigotry) means that someone is entitled to express their opinion, under the laws of this country, even if that opinion is incorrect.

(And, in fact, the view that other religions can get you to God is incorrect, as Jesus stated in John 14:6.)

I am aware that some individuals have attempted to redefine tolerance as recognizing that all views are equally valid. However, it is impossible to be completely tolerant under that definition. Let me prove this: The claims of Christianity are mutually exclusive. Either Jesus is (as He said) the only way to God, or He is not. If someone says that He is not, then they are saying that our views are not valid as theirs, and they are being intolerant by their own definition.


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36 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Daniel,

    Great post!

    No, Christians will never be tolerant, when defined that way. Josh McDowell wrote a great book called The New Tolerance. He makes clear the point that the world’s standards (tolerance) are unachievable for the believer.

    I have no great issue with calling Christianity intolerant. I have greater issues with religions that claim that their views and the exact opposite views are equal. That shows a lack of intelligence. We could all be wrong, but we can’t all be right.

    • I agree with what the spirit of what you say, but I think I’d define terms differently.

      Certain individuals today want to define tolerance as the belief that all views are equal.

      I hold to the traditional view of tolerance, which states that even if I hold a different view than you in some area, I recognize that you’re entitled to your own opinion.

      • I totally agree with that. In fact, I think that’s very Biblical. We are given the “free will” to believe whatever we would like to believe. God gave us the right to be wrong. 🙂

        I guess I should say that I have no problem with calling Christianity exclusive.

      • “God gave us the right to be wrong.”

        I wish I had thought of that during the initial post! Great line!

      • Every person is entitled to their opinion; and if they reject Christ they are entitled to be dead wrong.

  2. Even the anti-bigots are bigots. They are intolerant of those whom they define as “bigots”. In reality, either everyone’s a bigot, or bigotry doesn’t exist. People like to blow stuff out of proportion. I think America is turning into a generation of blood-sucking lawyers, not the good kind that help people, but blood-suckers. They try to find one fault that can sever them from modern society and break them down. Sad…

    • “Even the anti-bigots are bigots. They are intolerant of those whom they define as “bigots”. In reality, either everyone’s a bigot, or bigotry doesn’t exist.”

      My point exactly! 🙂

  3. Universities all across America have classes on Comparative Religion in which Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, etc., are all discussed and compared. Neither Buddhism nor Islam claim that their leader is yet alive. Christianity, on the other hand, does indeed claim that its leader has risen and is alive. The song’s facts are accurate and uncontested, therefore they cannot be bigotry. The problem is this: the implications of those facts, and the logic employed, make some uncomfortable enough to start calling names. When Jesus told the truth, they could not deny it, so they said “stone him”.

  4. To be fair, I enjoy various types of gospel/christian music. However, i truly believe that southern gospel does straight forward tell it like it is when it comes to doctrine and theology (*FOR THE MOST PART*). As i was watching the dove performance of this powerful song, i was wondering how many in the audience (even in a christian field) would be offended for its stance. In this “seeker sensitive” world, its becoming harder and harder to give out the truth without someone being offended, and its sad that a vast majority of those offended are in the Christian community.

  5. God gave Adam the right to be wrong – and he was. That did not give Adam the right to say that his wrong was right. He blamed God, ‘the woman that thou gave me’, the woman and the devil, to try to make his wrong right. Measured against God’s eternal exactitudes, he was still wrong. We do have the right to any religious opinion we like – or none – we do not have the right to make our own opionions right, nor do we have the right to make God’s opinions wrong! That is real spiritual bigotry, and damnable conceit. We believe a God who cannot lie.

  6. Good post, Daniel. Amen.

    The thought also crossed my mind as I watched the video of their performance… is even the “Christian” community so diluted (and deluded) to think that such powerful lyrics are bigoted? According to one post on your site, maybe some have become that way. I wonder how the Dove audience at large felt about it as they listened.

    I applaud the Perrys and the other SG artists for their example, and pray that Christians will not be afraid to stand for what’s right in the face of social pressure.

    • I have heard word that the Perrys got a pretty strong response at the awards themselves.

  7. First, I think the term “bigot” was totally out-of-line.

    They were probably thinking that “If YOU Knew Him” meant that the Perrys knew him and the audience did not. Ergo, the ridiculous “bigot” argument. Some people are twisted. Don’t lose sleep over their absurdities. 😉

    By the way, I don’t think the Dove audience was offended. They got it. It’s a witnessing song to those who don’t know Him. Kinda like an altar call. If you’re offended by an altar call, you probably need one.

  8. Preach it Daniel!!

    • Thanks!

      Rarely do I come down so definitively and decisively, but on this one I had to.

  9. Unfortunately some “Christian leaders” have basically taken the same stand that here is more than one way to get to heaven. When asked if Jesus is the only way to heaven and refusing to answer unequivocally “YES” they have left that impression.

    In with the last days folks will not listen to sound doctrine, but instead follow teachers who will tickle their ears. We are there.

    • I won’t name names, either, but I know what you mean.

  10. Sorry for a couple of extra words in there. Hurrying…..

  11. I’m still scratching my head wondering exactly what “bigot music” is supposed to mean.

    Music is just an art form that by its’ definition cannot be bigoted inasmuch as it cannot directly communicate what the Merrian-Webster definition Daniel cited says bigotry is.

    Such terminology says much more about the person using it than it does about anything he/she is trying to convey by so using it.

    If, on the other hand, the term is meant to connote that the music is music for bigots, then that is even more revealing of the attitude of the speaker.

  12. I am completely lost. Did the person say why it was bigot music? Is it because it is “southern” Gospel? Some other reason? I am clueless even after reading the comments.

    • David – the person called it bigot music because the Perrys sang a song that stated that Buddha and Mohammed are dead (which their own religions admit), but Jesus is alive.

      • OK, thanks Daniel. Maybe it is “theoligically positioned” music?

        🙂

      • theologically-spelling champ here.

  13. Great post, Daniel, and some other great thoughts from others.

    • Thanks! I would agree that the discussion has been constructive and interesting.

    • I could not agree more! There some wonderfully intelligent, wise people that visit this site.

  14. I have come to believe that often the people that are the most offended over something such as this are people that need to be offended by it. They need to take a long look at themselves and at God and realize that He is trying to convict them through an avenue like this.

    God gives us free will and we have the freedom to be wrong, right, or anything in between. But as Christians, I do not feel that we should ever be tolerant. It is our job to be the ones to go out there and FIRMLY proclaim that Jesus Christ is the risen Savior, regardless of any opposition we may (and likely will) face.

    There are so many ideas, so many “religions”, so many “denominations…” How are we doing what we are called to do if we are tolerant enough to accept it when we feel someone is following someone or something other than Christ?

    I love the quote that I’ve heard that says God loves us too much to leave us as we are. He continually wants to shape us and mold us to become more like Him. If we love people as we should with the love of Christ, we should love them too much to let them worship or make an idol of anything or anyone else.

    I commend Joseph and Rodney for writing such a powerful song and also the Perrys for strongly delivering it in a way that touches people’s hearts and causes them to really think about life and the things that matter.

    • And also…a wonderful, poignant post, Daniel! I knew you like to keep things very positive on this website and I have the highest respect for you for your decision to do so. However, I deeply appreciate the fact that you are willing to take a stand and speak out on an issue when you feel strongly enough about it to do so.

      Thank you!

    • Thanks! And Meagan, your post was so nicely written and balanced that it could have been the original post. You are right that I don’t unleash my rhetorical firepower very often, but this was an occasion where it was necessary.

      We should not ever be tolerant in the post-modern redefinition of the word. But I think it’s okay to be tolerant in the traditional definition, because acknowledging that someone has the right to their own opinion – as Andrew put it so concisely above, the “right to be wrong” – is really nothing more than acknowledging the doctrine of free will.

  15. Read the context around John 5:12 … The Jewish leaders didn’t even want to know who healed the crippled man – they just wanted to know who told him to carry his bed on the Sabbath.

    “Thus men often assume that a certain course or opinion is proper, and when anyone differs from them they look only at the difference, but not at the reasons for it. One great source of dispute among men is that they look only at the points in which they differ, but are unwilling to listen to the reasons why others do not believe as they do.” —Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament

    The person who left the comment in your post didn’t look for the reasons for the difference – just that is was different. Just like the Jews in John 5:12, it is enough to condemn in the eyes of a bigot just because the view differed. If the person really listened to the song, just like if the Jews would have seen the healing of the cripple man, they would “get” the message of the song. For me, the song offers to people a invitation to know Jesus as a Christian does – a look at salvation from a different vantage. Not by merely a head knowledge, but a heart knowledge of Jesus. “If you knew Him, like I know Him.” WELL PRAISE THE LORD !!!! Thank God I know My Savior and He lives in me!

  16. Meagan says, ‘the people that are most offended…are the people that need to be offended’. As a summation of the response to the gospel down the centuries, that is an excellent comment!

    The saddest thing about this thread seems to be that, since we may assume the Dove Award audience was mainly ‘christian’ (nominally or genuinely), we are discussing the resurrection of Jesus and the non-resurrection of other religious prophets, as something that offends christians? Or is it that Christianity has become so weak that we are afraid to offend Moslems and Buddhists? Has Sept 11th entered into the psyche of America and the West to the extent that a song such as this is best labelled as ‘bigotry’ so as we have a get-out if such an one retaliates?

  17. I can see how someone would take issue with that particular song, like O Buddah from the Imperials years ago. I don’t see us making any headway with a person of another faith by belittling who and how they worship. The words of the first verse could certainly be quite harsh and off-putting to a Buddist, a Muslim or any other faith really.

  18. The world tries to be so politically correct these days, expecting people to cave to baseless accusations without opposition and taking umbrage when they do. Thank you for handling this topic head-on and without vacillation. Weak-kneed Christianity isn’t worthy of the Christ Who brought the victory by His own blood, and we must be continually vigilant against the watering down and equivocating of the glorious gospel without which no man, woman, nor child has hope for salvation.

  19. It’s a shame that Christians have to sit on our hands in the name of ‘politically correct’. To me, if it’s in the Bible, then it’s correct. We need more artists like the Perrys. Too many artists now days are catering to what people what to hear rather than the truth. Being a Christian isn’t easy; but many artists are trying to ‘sugar coat’ it. As for tolerance, Christians shouldn’t tolerate evils like postitution, homesexuality, or whatever the world feels we need to. For me to do so is a slap in the face to our heavenly Father. We shouldn’t call names and protest (like one group here in my town does). Whatever is done in private is between the sinner and God. However, if bought out in public, Christians should stand up and voice our concerns.

  20. I’m not sure how pingbacks work, whether they are automatic or if I’m supposed to do something here on your site, but I wanted to let you know I’d referred to this post on my blog at http://mrbigmusic.blogspot.com/2010/05/perrys.html

    • Pingbacks used to be automatic. But I got burnt out with getting a half dozen or more spam pingbacks per day, so I disabled them. But any time you write about one of my posts, if you link here in your post I’m totally cool with you linking back to your post in the comments. 🙂