May 27, 2009 by Michael Dewalt
I was recently talking to a guy that felt the need to confront me on listening to Johnny Cash, and began the conversation asking me, “was he a Christian?” I guess his purpose was something like this:
All unsaved people are against God in what they do.
All saved people should be for God in what they do.
All saved people should be against all unsaved people in what they do and produce.
Which is known as the antithesis view on culture and unregenerate people. While I theologically tend to agree with the antithesis view that men unsaved are against God (total depravity), one must be carful in how this is played out in everyday living in culture and in practice. Many that are against him, do not know they are against God. So if the believer bashes this in their face, does their Gospel-Centered view help or hurt the unsaved person? His argument went something like this:
Johnny Cash is unsaved (so he thinks)
Johnny Cash then is against God
So saved people should be against Johnny Cash
He then later felt the need to email me a document that stated a number of thoughts for believers against secular music (which was very thoughtful of him and thought provoking as well). It stated a number of thoughts but the two statements below are what really got me fired up.
“All unregenerate persons hate God and thus all unregenerate musical artists hate God.”
Further in the document it stated,
“A person who enjoys secular music has no right to any assurance of being regenerate or of a good hope for eternity.”
*** By secular music he meant- “By “secular music” I mean to refer to that contemporary music which radio stations make available to the general public and that does not claim to be Christian nor is it written by artists who make a credible profession of Christianity; e.g. rock, pop, rap, alternative, country, oldies, etc.”
To which then I felt then the need to write this blog post. Now I am NOT going to deal with the above statements at all. Nor do I want to, if you agree with them, fine with me and if you don’t, good for you.
But what I am going to deal with is the fact that conservative evangelicals, the traditionalist, and those that tend to be legalistic can often times be so consuming that the secular culture does not come to the Gospel because of the Christians’ stupidity that lies in how they are treated. Now I know that many of you automatically may think, “Dewalt you are making generalizations in your groupings above.” To which I may, but there are the number of Christians that may believe theologically in Gospel-Centeredness, but they do not practice it when it comes to dealing with those that are lost. Nor do they practice it to those that were lost and have came to the Gospel later in life and have a reckless history of sin which had stained their name for their rest of their own lives. Men like myself, and men like Johnny Cash.
It seems to me that there are a good many of conservative evangelicals that enjoy separating themselves from he world (which is a good thing), but even more enjoy finding their piety from whom they separate from (which is a bad thing).
Examples of this:
1. I don’t watch TV or I don’t own a TV so because of that, I am separate from the world and that makes me more spiritual or holy then those that do.
2. I separate myself from listening to secular music or men like Johnny Cash because it makes me more “holy” then those that do.
3. I don’t wear jeans to church, so therefore I respect the Lord more then those that do.
4. I do not dance, the world does, so therefore I am more holy then those that do.
5. I do not drink any alcoholic beverage, so therefore I am more holy then those that do.
6. I do not play video games because they are a waste of time, so therefore I spend my time more wisely, I have better standing with God.
Now the believer that separates him self from watching NBA, News, or listening to country music, not drinking a beer, or not playing a video game may not say with his lips, “I’m doing this for more piety” but in practice can easily do so. This is important to everyday living as a believer to not think in our minds that we are better then Sam, or Sue, or Pam because I do not partake in watching the evening news on a TV.
If one has personal conviction about having a TV, then that is fine, do not have one. But when one finds his righteousness in not having a TV, we have a problem. Then when one binds that belief onto another believer that he or she should not have a TV, we have a larger problem, called legalism. See it is easy to be Gospel-Centered in believing that our righteousness is in Christ, but it can be hard when living that truth out and reminding ourselves about Gospel-Centered living that out.
Conservative Reformed Evangelicals when hearing about the man called, “CASH” easily hear of all the hell-rising, drug-abusing, alcoholic days, running around on his wife stories that the secular culture places to the front of Johnny Cash’s life. And from reading much about the man, there are a number of events and areas that I’m sure Johnny Cash regretted in his life.
1. If you are a believer and reading this, it was by God’s great grace that you did not fall into the world like that of Johnny Cash and fall deep into the sins of this world.
2. If you are a believer and reading this, your before state of salvation was no different of that in which Johnny Cash’s was either.
I’m going to add to this to this post a video that Resurgence Ministries has done on the Rebel, Johnny Cash. For the rest of this week, I’ll continue my thoughts on Johnny Cash and add some of the material that he produced in his later life.