Singing Ozzy Osbourne in Church?

A few months ago Newspring Church@ Florence, one of his multi-church video sites, had the idea to Play Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” as part of their praise and worship set. Newspring is no stranger to this sort of controversy, having infamously played ACDC’s Highway to Hell as their opening song on Easter Sunday. When asked about that particular choice, lead Pastor Perry Noble said that the reason he played it was to “p*** off the religious people”. Other songs that have been sung by the band over there have included Kelly Clarkson’s “I do not hook up“, Taylor Swifts “Love Story,” the Darkness’ “I believe in a thing called love” Christiana Aguilera’s Hurt, Metallica’s Enter Sandman, and a host of others. In regards to this specific song, I’ve embedded the video below

In terms of what people think about this, I know several people who think this is one of the coolest ideas alive. They believe  part of the Church’s mission is to be attractional and that anything they can do short of sin to get people into Church is a good thing. A certain subset of this groups also believe part of the Church’s mission is to be entertaining, and so anything short of sin that can be done to keep the congregation members from getting bored while they are in Church is a good thing, as this also ensures repeat visits. With regard to playing these specific songs, I imagine that  much of it revolves around the Churches ability to be culturally hip and relevant, with the idea that playing this type of song will draw people in and then they’ll be able to experience Jesus while they’re here. Another group thinks this is a horrible idea, and that it is some mixture of blasphemy and idolatry as people replace worship songs with classic rock and roll in a desperate bid for relevancy. They would say that this type of mindset and everything that goes with it is what makes a goat factory that produces unbelievers with spiritual convictions of the most shallowest depth.

While I would fall somewhere near the latter category, I want to focus on how something like this blurs the line between praise and worship, and something else altogether. I certainly don’t like the idea of them playing these songs during Church, but if you watch those videos of those others songs you’ll notice at least that they are merely singing them.  They don’t have the lyrics posted up on power point for people to sing along. There is some nuanced division between song A and songs B, even if its hard to see and is very minute. At the very least this represents some sort of delineation between a rock and roll song meant to entertain, and a psalm, hymn or spiritual song, regardless of which side you take.

But this song was different, because in this case they projected the lyrics up on power point for the congregation to sing along.  On this particular Sunday morning there was no delineation. There was no separation from the Ozzy Osbourne song and the worship songs. They flowed naturally into each other and people were encouraged to sing along with the Ozzy song  and then jump right in with fare like “Revelation Song” and “It is Well”. That blurs the lines, if not completely decimates it. I’ve written before how the worship music is in and of itself a sermon. I made the case  that

“When we worship, we are saying things about the Lord. We are teaching, rebuking, professing, declaring, correcting and confessing based on the revelation of God in Christ as revealed in his word.  That is the function that our praise and worship lyrics have. Paul says that we ought to teach each other the words of Christ using hymns and spiritual songs- the intent being that this is how the words of Christ will dwell richly in us. That is how we will know more about God, and how we will know more about the words of Christ and how he works through his words. That is a sermon.That is preaching.So when we listen and sing lyrics, we need to ask ourselves “what are we teaching others? What sorts of things are we expounding upon? Are we accurately reflecting God’s character? Are we accurately teaching the words of Christ?  Are we teaching the scriptures?” We also ought to ask ourselves if we are preaching deep, thoughtful sermons through our music, or if we are singing light, breezy, unclear, muddled, mindless, vague sermons?

At the time I was arguing against vapid christianish songs, but how much more true is that when you throw in a secular song like this? When your praise and worship set is 6 songs long, and one of those songs is by someone known as “The Prince of Darkness” shouldn’t that be enough to send up some red flags? I hope that irony is not lost on people. When we consider the breadth of the lyrical content and some of the satanic, hypersexualized songs that Ozzy and his former bands have sung in the past,  I suppose on one hand I should be thankful that they did not choose other songs to be sung, and wonder how many people will think the Church is tacitly or overtly encouraging the listening of this artist? Or perhaps I should be thankful they did not  change any of the lyrics to make it more christian-y… i.e. “I’m riding on the rails of the Jesus train…”. Is it wrong to secretly hope that someone would have thrown a dead bat on stage during that song, just to see what would have happened?

Which brings us to a few questions, what do you think about singing these sorts of songs in Church? Is there a difference between the band singing them solo and having the congregation join in via lyrics on power point? Does this blur the line between worship and secular songs? Lastly, if Newspring had enough money, and Ozzy was coherent enough and willing, do you think they would have brought him in to sing live and would that have been a good idea?

6 thoughts on “Singing Ozzy Osbourne in Church?

  1. I believe music is inherently spiritual. That’s why it’s so damaging when it’s about slapping your hoes around or about evil things. But that’s also why Coldplay sometimes drives me to my knees in front of the Lord. Maybe that’s weird, but I can tell you it’s been true in my life. Music can be an awesome outreach tool. Prime example is the fact that the worship pastor at my church takes his band to gigs in bars. Lots of times they’ve been out on friday or saturday night at a bar and coming in to lead worship on Sunday morning. At their gigs they play secular songs but they also pepper in some cool sounding renditions of old hymns, worship songs they’ve written, etc. It’s made quite the impact on some of the places they’ve played.

    So. Do I think there is anything particularly wrong with listening to rock music? no. Is there even anything wrong with playing “secular” music in a church? Not necessairly; especially if it’s over the system before the service, or just being played by the band apart from the corporate singing part. I don’t think it was right of this church to use an Ozzy song as worship. Corporate worship is a different thing altogether than simply enjoying music. Something like this only serves to create divisions. But more importantly, how is this song driving people to worship God? I have a hard time believing it does.

    All that to say, what goes in your mind comes out in your heart and life. If you listen to awful music, it is going to affect how you live your life. That doesn’t mean you should only listen to Newsboys and Jars of Clay. But it does mean that you should use discernment when choosing what types of songs you listen to (or the kinds of television shows, or the kinds of movies, or the kind of books to read, etc).

  2. I don’t even know where to begin on this as it is just plain wrong.

    – It shows a complete disregard for truth, what is holy, what is pure, etc.
    – It demonstrates a lack of understanding of what is the mission of the church.
    – As you pointed out, it flies in the face of what Colossians teaches (Colossians 3:16-17), “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
    – What does it mean when the Bible says, “abhor what is evil” or that Christ was to deliver us from this evil age?

    I would not allow this in my house, car, or church.

    My question is, “Perry Noble, brother in Christ?” I am really starting to wonder.

  3. I concur with you, Roger. The more I listen to him the more I am convinced that he’s a little boy with the attitude and mindset of a boy playing the role of a pastor, and he’s failing miserably at it. Is he a Christian? I would certainly hope so. Is he qualified to be a pastor? Absolutely not.

  4. Just to clarify… when NewSpring band does a secular song, it is immediately prior to the worship service. It is separated with a statement similar to “Alright church, let’s enter worship.” I don’t necessarily cotton to the pre-worship music at my church, but it doesn’t keep me from attending. NewSpring was a Godsend to my life.

    I was disillusioned with the church in my teens because of traditionalism, legalism and screaming pastors who preached their opinions. I was 47 years old when I found out about NewSpring. They had stripped away all of the tradition, et al., and lived and taught strictly by the Bible. What a refreshing concept. On Easter Sunday 2009 – the infamous Highway to Hell Easter – I accepted Jesus as my Savior while sitting on my couch in my living room. On May 16th of the same year, I was baptized in a swimming pool in the parking lot of NewSpring. The change I’ve seen in our young people is amazing… and they are taking the word of Jesus to their friends. It is awesome to see.

    I don’t tell you this to speak against your opinions… I have no right. I just wanted you to know that even though NewSpring may seem unconventional, it has made a positive impact on many lives in this community and opened many hearts to receive Jesus – truly receiving Jesus. It is evident in daily actions of its people, for I have seen it and I live it. May the Lord continue to bless you all.

  5. I personally think the fact that Perry Noble is willing to tell a person they “officially suck as a human being” from the pulpit (a figurative reference, of course, since Noble doesn’t use a pulpit) indicates he is not mature enough personally or sensitive enough pastorally to be considered an authority or leader.

    And, as a side note, I rejoice with Lynne that she found Christ through this man’s ministry. That highlights a fantastic aspect of God’s reconciliation: God works through quite imperfect circumstances to reconcile his people to himself.

    But as wonderful as that is, it doesn’t make it right, not in and of itself. It says more about God than about Perry Noble.

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