Did you ever look back and look your old high school year book photos? Or perhaps peruse the family album? Some of the thoughts that come to my mind when I do this are, “Man, I was young” or “Why did I wear that? No wonder I couldn’t get any dates”.
Years ago I listened to a band called Stryper. They were the first popular Christian heavy metal band. They were known for wearing yellow and black spandex, teased hair, and throwing out bibles to the audience.
People quickly forget just how huge Stryper was (think more popular then Rob Bell). They had two gold albums, one platinum album, and several #1 videos on MTV (back when MTV played music). They played huge arenas and it was ok to tell your non believing friends that you listened to them.
They were also controversial. Many fundamentalists thought they were the biggest threat to Christianity that they had seen in a while. I quickly learned not to bring up Stryper to my fundamentalist relatives because a literal family fight would break out. To fundamentalists, listening to Stryper was almost equivalent of selling your soul to Satan. (For an ODM/KJV-only take on Stryper, full of ad-hominem and gba arguments, go here).
There were even fundamentalist newsletters, books, and tracts, all exposing the evils of Christian rock. Stryper was a lightning rod for this criticism. Some fundamentalists still consider the band a threat to Christianity and have taken their accusation online, full of ODM arguments and tactics, even though Stryper hasn’t released a major record in almost 20 years. (See here, here, and here for only a few examples).
Now I look back at it and I have to admit that I wonder why I listened to them. They weren’t very good musically and they looked goofy. The lyrics were spiritually shallow and just plain dumb (”And we’re fighting,oh wooh wooh – the sin. And the Good Book, it says we’ll win” – Soldiers Under Command) But at the same time, it’s kind of like looking back at that old photo album. Honestly, they were harmless. No one can or has gone back to the annals of church history and proven that Stryper damaged the Church, Jesus, or Christianity. They were stylistically embarrassing but not much more.
There are real threats to the Christian life. Most of the writers here would say that the health and wealth gospel and some extreme forms of charismatic beliefs are great examples.
Then there are overblown, hyped up, “chicken little” threats. Things like the emerging church, PDL, or gospel music (or as Ingrid calls is, “fanny shaking” music) comes to mind. We can and should talk about these things, however, we should do it with humility and love. Over the top, polarizing statements like “McLaren’s Worldview Leads to More Violence, Not Less” only show that one is simply being asinine.
After we got over the 80s, most of us were able to discern that Stryper wasn’t worth the trouble. We can have a discussion about their style, their theology, or their tactics. But, in the end, both Stryper and the volumes of criticism they received was all hype.
I guarantee that the ODM types will completely miss the point of this post. Why are you living for the devil when you should be living for the Lord?