9 February 2004
Chevelle's Uncertain Witness:
Rock music and a Christian label

by Keith Miller | bio | email | print version

Our loyal readers know that the Evangel Society for some time wrestled with the concept of Christian rock music and the possibility of crossover success. Our most controversial article to date challenged Christian radio stations to remove Project 86 from their airwaves. You can read more about that here and here. Our main quarrel was with Christian bookstores and radio stations that had not tested the content of the music they were promoting.

Well, the issue of what should be played on Christian radio continues to be unclear. One of the year's modern rock anthems was Chevelle's "The Red." They were on a secular label and their content had nothing explicitly Christian, yet that song received regular airplay on most of the Christian rock stations. Why? That is easy. Chevelle first signed with Steve Taylor's label Squint Entertainment.

Therefore, when Chevelle toured in Ozzfest this summer, we called them on it. My colleague Michael Francisco questioned how they could have a Christian witness while in that environment unless they clearly offered something different from the stage.

But later reading this, I began to doubt Francisco's analysis of the situation. Were they just a secular band that had hooked up with Steve Taylor? I feared that the Evangel Society had committed the same sin that we had accused Christian radio stations of committing; judging a band by its label.

There is much confusion about the bands religious leanings. Right now, our first article about Chevelle is the number one page on our site. This traffic is the creation of the hundreds of fans out there who hear someone say, "Chevelle is a Christian band," and then do a Google search to determine the validity of that claim.

I also googled this issue extensively and now feel that Michael's initial diagnosis was flawed but not ungrounded. Chevelle's members are Christians but have never viewed their music as a ministry. That is disconcerting because I believe Christians are called to share the gospel, but it does clarify the issue. I still believe that followers of Christ should have a problem with some of their company at Ozzfest, but I also know that Jesus did not come to heal the healthy. I pray that the guys in Chevelle are able to share their faith within the often godless world of showbusiness.

That being said, our call for Christian rock stations to analyze their content must be sounded again. Christian music must mean more than "music without cussing." Unfortunately, a Christianity Today review of Chevelle's Wonder What's Next did just that saying,

Unlike the hardcore/nu-metal company the band keeps, listeners will find nothing offensive or crude on Wonder What's Next, showing that Chevelle has stood their ground when it comes to their faith and wholesomeness.

Keeping the lyrics free of profanity is not the same thing as being true to the faith. Let us find a higher standard.

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