That Song is Heretical – Should Catholics Listen to “Christian Music”?

5 Steps to Help Catholics Discern Whether to Listen to Christian Music.

My husband walked into the living room, stood there for a minute, then interrupted me mid-lip-sync with, “That song is heretical.

Dude. Thank you for ruining my Jeremy Camp dance party.

I loved the tune, and the words flowed, so I had cranked up “Same Power” to help make the cooking and sweeping and more pleasant.

Hey, it’s Christian music. Better than all the pop garbage I could be listening to. How bad can it be?

As I stood there, staring at my husband with open mouth, wrinkled forehead and upturned palms, I reluctantly realized: he had a good point.

What are the Lyrics Saying?

The Catholic Faith has the fullness of the Truth. We have thousands of years of solid teaching, and an intricate and beautiful theology.

Should we throw it all away for the sake of music? These lyrics play over and over in my head. I hum them and soak in the energy to help me go about my day.

But what if that energy is leading me astray? What if its faulty theology is slowly twisting my beliefs?

We decided to take a closer look at the song together. We researched the lyrics, hit print, grabbed the Bible and the Catechism, and hashed them out.

There was one line that we disagreed on, and another one we questioned, so we leveled up and scheduled a consultation with our pastor.

Attribute Best Motives

We tackled this one first: “The same power that rose Jesus from the grave lives in us.”

My husband had interpreted the song to be attributing God’s omnipotence (meaning he’s all powerful) to us – humans.

The Catholic understanding that “I can do all things in him who strengthens me,”(Philippians 4:13) acknowledges that all our power to do good is from God. And that we do nothing on our own.

Turns out it’s based on the verse from Romans 8:11 “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

Our pastor made the connection between the verse from Romans and the lyrics, adding that we should attribute best motives. Unless we know that the author meant something different and wrong by a confusing line, we should assume the best.

We hopped online and searched for a statement from Jeremy himself. Wouldn’t you know, he had a youtube video dedicated to explaining this song!

We laid our worries to rest, that this line from the song isn’t claiming our omnipotence. When he says “power,” Jeremy is referencing a title of the Holy Spirit. We talked about the Indwelling and other related Church teachings and gave this part of the song a check.

No heresy here.

Do Some Research

So we moved on to our next concern: “We have hope that his promises are true.”

This line was a little tricky. Hope is a good thing, and at first glance, we might not notice anything amiss.

Hope is the “virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1817).

So we hope that we’ll get to heaven, and this hope is upheld by Christ’s promises. But we don’t “hope” that Christ’s promises are true. Instead, we “know” with certainty of faith that they are true.

Faith is the “virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us” (Catechism, 1814). We don’t have to wait to know that God’s promises are true. We can know it right now because God revealed it to us.

The conclusion: this line is theologically problematic. It takes a surety of our faith and introduces an air of unknown.

Be Understanding

So what do we do when we find error in a Christian song?

First, we approach it with understanding.

The Catholic faith has the fullness of the truth. But it’s a very deep and comprehensive subject to study. Most lay Catholics (myself included) have a limited understanding of many of the Church’s teachings.

We rely on theologians, apologists, and spiritual directors to untangle difficult issues for us and give us guidance.

Non-Catholic Christians, who lack a definitive teaching authority, will have an even more difficult time nailing the truth on the head. So, we can do our best to attribute them good intentions, while being careful about identifying and acknowledging errors that pop up.

With this particular song, we were able to change the way we sing along.

By swapping out the word “hope” for the word “faith,” the error is addressed.

But other times, it’s not so simple.

It can be hard to identify the errors, and even harder to know what to do about it. Should that stop us from listening to Christian music altogether?

What Does the Bible Say About Holy Music?

The Bible encourages us to listen to music that praises God.

Ephesians 5: 18-19 says, “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.”

Clearly, it’s good to sing spiritual songs, and to sing them together. Sing them with your whole heart. There are so many Christian songs that make me feel this way – songs that help me belt out my praise to Jesus.

But why can’t we just sing traditional songs, that we know are on board with the Church’s teachings?

We certainly can.

The Church has a rich and beautiful musical tradition. Many of her songs bring me to tears. Not only are the words moving, but the artfulness of the music is astounding. The Church’s traditional songs and liturgical music are masterpieces.

But the Bible also has something to say about “new songs.” Several verses in the Bible mention singing a new song:

  • “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.” Psalm 40:3
  • “O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things!” Psalm 98:1

And in the New Testament:

  • “And they sang a new song before the throne.” Revelation 14:3

Music Gives Glory to God’s Creativity

Music is an art. It’s a way to reflect God’s power of creation.

There’s a reason that people don’t stop drawing, or writing, or making music. It’s not just about the finished product. Music and other forms of art are about the process of creation. And the wonder and awe at something new.

As Images of God, when we create something new and beautiful, we reflect God’s power of creation. The process of making is a way to give Him glory.

Old art and music are beautiful and good. But new art and music are glorious, too.

They are an expression of self as tabernacles where God dwells. They are the result of God’s goodness and truth welling up inside of us, and spilling over onto a canvas or vibrating through our vocal chords.

We need old songs, but we need new songs too. They energize us.

But we do have to exercise prudence.

Make a Prudent Decision

If something is leading us astray, we should make an effort to avoid it. Music with vulgar or evil lyrics presents an easy decision: it should not be tolerated.

Music with neutral lyrics is fine, if you enjoy it. Music with good lyrics – even better!

But something like “Christian Music” (which is not particularly Catholic) is a little more tricky. This is because its goal and motive is so good – it’s meant to draw us closer to God.

But theology is a serious and important topic, and we need to make sure we’re actually drawing closer to God by the ideas we feed ourselves.

So take it to prayer, and evaluate how it affects you. You can ask these or similar questions about the entire genre, and about particular songs:

  • Does it lift you up?
  • Does it help you think about God?
  • Is it theologically sound?
  • Is it encouraging you to pray more?
  • Does it inspire you to learn more about your Catholic faith?
  • Is it helping you remain faithful to the teachings of the Church?

If you can answer yes to these or similar questions, then listening to that song, or Christian music in general, is probably a good and holy pastime to add to your life.

But consider these questions:

  • Does it confuse you?
  • Is it theologically suspect?
  • Does it make you question your faith?
  • Does it tempt you away from the Catholic Church?

If you find that listening to Christian music is a temptation to believe falsehood or heresies, or that it’s leading you away from the Church, then that song or genre probably isn’t the most prudent choice for you.

The answer will be different for each of us. And the answer could be different for each artist or song, as well.

A Catholic (like my husband) who can spot lines that are theologically off, and is dedicated into researching to find the truth, can probably feel a lot more comfortable listening to the Christian music genre.

A Catholic who gets a lot of comfort from the emotional power in Christian music, and finds it helpful to maintain a sense of prayer and unity with God throughout the day, can reap great spiritual benefits from Christian music.

A Catholic who finds herself wishing for a different church that’s more “upbeat” or “charismatic,” may find Christian music a temptation pulling her away from the Church. She may need to foster her love for traditional Catholic music, or stick with theologically neutral music, so as not to enter into temptation.

A Catholic, especially youth and teens, may not have enough knowledge of the faith to discern the truthfulness of theological assertions in songs. He may need to be more selective about which artists and songs to listen to, so as not to become confused about what’s true.

5 Steps to Help You Decide Whether to Listen to Christian Music

Prudence helps each of us decide what’s best for us spiritually. Some are undoubtedly more equipped to handle certain challenges in life than others.

The same goes for music, social media, television, the books we read, and any entertainment we engage in.

We need to be wise about what we feed our minds.

We need to  know our strengths, weaknesses, and limits. We need to choose what will lead us closer to God and let go of anything that would lead us astray.

While there’s nothing bad or evil about “Christian music,” there are a few cautions that arise from theological implications of some of the lyrics. Only you can decide if the genre or song is good for you.

Here are 5 steps to consider:

1. Check out the lyrics

Pay attention to what the words are actually saying.

2. Attribute Best Motives

Unless you know that an artist adheres to a certain heretical theological view, attribute best motives when you can. If something is vague, and can be interpreted either way, interpret it charitably.

3. Do Some Research

Get out your Bible and Catechism.

Check out what they say about the themes and verses the songs are based on. Learn a little Scripture and theology while you’re listening. It’s a good opportunity to go deeper in your faith.

4. Be Understanding

If you discover a simple mistake, try to be understanding. None of us is infallible, and we’re all prone to mistakes.

But be aware of it, and if it’s something that could be easily remedied – like a word change, for example, go ahead and sing it a different way.

5. Make a Prudent Decision

If you find that a song or artist are blatantly and routinely heretical, it’s probably time to find a different artist.

If you find that you’re becoming confused or tempted away from the Church, maybe try exploring some different musical genres for a while.

Allow yourself to make an honest and prudent decision regarding the entertainment you consume.

Catholic Musicians to Check Out

Catholic Musicians are out there. If you want to find artists whose music is more likely to adhere to the solid Catholic theology you’re looking for, try artists such as:

Both Aleteia and Catholic Link have lists of Catholic musicians that I’m sure you’ll find fascinating!

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22 thoughts on “That Song is Heretical – Should Catholics Listen to “Christian Music”?

  1. Great article very well done. I do listen to Christian music, there have been times when I wasn’t so sure what I was listening/singing was accurate or sound. It does matter what is being heard/said. We are mortal creatures with bodies that learn from our five senses. We must be aware what we listen too. This is a Catholic article, meant for guidance to discern what is authentic Catholic teaching, not an absolute. Just a guideline, the article never said Christian music was wrong/bad. I guess people read into it what they want. ORA PRO NOBIS


  2. This was a wonderful article. I appreciate your charity in your approach. I feel sad when I see the comments, but I know that you likely expected some of that. I really appreciate your take on this, because I too listen to some Christian music and have often thought about the differences in approach from non-Catholic artists. Other Catholic personalities whom I really like have not been so charitable. In fact when The Catholic Show podcast did a music special it was almost antagonistic. Your approach requires some thought and discernment, which is awesome. Vivat Jesus!


  3. Pingback: That Song Is Heretical – Should Catholics Listen To “Christian Music”? -

  4. I think it’s sad that you are pointing out specific Catholic artists. This causes division in the body of Christ. I listen to Christian music that represents Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord and if it doesn’t I turn it off. I don’t listen to a Christian artist just because they are or are not Protestant or Catholic. Some of the Catholic artists mentioned above I have listened to for years without knowing their denomination as they don’t sing about it. Let’s just support ALL Christian music that honors Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior for He is the Truth.


    • Hi Susan, thank you for your comment. I agree that we should strive to listen to music that honors Jesus Christ and adheres to the Truth. However, not all music does that, because we are fallible humans, and it’s possible for us to make mistakes. I’m not sure how recommending some of my favorite artists causes division in the Body of Christ. I did my best to promote an attitude of charity and understanding in this post, and other than using one specific song example and real life story to model my process of discernment, I intentionally refrained from naming artists that I might choose *not* to listen to, so as not to hurt their work. I am more likely to filter out songs that stray from the truth than dismiss artists entirely.


  5. I agree with being aware of doctrinal mistakes in our songs, but the way she approaches Catholicism worries me. Alarm bells go off in my head when she uses the phrase “get your Bible and your catechism.” She also claims that non-Catholic Christians “lack a definitive teaching authority.” We do have a definitive teaching authority, but it is not a mere human, as the pope is.


  6. We often take what the bible says and turn it into so many deferent meanings. Lets just take the bible’s words and mix it with the love God has for us and with the leading through the holy spirit that lives in every believer, take the truth of God for what it is really saying and be at peace within.

    The bible says sing a new song unto the lord Psalm 33

    Hope in the bible is a very good and positive thing.


    • I can’t find any Catholic music that is as inspirational as the popular Protestant hymns. Go to YouTube and listen to songs like Victory in Jesus and Glory to His Make.


  7. This is the most ridiculous article! Oh my, I don’t even think our Lord is this particular lol. People are “absolutely bonkers”. We are Christians first before we are “Catholics” and we have to answer to our Lord and only our Lord in the end. Not the Catholic Church or anyone else. Catholics are Christians too! You would think this article was written by a Mormon or something. I just don’t understand why it’s so divided from the Christian faith when Catholics are Christians! We all believe Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior! So why the drama about what Christian songs one should listen to or not listen to? How ridiculous. Stop looking to the left or right and jyst focus on Jesus alone. If you knew better it also says in the Bible that in the end tines people will take everything to heart. If someone writes tbe wrong lyrics or misinterprets the bible don’t be ready to hang them. Geez, nothing is perfect not even priests or pastors. They are only men and women. But through Christ, I believe will use the message anyway for His Glory and to reach others. Christianity or Catholicism shouldn’t be hard folks so stop making it! We are to accept Christ as our Lord and Savior and Loce our beighbor simple! Take a liad off and enjoy some mysic!


  8. It is interesting to have someone question christian music lyrics so closely, but are part of a religion where you are forced to look past so many glaring issues. Please stop spreading the lie of Catholic superiority


  9. You talk about Christian music. But let’s find out why you pray to Marry?? Why do you go to confession and go out to the bar and get drunk? We are to be like Christ and I sure don’t see Christ doing that at anytime. Maybe you should look at the church as a whole???? You need a personal relationship with Christ to get to heaven. Sure we need to look at things but if your whole Church is got it wrong maybe you should start there?????


    • Hi Larry, I’m not sure how you are coming up with these very specific (and misguided) insights into my personal life. I do have a personal relationship with Christ, and I agree that it’s important for our salvation. If you want to imply that I don’t, please provide some evidence for your claim. Your accusation about going out to the bar and getting drunk is false and unfounded.

      But the one thing I can address in your comment is praying to Mary, so let’s focus on that. It depends on what you mean by pray. If by “pray” you mean “worship,” then NO I do not pray to Mary, and neither do any other Catholics. However, the word “pray” can have different meanings in different contexts. For example, think of the word “pray” in Shakespeare – where it often means “ask” or “I ask you.” That’s the sense we use when we say we “pray to Mary” or “pray to the saints.” We don’t pray to them in the sense that they have power, or they deserve our worship. When we “pray to them” what we mean is we “ask them for prayers.” We ask them to pray for us, just like we would ask a friend to pray for us. If you’re a Christian, you’ve probably asked other people on earth to pray for you. In the same way, Catholics like to ask other people who are already in heaven to pray for us! I hope that helps you understand, and maybe ease your discomfort with the idea of “praying” to Mary.


    • Hey Larry, Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding. Why would you do something like that if you didn’t approve of a wee drink or two or twenty? 🤪


  10. This is a very interesting perspective. I had not thought of this before. Personally I just enjoy good music and know what I do/don’t believe, even if I don’t 100% agree with it.


  11. Oh and don’t forget the Catholic Playlist and Worship Podshows. They are 100% Catholic artists and always have links to all of them if you wish to support them by buying their music. I found so many artists through this show that were just amazing.


  12. Love this. This is great advice for everyone! So many times I tune into the local Christian radio station and get frustrated by “fluff” or incorrect doctrines found in the songs. It’s definitely so important to pay attention to what words you’re singing as worship and always use the Scriptures as authority. Thanks for sharing!


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