If the Teacher Has Fallen, Are the Lessons Useless?

If the Teacher Has Fallen, Are the Lessons Useless?

Two years ago, an article was posted on Christianity Today that asked the question, “Should Christians Stop Studying The Teachings of Fallen Pastors?”. Six responses were given, ranging from “yes, but…” to “no, but…”, with no one giving a definitive “yes” or “no” answer.

This got me to thinking about Christian music artists. When an artist falls into scandal of some sort, often times, retailers (and sometimes distributors) will pull their products from store shelves, promoters will cancel their concerts, and radio stations remove their songs from playlists. They are effectively erased from the genre. According to some folks, they can even be censored in Christian publications. It’s not just industry folks, either. Consumers and fans can be just as harsh. I remember when Amy Grant released Legacy…Hymns and Faith. I was working in Christian retail at the time, and the store I was in had a heavy promotion for the album, including countertop displays at the cash register. One customer saw the ad and said to me, “I can’t believe you even have her albums in your store!” I asked her why, and she said, “She left her husband for Vince Gill. She’s an adulteress. There should be no place for her here!”

There are numerous artists who have “fallen from grace” over the years for any number of reasons. Does that make their music any less relevant? Are songs like “The Anchor Holds” or “Step Into The Water” any less meaningful because their composers were involved in a scandal? If every artist’s sin automatically disqualified their music, we’d live in silence. Why are some scandals worse than others, and only when it’s made public?

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Kyle Boreing

Kyle has been writing for MusicScribe since 2008. He is a musician, producer, arranger, and occasional quartet singer, who pays way too much attention to recordings. He is an alumni of Stamps-Baxter School of Music and has shared the stage with many different artists. He also really likes movies that are "so bad they're good." Visit his website at www.kyleboreing.com, or follow him on Twitter @kyleboreing.

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  1. Reply June 09, 16:59 #1 quartet-man

    After a church member / choir member / soloist found out about Ray Boltz’s fall and stances. he struggled with whether to do Ray’s songs anymore. He told me that God spoke to him and told him that HE had given Ray the songs. So my friend still sings them even though he and I are still concerned and disappointed over Ray. It would probably be harder to do sing gospel songs that Ray (or others) would create now (in rebellion against God). Yes, we all fall short, and we all have been in rebellion against God, but to do so with no repentance or intent to change is different in my opinion. I do understand that Ray probably believes he is fine with God, but the Word tells a different story.

  2. Reply June 09, 18:01 #2 David Bruce Murray

    I have no problem with the “are the songs still relevant” question. If the message was solid before, it’s still solid after.

    Does it make a difference if it’s a singer who sings songs written by other people vs. a singer who mostly writes their own songs, though?

    After all, if I had purchased an “In Christ Alone” accompaniment CD while Michael English was at odds with the Christian music industry, it would have been Don Koch & Shawn Craig who would have collected the songwriter royalties, not English. On the other hand, if I buy an “I Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” accompaniment CD, it’s Ray Boltz who will collect the songwriter royalties from that sale.

    I think it’s generally good to draw back from performing a singer’s songs while a controversy is in full swing, but not rule out performing their music for all time. I don’t throw CDs away from my personal collection when stuff like that happens.

    When I worked in Christian retail, I didn’t even pull them off the shelf except in cases where a supervisor made that decision and told me I had to do it. If it was left up to me, I left it up to the buyers to decide if they still wanted to buy it or not.

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