Guitar Praise is Not My Hero

Written by Lance Steinhibel

For the past couple years, I have made an effort to not bring up certain topics I have issues with when it comes to Christians in society. However, I’ve hit my breaking point. I hope through writing this article that I can get this off my mind, and it will not annoy me as much anymore.

Have you ever been exposed to any form of “Cultural Christianity”–the bubble that Christians put themselves in, and hide inside of? This culture goes to great lengths to make its members seem hip and cool with all the trends. I have no problems with this. My problem is that we can’t come up with original ideas. “Cultural Christianity” sees something that has hit it big in pop culture today (or most of the time in years past), and twists it into something that they deem to be “okay” with God. They do this by either by slapping a Bible verse on it or by changing all the lyrics to a classic song and making it about Jesus.

I have put up with “Cultural Christianity,” but that all went out the window when I found out about a new video game that has come out called Guitar Praise. Now, unless you have been living in a cave the last four or five years then I am sure you have heard of the video games Guitar Hero and Rock Band. They take songs from pop culture and allow you to try your hand at playing guitar, bass, or drums along with the song. Well, leave it to Christians to never leave a good thing alone. They had to take it and change it so it would not corrupt our youth of today. This is what all the reviews are saying: according to some reviews of Guitar Praise, parents were afraid to let their children play games in which songs were being played that did not glorify God, or where there were more than three guitar chords, and they were being played faster than watching paint dry. All right, I might have made up the paint-drying thing. But honestly are Christians really doing this, are they really trying to take anything that does not have a mention of Jesus in it, and hide our youth from it?

Now I am not going to tell you how to raise your children, so please no emails about parenting. But, I will say that I do get hurt when I hear Christians talk about non-Christian bands, and say that they do not glorify God. After having the opportunity to meet so many bands now, and talk with them in person, it amazes me how many of them believe in God and truly love Jesus. They just really enjoy playing the style of music that they play, which I will stand behind them one hundred percent. I am tired of seeing Christians putting each other down because they feel these bands are not using their gifts for God. At least they are out there in the real world with a chance to talk with someone outside of the church.

Last time I checked, the “lost” were not lining up at church doors on Sunday waiting for services to start. We are called to go and spread the love of Jesus to everyone we meet, but it seems Christians are doing the opposite. We are putting ourselves into a bubble. But when that bubble pops on our younger generations, what is going to happen when he or she is exposed to the world?

We must be able to stand on what we believe, and that happens while we are out in the real world, living actual reality. We must not hide from the world. I would have liked to see some of these bands on Guitar Praise try to get one of their songs put into Guitar Hero or Rock Band. But instead we are living the stereotype of Christians forcing an alternative identity onto pop culture. We can’t keep putting ourselves into this box. We must reach out to the world and that does not come by making our own video games. On the other hand, if we do make our own video games, let’s at least be creative and come up with an original idea.

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to “Guitar Praise is Not My Hero”
  1. Allyson says:

    Lance, I completely agree with you. I could go on and on about this (but I’ll try not to). One of my biggest frustrations with Christians is their unwillingness to branch out. They are so afraid to take a look at what’s happening in the real world and we end up with a lot of really ignorant people and sheltered children. I think more often than not, judgment is passed prematurely but if we really looked at things we might see that it’s not always so bad. That’s not to say that everything is good. Clearly it’s not, we live in a world full of broken people. But what good are we doing as Christians if we just keep preaching to ourselves? We need to take a different approach to the not-so-good things. Instead of condemning and judging, we need to be reaching out and helping. I love how you said, “Last time I checked, the “lost” were not lining up at church doors on Sunday waiting for services to start.” Staying in our little Christian bubbles with our other Christian friends isn’t accomplishing a whole lot. Jesus didn’t just hang out with his disciples all the time and if He did, things would have ended up quite differently.

    All right, that’s my spiel. good job, Lance!
    p.s. I like the title.

  2. Emily says:

    i agree with you lance, and allyson… i think that the whole point of Christianity (and most importantly, sharing God’s love) is to get out there and share it with someone… putting ourselves and our children in a bubble of any form isn’t going to do anything but garner discrimination and frustration and fear. instead of hiding away in the safe harbor of blindness, i think we should be teaching our children how to be responsible adults and instead of hiding them from the secular world, rather teach them how to live in it and survive while maintaining their morals and values. i’m about to open a whole ‘nother can of worms, so i’m going to end it there… but i’m glad that i’m not the only one that thinks this whole shin dig is ridiculous.

  3. joel says:

    I actually really like the idea of guitar praise. kids like to play guitar hero, i think its great that they can play to songs that edify the soul. so many things i want to write, i will just leave it at this.

  4. Jon says:

    Great article Lance.

  5. Chris Staller says:

    AMEN! Kind of reminds me about the phrase “no one ever got saved by a tee-shirt” – another pet peeve of mine w/respect to be non-Christian…Keep writing Lance and I look forward to connecting with you guys in LA soon…Blessings Bro…

  6. Micah says:

    That is very well written Lance and I wholeheartedly agree with you. Hope you’re well man long time no see!! God bless you

  7. Christine says:

    Personally I think that that has breath should praise the Lord and that means every person with every action. The Bible also says to dwell on pure things. Guitar Hero is definitely not something that glorifies God. So many of the songs on Guitar Hero and Rock Band talk about everything from drugs to suicide and sex. True those games are fun, but letting yourself or your children dwell on such things is not spiritually healthy. I think that if there is a family friendly fun game comes out than thats one less reason for kids to say that there is no good christian…music….video games….movies…….clothes……etc. If this is something that can help this next generation to stay away from temptations of the world, than I am all for it. With all of the sin in this world we need more positive christian influences to guide this generation.

  8. Tom Willis says:

    I think its really bad that Christians want to make money on Christianity. Doesn’t the bible address this with Jesus and the money changers in the temple. It seems Christians are always trying to make money off everything from worship concerts to books to cds. Its sickening. Why cant Christians just give it out for free. It seems enoch magazine gives these videos and articles for free. I do want to ask lance why he felt this was such an important topic to write about. Most non Christians will think that guitar praise is stupid. It seems Christian’s like to point out the wrongs of other Christians so quick. Remember it talks about casting the first stone in the bible. Who’s to lance has the right to call these Christians out but whose to say that making a game for money is right. i would like to see more articles that are not just some rant but something that has true substance behind it. Lance I would like for you to defend this article and please post a comment back on why you wrote it. Why are you not writing about what christian can do. do we have we enough things out there that nake Christianity look bad?

  9. Hannah Flora-Swick says:

    On one hand I think that praise band means well. It certainly gives a chance for people who don’t want to listen to music that wouldn’t be considered “Christian” a chance to explore their hidden talents on a artificial guitar. Now, on the other hand I agree that as Christians we need to be exposed to our surroundings so that we can stand strong by our beliefs and not succumb to the things of the world when faced with them. As followers of Christ are all called to love the lost, hurt, and broken. And as you stated, the lost aren’t exactly lining up outside churches waiting to be saved. So if you have never been allowed or willing to go to places where the lost are; then you are going to have a tough time reaching out to them. With that said obviously we still need boundaries in our lives to keep us safe but a rock concert or something is not going to make us “Bad Christians”. Great article Lance! I’m glad you shared that with me!

  10. melissa scott says:

    Hey Lance,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and passions. This article has lots of points. I am sure you spent a lot of time thinking about how to carefully articulate your points. It reminded me of something I’d like to share and I am not claiming to know or see anything. I am a self professed “lost” person who may or may not show up on Sunday ;). I know this topic was not necessarily in politics, but hey ears to hear right?

    “Conservatives stand up and thank God that they are not like the homosexuals, the muslims, the liberals. Liberals stand up and thank God they are not war makers, the yuppies, the conservatives. It’s the same self-righteousness just different definitions of evil doing. “(I think the author wouldn’t mind being unknown)

    I think it’s easy for me to blame culture (I do all the time) the question is where am I at blame? Thank YOU brother, you made me think, where in my heart are there barriers of love? Where do I separate myself from others? I easily stand up and blame systems and corporations for their greed and separation, their lack of true love. Where is my greed? Where is my separations from others? Where do I slap a “jesus” symbol on things/actions in my deeds/heart to justify myself and feel better about my lousy works? I am but a beggar, who am I? How do I know what is good? I am a fumbling blind woman in need of grace. All I know is i need a savior and God is good.

  11. Steven says:

    Are you serious?!?! It’s a video game!!! I’ll tell you what I think “cultural Christianity” is. It’s Christians who can find fault with anything. There’s nothing at all wrong with Guitar Praise. Controversy over things like Guitar Praise to Harry Potter is created when some Christian, such as yourself, has to disagree with anything that’s thrown his way. Get over it and get on with serving.

  12. Brandon Harris says:

    Quick question buddy. The last article you wrote about the “coexist” bumper sticker talked about tolerance and appreciating different views. What happened here? I love ya, but I didn’t catch a tolerance vibe in this one.

  13. Larry Woulfe says:

    Lance, as usual nice job. As one that has recently been pushed out of my bubble, “by God”. I think that He is going to use all kinds of things for his glory. Most of all he is going to teach us to Love the world so much that we would give our sons and daughters for it. A place that is not easily gotten to. That is why we can do nothing to get our selfs there but to trust God and the provisions He has given us to walk with Him at that fundamental level. I am glad I get to share this walk with you. What Hannah said was very good. I am going with that. Love you man. <

  14. Carter says:

    LAnce, you’re starting to get some “haters” to chime in. I think they have some good points. but I also hate the idea of Christians putting “their” version to everything. So we have Christian shoes, shirts, hats, PANTS….ther IS actually a girl I met one time that was making Christian underwear!!! What about Christian toothpaste? I bet there’s already a Christian tooth brush…let me check……yep…they’re on Ebay!

  15. justin says:

    so according to carter we should also stop printing christian books, since that is our “version”…and we should also stop trying to do street outreach b/c that is what other faiths and door-to-door salesmen do…not a logical argument.

    all in the gospels i see Jesus trying to communicate His message through means the people would understand…the kingdom of heaven is like ____…parables to the unlearned (and learned sometimes), scriptures to the pharisees…to the farmers He told the parable of the soils, to the pharisees He quoted the OT (psalms, etc). we can try to tell each other how we should live for Jesus and what is right and what is wrong. it is one thing to sell “christian toothbrushes” and another to sell sacrifices in the temple – i don’t think these are similar at all. i believe the point Jesus was making is that the temple should not be a place where God is mocked. today, WE are the temple…therefore, WE should not mock Him.

    what if the person making “guitar praise” is trying to get the gospel out…i don’t think we have any place to criticize the individual. my pastor shared a story…when he was little he and his brothers would hurt each other by destroying each other’s toys. one day his mom stopped them after they had a session of destruction…she said, “don’t you realize you’re both hurting the same person when you break things – me, i’m the one who buys all of this. it is me you’re hurting”. he goes on to say that when we hurt other christians we’re doing the same – not hurting them, but hurting God. when we mock/criticize other Christians, their Father is also hurt. who knows what the intent of the “praise band” creator was.

    what is our role as Christians? love God with all of our heart, soul, mind…am i perfect at this? no. but i pray that i strive for it. we can’t be striving to love God if we’re tearing down His children.

    i think we’re getting dangerously close to picking out the speck in our neighbors eye and not the plank in our own….

  16. Carter says:

    Justin makes a good point in the first sentence of paragraph 3. “What if the person making “guitar praise” is trying to get the gospel out”….that is a good point. I guess the true answer to that would be if the product was free…then we would all agree it’s number one intention was to get the gospel out.

    Lance is speaking from a missions minded basis. He’s once sided in this article (so it’s not completely fair), but it’s written with the “lost” in mind. Walk into any Hollywood industry party or UCLA frat party and say “Here’s Jesus! he’s in this Guitar Praise game….” or “here’s Jesus, he’s in this Bible verse coffee mug.” What do you think the reaction would be? – and I think that’s Lance’s point.

    Lance is both right and wrong. His intentions are good, but his points can easily be argued, as you have done. I’ll make one final statement that may or may not be correct: I think the all the creative and talented Christians (I mean really talented, gifted creative types) are not using their Creativity and innovation for God and witnessing the Gospel, because right now the world is where it’s at. The World owns creativity and innovation, so that’s where most of the Creative believers are competing and contributing. They are being challenged by worldly brands and campaigns and thus compensated. And so the absence of the “A” listers brings the second and third level of Christian innovation as the only level of Christian innovation. So Christianity gets labeled with things like Guitar Praise, Dove Awards, and even Christian Toothbrushes. The C.S. Lewis types are missing for the moment. The truly creative “A” list Christians are not in the Church and on the ministry front line. They go where they are paid and they lend their time and talents to ministries and God only when they have excess.*

    * Note: to anyone who wants to chant “A worker is worth his wages”… read the rest of the Bible too.

  17. Steve James says:

    You know know nothing about parenting Lance! But you know a lot about youth. I agree with you about ripping off secular ideas… it’s pretty cheesy. Additionally, I think parents need to realize that kids need to be exposed to our corrupt world in doses. Cutting them off completely from the world will lead to some traumatic results once that bubble pops.

  18. Selah says:

    That Guitar Praise really makes me mad. It’s people in a skyscraper of a chain Christian Bookstore, in a boardroom, saying, “What new way can we make money off of Christians,” and justifying it with the fact that Fall Out Boy sings about girls instead of Jesus, and “good” Christian parents should hate that. The people that come up with these ideas are just very business savvy, and are hired by the companies for their knowlege of the consumer mind. “Christian” or not, it’s all a business.

  19. Ryan says:

    Funny, I was thinking the same thing.

  20. Jay says:

    Article was interesting…I don’t see people complaining about a Nike logo, a name brand shirt or any other form of walking billboard. Instead, there are some here that choose to complain about a Christian logo, term or the type being used on a shirt. SO…it’s okay to be a corporate billboard but not a billboard for Christ. Okay, to each their own I guess. Then we have the people that say Christians rip off the secular and it annoys them. Well, which came first, Rockband, Guitar Hero, the Wii musical game??? I guess it’s okay to rip off an idea as long as it’s not a Christian? I also hear a lot of people talk about “sheltering” their children is a bad idea. My kids are somewhat sheltered at home but they go out in public and are exposed to the secular world in full. Does anyone really believe that any child is truly sheltered today? I can’t have my 11 year old walk down the street downtown without being exposed to explicit lyrics from cars, revealing posters and much more. How sheltered is ANYONE today? If a game is clean and has a good message than I’m all for it. It doesn’t have to reference or praise God all the time. I believe enjoying something that doesn’t erode our values and builds family is praising God. We enjoy many non-Christ centered games, movies and music. I do have problems with people stating that they are sick of Christians trying to impose their values when they are in the same sentence or comment trying to impose their values on us. I think if you replace the word Christian with some other term or group of people most of you wouldn’t say half the things you do.

  21. Andrew says:

    Lance. I don’t have a problem as much with songs not glorifying God, but I do have a problem with some of the lyrics on the songs that Guitar Hero and Rock Band uses. When I was younger and did not really know what it was to be a christian I would listen to anything without really thinking about what the song was stating. When I got older and gave my life to Christ I actually was ashamed at what I use to do. I am thankful that new stuff comes out that’s clean. I just don’t want my kids to walk down the same path I did.

    On the other hand there is a verse in the bible that states Do everything as unto the Lord your God.

    Just saying.

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