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Who said this: "…the rock music had actually destroyed the plants' cells."

No Googling or looking anything up. Just off of the top of your head, who said the following? The first to guess correctly will win a prize.

Our music cannot be like the music of the world, because our God is not like their gods. Most of the world’s music reflects the world’s ways, the worlds standards, the world’s attitudes. the world’s gods. To attempt to use such music to reach the world is to lower the gospel in order to spread the gospel. If the world hears that our music is not much different from theirs, it will also be inclined to believe that the Christian way of life is not much different from theirs. Christians cannot honestly sing the world’s philosophies nor can the world honestly sing the Christian’s message, because they sing from utterly different hearts. The Christian’s heart and music belong to God and His righteousness, while the world’s heart and music belong to Satan and his unrighteousness.

Because the Christian’s music is God’s music, it will be sung in heaven throughout all the ages to come. And because the world’s music is Satan’s music, it will one day cease, never to be heard again. The sounds of the world’s “harpists and musicians and fluttplayers and trumpeters will not be heard . . . any longer” (Rev 18:22). To those who make music that is not His, God declares “I will silence the sound of your songs and the sound of your harps will be heard no more” (Ezek. 26:13). In hell, the ungodly will not even have their own music.

The pulsating rhythms of native African music mimics the restless, superstitious passions ol their culture and religion. The music of the Orient is dissonant and unresolved, going from nowhere to nowhere, with no beginning and no end—just as their religions go from cycle to cycle in endless repetitions of meaningless existence. Their music, like their destiny, is without resolution. The music of much of the Western world is the music of seduction and suggestiveness, a musical counterpart of the immoral, lustful society that produces, sings, and enjoys it.

Rock music, with its bombastic atonality and dissonance, is the musical mirror of the hopeless, standardless, purposeless philosophy that rejects both God and reason and floats without orientation in a sea of relativity and unrestrained self-expression. The music has no logical progression because it comes from a philosophy that renounces logic. It violates the brain because its philosophy violates reason. It violates the spirit, because its philosophy violates truth and goodness. And it violates God, because its philosophy violates all authority outside of itself.

Not only the titles and lyrics of many rock songs but the names of many rock groups shamelessly flaunt a godless, immoral, and often demonic orientation. The association of hard rock with violence, blasphemy, sadomasochism, sexual immorality and perversion, alcoholol and drugs, and Eastern mysticism and the occult arc not accentual. They are fed from the same ungodly stream. A leading rock singer once said, “Rock has always been the devil’s music. It lets in the baser elements.” Another testified, “I find myself evil. I believe in the devil as much as God. You can use either to get things done.” Putting a Christian message in such musical form does not elevate the form but degrades the message to the level already established in the culture by that form.

A great majority of young people in modern Western society are continually assaulted with a philosophy set to music that simultaneously destroys their bodies, short-circuits their minds, and perverts their spirits. A young man who was converted out of that involvement once said to me, “Whenever l hear rock music, I feel a tremendous urge to get drunk or go back on drugs.” The association was so strong that simply hearing the music triggered his old addictions.

Many of the physical and emotional effects of rock music can be demonstrated scientifically. Howard Hansen of the Eastman School of Music once wrote, “First, everything else being equal, the further the tempo is accelerated in music from the pulse rate toward the upper limit of practical tempo, the greater becomes the emotional tension.” He says further that “as long as the subdivisions of the metric units are regular and the accents remain strictly in conformity with the basic patterns, the effect may be accelerated but will not be disturbing. Rhythmic tension is heightened by increase in dynamic power.”

Several years ago a college in Colorado made a study of the effects of music on plants. Plants exposed to beautiful, soothing music thrived and turned toward the speaker. In an otherwise identical environment, another group of the same type of plant was exposed to acid rock. Those plants turned away from the speaker and within three days had shriveled and died. Further experimentation proved that the sound waves of the rock music had actually destroyed the plants cells.

Whether or not human cells are destroyed by rock music, things of even greater value are destroyed. When fast tempo, unrhythmical beat, high volume, and dissonance are coupled with wild shrieks, blasphemous and lewd lyrics, and suggestive body movements, the brain is bypassed, the emotions are mangled, the conscience is hardened, and Satan has an open door. Even the ancient pagan Aristotle wisely observed: “Music represents the passions of the soul, and if one listens to the wrong music he will become the wrong kind of person.”

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

25 Responses to Who said this: "…the rock music had actually destroyed the plants' cells."

  1. Garlock may not have been the first to say it, but I'm with Kris, I'm quite certain I heard Garlock say it, but couldn't tell you what year that was. That's too far in the ancient past, even before Algore invented the Internet….

  2. So which would be more scandalous: MacArthur using Garlock as a source for his commentaries . . . or Garlock reading MacArthur back in the 80s?

    Or could there be a Q document? Hmmm . . .

  3. Whomever the author is, the misapplication of the cited Scripture passages in the second paragraph undermines everything else in the essay.

  4. Could have been Garlock (that's the answer I expected to hear), Larson, Seidel, Robertson, or Harding. They've all probably said things like this; in fact I've heard several of them myself.

    However…. this particular citation is not from any of them.

    This lengthy quote, bemoaning the worldliness of rock music, the pulsating rhythms of African music, the sexuality of Western rock, and citing scientific evidence about plants and brain cells is actually from…….

    pages 260-262 of John MacArthur's Ephesians Commentary!

    So, congratulations, Frank. E-mail me, and I'll send you a free, pre-pub digital copy of my new book, Sound Worship!

  5. Thank you, Scott. I will look forward to it. I was pretty sure I had read it from Mac, but I could not remember where. I remember thinking at the time something to the effect of "if Garlock said this, it would be roast Garlock time on SI."

  6. That's a sad, but I'm afraid, accurate commentary on the people who do most of the posting at SI. Why should they roast Garlock, but give Mac a free pass, when Mac says it? When Christians are ready to roast other Christians for a "Who Said It", our Christianity is in deep trouble, and it's very discouraging.

  7. The book's ISBN is 0802423582 and if you use the "search inside" facility on you can confirm the extract.

    I have to confess it made me laugh. MacArthur is basically saying that we'll be singing hymns in heaven, with not a praise song to be heard! But, of course, the hymn as we know it is a relatively modern development. Why not say that we'll only be singing medieval plainsong in heaven? Because, of course, that's not what MacArthur uses in his church.

    The line "Rock music, with its bombastic atonality and dissonance…" is just ridiculous. Whilst some styles of rock music are atonal and dissonant, the majority are not, and the same is true for most pop music. And the craziest thing is that some forms of modern classical music are extremely atonal and dissonant music.

  8. MacArthur uses "blended worship" at his church, contemporary for the younger crowd, and traditional hymns for the old fashioned crowd. His version of contemporary is much more conservative in it's style than in most comtemporary services. It seems amost incongruous to see his middle aged guitarist, keyboardest, and drummer dressed in suits and ties. The "praise and worship songs" he uses are those that are doctrinally sound and dense, the very best of the best of this style. I find it all very interesting and instructive. I'm not ready to add a Praise Band at our church, but if you think you ought to go this route, you could learn some good lessons from MacArthur's church.

  9. Scott, When designing this type of experiment, one has to consider that it isn't the type of music,
    classical, pop or rock, but the aspects of the music that might have the biggest effect on the plants, which could be the frequency, the distance of the plant from the sound source, the decibel level and the accumlative combination of all factors. I am guessing that Bolero might be competitive with hard rock.
    Seems to me that I would not like to be around all the time that these experiments were being carried out. :-)

  10. I was wondering something similar. There is no citation given for the research and no details of the experiment. If the rock music was played loudly and caused the plants to vibrate, I can easily see it causing actual damage.

  11. Ha! That is great. I had forgotten about this quotation. So many people rip Garlock over the coals, mocking and ridiculing him and his ministry with glee. Almost seems like there's sharks in the water, tasting blood for a chance zero in on him to shred him up because he made everybody think that rock music kills plants (as if that was the foundational principle for everything he ever said. . . ) And here it is in MacArthur. Thanks for posting.

  12. Oh, and also, Richard Hendry, your thoughts are well taken.  I know I myself am not familiar with the paramaters of the testing of music on plants that MacArthur refers to.  But I am guessing that the point Scott is making is not about the legitimacy or lack thereof of the testing, but rather the inconsistency of ripping Garlock (and others like him) while giving MacArthur a pass when he said the same thing.  At least that's what I took from it.  I'm not a "plants" guy but I certainly see the inconsistency here.

  13. @ G N Barkman – I wasn't aware that MacArthur has adopted "blended" worship. I'd be fascinated to know which contemporary songs are acceptable to him. Does anyone know what they sing?

  14. Hey, I'm late to the party, but the above quote reads like a transcript of Garlock's presentation on music ( To the best of my recollection, everyone of the major points of MacArthur's quote are reflected in Garlock's presentation. That being said, I don't think it really matter who promulgates this position — they have a lot to explain concerning the philosophy and theology of their position.

  15. I just read this in MacArthur's 1986 commentary on Ephesians, a portion that is quoted over and over again as authoritative with regard to Christian music. Unfortunately. I think the plant and the acid rock story is a myth, but am not sure.

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