I came across this mini doc about a metal church outside Bogotá, Colombia, called the Communidad Pantokrator that meets every Saturday to rock out in the name of Jesus. The video was posted on Vice.com, which is perhaps fascinating in and of itself. I am not sure if this kind of thing is new to them or not, rock and roll churches like this have been around for a while. What I find most interesting is that in spite of the music and dress, the theology itself, what the church talks about, is pretty conservative and mainstream Christian stuff, there is nothing radical about the church's message, other than one can like metal and Jesus, which, I suppose, carries a certain amount of challenge in a perhaps more religiously conservative, largely Catholic, country like Columbia. In fact, the only thing that makes this church in any way dissimilar to any other church is it's musical component, it still functions like a traditional church--complete with sermon and pulpit and preacher. It's church for those who can't go to (regular-i.e. not metal music driven) church, not an alternative approach to God.
Obviously, what is happening there resonates to those within the comunity, although I can't help but wonder if the embrace of the theology is not more a simple acceptance of what goes with the territory of religion--a trade-off to get what you want, which is a church that plays your kind of music and allows you to dress like a metalhead and allows you to 'worship Jesus.' The pastor in the story, speaks of being told by other pastors that he is off track, but it seems to be because of the music, because, of the small amount of theological content shown on the video, I can't imagine there would be too much critique.
What they all seem to want is community, that was my overall takeaway from the interviewees, they just want to belong somewhere, and the music fandom is a means to that end.
That these debates about music and sacrality continue is a bit of a mystery to me. I understand that metal is a genre of music that is troubling to those raised in different musical climes, but I think you could argue that metal music and the audience that assembles around it, which is essentially borne out of post-industrial dislocation, isolation, alientation and frustration at the status quo, might actually present opportunity to engage people, but unfortunately, there is little cultural awareness and music like this is generally simply demonized, and let's face it, Christianity that takes these populist forms tends to make a lot of room for the work of the devil--like a Christianized version of star wars-competing forces; light and dark; good and evil, where the devil seems to be on a par with God. To me, a place like this would be a great place to talk about the absence of God, but I don't live there so...
Theology like this remains much of the wider face of modern Christianity--it is about salvation and Jesus being your everything and meeting you in the tough places of life, asking nothing but 100% worship in return, it is palliative religion, but more of a band-aid than a cure, not knocking it, it's just not my cup of tea.