Imposing Preferences

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Aaron Blumer's picture
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Imposing Preferences

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In the conflict over fundamentalism and culture, meta-debate seems to have overshadowed debate. Healthy debate is what occurs when two parties look at the real points of disagreement between them and try to support their own position on those points.

Meta-debate is what happens when we debate about matters surrounding the debate. At its best meta-debate may help clarify and focus the real debate when it happens. It may lead to healthy debate. But it is not the debate itself, because the real points of disagreement are not in focus.

But meta-debate quite often breeds confusion and makes the truly differing claims and supporting arguments less clear rather than more clear. This sort of meta-debate takes many forms from trading insults, to assigning ideas to the other side that they don’t really hold, to framing the debate itself in a way that obscures its true nature.

One example of the latter is the phrase “imposing preferences.”

I’ve been hearing this term for years and still hear it quite often. If you’ve used it in communication with me recently, please don’t think I’m targeting you specifically. It’s an expression that has long lived in my “If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times” file.

But if there is ever going to be progress in the culture and tradition debate, it’ll happen when we get down to the real points of disagreement. And that process begins by identifying what we really don’t disagree about.

“Imposing preferences,” is a classic example of one item we should agree to dismiss as unhelpful meta-debate. To put it another way, Christians on all sides of the culture-and-fundamentalism conflict (which focuses mainly on the styles of music used in worship, along with clothing styles and forms of entertainment) ought to agree that the debate is really not about imposing preferences. Here’s why.

A loaded term

The phrase “imposing their preferences” is heavily freighted. “Imposing” suggests an illegitimate exercise of authority or raw power over unwilling victims. “Preferences” implies that what is being “imposed” is nothing more than personal taste. It’s as though congregational worship is a pizza buffet where random individuals insist that pizzas must be topped only with meat and cheese, not veggies or—perish the thought—fungi. The random preference-imposers make such a stink that even though 99% of those present either love mushrooms or don’t care about toppings at all, the rules of the few oppress all.

But is the debate really about whether random minorities of Christians should bully their churches into conforming to their tastes? Is this scenario really part of the debate (vs. meta-debate) at all?

Let’s take a closer look at “imposing preferences.”

“Imposing”

In local churches, God has ordained that carefully selected leaders have oversight over worship. They are not to be “domineering” (ESV, 1 Pet. 5:3) but are to “rule,” and the congregation’s response is to “obey” (Heb. 13:17). The reason obedience is required is that these leaders are responsible before God for, at the very least, the basic quality and integrity of what the church does. The authority derives from the responsibility.

Further, though these leaders are responsible and authoritative, they remain accountable to some degree to the congregation at large (1 Tim. 5:1, Gal. 1:8-9, 1Tim.3:1-7, etc.). As believers we are all responsible to some degree for our church’s obedience to Scripture.

In that light, it may help to consider two facts, then a conclusion.

  • Fact 1: “Imposing” only occurs when authority is used illegitimately.
  • Fact 2: Illegitimate use of authority is not a tenet of cultural conservatism or cultural non-conservatism or any of the views in between.
  • Therefore, “imposing” is irrelevant to the debate.

Whenever “imposing” something enters the discussion, we have entered into another debate entirely: how authority should be exercised in the church and in para-church ministries. It’s an important debate, to be sure, but a separate one from culture, meaning, styles and worship.

“Preferences”

What exactly is a “preference”? In the phrase “imposing their preferences,” as commonly used, the meaning is usually something like this: what you like or enjoy more than other options that differ in no important way. The term assumes that the options on the table are equal in every way that matters, so all that’s left is your personal taste. To revisit he pizza buffet analogy, who’s to say if pizza is better with or without green peppers and mushrooms? You like (a.k.a. “prefer”) what you like, and I like what I like.

The problem with this way of framing the issue is that those who are particular about music styles used for worship do not see the options as being equal in every way but personal taste. In fact, as they see it, what they like or enjoy is not the issue at all. It isn’t about whether they like pepper or mushrooms; it’s about what sort of buffet this is supposed to be.

Another analogy may be helpful. To those who are particular about the music styles that are suitable for worship—and especially those who favor traditional styles over popular ones—the options on the table differ in ways unrelated to taste and far more important than taste. It isn’t a pizza buffet, it’s an Italian dinner, and the options are lasagna, chicken catetori, and shrimp primavera vs. hot dogs, burgers, and hot wings. Arguably, both menus have their place, but at an Italian Dinner, personal taste is not the decisive factor in choosing between these menus.

The “preferences” characterization overlooks another important reality: though not everyone is particular about music styles used for worship, everybody is particular about music-style policy. Traditionalists want to limit musical choices to more time-tested forms, but non-traditionalists want to operate free of that restriction. Both strongly “prefer” something and usually want to see their preference become church (or university, camp, school, etc.) policy.

There is no preference-free option here.

So where does all of this lead our thinking? If we define “preferences” as matters of choice among options that differ in no important way, nobody on either side of the music debate is in favor of that. On the other hand, if we define “preferences” as what we believe to be right, everybody in the music debate favors that.

So, just as “imposing” proved to be irrelevant to the real debate, so “preferences” has no place in the debate either. As soon as we go there, we’ve stepped into some aspect of meta-debate and are no longer addressing any points of actual disagreement.

Forward

At this point in the culture conflict, it would be a great step forward if believers of all perspectives were to grant that the best proponents of both views (and those between) are not aiming to force personal whims on anyone (much less everyone), but desire instead to see their churches and ministries do what honors God and truly blesses His people.

To be sure, there are advocates in the conflict who are selfish, mean spirited, and intellectually lazy. Because they haven’t given the matter much thought, they are, by default, imposing their preferences (whether in the form of excluding contemporary styles or including them). But we can easily find people like that on both sides of any debate in human—including Christian—history. If we look at the best representatives of all the views involved we’re on track toward clarity and a much more fruitful debate.

Aaron Blumer Bio


Aaron Blumer, SharperIron’s second publisher, is a Michigan native and graduate of Bob Jones University (Greenville, SC) and Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN). He and his family live in a small town in western Wisconsin, not far from where he pastored Grace Baptist Church for thirteen years. He is employed in customer service for UnitedHealth Group and teaches high school rhetoric (and sometimes logic and government) at Baldwin Christian School.

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paynen's picture
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Great article especially the

Great article especially the last paragraph. Many who avoid contemporary styles of music prefer old gospel songy wishy washiness. And that in of itself is just yesterdays CCM. These same individuals don't notice when you take a modern CCM song and remove the trap set and electric guitar. Because when one does that their really is no difference between yesterday's gospel song and todays CCM. This is where, I believe the imposing preferences argument derives from. The way I see it, CCM isn't an issue about pragmatism or necessarily a new issue at all. It is just a modernized version of an old issue. The use of subjective, insubstantial, emotively formed music in the worship of God.

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"Really is no difference"

Well, that is one of the true points of relevant debate, I think. Or pretty close. To the newest leaders of cultural conservatism, the pop music of early 20th century is little better than the pop of today. I think, though that they would not say the same of popular music in, say, 17th century. My understanding of their POV is that this is because "popular culture" really didn't exist until after certain technologies resulted in mass marketing.

I recall reading this in Bauder. So the theory is that with the advent of mass marketing and mass communication, you have a new kind of culture that is much more vulnerable to lower influences.

I can see some truth in that. But I wonder if the culture dominated by smaller numbers of well educated, more disciplined leaders was really better. I'm inclined to think it would be. 

Just listen to a few "random man on the street" interviews and it shouldn't be all that hard to see why.

If the broad road leads to destruction and that road is the popular road, quite a few implications flow from that.

I'm not sure I'd say there "really is no difference" though, because the culture has a trajectory and it is not in the same place today it was early 20th century or mid 19th century, etc. So "popular then" can be driven by very different values and ideas than "popular now," at least in some ways. So the assertion that preferring older pop to new pop is just a matter of "preferences" (taste only) is pretty iffy.

It seems to me that  by now the points of agreement in the debate ought to include that what's popular has to be viewed with suspicion, that the culture of mass marketing is markedly lower than the culture that preceded it in the west, and at a more basic level: that styles carry cultural beliefs-and-values baggage for a long time (and may never really be free of it).

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I suppose I should correct my

I suppose I should correct my statement. I don't necessarily think gospel song and CCM are completely equivalent, as you are correct what drives todays culture is worse then what drove yesterdays culture, the point I was trying to make is that the gospel song movement was driven by the same things the CCM movement is today. The CCM movement, I think, is just a direct result of the Gospel song movement just not "working" anymore, they are both as I said earlier "subjective, insubstantial, and emotively formed" that just looks different in the different cultures, but we should be avoiding those things in the worship of God in all cultures regardless of what it may look like externally.

 

Also the subject of history of culture, specifically pop-culture is also prevalent to the issue. You got a piece of it in what you said about the invention of mass media, but that is not whole thing. The emergence of pop-culture also has a lot to do with the emergence of youth-culture one could even say they are the same thing. Here is an interesting secular article about the history of Youth-Culture.

 

http://www.faqs.org/childhood/Wh-Z-and-other-topics/Youth-Culture.html

 

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Nothing new

I agree that the productivity of debate is diminished when we are too invested in 'winning' instead of honestly considering another POV. 

Personally, I think it is fine to say "I'm not sure, but this is where my conscience leads me." We are formed by our experiences, and associations are often deeply personal. I can't always provide concrete Scriptural evidence (although I can provide a connect-the-dots picture) for the choices I make, but I know my own heart and mind well enough to know what to avoid and what to embrace for my own spiritual health and mental well-being.   I would, on the surface, fit into Joel's Type A labeling system, but I have met too many other letters of the alphabet who loved God and earnestly sought to please Him to think that only certain Fundy-approved cultural practices perfected one's faith or evidenced spiritual maturity. 

The bottom line for me is that there is nothing new under the sun. Everything was 'pop culture' at some point. Old is not necessarily better- no one who has read a significant number of  autobiographies, letters, and memoirs of folks from way back when will think that folks were more virtuous in the olden days. They may have been sneakier because societal norms were more restrictive, but is that really better? Today folks are much more open about what they want and like and do, and quite frankly, I prefer knowing where people stand. It's a trade-off, for sure.

In any case, I think it would be more helpful to examine culture- clothing, songs, methods, etc. . . by Scriptural principle and stop using 'old' and 'new' as measures of propriety. And ditto church culture- "Dr. Samuel J. Snodgrass was a great man of God and he said. . ." or "we are returning to them there old-fashioned ways" is just as sad an excuse as "it's new and nifty".

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Aaron Blumer wrote:   It

Aaron Blumer wrote:

 

It seems to me that  by now the points of agreement in the debate ought to include that what's popular has to be viewed with suspicion, that the culture of mass marketing is markedly lower than the culture that preceded it in the west, and at a more basic level: that styles carry cultural beliefs-and-values baggage for a long time (and may never really be free of it).

 

Even though I may grasp onto newer culture quicker than some people, I think that all can say here that we have to view all things carefully.  With that said, one area where this has translated for me outside of the music debate is around writing.  I am watching this in my children.  We were taught to write in cursive.  My kids are not taught this in school.  I can lament (and I have to some degree) that this is a lost art and modern children should appreciate it.  But at the end of the day, kids aren't writing with a paper and pen for the most part anyway.  All of my kids projects have to be typed up, and my two oldest kids (11 and 14) are actually faster at typing than writing.  So I have to sit back and say why am I lamenting?  Is learning to write good grammar, know how to spell things very important?  Yes, but are they a necessary?  Modern tools and techniques have diminished these things.  I see it in their texting, when they use LOL and IDK.  The culture has moved from this long drawn out prose, to shorter clips of discussion.  At first, I was resistant to it, but finally I said, do I want them to be ready for the world, or to isolate them entirely into a more superior past?  Some people would argue that they need to learn to write in the standards of Shakespeare and others.  But in the end I will just end up isolating him to some degree if I don't expose him to the modern culture.  I know music carries slightly different issues.  But just because LOL is far inferior to the classics in many senses, doesn't mean it isn't something we should resist.  In some cases the focus on social communication in short burst of text with tagging, can actually be argued to be superior over longer writing in some circumstances, especially the way that communication is being mined fed.

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David, You are following

David,

You are following right along the lines Aaron tried to draw out in the article. You have compared a cultural issue that no one sees as a right/wrong issue with another one where one side does see a right/wrong discussion. This is part of the meta-debate, not the real debate. The real debate is not whether we should allow culturally neutral issues to pass by unopposed, but whether music is a culturally neutral issue in the first place.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

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It is not about old verses

It is not about old verses new. It is about high culture or pop culture and how each can or can not honor God. Saying the argument is about old verses new is about as problematic as saying the argument is preferences. Pop culture is not something that has been around forever. Pop culture does not mean culture that is popular but it means culture with the intent to be emotive or culture that is more worried about being popular then of being excellent.

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Regulative Principle of Worship

Aaron,

It was precisely this sort of reasoning that led the Puritans to adopt the Regulative Principle of Worship. For those unfamiliar, the RPW states that public worship may contain only those those elements that are explicitly commanded in Scripture or necessarily inferred from it. What is not commanded is forbidden. That seems very restrictive. But it was originally championed in the name of Christian liberty. How can this paradox be explained?

In the Reformation, most of the Protestants were not so much being prohibited from worshiping as being forced into worshiping in what they thought were superstitious or blasphemous ways. In medieval towns, one was forced to observe a whole slew of customs and rituals. One of the inciting moments of the Swiss Reformation was when certain Zurichers publicly broke the Lenten fast, for which at least some of them were arrested. They were making a radical claim, that they were free to fast or not to fast because the Bible did not command fasting. This was radical because the medieval church claimed the authority to establish the rules of worship and piety, as well as the authority to enforce them.

Thus one of the Swiss Reformation principles was holding to the ministerial rather than magisterial authority of the Church. The Church has no legislative branch; it can at most interpret and apply the laws it receives from God. The Reformed Churches defined liberty as the freedom to follow the commands of the Bible, and only of the Bible. Thus, liberty can be violated as easily by  "You must do this" as by "You may not do this." 

The Puritans merely carried this idea the farthest. They operated under two additional assumptions: 1) that laity were normally obliged to obey their church leaders; and 2) that people were obligated to participate in public worship. Thus, the RPW is addressed to church leaders, but designed to protect the laity from church leaders. It tells church leaders they MAY NOT do anything in public worship that is not in Scripture, because that would place the laity in the position of either acquiescing to "strange fire" or resisting the authority of the Church leaders. 

Now, my purpose here isn't to defend the RPW, but to show how it arises from similar considerations to the ones expressed in the OP. There is no "preference-free" option, in the sense that some things will be done and other things not done. How then to choose which preference? The Puritan answer is to eliminate it entirely.

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How then to choose which

How then to choose which preference? The Puritan answer is to eliminate it entirely.

But even this doesn't work. Here is an exchange between John Frame and Darryl Hart about the RPW and what exactly it means. Frame is a proponent of contemporary music and Hart is not. Both claim the RPW and they disagree about how it applies.

Which is simply to say that even appealing to the RPW does not necessarily answer the question of preference.

I think Aaron is right that talk about "preference" is missing the point since it assumes the conclusion. This may not be a matter of mere preference. Those who hold their position (whichever it is), do so out of conscience.

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Not trying to instigate

I'm not trying to instigate anything by re-igniting the music discussions here, but I wanted to point out something here that I think Aaron didn't deal with or glossed over.

As someone who came from a musically conservative culture early on (I still have my WILDS, Northern Lights, and SoundForth CDs; I also still have Fisher, Makujina, Aniol, and other authors as well - and do listen to / re-read them occasionally), I eventually started to feel like a lot of the argumentation for the 'conservative' music style was a series of unspoken and strung together logical principles, with very little appeal to Scripture directly.

Here are some of the major talking points for the 'conservative' side:

  • We need to be separate from the world (I agree with this)
  • Separation from the world applies to music, especially music in a church setting, but there is little discussion of how that principle would apply in other spheres (dress, movies, books, etc)
  • We need to avoid 'rock' music (with little definition of 'rock' and a seeming inability to discuss other forms of music like country music, jazz, big band, alternative, etc)
  • We need to avoid current musicians with doctrinal issues, but we're OK now to use hymns written by people who had doctrinal issues from years ago
  • The ___________________ form is that which best communicates Biblical truth (without Scriptural support)
  • An avoidance of how conservative musical principles in the US / Canada would vary (if they do) from other cultures that do not have an British / American background
  • A tacit disregard for Sola Scriptura (well, the Bible is good, but you really need to hear Dr. Snodgrass' presentation on chord structures in music to understand why it's sinful)
  • The consistent appeal to 'what I want' or 'my rights' in corporate worship settings
  • The consistent arguments to separate from men that are doctrinally sound due to the musical style they enjoy (contra 1 Cor. 1, 3; Jas 4)
  • The consistent argument that 'modern' music guys are either ignorant or selfish (It has been argued that we're the ones that are 'imposing our rights' on the conservatives or that because we aren't musicians, we can't know what we're talking about)
  • An appeal to 'separate' from music or musicians in an extra-relational setting (how does separation work when all I know of some men is what they've published, sung, or written?)

So if I'm right and a lot of those points are separated from Scripture, then at what point does it become legitimate to say that some of these arguments are, indeed, preferential and imposed on congregations that are simply following what their leaders are saying either because they believe in and trust their pastor, because they can't/won't ask questions that they have about how this works, or because they haven't really thought deeply enough to engage with either side's arguments?  Especially when most of the men in this discussion are pastors or elders?

I completely agree with Aaron that the Pastor/Elder of a congregation is responsible for guiding a church in corporate worship.  I completely agree that music communicates.  I completely agree that worship is primarily offered by the congregation, as directed by the Pastor, and is aimed at the Lord (and should not be driven by what the congregation themselves want or what is appealing to 'seekers'. Several of us 'modern' advocates have written (rather extensively, IMO) to build a scriptural framework for what we do on SharperIron.  Yet it seems like that doesn't matter at all - the 'conservative' position is the correct one and therefore the 'modern' position must be in error even though several of the exegetical posts we have made have been bypassed.  We're the ones dealing with Colossians 3, Ephesians 5, Romans 14, etc.  

Again, I'm not trying to stir up the music debate, but I do think that there is a time to play the 'imposition of preferences' card, especially since we all, in theory, do believe in the individual priesthood of the believer.  If you're prepared to separate over something without a solid Scriptural basis for the sin that they are committing, then you aren't 'separating' - you're dividing the Body, and there's a difference there.

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Larry wrote: How then to

Larry wrote:

How then to choose which preference? The Puritan answer is to eliminate it entirely.

But even this doesn't work. Here is an exchange between John Frame and Darryl Hart about the RPW and what exactly it means. Frame is a proponent of contemporary music and Hart is not. Both claim the RPW and they disagree about how it applies.

Which is simply to say that even appealing to the RPW does not necessarily answer the question of preference.

A few things:

1. Arguments over interpretation and application do not undermine validity in principle. Otherwise, arguments over interpreting and applying the Bible would invalidate sola scriptura. (This is in fact the claim of Christian Smith, The Bible Made Impossible and Brad Gregory, The Unintended Reformation.)

2. Frame disagrees with the Puritan RPW, and he is aware of this fact. He goes into lengths on this in his book Worship in Spirit and Truth. So the debate you reference is not really about the RPW, but about whether one should prefer the traditional teaching vs. Frame's modification.

3. My point is that the Puritan method is an eliminative one. Many (probably not all) of the arguments we have over public worship concern things not explicitly commanded or necessarily inferred from Scripture. These things can more easily be labeled "preference." The Puritan tendency is to eliminate areas where preference comes into play. The goal is to have a worship service that contains no elements than any reasonable Christian would object to. 

I offer the RPW as an example of one way a group of Christians tried to deal with the issues at hand. That's all. I think it's important to bring it up because the Protestant tradition has been aware of this issue of imposing preferences since its very founding. Indeed, most contemporary scholars think that the primary aim of the Swiss Reformation was not justification by faith, but restoring purity of worship and casting out idolatry. See Heiko Oberman, The Two Reformations and Carlos Eire, War Against the Idols

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Thanks, Charlie. I am

Thanks, Charlie. I am relatively underinformed about the RPW which is a caution to me to speak carefully (if at all). I have read Hart and Meuther on worship and Frame (but CWM and WST), along with some other stuff, but I know next to nothing. So all, please understand my comments are very tentative.

1. I agree. My point was not that the RPW wasn't valid (I think it is), but that people apply it differently. Some RPW folks even use it to argue for exclusive psalmody; Hart seems to come close to this, but doesn't fully espouse it, though it seems he prefers it (not sure about that). So there seems disagreement about what exactly the RPW does.

2. Yes. Frame goes to some length early in that debate to compare the historical formulation with the normative. Hart seems unpersuaded by the relevance of this. Frame seems to be arguing that his view is merely another iteration of the RPW which already underwent many interations.

3. Yes. But isn't the debate not over elements, but over forms or circumstances? Both Frame and Hart agree that music is an element, which is mandated by Scripture; we have to sing. However, the particulars of music choices (including style according to Frame; limited primarily to texts according to Hart) is a form or circumstance which is not mandated by Scripture; we have freedom of variety on that. The exclusive psalmodists would disagree with Hart, and likely with Frame though I am not sure.

So here's my question: Does an appeal to the RPW solve as much as some people think it does, at least practically? Could people on all sides (contemporary, traditional/conservative, exclusive psalmodists) agree on the principle of the RPW while maintaining legitimate differences in application?

I am not sure, but I tend to think they can, at least to some degree.

Also, does a strict RPW require exclusive psalmody? It seems that it should, but I know that most do not. Any insight on that?

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Chip Van Emmerik

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

David,

You are following right along the lines Aaron tried to draw out in the article. You have compared a cultural issue that no one sees as a right/wrong issue with another one where one side does see a right/wrong discussion. This is part of the meta-debate, not the real debate. The real debate is not whether we should allow culturally neutral issues to pass by unopposed, but whether music is a culturally neutral issue in the first place.

 

Chip, I would argue that there is a decent amount of people who view this as a right or wrong issue.  You have those who hold to the Classical education system, who would view this as a real issue.  My English college professors would argue that there is a right or wrong here as well.   Is Shakespeare really better than LOL, or different?  To me the deeper argument as well is whether even culturally inferior is morally wrong.

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Checking in

This post has no value I suppose other than to say that I'm no ignoring you all. It'll be a while before I have a chance to respond as I'd like. Probably not until this evening.

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Yup

dgszweda wrote:

To me the deeper argument as well is whether even culturally inferior is morally wrong.

Yes.  The "CCM" / "anti CCM" issue is surface in many ways - we have to go much deeper than that if this is ever going to be resolved.  Of course, you have to be able to argue from Scripture what is and isn't 'culturally inferior', too.

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When Preferences and Convictions Intersect

Preferential Imposition transcends culture, of course, and can include any number of other issues like KJV-onlyism. That topic should be much easier to honestly debate because there are (should be?) far more Bible scholars than there are expert Christian Musicians (and by expert, I don't mean the common names in the Fighting Fundamentalist Top 40). I think what might make the music conversation more difficult to debate is that many Christian musicians aren't the best at verbal and written communication - they are experts at music.

But, that being said, Satan has continued to use the preference versus conviction nature of KJV-onlyism to fuel fighting with which neither side should be content. Even us lay-people could probably make a list, if we thought about it hard enough, of what in the Bible Versions Debate is mere meta-debate. Or could we?

 

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Jay wrote: dgszweda wrote: To

Jay wrote:

dgszweda wrote:

To me the deeper argument as well is whether even culturally inferior is morally wrong.

Yes.  The "CCM" / "anti CCM" issue is surface in many ways - we have to go much deeper than that if this is ever going to be resolved.  Of course, you have to be able to argue from Scripture what is and isn't 'culturally inferior', too.

 

I think that no matter where you sit on the fence of the cultural issues of music, we can all agree that the words need to be theologically, doctrinally correct and God exalting.  So then it comes down to musical styles and whether one is better than the other.  Which comes down to culture, its impact and so on.  I think what I have always had a struggle with was whether something "new" or something "culturally inferior" is morally wrong, or even preferentially wrong, or if we try to find arguments that fit our comfort zone.  I tried to use language, since that is dramatically undergoing a culture shift much more than music is.  While, personally, I am frustrated that my kids communicate using LOL, or only in tidbits of texts, can I really turn to them and say it is bad?  I don't like it.  I might even think it is bad.  But is it really?  I lead a fairly large IT organization for a fairly large company, and I can tell you there is a dramatic shift in how we communicate and consume information.  And while LOL and texts are poor and maybe even inferior communication tools compared to the prose of the past, they also have significant advantages when used in conjunction with how we are moving toward communication as an organization.  I think all of us can agree that we feel more connected with our friends on facebook when we get a daily photo or a 8 word comment from them, than in the past when they wrote our a two page letter that was placed in their families Christmas card once a year.  The two page letter for all intents and purposes was far superior in terms of communication style, prose, content.....  But the poor english and inferior tidbits we see on facebook are actually superior in other ways.

 

An argument was made years ago that a dress was superior to a pair of pants on a women.  That argument is now long gone.  We have many examples of when a dress actually looks inferior or doesn't work well for today compared to a nice business suit.  Doesn't mean we throw out the dress.  Is the pop music style of today technically inferior to a large Symphony from one of the great composers.  Probably.  But does that make it bad.  We could argue that our best that we bring forth is infinitely inferior to God's standards.  But I digress.

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So, does the debate change,

So, does the debate change, and is it more accurately described, if instead of "imposing preferences" we use the phrase "mandating extra-biblical convictions as the basis for separation"? Or, perhaps to be more charitable, "mandating convictions based on biblical principles as the basis for separation"?

I think that is what is meant by the shorthand "imposing preferences." But I agree that "imposing preferences" is not accurate.

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Greg Long,You know what the

Greg Long,

You know what the word mandate means, right?  Who's mandating anything?  Who even recommmends separation based on music?  Music differences separate.  It happens naturally.  There're a ton of people in my town who go to churches that use progressive music.  One reason they go to their church instead of my church is that my church uses much less progressive music than theirs do.  I don't think they're marking and avoiding our church.  It's not that kind of separation.  Our disagreements just lead us different ways.   

Let me give a handy label: Conservative.  Conservatives urging the Church to reconsider the wholesale assimilation of pop culture/revivalist/charismatic forms in their worship.  How insidious. 

 

Also, there're too many Gregs and Daves here.  We need alternate nomenclature.  Where's Tetreau when you need him. 

 

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Sigh

Let me give a handy label: Conservative.  Conservatives urging the Church to reconsider the wholesale assimilation of pop culture/revivalist/charismatic forms in their worship.  How insidious.

Sigh.

This is exactly why this issue is so maddening.  Greg and I are not 'assimilating wholesale' pop culture in our churches.  DavidO, you know this.

You want to disagree with us, great.  You think our exegesis is flawed - ok, let's examine that.  But until you stop arguing that we're doing something we aren't, the conversation is worthless and goes nowhere.

I agree with you, though, about the need to change Greg's name.  In a nod one of the old Superman movies, let's call Greg "Zod".  I think that name is not in use here on SI, and it's certainly unique enough for everyone to use. Smile

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http://www.desiringgod.org/re

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/each-one-should-be-f...

This is a great sermon on this issue. In determining what's a preference, and what actions are impositions, look at what the issue is doing to your relationships. 

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Good, we both have made

Good, we both have made and have gotten Aaron's point.  :D

Although, I wasn't singling you and Greg out, and my slashes nuance my statement beyond what you object to.  Furthermore  I said the Church, not your church. 

"Wholesale" was probably hyperbolic.   But, broadly speaking in the church?  There's some significant ingress, no?

 

Zod it is!

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Greg's new name

I propose Zadok. . . The Priest! 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zj65u_VY0uM

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I'd prefer: Gregory the

I'd prefer:

  • Gregory the Great (Although to be honest, Greg Linscott is probably "Gregory the Great" on SI. Maybe "Gregory the Decent" or "Gregory the Above Average"?)
  • GBL (Gregory Brock Long...with the assumption that Greg Linscott's middle initial is not "B")
  • Fritz (my name in German class in high school)
  • The White Mamba

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DavidO wrote: Greg Long, You

DavidO wrote:

Greg Long,

You know what the word mandate means, right?  Who's mandating anything?  Who even recommmends separation based on music?  Music differences separate.  It happens naturally.  There're a ton of people in my town who go to churches that use progressive music.  One reason they go to their church instead of my church is that my church uses much less progressive music than theirs do.  I don't think they're marking and avoiding our church.  It's not that kind of separation.  Our disagreements just lead us different ways.   

Let me give a handy label: Conservative.  Conservatives urging the Church to reconsider the wholesale assimilation of pop culture/revivalist/charismatic forms in their worship.  How insidious. 

 

Also, there're too many Gregs and Daves here.  We need alternate nomenclature.  Where's Tetreau when you need him. 

 

Ok, I'm willing to concede that "mandating" might not be the best word. Perhaps "arguing for," but now the phrase is getting longer and longer.

But if you actually believe that no one recommends separation based on music, David, I really don't know what to say to you. I'm really surprised at that statement, as I have seen separation based on music for my entire Christian life. There are churches and an institution in our area that our church would be more than willing to partner with in Gospel endeavors (and have actually tried to do so) because we share EXACTLY the same doctrinal beliefs, but they are unwilling to do so primarily because of two factors: 1) We don't have Baptist in the name, and 2) Our music is contemporary.

One might argue that (1) is the most important factor, but I believe even if (1) were removed, (2) would still result in some churches separating from us.

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Shaynus

Shaynus wrote:

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/each-one-should-be-f...

This is a great sermon on this issue. In determining what's a preference, and what actions are impositions, look at what the issue is doing to your relationships. 

Shaynus, are you trying to impose your preference for my nickname on the rest of us?

You know, I've never had a nickname before. It's kind of exciting. Of course, I always imagined it would have more to do with my athletic prowess, but I guess I'll take whatever I can get.

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Charlie wrote: Aaron, It was

Charlie wrote:

Aaron,

It was precisely this sort of reasoning that led the Puritans to adopt the Regulative Principle of Worship. For those unfamiliar, the RPW states that public worship may contain only those those elements that are explicitly commanded in Scripture or necessarily inferred from it. What is not commanded is forbidden. That seems very restrictive. But it was originally championed in the name of Christian liberty. How can this paradox be explained?

In the Reformation, most of the Protestants were not so much being prohibited from worshiping as being forced into worshiping in what they thought were superstitious or blasphemous ways. In medieval towns, one was forced to observe a whole slew of customs and rituals. One of the inciting moments of the Swiss Reformation was when certain Zurichers publicly broke the Lenten fast, for which at least some of them were arrested. They were making a radical claim, that they were free to fast or not to fast because the Bible did not command fasting. This was radical because the medieval church claimed the authority to establish the rules of worship and piety, as well as the authority to enforce them.

Thus one of the Swiss Reformation principles was holding to the ministerial rather than magisterial authority of the Church. The Church has no legislative branch; it can at most interpret and apply the laws it receives from God. The Reformed Churches defined liberty as the freedom to follow the commands of the Bible, and only of the Bible. Thus, liberty can be violated as easily by  "You must do this" as by "You may not do this." 

The Puritans merely carried this idea the farthest. They operated under two additional assumptions: 1) that laity were normally obliged to obey their church leaders; and 2) that people were obligated to participate in public worship. Thus, the RPW is addressed to church leaders, but designed to protect the laity from church leaders. It tells church leaders they MAY NOT do anything in public worship that is not in Scripture, because that would place the laity in the position of either acquiescing to "strange fire" or resisting the authority of the Church leaders. 

Now, my purpose here isn't to defend the RPW, but to show how it arises from similar considerations to the ones expressed in the OP. There is no "preference-free" option, in the sense that some things will be done and other things not done. How then to choose which preference? The Puritan answer is to eliminate it entirely.

I would like to thank you as well, Charlie, for this informative post, as I had not understood the purpose of the RPW in this light before.

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Greg Long wrote: Shaynus

Greg Long wrote:

Shaynus wrote:

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/each-one-should-be-f...

This is a great sermon on this issue. In determining what's a preference, and what actions are impositions, look at what the issue is doing to your relationships. 

Shaynus, are you trying to impose your preference for my nickname on the rest of us?

You know, I've never had a nickname before. It's kind of exciting. Of course, I always imagined it would have more to do with my athletic prowess, but I guess I'll take whatever I can get.

As long as I merely propose a nickname, and not add an "or else" at the end of it, I'm completely within my right of asking my preference to become yours. It's when I tell you that you shall thus be known as Zadok the Priest, and not Greg Long that I'm overstepping my bounds.

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Greg Long wrote:But if you

Greg Long wrote:
But if you actually believe that no one recommends separation based on music, David, I really don't know what to say to you.

Dear Zed the Great and Powerful,

Yeah, I should qualify that.  I know there are some that rather militantly call for marking and avoidance.  I was really saying that the primary voices in our SI neck of the woods don't seem to me to be saying that. 

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Greg,

 

If we put music in the disagreement category as opposed to the departing or disobedient category, then churches can have restricted levels of cooperation based on the nature of the disagreement, its intensity, and its practical impact on our congregations.  It does not have to be labeled necessarily as disobedient brethren.  Perhaps, it can be called a wisdom issue in many situations.  In the field of music and its relationship to worship, there will be many gradations between black and white.  Personally, I have drawn the line of cooperation for our own church and my relationship to other churches on this specific topic based on a clear use of the rock genre in the public services of the church. On the positive side I encourage our worship music to be melodic, beautiful, harmonious, of good reputation, truthful, doctrinally accurate, admirable, excellent, appropriate to the message, respectful, reverent, joyful, enthusiastic, unifying, singable, and free of any clear identification with something sinful.  To me these qualities are beyond mere preferences.  I am willing to bend when it comes to other ministries, but I would rather not break.  I do not think ill of some pastor who disagrees with me regarding applications of these principles, as long as I know they sincerely believe and practice these principles.  When it comes to biblical insight into music and worship, I lean more heavily toward authors like David Wells, Paul Jones, John Makujina, Millard Erickson, T. David Gordon, Doug O'Donnell, and Gary Reimers.  Their scholarship and insight on this issue make more sense to me than do the arguments from the other side.  When I recently observed the music videos of the Fox River Church overseen by Pastor Guy Conn or the video musical celebration to a large donation in the congregation of Providence Bible Church overseen by Pastor Jason Janz, those examples appeared in egregious violation of these principles and any reasonable application thereof. I use those instances as clear examples of turning from a conservative/serious minded approach to music/worship to something very different. 

Pastor Mike Harding

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RPW Clarification

Larry,

There are today competing versions of the RPW, differing (wouldn'cha know) primarily over music and church holidays. In the high Puritan era, the Puritans were pretty set against the use of musical instruments and against the use of music outside the Psalms, or at least outside the Bible. One of the reasons for this was that the commandment most often appealed to was Ephesians 5:19, which does not just say "sing," but "sing psalms" (and they interpreted the three categories there as types of psalms). So, one would not have scriptural warrant for playing instruments, which they viewed as a new element rather than a form, or for singing non-psalms (occasionally room was made for the singing of other scripture texts). We tend to think of music as mere accompaniment or background, but before synthesized sound, it's a lot of work. Someone has to bring and practice on and play an instrument; a new action is introduced. Most Puritans also refused to celebrate ANY religious holidays, forcefully opposing Christmas and Easter. The reasoning is simple enough: they aren't commanded. In official Roman Catholic doctrine to this day, failing to attend mass on a number of holidays (known as "Days of Obligation") is a mortal sin. 

I think that you are right that the mere adoption of the RPW does not settle every dispute. I am convinced that nothing has or ever could settle every dispute. And it sure raised some disputes, as any Anglican historian can tell you. And to many of those Anglicans, the cure was more bitter than the disease. You'd make a Cambidge vicar turn even whiter if you offered to remove the bickering over the church calendar by eliminating it entirely. 

But I still raise the RPW because it puts the issues at hand in an explicitly theological key, and it raises new questions about what really constitutes Christian liberty at the level of a congregation. It suggests that we might need to protect congregations from the inventions of their leaders and that there is value in uniform simple worship. One of the first actions of the Westminster Assembly after the Confession itself was the drafting of a Directory of Publick Worship to give guidance on these matters. The goal was that one could go from the icy tip of Scotland to the southern shore of England and be able to worship in any church without any infringement of (a well-trained) conscience. As I am about to move to a new town and will have to begin the process of trying out churches all over again, I see some value in that! But of course it raises issues of creativity and expression and such.

My Blog: www.sacredpage.wordpress.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

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Mike, Honest question here,

Mike,

Honest question here, Let's say a member of your church didn't draw the lines like you did. Let's say they themselves would allow for a rock type of worship, but submitted to your leadership on the issue as their pastor and didn't press the matter in your church. Would you, having heard from them of their position, initiate church discipline because they were disobedient? Why or why not? Would you say they were in sin?

Shayne

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Mandating extra biblical convictions....

Greg Long wrote:

So, does the debate change, and is it more accurately described, if instead of "imposing preferences" we use the phrase "mandating extra-biblical convictions as the basis for separation"? Or, perhaps to be more charitable, "mandating convictions based on biblical principles as the basis for separation"?

I think that is what is meant by the shorthand "imposing preferences." But I agree that "imposing preferences" is not accurate.

As so often happens on this topic, we've got a ton of supbtopics in a pretty short time.

Greg's post jumped out at me because it was on my short list for the next installment on this topic.

But there are really a whole bunch of issues in the phrase "mandating convictions based on biblical principles as the basis for separation" ... all worth thinking about. So I'd like to give them some thoughtful focus... as opposed to having a shouting match.

I appreciate the tone on this so far.

Just got called to supper and it's not a good idea to be slow on that...

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Mike

You wrote:

If we put music in the disagreement category as opposed to the departing or disobedient category, then churches can have restricted levels of cooperation based on the nature of the disagreement, its intensity, and its practical impact on our congregations. 

This is precisely where I am at on this issue. I would also add that the ongoing discussions on music at SI have helped me come to this position. Very well said.

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Illinois. 

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Mandating extra-biblical convictions, part 2

Got a few minutes... 

On RPW: I've often said that it's a great concept but can be applied in very different ways. But it may be that it only seems possible to apply it in widely differing ways, much as it seems--to people not really all that familiar with the Bible--like "anybody can make the Bible mean whatever you like" (or the Constitution, or any other document you might want to name). 

It may well be that getting everybody more educated on the whole RPW concept truly solves alot of these problems.

"Mandating convictions based on biblical principles as the basis for separation"

So much I want to say about this. A few observations.

Extrabiblical convictions: it beats "preferences," but it's still a bit too easy to undervalue these because, after all, they are extrabibiblical. The thing is, it's really not all that unusual for the wisest and most devoted of Christians through the ages to apply Scripture to relatively "new" scenarios with a great deal of sober conviction--and then to separate over them.

For example, spiritual abuse, legalism, pornography and materialism are all evils that are not so named in Scripture. We derive these categories from Scripture and rightly reject them. In some cases, they're just modern names for old, old sins or modern variants on old, old sins.

But what the best representatives of cultural conservatism do with music (and a few other culture-entwined things) is not really different in kind from our rejection of materialism, "legalism," spiritual abuse, etc. The process is the same: principles --> applications. 

Separation? That's another topic. I think it's possible to isolate the separation question completely from the culture (and music) question. Work through the latter first, then consider how it relates to separation doctrine.

But I'd like to go this far: many of us are skeptical that views on the cultural significance of clothing styles ought to be grounds for separation. But where is the verse that teaches it's a sin to attend church naked? We'd all separate from any group that taught this was a good idea! But in doing so, wouldn't we mandating extrabiblical convictions as a basis for separation?

I anticipate "But that's different! Wearing clothes is a big deal and music styles are... not" Well, that leads us back to one of the real points of disagreement. Are they not?

So my point is that as a category "extrabiblical convictions" are not necessarily wrong either to "mandate" or to hold to as a basis for separation. I.e., "extrabiblical" is not automatically "not important enough to either mandate or separate over."

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Not Mike but...

Shaynus wrote:

Mike,

Honest question here, Let's say a member of your church didn't draw the lines like you did. Let's say they themselves would allow for a rock type of worship, but submitted to your leadership on the issue as their pastor and didn't press the matter in your church. Would you, having heard from them of their position, initiate church discipline because they were disobedient? Why or why not? Would you say they were in sin?

Shayne

FWIW, I would not. When I was a pastor (still sounds weird to write that), I believed myself responsible for what we used in worship. We did use a bit music I thought to be of inferior quality but that I knew blessed many in the congregation. So there was a degree of compromise between my personal ideals and the feelings of the congregation. Not very much though. I think most would have liked a good bit more contemporary music. But in any case, what they believed on the issue was of interest to me as a teacher, but I saw it as a matter of conscience (aka what we call "liberty") between them and God. So in practice, it was a matter for persuasion not coercion.   (We never had a worship war)

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Or

Shaynus wrote:

Mike,

Honest question here, Let's say a member of your church didn't draw the lines like you did. Let's say they themselves would allow for a rock type of worship, but submitted to your leadership on the issue as their pastor and didn't press the matter in your church. Would you, having heard from them of their position, initiate church discipline because they were disobedient? Why or why not? Would you say they were in sin?

Shayne

Or what if your church planted a daughter church, and they decided they wanted to use songs like "Behold Our God" or "All I Have Is Christ" in their services.  They're SGM songs but do not have a 'rock' sound to them (listen to the T4GL2 CD clips from Amazon to see what I mean).

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Jay, are you sure you haven't

Jay, are you sure you haven't visited my church?

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Mike Harding

Mike Harding wrote:

Greg,

 

If we put music in the disagreement category as opposed to the departing or disobedient category, then churches can have restricted levels of cooperation based on the nature of the disagreement, its intensity, and its practical impact on our congregations.  It does not have to be labeled necessarily as disobedient brethren.  Perhaps, it can be called a wisdom issue in many situations.  In the field of music and its relationship to worship, there will be many gradations between black and white.  Personally, I have drawn the line of cooperation for our own church and my relationship to other churches on this specific topic based on a clear use of the rock genre in the public services of the church. On the positive side I encourage our worship music to be melodic, beautiful, harmonious, of good reputation, truthful, doctrinally accurate, admirable, excellent, appropriate to the message, respectful, reverent, joyful, enthusiastic, unifying, singable, and free of any clear identification with something sinful.  To me these qualities are beyond mere preferences.  I am willing to bend when it comes to other ministries, but I would rather not break.  I do not think ill of some pastor who disagrees with me regarding applications of these principles, as long as I know they sincerely believe and practice these principles.  When it comes to biblical insight into music and worship, I lean more heavily toward authors like David Wells, Paul Jones, John Makujina, Millard Erickson, T. David Gordon, Doug O'Donnell, and Gary Reimers.  Their scholarship and insight on this issue make more sense to me than do the arguments from the other side.  When I recently observed the music videos of the Fox River Church overseen by Pastor Guy Conn or the video musical celebration to a large donation in the congregation of Providence Bible Church overseen by Pastor Jason Janz, those examples appeared in egregious violation of these principles and any reasonable application thereof. I use those instances as clear examples of turning from a conservative/serious minded approach to music/worship to something very different. 

Mike, forgive me if you have already detailed this before, but could you help me understand where you find the Scriptural support for separation from the disagreeing brother (disagreement, of course, based not on clear Scripture teachings but rather based on convictions built upon biblical principles)? Obviously there is the case of Paul and Silas separating from Barnabas and John Mark over a disagreement, but this passage seems more descriptive than prescriptive or permissive. In other words, although it was obviously part of God's will of decree that these brothers should separate and he used it to further the spread of the Gospel, I don't believe God was pleased (in the sense of his revealed will) by their "sharp disagreement" and separation.

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Aaron Blumer wrote: Got a few

Aaron Blumer wrote:

Got a few minutes... 

On RPW: I've often said that it's a great concept but can be applied in very different ways. But it may be that it only seems possible to apply it in widely differing ways, much as it seems--to people not really all that familiar with the Bible--like "anybody can make the Bible mean whatever you like" (or the Constitution, or any other document you might want to name). 

It may well be that getting everybody more educated on the whole RPW concept truly solves alot of these problems.

"Mandating convictions based on biblical principles as the basis for separation"

So much I want to say about this. A few observations.

Extrabiblical convictions: it beats "preferences," but it's still a bit too easy to undervalue these because, after all, they are extrabibiblical. The thing is, it's really not all that unusual for the wisest and most devoted of Christians through the ages to apply Scripture to relatively "new" scenarios with a great deal of sober conviction--and then to separate over them.

For example, spiritual abuse, legalism, pornography and materialism are all evils that are not so named in Scripture. We derive these categories from Scripture and rightly reject them. In some cases, they're just modern names for old, old sins or modern variants on old, old sins.

But what the best representatives of cultural conservatism do with music (and a few other culture-entwined things) is not really different in kind from our rejection of materialism, "legalism," spiritual abuse, etc. The process is the same: principles --> applications. 

Separation? That's another topic. I think it's possible to isolate the separation question completely from the culture (and music) question. Work through the latter first, then consider how it relates to separation doctrine.

But I'd like to go this far: many of us are skeptical that views on the cultural significance of clothing styles ought to be grounds for separation. But where is the verse that teaches it's a sin to attend church naked? We'd all separate from any group that taught this was a good idea! But in doing so, wouldn't we mandating extrabiblical convictions as a basis for separation?

I anticipate "But that's different! Wearing clothes is a big deal and music styles are... not" Well, that leads us back to one of the real points of disagreement. Are they not?

So my point is that as a category "extrabiblical convictions" are not necessarily wrong either to "mandate" or to hold to as a basis for separation. I.e., "extrabiblical" is not automatically "not important enough to either mandate or separate over."

Aaron, I understand what you are trying to get at, but your analogy is not valid. We are commanded in Scripture to wear modest clothing (well, at least women are!), which, logically, would include the wearing of clothing in the first place.

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Thanks Charlie. Helpful  

Thanks Charlie. Helpful

 

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Although it may surprise many

Although it may surprise many on SI, I am actually sympathetic to the conservative music argument. I was raised and educated in that environment. I prefer a balance of contemporary and traditional music. As I have taught my class on Church History this quarter at church I have had us sing a song from each era we have studied.

And to be fair to Aaron, I think he is absolutely correct that all of us have "extra-biblical convictions" we would be willing to separate over. Although I didn't think your nudity example (that looks a little funny as I type it) was valid, I'll give you one I do think is valid, Aaron. If I were in Colorado, I would consider very, very carefully whether I could fellowship/partner with a church that publicly and clearly taught it was acceptable for Christians to smoke marijuana.

It's just that, as Jay has pointed out, the conservative music argument (again, the militant type, or as Joel T calls them the BGs) seems to be based on a whole series of extra-biblical and, in some cases (IMHO), UNbiblical arguments. I have no problem for someone personally coming to that point of conviction. But as I've said before, I can't understand how (it seems to me) it rises to a level of a fundamental doctrine of Scripture and used as a clear basis of separation.

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Revelation

Greg Long wrote:

Although it may surprise many on SI, I am actually sympathetic to the conservative music argument.

I prefer...

I have no problem for someone personally coming to that point of conviction.

This reveals that you are a preference towards music person rather than a conviction about music person. It shows just why it is difficult to debate these issues, just like the Version issue.

I suppose the real skill lies in getting both sides to agree upon what the Healthy Debate really is. I think prefer-ers are those who are generally comfortable with the Imposing Preferences argument and would have a tendency to use it. The other side would tend away from the Imposing Preferences argument because they are convinced it is a matter of sin, not of preference. Prefer-ers probably believe they are personally presenting a godly, balanced position. The others see that balance as compromise.

 

V/r

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg

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Applying principles

Aaron, I understand what you are trying to get at, but your analogy is not valid. We are commanded in Scripture to wear modest clothing (well, at least women are!), which, logically, would include the wearing of clothing in the first place.

My example was intentionally extreme. But the point was to show a point about a category. Matters of conscience or application are not, as a category, improper bases for separation... though I would hasten to add that they are not usually bases for separation.

I think the analogy works for that particular point because just as we reason that if women are commanded to wear modest clothing we must therefore all wear clothing (the case against going about unclothed--or very close to it--is actually a bit more complex, and might seem ridiculous but I think it might not in 20 years, depending on geographical factors). 

Anyway just as women are commanded to dress modestly, so all believers are commanded to worship appropriately. Where? Mainly the OT, but passages such as Coloss. 3:16 in the NT communicate that these principles still apply. And just about everyone accepts that, in theory, there is such a thing as inappropriate/just plain wrong worship.

So then the usual question is, where is the passage that says there is inappropriate music for worship? And then where's the passage that says "style" is what makes it inappropriate?

Those arguments have been made, but we've strayed from the point. The point was that it's often argued "we should not mandate or separate over extrabiblical convictions" ... But this argument fails because we all believe in doing that in some cases.

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Getting closer

Anyway just as women are commanded to dress modestly, so all believers are commanded to worship appropriately. Where? Mainly the OT, but passages such as Coloss. 3:16 in the NT communicate that these principles still apply. And just about everyone accepts that, in theory, there is such a thing as inappropriate/just plain wrong worship.

 

So then the usual question is, where is the passage that says there is inappropriate music for worship? And then where's the passage that says "style" is what makes it inappropriate?

See, this is almost exactly my whole argument.  I don't think we have merit to argue that dressing modestly must necessitate long dresses and high heels (for example) in today's church.  It would not be possible to argue that God has ordained one specific dress style for women to use in part because the cultures and times continually change (hence the quote in my signature).  

Even if one could argue that the style is fixed in Scripture - what happens when the culture changes?  It used to be that short hair on women was a reproach and a sign of prostitution (1 Cor. 11:1-16).  Yet that entire pericope closes with an admonition to not be contentious with each other over this matter (11:16); Paul also says explicitly in v. 13 that we are to 'judge for ourselves in this matter'.  In any case, now the short hair / long hair discussion isn't something we think about unless she shaves her head entirely (like Sinead O' Connor from a couple of years ago).  Now, maybe there's someone here who has disciplined a woman from a church for having short hair, but I think we'd all be pretty amazed if that were the case.

If people want to argue that there are songs inappropriate for worship - great.  Let's discuss that; I agree with that argument to a point.   But I do not see where Scripture says that all acceptable church worship must use songs that sound like something produced by SoundForth or whomever.  I don't think that it's acceptable to use driving rock music as the basis for congregational performance (as opposed to congregational singing), but that's a different discussion as well.

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"It is not because the culture is always changing...but because we are always in need of being re-oriented to the Word that stands over us...that the church can never stand still." - M. Horton

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Greg

Greg,

 

I made my case for my position on my church website under two documents:  "Music That Glorifies God" and "Toward Biblical Music Standards (for Worship)".  I also have another document entitled "The Beauty of God," but I need to repost it on our site.  Check out the two examples I gave and give me your honest evaluation.  Also, familiarize yourself with the authors I mentioned and see what they are saying about music and worship in the evangelical church.  This is a concern that stretches far beyond the fundamentalist environment.  Also, levels of cooperation do not necessarily equal biblical separation.  You might want to re-read Bauder's articles on that subject.

 

Shaynus,

 

I have not and would not.  I would restrict their leadership position in the church, however.

Pastor Mike Harding

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what happens when the culture

what happens when the culture changes?

One evaluates the reasons behind the change and the meaning of the new expressions.  Clothing trends reflect cultural attitudes, interests, inclinations, and, yes, morals.  It isn't enough to say "people in our culture just don't 'dress up' as much any more."  We must ask why they don't and what that means. 

I don't think that it's acceptable to use driving rock music as the basis for congregational performance (as opposed to congregational singing), but that's a different discussion as well.

I don't think it is a different discussion.  I think it's the very same discussion.  Why do you think it's different?  Also, are you saying that driving rock is ok to accompany congregational singing? (I don't really suspect you are, just wanting to clarify).  I think it's all part of the same thing.  Music in church, I mean.

And don't worry.  No one wants all Soundforth all the time.  Biggrin

 

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So Mike, would you say that

So Mike, would you say that they would be in sin? or would it be a preference or is there another name for it?

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Agreeing on direction and purpose.

DavidO wrote:

what happens when the culture changes?

One evaluates the reasons behind the change and the meaning of the new expressions.  Clothing trends reflect cultural attitudes, interests, inclinations, and, yes, morals.  It isn't enough to say "people in our culture just don't 'dress up' as much any more."  We must ask why they don't and what that means. 

I don't think that it's acceptable to use driving rock music as the basis for congregational performance (as opposed to congregational singing), but that's a different discussion as well.

I don't think it is a different discussion.  I think it's the very same discussion.  Why do you think it's different?  Also, are you saying that driving rock is ok to accompany congregational singing? (I don't really suspect you are, just wanting to clarify).  I think it's all part of the same thing.  Music in church, I mean.

And don't worry.  No one wants all Soundforth all the time.  Biggrin

Well, I did want all SoundForth all the time for a while...so maybe that's the REAL reason why I changed and I just never realized it until now.  Thanks for clueing me in ;)

Seriously, though, I think you touched on a nerve and wanted to mention it (although I've already done it a few times here).  I believe - and I'm sure Greg Long would agree with me on this - that it is possible to present an argument from Scripture for modern music without doing so because "I want MY music played in church" or because "Well, people just need to change" or because congregations should "rock out" to the Lord (as Lou Martuneac would say).  Those are underlying attitude and pride issues which need to be examined before you can deal with style issues.  That kind of attitude ("rocking out") goes so much deeper than just the music that we use in worship.

As an Interim Pastor, I was put in an situation once where I was told by a church member that we needed to change our music to a more contemporary style in order to "attract kids".  We disagreed on that, and it wasn't because I liked the music as it was (all the music was organ oriented, and it gave the services a funeral-type feel that I thought communicated all the wrong things) - it was because the motivations for the music change were wrong.  And that's, as you said, where some of this issue lies.

I tire, frankly, of the idea that guys like Zod and I (or whatever we're calling him now) are using different music because we want to "rock out" at church.  That's a crazy and sinful idea (we don't go to church to make ourselves 'feel good' - we go to church because we are preparing an act of worship and sacrifice to the Lord), and it's disrespectful of fellow believers to say so.  So let's discuss style, pride, culture, etc - but a large portion of the debate has been structured around the argument that we want rock music in church because it feeds our fleshly desires.  That's flatly not true of either of us (and I suspect, anyone else on this site).  But we (as modern music people) can't seem to move the discussion off of "________ loves rock music", which is maddening and counterproductive.

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"It is not because the culture is always changing...but because we are always in need of being re-oriented to the Word that stands over us...that the church can never stand still." - M. Horton

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Defending a lead pastor's right to defend ministry philosophy

As much as I am not comfortable with some of the views Harding takes - As long as he does not mark out other believes/leaders etc.....as "heretical" because of a different approach to music - especially when those are good men, in the end I don't think Mike is "out of line" (per se) to say that he would limit internal leadership or external relationships with those who have a different-enough philosophy of music/worship, etc.

Mike is the lead pastor of a congregation - and for those of you who eventually read my upcoming book (shameless plug - sorry), I make the case that the lead pastor has a special burden to protect and direct the congregation. Mike is passionate that the right kind of music be protected at Troy because the right kind of music will aid in projecting and worshipping the right view of God. In the end the way we do this may be different but the motivation is the same.

BTW - for those of us who take a different approach to limiting especially "church music" than the Beehtoven Group - I would love to see how you do that. If we are telling guys like Harding and Bauder et al that their approach is out of order - I'd like to be able to show them what a more responsible apporach is. What are the biblical paramaters in your philosophy and approach to especially corporate music? My fear is that some of us have never constructed a philosophy but we are quick to tell these guys we don't like what they have constructed. In other words - we don't like the lines these guys have drawn - fair enough. So where do you draw your lines - and why do you draw them where you draw them? Perhaps you have no lines?  

Straight Ahead!

jt

ps - my apologies for defending Harding - this is very disconcerting and kind of throws us into some kind of cyber twighlight zone. I promise not to make a habbit of this sort of thing.  

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Baptist Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

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Joel,   Thanks for the kind

Joel,

 

Thanks for the kind words.  They meant a great deal to me.

 

Shay,

 

It is possible for issues like music or dress for that matter to go beyond a lack of wisdom to something that violates the glory of God.  I think the examples I gave reached that point.  In music or dress, it is not always easy to know when something has actually become something sinful or a lack of wisdom.   Partly, because sin is something that occurs in the mind as well as the body.  When a man knows to do right and does not do it, to him it is sin.  Some sin out of ignorance; others willfully.  In many cases I think the matter is a lack of wisdom or discretion.  It's not always easy to define when something becomes a pile of sand (10 grains, 100, or 1000 grains), but there is such a thing as a pile of sand.  That's a good analogy for this topic.

Pastor Mike Harding

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Attitude... and metadebate

Jay: strong point about attitude.

One question I wrestled with as a pastor was--in regard to a number of issues--Can this be internally regulated (as in, regulated by the internal beliefs and understandings of people) or do we need a rule? Of course, you always want understanding, belief, genuine commitment, etc. But to what extent can "suitability for worship" be selected by internal regulation alone? I don't claim to know the answer, but I have been around enough to see that some churches seem to select pretty well without proscribing anything. There are general principles, goals, teaching on the purpose of worship and purpose of the things we use in worship. And mostly that results in, from my point of view, pretty good choices.

Some might argue is "mostly" good enough?

Well, consider the actual trade offs: if you make a really specific set of rules for worship music, dress, etc., there are some advantages in terms of the end result externally. To some that alone is an indictment because they undervalue externals (read Exodus and tell me how unimportant the appearance of worship is). So to me, that's a plus. The downside though, is that with a rule that addresses outward conduct, there is a certain natural tendency to not bother to think about things. On a certain level, it's irrelevant: that's already decided so what does it matter what I really believe?

Then factor in that external regulation is also only, at best, going to be "mostly good enough" because the regulation process has much of the merely human in it and is carried out by humans.

So I'm not sure that external regulation fairs well as an approach once you remove the ideal outcome and accept that it's a fantasy.

But I want to point out that the debate about how music in worship should be regulated is a separate debate from the "what does style and culture have to do with acceptability for worship." So the process question is important but is really a question to go into separately. It's like the border control and immigration debate. We keep mixing "how do we control the border?" with "who should be allowed to come in or stay in?" They are two related but distinct problems.

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I can't understand how (it

I can't understand how (it seems to me) it rises to a level of a fundamental doctrine of Scripture and used as a clear basis of separation

Greg, let me throw this scenario out and see how you respond to it: Let's say you have a friend that you have over for dinner and he constantly speaks to your wife in what you believe in a inappropriate and disrespectful manner. At times he yells at her, uses a sarcastic tone of voice in his compliments, or perhaps uses a tone of voice that indicates a close level of familiarity towards a romantic direction.

How would you respond to this friend? Would you continue to have him over?

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I do see a major difference

I do see a major difference between personal and ecclesiastical separation, but I realize we are trying to establish principles and applications. I'm also assuming that in your scenario you are referring to a professing Christian.

I would use clear Scriptural commands related to proper speech and apply them to this situation. I would use Matthew 18 as an offended brother to work though this situation.

I could be wrong, but I'm guessing you would use the same approach (examine clear Scriptural commands and apply them to the situation) as it relates to how we worship God.

So if I may jump ahead, you find a lot of similarity between the way tone of voice communicates and the way music communicates. Is that right?

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My point is only that you

My point is only that you probably recognize the value of the conservative argument in other places. You would not continue to have that guy over to your house unless he changed, and you would do it out of respect and honor for your wife. You said you couldn't see how the conservatives separate, yet I think here you would do exactly what the conservatives do. They believe that the way we talk to God matters (probably as much if not more than how someone talks to and about our wives), and that when someone consistently does it wrongly (in their judgment) there can be no fellowship, or having them over for dinner in the illustration. They may be right or wrong about that, but it should fairly easy to see why they do it.

It may be as simple as just not working together when music is involved. It may be formal separation of some sort. It probably depends on the person.

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Selective cooperation vs punitive separation

I've pointed this out before in other threads/articles, but one of the problems in separation doctrine & practice is that there is some variety in how people use the term. Some use "separation" to include any "not together" situation, from a natural geographical distance to a conscious shunning and everything in between.

All of these forms of "not together" do occur, obviously, but where we run into trouble is when we're relating these to Scripture. In the Bible "have no company with him" is a punitive act. It happens after other steps have occurred and it isn't the same thing at all as selective non-cooperation or just natural/geographical non-cooperation. The latter happens by default and we have to go out of our way to "get together." I'm not sure the NT speaks of that at all.

But this important category of matters of conscience usually calls for selective non-cooperation rather than punitive separation. It's usually a case of "I can work with group A or group B, but there isn't really enough time and energy to do both, so I'll work with A because they agree my/our sensibilities in more matters of importance to us."

My vote is for not calling this "separation."

But I think it's already been demonstrated in this thread that sometimes a matter of conscience can be a basis for separation in the fullest sense. When it should be or should not be is quite a different topic from the culture and style/form debate, though.

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understanding the nature of a "conviction"

1. Preferences is probably better rephrased as "convictions." I think we're discussing people 'imposing' their convictions (not really preferences) on others.

 

2. convictions are important for the individual or even group, but they are not universal. they are important because they are expressions of faith/belief. if something is a sin for you, in this realm of convictions, then that's a serious thing. for you.

 

3. convictions are subject to change and convictions are formed somewhat subjectively--one's beliefs, information, associations, background.

 

4. as a person matures, i think these "convictions" (debatable areas) become less an issue of sin for that person, maybe the standards loosen, or they remain but with the understanding that others can legitimately have differing convictions.

5. I think the whole "separation" thing and music, well, it's different from separating from doctrinal heresy. I think it needs to be presented as more of a wisdom issue in one's life or one's church's life. not a sin issue.

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Larry wrote:My point is only

Larry wrote:

My point is only that you probably recognize the value of the conservative argument in other places. You would not continue to have that guy over to your house unless he changed, and you would do it out of respect and honor for your wife. You said you couldn't see how the conservatives separate, yet I think here you would do exactly what the conservatives do. They believe that the way we talk to God matters (probably as much if not more than how someone talks to and about our wives), and that when someone consistently does it wrongly (in their judgment) there can be no fellowship, or having them over for dinner in the illustration. They may be right or wrong about that, but it should fairly easy to see why they do it.

It may be as simple as just not working together when music is involved. It may be formal separation of some sort. It probably depends on the person.

I understand what you are saying, Larry. Thank you for the analogy, because it is helpful to understand the perspective of the "conservatives."

But let's explore the analogy a little further--the analogy of this guy over at my house whose tone of voice or body language communicates rudeness or inappropriate flirtatiousness with my wife. We all understand how powerful non-verbal communication (body language, gestures, tone of voice, facial expressions) is. We all also understand that non-verbal communication are subjective and is culturally determined.

Because it is subjective, it can be missed, misunderstood, or misinterpreted. Obviously there are many times when non-verbal communication is anything but subtle. If my Christian friend who is over for dinner at my house says to my wife, "Thanks for a GREAT dinner!" but rolls his eyes, makes a choking gesture with his hands around his own throat, and emphasizes 'GREAT' in a clearly sarcastic way, I'm sure if we gathered 100 people in my house from around the neighborhood they would nearly all recognize his sarcasm and rudeness. If my friend said to my wife, "Thanks for the great dinner!" but smiled as he said it, and I said to him, "How rude of you to smile when you complimented my wife! You obviously weren't serious with your compliment! The Bible says let your speech be gracious, and so I need to ask you to leave and never come back", we might find a difference of opinion among those same 100 people as to whether my friend was being serious or was joking and as to whether he was sincere or being sarcastic, but we would probably find no difference of opinion that I was the one being rude.

Likewise, because non-verbal communication is culturally determined (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonverbal_communication#Across_cultures -- yes, I am citing Wikipedia, but this is hardly disputed, I would imagine), it can vary in meaning over time and across cultures. There is no inherent meaning in particular gestures, tones of voice, facial expressions, etc. Rolling one's eyes does not inherently communicate sarcasm, but for whatever reason does communicate that in our time and culture. If when my friend (I'm not sure this guy is going to be my friend much longer) is leaving, he grabs my wife's hands with both of his hands, looks her up and down, winks at her, and says, "I sure had a great time here tonight" in a sultry voice, no doubt all 100 of those same people (we have a big house in this analogy) would say, "That was inappropriate!" But let's say he reaches his hand out to shake her hand with a normal handshake, looks her in the eye and says, "I sure had a great time here tonight!" and then turns to leave. Then I say, "Hey, quit hitting on my wife! The Bible says the marriage bed is sacred!" He responds, "What? What are you talking about?" I say, "You initiated a handshake with her and made eye contact with her! You were obviously hitting on her!" He says, "So? That doesn't mean I was hitting on her!" I say, "Well, in the 1950s, if a black man initiated a handshake with a white woman in the South and made eye contact with her, he was hitting on her, and so obviously that is what that means. And because you just hit on my wife, I never want you to visit my house again." I would wager that most of those (here they are again) same 100 people will recommend I be committed.

I agree with you that music has many similarities to non-verbal communication. I would argue that its meaning is somewhat (yes, I am qualifying this slightly) subjective and culturally determined. But note that I absolutely do not deny that music communicates some kind of meaning. A high percentage of those 100 people would probably tell you thrash metal or hard core punk communicates something to do with anger or rage. That's why I find it really hard to think about using certain genres for praising God.

The problem with most of the arguments I've heard for music through the years is that they argue for some kind of objective and inherent meaning in musical style. Because an emphasis on the offbeat communicated sex and drugs in the 1950s, therefore it means that today. Because drums were used to call African natives to idol worship, they shouldn't be used in worship in America today, and so on. (I realize not every music conservative is making these kinds of arguments, but no one can deny these arguments are still being made.) I seriously doubt if we polled 100 people from the community about what our music communicates when we play "Our God Is Greater" using the instrumentation that we use that hardly any of them would say "sensuality."

The problem I have, and--if I understand him correctly (although he expressed it much more articulately than I)--Bob Bixby has, is this objective and inherent view of meaning in musical style is used as the basis for separation in music. Or, even if music is acknowledged to be somewhat subjective and culturally determined, an extreme view of what it means/communicates is used as the basis for separation. This extreme view is based not on clear Scriptural principles, but on intellectual and cultural arguments very difficult for the average person or the average Christian to fully understand. Additionally, these arguments are not so cut and dried as they are presented to be. If a full understanding of Jonathan Edwards' view of the affections necessarily leads to musical conservatism, John Piper must not really understand Jonathan Edwards' view of the affections.

Anyway, I am starting to ramble. Thanks for the interaction, Larry, it is thought-provoking.

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questions for Greg Long

Greg Long wrote:

I agree with you that music has many similarities to non-verbal communication. I would argue that its meaning is somewhat (yes, I am qualifying this slightly) subjective and culturally determined. But note that I absolutely do not deny that music communicates some kind of meaning. A high percentage of those 100 people would probably tell you thrash metal or hard core punk communicates something to do with anger or rage. That's why I find it really hard to think about using certain genres for praising God.

Greg, I've been following this conversation while too busy to jump in and comment. But I still have questions and hope you will have time to consider them.

From this paragraph, you seem to be agreeing that some music communicates inappropriate messages for worship, is that correct?

With your specific example of thrash metal/hard core punk, is the meaning simply a subjective matter of culture or is it possible that it is inherent in the expression itself?

Is thinking that it is hard to use certain genres for praising God merely a matter of majority rule (or a super-majority, i.e. "A high percentage of those 100 people")?

Greg Long wrote:
The problem with most of the arguments I've heard for music through the years is that they argue for some kind of objective and inherent meaning in musical style. Because an emphasis on the offbeat communicated sex and drugs in the 1950s, therefore it means that today. Because drums were used to call African natives to idol worship, they shouldn't be used in worship in America today, and so on. (I realize not every music conservative is making these kinds of arguments, but no one can deny these arguments are still being made.) I seriously doubt if we polled 100 people from the community about what our music communicates when we play "Our God Is Greater" using the instrumentation that we use that hardly any of them would say "sensuality."

I agree that there are cultural elements to meaning and that those elements do change from culture to culture and from era to era.

However, is it possible for some elements of music to communicate inappropriately for worship no matter how far removed from the cultural context?

If yes, how do you determine that?

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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We all also understand that

We all also understand that non-verbal communication are subjective and is culturally determined.

For the most part yes, but probably not entirely. If someone punches you in the face, it probably means the same thing everywhere. But that's an aside.

I am not trying to advance the conservative argument with respect to separation, particularly since as I said, they probably would not agree with what we do here. I was only responding to your comments that you didn't understand it, so I offered an illustration of I how I see their argument. And I think your interaction with it here shows you do understand it, and how separation is a natural conclusion for those who hold it. I think I understand why they say what they do.

That's why I find it really hard to think about using certain genres for praising God.

So what would your relationship be with people who use these genres for praising God? Would you join freely with them and encourage them? Would you recommend others join with them? Would you simply not participate with them? What would you do?

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Greg

That's why I find it really hard to think about using certain genres for praising God.

I can't speak for Greg, but if/when I'm looking for songs - especially for a congregation vs. individual worship or enjoyment - I'm looking for a song at it's merits, not whether or not it fits into a particular genre.  Genre, as a category, is almost completely worthless to me.

As I said before, the first time I heard "Behold Your God" by SGM, my first thought wasn't "Sovereign Grace Music!" or "Traditional Music!" or whatever.  My first thought was "Wow, what a great, doctrinally sound song." and also "I wanted to sing with it".

Same with several others by SGM: 'Plead for Me', 'Father, How Sweet', 'Our Song From Age To Age', and 'All I Have Is Christ', for starters. It wasn't that I became a SGM groupie and then went looking to use their stuff everywhere - it's that SGM songs were songs that were high quality, doctrinally sturdy, and singable/teachable, so I started paying attention to what they were putting out as a result. 

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songs that were high

songs that were high quality

Hi Jay,

Can you describe what you mean by this? 

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Good questions for all...

Don Johnson wrote:

However, is it possible for some elements of music to communicate inappropriately for worship no matter how far removed from the cultural context?

If yes, how do you determine that?


Don, I think that these two questions are those that people on all sides of this discussion would want to know the answers to.

I know you are asking someone from the "modern" point of view to answer this, but I haven't gotten good answers on these from the conservative/traditional side either, not even from those who are supposedly the most studied. The conservative side is the one I'm on from practice and preference, but to date I've heard no really good arguments from that side on *why* only certain traditional music meets God's standards (or *if*, in point of fact, that certain traditional music truly does meet God's standards).

Dave Barnhart

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does God have music standards?

dcbii wrote:
(or *if*, in point of fact, that certain traditional music truly does meet God's standards).
I dont really think God thinks about this the way we are thinking about it.

 

like, when I was reading some of the conservative music stuff yrs ago, a question stuck with me--"Can you see this (imagine) this music being played before a holy God?" It's that "meet God's standards" idea.

 

it stuck with me at the time, but now, I really don't think/see that God evaluates our music this way. 1) I mean, what really is good enough for heaven and a holy God? It assumes our ideas of greatness, for one thing. 2) God's standards, to a large degree, is what is going on in our hearts while we're singing. 3) there is somehting else I can't put my finger on.

 

but my point is that often we have this  idea of God's standard of music or in a way that I don't think is in Scripture.

FWIW

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Why it can't be handled differently from doctrine

On the idea that what we use in worship is a different matter from how we handle doctrine... I'm not entirely sure what you mean. Would it be:

  • a. That what we do (even in worship) is not as important as what we believe?
  • b. That what we believe or do when we apply Scripture is not as important as the things Scripture teaches directly?
  • c. That musical form (aka style) is inherently less important than other applications of Scripture?

I suppose other possibilities exist. But I'll answer all three of these.

In the case of a., I don't think it's possible ultimately to separate orthopraxy entirely from orthodoxy. It's all obedience or disobedience, one in mind and one in action. 

In the case of b., there is almost always less certainty. I'm not sure it follows that there is always less importance. Some of the examples I mentioned upthread a ways illustrate the point. A new one: If a pastor gambles a large part of his paycheck away every month, most churches would take that very seriously and discipline him in some way. But where is the chapter and verse on that? Principles have to be derived from multiple passages and applied. But is it less important? Maybe, but it's sure not obvious that this is the case.

In the case of c., well that's really what the debate is about. Form, meaning, impact on the mind and affections, the relationship of these to changing culture--all with the goal of determining what is suitable for corporate worship. These are nontrivial questions, so we can't  just assert that they don't matter. It's necessary to make a case either that they don't or that they do and why.

Because the subject is corporate worship, we don't quite have the luxury of dealing with the question as an individual-liberty situation. It doesn't precisely fit Romans 14 because there is no way individuals can each do their own thing within a single congregation. There must be some kind of decision about how the entire body will worship when they worship together.

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Behold Your God

Jay wrote:

That's why I find it really hard to think about using certain genres for praising God.

I can't speak for Greg, but if/when I'm looking for songs - especially for a congregation vs. individual worship or enjoyment - I'm looking for a song at it's merits, not whether or not it fits into a particular genre.  Genre, as a category, is almost completely worthless to me.

As I said before, the first time I heard "Behold Your God" by SGM, my first thought wasn't "Sovereign Grace Music!" or "Traditional Music!" or whatever.  My first thought was "Wow, what a great, doctrinally sound song." and also "I wanted to sing with it".

Same with several others by SGM: 'Plead for Me', 'Father, How Sweet', 'Our Song From Age To Age', and 'All I Have Is Christ', for starters. It wasn't that I became a SGM groupie and then went looking to use their stuff everywhere - it's that SGM songs were songs that were high quality, doctrinally sturdy, and singable/teachable, so I started paying attention to what they were putting out as a result. 

Every time that I listen to and sing "Behold Your God" my mind goes straight to Isaiah 40.  It is as if the song comes straight from the text there.  I love how awesomely incomparable God is!  And when people call that music bad or evil and want to separate from it; it just makes me cringe and very sad.

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Every time that I listen to

Every time that I listen to and sing "Behold Your God" my mind goes straight to Isaiah 40.

 

Interestingly, when I hear it, my mind goes straight a theme from Lost.  But that's mostly my own fault. 

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God's standards?

Anne Sokol wrote:

but my point is that often we have this  idea of God's standard of music or in a way that I don't think is in Scripture.


I certainly can't say that God thinks of music in the same terms we do. However, one argument that is often used is that certain music is not proper for use when worshiping a holy God. If we are going to use any music at all then, that implies that some music must then be proper, and that implies (though it might not be thought of this way by those making the argument) that such music meets God's standards, or we could not present it to him as acceptable worship.

I suppose someone could make an argument that the things we are to think upon (from Phil 4:8, things that are true, honest, just, etc.) could not include anything done by man, since nothing we do could be true, honest, just, etc. in an absolute sense.

But if anything we do can be presented to God as acceptable worship, there must be a way to determine its level of propriety (otherwise, we are back to using the RPW and including nothing that is not directly commanded, and as was discussed in this thread or another, even that is not a perfect solution).

So I still think that Don's questions apply to all believers. For me, his questions about music lead to a more general question: How do we prove that what we present God (in music or any area) is acceptable to him?

Dave Barnhart

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Indeed

DavidO wrote:

songs that were high quality

Hi Jay,

Can you describe what you mean by this? 

 

You took the words right out of my mouth. Not only is "high quality" subjective, but, in the case of SGM, rather questionable with regards to musical excellence.

Not at all saying I don't appreciate or even like various SGM productions, mind you. Just fascinating to see someone blanket SGM with the term High Quality. Smile

 

V/r

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg

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Perhaps this will be a

Perhaps this will be a helpful contribution even though it's a little dated: http://heidelblog.net/2013/05/reformed-churches-of-nassau-1578-no-organs...

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DavidO wrote: Every time that

DavidO wrote:

Every time that I listen to and sing "Behold Your God" my mind goes straight to Isaiah 40.

 

Interestingly, when I hear it, my mind goes straight a theme from Lost.  But that's mostly my own fault. 

 

And every time I hear John Petersen's "Coming Again" I'm in high school at the roller skating rink hoping no one from church finds out I'm there.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

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Me, I think of ice skating. 

Me, I think of ice skating.  My mother had a Dutch friend so the two stay at home moms would take us kids to the ice rink.

Ron Bean wrote:

And every time I hear John Petersen's "Coming Again" I'm in high school at the roller skating rink hoping no one from church finds out I'm there.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

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Ron Bean wrote: And every

Ron Bean wrote:

And every time I hear John Petersen's "Coming Again" I'm in high school at the roller skating rink hoping no one from church finds out I'm there.

You give 3/4 and 6/8 a bad name ;)

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What, no love for the 2nd

What, no love for the 2nd Advent Waltz?  Tsk, tsk.

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"simply a subjective matter.."?

Don Johnson wrote:

Greg Long wrote:

I agree with you that music has many similarities to non-verbal communication. I would argue that its meaning is somewhat (yes, I am qualifying this slightly) subjective and culturally determined. But note that I absolutely do not deny that music communicates some kind of meaning. A high percentage of those 100 people would probably tell you thrash metal or hard core punk communicates something to do with anger or rage. That's why I find it really hard to think about using certain genres for praising God.

Greg, I've been following this conversation while too busy to jump in and comment. But I still have questions and hope you will have time to consider them.

From this paragraph, you seem to be agreeing that some music communicates inappropriate messages for worship, is that correct?

With your specific example of thrash metal/hard core punk, is the meaning simply a subjective matter of culture or is it possible that it is inherent in the expression itself?

Is thinking that it is hard to use certain genres for praising God merely a matter of majority rule (or a super-majority, i.e. "A high percentage of those 100 people")?

Greg Long wrote:
The problem with most of the arguments I've heard for music through the years is that they argue for some kind of objective and inherent meaning in musical style. Because an emphasis on the offbeat communicated sex and drugs in the 1950s, therefore it means that today. Because drums were used to call African natives to idol worship, they shouldn't be used in worship in America today, and so on. (I realize not every music conservative is making these kinds of arguments, but no one can deny these arguments are still being made.) I seriously doubt if we polled 100 people from the community about what our music communicates when we play "Our God Is Greater" using the instrumentation that we use that hardly any of them would say "sensuality."

I agree that there are cultural elements to meaning and that those elements do change from culture to culture and from era to era.

However, is it possible for some elements of music to communicate inappropriately for worship no matter how far removed from the cultural context?

If yes, how do you determine that?

This I think is the point of confusion:

If music is a language then we can't speak of something "simply being a subjective matter" of anything. Meaning isn't inherent to a set of inkblots on a page, for example. Meaning is created by my application of the knowledge of our shared culture to ascertain your intentions. If I come from a culture where written language is unknown, your particular set of squiggles would be meaningless to me, even if they conveyed great evil. They wouldn't be inherently anything.

I actually don't think music is just a language, though. That is, it has a biological function as well that seems to be universal: fast, beaty music pumps us up; complex, sophisticated music makes us think better. Thus there is something objective to music as well.

Now, if my subjective cultural experience conveys to me that a particular musical arrangement communicates something sinful, then I suppose it would be wrong for me. But it's hard for me to see how, beyond former associations, music can convey so specifically as to communicate unrighteousness universally.

This is where I get stuck. Scott Aniol and others seem to be saying that music can communicate such nuances, not just biological, emotional, or associational responses, but actual sin and immorality. I don't see how. If rap music doesn't make me think evil, sensual thoughts, I'm simply not thinking evil sensual thoughts. If loud, beaty music makes me work out better in the weight room, then is it also making me immoral simultaneously? How? Is there another category I'm missing?

In terms of worship, I think it's easier than we make it out to be: the function of everything in the church is to edify, right? How well does music that drowns out meaningful lyrics (or has ridiculous or heretical lyrics) with loud or distracting music edify? Communicating to the emotions is a quick fix; a temporary buzz. Communicating to the spirit through the mind, encouraging reflection and thought with deep, meaningful lyrics married to appropriate music with a supporting function , that will last a long time and grow, organically creating emotions that are far richer, far more powerful and more profound, than anything a "Jesus is My Girlfriend" song set to a fast-moving pop tune could ever hope to accomplish.

神是爱

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Fixes the extremes

In terms of worship, I think it's easier than we make it out to be: the function of everything in the church is to edify, right? How well does music that drowns out meaningful lyrics (or has ridiculous or heretical lyrics) with loud or distracting music edify? Communicating to the emotions is a quick fix; a temporary buzz. Communicating to the spirit through the mind, encouraging reflection and thought with deep, meaningful lyrics married to appropriate music with a supporting function , that will last a long time and grow, organically creating emotions that are far richer, far more powerful and more profound, than anything a "Jesus is My Girlfriend" song set to a fast-moving pop tune could ever hope to accomplish.

I do think the extremes are pretty easily eliminated this way. Some don't see how even the extremes are eliminated, but those kinds of commitments tend to narrow the field a good bit. But for a lot of us, it's not enough because those principles take us to far more conservative applications than the same principles do for others.

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this is interesting

dcbii wrote:
one argument that is often used is that certain music is not proper for use when worshiping a holy God. If we are going to use any music at all then, that implies that some music must then be proper, and that implies (though it might not be thought of this way by those making the argument) that such music meets God's standards, or we could not present it to him as acceptable worship.
yes, this is something we need to think through.

After the indwelling of the Spirit, can we have rules about various forms of music being inherently sinful or not? I think we need to answer this question. and Im talking just about musical form, not lifestyles of the singers, etc. After God pronounced all things good (the meat to Peter), pure to the pure, did away with the OT forms of communicating holiness, put the Spirit inside of us, can we categorically say that certain forms of music are inherently sinful for the christian? (And I mean even heavy metal and rap.) 

I want to know Smile

(I'm not really talking about appropriateness, singability, etc, yet.)

 

dcbii wrote:
For me, his questions about music lead to a more general question: How do we prove that what we present God (in music or any area) is acceptable to him?
my guess it that it boils down to what is in our hearts while we sing and the rest is wisdom questions about (corporate or personal listening) appropriateness, singability, sense of beauty, tastefulness, etc.

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written symbols are not the same as language

Andrew K. wrote:

This I think is the point of confusion:

If music is a language then we can't speak of something "simply being a subjective matter" of anything. Meaning isn't inherent to a set of inkblots on a page, for example. Meaning is created by my application of the knowledge of our shared culture to ascertain your intentions. If I come from a culture where written language is unknown, your particular set of squiggles would be meaningless to me, even if they conveyed great evil. They wouldn't be inherently anything.

On this point, language isn't something that is written on a page. Writing is separate from language, has nothing to do with language itself. That is like saying musical scores are actually  music.... I can see it all now, some guy heads down to the music store and just sits there absorbed in the scores, then goes home and says, "I had a great concert at the music store today." All he did was look at scores.

Written language is merely a symbol of the actual language.

Where you get the parallels with music is not even in the individual words of language, but the tones of language. "I love you," has many meanings, depending on the tone of the speaker (and other non-verbal clues). The same written score can convey different meanings depending on tones and stylings, even though the basic units of musical notation are identical.

So the inherent meaning (if it exists) exists in the sounds of the language of music. The question is whether that meaning is inherent in the music itself or if the meaning is cultural. My opinion is that it is a combination of both, but some styles of music by themselves carry a consistent meaning that is cross -cultural: what does the example given ["thrash metal or hard core punk"] convey? I'd suggest that it conveys anger, rebellion, etc. I can't really imagine a time when it would cease to convey these moods.

I'm leaving off some of your other points, I agree to some extent, but wanted to address this one point where what you said seemed to me to go quite far off the rails.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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Anne, get your passages straight

Anne Sokol wrote:

After God pronounced all things good (the meat to Peter), pure to the pure, did away with the OT forms of communicating holiness, put the Spirit inside of us, can we categorically say that certain forms of music are inherently sinful for the christian? (And I mean even heavy metal and rap.) 

Anne, you are badly misinterpreting the Scripture here... and I think you are probably mixing up more than one passage. The experience in Acts where God spoke to Peter says this:

Acts 10:15 Again a voice came to him a second time, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy."

So God didn't pronounce all things good, he pronounced all kinds of meat clean, suitable for human consumption.

The other passage you are probably thinking of is 1 Tim 4.1-5:

1 Timothy 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; 5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

But here God is not pronouncing "all things" good, but he is referring to foods, non to be abstained from if received with gratitude as the context clearly shows.

This is one of the most badly interpreted passages in the whole debate. It has nothing to do with music.

Maranatha! Don Johnson Jer 33.3

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I dont think I agree with your assertionsh here, but

let me ask you some other questions:

Are certain forms of music inherently sinful? Yes/why. or No.

Will sin be created in  a person just by hearing certain forms of music? Yes/how or No, 

What makes your position different from the Amish or Mennonites who only have one style of clothing in their community, for example?

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The Big Question

Anne Sokol wrote:

Are certain forms of music inherently sinful?

Much to the dismay of us lovers of conservatism/haters of CCM, this always seems to be the supreme, unanswerable question. At least, I haven't heard anyone answer them using specific principles and responsible applications from scripture. And, to me, that is why no one can agree on what the real debate is - is it one of preference/liberty or is it one of conviction based on more than a feeling?

 

V/r

Ashamed of Jesus! of that Friend On whom for heaven my hopes depend! It must not be! be this my shame, That I no more revere His name. -Joseph Grigg

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Will sin be created in  a

Will sin be created in  a person just by hearing certain forms of music? Yes/how

I think this may, at least initially, focus on the wrong end of the equation, namely, the going into a man, to paraphrase Jesus (admittedly referring to food specifically).

But before anyone hears music, someone has to make it.  Music truly does come out of a man.  I suggest that all human expressions are able to be judged on a moral basis.  Perhaps not by humans always, but, aren't all human expressions either moral or immoral?  Are some amoral?  Music is a raw material in one sense, like copper ore and . . . whatever else bronze is made from.  But once its refined and cast as a statue, cannot that statue be judged on a moral basis?  Why would we think that when someone puts notes to paper and makes an aural expression from those raw materials it cannot similarly be judged.

As for automatically creating sin in a person, I don't think that has to be a result.  I do think a repeated hearer of music cannot help but be influenced toward a sensibility engendered by that piece of music. 

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Don Johnson wrote: Anne Sokol

Don Johnson wrote:

Anne Sokol wrote:

After God pronounced all things good (the meat to Peter), pure to the pure, did away with the OT forms of communicating holiness, put the Spirit inside of us, can we categorically say that certain forms of music are inherently sinful for the christian? (And I mean even heavy metal and rap.) 

Anne, you are badly misinterpreting the Scripture here... and I think you are probably mixing up more than one passage. The experience in Acts where God spoke to Peter says this:

Acts 10:15 Again a voice came to him a second time, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy."

So God didn't pronounce all things good, he pronounced all kinds of meat clean, suitable for human consumption.

The other passage you are probably thinking of is 1 Tim 4.1-5:

1 Timothy 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; 5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

But here God is not pronouncing "all things" good, but he is referring to foods, non to be abstained from if received with gratitude as the context clearly shows.

This is one of the most badly interpreted passages in the whole debate. It has nothing to do with music.

 

Not just foods, but marriage as well.  Food and marriage represent different aspects of culture.  And its hard to explain "everything" if it only referred to foods.    Many other conservative commentators take this view as well.  Here is one example. http://sharperiron.org/comment/50438#comment-50438  To say that this is the one of the most badly interpreted passages in the whole debate seems more based on your opinion.  

One other question, would you also state that the "disorderly brother" in II Thess. 3 only refers to a lazy person that refuses to work?  That is the context of the passage.  Interestingly enough  I've seen the disorderly brother  applied to just about everything but the kitchen sink in fundamentalist circles.  How come context is so important in I Tim 4 but not in II Thess. 3?   

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Extremes

Aaron Blumer wrote:

In terms of worship, I think it's easier than we make it out to be: the function of everything in the church is to edify, right? How well does music that drowns out meaningful lyrics (or has ridiculous or heretical lyrics) with loud or distracting music edify? Communicating to the emotions is a quick fix; a temporary buzz. Communicating to the spirit through the mind, encouraging reflection and thought with deep, meaningful lyrics married to appropriate music with a supporting function , that will last a long time and grow, organically creating emotions that are far richer, far more powerful and more profound, than anything a "Jesus is My Girlfriend" song set to a fast-moving pop tune could ever hope to accomplish.

I do think the extremes are pretty easily eliminated this way. Some don't see how even the extremes are eliminated, but those kinds of commitments tend to narrow the field a good bit. But for a lot of us, it's not enough because those principles take us to far more conservative applications than the same principles do for others.

I agree that the extremes can be fairly easily eliminated with scriptural principles (at least as I consider them).  However, that still leaves quite a range of choices that still are strongly disagreed on.  For my personal use, the elimination of extremes with obvious scriptural principles leaves me with a good first cut that often is enough -- it's a good rule of thumb for personal listening.  Sometimes, though, I might have some discomfort with whatever makes the first cut, and then I'm willing to remove that based on that discomfort (conscience, perhaps?), but at that point, I don't have solid ground for making decisions for others.  They might be uncomfortable with different songs for different reasons, and then their choices will differ from mine.  For me, that is the point where this debate really begins, and why I wish we could answer the hard questions.

Dave Barnhart

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Expression

DavidO wrote:

Will sin be created in  a person just by hearing certain forms of music? Yes/how

But before anyone hears music, someone has to make it.  Music truly does come out of a man.  I suggest that all human expressions are able to be judged on a moral basis.  Perhaps not by humans always, but, aren't all human expressions either moral or immoral?  Are some amoral?  Music is a raw material in one sense, like copper ore and . . . whatever else bronze is made from.  But once its refined and cast as a statue, cannot that statue be judged on a moral basis?  Why would we think that when someone puts notes to paper and makes an aural expression from those raw materials it cannot similarly be judged.

I think things created by man can be judged, but it's harder, and not always unambiguous.  If one man makes a sword to murder his neighbor, and one makes one for protection, how do we see this in the object?  And would the former sword truly be evil?  If a statue isn't indecent in appearance or doing anything sinful in action, again, how would we judge it sinful if we don't already know the intention of its creator?  Or what of a building originally created as a brothel, but later put to another purpose with no obvious signs of its former use?

That is the problem I see with judging some music.  The writer might indeed have had either good or evil intentions when writing it, but despite the efforts of the writer, it may not be at all obvious that the intentions are portrayed well in the music.  Someone far removed from it in time or culture might not see the intent at all.  For associational purposes, as long as we would know the purpose, then it would make sense to avoid use of it, but if we don't know, then I'm not sure we really need to worry about it -- think idol meat that has an origin we don't know.

Also, the argument about expression is only useful to say how it is received by others, not to judge "inherent" value.  A copper statue that cannot be seen by a blind man would not be evil for him, even if it depicted evil.  The evil of the statue would be in what it makes people think when looking at it, not in the object itself.

None of this means we can't or shouldn't judge, of course.  It's just that judgments may be completely different, and when that happens, we will still have strong disagreement.

Dave Barnhart

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1 Timothy 4 revisited

Joel S., as you recall on another thread I asked how you arrived at the idea that God created CCM and pronounced it "good." You kindly directed me to your comments regarding that passage and the various commentary quotes you provided. I read your post and the commentary quotes and they were teaching that the "all creatures" (pan ktisma -- sorry I don't know how to use the greek font on here) were referring to things God created that believers are to receive with thanksgiving. These are consumable, receivable things that God created.

Now, in a previous thread you wrote

But I will not reject something that I believe God has declared good (I Timothy 4:1-5).  . . .  I don't think you would like me to assume that because of your convictions against CCM that I believe you are cozying up to the doctrine of demons because you are rejecting something that God declared good! (I Tim. 4:1-5) 

In that quote it looks like you're saying that God created CCM and declared it "good" therefore it should not be rejected. If we're talking about music that is acceptable to God and proper for His people to offer to Him in worship, then it is not something that we are receiving or consuming. That is how plugging the "CCM is good because God created it" argument into that passage just doesn't seem to fit. That passage is about the things God created that we are to receive with thanksgiving. It is not addressing our worship to God; what we give/offer to God.

Joel, I read your various comments and gave them some thought and study. As you can see I've taken several days to do that and am not taking lightly the fact that I'm disagreeing with you. I'm just giving it that ole Berean try, if you will, and am not seeing that what you claim is what the Bible is teaching in that instance.

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Continuing on...

JNoël wrote:

DavidO wrote:

songs that were high quality

Hi Jay,

Can you describe what you mean by this? 

You took the words right out of my mouth. Not only is "high quality" subjective, but, in the case of SGM, rather questionable with regards to musical excellence.

Not at all saying I don't appreciate or even like various SGM productions, mind you. Just fascinating to see someone blanket SGM with the term High Quality. Smile

V/r

 

No.

 

Seriously, guys - I'm not sure that I can define 'high quality' in a way that is going to satisfy you, or Don, or any other of the people opposed to SGM songs on this site.  I'm not even sure that you could define 'high quality' that wouldn't depend on your underlying musical convictions and presuppositions.  I suspect that 'high quality' in your case doesn't mean 'high quality' - it means that there is a style used that you equate with high quality (like a service with handbells, choirs, and a full orchestra - not that any of these things are bad).

At what point have we been so confused / deceived that we have to sit around and say songs that beautiful in melody, praise the Lord, and create a desire to worship God are sinful or wrong and that God won't accept it?  Or that we can't use them because they are of 'inferior' or 'low' quality?  Where would that kind of critical spirit or attitude come from?  It certainly wouldn't come from God Himself.  I doubt highly that there are angels looking down on us and going "Oh, well - they're so close!  All they needed to do was add a _____________ and they'd have gotten it right and God would have accepted it!"

There are all kinds of passages in the Bible that talk about sacrifices and worship.  Every one I can think of was either accepted or condemned on the basis of the heart/intent of the person who offered it.  God explicitly defined how he wanted the sacrifices given in the OT, but by the end of that section of the Bible, we're reading things like:

I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,  I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. -Amos 5:21-24

In the New Testament, we see Jesus accepting some kinds of worship even though the forms varied:

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (John 9:35-39, ESV)

He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:29-33, ESV)

Which is actually, kind of, the whole problem in a nutshell.  If you're looking for me to give you a clear and principled form that God will always accept, then I can't help you.

Don - if you're the one that thinks that 1 Tim. 4:4-5's reference to 'everything' doesn't mean 'everything', then I'd be really interested in hearing why.  I know that you and Brenda T keep saying it's the whole section, but it's my opinion that Paul is explicitly addressing the doctrines of demons and false teachers in v. 1-3, and flatly contradicts the false errant teaching by claiming that everything created by God is good in verses 4-5.  I'll check my commentaries when I get home tonight.  I think that God created music, so that would include music as well.

I know that Don disagrees with us and says that music is created by man, but I disagree with that.   Wouldn't you argue that Lucifer, before he fell, was involved in music in Heaven?  If so, don't you contradict yourself?

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"It is not because the culture is always changing...but because we are always in need of being re-oriented to the Word that stands over us...that the church can never stand still." - M. Horton

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dcbii wrote:I think things

dcbii wrote:
I think things created by man can be judged, but it's harder, and not always unambiguous.  If one man makes a sword to murder his neighbor, and one makes one for protection, how do we see this in the object?  And would the former sword truly be evil?  If a statue isn't indecent in appearance or doing anything sinful in action, again, how would we judge it sinful if we don't already know the intention of its creator?  Or what of a building originally created as a brothel, but later put to another purpose with no obvious signs of its former use?

All decent points.  I think it's helpful to realize that the making of a sword is a use of material, but the employment of that sword is still another use.  So the first use can be good but the second use is subject to a separate judgement as well.  This can be simplified by considering a beautiful silver candlestick.  A good use of original material. But as Mr. Plum's body in the library can testify, a good candlestick may be put to evil use.  

Moving on to music, judgments must be made.  They are not always easy, and no one can expect there will be unanimity in those judgments.  But I don't think throwing up our hands and saying all music is "in" is the answer. 

Not that that was my point, my note you quote was intended as a simple answer to Anne's question.

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it means that there is a

it means that there is a style used that you equate with high quality

Actually, no. Or at least it's not that simple.   Hence my comment about Soundforth the other day (bless their hearts). 

songs that are beautiful in melody

This is a judgment.  Does everyone agree on which songs are beautiful?  Is it a matter of taste?  Is there such a thing as bad taste? 

We're not talking about what God accepts.  We're talking about appropriateness.

As to all creation being good.  I personally think God created music.  But God doesn't write the songs we use.  God made the building blocks, we use them--poorly or well, for evil and for good. 

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DavidO wrote I personally

DavidO wrote

I personally think God created music.

Which day? We could weave in a literal 6-day creation debate into this discussion as well. No, wait everyone, I'm not serious -- just kidding. Please don't answer that question.

DavidO, I know what you and others mean when you say God created music. I don't think I've stated the converse of that anywhere. Although I have stated that I don't see that in 1 Tim. 4. So, I hope my comments on that passage were not misunderstood to mean that God didn't create music or didn't create us with the ability to produce music.

God created clay as well. I could take a lump of clay and form it into a lewd symbol or figurine. Did God create the figurine?

 

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