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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Since 2/19/13 10:29:23
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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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Since 5/6/09 20:48:52
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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".

Blogging at Susan Raber Online

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Since 7/9/09 09:36:02
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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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Since 6/2/09 08:15:17
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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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Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

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Since 6/2/09 13:04:13
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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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Since 5/6/09 20:45:47
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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.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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Since 6/2/09 08:15:17
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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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Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

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Since 6/2/09 13:04:13
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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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Since 7/9/09 09:36:02
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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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Since 6/1/09 19:00:00
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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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Since 5/6/09 20:45:47
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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.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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Since 9/5/10 06:48:10
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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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Since 7/9/09 09:36:02
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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

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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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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Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

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School of Religion
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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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Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

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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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Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

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School of Religion
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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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Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

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School of Religion
Liberty University Online

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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, Il. He blogs here

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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).

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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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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Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

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School of Religion
Liberty University Online

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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.

------------------------------
Pastor of Adult Ministries

Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Religion
Liberty University Online

JNoël's picture
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Since 9/5/10 06:48:10
75 posts
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

Aaron Blumer's picture
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Since 6/1/09 19:00:00
7432 posts
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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Since 5/6/09 20:45:47
3666 posts
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.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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Since 6/30/09 10:23:44
484 posts
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

DavidO's picture
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Since 5/3/10 10:36:03
814 posts
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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Since 3/1/10 17:41:04
801 posts
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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Since 5/6/09 20:45:47
3666 posts
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.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Joel Tetreau's picture
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Since 5/6/09 22:30:53
652 posts
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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