Steve Pettit and the Skillman family

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Bert Perry's picture

Don, you're begging the question by assuming the very thing you set out to prove; that there are some inherently worldly forms of music.  If we are to do this, we need some Biblical authority, not just the guilt by association arguments that say that since song A bears superficial resemblance to secular song B, it is somehow tainted.  

Again, if you want to play the guilt by association game, game on, and we're going to take everything by Beethoven, Mozart, and Sibelius out of the hymnal because of their personal lives, not to mention anything coming out of the Salvation Army, and then anything that sounds like something that could have come out of the Salvation Army--which is basically everything since 1950 written in common time.

And then we can disassociate from those songs associated with a church on the wrong side of the Council of Trent (far bigger deal than Elvis' personal life IMO), from those songs associated with a church founded so the king could get a divorce, those from churches associated with some rather hardline Arminianism.....and finally from those Baptists who fell on the wrong side of the dispensational/covenant theology divide.

It's gonna be awfully quiet when we get done, brother.  Hint; if your arguments read like a listing of fallacies of informal logic, you're doing it wrong. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry Nelson's picture

Here's an excerpt from BJU's Student Handbook:

"The following music conflicts with our mission and is therefore excluded from
performance, personal listening on and off campus, or use in student organiza- tions, societies,
student productions, outreach ministries or social media:
•  Any music which, in whole or in part, derives from the following broadly defined genres or their
subgenres
: Rock, Pop, Country, Jazz, Electronic/Techno, Rap/Hip Hop or the fusion of any of these
genres.
•  Any music in which Christian lyrics or biblical texts are set to music which is, in
whole or in part, derived from any of these genres or their subgenres."

- http://www.bju.edu/life-faith/student-handbook.pdf

--------------------

No mention of Bluegrass, specifically, so where (if at all) does it fit into the above?  Well, let's see.  Is Bluegrass a subgenre of any of the listed "broadly defined genres"?  Actually, yes, it is:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_country_genres  (Note: Bluegrass is listed as a subgenre of Country music, a genre of music specifically banned in the excerpt of the BJU Student Handbook quoted above.)

But is Wikipedia the only source that identifies Bluegrass music as a subgenre of Country music?  Not by a long shot.  Here are just a few more, out of countless sources:

https://www.musicgenreslist.com/music-country/

http://musicfly.co/page/country-music-subgenres

https://www.thoughtco.com/country-music-genres-932018

And countless more.........

I don't believe anyone could seriously question the origins of Bluegrass. 

--------------------

So here's what baffles me: How is it that the President of BJU can himself perform (on video, yet!) a style of music that is officially banned by BJU's Student Handbook?

It's incongruities such as this that lead me to believe that BJU's ban on certain styles of music will sooner than later go the way of its bans on interracial dating, movie attendance, and slacks on women.  It's not a question of "if" at this point, but "when."

TylerR's picture

Editor

You wrote:

No, Tyler, you don't get it. It has nothing to do with intent. It has everything to do with style. It has nothing to do with lyrics, it has everything to do with what the sound means.

The secular world knows what its sound means, but you either don't or don't want to know.

You say style is the defining factor, not intent. What is your basis for passing value judgments on style, then, if you throw the intent of the performer out the window? This is a serious question. What is the objective standard you use?

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Don Johnson wrote:

It has nothing to do with intent. It has everything to do with style. It has nothing to do with lyrics, it has everything to do with what the sound means.

I would agree that intent does not affect the style and what that style may communicate inherently, but it's also not irrelevant for meaning.  Because music is in many ways nebulous in its communication, intent can make all the difference.  In a piece of e.g. classical music, it can be difficult to distinguish between music that indicates chaos vs. something like anger.  Knowing the intent of the music can actually affect what communication the listener actually "gets."

I would say that's also true of music from e.g. the 50's, around the beginning of what we call "rock and roll."  A composer could have written a piece to depict something, but heard out of context and time, without knowing the original intent, the listener may get an entirely different meaning from what was intended.  That doesn't mean the music isn't communicating in its style exactly what it has always inherently communicated, but again, because we don't entirely understand what music actually communicates apart from all the contexts, including intent, the eventual result could communicate something entirely different from what it was written to mean.

The fact a composer wrote something and intended to portray something, doesn't mean it actually does so unambiguously.  This is true with even art forms that use words that are much clearer in their meaning.  I think all of us have suffered through classes where we read a poem or other piece of literature, and the teacher asks us what the writer intended to portray.  You get many different meanings when asking the students.  And oftentimes, even when the intent of the piece is known, and can thus be explained to the readers, the reader may still get something else than what was intended.  Music communicates much less clearly than words, and thus is even more easy for a listener to interpret meaning differently from what it was written to communicate.  Knowing the intent can actually change the the understanding of the listener.

Of course, as Don points out, it doesn't affect the inherent meaning of the music.  But just what that meaning is, is what we are arguing over.  There just doesn't exist any standard (we know of) to analyze a piece (or style) of music objectively with 100% accuracy, or maybe even anything close to that.  We all end up to some extent using our gut, hence we are left with "subjective objectivity," and I would argue the subjective part is a lot larger than the objective part, and much more than we are willing to admit.

Dave Barnhart

TylerR's picture

Editor

Lyrics:

Who am I that the highest King
Would welcome me?
I was lost but He brought me in
Oh His love for me
Oh His love for me

Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

Free at last, He has ransomed me
His grace runs deep
While I was a slave to sin
Jesus died for me
Yes He died for me

Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am

I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

TylerR's picture

Editor

Consider this logic:

  • CCM is "worldly" and, no matter how holy and good some of it is, it is inexorably tied to bad associations and questionable characters
  • Therefore CCM ought to be avoided
  • If we don't avoid it, we may unwittingly lead other Christian astray by association with these bad actors

Now, given that logic, please explain why this same logic shouldn't lead to the following conclusion:

  • The internet is "worldly" and, no matter how holy and good some of it is, it is inexorably tied to bad associations and questionable characters
  • Therefore the internet ought to be avoided
  • If we don't avoid it, we may unwittingly lead other Christian astray by association with these bad actors

You can't, can you? You'll argue for discernment and prudence, won't you ... ?

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Don Johnson's picture

You can do better than that. Really bad logic there. Why are you trying so hard?

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

TylerR's picture

Editor

I'm just bored, because I'm waiting to hear an objective standard for judging style that doesn't factor in the intent of the performer!

Our music in our churches is probably precisely the same. I have no ulterior motive to introduce "worldly" music to my church. I'm just willing to admit my preference for style is subjective. I can't find a biblical basis for preferring one style over the other. If an objective basis exists, I'd like to know what it is! So would many other people ...

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

Don, Tyler's comparison is impeccable there.  If the associations of modern music impugn its use in the church, then at the same way the associations of the internet--huge portions of it were paid for basically by porn and continue to be funded that way--impugn its use by believers.  

Now if we were to be logical about the matter, we'd simply remember, ahem, that guilt by association is a fallacy, and ought have no place in our discourse.  Zero.Zip.Nada.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Lee's picture

TylerR wrote:

I'm just bored, because I'm waiting to hear an objective standard for judging style that doesn't factor in the intent of the performer! ...

But intent of the producer/artist/performer does matter.  It might even be what matters most.  I Cor. 6-10 (meat offered to idols) has practically no meaning at all without taking into account the intent of the source (producer if you want to make a parallel) to begin with. 

"...whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. But if any man say unto you, this is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake...(10:27-28)". The meat changed from acceptable to forbidden in a moment although nothing changed at all except knowledge of the intent behind it. 

Lee

Bert Perry's picture

If we assume the intent of the performer, we are begging the question--another basic logical fallacy.  Are we really to assume that, say, the intent of CCM artists is to lead people into sin?  Petra touring with Josh McDowell and teaching apologetics and purity was all about sex, drugs, and the like?  Seriously?  Is Greg Volz of Petra really indistinguishable from Brian Johnson of AC/DC or David Lee Roth of Van Halen?  

Or, more directly, assuming bad motives on the part of CCM artists or listeners is slander or libel, depending on whether the statement is made in verbal or written form.  Neither slander, libel, or begging the question ought to have any place in our discourse.  

Side note; if we wonder why the "worship wars" get so heated, the participants rhetorically asking the other side to effectively "step outside", see above.  If we assume that CCM artists and listeners act with bad intent, it's no surprise that we get into fights.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Don Johnson's picture

TylerR wrote:

Consider this logic:

  • CCM is "worldly" and, no matter how holy and good some of it is, it is inexorably tied to bad associations and questionable characters
  • The internet is "worldly" and, no matter how holy and good some of it is, it is inexorably tied to bad associations and questionable characters

Exactly how are your major premises equivalent? There is only one internet. It is a technological tool, not an art form. There are multiple genres of music. They are produced by the heart, not by technical know-how. Your argument fails at step one.

If you want to say "evangelical blogs are "worldly"" then you have a parallel, although I am not sure you would get agreement.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Larry Nelson's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Is Greg Volz of Petra really indistinguishable from Brian Johnson of AC/DC or David Lee Roth of Van Halen?  

Personally, I've often gotten Steven Curtis Chapman confused with Steven Tyler, and Michael W. Smith with Mick Jagger. 

Or not!    Smile

John E.'s picture

I would think that it would be obvious that Don and I are on opposite sides regarding this issue. Yet, ironically, I think that he and I are closer together than some on this thread who listen to the same music as I do.

For those who are interested, H.R. Rookmaaker, a friend and colleague of Schaeffer, wrote a book titled Modern Art and the Death of a Culture. In the book, Dr. Rookmaaker (a jazz expert, by the way) explains how changing worldviews were communicated by the changing art styles post-enlightenment.

I don't agree with Don's conclusions, but he does raise some questions and points that should be interacted with and not simply dismissed. Culture shapes us, and many of need to do a better job of being aware of what the artists and taste-makers of our generation are intending.   

dmyers's picture

Ha!  There were students (including me) at BJU in 1978-1982 "who view[ed] the school's music rules as anachronistic" then!  

josh p's picture

John E. I am far from a jazz expert but I know a little and secular jazz historians confirm that in my experience. In fact it’s one of the things they brag about.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Some on this thread have warned about the bad influences that may come from listening to CCM. Either our contexts are radically different, or I live in a more pagan society than you do. Here is an excerpt from a real conversation I had with an 18 year old at my church this past week:

  • Her. "They're letting us dress up for Halloween at work. What should I be?"
  • Me: "You should go for something non-controversial; liker a MAGA hat, an NRA t-shirt and a "blue lives matter" pin ..."
  • Her: (laughs)
  • Me: "Or, you could go as a Christian! There's nothing more terrifying."
  • Her: "No, that wouldn't work. I'd be killed. Literally all my co-workers are gay."

She wouldn't literally be killed, of course, but you get the point - this is Western Washington. This is the secular, leftist mecca that is the I-5 corridor. This is real life. CCM is the least of my worries. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Ron Bean's picture

Tyler's comments reminded me of the responses I saw over 50 years ago when I tried to explain to my school friends why I couldn't go see Disney movies, go roller skating, or square dance in PE class. 40 years ago I saw similar responses to prohibitions over blue jeans, facial hair, long side burns, guitars in church, and even IBC Root Beer bottles(appearance of evil you know). 

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

TylerR's picture

Editor

I manage an investigations unit for a state agency. In this capacity, I had to assign an investigator to determine whether a major insurer in WA State discriminated against transgender individuals who wanted breast augmentation surgery. That is, biological men who have had surgery, self-identify as women, and now demand the insurer cover the cost of breast construction. Drugs will only grow breasts so large on biological men; hence the demand for a covered surgical option. 

The insurer initially refused, stating this procedure was only covered for biological women who have had breast cancer, or some other medical issue that forced them to have a breast removed. The transgender individuals gained the support of a local activist organization, and applied political pressure. The insurer retorted that these transgendered individuals (biological men) should feel happy with the small cup-size the drugs give them, because plenty of biological women deal with the same frustrations. The entire case hinges on what is deemed "medically necessary," and that hinges on the individual physician who issues a diagnosis, and that hinges on whatever the latest edition of the DSM says, and the DSM says this is a medical issue, not a psychological problem. In case you weren't aware, the DSM isn't the best foundation for objective truth! 

How on earth am I supposed to supervise and approve an investigation like this, given my worldview? Well, the fact of the matter is that WA law defines that as discrimination, so we substantiated the case and the insurer was fined

This is the mad, mad world we live in. It's the world I work in. CCM and its potential for "bad influences" isn't the most pressing moral issue on my radar! 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Rob Fall's picture

I think Brother P played a serviceable mandolin. I like to see him really let loose and get picking.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

RajeshG's picture

As a newcomer to Sharper Iron, I found it illuminating to read carefully through all 6 pages of comments to this article.
 

Bert wrote:

Given that David wrote a lot of the Psalms despite being neither prophet nor priest, and given that a fair number of Psalms are unattributed, and given that 1 Corinthians 14 notes that early church services had a lot of people bringing their own songs into the congregation, is the Scripture really consistent with the notion of the pastor setting the musical tone for the entire congregation?  We might wonder whether music in Bible times was effectively "crowd-sourced."

I can see some basic limits on music-the message ought not be heretical or obscene, preference will be given to lyrics whose poetry effectively uses poetic devices, the tunes used ought to be fitting to the topic and winsome--but perhaps we might find that the degree of control a pastor ought to exert might be far less than is typical in today's fundamental (and evangelical) churches.  

It's important to note that the Bible explicitly says that David was a prophet:

Acts 2:29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne.

David was a prophet who is the most important musician spoken of in Scripture.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:
David was a prophet who is the most important musician spoken of in Scripture.

We have David's lyrics and references to musical instruments, but I wonder what David's music actually sounded like. I'll have to ask him to sing something for me when we get to heaven.

Come to think of it, I wonder if we'll be creating our own music in heaven, or if we'll just be listening to the angels singing their songs.

Greg Long's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

David was a prophet who is the most important musician spoken of in Scripture.

 

 

We have David's lyrics and references to musical instruments, but I wonder what David's music actually sounded like. I'll have to ask him to sing something for me when we get to heaven.

 

Come to think of it, I wonder if we'll be creating our own music in heaven, or if we'll just be listening to the angels singing their songs.

Except it doesnt say that angels "sing," only that they "say." Smile

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Jay's picture

So Lee said this, a couple posts up:

But intent of the producer/artist/performer does matter.  It might even be what matters most.  I Cor. 6-10 (meat offered to idols) has practically no meaning at all without taking into account the intent of the source (producer if you want to make a parallel) to begin with. 

So let's talk about that.  Here's a song by SI member Shai Linne, as posted on YouTube.  The song is titled "The Glory of God (Not To Us)", and here's the lyrics from the verses:

[Verse 1]

Let us begin, how should we start?
Brightness shining out of the dark
It shines in our heart, providing a spark
His might incites the light to impart
Takes us back to Genesis 1
Angels clapped and hymns they were sung
Face the facts, he's second to none
In the beginning positioned the sun
Up in the sky hovering high
The light's too bright, cover your eyes
Type of sights that none can devise
This righteous Knight is lovely and wise
It's seen in the stars
Seen in the galaxies, Seen in quasars
Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto and Jupiter
Mercury, Saturn and Venus and Mars
Back to the earth, it shows in the trees
Each of the leaves blows in the breeze
Locusts and bees, oceans and seas
All the result of Jehovah's decrees
Observe the way his word creates
Preserves and shapes, determines fates
Reverberates at urgent rates
The earth it shakes with fervent quakes

[Pre-Hook]
Imagine it
I can't explain the half of it
Our brains can't even fathom it
And language is inadequate
To characterize the Lord on the throne
With spiritual eyes his story is known
From Him & Through Him & To Him is everything
Surely to God be the glory alone
From Him & Through Him & To Him is everything
Surely to God be the glory alone

[Hook]
Not to us, not to us
But to Your name be the glory
Not to us, not to us
But to Your name be the glory
Not to us, not to us
But to Your name be the glory
To Your name be the glory
To Your name be the glory (x4)

[Verse 2]
Let us consider the God who is there
Possessing a glory that's not to be shared
God vs. Anyone – not even fair
How could you dare to try to compare
The self-existent, self-sufficient
Omnipotent, Beneficent
Faithful God whose word we can trust
Perfectly holy and perfectly just
His beauty, there's no end to it
Transcendence is infinite
Knowledge and wisdom, intricate
Steadfast love is intimate
We see in his laws, he is the boss
Nothing about him is evil or false
Pure perfection – zero flaws
All of his attributes meet at the cross
The place where Jesus Christ was smashed
To satisfy God's righteous wrath
Rose from the grave on my behalf
Through faith in Christ He lights our path
Makes believers part of his fam
How does a holy God pardon a man?
Perhaps even harder to understand:
From the beginning was part of his plan

Can someone please explain to me how this song is evil, wicked, or sinful?  Thanks!

"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

Don Johnson's picture

Jay wrote:

Can someone please explain to me how this song is evil, wicked, or sinful?  Thanks!

For the umpteenth time, the issue is the music, not the literature.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Ron Bean's picture

It's a Thanksgiving miracle. A music thread lives again!

So I'll ask again: Is this music sinful, evil, bad, whatever?

Please assign it a moral quality, Don. 

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

RajeshG's picture

Greg Long wrote:

 

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

 

RajeshG wrote:

David was a prophet who is the most important musician spoken of in Scripture.

 

 

We have David's lyrics and references to musical instruments, but I wonder what David's music actually sounded like. I'll have to ask him to sing something for me when we get to heaven.

 

Come to think of it, I wonder if we'll be creating our own music in heaven, or if we'll just be listening to the angels singing their songs.

 

Except it doesnt say that angels "sing," only that they "say." Smile

 

Revelation 5:8-9 says that angelic creatures sing:

Revelation 5:8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. 9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

In the flow of thought in this passage, both the beasts and the elders are the subjects of both verbs, "fell" and "sung." There is no grammatical basis for limiting the antecedent of "they" in 5:9 to just the 24 elders and saying that they symbolize the Church, etc. This passage says that the beasts, which are angelic creatures, and the elders fell down, having harps, and both groups sing the new song.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

RajeshG wrote:

David was a prophet who is the most important musician spoken of in Scripture.

 

 

We have David's lyrics and references to musical instruments, but I wonder what David's music actually sounded like. I'll have to ask him to sing something for me when we get to heaven.

 

Come to think of it, I wonder if we'll be creating our own music in heaven, or if we'll just be listening to the angels singing their songs.

Scripture does not reveal whether we'll be creating our own music in heaven, but it does say that human beings who have been redeemed from the earth will be playing harps and singing in heaven (Rev. 14:1-3; 15:2-4).

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