An Examination of Sovereign Grace Ministries and Getty-Townend For Use in Fundamental Christian Churches (Part 2)

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GregH's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

GregH wrote:

Don Johnson wrote:

GregH wrote:
We certainly see euphoric worship in the Bible. At least, it is far more euphoric than I think most of us would be comfortable with today (shouting and dancing, etc).

Do we see those expressions in the temple? In the tabernacle? In the synagogue? In the New Testament church?

I don't think so, but if you can point to it, by all means...

I think I am going to bow out of this one Don. You know full well that there is no description of the music styles in the temple, tabernacle, synagogue and NT church. Earlier, you were talking about trying to decide which musical experts to believe. Why not listen to the one named David who wrote the Psalms? But no, you don't want to accept what he said about euphoric worship including shouting and dance because you are not comfortable with it. This argument is just a very weak attempt to stay in your comfort zone.

And it is just not an argument I am going to spend my time on.

 

Greg, you want to have it both ways. You say, "You know full well that there is no description of the music styles in the temple, tabernacle, synagogue and NT church." Then you say, "But no, you don't want to accept what he said about euphoric worship including shouting and dance because you are not comfortable with it."

So which is it? If David is teaching us about euphoric worship, then surely there is a description of music styles. It can't not be a description of music styles and there be no description at all, can it?

You can bow out if you like, but it is very bizarre to accuse me of being unwilling to listen if you are unwilling to provide examples that you say are there.

Who is the one with the weak argument?

Don, you know what David says in the Psalms about worship. You know it is often euphoric in nature. You know about references to shouting, clapping and dancing. When those are brought up, you attempt to wiggle out of it by saying that I have to prove it happened in the temple, NT church, synagogue or tabernacle and you know full well that is impossible. 

This line of argument is a waste of time for me. It is not intellectually honest. It is just you dancing around and doing cute sparring games. I don't want to play.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Don,

I agree that context, association, and culture are important.  In fact, I believe they are much more the determinant of what our worship music should be, especially since the so-called "intrinsic" value of music can hardly be described clearly, let alone agreed on.  I would be one of those you refer to who believe that music doesn't have an "intrinsic" moral value, but I certainly do believe that music can be very moral depending on a huge number of factors including the three above.  This is why we must be discerning, and why music is such a hard topic, but also why I believe it's ultimately unfruitful to use entirely technical music arguments, when so much of what must be proven is assumed.  That said, I appreciate when people try to tackle this topic, even if unsuccessful.  That's one of the reasons I think the arguments over music continue to draw us in -- it's not an area that is clearly resolved, and we are all searching for some clarity in this area, even when there is much disagreement.

On the subject of the "baser" emotions, I would have to say that it's the misuse and misdirection of these that is really the issue.  Anger, wrath, jealousy, hatred, derision, and probably some others are all expressed by God, and therefore cannot be evil of themselves.  Of course, it's also true that most human expressions of these would be of the wrong kind, but given the inexactness of the musical language, I would say it would be very difficult to hear the difference between righteous anger and the unrighteous kind in our music.  Maybe this just means that such things should be used sparingly, but there is certainly room, in my opinion anyway, to express God's anger and judgment in songs.

I do have to agree that David's dancing is usually ignored when it shouldn't be.  Certainly it doesn't mean anything unrighteous or  "sensual" as we tend to think of dancing, but it is present in the scriptures, and presented for our edification and therefore must mean something.  Obviously, we should be attempting to determine what that is.  Cultural implications may end up precluding us from using something like that in our worship since we wouldn't want it to be misconstrued, but we would certainly have to agree that it would be "non-intrinsic" factors that would be preventing its use.  Clearly a certain amount of "ecstatic joy" is not unscriptural worship.

In any case, in spite of the amount of heat that is generated on this topic rather than light, I am thankful that it keeps coming up, precisely because it is both a topic that is extremely relevant to our worship today, and the fact that unlike what was taught in the 70's, we Christians do NOT have this topic completely figured out.

Dave Barnhart

Ron Bean's picture

I would venture the assertion that:

There was opposition to the introduction of hymns by human authors to churches that were using the Psalter.

There was opposition to the introduction of the piano (an instrument of the barrooms and brothels) to churches that had only used the organ.

There was opposition to the introduction of  Gospel songs to worship services that had only used hymns.

As an aside, I'm glad that this discussion has few references to the "association" argument.  If that were meaningful, the Wesley hymns we've sung would have turned us all into Arminian Methodists.

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

Marsilius's picture

I appreciate what you have to say, Dave, whether I agree with your music or not. This is a very difficult issue, and gets more difficult all the time. I appreciate the fact this is a sensible discussion on these pages.

 

For Bob: I am not convinced by what you say that either music or emotions are as neutral as you are arguing. I'm not sure that the Bible ever gives one that idea either. We can take the idea one step further and say all sounds are neutral. I am not sure that is true either. Would any of us in this discussion say that a preacher who yells angrily and loudly at his congregation for 30 minutes is glorifying God by means of morally neutral phenomena? On any occasion? Would any of us say that the man who tries to lure a woman using enticing tones in his voice is using morally neutral phenomena? In any culture? Or are only sounds that combine to create music morally neutral? If God says to praise Him with loud cymbals (Psalm 150:5), could Israel simply have neglect the "loud" and remain morally, spiritually neutral? After all, cymbals and volume are neutral things.

 

I think, really, the moral neutrality view of music is probably a creation of our American Evangelical Ghetto. I may be wrong, but I doubt if creators of music before say 1960 or 1970 ever thought in terms of the neutrality of music or emotions. They felt justified about what they were doing, perhaps, but not neutral. Those who create music are typically passionate about it. It is kind of hard to get passionate about something that has moral neutrality: say the tick of my clock. True, Leroy Anderson wrote the Syncopated Clock, to the delight of music lovers, as well as his typewriter song. But that is the music that delights us, not the tick of the clock (just anticipating someone's rejoinder).   

GregH's picture

Ron Bean wrote:

I would venture the assertion that:

There was opposition to the introduction of hymns by human authors to churches that were using the Psalter.

There was opposition to the introduction of the piano (an instrument of the barrooms and brothels) to churches that had only used the organ.

There was opposition to the introduction of  Gospel songs to worship services that had only used hymns.

"The organ in the worship Is the insignia of Baal" The Roman Catholic borrowed it from the Jews." (Martin Luther, Mcclintock & Strong's Encyclopedia Volume VI, page 762)

DavidO's picture

I did isolate an example from that piece, but it is not because it is the only one. There are only a few chord movements in that song that I can't functionally defend. The Eb7 - F movement most certainly is functional. It is a bVII7 - I which is used all the time and is a variant of iv6 - I.

Adding major 7ths to the I and IV chords are for color as you mentioned. And thus we get to the author's objection (which they did not make by the way; you apparently know them well enough to know what they are referring to). They actually find something wrong with using 7ths for color?

Yes, that is silly. It is as I have mentioned, just a veiled attack on jazz that has absolutely no merit. It had no merit in the 70's when it was taught more widely and it has none now.

You are giving more credit to the article than deserved. First of all, the authors did not explain what kind of 7th chord usage they objected to (color rather than improved function). Second, they did not say why there was something wrong with using 7ths for color.

I hear over and over from you guys that these things mean something. But you can't tell us what they mean. So when will that happen? When is someone credible going to step up and tell me a plausible reason why I need to eliminate major 7ths from my music?

 

A few points and I'll be done.

- I've never heard of these authors until I read these two articles.  I'm not attempting to do their heavy lifting for them other than to clarify what I think they're saying about consecutive 7th chords because it seemed to me that point was misunderstood/not fairly treated.

- It's not my purpose to give any more or less credit to this article thandeserved.  See above.

- You keep saying, essentially, that jazz harmony is good, etc, but you provide nothing solid to back it up beyond assertion.  Why is that?  (Not attacking jazz myself, just responding to you.)

- Jazz harmonies are not functional in the same way as harmony in the common practice period from which basic theory is drawn.  In that sensea bVII7 - I7 progression is not similar to a vi - V7/V - V7 - I progression.

- As to what these these things mean, if the meaning could be put into words precisely, we wouldn't need music.  Art thou a master of the piano and theory and knowest not these things?

GregH's picture

Sigh... Around and around we go.

We know a major 7th has meaning but we don't know what. But we need to wrestle with that meaning and figure it out. But even if we could, that meaning can't be put into words precisely.

So all musicians out there need to avoid certain things because of what they mean but nobody can tell you what they mean...

That is the gist of the argument here.

You are wrong in some of your theory and understanding of functional harmony David but I am not going to go into it because I am getting weary of this too. And I have no idea how you know from that article and not knowing the authors what they mean by consecutive 7th chords being a problem but I will assume you do.

A quick answer to your question though. Basic theory did not come from the common practice period. Some of it was discovered then. And some of it was discovered after the CPP. And some of it, believe or not, was discovered by jazz greats who by the way, leaned heavily on CPP theory. I have a feeling more will be discovered in the future. But this I know for sure. Jazz harmony is just an extension of CPP harmony. It is more sophisticated, more nuanced, and yes better than the basic triad harmony that some here seem to want Christian music to stick with. 

 

DavidO's picture

We know a major 7th has meaning but we don't know what.

This isn't really what I said.  Music communicates; that's my point.

...this I know for sure . . . [jazz harmony] is more sophisticated, more nuanced, and yes better than the basic triad harmony...

Izzat so?  How do you know?

jcoleman's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

Well, I'll take Erickson and Hodge over Aaron, with all due respect. Both of them said our emotions are corrupted. Passages were cited as proof. I don't see how you can get around it.

 

Actually, they don't say that. In fact, the quotes you give actually support the opposite of what you're arguing. The scripture passages clearly point out that it's not love (the emotion) that's the problem, rather it's the object of that love (self versus God.)

And the quote about the affections functions similarly. Affections are necessarily for something. I can't have affection for nothing. And so Augustine's pointing out that his problem was that his affections were wrongly directed; the problem was not that he had affections in the first place. To have affections is a necessary outworking of humanity being made in the imago dei.

 

So either you're not reading your own quotes carefully, or you're intentionally using them to support something they simply don't support. I will assume the former, given that the second would be dishonest. But either way, they simply don't support your argument.

Don Johnson's picture

GregH wrote:

Don, you know what David says in the Psalms about worship. You know it is often euphoric in nature. You know about references to shouting, clapping and dancing. When those are brought up, you attempt to wiggle out of it by saying that I have to prove it happened in the temple, NT church, synagogue or tabernacle and you know full well that is impossible. 

This line of argument is a waste of time for me. It is not intellectually honest. It is just you dancing around and doing cute sparring games. I don't want to play.

I was responding to your point. You made the assertion (post #44). Apparently you think that simply making an assertion ends the argument. If the passages you refer to apply to the argument, the burden of proof lies on you since you brought it up. If these passages are normative for the Christian church, prove it.

That's all I'm saying. Why accuse me of intellectual dishonesty? Nice rhetoric, but that's not an argument either.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Don Johnson's picture

dcbii wrote:

On the subject of the "baser" emotions, I would have to say that it's the misuse and misdirection of these that is really the issue.  Anger, wrath, jealousy, hatred, derision, and probably some others are all expressed by God, and therefore cannot be evil of themselves.

The theologians say the whole person is corrupted, it's not that we are simply misusing good emotions, but that we are degraded in our passions. That seems to be what the scriptures are saying as well:

Romans 1:26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, (NAU, KJV = 'vile affections')

The word 'degrading' modifies the word 'passions', describing the quality or character of the passions. They themselves are dishonorable. It is not simply that something good is being used towards a wrong object, the whole passion itself is corrupted and a mutated form of that which was originally created. (see also 1 Thess 4.5, a passion characterized by lustfulness).

dcbii wrote:
Of course, it's also true that most human expressions of these would be of the wrong kind, but given the inexactness of the musical language, I would say it would be very difficult to hear the difference between righteous anger and the unrighteous kind in our music.  Maybe this just means that such things should be used sparingly, but there is certainly room, in my opinion anyway, to express God's anger and judgment in songs.

But the debate isn't about expressing God's anger and judgement in music, but human passions.

Anyway, thanks for jumping in. I appreciated your comments.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Don Johnson's picture

jcoleman wrote:

Don Johnson wrote:

Well, I'll take Erickson and Hodge over Aaron, with all due respect. Both of them said our emotions are corrupted. Passages were cited as proof. I don't see how you can get around it.

 

Actually, they don't say that. In fact, the quotes you give actually support the opposite of what you're arguing. The scripture passages clearly point out that it's not love (the emotion) that's the problem, rather it's the object of that love (self versus God.)

Please explain how the scriptures sited make the point you are making. See my reply to Dave Barnhart (dcbii) in connection with this. I think you are quite mistaken, the doctrine of depravity is that the whole person is affected/corrupted by the fall. That doesn't mean that every man is as bad as he could be, but every man is totally affected by the fall.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Don Johnson's picture

Part of our discussion here has turned from a discussion of Doug Bachorik's article to a discussion of emotion and its use or misuse in music.

I thought I should point out that it isn't simply the effect music has on the hearer's emotions that is the issue. The point that I think bro. Bachorik is making is that music can portray inappropriate emotion by the way it is composed. You can disagree with the proposition and argue against it if you like, but ultimately, I think that is what his point is.

It isn't simply that music makes you "feel good" that makes the music good or bad. That's a subjective evaluation on the part of the hearer. Rather, the music itself can express good or bad ideas/emotions/passions/affections. When the thing communicated is bad, the music is bad.

That, I think, is what we are arguing about.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Larry's picture

Moderator

Don,

Help me here. Are you suggesting that the clapping, dancing, shouting, etc in the Psalms are not worship, are not euphoric, or are not clapping, dancing, and shouting, etc., or that worship in the NT is so vastly different that those passages don't matter? I am not sure exactly what you are arguing on this point.

jcoleman's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

Please explain how the scriptures sited make the point you are making. See my reply to Dave Barnhart (dcbii) in connection with this. I think you are quite mistaken, the doctrine of depravity is that the whole person is affected/corrupted by the fall. That doesn't mean that every man is as bad as he could be, but every man is totally affected by the fall.

We agree that the whole person is affected/corrupted by the fall. And referencing your reply to dcbii, those "dishonorable passions" are "dishonorable" precisely because they express something God-given (say, love) towards something God never intended it to be directed toward. I don't believe that you can give an example of an emotion that can't be expressed in legitimate ways. Sex is good in the context in which God created it for. Anger is good when directed at evil. Hate is good when felt for the effects of evil. Etc. Now certainly the emotion and its object are so closely connected when that emotion is expressed that we find it hard to separate the two. That is, it is impossible to express one of those emotions/passions/affections without an object of them. So we tend to categorize the each emotion/object pair as an emotion. But in a technical sense (rather than vernacular) that's not the case. And that's important because God tells he made all things good. And evil is a corruption of good things. Evil doesn't exist apart from good; it is only evil a perversion of something originally good. How do are emotions/passions/affections (created a good thing) perverted? By twisting them so that they point at objects different than God intended.

And this is important to the current discussion because in order to prove that the music itself is evil you have to prove not only that music communicates emotion (we agree, it does) but also that it communicates an object for that emotion to be expression toward. Now certainly the context (words, actions of the performer, etc.) can communicate that object. But can the music by itself? The arguments I've heard always end up relying on some contextual piece (whether directly or by association), which would suggest that the music cannot communicate that object by itself.

Incidentally, I believe that this whole discussion of "baser emotions" suggests that we've adopted a kind of Gnostic dualism. Or, rather, (though there's nothing new under the sun) we've adopted our current culture's idea of man as an animal--we talk about such emotions as "animalistic.". And as such we think of some emotions as being not necessarily evil (though, perhaps dangerous because we think they tend that direction), but not necessarily good either. So something like sex becomes something to be allowed as necessary, but not exalted as something God gave as a good gift. But I don't believe that scripture allows us to make those kinds of distinctions between less-good and more-good emotions. Rather it would combat such a devaluing of the physical (for the "animalistic" emotions tend to the be the physical ones--hence the Gnostic connection) passions by exalting them as to be highly valued in the context for which God designed their best possible enjoyment.

 

jcoleman's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

If these passages are normative for the Christian church, prove it.

Why wouldn't they be? After all, even just from a cultural-historical perspective the Christian church would have had practically identical cultural elements to the Jewish religion--after all, it was the fulfillment of the Jewish religion.

Now, I'll admit too that I'm a bit more likely to see a connection, because as a covenant theologian I'm going to the two testaments as having far more continuity then discontinuity.

But even if there were more of a discontinuity, the fact that it was so highly valued in Psalms would at least teach us that these things are not bad--indeed that they can be good in the context of worship. Whether that was merely the best expression in that culture and whether it remains the best expression in this culture is a moot point: they cannot be inherently bad else they would not have been good in the Psalms.

Don Johnson's picture

Larry wrote:

Don,

Help me here. Are you suggesting that the clapping, dancing, shouting, etc in the Psalms are not worship, are not euphoric, or are not clapping, dancing, and shouting, etc., or that worship in the NT is so vastly different that those passages don't matter? I am not sure exactly what you are arguing on this point.

I'm simply asking Greg to prove his point. He says it is euphoric, he says it is worship, and he says it in a way to make it seem this is a normative statement for the Christian church. Fair enough. Prove it.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Don Johnson's picture

jcoleman wrote:

Don Johnson wrote:

Please explain how the scriptures sited make the point you are making. See my reply to Dave Barnhart (dcbii) in connection with this. I think you are quite mistaken, the doctrine of depravity is that the whole person is affected/corrupted by the fall. That doesn't mean that every man is as bad as he could be, but every man is totally affected by the fall.

We agree that the whole person is affected/corrupted by the fall. And referencing your reply to dcbii, those "dishonorable passions" are "dishonorable" precisely because they express something God-given (say, love) towards something God never intended it to be directed toward.

Not so. You are missing the point. The passions themselves are characterized by dishonour. Maybe the word 'twisted' would help. The dishonorable passions are the originally human drives, twisted so that the human is not what was originally created.

jcoleman wrote:
I don't believe that you can give an example of an emotion that can't be expressed in legitimate ways. Sex is good in the context in which God created it for.

Perhaps I am quibbling here, but since when did sex become an emotion?

 

jcoleman wrote:
And this is important to the current discussion because in order to prove that the music itself is evil you have to prove not only that music communicates emotion (we agree, it does) but also that it communicates an object for that emotion to be expression toward. Now certainly the context (words, actions of the performer, etc.) can communicate that object. But can the music by itself? The arguments I've heard always end up relying on some contextual piece (whether directly or by association), which would suggest that the music cannot communicate that object by itself.

That is partly the issue. But if you insist that emotions themselves aren't already twisted and must have an inappropriate object for them to become evil, then we'll never be able to get anywhere in this discussion. In other words, if you don't think there is such a thing as an evil emotion, evil in itself, then there is no way music could portray evil. Music doesn't portray the object, just emotion.

So the $64,000 question is: Can you portray evil emotion in music, yes or no?

jcoleman wrote:
But I don't believe that scripture allows us to make those kinds of distinctions between less-good and more-good emotions. Rather it would combat such a devaluing of the physical (for the "animalistic" emotions tend to the be the physical ones--hence the Gnostic connection) passions by exalting them as to be highly valued in the context for which God designed their best possible enjoyment.

You know, it isn't really helpful to throw in terms like "Gnostic". It can be taken as condescending and demeaning. It doesn't further your argument, it just has the tendency to inflame debate.

Anyway, you assert here that "I don't believe that scripture allows us to make those kinds of distinctions..." Ok, show me, from Scripture, why you make that statement. More scripture and less opinion would be good.

 

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Joel Tetreau's picture

(This commentary is not simply in reference to this article - but has in mind in part this article plus similar presentations here at SI and elsewhere as well as some who have commented already in this thread and similar threads)

 

On the one hand, I don't struggle with the idea of looking at our music. The Scriptures give several important qualities to corporate worship that demand care. I also am not against being careful to protect our music from a culture that is twisted. Clearly this culture is twisted! On the other hand, I am fearful that some who seem to have made a ministry or carrier on "Christian music analysis" - have lost the forest because of the smallest of the microbe's in the bark! If all of these aspects of musicology were imperative for healthy corporate worship - you would think that the Scriptures would clearly say so. Sure that's an argument from silence - but when certain leaders make reference to detailed musical analysis and imply that the rest of Christianity (or at least fundamentalism) needs to listen to them because no one else has studied as much as they (or their friends ... or family members have) and so the rest of us can't really "get-it" without them - they demonstrate that at least in this one area of corporate Christian discipleship - they really are not constrained by the sufficiency of Scripture (and maybe in some cases - humility - of course only God knows motive). As late as ten years ago this sort of thing really bothered me. What I've discovered over the last decade is that thankfully both here in N. America and all over the world - God's children are very good at writing and enjoying music that is culturally and theologically and experientially "with it." This seems very close to the kind of "cultural elitism" one sees in a book where the author stresses that, "I have the secret for healthy Christianity that no one until now has been able to understand ...... after 2000 years of Church history." The only time over the last 21 years I as a pastor have had church members (or other leaders) who have worried about these kinds of things - at least to the intricate musical details presented here - their efforts have only resulted in causing schism to the body. Usually "would-be" leaders and/or musicians who are "myopic" about academic musical minutia at the level that this article presents are not helpful to the "harmony" of the average congregation! (obviously this last statement is simply my opinion - hence the title of this post - commentary!)

Straight Ahead!

jt

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

jcoleman's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
Perhaps I am quibbling here, but since when did sex become an emotion?

I'm intentionally lumping emotions, passions, and affections together here since the arguments tend to treat them all the same way. And you could substitute "sexuality" or "sexual desire" in there to make it make more sense in that context.

 

Don Johnson wrote:
That is partly the issue. But if you insist that emotions themselves aren't already twisted and must have an inappropriate object for them to become evil, then we'll never be able to get anywhere in this discussion. In other words, if you don't think there is such a thing as an evil emotion, evil in itself, then there is no way music could portray evil. Music doesn't portray the object, just emotion.

Precisely! We both agree that music only communicates emotion, not the object. Therefore since I believe that the emotions themselves aren't ever evil, I don't believe that music can portray evil by itself. That's why this question is perhaps the most important one, because it actually determines which argument about whether or not music can communicate evil is correct. If emotions can be evil, then music by itself can be evil. If emotions cannot be evil, then nor can music by itself. So this is the very root of the discussion.

Now again, it's very important to note that emotion can never be expressed apart from an object. It's kind of like a car: by itself it is thoroughly amoral, but we don't really ever talk about the car except in the context of it being used for something. And all of those actions with the car are very much moral. Same with emotion: the expression of it is always moral, but the emotion itself is, well, I wouldn't say amoral, because I'd say God created it as good. (I guess in that sense the car isn't amoral either...but I digress.)

Don Johnson wrote:
You know, it isn't really helpful to throw in terms like "Gnostic". It can be taken as condescending and demeaning. It doesn't further your argument, it just has the tendency to inflame debate.

I'm honestly surprised that the term "Gnostic" is a problem here. It merely refers to a specific philosophy that the Bible clearly teaches against (we call it the Gnostic Heresy for a reason), so if the connection is valid (i.e. the same philosophy is being expressed here), then it gives us a direct Biblical take on the issue at hand.

Don Johnson wrote:
Anyway, you assert here that "I don't believe that scripture allows us to make those kinds of distinctions..." Ok, show me, from Scripture, why you make that statement. More scripture and less opinion would be good.

Well, to start with, 1 Timothy 4:4 says "For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving", so we can see as I've stated earlier that all things are created good. And Colossians 2:8-23 directly addresses the beginnings of Gnosticism and notes that this kind of distinction between bad physical things/desires" isn't something we should allow people to pass judgment on us for since "they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh."

So if we're making a Gnostic-style distinction between physical/material and non-physical/immaterial that portrays one as evil and the other good, then we know that we're wrong. And I'm saying that the idea that some desires (typically sexual ones fall into this category) are "baser" is a (sometimes more subtle) form of this exact kind of teaching. If it is indeed that same style of teaching, then it is definitely wrong.

GregH's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

GregH wrote:

Don, you know what David says in the Psalms about worship. You know it is often euphoric in nature. You know about references to shouting, clapping and dancing. When those are brought up, you attempt to wiggle out of it by saying that I have to prove it happened in the temple, NT church, synagogue or tabernacle and you know full well that is impossible. 

This line of argument is a waste of time for me. It is not intellectually honest. It is just you dancing around and doing cute sparring games. I don't want to play.

I was responding to your point. You made the assertion (post #44). Apparently you think that simply making an assertion ends the argument. If the passages you refer to apply to the argument, the burden of proof lies on you since you brought it up. If these passages are normative for the Christian church, prove it.

That's all I'm saying. Why accuse me of intellectual dishonesty? Nice rhetoric, but that's not an argument either.

I am going to try this one more time. Don, you and many from your camp have historically made quite a big deal about music. You will separate in a heartbeat from anyone that gets out of line. You recently wrote a hit job on Matt Olson on your blog simply because he complimented a musician that is too far outside your comfort zone. The fact that you are admittedly a music novice does not stop you from arguing loudly and dogmatically.

If you and your camp are so concerned about getting music right, it seems to me you would start with the Bible rather than your own preferences. Admittedly, the Bible is silent on specifics about music. We don't know what music was like in the tabernacle, the temple, the synagogues or the early NT church. But on the other hand, here is the good news: part of the Bible was written by a music expert named David.

It seems to me that since you care so much about music, you would be taking to heart every word about music that David said. Maybe memorizing Psalm 150 would be a good start. But then, that creates a problem for you doesn't it? Psalm 150 discusses worship in a way that just would not fly in your church. There is a reference to dancing and loud cymbals. It is clearly euphoric.

So how do you get around that Don? Well, you get pretty crafty. You say, oh that was David talking about worship of some sort but prove that he was talking about how you should worship in church. 

You can't see why that frustrates people? You have a model for worship from the Bible but it just appears that you are finding a way to chunk it with a technicality because you don't like it. If you wonder why your camp has lost the battle over music, it is because people see through tactics like this and don't respect them.

jcoleman's picture

Don,

Can you give an example of an emotion that is evil regardless of the object toward which it is expressed?

For example, I'd say love is the emotion, love is good when expressed towards God, and bad when expressed toward murder.

You'd say something like X is the emotion, and it is always evil regardless of what Y it is expressed towards.

Is there such an example? I don't think one exists...but I'd love to see you prove me wrong.

jcoleman's picture

GregH wrote:
You can't see why that frustrates people? You have a model for worship from the Bible but it just appears that you are finding a way to chunk it with a technicality because you don't like it. If you wonder why your camp has lost the battle over music, it is because people see through tactics like this and don't respect them.

Exactly. We have a model for worship from scripture. That model makes it pretty obvious that many of the things argued against (dancing, clapping, loud cymbals, shouting, hand raising, etc.) are clearly acceptable.

That ought to end the argument right there. But for some reason it doesn't. I will never understand why.

Don Johnson's picture

over Christmas? Seems like we have better things to do for a few days...

I'll make a few (hopefully brief) responses to the comments since my last post before I sign off for the night.

@Joel - I know you were addressing everyone generally, not me directly, but one thought... You seem to be objecting to the technical argument as if it is the only argument being made. You did note that the article was "Part 2" and there is one more part coming, right? Are you saying that it is illegitimate to make a technical argument at all?

@jcoleman:

jcoleman wrote:
Therefore since I believe that the emotions themselves aren't ever evil, I don't believe that music can portray evil by itself.

Well, we can never make any progress as long as we both hold the positions we do. I have shown you a passage that clearly states the passions themselves are degraded, but you dismiss it. I can give you technical reasons why my interpretation is correct. (Please note that the translators are with me - NAU, KJV, ESV, NIV.)

You did cite 1 Tim 4.4, everything created by God is good... Brother, you need to check the context. He is talking about foods there. That's why you can eat shrimp and bacon.

As for Gnosticism, the Bible never directly addresses it. Some scholars see signs of a kind of Gnosticism creeping into the churches from what Paul is arguing against in Colossians, but the fact is that Gnosticism didn't exist until the 2nd century. It's a pretty thin argument to make and pejorative. It's like someone suggesting a 5-pointer is a Hyper Calvinist.

In essence, you aren't really providing scriptural support for your opinions, so they carry no weight.

You asked for an example of an evil emotion regardless of the object to which it is addressed. I'd say lust is always evil. Check the scriptures, do a search on epithumia, see if it is ever identified positively. I think there may be one or two references where it is used for emphasis in a neutral or positive setting, but I can't think of where they are off the top of my head. I am sure that the overwhelming majority of times it is considered evil. Upwards of 90% of the time.

@GregH

You seem to be losing it, man, but thanks for the link anyway. You really need to lose the rhetoric and actually advance Scriptural support for your views. You can use strong language all you like and imply all sorts of base motives ("hit job", "crafty") and all, but you won't convince me that way.

~~~

To all, I hope you all have a wonderful Lord's day tomorrow and a great time with your family over Christmas. I am vowing to be restrained in the food department over the next few days. When I hear my wife's plans on that score I know a severe test is heading my way!

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

DrJamesAch's picture

With all due respect to Don, I don't think the burden of proof should be on the ones that listen to the music you and many fundamentalists oppose. They did not attack your music, you attacked theirs, so the burden of proof always lies in the person prosecuting. And with that burden, I fail to see any evidence that the opponents have proven causation between actual immorality and the music at issue. The mere speculation that certain music "may" lead to immorality or "can" lead to immorality doesn't satisfy the burden from moving beyond mere bias to actual proof of causation.

In fact, you could argue that opposite considering the epidemic of sexual immorality within the fundamentalist churches. Perhaps there's an element of the euphoric type of music that actually PREVENTS one from seeking guilty pleasures of the flesh instead of 54 year old pastors seeking out 17 year old girls. Nevertheless, I can't prove that the rigid standards fundamentalists apply to music caused a pastor to molest a child anymore than you can prove the same that the music at issue causes immorality. 

From what I have seen in these apparently subjective arguments is that the music somehow taps into some subconscious level that a person has no control over and even if one is considered to have great temperance, can't resist the urgings imposed on them unwillingly by the music. To me, to make that kind of argument borders dangerously close to confessing to a form of new age esoterericism.

Far too often fundamentalists (and I am a fundamentalist) misquote "and make no provision for the flesh" and stop there. When you finish the verse it says "to fulfill the lusts thereof". None of the verses that the opponents rely on can be used to condemn music that is merely different from traditional hymns. Without a clear showing of a provable link to immorality, false doctrine (which is a much stronger argument than a subjective debate over 7 chords) within the lyrics, an intent to glorify self instead of God and music that is chaotic and unintelligible, there is a heavy burden in proving your case beyond supposition.

 

Dr James Ach

What Kills You Makes You Stronger Rom 8:13; 7:24-25

Do Right Christians, and Calvinisms Other Side

Greg Long's picture

C'mon, Don, you keep asking for Scripture, but then when it is given to you you just dismiss it out of hand rather than dealing with it. It was the dismissal of what is clearly mentioned in the Psalms concerning music that was one of the primary reasons I couldn't accept the strict teachings on music I was brought up on. We want to construct a whole "theology" of music based on stuff that is found nowhere in Scripture and yet ignore the stuff that's right there in front of us concerning musical styles. (Now, I don't think cymbals and dancing are commanded, but they certainly aren't forbidden!)

And you're just flat out wrong on this emotion thing. Yes, of course, our emotions have been corrupted by the Fall, but are you suggesting that they can never be used for good or directed towards the good? You haven't answered the questions put forth to you in that regard.

And you're wrong about "lust" in the NT (epithumia). It is used a few times in a positive sense. Even if it was just used one time in a positive sense that would disprove your point.

Finally, I thought it was pretty commonly accepted that certain books in the NT, namely Colossians and 1 John, are addressing incipient forms of Gnosticism. The word doesn't have to be mentioned for the beliefs to be addressed.

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

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

GregH's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

@GregH

You seem to be losing it, man, but thanks for the link anyway. You really need to lose the rhetoric and actually advance Scriptural support for your views. You can use strong language all you like and imply all sorts of base motives ("hit job", "crafty") and all, but you won't convince me that way.

LOL, yes, I am losing it; right on the edge of insane. Yes indeed. Wink

Look, if you are proud of that piece of writing I linked to, let's call it a win-win because I have my reasons for linking to it. I am not writing to convince you Don. That is not a possibility and I knew that going in. I engage here to influence people who are not so hopelessly entrenched. 

Regardless, I will respect your wishes for a truce. Merry Christmas. You have a wonderful family Don (I know some of them).

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Don Johnson wrote:

The theologians say the whole person is corrupted, it's not that we are simply misusing good emotions, but that we are degraded in our passions. That seems to be what the scriptures are saying as well:

Romans 1:26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, (NAU, KJV = 'vile affections')

The word 'degrading' modifies the word 'passions', describing the quality or character of the passions. They themselves are dishonorable. It is not simply that something good is being used towards a wrong object, the whole passion itself is corrupted and a mutated form of that which was originally created. (see also 1 Thess 4.5, a passion characterized by lustfulness).

dcbii wrote:
Of course, it's also true that most human expressions of these would be of the wrong kind, but given the inexactness of the musical language, I would say it would be very difficult to hear the difference between righteous anger and the unrighteous kind in our music.  Maybe this just means that such things should be used sparingly, but there is certainly room, in my opinion anyway, to express God's anger and judgment in songs.

But the debate isn't about expressing God's anger and judgement in music, but human passions.

Don, I agree with you that mankind is corrupt, and that even as Christians, we struggle with the old nature.  However, since we are told "be ye angry, and sin not," we know that we are still capable of a righteous expression of this so-called "baser" emotion, even if it would be difficult for us to do so properly.  So I would think that even human anger in a righteous form could be expressed (carefully) in our literature and even music, though it would be hard to do so in a right way.  And as I said, I think it would be more useful to express the anger of God rather than of man.

However, passionate worship, as David expressed in Chronicles, also appears to be a legitimate worship expression, even if we would have to be very careful to get it right.  I'm not saying that dancing as David did should be a regular part of our worship, since we can't tell that from the text, and there may be culture/association issues to work through, but we do know that we do not always need to be reserved in our expressions of joy toward God.

I'm actually someone who would be described by those in this discussion as belonging to the "Bach/Beethoven" group.  I most enjoy high-church-style worship and high-culture music like Bach/Händel and music from that time period, which I personally think captures God's greatness better than many or even most of the forms used today, and I'm not really a fan of the taking over of rock/pop forms that are used for worship in many evangelical churches today.  When I listen to music like the Messiah, it moves me passionately like some of today's music moves others.  However, I also realize that the music I love does not speak to much of today's culture and probably most of the people.

I don't think music needs to stay static, and I am in favor of writing new music with doctrinally strong lyrics that can be used in churches today.  I'm not saying that all such music is successful at what is attempted, but I also don't approach all such new music with suspicion, nor do I buy much of what has been said about judging music in the past (I heard much of this in the 70's, growing up), since little of it has been proven, and very little scripture has been used in the argumentation.  As many here have already stated, much of it is just assertion without any proof at all.  I just happen to think that the technical arguments are the least useful, when really we should spend our time focusing on sounding too much like the world, when we know that worship of God should be holy (i.e. "set apart").  However, I don't see how holiness precludes all forms of ecstatic expression, given what we see in the Bible.

Disclaimer: my younger daughter has started writing sacred music, most to lyrics by others, but some with her own lyrics, so I'm not a completely disinterested observer.

Dave Barnhart

Joel Shaffer's picture

You did cite 1 Tim 4.4, everything created by God is good... Brother, you need to check the context. He is talking about foods there. That's why you can eat shrimp and bacon.

As for Gnosticism, the Bible never directly addresses it. Some scholars see signs of a kind of Gnosticism creeping into the churches from what Paul is arguing against in Colossians, but the fact is that Gnosticism didn't exist until the 2nd century. It's a pretty thin argument to make and pejorative. It's like someone suggesting a 5-pointer is a Hyper Calvinist.

 

The point is everything, not just food and marriage.  Everything God created is good.  Marriage and Food are the examples.  Every commentator that I researched holds this view, none of them believe its  just the context of Food and marriage.      And the commentators all agree that Paul was addressing the forerunners of Gnosticism as well.  Here is just one conservative commentar.y (Walvoord and Zuck's NT) that espouses this view.

 4:3 "The false teachers plaguing the Ephesian church were the forerunners of the Gnostics of the 2nd century.  Even at this relatively incipient stage, the strong dualism of the Gnostics is clear:  spirit is good; matter is evil.  They believed all appetites relating to the body are therefore evil and should be rooted out, including normal desires for sex and food.  Thus the false teachers forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods (cf. Col. 2:21).  But Paul went to the heart of the dualistic error by stating that matter is not inherently evil; it is rather part of what God created (cf. I Tim. 6:17b) Hence those who believe and who know the truth can gratefully (cf 4:4) receive and use the things God created, which were designed to be received (eis metalempsin,"for partaking")

4:4 Contrary to the teaching of the errorists, everything God created is good.  Here Paul echoed God's own verdict (Gen. 1:31).  Whereas the false teachers were intent on "forbidding" and "abstaining."  (I Tim. 4:3), Paul said that nothing is to be rejected-nothing, that is, that God created.  man can abuse what God has created, as adultery is an abuse of the marital sexual relationship, and gluttony is an abuse of a normal appetite for food.  Such abuses should certainly be rejected.  But God's creations themselves are all good, and should be received with thanksgiving, not with taboos.

4:5 All the seemingly "ordinary" things of life can then become extraordinary as they are consecrated by the Word of God and prayer.  In light of the Scriptures a Christian recognizes God's good hand behind the things provided, and offers thanksgiving to the the Lord.  In this way the ordinary things so easily taken for granted (some of which are fobidden by errorists) become sanctified as occasions of worship and praise.  

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