Imposing Preferences

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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DavidO's picture

Re: I Timothy 4:4-5--

If the word "all" is sometimes limited by the context in which it appears, can't the word "everything" also be so limited?

Of course, I realize that this line of argumentation will be effective only with a thin slice of SI readers, but . . .

Michael Riley's picture

Andrew K. wrote:

Not sure those examples work. How can anyone be "sincere" when they directly disobey instructions given by God? Under what conditions can we speak of "sincerity" in the face of direct disobedience? Uzzah might have been "sincere" in his desire to help, but he wasn't sincere in his fear of God and in his obedience to God's instructions. How can "sincerity" be defined apart from reverence and obedience to God's commandments?

Now if we had direct commandments with regard to music in worship to be obeyed or disobeyed, none of us (hopefully) would be even discussing this.

Andrew,

Fair enough point. Three replies:

  1. If Scripture discusses music, it does not do it in the same way that God details the requirements for acceptable sacrifice. That said, we should note that even the OT requirements demand the use of judgment. Is it obvious whether a given lamb is perfect? How do we know whether a lamb is perfect? Who is competent to make such a claim?
  2. It's worth noting that the analogy is not mine. I was merely responding to what seems to me a common understanding of God's instruction in the OT, with the suggestion that because right form cannot intrinsically merit acceptance before God, heart sincerity is (really?) what matters. To clarify: Jay does not say that heart sincerity matters alone, and I am not suggesting that he is making this claim.
  3. God does gives us New Testament commands about worship. Again, they are not as concrete as those in the OT. But (to use an example of a similar kind of passage), when we are commanded to think on pure, honorable, etc. things (Philippians 4:8), can a person sincerely think he is doing so and be truly wrong? Is there really, in God's universe, such a thing as loveliness? If so, how shall we determine whether a particular thing is lovely? If there is no way to do so, isn't Paul's command idle?
Anne Sokol's picture

well, i have a couple thoughts about this:

1. maybe I Tim 4 doens't apply to any of us in this discussion because we are not apostates, fallen away from the faith, nor paying attention to the doctrines of demons. At least, I'm assuming that we are all not in that category.

2. Matthew Henry does open this up to other applications that paul does not make in his overview of the paragraph, and I tend to agree with that, because wow, of all the false religions around us today claiming Christianity, now many of them teach forbidden meats and marriage? not many. So while the language of the passage is particular to Paul's two examples, I don't think it's exhaustive. 

Matthew Henry's overview:

(7.) It is a sign that men have departed from the faith when they will command what God has forbidden, such as saint and angel or demon-worship; and forbid what God has allowed or commanded, such as marriage and meats. http://www.ewordtoday.com/comments/1timothy/mh/1timothy4.htm

MH's particular commentary of this passage:

Having mentioned their hypocritical fastings, the apostle takes occasion to lay down the doctrine of the Christian liberty, which we enjoy under the gospel, of using God's good creatures,—that, whereas under the law there was a distinction of meats between clean and unclean (such sorts of flesh they might eat, and such they might not eat), all this is now taken away; and we are to call nothing common or unclean, Acts 10:15. Here observe, 1. We are to look upon our food as that which God has created; we have it from him, and therefore must use it for him. 2. God, in making those things, had a special regard to those who believe and know the truth, to good Christians, who have a covenant right to the creatures, whereas others have only a common right. 3. What God has created is to be received with thanksgiving. We must not refuse the gifts of God's bounty, nor be scrupulous in making differences where God has made none; but receive them, and be thankful, acknowledging the power of God the Maker of them, and the bounty of God the giver of them: Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, v. 4. This plainly sets us at liberty from all the distinctions of meats appointed by the ceremonial law, as particularly that of swine's flesh, which the Jews were forbidden to eat, but which is allowed to us Christians, by this rule, Every creature of God is good, etc. Observe, God's good creatures are then good, and doubly sweet to us, when they are received with thanksgiving.—For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer, v. 5. It is a desirable thing to have a sanctified use of our creature-comforts. Now they are sanctified to us, (1.) By the word of God; not only his permission, allowing us the liberty of the use of these things, but his promise to feed us with food convenient for us. This gives us a sanctified use of our creature-comforts. (2.) By prayer, which blesses our meat to us. The word of God and prayer must be brought to our common actions and affairs, and then we do all in faith. Here observe, [1.] Every creature is God's, for he made all. Every beast in the forest is mine (says God), and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are mine, Ps. 50:10, 11. [2.] Every creature of God is good: when the blessed God took a survey of all his works, God saw all that was made, and, behold, it was very good, Gen. 1:31. [3.] The blessing of God makes every creature nourishing to us; man lives not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Mt. 4:4), and therefore nothing ought to be refused. [4.] We ought therefore to ask his blessing by prayer, and so to sanctify the creatures we receive by prayer. http://www.ewordtoday.com/comments/1timothy/mh/1timothy4.htm 

3. I don't think 1 & 2 Timothy are entirely out of the picture b/c Paul did talk quite a bit (compared to his other epistles) about the conscience in these 2 letters.

4. The music being inherently evil is an interesting issue. The tree and its fruit. need to think about this some more. the evil music is more symptomatic of the evil.

 

 

 

JNoël's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

...which focuses mainly on the styles of music used in worship...
In local churches, God has ordained that carefully selected leaders have oversight over worship

The problem with this way of framing the issue is that those who are particular about music styles used for worship

Jay wrote:

That kind of attitude ("rocking out") goes so much deeper than just the music that we use in worship.
...
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.

 

This is a side note (meta-debate?), but I think it matters that, as Christians, our entire lives revolve around worship, in everything we do, at every moment of time. When we are walking in the Spirit, everything we do can be considered worship. Worship is not only limited to specific, deliberate points of action while sitting in a pew (or padded chair ;)) or while having our personal time of devotions/prayer/study in the Word.

 

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 (1720-1768)

KD Merrill's picture

Can we please put an end to the use of proof-texting to validate God's blessing on every style of music under the sun?   I agree with Don and others that the construction of 1 Timothy 4, does not allow for the Christian to embrace popular culture wholesale. 

For argument sake, though, let's say that we strain long enough that we force that interpretation on the passage.  Fantastic.  We now have one Biblical reference that just maybe gives us the approval to do this.   That's it.  One.   Are we then going to ignore the overwhelming weight of Scripture that provides precedent and guidance to the believer regarding his/her relationship with popular culture?

As indicated earlier, music communicates to our moods/emotions/affections.  There have been some questions about how does music communicate sensuousness/sexuality.  Scott Aniol provided a perfect example a week or so ago (http://religiousaffections.org/articles/hymnody/on-the-flexibility-of-form-in-worship/).

Interestingly, when it comes to the senses, there's much more weight in Scripture placed on what we hear versus what we see.

Greg Long's picture

JNoel and Shaynus,

The argument I made is absolutely an argument from silence, and THE SILENCE IS DEAFENING (sorry...shouting seemed appropriate there).

Let's examine this more closely:

  • Think about the extremely detailed instructions and commands for proper worship in the Mosaic Law. The 613 (or however many) commands cover just about every aspect of life and worship. Many Bible scholars think that some of commands that seem obscure or random to us were given in response to the degradation of the Canaanites. Don't you think the Canaanites would have used "evil" music in their idol worship, especially with its sexual practices? And yet there is no command to abstain from evil music or to only use a certain kind of holy music.
  • The Psalms, of course, are devoted to the praise and worship of Yahweh. But God did not see fit to record any musical styles other than notations for tunes and arrangements that are long lost to history.
  • The Prophets condemned the Israelites for their improper and God-dishonoring worship, but again no mention of musical style.
  • Jesus had a lot to say about worship and about ways men have twisted what God has made good (sex, worship, money, love, marriage, etc.), but again nothing about musical styles.
  • Again, no such command or prohibition in the Epistles, even in passages that directly address this issue. With as much emphasis as many fundamentalists put on this matter, I would absolutely expect the Bible to say something like:

Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. But be careful to only use music that truly honors God... OR Do not use the music of darkness (as worldliness and darkness are discussed in this chapter)... OR Worldly music should not even be named among you, but only what is fitting and proper for saints...

Shaynus, you gave some reasons why this may be so. For example, that God didn't want us to become legalists in this matter by only listing certain musical styles. But God is very specific in listing other things He wants us to do or not do, and yes--people have used those commands for legalistic purposes, but that didn't stop God from listing them. Same thing with the idea that He was more concerned about heart issues. Certainly He is concerned about heart issues with sexuality, but He still tells us to abstain from specific actions.

Let me be very clear: I am not presenting this as an argument for an "anything goes" approach to music. I am presenting this as an argument against the teaching by some for a specificity and emphasis on musical style that goes light years beyond anything the Bible says about the issue, and then using that as a basis of separation.

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

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Shaynus's picture

Greg Long wrote:

Let me be very clear: I am not presenting this as an argument for an "anything goes" approach to music. I am presenting this as an argument against the teaching by some for a specificity and emphasis on musical style that goes light years beyond anything the Bible says about the issue, and then using that as a basis of separation.

 

I wouldn't either. 

Brenda T's picture

I've only made a couple comments in this thread so have done more watching than participating. One of the main points of debate appears to be rooted in differing applications of Sola Scriptura.

I'll provide a quote on the matter from something I've read elsewhere.

Sola Scriptura teaches that Scripture alone is the final authority for life and godliness. There is no higher bar or court of appeal than the Bible. There we find God’s will revealed. No information outside of the Scripture is to be considered as authoritative as Scripture itself.

However, nuda Scriptura is the idea that Scripture can come to us unclothed, apart from the understanding imparted from the believing community of faith and the Christian past, and apart from any other accompanying information from beyond the Scripture. . . .  In supposedly wanting nothing more than the unadorned statements of Scripture to guide his life, such a person ironically destroys the authority of Scripture to speak on life in general. Scripture’s protectors become its captors, not merely keeping competitors out, but keeping its own authority locked within the prison of its own two covers.

Most nuda Scriptura practitioners are unaware of how inconsistent they are with this attitude. They oppose abortion, but the Bible nowhere says that the killing of an unborn child is an instance of murder. They oppose taking God’s name in vain, but they cannot point to a single Scripture which gives an explicit application of that command. They regard recreational drug use as sinful, but cannot find a verse which links drug use to principles forbidding addiction or harm to the body.

And yet they oppose these things. That’s because they have been unwittingly violating their nuda Scriptura ethos, and supplying outside information to make a valid application. . . .  In other words, Scripture did not supply the link to the application. They did, through the use of reason and outside information.

We do this all the time, and God expects us to do so.

I think the disingenuous attitude of “the Bible doesn’t say that” really begins once a cherished idol is under fire. The person lives by sola Scriptura in every other area of his life. However, should one of his loves be challenged – his music, his entertainments, his dress to worship, his use of disposable income, his reading matter – suddenly he reverts to nuda Scriptura. Now he wants the Bible to speak explicitly to the matter under question, or his supposed devotion to chapter and verse will throw it out. . . . 

if we are of the truth, we must understand the need to get good and reliable sources of information outside the Scriptures, combine them with sound reason, in order to make right applications of Scriptural principles.

KD Merrill's picture

I think the disingenuous attitude of “the Bible doesn’t say that” really begins once a cherished idol is under fire. The person lives by sola Scriptura in every other area of his life. However, should one of his loves be challenged – his music, his entertainments, his dress to worship, his use of disposable income, his reading matter – suddenly he reverts to nuda Scriptura. Now he wants the Bible to speak explicitly to the matter under question, or his supposed devotion to chapter and verse will throw it out.

I find it highly ironic that those who point the finger and accuse those who take an explicitly conservative approach to music/culture of being legalistic are the ones to whom the Scriptures have become a set of do's and don't's - by their own definition, legalists. 

Greg Long's picture

KD, I'm not really sure what you're saying or who it's addressed to, but it is certainly not my definition of legalism, nor the definition of anyone I've ever read, to say that we should obey the specific commands of Scripture.

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

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Caleb S's picture

I think the disingenuous attitude of “the Bible doesn’t say that” really begins once a cherished idol is under fire. The person lives by sola Scriptura in every other area of his life. However, should one of his loves be challenged – his music, his entertainments, his dress to worship, his use of disposable income, his reading matter – suddenly he reverts to nuda Scriptura. Now he wants the Bible to speak explicitly to the matter under question, or his supposed devotion to chapter and verse will throw it out.

The assumption here is that it is an idol.  Given that the "idol" could be anything, from conservative music to contemporary music styles, to success in ministry, to an over-exalted relationship, to witnessing, to Bible reading, etc. . . . . everything other than God can become an idol.  Especially the good things can easily become idols.  Hence, the application of the above quoted principle, applies equally to both cultural traditionalism to cultural progressivism.

Just because one has conservative music, does not mean that he/she is exempt from the idolatry mentioned above.

Greg Long's picture

Brenda, thanks for that input. There certainly is a danger of what that writer calls "nuda Scriptura" (not sure I care for that name...I think I prefer "solo Scriptura" as others have called it). But I am absolutely not saying "If it's not in Scripture, we don't have to worry about it. Yay!" I've already mentioned on this thread that because musical style communicates somewhat subjectively, on an emotive level, and is culturally determined, we need to evaluate as such. So obviously we have to go "beyond" Scripture for those evaluations, but always guided by Scriptural principles.

I'm simply reminding us that we must be extremely careful in making our evaluation of the appropriateness of music not to raise it to a level of Scriptural perspicuity and certainty that is not warranted due to the fact that it is simply not addressed in Scripture.

As far as the specific things mentioned in the article you quoted...

  • Abortion isn't really a good example, because it is murder by definition, and murder is condemned in Scripture (as are child sacrifices).
  • Ummm...I guess I thought "taking God's name in vain" is forbidden in Scripture? Smile
  • Recreational drug use: that's an interesting one. On the one hand, certainly certain forms of recreational drug use weren't even invented in Bible times, so they couldn't be condemned. But although I'm no historian, I'm sure certain plants have been used for both medicinal and recreational purposes for most of human history. Obviously if a certain drug is illegal, then we have our answer right there. One can also argue that the use of mind-altering drugs for sinful purposes is condemned in Gal. 5:20 and Rev. 9:21 by the use of the word pharmakia. Louw & Nida say this word refers to "the use of magic, often involving drugs and the casting of spells upon people - 'to practice magic, to cast spells upon, to engage in sorcery, magic, sorcery.' [It differs] from the preceding terms (53.96-53.99) in that the focus is upon the use of certain potions or drugs and the casting of spells." Regardless, I think that's kind of a side issue that isn't directly related.

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

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Jay's picture

Just to illustrate a weakness in regards to the drugs argument - the Bible doesn't say "thou shalt not take recreational drugs".  It does, however, give plenty of principles that apply to that discussion including the ownership of the body and our responsibility to maintain it, the command not to be enslaved by things, the irresponsible and wasteful use of money, the need to find satisfaction in Christ and not in things of this world, etc.  Of course, the blanket command to "obey those who are set over you" trumps all when the drugs are illegal.

I say that because I think there are Scriptural principles that govern music that work in much the same way.  In any case...back to the music discussion.

I'd also add a "ditto" to Greg's post at 12:01.  And for the record, that's now (I think) the third time in this thread that our position has been misrepresented. 

"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

Brenda T's picture

Well, seeing as I didn't write the quote and didn't say "hey, this is referring to _________ (fill in a name)", it is unnecessary to accuse me of being the one to "misrepresent" someone's position. It has been my regular practice on this thread and others to try and draw out further information and clarification.

Greg Long was right, I was simply providing input to further the discussion. Maybe it helped. Greg Long commented after the quote with some further clarification of his position. That is always helpful in understanding each other.

Keeping score and posting the score of perceived hits to one's position is not helpful. Numerous people have had to explain their positions multiple times. That's simply one of the cons of blog discussions; it's not something to take personally -- unless maybe it's a perceived attack against an idol? [insert smiley]

Thanks Greg, for the further clarification/explanation.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Jay wrote:

Aaron Blumer wrote:

It may help to get clear that in act of worship you have at least three notable parts:

- the act itself

- the motivation behind it

- the results of it/response to it

It is possible to get any two of these right and still get the third wrong. An act can be wrong and sinful even if it has good results and our heart was in the right place when we did it.

Similarly, the act can be a good thing in itself but have an evil motive, yet a good result, etc.

So we can't reduce the right and wrong of worship choices to just what's going on in the heart of the worshiper.

Aaron,

I'm not quite sure what you meant by the bolded section.  The response to worship comes from God, not from us.  We can only worship with right motivations and right actions (although I'm not backing down that worship forms can and do vary). ...

I think what you're trying to get at is that we don't allow the 'warm fuzzies' of our church services to steer how we worship.  Is that right?

No, there is definitely a response on the part of the worshiper. I guess I'd say I have two things in mind. (a) The response of the worshiper to the medium of worship--that is, the music, the poetry, the prayer, whatever. Especially in the case of singing, there is clearly a medium and the reason we use a medium at all is that, in part, it does something to the worshiper. I believe this is part of God's intent in commanding us to use music: it helps the truth reach the affections of worshipers.  

(b) The response of the worshiper to worship itself. The act of bowing heart and mind before God, confessing His excellence and our weakness and wickedness--this produces a response in the worshiper as well. But mainly in the reference above, I'm thinking of (a).

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Not sure at what point this entered the discussion... but sometimes folks invoke sola scriptura to argue that a particular application should not be made. But sola has never meant that we obey only the letter of the Bible and refrain from using its principles to govern uniquely individual choices or modern temptations.

So, sola is not really relevant here. We all believe in it. And we all believe in at least some firm, emphatic, non-negotiable stands on matters that Scripture does not speak of directly or with absolute clarity. So the line of argument that suggests that either conservative views (or non-conservative ones, either way) are violating sola or giving too much weight to "extrabiblical convictions," kind of assumes what needs to be proved. It distracts... because if the application is sound, it makes little difference if it's extrabiblical or not. It's still obedience or disobedience.

So the question is, is the application sound. The issue can't be dismissed as unimportant simply because it's applicational.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Brenda T's picture

Not sure at what point this entered the discussion... but sometimes folks invoke sola scriptura to argue that a particular application should not be made.

sola scriptura entered the discussion on the first day your article appeared when a comment was made that claimed those holding to a conservative stance had 

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)

However, I'm the one who brought it up today. 

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