And Can It Be . . . Another Post on Music?

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Ron Bean's picture

After all these years the "association" argument now amuses me. Ever since I was in a church that wouldn't sing "How Great Thou Art" because of its "association" with Billy Graham nor John Peterson songs because of their "association" with the rhythm of the waltz, I've come to the conclusion that one can find a negative association with nearly any hymn.

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

jreeseSr's picture

Ron Bean wrote:

After all these years the "association" argument now amuses me. Ever since I was in a church that wouldn't sing "How Great Thou Art" because of its "association" with Billy Graham nor John Peterson songs because of their "association" with the rhythm of the waltz, I've come to the conclusion that one can find a negative association with nearly any hymn.

I believe we all would agree that any  stand on "separation" would be one of degree...I remember Dr. Garth Sibert 40 yrs ago teaching us using an illustration of a megaphone for degrees of separation , narrow on one end and wide on another . starting on the narrow end is the individual (priesthood of the believer) expanding to family, expanding to Church, further expansion for fellowship and further for friends.. I find Paul exhibiting degrees of separation for evangelization while observing some rituals that he had no convictions of without defiling his priesthood or calling..

But I would agree that it has been abused as in the cases you have cited ...but I dont believe that justifies a swing all the way to the other extreme.. 

Jim

Bert Perry's picture

Regarding the utter ban on the property of the Canaanites, we have to remember that even the very clothing of the Hebrews was to be distinctive, and that until the industrial age, almost all cultures wove and embroidered very distinctive patterns into their clothing--when it took days to weeks to make the cloth, why not embroider it to make it prettier, and for that matter to make it very clear to whom it belonged?

(historical examples: sweaters from the U.K, especially Aran sweaters, Norse embroidery, smocking, etc...)

So I'd have to guess that the clothing of the Canaanites would have been so decorated in homage to their gods in the same way the Hebrews decorated their clothing in homage to YHWH, and hence the issue is not guilt by association, but rather idolatry.  The Hebrews would have been tempted to use these clothes, however, simply because of the effort needed to weave their own cloth.  Hence the "ban".   

It is worth noting as well that "guilt by association" arguments are not merely fallacious, but are also generally sinful.  Think about it a moment; if I say that a particular instrument or genre in music is inextricably connected to a particular sin, false god, or whatever, I have more or less accused a legion of instrumentalists, or all of those using a certain genre, of rather grievous sin.

If I am anything less than 100% correct, I'm guilty of slander.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

jreeseSr's picture

[quote=Bert Perry]

Regarding the utter ban on the property of the Canaanites, we have to remember that even the very clothing of the Hebrews was to be distinctive, and that until the industrial age, almost all cultures wove and embroidered very distinctive patterns into their clothing--when it took days to weeks to make the cloth, why not embroider it to make it prettier, and for that matter to make it very clear to whom it belonged?

(historical examples: sweaters from the U.K, especially Aran sweaters, Norse embroidery, smocking, etc...)

So I'd have to guess that the clothing of the Canaanites would have been so decorated in homage to their gods in the same way the Hebrews decorated their clothing in homage to YHWH, and hence the issue is not guilt by association, but rather idolatry.  The Hebrews would have been tempted to use these clothes, however, simply because of the effort needed to weave their own cloth.  Hence the "ban".   

It is worth noting as well that "guilt by association" arguments are not merely fallacious, but are also generally sinful.  Think about it a moment; if I say that a particular instrument or genre in music is inextricably connected to a particular sin, false god, or whatever, I have more or less accused a legion of instrumentalists, or all of those using a certain genre, of rather grievous sin.

If I am anything less than 100% correct, I'm guilty of slander.  

[/quote

The garment itself was not sinful but what it represented...and was not allowed...I  agree that no musical instrument is inherently evil... nor any style..but I would contend that musical styles do have an association with the culture and artists that originate them and promote it...that cannot be denied.."Guilt by association"  is your term as I have never used it because I dont believe in it... I would say that "Pork" has an association with uncleanliness to the Hebrew and I would recognize that if I were to prepare a meal... My point in stating that musical association has an impact on some people and needs to be considered.

Paul recognized that some people associated offering meat with Idol worship ...Paul knew in reality is was just a meal...He did not accuse these Christians of being sinners nor did he concede it was sin...but he did recognize the "association" of that meat with Idolatry in the minds of other Christians.. I have some christian friends that consider "Southern Gospel"  Beer joint music..I dont associate it as such but would avoid playing it when he was around...

The bottom line is that recognizing association exists does not condemn styles or instruments but when considering the ministry of music to deny ignore it would not be wise.   

 

 

Jim

Bert Perry's picture

Jim, "guilt by association" is a classical fallacy of informal logic, not my term.  It's always a false argument, and we ought to watch out for it, especially, as I noted above, it's usually the sin of slander to use it--really like most genetic fallacies of origin.  If we want to be people of the Logos (Word), we need to use sound logic.

Regarding the clothing, if it were mere association, why did the Hebrews get to keep trees, animals, buildings, and even young maidens of the Canaanites?  The shirt was wrong, but the daughter was A-OK?  We may not be told specifically what it was--I've only offered a historical likelihood--but mere association is not it.

Same basic thing for meat offered to idols--it was not mere association, but rather the fact said meat was consecrated to that idol--and so in the minds of the weak, it had power from that particular idol.  Think the "sacramentalism" of our Catholic friends-- it wasn't just about association here.

And music?  Well, what exactly are we objecting to if we decide, say, that using "heavy metal" has the "association" with sin, and thus is out of line?  Is it the use of common time and a driving beat, or the use of electronic amplification and instruments, or the use of distortion in vocals and instruments, or what?   What do we do, then, with cases where someone does the songs with different instrumentation (say the harp or bagpipes, or the squeezebox), without distortion, and the like?

More importantly, what do we do with other genre that use the same tools--keep in mind that a lot of black Gospel, and the genre derived from it (jazz/blues/rock/most country today), use these tools extensively.   For example. And another that reminds me of the recently deceased Chuck Berry. 

It's all musical and poetic tools that will, or will not, work in certain contexts and with certain messages and in certain cultures.  They're not inherently wrong because of some real or imagined association.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

jreeseSr's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Jim, "guilt by association" is a classical fallacy of informal logic, not my term.  It's always a false argument, and we ought to watch out for it, especially, as I noted above, it's usually the sin of slander to use it--really like most genetic fallacies of origin.  If we want to be people of the Logos (Word), we need to use sound logic.

Regarding the clothing, if it were mere association, why did the Hebrews get to keep trees, animals, buildings, and even young maidens of the Canaanites?  The shirt was wrong, but the daughter was A-OK?  We may not be told specifically what it was--I've only offered a historical likelihood--but mere association is not it.

Same basic thing for meat offered to idols--it was not mere association, but rather the fact said meat was consecrated to that idol--and so in the minds of the weak, it had power from that particular idol.  Think the "sacramentalism" of our Catholic friends-- it wasn't just about association here.

And music?  Well, what exactly are we objecting to if we decide, say, that using "heavy metal" has the "association" with sin, and thus is out of line?  Is it the use of common time and a driving beat, or the use of electronic amplification and instruments, or the use of distortion in vocals and instruments, or what?   What do we do, then, with cases where someone does the songs with different instrumentation (say the harp or bagpipes, or the squeezebox), without distortion, and the like?

More importantly, what do we do with other genre that use the same tools--keep in mind that a lot of black Gospel, and the genre derived from it (jazz/blues/rock/most country today), use these tools extensively.   For example. And another that reminds me of the recently deceased Chuck Berry. 

It's all musical and poetic tools that will, or will not, work in certain contexts and with certain messages and in certain cultures.  They're not inherently wrong because of some real or imagined association.  

Bert I never said you invented the term...you are the one that brought it to this conversation...but of course you understood what I meant (:   Again Paul's example I believe is appropriate. I believe the message is clear :

1. Paul knew there was no evil or sin in the meat. 2. When he found out that his liberty offended his brethren he gave it up. 3. He acknowledged their association between the meat and Idolotry.

Now in practical application if I was to dress in  baggy pants turn my hat sideways and sing a hymn composed to the same popular "RAP" song containing vulgar language and rebellious themes in the market place at my Church,some would make the association to the former...now Bert we or the church elders can have the debate on whether that is acceptable or not...but to deny that some would not make the association is just not logical

My musical appreciation has a very wide range , and I don't believe any instrument is out of consideration but I just dont believe I could worship to "RAP" as I know its roots in rebellion and depravity..I do not judge those that can. To deny that association exists and can hamper some in worship is just non sensical.

 Many say "what" you wear to church should not be important....and generally I agree...but if you showed up naked....some would say you went too far (; 

 

Jim

Ron Bean's picture

There is a real "other side" to the association argument. I've encountered people who associate 18th Century type hymnody with the apostate mainline churches they used to attend. I've met others who associate Gospel songs  from the revivalist era with easy believism. Meanwhile I've encountered believers from the inner city who understand things like the Westminster Confession of Faith and issues like false teachers from Shai Linne's hip hop but who had a difficult time understanding "O Sacred Head Now Wounded".

Again, to use association as a basis for one's argument is to take a stand on a hill of sand.

 

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

jreeseSr's picture

Ron Bean wrote:

There is a real "other side" to the association argument. I've encountered people who associate 18th Century type hymnody with the apostate mainline churches they used to attend. I've met others who associate Gospel songs  from the revivalist era with easy believism. Meanwhile I've encountered believers from the inner city who understand things like the Westminster Confession of Faith and issues like false teachers from Shai Linne's hip hop but who had a difficult time understanding "O Sacred Head Now Wounded".

Again, to use association as a basis for one's argument is to take a stand on a hill of sand.

 

Ron my position is that like it or not...it exists.....not defending it.

 

Jim

Ron Bean's picture

When there are good and godly people on both sides of an issue, perhaps we should recognize that heated debate should be avoided.

To paraphrase someone, "I'd burn at the stake for the fives Solas, but I wouldn't take a paper cut for music."

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

Joeb's picture

So Jim living in Minnesota have you heard of Mike Kingery and his family Blue Grass Gospel Group.  Also do you have any family in Northwest Ill because some Peet's married one of my father's Aunts and their children my father's cousin lived in Cedar Rapids Iowa right across from Beaver Park.  

Watchout Jim you could be my Cuz. 

Bert Perry's picture

jreeseSr wrote:

 

Bert Perry wrote:

<snip>

And music?  Well, what exactly are we objecting to if we decide, say, that using "heavy metal" has the "association" with sin, and thus is out of line?  Is it the use of common time and a driving beat, or the use of electronic amplification and instruments, or the use of distortion in vocals and instruments, or what?   What do we do, then, with cases where someone does the songs with different instrumentation (say the harp or bagpipes, or the squeezebox), without distortion, and the like?

More importantly, what do we do with other genre that use the same tools--keep in mind that a lot of black Gospel, and the genre derived from it (jazz/blues/rock/most country today), use these tools extensively.   For example. And another that reminds me of the recently deceased Chuck Berry. 

It's all musical and poetic tools that will, or will not, work in certain contexts and with certain messages and in certain cultures.  They're not inherently wrong because of some real or imagined association.  

 

 

Bert I never said you invented the term...you are the one that brought it to this conversation...but of course you understood what I meant (:   Again Paul's example I believe is appropriate. I believe the message is clear :

1. Paul knew there was no evil or sin in the meat. 2. When he found out that his liberty offended his brethren he gave it up. 3. He acknowledged their association between the meat and Idolotry.

Now in practical application if I was to dress in  baggy pants turn my hat sideways and sing a hymn composed to the same popular "RAP" song containing vulgar language and rebellious themes in the market place at my Church,some would make the association to the former...now Bert we or the church elders can have the debate on whether that is acceptable or not...but to deny that some would not make the association is just not logical

My musical appreciation has a very wide range , and I don't believe any instrument is out of consideration but I just dont believe I could worship to "RAP" as I know its roots in rebellion and depravity..I do not judge those that can. To deny that association exists and can hamper some in worship is just non sensical.

 Many say "what" you wear to church should not be important....and generally I agree...but if you showed up naked....some would say you went too far (; 

Jim, you're missing something big here; Romans 14 does not say that we ought to abstain from meat offered to idols simply because it was associated with idolatry.  The former idolater had been trained to believe that it had sacramental value.  

Regarding music, your comment about "beer joint music" really makes an important point for me, as well as your comments about rap.  For reference, the origins of rap date back centuries into Africa and include some thoroughly respectable artists.  Yes, there's some who use the craft to advocate (and participate) in fornication, drugs, and violence--just like a lot of opera composers, or a huge number of people in jazz, rock & roll, country, bluegrass, and of course CCM .  Ya wanna point the finger at hip-hop, fine, but let's be consistent....and then very, very quiet.

In the same way, I've also had people tell me things like "such and such music reminds me of the beer joint", and I've started to ask if they've ever been in a beer joint, and how Hank Jr.'s "Family Tradition" uses the same techniques as the Gaithers.  The answers are generally "no" and "um.....", indicating that many have their minds made up, but haven't bothered to learn anything of note.   So let's start to confront these attitudes instead of accommodating them.  To be blunt about the matter, when our "rules" for music are more or less "white protestants' music prior to Elvis is OK, everything else not so much", our black brothers and sisters, as well as those who know the actual origins of the genre derived from black Gospel and African literature/music, are going to take a very negative message.

And the singing naked; I am pretty sure that you can figure out a set of Biblical and practical reasons why this would be a bad idea, and that one does not need to rely on any guilt by association argument.  We can start with "the deacons are going to turn the heat down to 55 if someone says they're going to give it a try". 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Don Johnson's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

 

Jim, you're missing something big here; Romans 14 does not say that we ought to abstain from meat offered to idols simply because it was associated with idolatry.  The former idolater had been trained to believe that it had sacramental value.  

Bert, you are missing something bigger, Romans 14 doesn't say anything about meat offered to idols at all. it is meat vs. vegetables. Not meat offered to idols.

But I'm not getting into the rest of this argument, just correcting this point.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Jay's picture

Bert is referencing I Cor. 8:4-12, not Romans 14.

4 About eating food offered to idols, then, we know that “an idol is nothing in the world,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth—as there are many “gods” and many “lords”—

6 yet for us there is one God, the Father.
All things are from Him,
and we exist for Him.
And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ.
All things are through Him,
and we exist through Him.

7 However, not everyone has this knowledge. In fact, some have been so used to idolatry up until now that when they eat food offered to an idol, their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not make us acceptable to God. We are not inferior if we don’t eat, and we are not better if we do eat. 9 But be careful that this right of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone sees you, the one who has this knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, won’t his weak conscience be encouraged to eat food offered to idols? 11 Then the weak person, the brother for whom Christ died, is ruined[b] by your knowledge. 12 Now when you sin like this against the brothers and wound their weak conscience, you are sinning against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to fall, I will never again eat meat, so that I won’t cause my brother to fall.

"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

Jim's picture

Joeb wrote:
Also do you have any family in Northwest Ill because some Peet's married one of my father's Aunts and their children my father's cousin lived in Cedar Rapids Iowa right across from Beaver Park.  

Cousins  - we avoid those miscreant pagans :) 

Bert Perry's picture

Don, I have to disagree with you on Romans 8.  The question that is relevant here is why someone in the NT church would refuse to eat meat.  If we start with the Old Testament, we find nowhere that vegetarianism is commanded or even suggested, and we know from history that the pagans were no herbivores, either, with the exception of certain ascetic movements.

That leaves the reality that the major source of meat for those who were not wealthy was....pagan offerings.  So if we take a serious look at the historical setting, I don't think we can find any other reasonable explanation.  

And Jay, point well taken; and given that 1 Cor. 8 does explicitly make the connection to idolatry, and given that most musical genre that we fundamentalists have objected to have origins including black gospel, all the more sad that people try to use either passage to justify their rejection of musical genre.

And let's be blunt about the matter; black gospel was used by God, among other things, to carry His darker-skinned people through three and a half centuries of slavery and Jim Crow.  While a complete analysis of how it works is beyond my "word limit" here, suffice it to say that using its techniques both imparts Scripture to memory while providing emotional comfort to people suffering in ways we can hardly even imagine.

With a pedigree like that, maybe....just maybe....fundamentalists ought to overcome their historic culture to consider using the techniques of black gospel/jazz/rock & roll, and yes, even rap.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

jreeseSr's picture

Bert the point here is that I believe there is a biblical principle throughout the bible old and new of "separation" from the carnal influence of the "world"  as part of the "be ye separate" principle..The Israelites were instructed not to keep or wear the garments of the Canaanite as it was associated with their idolatry. They were also instructed not to mark or their bodies as not to associate with the pagans of the time.  When the violated these principles and allowed small idols to be brought in then grew into "groves" of standing idols God brought punishment.  The new testament gives similar examples of  "all things becoming new"  The maniac after the demon was cast out was washed and clothed and setting at peace(why was this recorded), the physical association was changed. The saved Jews were taking liberty to the point where Paul had to restrain them as all things may be lawful but not expedient..again , regardless "what" you term the meat it is clear Paul was not in sin when he ate it and gave it up when aware of its effect on the new converts who "associated" it with their prior worship.

Your insinuation that my personal association with RAP as vulgar and ungodly is somehow racist and this is really some sort of historical African expression is just ridiculous and any teenager saved from it could enlighten you to its purpose..or you could download several hundred copies and enlighten me to the redeeming African historical content....

When those saved from Hare Krishna movement years ago came to our youth movement they lost the robe , top knot and chant ..had they just changed the words to the chant , kept the robe , top knot and tambourine and performed at our church would have doubted "they had indeed came out from among them".......no I am not condemning Tambourines (;

My last word on the subject is that a new creature where all "things" have become new is unlikely to reach back into the environment he left if pained by it.. my point from the beginning is that music has an "association"  (valid or not)  its just part of human nature , I don't believe I am alone in associating Patriotic pieces to military, love of country and ball games... Handel's messiah has an association with "standing" on the last chorus as the King did to recognize Gods authority ..(may or may not be true) I am not saying that all associations are ungodly but for some they have the potential for great damage, but to deny its existence is  folly and quite dangerous.  The drug addict , alcoholic or homosexual are particularly at risk...

Some music will always have some "association" with a culture/activity/lifestyle for some people...that is undeniable..."How"  you address it is debatable and should be.

 

 

 

 

Jim

jreeseSr's picture

Jim wrote:

 

Joeb wrote:

Also do you have any family in Northwest Ill because some Peet's married one of my father's Aunts and their children my father's cousin lived in Cedar Rapids Iowa right across from Beaver Park.  

 

 

 

Cousins  - we avoid those miscreant pagans :) 

Jim

Bert Perry's picture

Jim, you're missing the point.  You are saying we ought to abstain from all rap, things like this , and while I concede the depravity of Harold Hill, who predates "Two Live Crew" by decades, that doesn't mean that nobody ought to use the spoken word in music as does LeCrae.  It simply does not follow.

If it did, we would have expected the Hebrews to not only burn the clothes in towns declared "haram", but also all those of the pagan traders who came through on the King's Highway.  (and we think Trump might be tough on trade!)  We would have expected them to eradicate the oak altogether in Israel, rather than just cutting down the sacred groves.  That just might have made Jesus' first trade rather difficult, to put it mildly.

And sorry, but the fact is that most fundamental objections to modern music DO indeed boil down to "white protestant's music prior to Elvis is OK, other peoples' not so much."  Here's some reference to Bob Jones 2 and Frank Garlock on the matter.  You might answer "but that's not my intention", but I'm sorry; that is what Garlock said.  Listen to it for yourself.

You don't have to fall in love with rap or heavy metal, but for goodness' sake, let's leave guilt by association in the circular file where it belongs.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joeb's picture

Bert you are correct and I do believe it is a matter of taste but you have to see it from J Reese's Perspective.  Rap plus Heavy Metal Equals Drugs.  Now I can't stand either so I would slant toward J Reese's position out of taste and what the music represents not necessarily whether it's biblical.  That's the human weakness side of me not wanting to be out of my comfort zone  

I do believe people can reach people for Christ like Brian Welch is doing but you would never catch me at one of his concerts in a 1000 years.  Yet I would be wrong if God called me to reach those people who clearly need Christ in the Counter Culture.  Again Bert I have to say your position is absolutely correct.  

Jim by the way those pictures look just like me. We must be related. My wife said she fell for me because I was so handsome. 

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