Keith Getty: Modern worship mov't is 'utterly dangerous,' causing 'de-Christianizing of God’s people'

"In an interview with The Christian Post, Getty said many modern worship songs focus on emotionalism rather than sound doctrine and Scriptural truths. This, he said, leads to a generation ill-equipped to understand or defend the Christian faith." - Christian Post 

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Ed Vasicek's picture

Great article.  Thanks for posting.

"The Midrash Detective"

Bert Perry's picture

Agreed with the Gettys as far as it goes, but it strikes me that the very lyric/poetic form of music (in just about any genre) as opposed to prose ought to indicate to us that if the music we use to praise God lacks an emotional component, it's most likely failing.  I would argue that good praise music ought to have a foundation of Biblical truth, but be expressed in such a way as engages both heart and mind.  

Another way of phrasing the matter is that the peculiar power of music--the reason that nearly 40 years after I ceased to watch the Cubs game every afternoon on WGN, I can still dial the number for Empire Carpet in Chicago--is that when it's done right, music communicates to both mind and heart in a way that prose generally speaking does not.

That said, kudos to the Gettys for getting the ball rolling on what really matters in this area.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Agreed with the Gettys as far as it goes, but it strikes me that the very lyric/poetic form of music (in just about any genre) as opposed to prose ought to indicate to us that if the music we use to praise God lacks an emotional component,

If you look at Biblical poetry, you have meter and a host of poetic devices, not necessarily rhyme. I don't know if we would really consider that poetry as we understand it at a popular level.  I don't fault you for having a preference, just saying. And, if you ever heard the Getty's sing, there is certainly no shortage of emotion!  Like you, though, I do love poems set to music, but I love deep content more.  

"The Midrash Detective"

Bert Perry's picture

Understood that the Hebrews used poetic devices (not just rhyme as you note) somewhat differently than most English-writing poets, Ed, but wouldn't we still conclude--whether it's end rhyme, meter, consonance, whatever--that in most any language, poetic speech differs from prose in things like "that which is left unsaid" (there's a lot more to contemplate in Shakespeare, Goethe, or David than in, say, a users' manual or nonfiction book about dung beetles), and in its intrinsic appeal to the emotions?

At the very least, that's what I'd conclude from the Psalms--there are a lot of places where one would have to conclude that many passages are more of an "invitation to contemplation" than an Aristotelian logical premiss.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ed Vasicek's picture

poetic speech differs from prose in things like "that which is left unsaid" (there's a lot more to contemplate in Shakespeare, Goethe, or David than in, say, a users' manual or nonfiction book about dung beetles), and in its intrinsic appeal to the emotions?

At the very least, that's what I'd conclude from the Psalms--there are a lot of places where one would have to conclude that many passages are more of an "invitation to contemplation" than an Aristotelian logical premiss.

I would agree that this is the case sometimes.  But sometimes poetry could be more concrete and theological:

From I Timothy 3:16, "He was manifested in the flesh,
    vindicated by the Spirit,
        seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
    believed on in the world,
        taken up in glory."

2 Timothy 2:11

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

I think we have plenty of room for both.  I suspect that we probably agree on that, just looking at things from more one side than the other kind of thing.

 

"The Midrash Detective"

Andrew K's picture

Poetry is legendarily difficult to define.

My best effort is that it is a form of utterance that makes creative use of the native features of one (or more) languages, marked by concision and a high degree of intentionality. Because of its characteristic density, it invites reflection and rewards careful rereading, occasionally even playing with multiple meanings.

Classic English poetry made frequent use of rhyme because (a) rhyme appeals to the ear; and (b) rhyme is a creative and difficult activity in English.

In Chinese, by contrast, rhyme is infrequent because each syllable only has approx. 40 final endings (and far fewer common ones, like "-in."). It's too easy. Chinese poetry, like Hebrew, relies on parallelism, imagery, and--unlike Hebrew poetry--plays on the calligraphy. Also for the classical Chinese, interestingly enough, poetry and music are not separate arts but the very same art.

Btw, if you look at Anglo-Saxon poetry (e.g., Beowulf) rhyming seems to be less frequent. Perhaps because it was too difficult. Alliteration seems to have been the default poetic device.

Ultimately, however, most historic poetic features have a more prosaic (pardon the pun) function: they aid memorization.

Most literary theorists would agree, however, that with lyric poetry (the kind usually set to music), the primary impulse is transcendent and to the emotions. Narrative and dramatic poetry are slightly different story (pun again!).