An Examination of Sovereign Grace Ministries and Getty-Townend For Use in Fundamental Christian Churches (1)

There are 26 Comments

Don Johnson's picture

I appreciate the link. I'd like to respond to a question offered in the thread I started announcing this article:

I'm just curious...did Doug give permission for that post?

If you will go to our site, you will see that we are giving prominent space to Doug's new book on music. A recent article is an excerpt from his book, and this article is submitted along with it. That should answer your question.

And, if I may offer an additional plug, from what I have seen, Doug's book is well worth reading. Everyone should buy a copy.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

BryanBice's picture

Actually, Don, it doesn't answer the question re. whether Doug gave permission for that particular post.

Rob Fall's picture

What makes you think this post wasn't made under mutual agreement?

BryanBice wrote:

Actually, Don, it doesn't answer the question re. whether Doug gave permission for that particular post.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

DavidO's picture

Upcoming installments will no doubt tackle Patch the Pirate, 1920's Gospel ditties, and "I'm Inright Outright Upright Downright Happy All the Time!"

 

XD

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

I will have to respectfully disagree with this statement:

"we believe that fundamental ministries are adopting a new repertoire of congregational music without a proper vetting of the texts and musical sounds, or an exploration of scriptural principles regarding the spiritual health of a local assembly"

The fundamentalist hymn publishers (like Garlock, Pettit/Coleman) and music companies (like Soundforth) have evaluated songs from SGI, the Getty's, Townend, and others, and have made the decision to use these hymns in their hymnals and recordings.  Also, most Pastors I know, have weighed the decision to use this newer hymnody by searching by practicing Scriptural and prayerful evaluation.

 

So, from the tone of this article, I am wondering if we have a new book on music out in the market that is built on this wrong assumption?

Shaynus's picture

"We believe that fundamental ministries are adopting a new repertoire of congregational music without a proper vetting of the texts and musical sounds, or an exploration of scriptural principles regarding the spiritual health of a local assembly"

I guess my reaction to this quote is a little different. How could the authors possible know what kind of private vetting of texts or exploration of principles is or is not going on in any church? I can understand criticizing a lack of teaching, which would be slightly more verifiable, but to criticize a lack of study is really impossibly hard to prove or even surmise. A more honest and responsible statement would be to say "we don't agree with this new move we see in many churches." 

Don Johnson's picture

"We believe..."

Would be the words that should be a tip off.

While it may be difficult to prove as a statement of fact, as an observation I suppose you will have to wait and see if the matters the authors bring forward show insufficient thought has been given to the question.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

DBachorik's picture

Pastor Bice and I are friends (and he is the pastor of my wife's home church) and his question stems from a conversation we had a few months ago, while my family and I were on furlough. Yes, the "Examination..." was posted with both my and Pastor Ryan Weberg's permission. Sorry for any confusion I have caused.

Director of music studies, Bob Jones Memorial Bible College

PhD candidate, Durham University

DBachorik's picture

Hello, DavidO,

Don't worry, neither I nor Pastor Weberg (co-author of the article) have any intention of starting a series! Of course, I think every local church and Christian ministry has the responsibility of examining anything before inclusion in ministry. We hope this article will be an encouragement to careful evaluation.

Pastor Weberg and I wrote this article primarily as a response to the many questions we have received about the specific ministries in question. Could I ask you and other readers to not make any judgments until you have read the entire article? It is being serialized into three sections, I believe.

DB

Director of music studies, Bob Jones Memorial Bible College

PhD candidate, Durham University

DBachorik's picture

Pastor Roof,

Thanks for your note. I appreciate your perspective regarding the quote above. I have no doubt of the veracity of your statement regarding publishers, although I have no personal knowledge of how those ministries evaluate what they use. (I am friends with many folks in those ministries, so this should not be viewed as a sly slap at them). My statement about fundamental ministries has two points: 1. from what I can see, many ministries have not taken the time to make a careful examination; 2. those that have made some examination may not have considered some of the issues Pastor Weberg and I raise.

It may be that your 'fundamentalist neighborhood' has operated differently from what I have observed in Asia and North America. As was stated in another posted response, this article was written in response to numerous requests and questions. I praise the Lord for any ministries that are careful about their use and application of the Scriptures in the area of music, whether they actually agree with my study and application or not.

Regarding the book connection - I greatly appreciate Proclaim and Defend's promotion of NEW HEART... but the "Examination..." article is not a part of that book.

I trust your complete reading of all three parts will put the "Examination..." article in a better light.

DB

Director of music studies, Bob Jones Memorial Bible College

PhD candidate, Durham University

DBachorik's picture

Shaynus,

Please read my response to Pastor Roof. The statement certainly was not intended as a criticism, so much as a statement of what we (the authors) have observed. Trust me when I say, before the Lord, that we strove to be as scrupulously 'honest and responsible' as possible. A reading of the remaining parts of the article, will, I trust, bear this out.

DB

Director of music studies, Bob Jones Memorial Bible College

PhD candidate, Durham University

Shaynus's picture

I understand the technicality that you're talking about only what you have observed. My point is that you can't have possibly observed what happens mostly in private, and make any kind of point that has "oughtness" behind it. Again, a direct approach to the "oughtness" of a matter is better than telling the kids that they haven't really done the research. I simply think your essay would have a better thrust and direction, if the premise was something like "you shouldn't do this" than "you haven't thought hard enough about this." Get it? I await the next installments. 

Also, why are comments happening here publicly and not your website? 

Rob Fall's picture

the website in question is the FBFI's blog.  That is about as public as SI and SI has a wider audience.  As for the rest, let's see parts 2 and 3.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Rob Fall's picture

Please, note the original thread (now read only) was started on SI by P&D's editor Don Johnson.  I assume he wanted to get the article out to a wider audience.   [Groucho Marx on] Also, I believe Brother Don assumed there were some here that would die before they had P&D in the browser's history[Groucho Marx end]

Shaynus wrote:

The comment is about comments, Rob.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

DBachorik's picture

Shaynus wrote:

I understand the technicality that you're talking about only what you have observed. My point is that you can't have possibly observed what happens mostly in private, and make any kind of point that has "oughtness" behind it. Again, a direct approach to the "oughtness" of a matter is better than telling the kids that they haven't really done the research. I simply think your essay would have a better thrust and direction, if the premise was something like "you shouldn't do this" than "you haven't thought hard enough about this." Get it? I await the next installments. 

Also, why are comments happening here publicly and not your website? 

Thanks for the further thoughts. I appreciate your opinion on the directness of approach. My hope is that even if folks walk away from the article not in complete agreement (rather likely), they will at least appreciate the way in which issues were handled and be encouraged to give careful examination, not merely accepting or rejecting the next new product promoted to evangelical Christianity. Hope you enjoy the rest of the article.

Director of music studies, Bob Jones Memorial Bible College

PhD candidate, Durham University

Jim's picture

A Response to Dr. Frank Garlock’s Teaching About Praise

Garlock teaches plainly that music is not a-moral.  Its character is moral.

What’s the difference?  A knife is a-moral.  It’s neither good, nor bad.  Depending on who’s holding that knife, it can do things that are either good or evil.  It can accomplish good things by freeing the bonds of a captive, or slicing a tomato for a sandwich.  But - in the hands of a fiend - a knife can also murder the innocent.  It’s a tool.

In Frank Garlock’s world, however, music is NOT just a tool.  Music is a powerful entity that - in itself - is either holy or evil.  He teaches that music is moral or immoral by its very nature, and cannot be neutral.  The sound itself is here to either help you or to hurt you.  There’s no middle ground.

He attempts to support this truth by associating it with the character of God Himself.  Garlock reasons that since (a) God is musical, and (b) God is moral, therefore (c) music is moral by nature.  That’s Frank’s Theorem.

(Note: for fun, try Frank’s Theorem with any other two random attributes of God, and see how it works.  Here’s one to get you started: (a) God is kind, and (b) God is unchangeable.  Therefore (c) kindness is unchangeable.  Kids, you can try Frank’s Theorum at home: (a) Rudolph is a reindeer, and (b) Rudolph has a red nose.  Therefore, (c) all reindeers have red noses!  Donner and Prancer might disagree, but I digress.)

Frank’s Theorem gives birth to Frank’s Bottom Line: There are only two styles of music:  (a) the style which is is moral and “acceptable to the Lord” and (b) the style which is immoral and “unacceptable to the Lord.”  It’s a simple binary system.  His personal mission statement is found in Eph. 5:10: “Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.”  For those who don’t agree with what he’s proven, he’s obviously adopted the next verse in context: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

So the battle’s on; we’ll either accept what Garlock’s “proven” or be “reproved.”  With no middle ground, his definition of unacceptable music is any style that smacks of “worldliness.”

Don Johnson's picture

Shaynus wrote:

Also, why are comments happening here publicly and not your website? 

Shane, P&D is not a forum for debate. There is provision to make comments that may or may not be published at a future date (letters to the editor style). The purpose of posting here was to let people know about the article, not really to stimulate debate. I appreciate the Filings link by Jim because it gets even more notice than a privately initiated thread in the forum.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Shaynus's picture

Yeah. I think the pattern of hymn history is that in any era there are those hymns that catch on for a while, but are then dropped in 20 or 100 or 300 years, and then there are those that stand the test of time. I want timeless hymns for sure, but I think we're kidding ourselves if we think we know which ones will last. So I like all good hymns, even old ones put to new tunes (I'd appreciate any thoughts you have on Indelible Grace and the modern hymn movement as well)

St. Francis of Assisi had association issues. 

Dan McGhee's picture

Jim wrote:
A Response to Dr. Frank Garlock's Teaching About Praise

Garlock teaches plainly that music is not a-moral.  Its character is moral.

 

What's the difference?  A knife is a-moral.  It's neither good, nor bad.  Depending on who's holding that knife, it can do things that are either good or evil.  It can accomplish good things by freeing the bonds of a captive, or slicing a tomato for a sandwich.  But - in the hands of a fiend - a knife can also murder the innocent.  It's a tool.

In Frank Garlock's world, however, music is NOT just a tool.  Music is a powerful entity that - in itself - is either holy or evil.  He teaches that music is moral or immoral by its very nature, and cannot be neutral.  The sound itself is here to either help you or to hurt you.  There's no middle ground.

He attempts to support this truth by associating it with the character of God Himself.  Garlock reasons that since (a) God is musical, and (b) God is moral, therefore (c) music is moral by nature.  That's Frank's Theorem.

(Note: for fun, try Frank's Theorem with any other two random attributes of God, and see how it works.  Here's one to get you started: (a) God is kind, and (b) God is unchangeable.  Therefore (c) kindness is unchangeable.  Kids, you can try Frank's Theorum at home: (a) Rudolph is a reindeer, and (b) Rudolph has a red nose.  Therefore, (c) all reindeers have red noses!  Donner and Prancer might disagree, but I digress.)

Frank's Theorem gives birth to Frank's Bottom Line: There are only two styles of music:  (a) the style which is is moral and "acceptable to the Lord" and (b) the style which is immoral and "unacceptable to the Lord."  It's a simple binary system.  His personal mission statement is found in Eph. 5:10: "Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord."  For those who don't agree with what he's proven, he's obviously adopted the next verse in context: "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."

So the battle's on; we'll either accept what Garlock's "proven" or be "reproved."  With no middle ground, his definition of unacceptable music is any style that smacks of "worldliness."

 

THIS.........

Jay's picture

Jim wrote:
A Response to Dr. Frank Garlock's Teaching About Praise

Frank's Theorem gives birth to Frank's Bottom Line: There are only two styles of music:  (a) the style which is is moral and "acceptable to the Lord" and (b) the style which is immoral and "unacceptable to the Lord."  It's a simple binary system.  His personal mission statement is found in Eph. 5:10: "Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord."  For those who don't agree with what he's proven, he's obviously adopted the next verse in context: "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."

So the battle's on; we'll either accept what Garlock's "proven" or be "reproved."  With no middle ground, his definition of unacceptable music is any style that smacks of "worldliness."

Actually, I do agree with Garlock that music is either pleasing to the Lord or it is not.  There's not a lot of degrees between things that are holy and righteous and things that are evil and sinful.

Where I do think Garlock goes wrong (and I've read a few of his books) is in his criteria for determining what is and isn't acceptable.  Rather than basing the 'acceptableness' of music on musical styles or arrangements, why don't we just go to what the song teaches (So How Deep The Father's Love for Us by SGM is OK, and some of the stuff in Majesty Hymns is...not as acceptable)?

"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

DavidO's picture

Jay wrote:
Where I do think Garlock goes wrong (and I've read a few of his books) is in his criteria for determining what is and isn't acceptable.  Rather than basing the 'acceptableness' of music on musical styles or arrangements, why don't we just go to what the song teaches . . . ?

Because music is music and words are words.  Both teach. 

(Not that I would purposefully defend Garlock in general.)

While I agree with your assessment of the words of "How Deep the Father's Love" vs. certain "approved" but lame fundamentalist songs, it's not really a fair comparison - one cherry-picked good example vs all the bad ones in a given hymnal.  It's the rare hymnal that has all good ones.

Jay's picture

True...it's not really a fair comparison.  I used the first example that came to mind, because I don't happen to have a Majesty at hand right now.  Maybe I can come up with a better one later.

It just strikes me as so incredibly disconcerting that some drivel is acceptable because it comes from the 'right' places, and some deep and doctrinal stuff is argued against because they used drums or cymbals or whatever.  I think that point still stands, Psalm 150:5 notwithstanding, that is Smile

"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

Dan McGhee's picture

I realize this is anecdotal, but indulge me for a moment because it gets to the heart of Jim's comments regarding Frank Garlock.

Several years ago I was privileged to lead a Single Adult Ministry called "Cornerstone" at a very fine fundamental Baptist Church. This church has a great pastor, with great people, and all the usual BJU-type connections. One Christmas several BJU college students came home on Christmas break and attended one of our SAM Wednesday night gatherings. To my surprise, a couple of these college students were upset one evening because we had sung "There Is A Redeemer" which, of course, was written by Melody Green, wife of famous CCM singer/songwriter, Keith Green.

 So, they scheduled an appointment with me that week so they could "discuss" with me this great compromise I had made. The conversation was going very well for them up until the point I pulled out the Majesty Hymnal and showed them that the song was right there in black and white. It was funny to watch the looks on their faces at that moment, especially since they had attempted to argue with great vigor how I had compromised the "Association Principle." Suddenly, in that one compelling moment, these dear college students now saw that it was "OK" to sing this song. Why? Because Frank said so...LOL.

Anyway, I won't bore you with any more details, but I will say this - I, and many others like me over the years, came to the point where we were no longer going to allow what I call "The Music Popes Of Greenville" to decide for us what songs were acceptable, and especially, WHEN they were now acceptable. I am so thankful for the younger men of conviction who I see choosing not to be lemmings in this issue. 

 

DBachorik's picture

Friends,

Could I suggest that readers of the "Examination..." installments on Proclaim and Defend read the following article:  http://www.proclaimanddefend.org/2012/12/06/music-and-missions/

The article is also posted on SharperIron. Although it is not directly connected to the article being discussed in this particular forum, I think it is actually a more important article, dealing with some of the presuppositions used in the "Examination..."

Thanks for your thoughtful consideration and comments!

DB

Director of music studies, Bob Jones Memorial Bible College

PhD candidate, Durham University