BJU Releases Music Philosophy

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kirkedoyle's picture

(and I would fall in both camps...) you have to appreciate their desire to be clear in their convictions.  There is still much room for discussion, but they have taken a stand graciously.  

WBailey's picture

BJ music policy quote-

 

"How do we define rock music?

When compared with the characteristics of other musical genres (e.g., folk music, patriotic music, classical concert music and traditional sacred music), the rock genre is distinguished by the combination of some or all of the following characteristics—sensual singing styles, dominating beat, heavy percussion, overwhelming volume and an overall atmosphere that counteracts self‐control, especially when coupled in performance with elements such as a defiant demeanor, immodest attire, sexually suggestive dancing or crude gestures. Attempts to couple worldly vehicles like rock music (and other pop styles) with sacred lyrics and settings create a moral tension for the believer and contradict the Christian’s call to a consecrated approach to life (Rom. 12:1–2)."

I have never once experienced one of the above feelings while listening to Casting Crowns , Jeremy Camp , Kutless and many more "rock" groups. Now I'm well aware of these attributes being present in some secular rock music, but to make a blanket statement is just what seems to be driving this endless debate , which is, all rock is ungodly, maybe their not saying this , but I don't know how else to take it , since every BJU man I've ever sat under or read seem to hold such a position, their may be some who are of the BJU stripe that do not ( I'm sure there are) but I'm only speaking of my own experience. 

"the rock genre is distinguished by the combination of some or all of the following characteristics—sensual singing styles, dominating beat, heavy percussion, overwhelming volume"

I fail to see any of these particular qualities as anti scriptural in and of themselves. And as for " sensual singing styles"are we talking the lyrics or the tone in which the lyrics are sung, I once attended a Mark Herbster conf. on music and he played a song from a lady associated with sovereign grace , and stated that she was singing sensually, I almost burst out laughing, as this was a purely subjective statement. 

Thats my take anyway. 

Mr Bailey

WBailey's picture

I should also state I appreciated and agreed with a big portion of their policy , I'm also not saying that the blanket statements made about the rock genre is what's driving this bigger debate on music in worship. It's just a small part of the debate as a whole. 

Mr Bailey

DHarry's picture

I happen to agree with the stand that BJU has taken on the issue of music.  To be honest, though, I did not go to school there so whether I agree or not really isn't that big of an issue with me.  However, I am very appreciative of a ministry being willing to articulate where they stand.  Whether I agree or not with their music direction, my biggest disappointment with how NIU has handled their music issues recently is in how the changes were communicated poorly.

Isaiah 64:8  But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

Jay's picture

What is "set to excellent music"?

Whatever someone at BJU says is?  I'm not sure, really.

Seriously, I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with this music policy, although I thought that the ending paragraph about 'rock music' felt tacked on to the end as a kind of cover-all.   Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go listen to some Enfield or SGM.

Think about it.

"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

Mark_Smith's picture

SGM on their own website says they believe that all NT gifts are operating today. That is charismatic theology. While some SGM music (I say some because I haven't heard all of their songs...) is pleasant to listen to, as an Independent Baptist I would not sing it or use it in my church. And, since I don't want to confuse people by listening to one type of music at home and using another in the church, I have to separate from the music put out by SGM.

ejohansen's picture

Just my personal opinion - but someone should be assigned the task of turning out all the lights when BJU closes.  

This line in the sand will most likely be the death-blow to BJU.  Outside the very limited sphere of BJU (and similar) churches, folks have moved along from this issue.  

The Christian school not 500 yards from my office no longer sends students to BJU.  Not that they don't want to - two generations of their administration are BJU grads, but the students don't want to go.  Ask yourself, Why?

Dan Burrell's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

SGM on their own website says they believe that all NT gifts are operating today. That is charismatic theology. While some SGM music (I say some because I haven't heard all of their songs...) is pleasant to listen to, as an Independent Baptist I would not sing it or use it in my church. And, since I don't want to confuse people by listening to one type of music at home and using another in the church, I have to separate from the music put out by SGM.

 

Mark, I sure as shooting hope you don't listen to any Southern Gospel music then or any of the Wesley hymns either, for that matter.

 

As we say here in the Carolinas, you gotta' learn to eat the meat and spit out the bones.

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

Jay's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:
SGM on their own website says they believe that all NT gifts are operating today. That is charismatic theology. While some SGM music (I say some because I haven't heard all of their songs...) is pleasant to listen to, as an Independent Baptist I would not sing it or use it in my church. And, since I don't want to confuse people by listening to one type of music at home and using another in the church, I have to separate from the music put out by SGM.

Mark - 

I agree with you on some of this.  Here's my follow up question for you though - what happens when SGM songs start showing up in your hymnals?  Or why not just use the songs you can use anyway?  

You wouldn't apply this criteria to the hymns in your existing hymnal now.  So what is the difference?

"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

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

Why did BJU put out a music philosophy statement?  I thought their philosophy of music was pretty clear before this statement.

GregH's picture

Pastor Joe Roof wrote:

Why did BJU put out a music philosophy statement?  I thought their philosophy of music was pretty clear before this statement.

Agreed. Not sure why it is news. Does it really affect anyone that does not go to that school? I hope not...

dgszweda's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

SGM on their own website says they believe that all NT gifts are operating today. That is charismatic theology.

What does the theology of the music publisher have to do with the theology of the songs.  The songs should stand on their own.  Just like none of us care about the stance of the publisher of the hymnal, or the company who printed the hymnal, or the paper manufacturer of the hymnal.  Most of the songs on an SGM album aren't even written by or performed by an SGM artist.  I am not sure we all agree with St. Francis of Assisi's theology or the theology of the Roman Catholic Church, but it doesn't stop the vast majority of fundamentalist from singing, "All Creatures of our God and King".

Mark_Smith wrote:
While some SGM music (I say some because I haven't heard all of their songs...) is pleasant to listen to,

What is pleasant?  This is a totally arbitrary statement and shouldn't be a qualifier.  I personally don't find Southern Gospel or even some of the songs in our hymnals as pleasant, but that doesn't cause me to either not sing it or be present during it's singing.

 

Mark_Smith wrote:
as an Independent Baptist I would not sing it or use it in my church.

 

The type of baptist you are shouldn't dictate the type of music you would sing or listen to in your church.

 

Mark_Smith wrote:
And, since I don't want to confuse people by listening to one type of music at home and using another in the church, I have to separate from the music put out by SGM.

 

Have you ever sung, "Mary had a little lamb at home"? or "Itsy bitsy spider?"

 

This to me is the classic trail that many Christians go down when they try to determine the music they will listen to.  1)Someone connected to the music isn't right theologically, 2) It doesn't sound pleasant, 3)What would others think.

Greg Linscott's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

SGM on their own website says they believe that all NT gifts are operating today. That is charismatic theology. While some SGM music (I say some because I haven't heard all of their songs...) is pleasant to listen to, as an Independent Baptist I would not sing it or use it in my church. And, since I don't want to confuse people by listening to one type of music at home and using another in the church, I have to separate from the music put out by SGM.

Mark,

If we're limiting our music in that way, there's a lot you won't be able to use. One example: Do you believe that perfection is possible in this life through a second work of grace or experience of "entire sanctification"? There were a lot of hymnwriters whose songs Independent Baptists typically use, including, prominent people like Fanny Crosby, who either held to that or were very comfortable associating with those that did.

 

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

DHarry's picture

You cannot separate the theological views of a person from the songs that they write.  Music by its nature either teaches us truth or reinforces truth already known.  True, writers from long ago had some theological views that I may not agree with, however, I am not likely to know anything more about Fanny Crosby's doctrine than the songs that have survived that we still sing because of their solid theological teaching.  However, I have two observations:

 

     1. It is not wise to hold on to old hymns that are weak doctrinally simply because they were the hymns we grew up with.  Frankly, many of the older hymns were written at a time where every song was set to a specific musical pattern whether it matched the words or not...and where words were often just used as fillers to make the rhythm work.  I would give examples but would probably be chastised so I will challenge you to look through your old hymnal and find the songs I am referring to.

 

     2. It is very dangerous to accept a persons theological positions (as written in song) if you disagree with their theological positions as stated in their doctrinal statement.  For example, I do not listen to SGM music.  Why?  Because I disagree with their position on Soteriology and it is incredible how many times that view affects the words used in their songs.  I disagree with their overemphasis of the sovereignty of God.  It shows up in almost every song they write.  If I disagree with them theologically it would be foolish of me to put my blinders on and to say that I can then listen to their music and it be of no effect.  

 

As someone that grew up listening to southern gospel music, I have had to carefully evaluate the direction of that movement and make personal choices for me and my family.    Those choices sometimes direct me toward or away from groups or genres based on their doctrine.

 

Isaiah 64:8  But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

Greg Linscott's picture

Pastor Joe Roof wrote:

Why did BJU put out a music philosophy statement?  I thought their philosophy of music was pretty clear before this statement.

Via a campus contact, I understood this to be a document that has been in the works for months, if not years. I also understand them to have had policies and various means of addressing the philosophical reasons behind those polices by citations, but not one streamlined document that could be pointed to that would articulate their position.

I think the statement is concise and easy to understand. Whether one agrees with it or not, I think it makes pretty clear for the prospective student what one can expect while a BJU student, and why, for sure.

It will be interesting to see exactly how the applications  will remain "essentially unchanged." They appear to have left themselves a little wiggle room as to how the principles will be enforced.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

dgszweda's picture

DHarry wrote:

You cannot separate the theological views of a person from the songs that they write.  Music by its nature either teaches us truth or reinforces truth already known.  True, writers from long ago had some theological views that I may not agree with, however, I am not likely to know anything more about Fanny Crosby's doctrine than the songs that have survived that we still sing because of their solid theological teaching.  However, I have two observations:

 

     1. It is not wise to hold on to old hymns that are weak doctrinally simply because they were the hymns we grew up with.  Frankly, many of the older hymns were written at a time where every song was set to a specific musical pattern whether it matched the words or not...and where words were often just used as fillers to make the rhythm work.  I would give examples but would probably be chastised so I will challenge you to look through your old hymnal and find the songs I am referring to.

 

This I agree.  It is funny when people challenge the songs of today but gloss over the songs of yesteryear, just because they are use to them.

 

DHarry wrote:

     2. It is very dangerous to accept a persons theological positions (as written in song) if you disagree with their theological positions as stated in their doctrinal statement.  For example, I do not listen to SGM music.  Why?  Because I disagree with their position on Soteriology and it is incredible how many times that view affects the words used in their songs.  I disagree with their overemphasis of the sovereignty of God.  It shows up in almost every song they write.  If I disagree with them theologically it would be foolish of me to put my blinders on and to say that I can then listen to their music and it be of no effect.  

This is fine for you personally, but I am not sure it can hold up to a standard.  What does it matter their theological positions (especially when oftentimes they don't even write the song.  They are just a publisher.  If the theology is truly wrong in the song, then we shouldn't sing it.  Again, the overemphasis on the Sovereignty of God is a preference.  There is nothing theologically wrong with singing about God's sovereignty.  The same can be said of southern gospel music that tends to be musically sappy and overemphasizes about our experiences when we get to heaven.

alex o.'s picture

Attempts to couple worldly vehicles like rock music (and other pop styles) with sacred lyrics and settings create a moral tension for the believer and contradict the Christian’s call to a consecrated approach to life (Rom. 12:1–2).

 

moral tension or cultural conditioning tension?

 

It is clear that BJU take the extreme position of including "sound" as a moral element. They are saying certain chord combinations, beat are inherently moral. 

An observation and disagreement. I don't have time to perch online and discuss this ad nauseam.

 

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

DHarry's picture

...that the publisher of the song isn't the main issue (to me).  However, if a publisher consistently creates/sings/produces music with the same theological direction, it quickly becomes on sided and unbalanced.

 

If I preach every Sunday on the sovereignty of God, if I teach it in Sunday School, if it comes up in devotions...one would say that I am presenting a skewed view of God.  Why?  Because God is so much more than just sovereign and in my attempt to communicate my belief in God's sovereignty, I have wrongly communicated my God.  

 

If on a CD, 8 out of 10 songs emphasize the sovereignty of God over creation, over nature, over mankind, my dependence on a sovereign God, God's sovereignty in salvation, God's sovereignty in trials, my submission to a sovereign God...have we not communicated a wrong message about our God?  I think that a ministry that has a wrong or misplaced theology will present itself in the music that it produces/sings/endorses.  

 

OR, if on a CD, 8 of 10 songs emphasize me coming to God, what God did for me, my choosing God, me getting ready, when I get carried away, I'm not giving up, I'll fly away, How my life changed from sin, How my world was rearranged, how God heard my cry and saved me, ... I think we get the point.  

 

To bring it home, if we cannot accept blindly the music of years past simply because it was the music we grew up with (even if it was misplaced or shallow doctrinally), how can we accept the music of today even if it is misplaced doctrinally?  We can't.  The final authority must be the filter of God's Word.  For me, if the author has a skewed view of a major theological theme, it will always find it's way out in his/her music.  

Isaiah 64:8  But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

Greg Linscott's picture

If you're choosing to object to the Calvinism in SGM songs, I can understand that. I don't think that will present many problems for many on this site, though. I would go so far as to say it is actually an attractant for many, in fact.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

dgszweda's picture

DHarry,

 

You assume that if someone likes an SGM song that they like the totality of the library and that library is used exclusively.  I agree if we only sing Wesley hymns or Fanny Crosby or SGM exclusively than we have a problem.  We pick and choose some.  Just because one group emphasizes that in their singing, doesn't mean it is theologically incorrect, only if you are exclusively singing it would you have a problem.  If every Sunday we preached solely out of Romans, it wouldn't make the sermons anymore or any less theologically correct, but it would make the totality of what you taught over many years, skewed.  So I can see your point, but I wouldn't say we can wholesale wipe all of the songs out.  You would need to act with balance, just as you do your preaching.

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

I believe it is fine that BJU saw a need to present this statement.  But my concern is that this music issue is being elevated as the top concern in the BJU fundamentalists circles.  Certainly, as we follow the Lord, concerns will arise out of differences that require our prayers, discussions over differences, the seeking of ways to correct one another where needed and forebear one another in love where needed.  But if our main concern is whether a church in plunking an organ or picking a guitar, whe are going to miss the issues that need to be much more important to us.

I just spoke at a missions conference this weekend and shared these info points about where God has placed me to serve.  Can I request that we consider putting at least as much passion in fuguring out how to do something about these needs as we do in discussing music?

7 billion people in the world today.
No more than 20 percent know Christ as Savior.

We are in the most lost region of America - the Northeast.
66 Million people living in CT,ME, MA, NJ, NH, NY, PA, RI, and VT. 
Estimated that 51 million of these are without Christ.  That is 82%.

 

In NY, NJ, CT, and MA, there are 27 million lost people who speak over 800 languages

In NY State there are 19,541,453 people.  Of that, 560,678 claim to be evangelical.  That means that 97 percent are lost.

Albany – one of the top 13 most unreached places in America.

On April 2, 2013, the Albany Times Union announced that Capital Region is one of the least religious places in America according to a recent Gallup poll.

Barna is reporting that the Capital Region of New York State is the most post-Christian place in America.  His chart shows that New York State is basicaly the most post-Christian state in the Union.

 

dmyers's picture

As a BJU grad, I found this statement much more thoughtful and balanced than the school's position was in the late '70's and early '80's.  That is striking enough, but even more striking to me is the repeated acknowledgment that "other institutions, congregations and individuals may apply these principles differently than BJU will apply them based upon their own efforts to reflect scriptural principles within their respective contexts and in keeping with their unique institutional missions."  The recognition that the BJU way is not the only way and that others may have different applications while still making "efforts to reflect scriptural principles" is huge.  Gone (apparently) is the nose in the air attitude and the dismissal of those who make different applications as "worldly."  Assuming I'm reading this correctly, bravo.  BRAVO!

Also, if my understanding of this policy is correct, BJU just cut the legs out from under Matt Olson's and NIU's critics on this issue.  Apparently too late to help Olson.

As someone else noted above, however, the final paragraph ostensibly defining rock music strikes a discordant note.  It's glaringly out of sync and more in line with the silly generalizations of the "old" approach.  It really ought to be dropped entirely.

jcoleman's picture

DHarry wrote:

If on a CD, 8 out of 10 songs emphasize the sovereignty of God over creation, over nature, over mankind, my dependence on a sovereign God, God's sovereignty in salvation, God's sovereignty in trials, my submission to a sovereign God...have we not communicated a wrong message about our God?  I think that a ministry that has a wrong or misplaced theology will present itself in the music that it produces/sings/endorses.  

You're assuming that God's sovereignty isn't emphasized to that degree in scripture.

But many of us here believe that as God is the primary actor in all of history, all of scripture explicitly or implicitly teaches his sovereignty. And as such, we're going to call it out through all of scripture, and it will naturally pervade all of our music--in the same way that it pervades our teaching and preaching and meditation.

C. D. Cauthorne Jr.'s picture

BJU's brand is that of traditional evangelicalism (or Fundamentalism).  If it doesn't remain conservative on issues such as music, it will lose its base.  If you lose your base, you end up like Tennessee Temple or Northland.

Sure, what BJU offers may cause its pool of students to grow smaller and smaller each year, but to radically change would bring about a crash in enrollment.  BJU is what it is.  (And many of us like it.)

WBailey's picture

Romans 14:14-

"   I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean."

just sayin'

Mr Bailey

Jay's picture

Pastor Joe Roof wrote:
I just spoke at a missions conference this weekend and shared these info points about where God has placed me to serve.  Can I request that we consider putting at least as much passion in fuguring out how to do something about these needs as we do in discussing music?

7 billion people in the world today.
No more than 20 percent know Christ as Savior.

We are in the most lost region of America - the Northeast.
66 Million people living in CT,ME, MA, NJ, NH, NY, PA, RI, and VT. 
Estimated that 51 million of these are without Christ.  That is 82%.

In NY, NJ, CT, and MA, there are 27 million lost people who speak over 800 languages

In NY State there are 19,541,453 people.  Of that, 560,678 claim to be evangelical.  That means that 97 percent are lost.

Albany – one of the top 13 most unreached places in America.

On April 2, 2013, the Albany Times Union announced that Capital Region is one of the least religious places in America according to a recent Gallup poll.

Barna is reporting that the Capital Region of New York State is the most post-Christian place in America.  His chart shows that New York State is basicaly the most post-Christian state in the Union. 

+1

In the words of Luke - "Brothers, come over to Macedonia and help us!"

"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

Don Johnson's picture

dmyers wrote:

Also, if my understanding of this policy is correct, BJU just cut the legs out from under Matt Olson's and NIU's critics on this issue.  Apparently too late to help Olson.

I don't quite follow this... as a critic of Matt and NIU, my perception is that the BJU statement contradicts the recent NIU changes. So would you care to elaborate?

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Mike Harding's picture

Dmyers,

 

At this point none of us know why the NIU board fired Matt.  Matt has been outspoken about his changes with the full knowledge of the board.  It may not be about the music at all.  It could be about speakers in chapel and Bible class such as Jason Janz, Guy Conn, Bruce Ware.  It could be that they didn't like the way he managed the changes. It could be the rapid decline of students in the school over the last five years.  We don't know and apparently Matt doesn't understand why he was fired.  I have known Matt for almost 40 years.  I feel badly for him personally.  At the same time, if Matt wants to operate in another circle, that is his choice at this point in his life.  Matt, with his skills in preaching and extensive experience, should be able to find a ministry in the near future.  Northland has been a sister institution with BJU for about 30 years, similar in doctrine and philosophy.  I would like to see NIU adopt a similar statement on music and worship that BJU did.  Maybe they already have and simply need to blow the dust off it.

Pastor Mike Harding

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