The Battle of Big Daddy Weave and Modern Music

Since this came up in the Northland thread

NIU, however, is bigger than just one person.  There are people who are much closer to NIU than me that have these concerns.  Matt's motive for the Big Daddy event was to recruit students.  He picked up about 70 plus prospects.  However, he crossed ecumenical lines, theological lines, worship lines, and musical lines to do so with his students.  I have one student there and I made it clear that I would not appreciate that student being taken to a Christian rock concert as part of their training at a Fundamental, Baptist, Separatist Christian University.

Which eventually resulted in this post:

I had never heard of Big Daddy Weave. My old man thought processor conjured up a picture of Biggie Small (The Notorious Big E) that I only knew from the news. Having been enticed by the reference to Weave, I yielded to temptation and used my Google Machine to find them and listened to "Redeemed". While their style is outside of my old dude comfort zone, I wasn't offended and found the message encouraging. Am I in danger?

And which then caused this reply:

I am out of date as well, so I just finished looking up Big Daddy Weave as well and listened to a couple of songs, including Redeemed.  Perhaps a new thread on the merits of the song might be in order.  Seems to be off subject here.  But for the record, I found the song lacked doctrinal clarity.  But as I suggested, this is off topic.

And since I don't know anything about the band or the song in question...here you go. 

The lyrics to Big Daddy Weave's song 'Redeemed'.

Seems like all I can see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then you look at this prisoner and say to me
"son stop fighting a fight that's already been won"

I am redeemed, you set me free
So I'll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain
Now I'm not who I used to be
I am redeemed... I'm redeemed

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear you whisper "child lift up your head"
I remember oh God you're not done with me yet

I am redeemed, you set me free
So I'll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain
Now I'm not who I used to be

Because I don't have to be the old man inside of me
'cause his day is long dead and gone because
I've got a new name, a new life I'm not the same
and a hope that will carry me home

I am redeemed, you set me free
So I'll shake off these heavy chains and
Wipe away every stain
Now I'm not who I used to be

I am redeemed you set me free
So I'll shake off these heavy chains and
And wipe away every stain
Now I'm not who I used to be
Oh God I'm not who I used to be
Jesus I'm not who I used to be

'Cause I am redeemed
Thank God redeemed

Lyrics from eLyrics.net

And then when we get done, with them, can we talk about organizations/bands like SGM and Enfield who are writing theologically orthodox music with 'bad beats' and how we should analyze them from Scripture (instead of "I don't like that")?

Well, we can do that provided that SharperIron hasn't melted down the internet by then.

19801 reads
Ron Bean's picture

One of the comments of BDW was that the lyrics lacked doctrinal clarity. Maybe we could start even another thread on traditional hymns that do likewise like:

You May Have The Joybells

Heaven came Down and Glory Filled My Soul

In the Garden

Since Jesus Came Into My Heart

 

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

DavidO's picture

". . . we should analyze them from Scripture (instead of "I don't like that")?"

 

Why do you assume that people who oppose using pop/rock music in worship don't "like" it? 

I "like" the Beach Boys, Beatles, U2, Everclear, Paul Simon, Duran Duran, Led Zeppelin, R.E.M., Sheryl Crow, and lots more of the ilk.  (Obviously, my age is showing a bit.)

It doesn't have to do with like.  It has to do with fitting.  It has to do with appropriate affection.  It has to do with art. 

Joel Shaffer's picture

It doesn't have to do with like.  It has to do with fitting.  It has to do with appropriate affection.  It has to do with art. 

I could easily argue that Christian Hip-Hop Artist Shai Linne's lyrics are some of the most beautiful poetry describing the attributes of God.  

DavidO's picture

I'm not unfamiliar with Shai Linne.  I listened to some of his Atonement stuff.  Compared to other rap I've heard, both Christian and not, it's easily the most "listenable" and doctrinally deep.  It certainly isn't offensive in the way the gangsta stuff is.  But I could surely not go as far as you have in describing it.  Have you read a lot of devotional poetry?

Jay's picture

DavidO wrote:
". . . we should analyze them from Scripture (instead of "I don't like that")?"

Because the more I read on this topic, the more I am convinced that really is the final arbiter.   "Culture" is really synonymous with "What I like".

Quote:
Why do you assume that people who oppose using pop/rock music in worship don't "like" it? 

I "like" the Beach Boys, Beatles, U2, Everclear, Paul Simon, Duran Duran, Led Zeppelin, R.E.M., Sheryl Crow, and lots more of the ilk.  (Obviously, my age is showing a bit.)

It doesn't have to do with like.  It has to do with fitting.  It has to do with appropriate affection.  It has to do with art.

Ha - I used to like Journey, the Eagles, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, and Boyz II Men, among others.  Later on, I got heavily into the Wilds, the Northern Lights, SoundForth, SMS, and the like.  So now all our cards are on the table Smile

OK, so then let's look at these principles.  Modern Christian music must be:

1. Fitting the occasion (no arguments there from me - Ephesians 4:29)

2. Appropriate affections - What is 'appropriate' and who determines 'what is appropriate'?  What do you do if you're an associate pastor that doesn't agree with the senior pastor's 'appropriate' criteria (because there's stuff he would allow musically that you wouldn't).  Is there an objective standard that we can use to benchmark songs to Scripture to?  How exactly does that work with the principles of individual soul liberty (that I think we'd all agree exists).

Yes, I know I'm harping on that question.  I'm really serious about trying to find an answer from the Bible on that specific topic.

3. Art...well, since all art is created by man, who is sinfully and wickedly depraved, then how do we determine appropriate level of 'artiness' (to make up a word) that would then 'sanctify' music without it becoming a synonym for 'culture' (or, as I joked earlier, "what I like").

I think you missed a big criteria there though - what does the song communicate about God and His character?  That's ultimately the question that got me moving on this subject, and that's why BDW is such an interesting discussion point for me.  I haven't heard his songs; all I know is the theology that he's communicating in that song I mentioned in the OP.  We should also bring Ephesians 5:15-21 into the discussion as well.

"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

Well your first quote of me up there is me quoting you.  I didn't format it right.  If you recognized that, fine.  If not, it might clarify . . . something.

"Culture" is really synonymous with "What I like".

This may be an impasse for us.  I'm not even sure how I'd address it.  But I sure don't agree. 

1.  Great!  Agreement. 

2.  I think it up to us to discern what is appropriate and what isn't.  Scripture is helpful with that.  First chapter of Malachi springs to mind ("If I am a Father . . . if I am a great King . . . where is my fear, where is my honor?").  Other passages help.  To use the example set forward by Joel above, consider this line from Shai Linne: "Adoption means God is now my Father/ I got the hottest Poppa and by the Spirit holler 'Abba'".   Perhaps I'm cherry picking the worst of his work.  Again, I'm only cursorily familiar with it.  But many would judge "hottest Poppa" to be less than honoring (kindly put) to God.  But it gives us a concrete example of one aspect of the problem.  That particular expression is an example of how the medium influences the message.  Hottest Poppa is used because it fits the genre, but distorts the subject.  Neil Postman wrote a great book on how this works.  I suggest musical expression can do the same thing apart from lyrical expression.  Media communicate.  As far as your pastor hypothetical there, I think it'd be the same thing as if they disagreed doctrinally, shame on them and the congregation for not figuring that all out ahead of time. 

3.  Discernment.  Approving the things that are excellent (which term the Bible does not exhaustively define for us oh whatever shall we do?).

(4.)  I didn't omit this; I assumed it.  I was talking to a friend one day about a modern hymn and he asked me something about the work I'll never forget:  "It's true enough, but so what?"  Truth is only the minimum qualification for good hymnody. 

Joel Shaffer's picture

 But I could surely not go as far as you have in describing it.  Have you read a lot of devotional poetry?

No.  But I have read alot of poetry in my college English courses and have gone to coffee houses where people do poetry reading and spoken word.  Shai Linne continues to improve his craft and his latest album, The Attributes of God, exemplify that.    

Jay's picture

DavidO wrote:
"Culture" is really synonymous with "What I like".

This may be an impasse for us.  I'm not even sure how I'd address it.  But I sure don't agree.

Quote:
1.  Great!  Agreement.

Smile

Quote:
2.  I think it up to us to discern what is appropriate and what isn't.  Scripture is helpful with that.  First chapter of Malachi springs to mind ("If I am a Father . . . if I am a great King . . . where is my fear, where is my honor?").  Other passages help.  To use the example set forward by Joel above, consider this line from Shai Linne: "Adoption means God is now my Father/ I got the hottest Poppa and by the Spirit holler 'Abba'".   Perhaps I'm cherry picking the worst of his work.  Again, I'm only cursorily familiar with it.  But many would judge "hottest Poppa" to be less than honoring (kindly put) to God.  But it gives us a concrete example of one aspect of the problem.  That particular expression is an example of how the medium influences the message.  Hottest Poppa is used because it fits the genre, but distorts the subject.  Neil Postman wrote a great book on how this works.  I suggest musical expression can do the same thing apart from lyrical expression.  Media communicate. 

Ah...meaty stuff here.  Let me dive in a little.

I agree with you that there is a shocking (blasphemous?) disrespect towards God in a lot of Christian music (God's Great Dance Floor by Chris Tomlin, for example).  I have a real problem with the lyrics to several Casting Crowns songs like "What This World Needs" [the section right after 'Chorus' - it's actually a spoken dialogue].

I would have a problem with Shai's lyrics with one exception - Paul does tell me to call to 'Abba' (or Daddy) in Romans 8:15.  If I'd ever called my Dad "Pops", we would have been swiftly - and I DO mean SWIFTLY - corrected for our disrespect.  But in some cultures, they don't refer their fathers as "Daddy"...they refer to "Sir" or "Pop" or "Pops".  Two of my friends, in fact, referred to their father as "Pops".   My mind does cartwheels about how I could ever be referred to as "Pops" in an endearing manner, but that's what I grew up with.

Do I like the subjectiveness of that?  No, I don't.  I want theological certainty.  The King of Kings is my Daddy but is also my Friend (John 15:15).  In the same matter, I'm God's slave (with all the baggage that term brings).  But I can't reconcile that in my head without saying that there has to be some way to reconcile the two, even though I may not like that.  So I wind up with what I refer to as the "1 Thessalonians 5:21" music standard.  If it's a good song - not disrespectful, theologically accurate, and a few other things, then it's worth 'holding on to'.

Yes, the medium does influence the message; Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death is a classic work, if that's what you're referring to.

Quote:
3.  Discernment.  Approving the things that are excellent (which term the Bible does not exhaustively define for us oh whatever shall we do?).

(4.)  I didn't omit this; I assumed it.  I was talking to a friend one day about a modern hymn and he asked me something about the work I'll never forget:  "It's true enough, but so what?"  Truth is only the minimum qualification for good hymnody.

Discernment - there's a Biblical principle for you.  It's really what I'm after here and in the NIU thread.  With what tools and what principles shall we discern that which is pleasing to the Lord in song?  We also have to keep in mind that we can be and are deceived by our own wicked and sinful hearts.

As for #4 - glad to hear this; I figured we agreed on it but wanted to make sure that we'd at least touched on it.  I know that there are songs that I've liked tremendously that I won't listen to because of theological error (and that's before you get into the flawed doctrinal stands of performers like PC&D (modalists) or Kari Jobe (who is supposedly a pastor of some sort - found that out this week).  Of course, that's where we start getting into spheres of influence, secondary separation, and the like.

I hope this is helpful; I know I'm enjoying the questions you raised - any more?

"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

Anne Sokol's picture

Discernment - there's a Biblical principle for you.  It's really what I'm after here and in the NIU thread.  With what tools and what principles shall we discern that which is pleasing to the Lord in song?  We also have to keep in mind that we can be and are deceived by our own wicked and sinful hearts.

I kind of went roller coaster with music a bit--my personal taste never liked heavy stuff anyway, and there was a time when I really liked Steve Green, then a time when he was just so sinful, you know.

Now, I just ... honestly have no opinion about music, pretty much. I don't really know that God cares this much about it. He cares about what is in our hearts. That is what He cares about. What goes in (ie., what I listen to) does not defile me. Sin coming out of my heart defiles me. 

I'm reading/re-reading I Timothy right now. So much about the conscience, teaching the true faith, avoiding useless arguments. Makes me wonder if this is a bit of a useless argument in our circles. My choice in music might show 1) my age, 2) my theological depth of knowledge, 3) my background/culture, 4) what my conscience has been trained to accept, 5) ??

But I really can't say that the Bible teaches us that listening to certain music itself makes us sanctified or not, more "pleasing" to God or not.  

 

TylerR's picture

Editor

I haven't spent a great deal of time studying "proper" church music. My inclination, and church background, tells me that strictly conservative is the way to go (e.g. piano, organ, singing, occasional musical ensemble with trumpet, clarinet - you get the idea!) I haven't spent too much time thinking about why this should be the case, but I do admit it feels much more appropriate.

Church is our corporate worship to God. This is a serious, somber thing. I cannot bring myself to permit drums, guitars or generally "modern" music into the church service where we worship God. I'll admit this is very subjective and opens me up to criticism, but that's just the way I feel. I'm sure some music majors can explain things better than I can, but there is just no way I can rationalize bringing modern "worship" music into the church. Can't do it. It isn't right. One day I'll study the issue and be able to explain myself better.

I do remember watching an old, interminable video series by Frank Garlock once where he agonizingly pointed out how modern music is evil! Surely someone else has seen it . . . ! Not sure I'd ever want to watch it again! Don't even remember much of what he said, really.

 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

TylerR wrote:

I haven't spent too much time thinking about why this should be the case, but I do admit it feels much more appropriate.

Church is our corporate worship to God. This is a serious, somber thing. I cannot bring myself to permit drums, guitars or generally "modern" music into the church service where we worship God. I'll admit this is very subjective and opens me up to criticism, but that's just the way I feel.

Emphasis above mine.

I see this as the big problem in judging music.  In everything else, we are taught that feelings are NOT an appropriate basis on which to judge truth, but when it comes to music, feelings are exactly what most use to do any judging.  And this isn't even a sheepish admission -- most say it proudly.

That's inconsistent at best, and at worst, we are doing a disservice to the truth.  (And I say this as one who also "feels" that conservative music is the best choice for worshiping God.)  I'd like to have much more objective criteria.

Dave Barnhart

TylerR's picture

Editor

Hey, you've got to give me credit - I was honest enough to admit it!

I'll admit this is very subjective and opens me up to criticism, but that's just the way I feel

It is something we need to be better educated on, myself included. My basis is the holiness of God, and the type of music we bring to Him in corporate worship. I doubt you'd find many of the harder line conservative music fundamentalists (like me) who would admit the need for study and prayer on this matter.

I would like to point out, however, that most of the arguments I've seen from the other side largely consist of why conservative music hard-liners are wrong, not why the more modern music advocates are right. I have high hopes for this thread - I would like to hear your arguments. I admit the shortcomings of my own.

Worship of God is solemn, somber and holy. Our music must reflect these truths.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

DavidO's picture

Anne Sokol wrote:
I don't really know that God cares this much about it. He cares about what is in our hearts. That is what He cares about. What goes in (ie., what I listen to) does not defile me. Sin coming out of my heart defiles me.

I hear this a lot when discussing this issue with friends and relatives.  I think its pretty clear from Matthew 15 and Colossians 2 that the "indulgences" in view are things like food, drink, and the little bit of dust that someone didn't quite get washed of their hands--things that "perish with the use," things that "pass through the body and are then eliminated".  Music is not like that.  Music influences the sensibility.  Music teaches us how to feel about things, people, God.  The music we listen to becomes part of who we are.  Or perhaps makes us who we are, in part at least.

DavidO's picture

any more?

Only just one slight redirection about the notion of father and acceptable ways to reference it.  Generally speaking, I think we'd agree that all modes of addressing fatherhood (whether in general or a specific person) in a given culture are subject to judgment.  Some are appropriate and some are inappropriate.  Some cultures that generally denigrate fatherhood may have few(er) appropriate modes of approaching it.  Similarly, some fathers may accept modes of address that are less honoring than they ought to be.  We shouldn't let these modes of approach advise our approach to God as a father.  Consider the differences in how fatherhood was regarded in Malachi's day versus how it is regarded in our place and time. 

DavidO's picture

And just to rack up the hat trick (three consecutive posts!) as well as derail the irenic tone of this discussion, D. G. Hart has an interesting post up on how Christian's acceptance of the praise and worship movement makes it harder for them to oppose gay marriage.  Kaboom

 

Ron Bean's picture

Worship of God is solemn, somber and holy. Our music must reflect these truths.

Worship is also joyful and exuberant and sometimes even spontaneous. 

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

Jay's picture

I would like to point out, however, that most of the arguments I've seen from the other side largely consist of why conservative music hard-liners are wrong, not why the more modern music advocates are right. I have high hopes for this thread - I would like to hear your arguments. I admit the shortcomings of my own.

That part (in bold) is what I want to do on this thread.  It's a large portion of why I'm trying to avoid naming specific bands or arguing for specific instrumentation and vocal styles; I hope that is the point that's coming across.  I do think that the 'modern music advocates' (am I one?) are right, but only in some ways.  Furthermore, I think I can effectively argue that the paradigm offered by traditional musicians is failing - because there are songs that are being written today that are Biblically acceptable.  Some of those new songs are simply updates to the hymns that traditionalists love so much, and some of them are completely new.

Take, for example, this song by Enfield:

We all know of the day when He'll come to reclaim
The Earth from the Beast, cast to the flame
King Jesus, the just, the One faithful and true
Will gather His children to reign

O for that day when we'll sing with the angels
Hallelujah, oh Ancient of Days
When we will have our Messiah forever
Offering glory and honor and praise
Offering glory and honor and praise

One thing that I wanted to note is that we need to draw a line of demarcation between corporate worship (that which is done in a church setting) and individual worship (which consists of me singing loudly and off-key in the car as I run my errands alone, for example).

I agree with CS Lewis (as quoted by Piper), who wrote this:

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.

Worship is something, I think we can argue, that results from the joy of knowing Who God is and What He has done for us; that opens up a whole new front in the modern music debate vs. the tired old arguments that I see so often.  Are there songs that can cause joy in our souls and result in praise to God?  Absolutely!  Do they sound like what most of us are familiar with?  Well...maybe not.  We don't know what the songs in the Psalms and Solomon's writing sounded like, for example.

Here's a few Bible passages that we should probably consider (and I am intentionally avoiding the 'what it sounded like' or the 'instrumentation' trap).  

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. (Ps. 5:11)

I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High (Ps. 7:17)

Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds! (Ps. 9:11)

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord. (Ps. 27:6)

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! (Ps. 67:4)

Again - I'm not arguing that "anything should go" in terms of music.  I'm just trying to figure out how we got to the point where "what should go" looks like what we currently endorse in "conservative" music standards.

"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

Anne Sokol's picture

I am trying to say that as I mature in the Lord, i notice a few things;

 

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I think, in comparison to what the Bible teaches directly and even what is implied, way too much agony and weight is given to this issue. I become less and less able to understand why it's an issue to the degree it is. "

I stop judging others' walk with God based on this. It may be telling, but it's accessory.

The ways I am able to worship Him musically get wider in my conscience, not more constricted. (Although at this time, I don't listen to much music at all personally. It is too tiring.) Maybe I become more elastic in entering into the form.

I become more emotionally touched by truth in music overall as my life experiences unite with Bible truths, and especially at times when my faith is being tested.

-->

Don Johnson's picture

Jay wrote:

Again - I'm not arguing that "anything should go" in terms of music.  I'm just trying to figure out how we got to the point where "what should go" looks like what we currently endorse in "conservative" music standards.

you make statements like this all the time in discussions like this. You are saying that some music is not appropriate, that some standard should apply. You just want the standard to be your tastes, not someone else's. But you are saying by this that some music is wrong. Your position is essentially conservative, but without an objective basis for making a judgement.

to be consistent, you should be arguing that anything goes, or at least "anything I like goes"

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Joel Tetreau's picture

So,

The thread is good and I've appreciated the back and forth.

Just a side note - I have an idea we are making this way harder than it has to be....then it needs to be.  

If you read the OT and the NT, the concept of corporate worship seems straight forward.

Worship God through song - at the same time edify one another while we sing through hymns, Psalms, and spiritual songs.

There is an aspect of our musical worship that is to be reverence-aimed (based primarily in who God is). There is an aspect of our musical worship that is to be celebratory (Based primarily in what God has accomplished - example: we have salvation through Jesus who conquered death, rose from the dead, reigns on High, and will return for His saints!).

Music (just like preaching, teaching, other forms of worship and exhortation) is to be "truth based" but put together in the setting of one's culture (that is to say where he lives, the language of those other believers who are with them, shared customs that are righteous, etc.....). It may be that the early church believers fought as much as modern day fundamentalists do over what is the right form of music for corporate worship - BUT I REALLY DOUBT IT!

Usually when a God-loving song writer writes music that honors the Gospel, aims to worship Christ and is based on the Bible - God will be honored, brothers will be edified and the world will hate it.

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

TylerR's picture

Editor

Joel:

I really think you're missing the value this discussion can have. There isn't any name calling or fighting yet; just some folks talking about am important issue. I doubt any of us here go through our day looking for people to fight with about music. I've never even discussed "proper" music with anybody in my life. In each of our church circles, the norm is probably the de-facto standard and it likely isn't challenged too much.

The issue is not that "modern music is evil." A guy can write beautiful hymns today that can be sung in church. The issue is in how it is arranged (is that even the right word?!). The musical style which gives life to the words of the hymn/song are the issue, not how recently it has been written.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Don Johnson's picture

Joel Tetreau wrote:

It may be that the early church believers fought as much as modern day fundamentalists do over what is the right form of music for corporate worship - BUT I REALLY DOUBT IT!

Well, Joel, you would be wrong I think. On P&D, we recently posted excerpts from a book by Calvin Stapert about the debate over music in the early church. This post has comments from Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 - c. 215) on the subject. This post has links to the eight posts in the series.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

DavidO's picture

Furthermore, I think I can effectively argue that the paradigm offered by traditional musicians is failing - because there are songs that are being written today that are Biblically acceptable.

Begging the question.

Or, sort of anyway, what Don said.

Andrew Henderson's picture

Don, I do not think that Joel's point was that music was never spoken about or that people in the early church did not have opinions on the matter. His point was that early church believers did not fight as much as modern-day fundies do on the subject. I doubt as many of them obsessed over the matter or allowed it to be such a source of division. I mean, good grief, when one goes over to the P&D website and goes to the archives and looks at the most recent 100 articles they would see that a huge percentage of them are about music. A much greater percentage than any other individual subject. At least there are a couple about missions. Of course, one of them is entitled "Music and Missions." If the most important thing for you all to proclaim and defend is ultra-conservative music standards (which apparently it is), then knock yourself out. Many of us just have different ministry priorities; other things that are much more pressing than particular styles of music. 

Andrew Henderson

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Tyler, here are my thoughts on music (especially worship music). I'm sure they are as flawed as anyone else's, but they are what I use.

1. I see no evidence from the scriptures (or from anywhere else for that matter) that specific melodies, harmonies, rhythms, etc., can be mapped to specific propositional truth, good or evil, or even in all cases, specific emotions.

2. I have asked many times for someone to evaluate a piece of music based on those objective criteria, and I've either been ignored, refused, or told "I have to hear it and then I'll let you know if it's good or bad." I have had people say that I need more of a background in music to understand, but I still get no objective specifics, even ones I supposedly am incapable of understanding.

3. For these reasons and others, I have concluded that music (completely of itself -- I'll get to that later) cannot be either moral or immoral. Therefore, for me at least, it's a waste of time to argue the intrinsic value of music.

3a. In case it isn't obvious, I'm not applying my thoughts above to the lyrical content of songs, which can obviously be either moral or immoral, but needs to be considered separately from the music itself.

3b. Generally, people who claim to be judging music objectively, but can only judge it after they hear it, are actually judging associationally (or by their feelings) whether they think they are or not.

4. My conclusion in 3 doesn't mean that I believe music is "neutral," as it still quite obviously has the ability to affect our thoughts, actions and emotions.

5. Therefore, I do believe that as music impacts us, especially regarding the way we associate it, it can have a moral or immoral effect upon us, either in how we think or how we act, and in what way it draws our affections. Music doesn't exist in a vacuum, so even if it had a moral, intrinsic value, which I doubt, it's more important what the value of the music is when it impacts us.

6. We are told many places in scripture to "love not the world or the things in the world." I believe that this would have to apply to at least some music. Even if music doesn't accomplish musically what is intended by the author, some music is written explicitly to try to arouse certain emotions, or express certain thoughts, all of which are either moral or immoral.

7. Therefore, we should stay away from music that has an immoral intention, even if musically it cannot be obviously distinguished from music not written in this way. Associations can still be very important.

8. Even music which is not directly written for an immoral purpose or to oppose God, can still be strongly associated with worldly elements which are either obviously evil or opposed to God. Even just the type of "fun" music which can have a message like "now is all there is," or "get all you can while the getting is good," and similar, are still clearly associated with worldly thought patterns.

9. Therefore, even if I don't believe that the melodies and rhythms used in music of popular culture are wrong in and of themselves, I think much of what is out there can be judged wrong by the way it is used and the way it affects us. This type of judgment is obviously not completely objective, and it's clear that some music affects different people in different ways. Still even if the judgment only affects me personally, I still need to make it. We have so many different schools of thought on music because of many different ways this principle is applied.

10. Worship of a holy God should be holy, whether somber or jubilant, and I believe there are appropriate times for both of those expressions. One of the main meanings of "holy" is to be set apart. Therefore, I believe that music we use to worship God should be set apart from that of the world, whether it's hip-hop, or 17th century dance music. I believe worship music should have a distinctive sound, and it should not make me think of the secular concert down the street, no matter what type of secular music it is.

11. Holy music doesn't mean without life. If the Psalms tell us to worship with timbrel and dance, that should be obvious. That doesn't mean that all expressions of Hebrew worship are appropriate for our church today, but it does mean that whatever those forms of worship were (and we should try to completely understand those legitimate uses of rhythm and dance to know what God is pleased with), they were not only not wrong, they were commanded. That means that not all worship is to be somber, or without strong emotional expression.

For me, all of the above adds up to being extremely careful what music we use for worship, to avoid that which is obviously against God, or is too close to what the world uses, and to have our worship music be especially designed and written expressly to worship God, rather than taking over other forms that can be associated with other things. For me, I generally think that most of the time, the music we think of as conservative, or high-church meets the standard as I think of it. However, I understand that the high-church idiom does not speak to all people or cultures, and I fully recognize that expression of holy music can take different forms, even those with which I might be a bit uncomfortable. That leaves me being generally conservative in what I would want to use for worship, not quick to accept whatever is new, but being able to use new songs that are doctrinally strong, even if musically they are different from what I would normally use, as long as they stay away from too much of a worldly sound or association.

There you go -- you can now beat up on my thinking. I realize that it is not strong on specifics either, but I think we need to judge music where it can be judged, and not just use our feelings about the music, which can be completely wrong on both sides.

Dave Barnhart

Don Johnson's picture

Andrew Henderson wrote:

Don, I do not think that Joel's point was that music was never spoken about or that people in the early church did not have opinions on the matter. His point was that early church believers did not fight as much as modern-day fundies do on the subject.

Here are a few quotes from the first piece I linked:

Burlesque singing is the close friend of drunkenness. . .

For the various spells of the broken strains and // plaintive numbers of the Carion muse corrupt men’s morals, drawing to perturbation of mind, by the licentious and mischievous art of music.

[L]et amatory songs be banished far away, and let our songs be hymns to God. . . .

I don't know, maybe your definition of fighting words is different than mine. I think that view is rather naive, but be my guest.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

GregH's picture

Andrew Henderson wrote:

Don, I do not think that Joel's point was that music was never spoken about or that people in the early church did not have opinions on the matter. His point was that early church believers did not fight as much as modern-day fundies do on the subject. I doubt as many of them obsessed over the matter or allowed it to be such a source of division. I mean, good grief, when one goes over to the P&D website and goes to the archives and looks at the most recent 100 articles they would see that a huge percentage of them are about music. A much greater percentage than any other individual subject. At least there are a couple about missions. Of course, one of them is entitled "Music and Missions." If the most important thing for you all to proclaim and defend is ultra-conservative music standards (which apparently it is), then knock yourself out. Many of us just have different ministry priorities; other things that are much more pressing than particular styles of music. 

LOL, indeed you are correct. Here is the tag cloud from P&D. Alcohol seems to be the other hot topic.

 

Andrew Henderson's picture

Again, the point is not that they did not discuss music or even fight over it. His point is that they did not fight AS MUCH over music style as the fundies in some camps, including your own. They may have written on the subject, but it is doubtful that they consistently obsessed over it like you do. Throwing a couple of statements out from Clement is not going to prove anything. That is not even dealing with what was said. I am not arguing with the statement by Clement. Now, if you want to produce the last 100 or so things that Clement wrote about and we see that a huge percentage were about music style, then you are getting somewhere Smile Maybe he did, I do not know. I have not read a ton by Clement.

Andrew Henderson

Andrew Henderson's picture

Greg, what a hilarious screenshot. Amazing. When the name of your blog is "proclaim and defend" and the word "music" and "alcohol" are huge and the word "Christ" can barely be seen, you have problems.

Andrew Henderson

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