We Must Heed the Vital Message of 1 Corinthians 10:18-20

1 Corinthians 10:18-20 provides vital instruction that every believer must heed:

1 Corinthians 10:18 Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19 What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

To eat in a worship context of what has been sacrificed on an altar to an idol is to be a partaker of the altar. To do so is also to have fellowship with demons!

Such fellowship with demons is not contingent upon a person's having to offer the sacrifices himself. Anyone who eats of such sacrifices comes into fellowship with demons.

The passage also does not provide any basis to say or to hold that this only happens sometimes--in a worship context, anyone who eats what has been sacrificed to an idol has fellowship with demons. God does not want any humans to have fellowship with demons!

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GregH's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

GregH wrote:

 

What is he is getting at is that some harmony is immoral. That is a tall order to prove in any manner but trying to do so from the Bible will be difficult: harmony did not even exist in human music then. In fact, it has only existed a few centuries. 

 

 

I do not have anything to prove. Musical non-conservatives such as you have to prove your implied assertion that all harmonies are moral. You do not just get to beg the question--prove it from the Bible itself.

Rajesh, the Bible does not talk about harmony. The people that wrote the Bible did not know that harmony even existed. That came along a few thousand years later.

In the late middle ages, the Catholic church actually did believe that some harmony was immoral. The most famous example was the use of an augmented fourth interval. Thankfully, they eventually figured out that they did not know what they were talking about. 

It is funny that you think I have to prove anything. I am not the one making half-baked assertions, using the Bible in a cavalier manner as a prop for my personal presuppositions and biases. As I said, you provide your theories without absolutely no Biblical backing or otherwise and then have the audacity to say that the other side is somehow obligated to prove you wrong. Nope, the responsibility for proof is on you my friend.

RajeshG's picture

So what if the Bible does not talk about harmony? So what if the people that wrote the Bible did not know that harmony even existed?

I have proven that the people in the GCI were under demonic influence when they were producing music. You do not have any basis to claim anything about the limits of that demonically influenced music simply because ordinary humans at that time may not have known certain things about music back then.

If, by chance, you think that demons only learned about harmonies after humans discovered them, the burden of proof is on you to show why that is true. In any case, prove from the Bible why we must hold that instrumental music produced by demonically influenced people nonetheless is always still only moral.

 

GregH's picture

RajeshG wrote:

So what if the Bible does not talk about harmony? So what if the people that wrote the Bible did not know that harmony even existed?

I have proven that the people in the GCI were under demonic influence when they were producing music. You do not have any basis to claim anything about the limits of that demonically influenced music simply because ordinary humans at that time may not have known certain things about music back then.

If, by chance, you think that demons only learned about harmonies after humans discovered them, the burden of proof is on you to show why that is true. In any case, prove from the Bible why we must hold that instrumental music produced by demonically influenced people nonetheless is always still only moral.

First, I think you are overstating it greatly when you claim you have proved anything. 

Second, what you wrote has nothing to do with what I wrote. I wrote about your assertion that instruments that can play multiple notes at the same time can be inherently evil and the underlying idea that some harmony is inherently evil.

The Bible does not discuss harmony and thus there is not even a hint of the idea that Christians should assign morality to harmony. You are adding to the Bible. Go ahead and do that, but don't be surprised when no one here accepts your arguments.

I already know that you will not do this but if you are so sure that there is immoral harmony, I challenge you to name one immoral chord. In fact, I will donate $50 to your church if you will name an immoral chord. You don't even have to defend it; just name one specific chord that is immoral.

 

RajeshG's picture

GregH wrote:

First, I think you are overstating it greatly when you claim you have proved anything.

Explicit NT statements in 1 Cor. 10:18-20 declare that people who in a worship context consume what has been sacrificed to an idol come into fellowship with demons. You do not get to deny direct statements from God.

Furthermore, 1 Cor. 10:7 explicitly speaks of the idolatry of the people in the GCI as including their consuming what was sacrificed to the idol and their playing. You do not get to deny what the Bible says explicitly.

Based on what both 1 Cor. 10:18-20 and 10:7 reveal, we can know with utter certainty that the people in the GCI were demonically influenced after they consumed what was offered to the idol. All their activities after that point were the activities of people who were under the influence of demons. 

GregH wrote:

Second, what you wrote has nothing to do with what I wrote. I wrote about your assertion that instruments that can play multiple notes at the same time can be inherently evil and the underlying idea that some harmony is inherently evil.

I made no such claim. Although my statement could have been expressed more clearly, you are running with a faulty inference that you have drawn from my statement. I did not say anything about instruments that can play more than one note at a time--you drew that faulty inference from what I said.

In fact, I did not even say anything about harmonies in my original comment!

GregH wrote:

The Bible does not discuss harmony and thus there is not even a hint of the idea that Christians should assign morality to harmony. If you do that, you are adding to the Bible. Go ahead and do that, but don't be surprised when no one here accepts your arguments.

I already know that you will not do this but if you are so sure that there is immoral harmony, I challenge you to name one immoral chord. In fact, I will donate $50 to your church if you will name an immoral chord. You don't even have to defend it; just name one specific chord that is immoral.

Exodus 32 illumined by 1 Cor. 10:7 and 10:18-20 absolutely shows that Christians must assign morality to music produced by demonically influenced humans. If you want to claim that there were no harmonies involved in that music, that is just a mere assertion. Even if your assertion were true, it still would not take away at all from the fact that instrumental music in the GCI was produced by the demonically influenced people. The burden of proof is on you if you claim that their instrumental music (as well as their singing and their dancing) was still moral even though they were influenced by demons.

GregH's picture

1) Again, I am not discussing (nor interested in) your theories about demon-influenced music.

2) Again, there is no burden of proof on me. I am not the one making half-baked assertions.

3) I am not going to play word games with you regarding what you said about instruments that play single notes vs multiple notes. What you said was clear and the implications obvious to anyone that knows music and the definition of harmony. 

4) Do you not want your church to get the $50? Please name an immoral chord for us.

RajeshG's picture

GregH wrote:

1) Again, I am not discussing (nor interested in) your theories about demon-influenced music.

2) Again, there is no burden of proof on me. I am not the one making half-baked assertions.

3) I am not going to play word games with you regarding what you said about instruments that play single notes vs multiple notes. What you said was clear and the implications obvious.

4) Do you not want your church to get the $50? Please name an immoral chord for us.

Since you have by your own direct statements declared that you have no actual interest in discussing what the Bible says about the actual subjects of this thread, I hope that you will have the decency not to comment any more on this thread.

GregH's picture

RajeshG wrote:

 

GregH wrote:

 

1) Again, I am not discussing (nor interested in) your theories about demon-influenced music.

2) Again, there is no burden of proof on me. I am not the one making half-baked assertions.

3) I am not going to play word games with you regarding what you said about instruments that play single notes vs multiple notes. What you said was clear and the implications obvious.

4) Do you not want your church to get the $50? Please name an immoral chord for us.

 

 

Since you have by your own direct statements declared that you have no actual interest in discussing what the Bible says about the actual subjects of this thread, I hope that you will have the decency not to comment any more on this thread.

Respectfully, you are the one who brought up the theory of single note instruments, not me. But I will agree that this is a waste of time. My $50 offer still stands though I know you will continue to duck such questions that would expose you.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

There is no biblical data that shows that any musical instruments were created by wicked people and sourced in their occult evil. In any case, as I have argued elsewhere, any instrument that is capable of playing single musical tones (regardless of whether it can also play multiple tones at the same time) cannot be inherently evil because single musical tones cannot be inherently evil.

I've noticed several times that you have stated "There is no biblical data . . " and then you have stated a inference that you draw from the lack of data. The extremely wicked man Jubal was the "father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes." You mentioned previously that this does NOT prove that Jubal invented those instruments. We don't know who invented them.

Is there any way to tell if they were invented by the demon influenced people? No.

Is there any way to tell that they WERE NOT invented by the demon influenced people? No.

Could they have been invented by the wicked people? You seem to dismiss this possibility simply because of the lack of Biblical data, but if we don't have Biblical data either way, how can we dismiss either possibility? For the sake of my own understanding about how demon influence works, I am trying to look at the situation from both possibilities. It seems possible to me that some evil person could have created a musical instrument specifically for his idolatrous worship. That is not outside the realm of possibility, so I'm wondering whether you would or would not consider that instrument to be evil. You said "single musical tones cannot be inherently evil," but if a wicked person were to create a trumpet-like instrument that blasted out a loud single tone to call people to idolatrous worship, then wouldn't THAT single tone be evil?

Personally, my goal in this conversation is not to get you to examine specific individual arrangements of music for evil. I'm trying to figure out your perspective of "demon influence" and how it relates to things created by demon influenced people. You used Eph 5:11 previously to talk about "the divine prohibition not to have any fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness." You would include music produced by demon influenced people in the "works of darkness" category, but when the music is broken down into it's parts, you have some parts as being unusable by believers in any form (the style) and some parts being acceptable for believers (the instruments and the individual tones.) 

You asked if anyone had Biblical support for saying harmonies are moral. Do you have any Biblical support for saying single musical tones are moral?

Jay's picture

Jay wrote: I made this challenge a few months ago for another SI member, and I'll renew it on this thread for Rajesh.

Rajesh, can you please analyze this song and tell me how / if it displeases God?  Lyrics are here; instrumental version of the music is here.  I'll not ask you to listen to the entirety of the song, although you're certainly free to do so if you wish.  The full song is available here, via YouTube.

No, I have no interest in doing this.

You know, it's really weird how a guy with so much to say about music won't actually engage with music.  But that's nothing new - every music 'conservative' I've asked this of has immediately refused.  Every. single. one.  

If this is such an important topic...why does everyone refuse? 

Explicit NT statements in 1 Cor. 10:18-20 declare that people who in a worship context consume what has been sacrificed to an idol come into fellowship with demons. You do not get to deny direct statements from God.

Furthermore, 1 Cor. 10:7 explicitly speaks of the idolatry of the people in the GCI as including their consuming what was sacrificed to the idol and their playing. You do not get to deny what the Bible says explicitly.

Based on what both 1 Cor. 10:18-20 and 10:7 reveal, we can know with utter certainty that the people in the GCI were demonically influenced after they consumed what was offered to the idol. All their activities after that point were the activities of people who were under the influence of demons. 

It isn't "deny[ing] the direct statement of God" to point out that daisy chaining random passages of Scripture because they have the same word in them doesn't prove any point, regardless of how often you say it.  Someone with a Ph.D. in New Testament Interpretation ought to know this.

If either of those instances in Scripture had anything to do with musical practices for today, you might have a point. If there were anyone here eating food offered to idols in the church, there would be precedence. You haven't "proven" anything, even though more than a few of us said so in that massive waste of a thread on the Golden Calf. 

Pulling isolated verses out of passages, loading them up with unproven assertions (or inferences, such as you make about Jubal and again here with the whole "playing [Exodus 32] = demons [I Cor. 10] = music" assertion), and then creating entire theories on music and how it is to be used in worship based on that is not legitimate Biblical application.  

"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

RajeshG's picture

Jay wrote:

It isn't "deny[ing] the direct statement of God" to point out that daisy chaining random passages of Scripture because they have the same word in them doesn't prove any point, regardless of how often you say it.  Someone with a Ph.D. in New Testament Interpretation ought to know this.

If either of those instances in Scripture had anything to do with musical practices for today, you might have a point. If there were anyone here eating food offered to idols in the church, there would be precedence. You haven't "proven" anything, even though more than a few of us said so in that massive waste of a thread on the Golden Calf. 

Pulling isolated verses out of passages, loading them up with unproven assertions (or inferences, such as you make about Jubal and again here with the whole "playing [Exodus 32] = demons [I Cor. 10] = music" assertion), and then creating entire theories on music and how it is to be used in worship based on that is not legitimate Biblical application.  

1 Corinthians 10:7 is a direct quote from Ex. 32:6--no daisy chaining at all.

1 Cor. 10:7 directly states that their eating and drinking was part of their idolatry. No daisy chaining at all.

In the same chapter and same context of warning against idolatry, Paul later explains the grave nature of eating and drinking what is offered to an idol in a idolatrous context by directly stating that people who do so come into fellowship with demons (1 Cor. 10:18-20).

Therefore, you have the burden of proof of showing why when the people in the GCI ate and drank what was offered to the idol they somehow still did not come into fellowship with demons.

If, however, you are not denying that they were in fellowship with demons after consuming what was sacrificed to the idol, what are you denying?

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

You asked if anyone had Biblical support for saying harmonies are moral. Do you have any Biblical support for saying single musical tones are moral?

No, it's important to note that I did not just ask whether anyone had biblical support for saying harmonies are moral--I asked for biblical support in someone's holding that all harmonies are moral.

Holding that single musical tones is moral is an important question to discuss. Here's a good passage to examine for what it says:

1 Corinthians 14:7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

This passage is in a premier NT chapter on corporate worship. It says that instruments, regardless of whether they can play only one tone at a time or more than one tone at a time, must "give a distinction in the sounds" to be intelligible as music. In other words, without a distinction in sounds, which means the use of more than one sound, that instrument is not producing music that can be known concerning what is being played by it.

More later, D.V.

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

Do you have any Biblical support for saying single musical tones are moral?

First Cor. 14:7-8 teaches us that for a musical instrument to be used properly in corporate worship, it must produce a distinction in tones such that what is played is humanly knowable. Based on that teaching, we are justified in holding that single musical tones do not have any intrinsic musical meanings that are humanly knowable.

Furthermore. we know that heavenly beings play musical instruments in producing moral instrumental music in corporate worship of God. That instrumental music is made up of single tones combined in whatever ways the supernatural musicians combine them in their worship. All of those single tones used in heavenly worship are intrinsically moral because they are sounds that were created by God when He ordered His universe to make sound and its intrinsic properties.

None of those intrinsic properties of single musical tones were humanly created.

Beyond that, we have explicit Scripture that relates to us that God assigned the use of certain musical instruments to His people (trumpets) to produce sounds that had assigned musical meanings to them that were divinely assigned (Num. 10:1-10 and other passages). God's use of the single tones in whatever ways they were combined in this divinely commanded use of musical instruments teaches us that the single tones comprising what was played on those instruments were intrinsically moral.

Because single musical tones are basic sounds that were not humanly created, we are justified in holding that they are intrinsically moral.

Jay's picture

Therefore, you have the burden of proof of showing why when the people in the GCI ate and drank what was offered to the idol they somehow still did not come into fellowship with demons.

If, however, you are not denying that they were in fellowship with demons after consuming what was sacrificed to the idol, what are you denying?

  • I deny that anything from I Corinthians 10 has to do with contemporary worship practices today.  Eating meat given to idols has nothing to do with music, although there is an applicable principle of not doing something that would cause another believer to stumble (10:23-33).
  • I deny that Christians are "having fellowship with demons" if they use music that you do not approve of.
  • I deny that Exodus 32 has anything to do with contemporary church practices at all, as I said in the thread several months ago.

I am saying that these two passages, which describe several particular incidents in OT history, are being incorrectly used by you to "prove" your position. 

"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

GregH's picture

RajeshG wrote:

Holding that single musical tones is moral is an important question to discuss. Here's a good passage to examine for what it says:

1 Corinthians 14:7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

This passage is in a premier NT chapter on corporate worship. It says that instruments, regardless of whether they can play only one tone at a time or more than one tone at a time, must "give a distinction in the sounds" to be intelligible as music. In other words, without a distinction in sounds, which means the use of more than one sound, that instrument is not producing music that can be known concerning what is being played by it.

So now we are going to pull solid musical principles from an illustration in a brief passage about speaking in tongues. Not that I disagree that single tones are moral. Or for that matter, the relationships between single tones.

BTW, I read that last paragraph several times and I still don't understand what you are saying in that last sentence.

RajeshG's picture

GregH wrote:

BTW, I read that last paragraph several times and I still don't understand what you are saying in that last sentence.

Playing a single musical tone once is not playing music. Playing the same musical tone over and over is not music. For something played on an instrument to be considered as music that has a humanly knowable meaning, two or more different tones must be played.

RajeshG's picture

Jay wrote:

  • I deny that anything from I Corinthians 10 has to do with contemporary worship practices today.  Eating meat given to idols has nothing to do with music, although there is an applicable principle of not doing something that would cause another believer to stumble (10:23-33).
  • I deny that Christians are "having fellowship with demons" if they use music that you do not approve of.
  • I deny that Exodus 32 has anything to do with contemporary church practices at all, as I said in the thread several months ago.

I am saying that these two passages, which describe several particular incidents in OT history, are being incorrectly used by you to "prove" your position. 

God has provided an inspired record of people in a worship context who ate things sacrificed to an idol and thereby came into fellowship with demons. The inspired record shows that after they consumed what was offered to the idol and had come into fellowship with demons, they produced music and danced in the context of the same event. Therefore, your denial that "eating meat offered to idols has nothing to do with music" is refuted by the inspired record of Exodus 32.

Deny all you want, but the Bible stands.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

First Cor. 14:7-8 teaches us that for a musical instrument to be used properly in corporate worship, it must produce a distinction in tones such that what is played is humanly knowable. Based on that teaching, we are justified in holding that single musical tones do not have any intrinsic musical meanings that are humanly knowable.

I don't think these verses are teaching that single tones do not have meanings. In fact, I think the context of the verses actually contradict that notion. The context is about listening to a message that is spoken in tongues. A sentence is made up of words that have individual syllables that have individuals sounds. If I am speaking a sentence without clearly distinguishing between fa and ta and da, then you would not be able to recognize what words my message is trying to use. Now, fa and ta and da are not words by themselves, but there are plenty of single sound words which CAN be clearly understood. The words "I" and "a" and "oh" are all single sound words which have meanings that are humanly knowable. In fact, short, one-syllable words are usually the easiest to understand. 1 Cor 4:9 says "So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air."

Of course, it is not just enunciation that is needed for understanding, but familiarity with the language being spoken is also needed for understanding. My daughter took three years of French in high school. She would walk around the house saying a series of syllables from which I could not discern a message. I could not understand the distinction between the sounds as to how they came together into words unless she spoke each individual word very slowly. Even in French, there are single sound words which are humanly knowable. The French word for yes is "oui," but if I only know English, I would hear that sound as the word "we," and I wouldn't understand the message being presented in French.

As for the music lesson from the verse, it's saying that you need to clearly hear the distinction between the notes "A" and "C" and "F," as examples, in order to be able to understand what tune is playing. The verse is NOT saying that the individual notes are not music, only that you need to be able to tell the differences between the notes in order to hear the song with understanding. Verse 9 about the trumpet call is an example of this. Suppose, in your village, a trumpet call in the note "A" means "Gather to fight" and a trumpet call in "C" means "Stay in your houses" and a trumpet call in "F" means "Run for the hills." What do you do if the trumpet call is in "B"? That is very close to "A" but it is just as close to "C". The trumpet call in "B" would be an uncertain sound, but only because you don't recognize it as the call to battle. Other individual tones CAN BE certain sounds.

GregH's picture

I wonder if anyone else finds this ironic.

Rajesh apparently feels that music is an important issue, enough to write small volumes on it.  And yet, God apparently disagrees. Because the best Biblical passages Rajesh can apparently find to support his position are these:

* A neutral reference in a genealogy to Jubal, stating that he played music. Literally a few words.
* The golden calf story in Exodus where music is barely mentioned at all and is most certainly not the point of the story.
* A discussion of a madman that is not even about music.
* And now, an illustration of a battle trumpet in a discussion about speaking in tongues which he would have us believe is prescriptive for corporate worship. (I am not even sure it is prescriptive for a battle; it is just an illustration.)

So the obvious question is: if God is so concerned about music laws, why did he not give any? Not in the OT where he told them what kind of clothes to wear in excruciating detail. Not in the NT either.

Kevin Miller's picture

GregH wrote:

So the obvious question is: if God is so concerned about music laws, why did he not give any? Not in the OT where he told them what kind of clothes to wear in excruciating detail. Not in the NT either.

Well, you can't really say that there aren't any. Ephesians 5:19 is a Biblical instruction. "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;" In the Old Testament, Psalm 100.2 tells us to "Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing." Other verses tell us to worship God with particular instruments. Do you really want Rajesh to post a list of those? Because he could. You know he could. Smile

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

I don't think these verses are teaching that single tones do not have meanings. In fact, I think the context of the verses actually contradict that notion. The context is about listening to a message that is spoken in tongues. A sentence is made up of words that have individual syllables that have individuals sounds. If I am speaking a sentence without clearly distinguishing between fa and ta and da, then you would not be able to recognize what words my message is trying to use. Now, fa and ta and da are not words by themselves, but there are plenty of single sound words which CAN be clearly understood. The words "I" and "a" and "oh" are all single sound words which have meanings that are humanly knowable. In fact, short, one-syllable words are usually the easiest to understand. 1 Cor 4:9 says "So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air."

 

Of course, it is not just enunciation that is needed for understanding, but familiarity with the language being spoken is also needed for understanding. My daughter took three years of French in high school. She would walk around the house saying a series of syllables from which I could not discern a message. I could not understand the distinction between the sounds as to how they came together into words unless she spoke each individual word very slowly. Even in French, there are single sound words which are humanly knowable. The French word for yes is "oui," but if I only know English, I would hear that sound as the word "we," and I wouldn't understand the message being presented in French.

As for the music lesson from the verse, it's saying that you need to clearly hear the distinction between the notes "A" and "C" and "F," as examples, in order to be able to understand what tune is playing. The verse is NOT saying that the individual notes are not music, only that you need to be able to tell the differences between the notes in order to hear the song with understanding. Verse 9 about the trumpet call is an example of this. Suppose, in your village, a trumpet call in the note "A" means "Gather to fight" and a trumpet call in "C" means "Stay in your houses" and a trumpet call in "F" means "Run for the hills." What do you do if the trumpet call is in "B"? That is very close to "A" but it is just as close to "C". The trumpet call in "B" would be an uncertain sound, but only because you don't recognize it as the call to battle. Other individual tones CAN BE certain sounds.

I think that you are not understanding this key point: no single-sound words have intrinsic meanings to them so that  a person who has never heard that word before knows automatically what that sound means just by hearing the sound without being given any other information explaining the meaning of the word. If you know of any such words, what are they?

Moreover, words are not comparable to single musical tones--individual letters are comparable to single musical tones.

As with letters of the alphabet and individual phonetic sounds, no single musical tones have intrinsic meanings to them. In your last paragraph, you say about trumpets: "Suppose, in your village, a trumpet call in the note 'A' means 'Gather to fight.'" Are you asserting that somebody who has never heard that note before and not been told by anyone in any way about the meaning of that note automatically somehow knows that the note 'A' means 'gather to fight'? 

No, those meanings to those notes are assigned meanings--they are not intrinsic meanings communicated just by hearing the sound without having no other information provided in any way about the sound.

That's exactly what we find in Numbers 10 when God assigns differing meanings to differing ways that the trumpets would be played.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

No, those meanings to those notes are assigned meanings--they are not intrinsic meanings communicated just by hearing the sound without having no other information provided in any way about the sound.

Well, speaking of assigned meanings, wouldn't the same idea be true of styles. If individual notes don't have intrinsic meanings, why would collections of notes have intrinsic meanings? Isn't it true that in order to understand the meaning of styles, we have to have information about how the style has been originated or used, so that we can assign a meaning to that style?

RajeshG's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

Well, speaking of assigned meanings, wouldn't the same idea be true of styles. If individual notes don't have intrinsic meanings, why would collections of notes have intrinsic meanings? Isn't it true that in order to understand the meaning of styles, we have to have information about how the style has been originated or used, so that we can assign a meaning to that style?

Asking why would collections of notes have intrinsic meanings is the wrong question to ask. The right question is whether collections of notes have intrinsic meanings.

Typically, musical non-conservatives who are Christians beg the question by asserting that all instrumental musical styles/genres are inherently neutral or amoral. Others beg the question by asserting that all instrumental musical styles/genres are inherently good.

Jay's picture

Well, you can't really say that there aren't any. Ephesians 5:19 is a Biblical instruction. "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;" In the Old Testament, Psalm 100.2 tells us to "Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing." Other verses tell us to worship God with particular instruments. Do you really want Rajesh to post a list of those, because he could. You know he could. 

The thing that I find so fascinating with all of these music teachers is that it's so hard to get them to deal with basics.  Their arguments almost always consist of arguments for or against a specific culture, or require training in musical notation and theory, or consist of looking at all sorts of different Bible passages except for, you know, the ones that are the clearest.  So instead we have to have arguments over how the idolatrous worship of the Golden Calf led to fellowship with demons and how bringing pagan worship practices into the Corinthian church leads to fellowship with demons which leads to...what, exactly?  That we shouldn't use drums in church?  We'd know if we'd even get beyond these crazy pre-pre-presuppositional arguments from the OT.

Sometimes I listen to these people and all I hear is "Yea, hath God said...Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing...But what if you aren't doing it right?  What if you're using the wrong instrument, or the wrong singer, or the wrong style or the wrong notation, or what if that harmony communicates something spiritually that we don't want to because it may somehow encourage the demons to gather in our midst..."

Does anyone else ever get that feeling as well?

And if the conservatives aren't willing to deal with musical tunes, lyrics, or styles that we do present, what hope do we have of ever getting beyond "he said, he said"?

"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

GregH's picture

Jay wrote:

Does anyone else ever get that feeling as well?

And if the conservatives aren't willing to deal with musical tunes, lyrics, or styles that we do present, what hope do we have of ever getting beyond "he said, he said"?

I am pretty sure that today's church music "experts" avoid getting specific simply because they know that the train is off the rails as soon as they go there. It is fairly easy to talk about music "meaning something" but quite another matter to take a piece of music and say what it means. They know that if they do try to parse the meaning of a piece of music, they are going to have to defend their analysis and it will not be pretty. So they hide behind abstract ideas.

In my experience in music, I have met and worked with numerous world-class musicians and educators who know the subject inside and out. And I can tell you that while sometimes there is speculation about what a composer might have been thinking when writing, I have never once heard a true expert try to parse meaning out of a piece of music at a level that would have moral implications. For example, you might hear a piece of music and say that the composer was trying to imitate rain or birds. Or perhaps, a piece of music is clearly trying to portray a primary emotion. However, there is no way to pull the meaning out of a piece of music at a level of specificity that would have moral implications.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:
 

Asking why would collections of notes have intrinsic meanings is the wrong question to ask. The right question is whether collections of notes have intrinsic meanings.

But I was trying to figure out whether or not they have them by asking, based on the logic you used for individual notes, why you think they do. If your logic is correct for whether individual notes have intrinsic meaning, then shouldn't you use that same logic for whether collections of notes have intrinsic meaning?

You wrote, "As with letters of the alphabet and individual phonetic sounds, no single musical tones have intrinsic meanings to them."

You said the same thing about single sound words. You said, "no single-sound words have intrinsic meanings to them so that  a person who has never heard that word before knows automatically what that sound means just by hearing the sound without being given any other information explaining the meaning of the word."

Wouldn't the same thing be true about multiple sound words? If you've never heard the word before, you wouldn't know what the sounds mean without being given other information explaining the meaning of the word. Isn't that true as well? If you put a bunch of unknown words together, you have a meaningless sentence. That's the exact point of the 1 Cor 14 verses.

So, based on this logic, I can't tell whether a style would have an intrinsic meaning to it. Wouldn't the style be like a word or combination of words that you wouldn't know the meaning of without other information being given to you explaining the meaning?

RajeshG's picture

My position about single musical tones is based on inferences from divine revelation, especially what 1 Cor. 14 says that tells us that there is meaning to combinations of musical tones when they are played with distinctions between the tones that are produced by an instrument:

1 Corinthians 14:7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

Whether that meaning is intrinsic to those combinations in some or all cases seems to be something that this passage does not address.

The larger context of this study is what the Bible reveals as a whole about sounds and their meanings, which is a study of much more than just musical sounds. That study is a very complex, challenging subject. I have studied it a lot, but there is much about what is revealed that I do not understand at this point.

 

Jay's picture

What should have been said was this:

My position about single musical tones is based on inferences from divine revelation.

  • Jubal's argument - based on inference
  • The Golden Calf - argument based largely on inference from one or two words
  • The assumed meaning of music played by a trumpet in a culture that none of us lived in and that predates us by literally centuries.

It seems far better to be to start with the solid things that God has said in Ephesians 5:19 and Psalm 100:2 and build off of that than it would be to cobble together arguments based on inferences that very few people see or understand, no matter how many threads are opened.

This is exactly why I went after you, Rajesh, in one of our initial threads on the perspicuity of Scripture.  I have seen this over and over and over again in the more than ten years on this website.  If you don't recall, here's what I said in November:

Any believer coming through this passage ought to be able, with a little bit of study, discern the practical implications for worship without consulting other resources.  That's what we mean when we talk about the perspicuity of Scripture.  God doesn't take principles of worship and hide them from us within OT narrative like some sort of bizarre shell game.

And then I said it again a few days later:

The Westminster Confession of Faith explains what Protestants believe about the perspicuity of Scripture: “All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all. Yet, those things that are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or another, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them” (1.7).

https://www.gotquestions.org/perspicuity-of-Scripture.html

And finally, I warned us about this particular strategy of flooding the zone with unwarranted and overwhelming data:

I'll grant that I don't have a PhD in New Testament Introduction, but I have very serious and strong reservations about teaching that all the pertinent Scriptures (Rajesh's words on several occasions) must be taken into account before we can draw any application from it.  I don't think that is generally what we mean when we talk about the perspicuity of Scripture, and it seems as though this "prevent defense" of appealing all possible passages before we can make an application is a dangerous road to go down.

But hey, you're driving a lot of traffic on SharperIron, so I guess that's good for the site.

"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

RajeshG's picture

Jay wrote:

What should have been said was this:

My position about single musical tones is based on inferences from divine revelation.

  • Jubal's argument - based on inference
  • The Golden Calf - argument based largely on inference from one or two words
  • The assumed meaning of music played by a trumpet in a culture that none of us lived in and that predates us by literally centuries.

Wrong again. My position about the GCI is not based on inference from one or two words; it is based on the Spirit directly quoting from Ex. 32 and from the Spirit providing previously unrevealed illumination about what takes place whenever humans in a worship context consume what has been offered to an idol. 

I have not assumed any meaning of music played by a trumpet. Where you get that from is a mystery to me. In any case, it is irrelevant how long ago something happened or whether we lived in that culture. Divine revelation is timelessly true.

The real core of the dispute about worship music styles/genres concerns the faulty presuppositions that musical non-conservatives routinely beg about the nature of instrumental music. Since you are such an advocate of what you say is proper interpretation of the Bible and of using popular musical styles in worship, do set forth in a new thread clear, direct biblical proof of your position without the use of any inferences or any begging of the truth.

RajeshG's picture

First Cor. 10:18-20 provides vital revelation that illumines all Scripture accounts of humans in a worship context consuming what has been offered to an idol. Such consumption puts people in fellowship with demons.

Not coming into fellowship with demons is a premier obligation for all humans, especially believers. In the ongoing war between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman that began after the Fall, heeding this obligation is self-evidently central to giving God the glory that is due Him.

Presupposing that instrumental music is a realm completely exempt from this warfare is an unbiblical position that we must reject. Wherever in Scripture God provides revelation about music connected with human contact with supernatural evil, we must scrutinize that revelation thoroughly for all the profit that God wants us to derive from it.

Exodus 32 is the most important biblical record of humans coming into fellowship with demons through their consuming in a worship context what was offered to an idol. The information about music in Exodus 32, therefore, is vital information for us to consider thoroughly.

Exodus 32:17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. 18 And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.

Kevin Miller's picture

RajeshG wrote:

My position about single musical tones is based on inferences from divine revelation, especially what 1 Cor. 14 says that tells us that there is meaning to combinations of musical tones when they are played with distinctions between the tones that are produced by an instrument:

1 Corinthians 14:7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

Whether that meaning is intrinsic to those combinations in some or all cases seems to be something that this passage does not address.

The larger context of this study is what the Bible reveals as a whole about sounds and their meanings, which is a study of much more than just musical sounds. That study is a very complex, challenging subject. I have studied it a lot, but there is much about what is revealed that I do not understand at this point.

I appreciate your honesty about the fact that there is much you don't understand. I feel the same way. Not only is there much I don't understand from the Bible, but I admit that there is much I don't understand about the positions that you personally have inferred from the Bible. So my conversations here on the forum are not only "this is what I see from this verse" statements, but they are also "wait a minute- how did you infer that from this verse?' Because i understand my own limitations in how I make inferences, I find it odd when I see you make declarative assertions about your own inferences, such as when you said "Deny all you want, but the Bible stands." No one here is trying to deny the Bible, but I certainly don't think it wrong to challenge an inference that you draw from disparate Scriptures whose main points aren't even about the subject we're addressing.

You just told Jay " Since you are such an advocate of what you say is proper interpretation of the Bible and of using popular musical styles in worship, do set forth in a new thread clear, direct biblical proof of your position without the use of any inferences or any begging of the truth." There are some things the Bible just isn't clear about, so I don't think it's necessary for him or me to come up with a whole different scenario of inferred assertions in order to tell you that the Bible isn't clear enough to support your own assertions.

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