I have decided to end my responses to The Desert Pastor’s series on music and worship. There are several reasons and I’ll try to enumerate them below.
First and foremost is that DP, in his 7 parts written thus far, has failed to adequately address the topic of musical styles from Scripture all the while claiming that he has the Scripture to back up his position. Instead, he has chosen to use historical inaccuracies, personal opinions, and very shallow eisegesis (reading preferences into Scripture) to prove his argument. The few Scriptures that he does attempt to use say nothing about musical style nor what any perceived differences there are between “worldly” music and “Christian” music. Further, he claims that those who disagree have already made up their minds and subsequently uses that argument as a cop out for providing Scriptural support. Nothing could be further from the truth. I would honestly reexamine my position on the musical styles if DP (or anyone else for that matter) could show from Scriptural or even applicable Scriptural principle where God’s Word limits the choice of musical style. While it is true that he may very well intend on writing more articles, the sad fact is that he has not in his first 7 addressed the issue from a solid Biblical foundation. As such and until he can support his claim from Scripture, I see no point in arguing a personal opinion not based on Scripture.
Second, his arguments are so inconsistent as to be incredibly mind boggling. He wants to claim that he is writing solely from personal preference and conviction and not trying to judge anyone for their musical choices. If this were true, I would have absolutely no argument from him as I believe the Bible is clear that we have this liberty as Christians. However, this is not the case as he has shown by his tone and his continual attacks on those who disagree with him, saying that those who disagree are doing so by “ignore[ing] Scriptural principles in order to satisfy what is pleasing to the flesh.” Although he would try to say otherwise, by his very tone he condemns all those who disagree with him. He gives absolutely no room for the possibility that God-honoring, God-fearing musicians use what he might deem “worldly music” and still be glorifying to God. In his stated opinion regarding Christian Contemporary Music, “everybody no longer pretends it is ALL for the glory of God! Today it is ALL about how CLOSE can we get to the world without being the world!” To say that he knows the heart and attitude of those he knows nothing about simply based on their style of music is Pharaisical and legalistic at best. I would point the reader to Col.2:20-23 and note the similarities between what is being decried in that passage and what DP is attempting.
Third, he is very selective in how he applies his standards. He wants to show how certain styles are associated with the world, yet is seemingly unwilling to admit that ALL styles are associated with the world in some form or fashion. He wants to take issue with the performers of certain musical styles and apply it carte blanche to the style itself, all the while trying to apply Scriptures that say nothing to the argument. He wants to use spiritual language (that nobody would argue against) and non sequiturily (if I may coin term) apply it to the choice of music. For example, he states that “Holiness is not up for conjecture.” I absolutely agree! The Bible is 100% clear on this. But he then jumps to the still-baseless conclusion that using “worldly” music is somehow mutually exclusive from holiness. Once again, he refuses to acknowledge that there are God-honoring Christians who use many different styles that do not ever compromise their call to holiness. He wants to use such broad terms as “rock and roll” or “worldly music” without ever clearly defining what musical styles would fall into those categories and why exactly they do so. He ignores the plethora of authors, both Christian and secular, who have consistently stated the there is no difference, indeed no such thing as a dichotomy of “worldly” and “Christian” music nor is there any inherent morality in the musical style itself.
Fourth, he wants to somehow make the argument that if music affects the human body, it must somehow be evil. This shows an incredible ignorance of music in that music, by its very nature, is supposed to have an influence on the listener. Jonathan Edwards once noted “The duty of singing praises to God seems to be given wholly to excite and express religious affections. There is no other reason why we should express ourselves to God in verse rather than in prose and music, except that these things have a tendency to move our affections.”
So what exactly do I believe concerning this issue of music? As you may have guessed by now, I firmly believe that there is no Scripture that delineates what style of music should be used. As Bob Kauflin points out in his (highly recommended) book, Worship Matters, “God obviously wants us to worship him with music, but he hasn’t given us as many details as we’d often like to know. Scripture doesn’t come with an accompanying soundtrack….God is too great and the human experience too complex to think that one kind of music will always best express the dynamics of our relationship with a living God.”
However, the Bible has plenty to say about the heart issues in how we do all things. 1 Cor. 10:31 says “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do [including making/singing/listening to music] do all to the glory of God.” If a person is truly seeking to bring glory to God in what he does, he is fulfilling this Scripture. If we are worshipping “in spirit and in truth” (John 4), God can be and will be glorified.
Jesus in John 16:13 gives us the promise that “When the Spirit of truth comes [the Holy Spirit] he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare it to you.” Further, in James 1:5, we are given another similar promise: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Believers are promised wisdom and guidance from God to discern what is truth. If I am following Scripture in living a life of humble dependence on Him with continual confession and repentance of sin, seeking to glorify God in all things, I am assured this wisdom and guidance. This applies to the area of Christian liberty, music included. As a result, I have come to the conclusion that there are many areas of life, music included, that are not forbidden, but can rather be an instrument of praise to God. However, I recognize that others will come and have come to the opposite conclusion. I can no more do the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives as they can in mine. I have read and listened to testimonies of Christian musicians of all musical stripes and can only give praise to God for His using them in the way that He has.
This also bleeds into the secular world and allows the freedom to appreciate art of all kinds. I can listen to a secular artist such as Josh Groban, John Tesh, Glen Miller, or the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and recognize the wonderful talent that God has given each of them and praise Him for it. Same goes for art: there is nothing explicitly Christian about a painting by Thomas Kinkade, Monet, or da Vinci, but yet an appreciation for the gifts God has given to them should lead us not to praise the artist, but rather the Giver of the art.
This is not to say that I prefer any and all kinds. To be quite honest, I would have a hard time worshipping to various styles of music, including some of the more modern day praise and worship songs like some of Sovereign Grace’s music. However, what I cannot say is that just because I do not prefer that style, nobody else can worship with it either. The Bible does not give me this leeway to say what other believers can and cannot use to glorify God. I can only honor God and praise him that there are those who see fit to use such styles, not to gratify the flesh, but to bring all glory to Him who alone is worthy. That is the ultimate point of music – to glorify God. I will close with another quote from Bob Kauflin: “The best music enables people to genuinely and consistently magnify the greatness of the Savior in their hearts, minds, and wills. That’s a standard that will never change from culture to culture, generation to generation, church to church.”
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