Part 5 of “Music – The Golden Calf” can be found here.
The Desert Pastor (DP) begins by making some very true statements about worship and music. Music can indeed be the object or even the driving force behind much of Christianity’s so-called “worship.” It should never be about what “feels right” or based on some emotional experience brought about by listening to certain styles of music. To this I would also add that it should never be about what “feels wrong” either. If we are going to exclude what drives our feelings (and we should!), then both sides of the equation should be negated, both what feels right AND what feels wrong. Music in and of itself should never, I repeat NEVER, be the impetus or driving force behind our worship. When it becomes that, as D.A. Carson once wrote, we start worshipping worship instead of worshipping Him who is worthy of all worship.
DP also makes what is perhaps a true statement in that many church attendees could not accurately analyze the theological content of the song they just sang. This is certainly a sad statement about the condition of the church and one that we should be constantly fighting against in teaching and instructing believers. If we are unable to judge the theological content of a song, then there is definitely room for someone to slip a song into the musical line-up that does not reflect truth.
As an aside, I find two things interesting about the quote from Bob Kauflin. First is that DP quotes him in the first place, given that Sovereign Grace Ministries - of which Bob Kauflin is a leader - is very charismatic in their style of church and corporate worship. A quick perusal of their music offerings (which I would highly recommend, by the way) would reveal that the music is most definitely not of the conservative stripe. Second, is that DP does not also quote Bob Kauflin when he states in the same interview that “Looking throughout the history of Scripture and since then, it seems that God doesn’t have a particular kind of music that he likes or a particular era of music that he likes. [It seems] that God likes music of all kinds. That’s the way he created the world. [Just to] celebrate the diversity of music that God has given us with which to praise him….Truth transcends tunes.”
But once again, DP is trying to confuse matters here by comparing apples with oranges. The controversy has not ever been about the content of the music. As I’ve stated before, I will continue to completely agree with DP on the issue of lyrics. I’m sure there will be very few in evangelicalism that would disagree with his statements on the content of music. But that is not the issue that DP started with, nor the one that he keeps bringing into the discussion. Even in 4 questions of his 6-question test, he comes back to the issue of musical style. He tries to throw out the question of “Why can’t I take any style or genre of music and use it for the glory of God?” when this question is THE question that should be asked. I am more than a little shocked that he would attempt to throw this question out and replace it with 6 others that simply do not address the bottom line. It almost implies a reluctance to deal with the question and since he cannot come up with a Biblical answer, he simply throws it out as irrelevant when it is anything but irrelevant. The Westminster Shorter Catechism rightly places this issue first and foremost when in the very first question it asks: “What is the chief end of man?” to which we should reply “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever!” So to ask what can be used to glorify God is exactly the issue. If you can answer that question, the 6 questions he poses will answer themselves.
Allow me to demonstrate. I firmly believe that, because the Bible is absolutely silent on the issue of musical style, I can take any style of music (again, NOT lyrics) and use it to glorify God and encourage others to do to the same. My answers then would be:
1) What does God require of me in my worship of Him? Quite simply, to honor him, not just with my lips (Matt.15:8-9), but with my whole self (Ro.12:1-2), worshiping with gladness (Ps. 100:2), recognizing that he alone is worthy of worship (Rev.4:11)
2) What is there in the world’s music that I must use in order to worship the God Who has called me to be separate from the world? There is nothing there that I must use, but I recognize God can and will be glorified in everything. I recognize that there is no such thing as a difference between “worldly” musical styles and “Christian” musical styles, but that all styles should be brought under the dominion of Christ to bring honor and glory to him. This is also why I can appreciate all kinds of art (not simply music) because all beauty should cause us to think on Him who is Beauty.
3) What is there in my music selections that I choose because of the way it makes me feel instead of whether it is theologically correct? Musical style does not have theological content. Further, all music, by its very nature, is designed to cause an emotional response; to state otherwise is to show a lack of knowledge of the subject of music. However, the content (lyrics) that I choose to listen to should reflect truth and beauty as Christ Himself is Truth and Beauty. I can appreciate Steve Green songs just as much as I can appreciate Josh Groban songs, but on two separate levels.
4) How can I take the name of Christ and use it as a label simply for the purpose of approving what my mind tells me is not truly honouring to Christ? This question unfairly assumes that whatever “worldly” music I choose (again, not sure how this music is defined as DP has not given any answer to this) is chosen against what I know is “right.” This is simply incorrect. If something is truly not honoring to Christ, then it should not be participated in. But again, I believe that the name of Christ can be honored in any kind of musical style.
5) Does the so-called silence on the issue of music style give me the liberty to violate other biblical principles in order to seek my own pleasure? If there is a Biblical principle that is being violated in order to satisfy my own flesh, this is absolutely wrong and is sin. But if I am truly seeking to honor God and “present my body a living sacrifice (Ro.12:1-2), then the silence on music does indeed give me the liberty to choose a musical style.
6) Have I allowed music to become my own little idol, and in doing so violated the command not to have any other gods before the God of heaven? This is a very legitimate question and one that should be asked continually. It is most definitely idolatry when we want to have our music simply to satisfy our flesh and not for the purpose of bringing glory to God.
(to be continued...)