Thursday, February 07, 2008

Along Those Same Lines

Relating to the topic of my last post, I recently read three articles here, here, and here by Dr. Eric Svendsen, who used to be a student here at Trinity. It will absolutely shock you that some of these things go on within Christian music. Given that I myself am a musician, and my other undergraduate degree was in music, I am really upset to see that the Christian music buisness promotes this stuff. Music should be used in the worship of God, not the glorification of self.


Ted Slater said...

While I think it's helpful that Dr. Svendsen is bringing a light to so-called Christian music, I think he's too dismissive of it as a "genre" (I'm using that term broadly).

He almost seems to be dismissing all contemporary Christian music as "corrupt to varying degrees." If he's saying that most of the music labels/distributors are primarily out for money rather than ministry, I'd concur with him. The proof is in the packaging and the pablum content of most "Christian" music.

But if he's saying that everything released by these labels is "corrupt to varying degrees," then I'd have to disagree with him.

Consider Steven Curtis Chapman's work, for example -- lyrically relevant and biblical, musically excellent, strong production quality, tender heart, and so on.

As far as dismissing rap music as a whole, I'd encourage the good doctor to consider the works of Curtis "Voice" Allen, who was invited to perform at John Piper's church, Bethlehem Baptist Church, and was commended by Piper.

FWIW, I personally don't care for "rap."

I emphatically agree with you, Adam, that music "should be used in the worship of God, not the glorification of self." I also agree with the gist of your post and Dr. Svendsen's posts, that Christians should do better with their music. Much better.

FWIW, I've got some of my music on my website. I'd be interested to hear what you think.

Anakin Niceguy said...

I'll go you one further:

I have yet to see where instrumental music in worship is authorized anywhere in the New Testament - the covenant that governs how we worship.

Ted Slater said...

Anakin -- interesting point.

The thing is, I don't see anything in the New Testament negating the use of non-vocal instruments in worship. The use of such things as stringed instruments, cymbals, tambourines, trumpets and "pipes" were advocated in the Psalms. I don't see that being revoked anywhere in the New Testament.

Do you see any reason why the skillful use of such things 3,000 years ago could be considered good, but now they'd be considered not good?

Anakin Niceguy said...

Hi Ted,

Are you saying that the ceremonial law of the Old Testament was not revoked?

Ted Slater said...

"Harps" are used in heaven to worship the Lord. Why would musical instruments be sanctioned in the Old Tesament period, declared bad in the New Testament, and then once again affirmed in Heaven?

Is anyone here really saying that musical instruments should not be part of worshiping our Lord -- either now or in the world to come?

Anakin Niceguy said...

Hi Ted,

I see the mention of harps in the book of Revelation and other imagery of that book as being largely, if not wholly, symbolic. There are several faith traditions that do not use the instrument in worship: Primitive Baptists, some Presbytarians, and Eastern Orthodox come to mind. The early Christians did not use an instrument. I say this because the position I raise is not hypothetical, but something I do in fact believe. I play guitar and am a bit of an audio geek (like to record my songs, etc.). But my guitars do not follow me to the church building. When I am with my brothers and sisters in Christ on Sunday morning, we crack our hymn-books and sing four-part harmony. I have some sympathy towards other faith traditions that do not share my views (some might call my understanding the "regulative principle" of worship or a "pattern hermeneutic"). The issue is not a simple matter to present as other issues, but I do feel it still worth some study.

Ted Slater said...

Anakin -- the truth is that we don't really know a lot of what heaven's like. Our bodies will be different, "time" will be different, relationships will be different, and so on. Certainly communication -- including musical communication -- will also be different from what we're accustomed to here.

I don't know if there'll be literal harps in heaven -- stringed instruments held together with wood or some other material. The thing is, though, Scripture does mention it. God saw fit to provide us the imagery of harps and singing in Rev. 15. How are we to interpret that? Surely not by saying that having instruments accompany our praise is a bad thing, right?

I understand that the early Christians didn't use instruments, as they were associated with the sensual heathen cults. But let me get this right -- are you saying that it's wrong to use instruments to praise God? Was Bach wrong to use his musical giftings to introduce beautifully worshipful orchestral and organ pieces? Is Steven Curtis Chapman wrong to play his guitar while praising the Lord in song?

Are you encouraging us to reject the Scriptural command to praise the Lord with trumpet, lute, harp, tambourine, strings, pipe and cymbals?

I do understand the concern about the potentially sensual effects of instrumental accompaniment. But is that a valid reason for not allowing musical instruments in the praise of our Lord? Eating food can be a sensual experience; surely you don't advocate not eating.

Fascinating discussion, Anakin.

Ted Slater said...

I ran across a great blog that explores how music affects us and our worship of the Lord:

His main points: Music is meant to affect us emotionally, helps us meditate on Scriptural truth, enables us to express our unity in the Gospel, and draws out differing emotions from the same lyrics.