Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A reply to a YouTube video called "Untangling the church music debate"

      I realize this video is satiric.  I like satire, even when the shoe is on the other foot.  This video made me laugh, angry, and jealous.  There are people who have legitimate questions about church music.  Though not everyone approaches the topic with a sincere desire to know the truth from God’s Word, there are those who do.  Often the answers to their questions are just as hollow as the answers from the character purported to represent the conservative.  The stupidity of certain responses made me laugh.  What made me angry is the serious tone (that aspect of satire) that is supposed to reveal the folly of its recipient.  Basically, godly music advocates are ridiculed.  I could have easily dismissed this video as a time waster.  Perhaps I should have, and perhaps it is.  But then as I thought about how I would respond towards a serious seeker about godly music, I would hope that I could give a more substantive answer than what was portrayed.  This is where my jealousy kicked in.  Not that I am a spiritual giant of any kind, but I am jealous for God’s holiness.  God is gracious in giving us His Word.  His Word is the substantive answer that I would hope to ever give.  Therefore, If no one else benefits from this reply, at least I have gotten a little more exposed to His Word.  Naturally, some would say His Word is vague, and that what I present is merely my opinion on the Bible.  Anyone looking at the evidence can conclude that these responses are quite objective.  The Bible is simple and clear on the topic of music.  I do not intend to transform my blog into something like Religious Affections (which has terrific information about godly music, and many would do well to consult).  I only wish to reply ever so briefly, hopefully even more ephemeral than my introduction.

1.  About those drums
     Rhythm is a part of music.  Melody, harmony, and rhythm are what constitute music.  The Bible speaks of melody directly (Isa. 23:16; 51:3; Amos 5:23; Eph. 5:19) harmony (2 Cor. 6:15), but doesn’t refer to rhythm at all.  We shouldn’t infer that rhythm is bad (even if it causes our foot to tap), what we should infer is that rhythm isn’t priority in the musical component of godly music.  The problem with bad music is its emphasis of rhythm.  Contrary to the video, the Bible doesn’t say anywhere to praise God with the drums.  Instruments are regulated in the Bible.  For example, in the Old Testament out of several instruments only four instruments are sanctified for direct corporate Temple worship.  The "backbeat" is the main characteristic of the rock genre.

2.  About holding the microphones
     Moot.  I would take more issues with the message of the music and how a song or a piece is performed.  I prefer not to hold a microphone, but that’s just me.

3.  About sensual music
     Sensual pertains to the flesh as opposed to the spirit or the soul.  The Bible recognizes that wisdom can be characterized as sensual in James 3:15.  People can also be characterized as sensual (see 1 Cor. 2:14; Jude 1:19).  Musically speaking, sensual music is flesh-gratifying, rhythm-driven music.  Godly music is similar to godliness in the Christian life, it isn’t dominated by the flesh, rather it is dominated by the Spirit which is ever opposing the flesh (Galatians 5:16-26; 1 Pet. 2:11; 1 John 2:16-17).

4.  About those standards
     The issue of standards relates largely to one’s hermeneutics.  Faulty and liberal hermeneutics result in disaster.  Our standards (conventional walls) are in place to protect our convictions (Bible-based beliefs).  While standards change, convictions don’t.  We believe the Bible gives a number of principles about music; therefore we apply them to today.  The principles (though I am not going to enumerate them at this time) are plainly laid out in the Scriptures.  This would be a worthy blog article for sure.  Many books reiterate the Scriptures here.  (like "The Battle for Christian Music" by Tim Fisher,  "Sound Music or Sounding Brass" by Pastor Kent Brandenburg).

5.  About majoring in music at a Christian College
     You don’t need to major in music to speak about music.  The Bible isn’t a textbook.

6.  About music which is godly and not just what we are accustomed to
     Music has a natural or inherent distinction in its message.  This can be conventional or communal, but isn’t just limited to one’s tradition or culture.  The American Flag has some colors that are conventionally recognized, largely in this country.  A foreigner may not associate the colors red, white and blue with the American flag.  The colors carry a conventional meaning.  But if you place anyone in the middle of a brewing storm, and the dark clouds signal to all, that it is about to rain.  The dark clouds carry a natural meaning regardless of convention.  Basically, you can tell whether music is good or bad through listening to its distinguishing element or message. 

7.  About the saxophone
     We dealt with instrumentation on point number one.

8.  About classical and jazz music
     Many people don’t "get" Classical music.  I don’t particularly care for it.  It seems obvious that Classical music is an expression of excellent and beautiful music.  We can listen to secular music as long as it isn’t worldy.  The issue of jazz relates more towards the question of association, and I have not thought through that topic as of yet.

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