Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dear Berean’s,

I am on my way to South Africa to preach at a Conference. Please keep me in your prayers.

I wanted to post this article on worship with the prayer that it will be a blessing to all of you.

God Bless you all,

In Christ,
Pastor Dickie

Contemporary Christian Music

By: Greg Barkman
The Beacon Beam
September 2008

Ah, the music wars! Conservative, evangelical, fundamental churches (along with some other labels and categories) are divided over music. What styles of music should we use in the meetings of our churches? Is “Contemporary Music” acceptable? Is it preferable? Is it abominable? Is “tradition Music” acceptable, preferable, or is it a hindrance to the mission of the church in 2008? These are the questions. The answers are diverse, to say the least.

By Contemporary Christian Music, we mane a certain style, very different from tradition church music that began in the 1960’s with the “Jesus Movement” and has developed into a widely used musical style in many churches today. Technically, any music written recently is “contemporary”, even if formulated according to traditional concepts of hymnody, but Contemporary Christian Music (or CCM), has developed a style all it’s own. Thus, recently written hymns may be either contemporary or traditional, without any reference to when they were composed. Sometimes this newer style is called “Praise and Worship” music, though I trust without any implication that traditional hymns do not appropriately praise and worship God.

There are generally two arguments to support the new music. The Bible, we are told, contains no instructions for music and therefore music itself is neutral. Music communicates nothing apart from words, so the words, not the music are the important element. We are therefore free to use any musical style. Furthermore, we are commanded to reach unbelievers with the Gospel. Since the un-churched find traditional church music unappealing (so we are told), we need to use styles that appeal to unbelievers in order to attract them to our churches to hear the Word of God.

While it is true to that the Bible contains no specific instructions regarding the composition of music, the “music is therefore neutral” argument does not necessarily follow. Simple observation demonstrates that different styles of music do communicate messages with or without words. Why don’t nightclubs play Sousa marches or classical music? Why don’t upscale restaurants play rap? Because that would send the wrong message, even without words! Obviously, music does communicate. It cannot communicate with the clarity and precision of verbal language, but to say that it is entirely neutral defies reason. We have an example of this in Exodus 32:17, 18. when Moses came down from the Mount with the Tables of Stone, Joshua heard noise in the camp which he misinterpreted as the sound of war. It must have been chaotic. Moses identified the noise as neither the sound of victory, nor of defeat, but singing. Neither Joshua nor Moses could understand the words, but both recognized the music as communicating something significant. As we know, it was the sound of wild partying in connection with the false worship of the golden calf. Nobody thought this as the sound of people worshipping Jehovah! Music communicates general concepts even without words. Shouldn’t we therefore, endeavor to construct our music and words to communicate the same message?

The evangelism argument must also be examined. Where does the Bible indicate that music is an appropriate vehicle for evangelism? Scripture teaches that church music, specifically singing, has two purposes: First, as a means to teach truth to believers, and secondly, as a vehicle to worship God (Colossians 3:16). Conversely, preaching has the twofold purpose of evangelizing sinners as well as edifying saints. Preaching and singing are two different practices. Though both singing and preaching share the goal of edifying believers, only preaching is sanctioned of evangelizing sinners. To use music, an element that God reserved for praise and edification, for evangelism, a purpose that God never intended, is certain to lead to problems.

My analysis does not specify every detail of Christian music. To do so would go far beyond the bounds of Scripture. There is enough flexibility in God’s Word to accommodate Christian worship in every part of the world, with a dizzying array of styles, cultures and musical norms. However, we must begin with a firm commitment to the guidelines that Scripture lays down before we explore the limits of personal taste and expression. After all, if our music is not first and foremost designed to bring glory to God in the way that He prescribes, how can it possibly be right?

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