Thursday, January 18, 2007

Church and Culture, 8

I missed the music wars of the '80s or whenever they were. I wasn't a Christian and the idea that Christians would have been fighting over music styles would have been ridiculous in my mind... as a non-Christian, more evidence for the "pie-in-the-sky" superficiality of Christianity.

But now I'm a Christian. And all around me, I see the remains of the music wars that preceded me. There are the scars and tenuously held together congregations that split or nearly split. There are services traditional and contemporary. There are the die-hards that organize their small little ranks for raiding parties, surprise attacks at this or that members' meeting before running back to cover. It's an interesting new world to me.

I'm a professed ignoramus when it comes to music and the history of music, but I'm committed to learning... and by God's grace am doing so. So, this post is less opinion or guidance and more an invitation to discussion. How does what we've said thus far about the two cultures (God's and man's) shape something like music selection and singing in the gathered church?

A few preliminary thoughts/questions that I'd love your counsel, correction, response to, etc.

1. I'm a regulative principle kind of guy. Does the two cultures view require that? If not, why not and how do we discern where we are in this tension between the cultures of God and man?

2. I think there is greater priority for the church gathering together as one body over the local church segregating itself into different services based upon music styles. That seems to me to cede way too much over to the culture of man. Surely our preferences for something like music should not be determinant when it comes to when and how we gather?

3. Culturally speaking, does our two cultures view argue for a "mere" expression of cultural/ethnic distinctives in the public services (especially in areas quite diverse)? Is less actually more on this point? My sense is that simpler musical forms and less cultural distinctiveness (or at least some attention to balance) make the public service more permeable. Is that true of anyone else's experience? How are folks striking "balance" on this if at all?

Let me know what you think. I'm a neophyte in this arena and therefore am tremendously blessed to be colaboring with a worship pastor like Dave Jorge!


Anonymous said...

Priority in music....assuming always to glorify God of course...keep it on the folksy side as a "let's worship together" as opposed to a fine arts approach with the awe and attention being drawn to the music instead of the 2 cents...I 'll see you in Minneapolis brother!!
chuck cobb

Anonymous said...

My experience with worship music of all types has typically been "we were here first and we call the tunes...if you don't like it, there's no one stopping you from worshipping elsewhere".

This is one area that does not seem permeable in any American congregation that I've seen - regardless of the dominant ethnicities which comprise the church body.

GREAT series!

Andrew Chapman said...

This is the corrected comment - I pressed Preview to look at my previous one but it went straight to moderation.

I think the use of musical instruments in church is probably a fairly recent innovation and in its current form a dangerous one because it can stimulate the heart and soul rather than the spirit and mind of a man. John Wesley and Charles Spurgeon are two examples of mighty men of God who would not allow musical instruments in church. See for information. I allow it myself as it happens but only with the thought that it can help us to worship the Lord together and isn't specifically prohibited in the scriptures. It may even be enjoined : ψαλλω, which does normally mean playing a musical instrument or singing to musical accompaniment, is used in James 5 v 13 and 1 Corinthians 14 v 15 and in Ephesians 5 v 19, but in this last case where it is distinguished from αδω to sing, it is then qualified by 'in your hearts'. At any rate it would appear that from a very early date the church considered it to be a feature of the old covenant and not the new (maybe there was some anti-semitic replacement theology involved here?). So I am in two minds as you can see!

What is very clear to me from 1 Timothy 2 vv 1-2 is that the assemblies of the saints must begin with prayer and intercession rather than with praise. Praise follows victory in our prayer.Hallelujah! Sorry about the long comment - I got in deeper than I anticipated. Shalom, Andrew

Anonymous said...

Thabiti..i am with you. I don't get it.