October 23, 2003
The Christian Musician
(this is not a straight steal from...another blog. :-) i got an email about it this morning. she just got it posted before me. really.)
Posted by apelles at October 23, 2003 11:53 AM
no way was that a steal. that "other blogger" told me she's not even read the article yet. she likes to do that, post something that might stir up controversy and then not give her true opinion on it till fifty years later when she's actually had a chance to wade through it herself. what's more, she got it sent to her indirectly -- by a friend through an email just like yours.
Shew! glad to hear. :-) but i kinda like the not giving a personal opinion til i've worked through it more idea.
i'm definitely in the act of wading on this one. it's just i'm afraid of a really fast current. (or a sink hole or a riptide or any number of other slightly deficient analogies.)
First of all I read this article straight through. But I'm going to comment, even though I think it needs further study.
I really appreciate the point. It really gives musicians (like me) who are Christians (and Christians who aren't musicians) an idea of the relationship of music in the Christian life. (What music is supposed to be in our lives.)
I liked that he was even handed. I think he used scripture effectively. A good point he made was about Grammy's and MTV awards: they don't necessarily mean a Christian artist is making a difference.
His article has a call to all Christian musicians (CCM artists or not) to learn the bible (the gospel) first or to learn it as well as they handle their instrument so that their music comes from the knowledge of the Scripture and not from man's wisdom or experience. I think that's a really good idea. We are flooded with songs that have some truth, but are weak in doctrine and in practice.
I think I will get more out of the article when I have a good chance to sit down and study through it. I wanted to point out that I didn't check his links, but I did recognize two or three of them and I think they are okay, but I'm not positive.
i haven't read the article yet. my brother introduced me to bob kauflin's hymn project because it's one of the few online resurrections of vikki cook's arrangement of charitie lees bancroft's "before the throne of God above," which is my all-time favorite hymn.
here is a link about the hymn project that kauflin is working on:
I read the article on Christian musicians. I appreciate it very much. I know from personal experience that Sovereign Grace churches tend to have phenomenal music programs. That is, their music is culturally relevant and theologically pregnant! How's that for a description?
I think CCM as a movement HAS been an utter failure. However, the direction many Christian musicians are moving today is a far cry from their predecessors.
The argument has traditionally been that CCM is bad because_______________. This is where you fill in the blank with something about how back beats affect plants, etc. Not only is that foolish reasoning, it is also NON-biblical and untrue. If you want to discuss music (as opposed to worship) then we can talk chords and progressions and beats, etc. But if you want to talk about using music in worship, then chords and progressions and beats are much less the concern than Kauflin's primary question: Am I glorifying God?
The music of Caedmon's Call and Michael Card is more worshipful (in a biblical sense) and theologically accurate than ANYTHING I have ever heard from the Wilds. That doesn't mean I don't like the Wilds or Soundforth or SMS music (although most of it's pretty cheesy); it just means that the issue can NEVER be whether the text is theologically accurate or not. That can't be the issue because this relatively new generation of Christian musicians wins that argument hands down! That's why opponents of the CCM movement have tended to lean towards arguments such as the following:
"Most people receive their view of God from Christian media rather than from preaching."
As if preaching were only something that is done from behind a pulpit.
"What is being presented about God is very misleading. This music doesn't address guilt, sin, heaven, hell, or the need to be saved by the blood of Jesus. It is about love in general."
Really? Check out these lyrics:
Lord of All Creation
Sung by Caedmon's Call on In the Company of Angels
Lord of all creation
Of water earth and sky
Heavens are your tabernacle
Glory to the Lord on high
God of wonders beyond our galaxy
You are holy, holy
The universe declares your majesty
You are holy, holy
Lord of heaven and earth (echo) Lord of heaven and earth (2x)
Early in the morning
I will celebrate the light
When I stumble in the darkness
I will call your name by night
Hallelujah to the Lord of heaven and earth (4x)
I Boast No More
Sung by Caedmon's Call on In the Company of Angels
Text by Charles Wesley
No More My God, I boast no more
Of all the duties I have done
I quit the hopes I held before,
To trust the merits of They Son
No more my God
No more my God
No more my God
I boast no more.
Now, for the loss I bear his name,
What was my gain I count my loss
My former pride I call my shame
And nail my glory to His cross
Yes, and I must, I will esteem
All things but loss for Jesus' sake
O may my soul be found in Him
And of His righteousness partake
The best obedience of my hands
Dares not appear before Thy throne
But faith can answer Thy demands
By pleading what my Lord has done
Sorry for the rahter long excursion. If you would like to read where those quotes about CCM come from, simply go to the BJU chapel archive for March 10-11, 2003. After reading Tim Fisher's messages (and noting that only two Scripture references appear there) read some of Fisher's own music! It's surprising what you might find.
Summary: If the issue is the theology of the text, most music in Fundamental circles is repulsive and unusable...and I DO mean "most." However, if the issue is style, then we have crossed out of a biblical arena and into a cultural arena--just like woman wearing pants, men having long hair, etc. I will fight hard for good theology in my worship music. I will not waste my efforts enforcing my preferences as if they were scripture.
I'll close with a quote from one of John Piper's messages on preaching. Speaking, by way of introduction, of the explosion of worship music all over the world, Piper says:
"Some of the songs are poetically, grammatically, musically deplorable. Which we should not make too much of if we grew up on 'Do Lord.' But one thing is unmistakable as a trend in these songs. By and large they are godward.... Therefore these worship songs force the issue of authentic worship. Are you right now engaging right now in a spiritual, authentic, genuine, real way with the living God? ...The tunes that are being written today are very, very engaging tunes. They have a way of awakening the affections; they're not excessively complex, by and large..., but they catch up the emotions and the spirit in their mood.... If you don't like worship songs, be careful that you don't make the mistake of comparing the worst worship songs with the best hymns--it's not fair! ...Two things are happening: The mind is being brought with God-centered lyrics in amazing way into engagement with God and the heart, stirred by these contemporary tunes is being engaged with tenderness, devotion, enjoyment.... It's an amazing thing what is happened in the lyrics of popular worship music.... If you don't like the drums, if you don't like the guitars, if you don't like electricity, if you don't like platforms all cluttered with black boxes and microphones and everything and t-shirts--if you don't like that, you still have to admit that by and large the lyrics to this phenomenon are godward."
May all of our music be so remembered--as "awakening the affections" and "godward." May the crucified Christ be thoroughly exalted in our cultural expressions of God-centered worship!
Amen. Amen for new hymns too and good hymn rewrites. While "Before the Throne of God Above" is still holding first place as my favorite song, "Thy Mercy, My God" has been my second favorite for a year and a half. It's a Caedmon's song that also appears on the In the Company of Angels album.
(Track 3, if you care to set your alarm clock to it...)
THY MERCY, MY GOD
Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song,
the joy of my heart and the boast of my tongue.
Thy free grace alone from the first to the last
hath won my affection and bound my soul fast.
Without thy sweet mercy I could not live here--
my sin would reduce me to utter despair;
but through thy free goodness, my spirit’s revived,
and he that first made me still keeps me alive.
Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
which wonders to feel its own hardness depart.
Dissolved by thy goodness, I fall to the ground,
and weep for the praise of the mercy I've found.
Great Father of mercies, thy goodness I own,
and the covenant love of thy crucified Son.
All praise to the Spirit whose whisper divine
seals mercy and pardon and righteousness mine!
~ written by John Stocker in 1776 / set to music by Sandra McCracken (wife of Derek Webb).
You beat me to the post on that one. But I'm delighted that you got Thy Mercy up there for the reading.
It's both easy and fun to say cynical things about the rock-kills-plants claim. I would point out, however, that John Makujina has gathered together quite a bit of helpful information about this study, and it does seem to pan out. Now, granted that rock music is bad for plants (wh. I know some of you won't grant), this doesn't mean that rock is intrinsically wrong. I bet that Coca-Cola also kills plants. This observation doesn't establish anything of a moral nature. On the other hand, it may offer us insights at the level of health. If rock music can have such a profound impact on plant health (which wd. mean that it's probably acting on the cellular level), there's every reason to think that it could have a parallel impact (at the cellular level) on human health.
shame on you, josh. play fair!
you know coca cola kills everything. :)
please correct me if i'm wrong...
john frame is the person who wrote
CONTEMPORARY WORSHIP MUSIC: A BIBLICAL DEFENSE
and john makujina is the person who wrote
an answer (or a precursor to it?) from an opposing view?
i own the former book and would like to get the latter. have heard positive things about both.
you're right about Frame, but I'm not so sure about Makujina being a direct response to Frame. i'm into chapter 2 of Makujina right now, and the only direct mention he's made of Frame is in his list of many other books that have been produced in the last several decades about the issues. it's not stated as a direct answer anywhere on the jacket either, and Makujina states his purpose without mentioning Frame specifically. that's about all i know.
speaking of frame, have you read his "Worship in Spirit and in Truth"?
cathy picked it up on a trip to RTS in Jackson and, although unknowing at the time, it turned out to be a great choice.
thanks, dave. (i think josh's grades were due in this past weekend.) yeah, from what i'd heard, i wasn't sure whether i was told that makujina's preceded or followed frame's. perhaps i was told it preceded. something about how about some of the arguments in one book show up as concessions in the other. could've been a misunderstanding or miscommunication.
the worship one sounds interesting too. thanks for the heads-up.