A Voice in the
April 1, 1999
God Is: -my Song
Amen, Paul, on your rock music piece. Although I enjoyed the complexity of the music theory in your essay, it has always been simple for us to teach our children to pick out those musical compositions that glorify God and those that do not. All music is one or the other and they are quite adept at determining which it is once they hear the first few notes! Discordant, loud, "beat-filled" compositions do not glorify God no matter what the words are saying . . .just as a tight fitting slit skirt to the thigh is not the type of dress that God desires for women, "rock" is not music He desires for us to surround ourselves with or to use in worship. But I am continually amazed how many Christians will decry the one, but continue listening to the other, maintaining the words make the difference. It is sort of like saying the lady attired in the aforementioned dress is spiritual because she is carrying a Bible! Keep up the good work.
[Ed: a subscriber forwarded the study and received the following response, which I've edited a bit, from a relative who is a symphony musician and piano technician, and asked for my response to it. This provides an 'excuse' to address a couple more points that didn't necessarily -quite- 'fit' the scope or purpose of the original lesson.. which was... "God is my Song"]
Comments from the musician:
Being a "Charismatic" Christian, my comments may be tainted by deception; however, I looked up Ephesians 5:19. In the NIV the word used is Music not MELODY. I'm sure that other translations may use different words but he did not mention the translation he used.
[Ed: he then goes into dictionary definitions of the word "music", its etymology, and how it incorporates Melody, Harmony, Timbre and Rhythm. And some of the aspects of music being an "emotional" medium, etc.]
God has always used the things despised by the Pharisees to bring the simple to an intimate relationship with himself. So too, I have personal experience with God's redemption working through even rock and roll with Christian lyrics, to save the lost and bring them to the place of being able to "sing a new song".
[Ed: he then makes some comments about personal choices/preferences, and also the charismatc movement.]
Every generation has sought its' own form of musical expression. All have been condemned only to later become mainstream.
As for me and my house we will worship the Lord through any and every means He has provided. Always seeking the good and trying to not judge that which we do not understand for we know that He is able to use all things to bring His Glory to the earth.
VW's response - Addendum:
Let's clear away the last couple items he mentions briefly, quickly, first; and then get into the main thing I'd like to address here.
While it is true that we use "every means" God has provided for worship, we -ARE- told to "judge" [discern]. "Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are of God.." (1Jn4:1) We may not understand all the subtle technicalia of everything, but the Holy Spirit provides the necessary discernment for those things we may not fully understand. Notice my choice of words here. We don't necessarily need to "UNDERSTAND" something fully to rightly "DISCERN" whether it's good or evil. Our minds are to be on things which are good and pure. (Phil4:8) If we spend all our time trying to understand every subtle nuance of evil, our minds are not on the things of the Lord. Therefore, if we are "mindful of the things above" (Col3:2) the Holy Spirit helps us to "[prove] what is acceptable to the Lord." (Eph5:10,Jn16:8) ...even if we don't fully understand the evil. And let's not forget that a "corrupt tree" does not bear good fruit(Mt7:18)
Also, just because something initially was rejected, and later became "mainstream" does not condone it as being "good". The Rightness or Wrongness has nothing to do with its "popularity". Let us not forget for one moment that the "popular" way (the way where "many" go down the path) is the way to "destruction". (Mt7:13) And there are "many" who will cry out to the Lord, "Did we not prophesy IN YOUR NAME" and do all sorts of things "through Your name". And the verdict will be, "I never knew you! Depart from Me.." (Mt7:21-23)
Furthermore, this topic has nothing to do with "likes" or "dislikes". Nor generational labels. i.e. I "like" classical music, therefore bluegrass is bad. Or... I like ethnic music, and so classical is worthless. Or... you don't like rock music because you're an 'old' person...and rock is 'young people's music'. And teens rebel against church hymns because hymns are "old peoples' music", and is "boring". It has to do with what is RIGHT or WRONG. What is Godly or -against- God. ...what is "acceptable to the Lord" (Eph5:10)
I was trained as a classical vocalist; but I could not in good conscience perform most operas... they are no better than what Hollywood offers. In fact, a lot of the choral music I used to perform professionally, I could no longer do, now that I realize -what- a lot of it stands for; particularly the choral 'staple'... the Mass. Even though it's some of the most beautiful music written, it is -against- God.
Even though I am primarily of classical orientation, I also "like" many other kinds of music, including some jazz, hillbilly, bluegrass, etc. I like going to fairs, sitting on the grass with my hot-dog and soda, listening to some of these "home-brew" groups. But jazz, bluegrass, etc is -not- "appropriate" for worship of God Most High; because it is music of the flesh...of this earth. We are creatures of flesh. The "earth is the Lord's and its fullness". (1Cor10:26) We can enjoy some of these other types of music, just as we can enjoy going for a bike ride, swimming, etc. Things of this world that God put us in. We walk on this earth, doing the things of this earth; but when we "turn aside" to come before God, He tells us "Put off your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground." (Ex3:3,5)
[Ed: ..and, no, this will not be a discussion of the comparison of "coming apart to a deserted place" (Mk6:31) vs. our bodies being the "temple" of the Holy Spirit. That's another topic.]
But let's now get back to the main topic of the lesson, and this person's response to -it-. Primarily, Eph 5:19 and the word "melody" or "music". Getting to the 'essence' of music. The essence of God.
Here we see another example of why the NIV is -tainted- (to use a 'kind' expression). Even the NASB and NRSV use "melody". At first glance, a person might wonder, "why make such a big deal whether it says "melody" or "music". When we realize that we are talking not -just- about "music" ...but also about God's essence, it becomes essential that we adhere to the strict "jot and tittle" of God's Word.
As our symphony player correctly notes, "music" includes all the aspects he defined out of the dictionary...for the [English] word "music". And yes, music -does- include rhythm. Just as melody moves harmony along...so, too, rhythm moves everything along. But in Eph5:19 the Greek original is, "psallo -to pluck, to cause to [gently] vibrate by touching, to sing, to celebrate the praises of God in song."
Now, if we go to the book of "Psalms" we find, "sing to the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm." (Ps98:5) "Psalm" here means "music, melody, song." Beginning with 1Chr16:42, etc. when David set up the music for worship, and the instruments that accompanied it, when it says "musical instruments" the word "musical" means, "LYRIC song" etc. Again, the quality of "melody". Being predominantly "melodious" rather than "rhythmic". When Ps92:3 says "sounding music" the word "sounding" means "resounding, meditation." KJV renders it "solemn sound". "Resounding" can indicate the rich 'resonance' of the overtones we spoke of. Meditation speaks of a solemn, holy quietness. "..the LORD is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him." (Hab2:20) Some of the definitions of "sound" in various passages in the Hebrew in the O.T. speak of/indicate "listening". In worship, we make a joyful sound to the Lord, while at the same time 'listening' to hear His voice.
By contrast, when Moses was in the mountain, Israel resorted to partying around their golden calf. As Moses and Joshua are coming down off the mountain, Moses says, "..I am hearing the sound of singing." (Ex32:18) Now, this word "singing" had the meaning of "to be depressed, downcast, afflicted." But they had eaten and drunk "and rose up to play".(vs6) 'Playing' ... but they're 'oppressed'?? -not- "joyful" ??
Another example: when Nebuchadnezzar made his statue for everybody to bow down to and worship, notice that the 'signal' for everybody to bow was the "music". (Dan3:5) Here the word "music" means "instrumental music" and has nothing about "lyrical" connected to it. In fact, a reading of the passage and the various instruments listed indicates quite a 'loud' event; quite possibly including instruments with rather raucous sound qualities.
Since we don't have any preserved recordings of what this sound might have been, let's borrow another piece of knowledge of that era, about worship which originated from Babel/Babylon. In the worship of Moloch, the image of Moloch was hollowed out and a fire built inside of it, making Moloch's "hands" red-hot. -Live- babies were offered to Moloch by placing them into 'his' -red-hot- hands. While this 'offering' was being made, music was played loudly...especially, loud drums and percussion instruments...to drown out the cries/screams of the dying baby.
Today, at rock concerts, the 'music' is primarily -percussive- (driving-rhythmic), and the 'singing' resembles the sound of "screaming" (not "lyrical" by any stretch of the imagination).
Back in 'those' days, they worshipped satan through idolatry, screaming babies and loud drumming. Today, with the same kind of sound (screaming and loud percussion/rhythm), they ???...!! If the reader hasn't figured it out yet, you won't.
In addition to this, expanding on the spirit of the opening reader's comment/s... you don't take a Mariah Carey concert, with one of her on-stage male dancers caressing her gyrating nearly-naked hips, put a Bible in her hand...and call it "Christian"!! [Ed: please pardon the graphics. We're making a 'point' here!] But these are the kinds of things people are trying to pass off as being "Christian" !!
It just isn't so!! ... 'nuff said!
This whole subject, as with anything in our Christian lives, is to be governed by...
"proving what is acceptable to the Lord." (Eph5:10)