Old Doxoblogy

Monday, April 10, 2006

What Kind Of Music Should We Sing?

As you already know, I received this invitation to a local worship service this coming Sunday. In this invitation there were especially two statements (apart from the whole issue of motives and general irreverence of the invitation) that bothered me. The first statement was "music written this century".
Now, that is not necessarily a bad statement in and of itself. There is nothing wrong with music written in the past one hundred years. I assume when they say 'century' they mean the past one hundred years and not just 2001-present. I may be wrong. Regardless the case, the same will apply. While there are many songs that I enjoy written in the past one hundred years (many of Fanny Crosby's hymns, songs recorded by Steve Green, Steve Camp, Glad, etc., and many 'praise and worship' choruses), I do have a problem restricting myself to only music from the past century. And while there is much to be commended in contemporary music, there is also much to be wary of.
Let's consider just these two concerns briefly.

First, We should not restrict our worship to only 'new' music. This type of restriction is indicative of a much larger problem in Christianity today. A blatant disregard for the past is evident and Church History and tradition is being supplanted in many churches by a desire for 'relevance' or 'Seeker Sensitivity' . Churches that do not evidence this shift are labeled fundamentalist or even out of touch. And these are meant in a derogatory sense, in case you were wondering.
But is it really a healthy thing to seek to be relevant? Let me answer this in two ways:
1) Yes. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is relevant to all. The good news of the Kingdom is to be preached everywhere. The atonement of Christ is relevant to every person in every epoch. We all have the same basic problem. We are sinners. We all have the same solution to our problem. The Cross of Christ. So in one sense, we are to seek to be relevant in the most fundamental of cases.
2) No. If by relevant we mean adapting to the world's latest fads, tailoring our worship to meet the world's 'felt' needs, and making the Gospel 'contemporary'. Put very succinctly, we have an Ancient Faith. This faith has for it's God the Ancient of Days, it's Holy Scripture was revealed to the ancient prophets and then more perfectly through the Seed of the ancients, and it's veracity has been demonstrated from ancient times to the present. There is besides all of that two thousand years of Church History that we cannot ignore. In the course of those two thousand years Apologies were written, songs were sung, sermons were preached, the faithful were martyred, and the Scriptures were studied. There is nothing of any value that is 'new' that has not been written, sung, preached, condemned, or understood before. We owe our existence to God's providence in history to keep this Ancient Faith pure. We are the heirs of the Ancient Faith. When we disregard our past, we disregard our Faith and our God.
So, now ask me if I want to limit myself to only the music from this past century. Do I really want to leave the great hymns that have stood the test of time?
O Sacred Head
, The Love of God (Based on a Jewish poem from the year 1050 A.D. titled Haddamut), All Creatures of Our God and King, Praise to the Lord the Almighty, and more recently, Holy Holy Holy, Immortal Invisible God Only Wise, and Joy to the World.
To use a Pauline expression, God forbid! May it never be that we reject these songs as old, outdated, or a draaaag!

Secondly, although there is much that is commendable about contemporary christian music, there is also much that is wanting. For the most part there is a lack of biblical themes, solid theology, and true worship to God. If you want to know more about this, just ask Campi. (He's shy at first, but will come out of his shell sometimes and tell you what he really thinks.) :-)
The question that is on everyone's minds I'm sure is, "What does theology have to do with worship?" Everything. In fact, if your theology does not cause worship in you, it's probably bad theology and you need to get rid of it. Theology is all about God. God in perfect harmony with Himself (the Trinity), God creating, God commanding, God cursing, God promising, God sending, God redeeming, God calling, God blessing, God working and God returning. These are the songs that we will sing for eternity. Read the book of Revelation. It's true.
If there is a lack of theological content in a song then the song is not about God, and if it's not about God and His works then we must ask ourselves, "Who or what is it about?"

Let's not throw away these hymns that were born during trying times to faithful men and women just to accommodate ourselves. Sure, sing the new stuff if it's about God, but sing the old, old, story too.


bluecollar said...

"let's not throw away these hymns that were born during trying times to faithful men and women just to accommodate ourselves. Sure, sing the new stuff if it's about God, but sing the old, old, story too."

ThirstyDavid said...

Excellent post. I agree with you even more than you agree with you.

But, I might disagree with this: "In fact, if your theology does not cause worship in you, it's probably bad theology and you need to get rid of it." It is entirely possible to have correct theology that doesn't inspire worship. The flaw isn't necessarily in the theology, but in the theologian. My theology is impeccable (don't you agree?), but my attitude toward God is not always what it should be.

Gummby said...

Dude, quit living in the past! Next you'll be quoting theology from a bunch of dead guys.

BugBlaster said...

Good post! Good music teaches doctrine, and for some reason much of the newer music doesn't teach doctrine.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Ha! It's not Tuesday! Your modified link doesn't work very well, Blaster of bugs!

Are you saying that correct theology might not produce the result that God intends that it produce, i.e., the worship of Himself?

Is your God sovereign or not?


BugBlaster said...

Ha! I blogged you doxullian.

ThirstyDavid said...


I'm saying that the knowledge of facts does not, by itself, overcome our flesh. Perfect theology entering an imperfect mind produces mixed results. That doesn't mean it isn't accomplishing what God intends that it accomplish. Remember, his Word always accomplishes it's purpose, but that isn't always positive from our point of view.

I might have said "If your theology does not cause worship in you, either it's bad theology and you need to get rid of it, or you are not responding correctly to it," or something like that.

Joe said...

I sure do like using all kinds of music, current and old to help us engage in worship.

david kjos: Like me, your theology may or may not be impeccable, but your confidence certainly is. (Chuckle, chuckle.)

Steve Weaver said...

Jeremy and David (If those are your real names),

I agree with you both!

Not really. Just David this time. Isaiah wrote about people drawing near with to God their words, but their hearts being far from Him (Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:8 and Mark 7:6). This is said by Jesus to be vain worship.

But Jeremy, your statement can stand, because you said: "In fact, if your theology does not cause worship in you, it's probably bad theology and you need to get rid of it." That leaves a little room for false worship with correct theology. Though I think the door should be opened a little wider.

Excellent post!

ThirstyDavid said...

Thanks, Steve! I feel so validated now!