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What the Bible says about Praise and Worship:
Week 4: Why should the Devil Have all the Good Music?


 

I. Focus on two types of music:

A. Worship music. 
B. Other music.

II. Worship Music:

    A. Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs: Ephesians 5:19. 
      1. Psalm - (psalmos) - primarily denoted a striking or twitching with the fingers (on musical strings). Then, a sacred song, sung to musical accompaniment, a psalm. It is used of the OT book of Psalms, Luke 20:42, 24:44, Acts 1:20, of a particular Psalm (Acts 13:33), cp ver 35, of Psalms in general, 1 cor 14:26, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16. So, this covers singing scripture set to music.    
      2. Hymn (Humnos) - noun. denotes a song of praise addressed to God - Ephesians 5:19, Col 3:16 Humneo - verb. Transitively. matt 26:30, Mark 14:26 - the hymn was part of that Hallel consisting of Psalms 113-118 intransitively - Acts 16:25, Heb 2:12 - the verb itself is rendered to sing praises or praise. This covers all other songs of praise to God, and includes both traditional hymns and contemporary choruses.  
       
      3. Spiritual songs - (pneumatikos) - spiritual songs are songs of which the burden is the things revealed by the Spirit. Ode - an ode, a song in praise of god or Christ. A generic word (that's why "spiritual" was tacked on). This is the weird one. There are three opinions on this. 
        a. Some people say that Psalms are the book of Psalms set to music, hymns are our traditional hymns, and spiritual songs are like contemporary choruses. This doesn't jive with the definitions of the words.   
        b. Some think that all three words (psalms, hymns, spiritual songs) simply generically refer to songs about God. Paul does tend to repeat himself at times. 
         
        c. The third choice is the weird one. Some scholars think this refers to "singing in the spirit," which is really nothing more than singing an improvised song to God by making up words on the spot and singing them to God. Many more charismatically-inclined churches do this. And, our church fathers did this, too! Some early Gregorian chants had a middle section dedicated to improvisation. The person singing would simply come up with his own words. 
    B. Hymns VS. Choruses. 
      1. Both are valid forms of praise/worship music.    
      2. They're different: 
        a. Hymns - multiple ideas, appeals to older generation, vocally demanding, lyrics dated, requires attention to text, more traditional.    
        b. Choruses - one idea, appeals to younger generations, vocally easy, lyrics contemporary, frees attention to God, new and untried. 
      3. Preserve the excellent, old or new: 
        a. Many think all hymns are excellent because they've lasted for generations, and choruses won't be around 200 years from now.    
        b. All hymns were new at some point in time, and many, in their day, were looked upon as the "new songs."  
         
        c. Many have been changed or weren't excellent. For example, Charles Wesley wrote over 6000 hymns - how many of those do we sing today? Another example -  Oh For a Thousand Tongues To Sing - originally 16 stanzas!  
         
        d. Some choruses/hymns employ bad theology. We want to make sure we're singing theologically sound songs!

III. Other Music:

    A. Description. 
      1. I mean CCM, Country, Rock, Classical, etc.  
      2. All other music, in terms of both style and content. 
      3. Can be entertainment, educational, evangelistic, propagandistic, etc. 
    B. How Some Deal with it. 
      1. Bible never mentions anything about musical style or good/bad instruments.
      2. If you don't like a certain style - that's preference
      3. If someone tells you different - they're imposing their preference on you.
      4. Abuse doesn't invalidate forms 
        a. If people do bad things with one form of music, that shouldn't prevent christians from doing good things with it.    
        b. The Satanic Bible is written in English - does that mean we shouldn't speak English, or our Bibles should only be written in Latin? No.
      5. Balance of Harmony/rhythm/melody arguments: 
        a. Some well-known evangelists use this argument. I don't know why.   
        b. No biblical support, since Bible never mentions good/bad musical styles. The Bible does mention the use of single rhythm instruments being the only musical accompaniment - Exodus 15:20-21. 
         
        c. No scholarly support, either - Not in important scholarly works like The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. If this theory were true, it'd definitely be important. 
         
        d. The context of the music and our experience are the determining factors. 
    C. Better way to deal with it. 
      1. Read the lyrics - if it supports a biblical worldview, then it's ok. This doesn't mean the song has to mention Jesus! There are very positive songs written by non-christians, just as there are songs put out on a CCM label that are theologically skewed. Use your judgement.    
      2. Lifestyle - are they Christians? Don't assume that it's bad simply because the performer has long hair and earrings. Some classical composers were homosexual, lead terrible lives, and committed suicide. On the other hand, Amy Grant's songs still reflect her Christian worldview, even though she's now a christian performer writing songs primarily for the secular market. She also writes worship songs, and invites youth in the Nashville area over to her barn for a time of praise and worship.
      3. Remember to judge the heart. 
    D. Applying Paul's "Meat sacrificed to idols" argument to music (I Corinthians 8, 10:23-33). 
      1. Musical style is a disputable matter. Let each one be convinced in his own mind (Romans 14:1,5).    
      2. "Eat anything ... without raising questions of conscience." 
        a. Don't invite unnecessary feelings of guilt by asking who wrote the music. 
        b. If you like the tune. Simply enjoy it. 
      3. Teach everyone to be strong: 
        a. All of us are weak in some areas and strong in others, so this isn't picking on any one particular group.   
        b. Accept the weak brother (Romans 14:1-8) 
         
        c. Scripture tolerates inconsistencies in people - something may be right for one person and wrong for another! 
         
        d. Don't make the weak one stumble. I don't think this means "if I think classical music is of the devil, no one at my church should ever listen to it again." Rather, it means, "don't play it around me."

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1998 David L. King Updated: 8/24/00