Sunday, September 03, 2017

Six Positions on Church Music, pt. 1

Evangelicalism and fundamentalism are all over the board on church music.  I've noticed at least six different positions from those who would not call themselves liberal.

  • Music itself is amoral.  You should judge church music only by the lyrics, whether they are scriptural or not.  All music is acceptable.  Only the words could be unacceptable.  All musical style is totally preferential.
  • Music might be amoral.  Christians can differ on that issue and they are not wrong to do so. Even if you cannot judge musical style, you don't want to use music that will cause disunity in the church.  Churches are right to choose only styles of music that will not cause disunity in the church, because some might offend certain people in the church.
  • Music is moral, but non-essential.  Churches shouldn't judge in non-essential issues.  Music might be able to be judged, but whatever someone wants to use in musical styles is non-essential.  As a non-essential, musical style is a non-separating issue.
  • Only certain musical style is acceptable for worship, since worship is regulated by scripture.  It must fit scriptural worship. However, individual listening of music is not regulated by scripture, so you can listen to any musical style outside of the church.  Only a certain style of music is acceptable for worship, but since it is also a non-essential, it isn't a separating issue, what kind of music a church will use for worship. 
  • Music is moral and essential for biblical worship, and it can be judged.  Musical style isn't a basis for separation, but it can affect cooperation.  Since the boundary of fellowship is the gospel, musical style can't affect fellowship, but it can affect how each individual church might cooperate with another church.
  • Music is moral.  Wrong musical styles are false worship.  Separation should occur over immoral music and false worship.  Immoral worship shouldn't be used for personal listening either.
Some churches and individuals would differ on what musical styles are acceptable to God.  I'm saying that two churches may both claim to be the sixth category above, but not agree on what musical styles are acceptable.  They believe some or many are not.  I've seen this too, but I'm not calling the two different positions.  That situation would affect fellowship between those two churches even though they might claim the same position.  One church, for instance is all in on Southern gospel music and even thinks that is the most sanctified music for a church, while the other is death on Southern gospel and says it is worldly and unacceptable to God.

I could assign various churches and individuals in evangelicalism and fundamentalism to these six positions. I've seen all six and could name representatives of each.  Our church believes and practices the last of these, the most conservative of these, because we believe it is consistent with all of scripture.

I'm going to post what I've written so far, but I may come back between Monday and Wednesday to write more in what will become a short series.

1 comment:

Jim Peet said...


We used on S/I here