<><><><><><><><><><><><><>I left off with six: Music as Praise or Worship is Directed to God and the Gospel Is Preached. Now, seven, God is worshiped with beauty.
I'll warn you that there will be a few corollaries to this, and on a few of them, I'll make separate points. I'm headed to a corollary right away. There is objective beauty. Scripture is replete with this.
God Himself is said within His own Word to be beautiful (Psalm 27:4; 90:17). There is nothing to beauty if there isn't something that is not beautiful. God has a unique nature of beauty. If God is defined by beauty, then beauty should remain within the realm of the nature of God.
Exodus 28:2 says, "And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty." If there is "beauty," there is ugliness, and God wanted His worship beautiful, so He designed garments that were beautiful. Many people would not have thought them to be beautiful. If you saw someone wearing them today, you might not think they're beautiful. Why are they beautiful? They reflect the nature of God. Seeing that is so, we could understand more about beauty by analyzing those garments. That's not a point to which I'm referring right now though. Solomon made the temple more beautiful with certain stones (2 Chron 3:6). You get to the primary point here in these verses:
1 Chronicles 16:29, "Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness."
2 Chronicles 20:21, "And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever."
Psalm 96:9, "O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth."
Beauty is most tied into the unique nature of God, His majesty; hence, His holiness.
This brings us to another corollary, which I'm numbering as a separate point, eight, Christians have historically, characteristically, considered or believed beauty to be objective and measured after the nature of God. True doctrine is historical. The idea that aesthetics are neutral is new, and, therefore, should be denied. Aesthetic neutrality is apostate, a turn from the truth. Before enlightenment, all who claimed the one and true Trinitarian God, worshiped God with a particular aesthetic that mimicked God's creation. Artists looked to what God made, because God defined beauty. They would not be imitating something sinful or spoiled by sin. Because of God's grace, not everything is spoiled by sin. There is good out there, or else how could we even say that good gifts are coming from above? We would be bemoaning that we see nothing good coming from above, and that would not be true.
Historic Christianity, true Christianity, has recognized objective truth, goodness, and beauty -- the transcendentals. There is one God, one truth, one goodness, and one beauty. To make beauty amoral, to subjectivize beauty, is a rejection of God's creation. Pre-enlightenment moral imagination saw God's creation as the model for beauty. It was beautiful if it reflected God's Divine nature and His order. Not any more. Ugly is the new lovely.
If you deny or violate beauty, you do it to the other two. Beauty, in essence orthopathy, is on the same level as truth and goodness. Relativistic beauty yields relativistic truth and goodness. God is One. You can't give up one without giving up the others. They are indivisible. Attack or corruption of beauty is the same upon truth and goodness. Again, you just can't separate one from the other two.
Paul could command believers to think on whatsoever is lovely (Philippians 4:8), because there is a lovely to think on. We are commanded to think on the lovely, because there is the unlovely. We are assumed to be able to judge these things in line with previous points I've made in this argument. Christians through history have consistently and unanimously said as much, and they weren't all wrong for several hundred years. It's now with revivalism, the church growth movement, and a postmodern society that we move to aesthetic relativism as a desperate defense of men walking after their own lust.
If you're following along, you might say, "You haven't told me what music is wrong or that rap is wrong." However, with everything I've said so far, something is wrong, and we can begin judging what it is. For anyone who wants to know, we've needed to move through what we have so far. Using the biblical principles that God has given us, what music is acceptable to God, what would please Him, would He evaluate as beautiful? Again, we rely on principles and the confidence from God that we can apply those principles to music in order to judge what is right and what is wrong.
I'm not going to get to that in this post, so it won't be until next week that I will. I understand that this is what people want the most to hear. But I also know, after many of these conversations, that it can't be where someone starts. However, I want to end with another point, that being, the Bible does have a play button of sorts. Nine, we now have an idea of what Israel's music sounded like. Some might not be willing to believe this. I believe it, so I'm going to add it. I believe that the notations are found in the Hebrew Psalms and that they have been figured out (the link is an NPR report). What makes this interesting is that the kind of tunes are codified in the text itself. They are very specific, very detailed. I'm not arguing that we must sound just like this or we're wrong, but that we must have similar qualities. From listening to this, and then hearing the traditional tunes of a Christian psalter, they are very close, certainly of the same basic quality. I'll be writing more about what that is.