Monday, December 16, 2013

Proving the Music Issue in the Worship War: Is there Holy Hip Hop? pt. 8

Parts One, Two, Three (links to other posts on it), Four, Five, Six, Seven

Unlike some speculation that the readership here has shrunk, it has only grown every year and every month -- sometimes less comments, but growing readership.  However, the statistics show that this series is less popular, belying any theory that I write on things to get a readership.  I never have.  However, it has interested me that there are less readers.  I can only speculate -- this is not scientific -- but I have three theories, starting with my own least favored:  (1)  It's Christmas season and people have less time to read; (2)  It's a long series and there is no suspense, so people don't have to come here to find out what I'm saying -- they already know; (3)  People don't enjoy the parts I've written so far, because they're just not too interesting.  I think it is all of the above, but I think it's #3 the most because people don't like the foundational aspects of the music argument.  It's like watching paint dry.  When I have talked to young people about music through the years, they just want to tell you a group or a genre, ask whether it's good or bad, and then get the answer.  I'm to part 8 and I haven't said what's wrong with rap music.  I've hinted at it, but that's what people are waiting for, I think, just from my experience with this issue.

I have no problem with applying scripture on what music is wrong and what is right.  However, the points or principles or truths leading up to that are very important, and they are the vital underlying reasons why people have the music or worship issue wrong.  You might not get it right if you don't understand these foundational points.  They aren't interesting to some or perhaps many, but they are necessary, and you have them available here.

At the end of the last post, I linked to the musical composition of the psalms found in the original Hebrew language text.  Some might think that this couldn't be true, because people didn't know about it "until now."  I don't know what people knew or didn't know about this.  I don't believe it represents some kind of apostasy on the issue, because people have, that I know of, always been playing the right music.  We didn't lose that at any time that I know.  Even though people may have temporarily lost track of the meaning of the notation written in the Hebrew text, they did not apostatize on music that would honor God in worship.  The music of the quality represented by the notation was still being sung.  By the Spirit of God, men still did know what music was acceptable to God.

But what is that music that is acceptable to God?  What characterizes music that will honor God?  Before I get to more truths and principles to guide us, here's what we've covered so far.

One, we are to prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Two, music has meaning.
Three, as an addendum to two -- since music is a means of communication, it can communicate moral or immoral.
Four, we determine what is moral, sacred music by applying biblical principle.
Five, applying scripture requires an understanding of truth in the real world.
Six, Music as Praise or Worship is Directed to God and the Gospel Is Preached.
Seven, God is worshiped with beauty (there is objective beauty).
Eight, Christians have historically, characteristically, considered or believed beauty to be objective and measured after the nature of God.
Nine, we now have an idea of what Israel's music sounded like.

Ephesians 5:19 is a classic reference for New Testament worship with music.  As a result of being filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18), a believer will sing and make melody unto the Lord (Eph 5:19).  "Sing" and "make melody" are both musical terms.  Singing is vocal and making melody is instrumental (psallo) music.  Music.  Music is by its very nature melodic, so, ten, music directed to God must be melodic.  You aren't singing or making melody to God if there is no melody.   A composer, using notes, isn't writing anything if he's not writing a melody or a tune.  He's isn't writing rhythm.  He's writing melody.  This is a basic.  The music should be musical.  It should have a melody.  This is prescribed by scripture.

Rap started out of musical absence.  The first rappers weren't making music.  There might be melody in the background, but the rap isn't music.  It isn't being sung.  There isn't a tune to it.  The words are proclaimed in some rhythm, but rhythm isn't music.  It is a quality of music, but you aren't making music without a melody.  And if you are making music, you are also rhythmic.  But you can be rhythmic without making music.  All music has a beat.  No one who opposes wrong music does so because it has a "beat."  Rap has a beat, but it doesn't have a melody.  Without a melody, there is no harmony.  Rap isn't music.

Someone might argue that some modern rap has a musical quality to it.  I could agree to that.  But it still isn't music.  It does not carry a recognizable tune.  The words are not being sung.  They are being shouted or, I don't know, "howled" (I don't know a word for that kind of talking).  A dictionary definition, I read, says, "chanting."  My connotation at least of "chanting" isn't what I hear in a rap.  It's tone sounds like someone who is angry with what is happening.  It is ironic that someone could be angry an entire rap with the love of God.  I looked for something in rap that was sweet or joyous, but there is nothing that I could find in just rap.  The word "joyous" might appear in a rap lyric, but the rap isn't joyous itself.  I haven't heard a rap that doesn't sound angry.  The rap that attempts, it seems, to be the least angry is just less angry.  Compared to the more angry rap, the less angry might not sound angry, but it still has that angry tone that seems to be a fundamental of rap.  It doesn't seem that someone is rapping if he doesn't at least communicate anger.  I'm going to get to this later, but something can't be all anger and still be right.

There was a day that this point didn't need to be made, but now it does, and it is a point that was already in the Bible.  Music that honors God, that respects Him, that worships Him in truth, must be melodic.

Someone might argue that rap isn't intended to worship, that it, perhaps, is a proclamation  method, but then I send you back to #6 of the above points in review.  We don't need a new method for the gospel.  What the Bible says is sufficient.

More to Come


Anonymous said...

Word for the day: incrementalism.
Example: The Christmas Vespers at Christian College this weekend did not display the title of the Vespers on the calendar or any advertisements that I saw. The description said "traditional and new". I was trying to be positive.
So, now from including currently popular CCM songs in chapel, we have a Getty song in Vespers. And not only that, someone was brave enough to title the entire Vespers (printed on the program) production "Joy has Dawned"--the title of the Getty song.

Most will mock me for seeing this as a concern. Many will be mad at me for pointing it out. And, I understand, that I am in a minority that is saddened by the clear departure from past university stands (without explanation to the traditional base constituents).

How does this relate to Hip Hop?
Incrementalism. How far will "fundamentalism" go?

The Preacher said...

Excellent expose'

Kent wrote'

"I'm to part 8 and I haven't said what's wrong with rap music. I've hinted at it, but that's what people are waiting for, I think, just from my experience with this issue."

I tell you whats wrong with it, it is of the devil, appealing to lust of the flesh, it is confusion that brings in contemptious and vile affections that is against nature and war against the soul. Its deafening sounds destroy both body and soul, infecting the heart with unnecessay anger (Kent- Great points you made). It originates from the Devil as a form of "affection" towards him that he enjoys and resonates... DEATH! If you can go into the pit of hell you will find its form there. Its "sister" form is punk rock. These "sisters" are much like the two whores, Aholah and Aholibah. It came out from its "Mother", Rock and Roll and whose "Father" was jazz, bebop and other similar forms.

That in a nutshell takes us into the last days of the last days prior to the rapture of the church, the great tribulation and the second coming of Christ.

Look up for your redemption draweth nigh.

d4v34x said...

Substantiating Anonymouse's comment:

After the big opening [Carol of the Bells], the program will be filled with beautiful Christmas music, with traditional Christmas carols, as well as a few less familiar songs, such as “Joy Has Dawned,” the centerpiece of the program, and the French carol “Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella.” Mr. Ed Rea of the fine arts department will accompany the orchestra and choirs on the organ.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Everyone, thanks for comments.


I have an anonymous commenter, who commons mainly on music posts since the beginning. I actually think I know who he is, but I don't want to guess -- he'd deny anyway. Usually he just says I'm stupid, don't know what I'm talking about, but that I'm entertaining, and that's why people read me (including him). I don't publish his comments, because he's anonymous and his comments are mainly personal and derogatory, mocking, like a scoffer walking after his own lust. He himself doesn't know what he's talking about or he wouldn't have a problem revealing himself. He says, however, that he thinks Scott Aniol, or anyone like a Scott Aniol, would not agree with my melody point in this post, that it is "laughable" (a big scoffer word). He especially thinks no one would go for the notation in the Hebrew text as seen in what I've posted about that. At least this is what he comments. What thinkest thou?

Larry said...

To anonymous, Incrementalism is not a bad thing necessarily. It is actually a very good thing in many cases. And when stands have been wrong (if indeed they were wrong), it is good for them to be changed.

Therefore, incrementalism, when changing wrong stands can be a good means to minister to those whose consciences have been wrongly trained. It teaches them without leading them to sin against it.

I am also confused by the comment that the title isn't any where. First, that doesn't seem to be true, since it is in the first line of the article linked by Dave. Second, why does that even matter? Are there people who actually think that is a big deal? I am not sure what point could be made with that.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I don't know who anonymous is. My wife graduated from Christian College and I know graduates, but I don't have any ongoing connection there. I've been there physically once for part of a day. However, I am sympathetic to concern over these types of changes.

I don't get your argument. Incrementalism is not a bad thing sometimes, so it is here? Certain incrementalism is good, sure. For instance, incrementally doing away with abortion is good. We all want it all to disappear, but third term would be a nice incremental step.

Here's either a student, or graduate, or faculty -- I really don't know -- who doesn't want the Getty music. Would you agree that this is different for BJU? They are moving away from where they were?

There are probably many who think it is a big deal, even on the faculty. It amazes me that you don't think this would be a big deal to quite a few, if not many.

Could there be good changes at BJ in music? Sure. Many. But this is not signalling something good. It signals not-so-good to worse.

I think that a conscience sensitive to a Getty song is a finely trained conscience.

Larry said...


I am an alumnus who was there for a very long time.

As for using Getty music, it is somewhat different, but I don't think it is greatly different. They have never only used music from fundamentalists, nor have they only used old music (though the new hymnbook is bad). And they have previously used music that has been done in a pop or contemporary style. So yes, it's a change, but not an unthinkable one.

I know some on faculty for whom this is a huge deal. And others for whom it is no big deal at all.

I don't know how this is signally something "not-so-good to worse." There might be other things that do, but this? I don't see that.

Lastly, I think a conscience sensitive to a Getty song is finely trained, but in the wrong direction. There is no biblical argument against using it. They are far better than most stuff being sung in fundamentalism. We need to recognize that consciences can be wrongly trained and that when they are, they should be taught to judge things rightly. Wrong judgment isn't good, even when it is done with a good conscience.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Larry,

Maybe not-so-good to more not-so-good, but Getty doesn't solve the not-so-good, and I believe you that BJU hasn't been consistent, but they see this as a move in a particular direction according to a CCM movement. I would fit this into using a Gaither song. I wouldn't endorse the Wilds philosophy per se, but I remember the Wilds songbook had one song in it that teens would always request when I was a teen and we would never sing.

Where BJU turns on this is not huge with me, but I can see it being huge to a graduate, faculty, student, who is there or was there with a different viewpoint. I agree it is incremental change that is moving the wrong direction in a different way than what's wrong there already.

I would just think you understood that. And you do understand it, because you know faculty are against it. Are they just all having consciences being fed the wrong information or is this a good siren going off? Going down the Getty path is not a good one, I would agree.

Larry said...

I understand what people are saying. But I think they are wrong. The arguments against it are not biblical arguments, and they are not arguments that Christians have historically used.

This is the wrong thing to be upset about. I would say their consciences have been taught wrongly. They have not been taught by biblical principles and standards (which is evident from the lack of biblical principle and standards cited in opposition). But the response is showing the difficulty of overcoming years of wrong teaching, even out of a good intent. (And I am not talking about style.)

I think the comparison of Getty songs to Gaither songs is strange. Gaither wrote no good songs (that I can recall). Many if not most of the Getty songs are doctrinally rich and easily congregational.

If the songs were written by someone considered a fundamentalist, their use would probably never be questioned. And that is telling, IMO.

Kent Brandenburg said...


The arguments for biblical affections and for true beauty are historical.

The Gettys take some good words and put sensual, in essence, sexy music. The way she uses her voice is like a worldly entertainer that is using her voice to make a sexy affect. Listen to how breathy she is, among other things -- I'm not going to break it all down. The way she pronounces certain words for effect, again, I don't mind getting into detail, but its got worldly in the truest sense of worldly in it. Listen to how he jams on the piano like Billy Joel.

This is where I say it is like Gaither, a separation issue, associational issue, and Gaither's song, I believe, was "Because He Lives," which I don't see anything wrong with the lyrics. That's not strange. And associations is an argument, Larry. I'll write more on it in this series. I'm just waiting until I get through more foundational issues.

By the way, do you think a song praying that the Holy Spirit would come and abide in you, like the Gettys sing about the Holy Spirit is a historic view of the Holy Spirit?

And Scott Aniol makes good arguments here:

I don't think it is the Getty words in every case, but the Getty music and associations. That is the problem. And that is not a wrong argument.

d4v34x said...

Bro. B,

I understand what you're saying about the singing style. But if you just take that melody and those words, well, as Larry points out, its a step ahead of much of fundamentalist music, and not, imo, in the wrong direction. To me it's like the new "Before the Father's Throne Above" when stripped down (I recommend looking up Dan Forrest's arrangement).

I may differ from Scott somewhat here (although if he and I were to sit down and talk about it, we may be closer on this than the article you link might suggest) in that I would not foreclose on all things Getty or Townend.

The problem for me is a change without a clear articulation of change. In the Christian school where my kids attend, the music teacher (BJ Grad) led them in "In Christ Alone" a few weeks ago (again, better than what they might have sung out of the Wilds book). But a couple years ago the music minister had a meeting with the choir and other musical types in our church asking us not to sing any SG, Townend or Getty. A few months ago, an evangelist who spoke during missions emphasis week featured SG music in about 50 percent of his musical presentations.

What is someone in the choir to make of this? That the right hand knows not what the left hand doth? That now we've changed our philosophy but not announced it? It's disheartening.

I suspect many BJ folks feel the same way. The articulation of the music policy fairly recently didn't signal this.

Larry said...

I think we are talking about two different things. I specifically said I am not talking about the style. I don't like the way they perform the music. I think it is everything you say it is in that regard, and a performance show on top of that. I am talking about the music itself, not the style it is performed in.

Because He Lives was probably the Gaither's best song (at least that I can recall) and it's probably the only one I have ever used, but it isn't the quality of In Christ Alone, or some of the others.

Associations is not a good argument in music. I don't think writing more will change that. But particularly for fundamentalists. It just is a new argument; not an old one. In the end, I think that ultimately demonstrates a low view of preaching and teaching since it asserts that the singing of a song that is otherwise good might lead to something we have preached and taught against biblically.If a man's preaching and teaching is that bad, then yes, stay away from this music, but do so in order to get better at preaching.

I thought Scott's article was decent, and I agree with much of it. I don't have a strong opinion either way. My strong opinion is against weak arguments.

d4v34x said...

Well, I've gone back and looked at the sheet music for the song in question, and it's less satisfying than I remember. But my general point still stands, I think.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the original comment was to deal in biblical arguments. The biblical arguments are well presented on this site. The point was how far do we go? Along with, there is concern about a university's incremental uncontested departure from where they have stood. Anyone who knows BJU knows where they have stood. Anyone remember the blasting of Steve Green's "Let the Walls Come Down" in chapel and prohibiting students from going to his local concert? There was no doubt about the association argument as well as others.

When they revised the music philosophy last summer, they left more wiggle room than before, but even then they still left an "association" section. See especially "How Do Associations Affect our Music Choices" at

At the least according to this, they would avoid currently in vogue CCM choices. But the wording does leave wiggle room to keep shifting. There is dissonance between what they say and do. Their positions are not so well known. This lack of transparency is not fair to anyone. Though, I see, maybe they are trying to make their stand clearer as the Vespers is clearly announced now at

There must be some struggle going on. Mount Calvary has clearly stated they will not use Getty and SG music in their church. There had to be some working together between differing opinions on the music philosophy.

Anonymous said...

We wait with bated breath.

Larry said...

BTW, here's the video of it:

Anonymous said...

A balance to the "sanctified" link:
Joy to the World, Getty style
Joy Has Dawned, Getty style About Getty

This is new that they would be so confusingly connected with a currently popular CCM group that is a leader in bringing "God's holiness down to the world's level" as they used to teach. As their music philosophy states, there is still enough other music to choose from. I know they had some Getty and/or SG on recent recordings. They got enough backlash on that to say they would no longer include those songs on future recordings. There just aren't enough people that know what is actually happening on campus. Even then, they are probably outnumbered by now.

If they reverted and refused to do any more currently popular CCM songs and wouldn't let students post videos of CCM youtube links...wouldn't you want an explanation?

Anonymous said...

Larry said: "Associations is not a good argument in music."

I'm surprised you can stomach this site if you don't think associations matter :).

Associations aside, there are those who can't stomach to be reminded of the Getty style/philosophy and influence when their song is sung even in a sanctified manner. Call us the "weaker brother" if you wish.

If this is the path they now choose, fine. But I am weary of those denying and excusing their lack of consistency and transparency.

Kent Brandenburg said...


The association argument is a good one, because it is a biblical argument. You'll have to judge when I get there, but I'm fine with your judging. I've written about it before here.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Just related to content, I'm not arguing. I'm not saying, "Don't use Getty, but use worse, as long as it isn't SG continuationist, CCM, people." But I believe associations is an argument. BJ makes it. I'll talk about it in this series as I move on. I'm defending someone concerned for a direction of the music. Larry is saying that it is a better direction. Is BJ moving in an Aniol direction? Is that it? Or is it in the gospel-centered movement direction that sees a certain style as more authentic?

I see anonymous as concerned about a trajectory, an incremental one, and where it will end. Is the trajectory working toward something better?

Ken Lengel said...


I agree wholeheartedly with your association points. A few practical thoughts that are outworkings of Scripture come to mind.

First, lets take a youth pastor who puts a quote of someone like John Piper on his facebook page. While you and I as theologians sometimes read people we disagree with, and even sometimes agree with what they discuss, communicating to the world via something like facebook sends a message to those who read it. Joe Smith reads John Piper, I think Joe Smith is correct doctrinally. John Piper must be doctrinally correct too! As theologians, we may not agree with Piper on all things (hopefully!) but that communication to otehrs can send a very mixed message.

Second, with my children... One time I called a bad driver an "idiot" in front of my kids for something they did. They learned thru association with daddy, that daddy is good, daddy called a driver behaving foolishly an idiot, therefore using that word must be ok in these circumstances. (for the record I regret greatly the day I ever did that!) Our kids were not taught it was ok, but their association with their dad, and their thoughts about their dad, took their actions from their dad to be acceptable. (even when they were not.)

I know people do not want to think thru such things because music is such a personal issue. I grew up in an atheists home, could jitterbug by the time I was a teen, and I still have thousands of songs, and lyrics running around in my head. I KNOW how personal this issue is. People want to argue EVERYTHING but the principles found in God's Word. If we continue to diminish the need of pastors and teachers to apply the principles of God's Word, and make most things simply a matter of conscience, preference, etc., the postmodernists will succeed in convincing fundamentalists as well to accept a "god" of their own making, instead of a Holy God who has enabled us to be like him.


Larry said...

Not sure who I am responding to since "Anonymous" doesn't mean much. I assume they are all by the same person so I will address them that way.

I was there for the Steve Green message, and had a copy of it for a long time even though BJU didn't make it available through the tapes because a guy I worked with recorded it off the radio. I probably still have it somewhere. The issue there wasn't the association of the music (though they clearly did not like the style), but the ecclesiastical association of Green and the coming down of the denominational walls. The song was played (for the words, ironically) to illustrate the philosophy behind it. So that's a non issue in this discussion since I am not defending any fellowship. I am probably as separatist as anyone here.

I don't think MCBC's decision to not use the music indicates a struggle necessarily. I think it indicates a difference of opinion and a liberty to do so. People do that frequently, don't they? If I recall correctly, Minnick gave his reasons, but allowed others to disagree with him on it in good conscience.

You say they are "confusingly connected with a currently popular CCM group ..." How so? What is confusing about it? The fact that two groups sing the same song doesn't make it confusing, does it? I am not confused in the least, and I am not sure how you or anyone else is. Again, I can't help but think that the view of preaching and teaching is pretty low.

As for stomaching the site, I have a strong stomach, but I am not sure that is a good analogy. I don't read a lot of what is written here, because it doesn't look interesting or helpful to me and it tends to be long. I am fine with Kent believing what he does. I think he is manifestly wrong in some areas, and he thinks the same of me. I am fine with that. Most sites I read I disagree with. Mine is the only perfect blog out there and I am not writing much these days, so we have to resort to other places.

If you are reminded of the Getty style/philosophy and influence, than I have to wonder what is going on in your mind. I can see being reminded of it if the style was similar. Again, that just seems like a low view of preaching to me.

Larry said...

Kent, the reason I don't think the association argument works is because associations in the Bible aren't directed to things like this. There may be a wisdom principle here, and that I can buy in some contexts. I don't think anyone here for instance would be affected by it. But that's the nature of our church. It isn't made up of a lot of people with a BJU type background. So a lot of the issues of conscience operate differently. But I will wait to see what you say.

Dave Barnhart said...

Pastor Brandenburg,

On your asking for thoughts about the possibility of us knowing how music sounded at the time of David, I'm not educated enough in either music or Hebrew to say if the theory is right, but from what I heard it sounds like it's a good possibility. What I found interesting, though, is that what seems to be the main reason the Jewish singer being interviewed accepted this interpretation of the notation came down to essentially "it speaks to me." The NPR person could have left something out there, but it certainly sounds more like a pragmatic argument than a musicological one, not much different from what you might hear from some CCM artists/listeners.

Also, though (if true) it may refute those who claim that Hebrew music used for the Psalms may have been much more "lively" than what we use now, it doesn't do much to disprove that other styles were ever used, and as such is not really a help to your arguments on the (non)existence of holy hip-hop.

With my conservative leanings, I kind of want you and Scott to be right on this question. However, even Scott has dodged the question (about musicological reasons that hip-hop is wrong) in his series with Shai and so far, I've found the arguments of both sides in this to be not completely convincing. It's great to say we can always recognize the "attire of a harlot" (though that's not always completely true as I believe brought up here a while back), but I find the "obvious" argument even less convincing when used with music. Hip-hop would seem rather obvious to me, but songs like the Anonymous talks about above are not so obvious.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the comment. I think it is easier to tell what's wrong and right than what people now often say, not speaking of you. I understand how clear you want the proof to be. I think it is clear, but it is controversial, like the Bible itself has become more and more controversial. This is about the same.

I've enjoyed Scott's work on this subject. I wish he was more dogmatic and forthright. I'm guessing he'll become more like that through the years. I hope he does.

Dave Barnhart said...

As to the song being discussed by Anonymous, although I wouldn't mock you for your view, I fail to see the problem, at least as the song was performed at the Vespers. Neither their use of that song nor the performance style they used concern me in the least. I think association can indeed be a good argument against certain types of music in some circumstances, but like Larry I'm unclear on how because a song was sung in an unacceptable fashion in one setting, that makes it unusable in another setting.

I've heard plenty of really bad renditions of "Joy to the World," or "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" around Christmas time, but I don't think those inappropriate settings invalidate those songs at all. And I'm pretty sure that the theology and practice of those who wrote those songs are not beyond question either.

(Disclaimer: I'm an alumnus of Christian College. I don't see all their incremental changes as bad. I certainly don't see the loss of the whole interracial dating rules as bad, nor am I concerned that the attitude on campus is no longer one of "turning in" those around you. You had me wondering if the performance of this song was something like the new Northland, but after hearing it, I'm fairly sure I'm also not seeing the use of this song as a bad incremental change.)

Larry said...


The youth pastor who puts a quote by Piper on FB may be guilty of bad judgment. But if he is teaching what and how he should teach, the danger of that is minimized to almost non-existent. Again, it's about the ministry of the word. What happens when we don't teach this way, and then people find a good quote by Piper somewhere else? The same thing you are concerned about. But the problem is magnified because now the youth pastor and pastor haven't done their job of teaching. We have seen this happen time and time again. When John Piper (or someone else) is constantly attacked, and then someone finds out he actually says some things that are correct, Piper is not the one with the credibility problem. It is the person who always attacked him. It is better to teach people discernment; then they can make decisions about things we haven't directly addressed.

To the issue of kids and their imitation, that's not association; that's example. And yes kids learn by example all too easily (as I know too well). But that's not really an association argument.

To the last point about people not wanting to think through this, I wonder if you have considered how that might apply to you. It is easy to say the other guy is the one who doesn't want to think through because he doesn't agree with you, but perhaps he has thought through, and with more care and discernment than you have (or perhaps he hasn't). But I find it weak to claim that those who disagree don't want to think through it. We need to realize that there are some very good thinkers who disagree with us. That doesn't make them right. But their disagreement doesn't mean they aren't willing to think through it.

Ken Lengel said...


A couple thoughts to your responses.

I guess I don't fully understand your response. From what I do gather, I do disagree about the level of danger.

When people speak, write on a blog, post on FB or twitter, it does cause people to do a number of things. Without clear interaction with the poster, the reader can think multiple things and we must be careful with messages we send without words. The person who reads a post by a youth pastor who he trusts may just think without asking that "if he approved of Piper to quote him, he must be ok" For those who don't know the youth pastor, the obvious quoting of Piper would draw that same conclusion. To you and I who (I am assuming but I think I am right with you.) are studied and perhaps know the shortcomings of Piper, we might be in agreement with how he explains something. However, it is not just bad judgment, nor is it about just the ministry of the word because of what he made people to think by posting of Piper. He drew an association between Piper and his own thoughts on the Word of God. To suggest that the reader of the post sees it only as a tacit approval to the words and nothing more, is IMO, naive and incorrect. It subtly promotes an acceptance of Piper by the poster as well.

Also, I don't see myself as having a credibility problem if someone reads something of Piper that I would agree with. I minister in a specific local church, and when I associate myself as a teacher with a certain pastor or theologian, I must realize that it aligns me with him to some extent. That is an association. Others may choose to allow for that type of association, but I am suggesting that this type of assocation goes beyond neglible in danger, as it provides a connotation to others that this writer and I are aligned in some way. In a pluralistic, relativistic world in which we live, distinctness is lost when we associate too freely with those who are in error.

As for my last point, I didn't say that no one thinks thru it, but I think, IMO, most people do not. I think people judge music on whether or not it feels good, sounds good, do they enjoy it, do they get emotional about it, etc. I don't think many people think about whether or not if it is right or wrong. I accpeted it because my Christian friends listened to it, heard it at Christian parties, and rolling skating events, etc. We never thought about whether it was right or wrong. We attempted to replace our desire for the world's music with the world's music with godly words. In a world where Christian believers have abused personal liberty to the detriment of godly principles, it's not about right or wrong, it's about what one's conscience would think on the matter.


Anonymous said...

Larry, at this time, I remain anonymous because I am using my Christian liberty in applying the wisdom principle according to my conscience. Thanks for helping me identify my reason!

Thanks KB for providing a neutral party perspective. You worded my concerns better than I did.

Calvas, I have read your comment a few times imagining myself hearing that preached from a pastor not afraid to be labelled. Sounds natural!

Exactly. "The problem for me is a change without a clear articulation of change."

In addition to KL's Facebook response...

I could easily make Larry's Facebook illustration be from my perspective. "The Christian College who uses a currently popular CCM song may be guilty of bad judgment. But if the college is transparent about what and how it teaches on music, the danger of that is greatly minimized. Again, it's about the ministry of the word. What happens when the college says one thing on paper and allows another, and then students find a song in its original form somewhere else?" Yes, this is the same thing we are concerned about. And "the problem is magnified because now the college has not done their job 'in loco parentis' according to what many parents expected based on the past and the printed philosophy. We have seen this happen time and time again. When CCM continues to be incrementally included, and then a student happens to find out what that CCM performer/song is like in their original form, CCM is not the one with the credibility problem. It is the college that continues to use more and more CCM without explanation. It is better to be transparent and show your method of discernment. Then constituents and students can make decisions about things not directly addressed."

That is how I and others find their use of current CCM music (that goes against their traditional stand and stated policy) confusing. You helped me explain it so well :)

Anonymous said...

Dave, I think my main concerns became misconstrued by the time you commented. Here goes...

Agreed, the performance style did not concern me.

Clarification: I understand there is nothing we can or need to do if a performer has taken an originally acceptable song and ruined it (except not emulate their ruination of it :). I think "Joy to the World" Getty style is a reminder of who we are associating with philosophically. And their website is a friendly ecclesiastical separation reminder. These folks don't even try to be separated.

Disagreed, we do differ about them using that song. I am not here to persuade anyone about where to stand on associations/styles of music...I'll leave that to KB. My main concern is for a school/church's consistency and transparency...and discerning good/bad incrementalism.

The words and Scripture from the current Christian College Music Philosophy are ones I could present as my own except for a few tweaks on vague wording. The words are 98 percentish nothing new. What is new is what they are allowing in spite of their stated philosophy without clarification.

I appreciate your not mocking me or belittling the preaching I must have been under :). It seems the majority of alumni will agree with your views more than mine concerning the changes we see. I appreciate this forum to help me settle my final conclusion and maybe not feel so alone.

I had to laugh about your Northland reference. No, I'm not against any and all change. I am against clear deviations from the past that are not acknowledged and explained openly. As with the Northland debacle, it only causes the constituents to be severely fragmented. Please don't mock me (this time will be hard!), but just as we watched Northland incrementally make changes to become what they are today (and without transparency until they could not or did not want to hide it any longer)...I see many similar uncontested changes.

As KB said, "Are they (we) just all having consciences being fed the wrong information or is this a good siren going off?" Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

One has to reinvent history in order to excuse the Steve Green message away along with all of their other preaching, printed materials, and current printed music philosophy. The concern has always been 1) association with the philosophy behind CCM and 2) the ecclesiastical associations (which would also apply to Getty).

They also had a "passage of time" idea they taught as well. That the more distant the creation of the questionable style (but sound lyrics), the better. As in, if the original questionable style/performer was no longer living or at least wasn't the most current fad, then it would be more up for consideration. I would guess that's why Maranatha music is no longer questioned. In the music philosophy, they still make mention of this concept.

There is no way III would have ever allowed a Steve Green song at that time to be sung in chapel or Green's name on the large screen. Even the traditional BJU haters have not let it slip past that students now sing Twila Paris in chapel with her name on the large screen. They are counting this (along with students posting CCM music videos on their social media) as a victory and demanding them to allow students even more Christian liberty. Twila is still living and still in concert (yes, yes, I know she is mild compared to "Christian" Rap). The Gettys are even newer on the scene and wildly popular. This is not the BJU we knew that would make such an uncertain sound to go so far as a student choir singing "Across the Lands" during Missions Emphasis Week and then give "Joy Has Dawned" such promotion in Vespers.

Just as we are working through ideas on this site, and will end with agreeing to disagree, there had to be even more serious discussion down there for such a task. This is the "Fortress of Faith" we are talking about. Employees waited and inquired quite a long time for the update so they could respond to questions with an official university statement.

I'm sorry that you are amazed by the low view of preaching and teaching I've been under and can't comprehend my confusion. I am confused by their "saying one thing and doing another". I don't know what policy they have that is important to you as a parent, but what if they didn't adhere to it. Wouldn't you question that?
This is my point. How much is too much. How far is too far.

LOL on "mine is the only perfect blog out there" and being "as separatist as anyone here". I, too, have to resort to other places.

I still don't know whether to be offended or shocked at your last paragraph: "If you are reminded of the Getty style/philosophy and influence, than I have to wonder what is going on in your mind. I can see being reminded of it if the style was similar. Again, that just seems like a low view of preaching to me."

How can I not be reminded when teenagers around us are swaying to the music that they know the beloved song comes from and eagerly awaiting the next concert because as you call it a "low view of preaching"? How can I not be reminded when, weaker brother or no, I was convicted and had to make clear, conscious effort to replace that kind of music in my life (for all the reasons and verses listed in the BJU music philosophy and more)?

I can only guess that you must excuse it because you either aren't bothered by CCM in its original form, or that you've never had to remove it (by conviction/conscience) from being an intricate part of your life.

I guess I wonder: what is NOT going on in your mind to be able to use it in worship?

Larry said...


I have already given more time here than I should given other things I need to be doing.

But I will say that I think our views of teaching and preaching and pastoral ministry seem very different. I think the job is to declare God's truth from his word so that people will know what to believe and will develop discernment to evaluate life. My job is not to make sure they never see that someone with whom I have disagreements said something good, but rather to make disciples who don't need me to hold their hand at every minute.

That fact that "The person who reads a post by a youth pastor who he trusts may just think without asking that "if he approved of Piper to quote him, he must be ok"" indicates my point--that there has been a failure of teaching. He is not thinking biblically if that is he response, and that falls on the teacher who is supposed to be teaching him to think biblically. If someone thinks I agree with Piper on everything simply because I agree with him on some things, then I have failed to teach truth. If the youth pastor (or pastor) is properly teaching doctrine and discernment, and it actually pastoring people, then this problem is slim to none. Perhaps we are dropping the idea of discipleship here.

The credibility problem comes when one has consistently spoken ill of Piper, and then someone actually reads Piper. They say, "If the youth pastor I trusted was so wrong about this, then what else is he wrong about? I can't trust him." The fact that you don't see that you have a credibility problem is irrelevant. The person who matters in this case is the one you are responsible to teach, who needs to be able to trust you, and now, he thinks you don't have credibility, which means he will listen to you more skeptically, if at all.

The tendency for too many has been to teach people what to think and give them lists of people they can listen to or trust, rather than teaching people how to think, and then pastoring them. Then when they encounter them they swing to the far side.

The better way of ministry is teaching doctrine and discernment.

As for thinking, again, it seems your methodology is "If they don't agree with me, then they haven't thought through it" (I know that's not actually your words, but it seems like your point.) I have no doubt that many have not thought through it, at least in any significant way. But I have serious doubts that that can be determined by whether or not someone agrees with you (or me).

There are issues of conscience in this world (things that are acceptable though our conscious has been wrongly trained to reject them), and there are things that are wrong. But we must not confuse the categories, as difficult as that may be.

Ken Lengel said...


I never said that a pastor or teacher should not disciple someone and teach them discernment. However, I did say that we should be careful to make associations with people whom believe many things different than we. Facebook is a much different setting than a classroom or a pulpit, especially if you allow your comments for all to see, or even a broader audience of people than who you minister too.

As for lists, God gave us lists in His Word. Phil 4:8; Gal. 5:22; come to my mind immediately and I know there are plenty others. God teaches us what to think, "think on these things". I think believers and especially pastors are often afraid to be dogmatic in these days!

As for my methodology, I guess you just ignored my response when I said those were not my thoughts. (I was not attempting in any way to draw the conclusion if they don't agree with me, they haven't thought it thru. That's absurd!) I was sharing my experience from relationships I had with believers after I was first saved. I grew up around people who listened to CCM who told me they NEVER thought about whether it was right or wrong; never thought about whether or not it was godly or holy. They accepted it because it gave them an emotional lift, because they were used to that music in their past lives, because others around them listened to it, including youth pastors and leaders, etc. When I have discussed CCM with others, it was never thought about by them whether listening to the music was right or wrong; only how it made them feel, period. In fact, this same argument works with conscience for many of those who like CCM. They like the music, God hasn't convicted their conscience, it's a matter of conscience, so don't judge me. I have heard that argument from many who listen to this music over the years.

As for your final comment on conscience, I think all of our consciences are more seered than we know, and I think you left out one other alternative: that there are issues that many have wrongly trained their consciences to accept as godly or acceptable, when they are not a matter of conscience at all. (Perhaps that is your "wrong" part, but it is only fair to demonstrate that consciences can be trained to accept wrong things as well as it can reject acceptable things.)

Thanks for the interaction,

d4v34x said...

The credibility problem comes when one has consistently spoken ill of Piper, and then someone actually reads Piper.

Larry, not sure if you're still here, but I think there is another kind of credibility problem you're not acknowledging. A better analogy to what at least some of us are discussing is the paster who consistently speaks ill of Piper but whose congregants find out that he uses Piper quotes in his sermons attributing them via "one theologian says." I'll bet its been less than a decade (perhaps less than 5 years?) since having a soloist singing a sanitized Getty song in chapel would have landed him/her in hot water. Now it's ok? I haven't heard anything substantial/new from Christian College (why this euphemism?) to indicate change. Can you see why people's eyebrows are raising?

Having said that, I thought the performance itself was fine, if a little bland. But I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss the recognition of listeners who know the origins of the song. When, as I mentioned above, our local Christian school led the kids (in chapel) in "In Christ Alone" my son mentioned to me that he noticed alot more scooping and sliding going on around him. Some explanations: 1) The Christian school is about 30 percent kids from our church (which runs the school), the rest of the students come from other area churches, most of whom utilize CCM in worship. 2) My son is no clone of my thinking on this matter. He is very open to CCM as acceptable, so it isn't a prejudice against the song that colored his perception. So anyway, there's minor anecdotal support for the "genetic" concern about music origins.

So this isn't necessarily a low view of teaching/preaching, at least for me. It's about a muddled approach to articulating institutional standards.

Larry said...

Ken, real quick,

1. I know you didn't say that about discipleship. My point was that your position leans towards that, I think, even if you don't intend it to. People are going to encounter Piper somewhere, even if not on our facebook. If we teach them to think rightly and we pastor them well, we can have some measure confidence in how they will process that.

2. I think we should be careful about associations, very careful. A lot of them are wisdom issues.

3. I think lists are fine when God gives them. But in the Galatians list, he includes "things like these." He expected people to have the discernment to know what fits in that list, and what doesn't. That comes from teaching.

4. As for conscience, I agree that we are seared for more than we know. And I didn't omit that alternative. I agree with it.

Thanks for the interaction as well.

Larry said...

Anonymous, again writing quickly,

1. I am not excusing the Steve Green message. I think it was mainly right as far as I recall. I have a great concern about the ecumenical nature of CCM. I was merely pointing out that the Steve Green message was not about the association of style, but about the message of the songs. The words of the song, no matter the style, are wrong. That means it doesn't fit in this particular conversation.

2. The passage of time idea, as I understand it and use it, was not about the style per se, but about the author/composer, generally speaking. It's why people sing songs by Martin Luther when they would never have him to preach. His theology was, in some ways, worse than Getty and crew. But we sing him without second thought. And others could be listed as well.

3. III did allow Steve Green songs to be sung in chapel or church or functions such as A Mighty Fortress, It is Well, etc. These songs were all popular with CCM performers in those times. The difference is that they had a life apart from those groups. The point is that a shared repertoire (association) has never been a consideration in and of itself. For an example, take the songs you sing in church and search on Youtube and see what you come up with. My guess is you will find virtually every song you sing has been done in some contemporary style, and if singing it in church raises the danger of someone finding a contemporary version of it (a common argument), it means you can't sing hardly anything in church.

4. I am not sure there is "an uncertain sound" coming out. Again, if we preach and teach rightly, then the sound is clear.

5. They don't have any policies that are important to me as a parent, mostly since my kids are really young.

6. How much is too much? How far is too far? I think that's a hard question, certainly one that can't be answered here in this forum. It's why I am a big believer in the local church. We make those decisions based on our context and understanding of Scripture.

7. My comment about not being sure what was in your mind wasn't intended be offensive or shocking. I am not sure how something in a particular style reminds you have a philosophy and influence for something completely different." That's all. I don't understand that thinking.

8. What is not going on in my mind to use it in worship? Well, a lot. What is going on in my mind is whether or not the song is true, whether or not the presentation matches the occasion and the words, and whether or not it is singable by a congregation. Going through my mind is also the truth being sung. I confess that going through my mind at times are thoughts about why certain people are here today, or multitudes of other things. What is not going through my mind is youtube videos, concerts, etc.

Again, I would say that people need to pursue the conscience and convictions in worship so that they do not sin, and our conscience and conviction needs to be driven by Scripture.

Much more could be said, and I don't want to be misunderstood, but time matters, so I need to try to shorten my responses, if I make any at all.

Thanks for the kind exchange.

Anonymous said...

If one considers the very recent history at Northland (BJU's closest "sister" school), they remember the steps that were taken to become who they are today. There were rumors and rumors and rumors and proof and mocking of proof over the last few years that they were headed down a slippery slope. Few could stomach pointing fingers at their student handbook changes or even their platform speakers or speaking engagements. The final battle was over financial concerns and music. When it was finally more publicly known that the university had a CCM praise team that actually traveled to churches to perform...that did it. The praise team did not happen over night. It went from traditional, to cleaned up CCM, to not cleaned up CCM at non-chapel events, to not cleaned up CCM at chapel, to having a university sponsored ministry Praise Team.

Even at PCC students talked about sister schools finally allowing Southern Gospel and hoping they'll sing cleaned up CCM (even though it's "so boring").

My point? Even if some are wrong about the direction of BJU, it does not hurt to keep a willing, discerning eye open. It is usually music (if not finance or moral failings) that is the final blow to the base of a "fundamentalist" college.

A commenter on Christian College facebook page said the "Joy Has Dawned" title song video provided on the website was "unlike anything the world or carnal CCM has to offer!" Given our discussion of low teaching, this is an example of how a person doesn't even realize CCM did offer this song, and we accepted.

And finally, after researching the Gettys' website because of this discussion, I am even more confident of my concerns. It is their goal to be the updated and accepted hymnwriters of the modern church. Because the lyrics are deeper, everyone dismisses the rest of the concerns. Amazing that they can criticize the failings of other CCM, but we can't be cautious of them.

Thanks for allowing this discussion. I am encouraged hearing the thoughts presented here, and I look forward as this series continues.

Anonymous said...

Larry, I just saw your last comment posted. I didn't plan to post any more comments, but you pulled me in :)


1. The year of the Steve Green message was a pivotal year for me on many issues I was praying/seeking scripture about. Unless we can find the tape (I'll look through my boxed up chapel maybe some day) there's no way to prove what we really heard. From my perspective, the message was about the lyrics AND the style of music and not to be associated with either. This would be consistent with their other teachings at that time.

2. The passage of time. That is one of their teachings that I haven't necessarily claimed for my own. Something seems a bit discordant with it. Your point proves my point, though. If we only finally "now" sing Luther, why would we sing Getty right in their prime. (Back to consistency on their part.)

3. Reiterating my comment above...there is nothing we can do about a performer ruining an otherwise okay song (except avoid imitating their style of ruining it). My concern lies with the songs they themselves have penned and performed and made popular.

4. That's the point. They have yet to teach and preach transparently with what they are now doing.

5. Our kids are young, too. Their future education is regularly on my mind as I hope for their college education to be as rewarding as mine was.

6. I think KB has done and will do a thoughtful job to help us sort through ideas as we face our own challenges in our local churches.

7 and 8. No offense taken. But I'm (about) speechless thinking one can't see why seeing the Getty name would, at the very least, disgust someone or be a distraction in worship. The CCM battle continues to be fought--more like skirmishes these since it is almost a non-issue to most. I know what side I am Scripturally (is that a word?) persuaded to be on. Of course it would bother me.

You are right. We can all choose where we attend church/school in the first place. When we choose to join a church/school, we should abide politely by their guidelines/constitutions. And the leadership should, too. I don't understand a church/organization who would be so brash with fellow Christians and start introducing new steps in a direction without consideration or transparency. Remember Northland last spring when students and faculty that finally walked out of a chapel when the music went even further? At the very least, in the name of deference, they should have waited and updated their handbook for the next school year before taking more steps in a new direction.

Thanks for the exchange as well-- it is good to be challenged to "prove all things".

Larry said...

Okay, Anonymous, I'll bite. Where has CCM produced something like the version of Joy Has Dawned that was linked above?

Anonymous said...

d4v34x, now we have the right analogy with Piper. Thanks for working through that. As for the Christian College euphemism..I accidentally omitted the "a" in my original comment, and the non-transparent euphemism stuck. It's so much easier to type BJU, so I'm glad KB allowed it.

Dave Barnhart said...


Although I don't think the "slippery slope" argument is always invalid (though often it is), I think there is a major difference between what is happening at Christian College and what happened at Northland. In the latter case, discussion of the events there by at least one those supposedly in the know have stated that the patron family there who was a big influence on Northland's principles and direction has always been more in favor of being closer to the Evangelical side of things than the fundamental side of things. In other words, Northland is becoming more what that family really wanted it to be all along.

If that information is indeed true, that is a major difference between them and Christian College. Things might be changing some at Christian College now, but moving away from fundamentalism is not what its founder or descendants (at least in the past) have wanted. And even though the current (short-timer now) president has wanted some distance between himself and some of the positions of the past, it's not at all obvious that he wants things to end up where they did with Northland.

Obviously, when the new president comes we will have to see what changes will be implemented at CC at that time.

Anonymous said...

Larry, that was short! I'll try to do likewise. I'm not sure what you are asking. Do you mean the quote from the person saying the BJU "Joy Has Dawned" was different from carnal CCM? And I said that it was a gift? I took his quote as meaning he didn't realize the song originated from carnal CCM. I can see how I could be misinterpreting it, and he just meant the STYLE was different from carnal CCM. I'll give on that. Was that what you meant?

Otherwise, hmmmm...I can't really which is why I certainly didn't mean to communicate that. From time to distant time they'll produce a traditional hymn, patriotic, seasonal or lullabye recording or be in a formal orchestral event. I think it was Dr. Panosian that said something like some things are like finding a good meal in a trashcan. Not really worth the effort :)

Anonymous said...

Dave, Yes. That is what gives me some hope--that they will give high regard to their heritage and distinctiveness. I just hope alumni learn from history that it is better sooner than later to keep the leadership accountable...ask explanations...before it's too little too late.

Northland isn't the point of the post as much as an example of my point. I hesitate to address this here. And if I remember right, KB isn't keen on "fundamentalist" colleges in the first place. And I don't feel comfortable to get into discussion about any of these unless the topics come up elsewhere at some other time. I'll just list these things that have played on my mind as an fyi for consideration. We have III publicly commending MacArthur for Strange Fire without disclaimer, people saying that being on campus at BJU reminds them of Northland (continued changes in dress and quality/tone of recent Vespers/productions), group prayers and ministering with beliefs of all kinds within the NCCAA membership (when the handbook still says no extension with ecumenical groups), more public use of cleaned up CCM, still calling Northland a "sister school", have you heard the Gay Chapel Week series--a clear shift in philosophy towards the topic and relying heavily on Hubbard, elder at North Hills Church (off limits church) as an authority on church philosophy along with saying homosexuals are fascinating and that we should be not only giving them the gospel but building bridges and finding common ground/friendships in order to give these people the gospel,
a heavy emphasis on mentoring and a downplaying of rules (one of Olson's main efforts)

If you wanted my opinion, which you don't, I'd say it all started with Stephen's Strategic Plan

with the uncontested phrases like "embrace a culture of appropriate change" and the updated music philosophy with new vague wiggle room for application.

One of the newer popular churches pastored by a Bible faculty (Northland grad by the way) is as close to being off-limits as they can music wise. Heavy on the Getty/SG with jamming piano and guitar accompaniment STYLES. The only thing they lack is switching the choir to a praise team/band.

Again, I'm not against any and all change. I guess I fear I am seeing less and less difference between BJU and Northland. I dared to bring up the music issue because it usually is a final "battle" ground in a conservative college. Yes, this period of transition should be interesting. I understand they are trying to distance themselves from some of their other past errors, but it's not clear to me what all they consider to be the past errors, or where they plan to draw the line. What they are on paper is less and less what they are in action.

Larry said...


he just meant the STYLE was different from carnal CCM. I'll give on that. Was that what you meant?


(How's that for short?)

Anonymous said...

Correcting an error here. I said that North Hills is an off-limits church. That is not true anymore, so I wanted to correct that. It is still off-limits to faculty. It is not listed on the student intranet list of churches to choose from, nor is it listed on the smaller list on the website. However, students may attend if their family goes there. Town and dorm students are able to make it the church of their choice now, too. The following is now their church attendance policy vs. having an "approved church list".

It was speculated on the blogosphere that the new less specific music philosophy would open the doors for making more area churches an option for students. Seems so.