Friday, September 19, 2014

Reverence and Solemnity: Essential Aspects of Biblical Worship, part 6 of 8

Furthermore, the Biblical requirements of regeneration and uprightness limit who is to be set up as an example in public worship.  Pastors, song leaders, choir members, and all others involved in any leadership capacity in the corporate worship of the holy Trinity must be regenerate and holy people, as both the song writers and worship leaders in the psalter were godly men such as David and Asaph. Vocal or musical skill is certainly valuable—to “play skilfully”[1] is a command alongside of “sing” (Ps 33:3; cf. 1 Chr 15:22; 2 Chr 34:12)[2]—but it is by no means sufficient.  Holy and skilled men—not merely skilled men—are to lead the congregation of the saints in their worship.[3]
All of the psalms were written by “holy men of God” (2 Pet 1:21).  Does this fact teach the church that she should not sing hymns composed by unregenerate and wicked men, any more than churches should have the sermons of such men read from their pulpits?  David Cloud notes:

All of . . . [the] influential contemporary worship musicians are radically ecumenical and the vast majority are charismatic in theology. . . . All are enemies of a separatist Biblicist stance. . . . Contemporary Christian Music is a jungle of end-time apostasy . . . led by “another spirit” (2 Cor. 11:4). . . . There is something deeply and inherently wrong with music that is comfortable in the midst of the most wretched heresy and apostasy.  And that is exactly where Contemporary Christian Worship is most at home. (pgs. 1-2, Directory of Contemporary Worship Musicians, David Cloud.  Port Huron, MI:  Way of Life, 2014)

Indeed, if choir or individual “special music” cannot be done skillfully, it ought not to be done at all.  In any case, congregational singing in the church—which is far easier to justify from the commands of Scripture than having one or a few sing and the rest listen—is at the very least equally “special music” to such solos, duets, and choral singing.  Indeed, in light of the ease with which one can fail to personally offer the words of such music to the Lord while listening to it, the argument can with much greater ease be made that congregational song is definitively more special than “special music.”  Simply playing music without words in worship, even if the sound itself meets Biblical criteria, cannot be justified in the assemblies of the Lord—none of the psalms, and nothing else in Scripture, provides warrant for instrumentation without words in the worship of God (short musical interludes between sections of a song with words being a justifiable exception with exegetical support from the signification of Selah, [LXX, diapsalma, “musical interlude” (LSJ)] Ps 3, 4, 7, 9, etc.)
            It is important to note that the singing of solos in the church of God is a recent practice popularized by D. L. Moody’s associate Mr. Sankey:

Mr. Sankey’s . . . solo singing in public worship is quite a new thing . . . The words are plain and pleasant, but nothing extraordinary;  often not to be compared to those of our well-known church hymns.  The music is generally pretty and pleasant, but little more” (pgs. 475-476, A Century of Gospel-Work:  A History of the Growth of Evangelical Religion in the United States, W. F. P. Noble.  [Philadelphia, PA:  H. C. Watts, 1876])

The innovations of Moody and Sankey were not received without opposition; for example, the great Southern theologian R. L. Dabney, discussing both the newness of solo singing in the evangelical church and the reduction in theological content in Sankey, noted:

We conclude with a word touching the office of Mr. Sankey, “singing the gospel.” The Jewish temple service had its chief singer. It will be a curious result if [Moody and Sankey’s] modern movement should develop this function into a new and prominent branch of the ministry unauthorized by the New Testament. Singing is unquestionably a scriptural means of grace, and good singing is a very efficient one. But in order that the church may retain the blessing of good singing, the privilege which Mr. Sankey and his imitators claim, of importing their own lyrics into God’s worship, must be closely watched. . . . The most that can be said of Mr. Sankey’s developments . . . is . . . that they exhibit no worse traits than a marked inferiority of matter and style to the established hymnals of the leading churches. The most danger thus far apparent is that of habituating the taste of Christians to a very vapid species of pious doggerel, containing the most diluted possible traces of saving truth, in portions suitable to the most infantile faculties supplemented with a jingle of “vain repetitions.” What shall we gain by giving our people these ephemeral rhymes in place of the immortal lyrics of Moses, David, Isaiah, Watts, and Cowper, so grand in their rhythm and melody, so pure in taste, and above all, so freighted with compact and luminous truth? “The old wine is better.” (Pgs. 94-95, Discussions by Robert Lewis Dabney: Evangelical, Robert L. Dabney, ed. C. R. Vaughan, vol. 2. [Richmond, VA:  Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1891].)

Third, it is clear that worship is not to conform to culture or to men’s desires, but is to be distinctly different, set apart, or holy.[4]  Believers must regulate their praise by Scripture alone (Deut 12:32) and recognize that “strange fire” in worship is everything “which He commanded . . . not” (Lev 10:1)—whatever is not commanded in worship is forbidden.[5]  The Lord warns His people not to be snared into looking at what the wicked do, and then saying, “even so will I do likewise” (Deut 12:30) in worship.  On the contrary, Scriptural worship is to be distinctly set apart and different from that of heathen, unbelieving culture.  Consequently, the “contemporary worship” philosophy—which is nothing less than taking the sound and style of this world system, which is under the control of Satan (Eph 2:1-3), and offering it to God—is an abomination in His holy sight.  Musical styles created by the world to glorify the devil, lust, and every sort of wickedness—such as rock, jazz, blues, country-western, pop, and rap[6]—can by no means be acceptable to that holy King who demands purity, solemnity, and reverence in His worship.  True church growth does not come by offering the Head of the church false worship, nor by turning the Father’s house into a house of merchandise through marketing and promotion techniques (Jn 2:16), but through the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word as unified, holy, self-sacrificial disciples boldly preach the gospel to every creature.  Consequently, pleasing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so that heavenly fire and supernatural efficacy attend the proclamation of the gospel, will lead to far more genuine church growth than will blaspheming the Father and grieving the Spirit through false worship and man-made marketing techniques.  Godly music will drive demons away and please the Holy Spirit, while ungodly music will summon demons and cause God the Holy Ghost to depart (1 Sam 16:23; cf. 1 Chr 25:3).  Do you regulate your worship by Scripture alone, and consequently reject all worldly and fleshly worship?

This entire study can be accessed here.

[1]           NG´…gÅnŒ …wby¶IfyEh, “Do well in playing a stringed instrument.”
[2]           It is noteworthy that the specific commands for skill are for those leading in singing (1 Chr 15:22) and those playing instruments (2 Chr 34:12; Ps 33:3).  In congregational song every person is to sing, whether he has a good voice and vocal talent or not.
[3]           What place, then, can unconverted and ungodly children have in a “children’s choir” that is set before the church?  How can those who are not holy because they are yet unconverted—and who are not skilled because they are children—lead the church in worship?  Such children may be cute and funny as they sing out of tune, and having them sing before the congregation may get parents who themselves hate the Lord Jesus but care about their children to visit services.  But are cuteness and funniness a substitute for obedience to the regulations of worship set forth by the holy Head of the church?
[4]           After all, the root idea of the sanctify/holy (vdq/a‚gioß) word groups in the Old and New Testaments is to be set apart, to be distinctly different.
[5]           That is, the Regulative Principle of worship, concerning which see
[6]           Musicians, marketers, and students of these types of music know that their songs are ungodly and against Jesus Christ and the Bible.  Rock stars and those who study such music openly declare that its goal is “to change one set of values to another … free minds … free dope … free bodies … free music” (The Rolling Stone Interviews, 1971).  “Rock music . . . is anti-religious, anti-nationalistic and anti-morality” (John Lennon).  “‘Rock-and-roll,’ itself a blues-music term for sex, suggested rebellion and abandon as much as it did a new style of music when it first jarred adult sensibilities in the 1950s” (U.S. News & World Report, October 28, 1985).  “If any music has been guilty by association, it is rock music. It would be impossible to make a complete list, but here are a few of the ‘associates’ of rock: drug addicts, revolutionaries, rioters, Satan worshippers, drop-outs, draft-dodgers, homosexuals and other sex deviates, rebels, juvenile criminals, Black Panthers and White Panthers, motorcycle gangs, blasphemers, suicides, heathenism, voodooism, phallixism, Communism in the United States (Communist Russia outlawed rock music around 1960), paganism, lesbianism, immorality, demonology, promiscuity, free love, free sex, disobedience (civil and uncivil), sodomy, venereal disease, discotheques, brothels, orgies of all kinds, night clubs, dives, strip joints, filthy musicals such as ‘Hair’ and ‘Uncle Meat’; and on and on the list could go almost indefinitely” (Frank Garlock, The Big Beat). “Sex, violence, rebellion—it’s all part of rock ‘n’ roll” (John Mellencamp, Larson’s Book of Rock).  “Rock ‘n’ Roll . . . is . . . demonic. . . . A lot of the beats in music today are taken from voodoo, from the voodoo drums. If you study music in rhythms, like I have, you’ll see that is true . . . I believe that kind of music is driving people from Christ. It is contagious” (Little Richard). “[T]he sudden mingling of so many different tribes produced new variations [of music] like candomble, santeria, and vodun [demonic religion] . . . and out of this severing came jazz, the blues, the backbeat, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll—some of the most powerful rhythms on the planet. . . . It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment when I awoke to the fact that my tradition—rock and roll—did have a spirit side, that there was a branch of the family that had maintained the ancient connection between the drum and the gods [demons]” (Mickey Hart, drummer for The Grateful Dead). “Pop music revolves around sexuality. I believe that if there is anarchy, let’s make it sexual anarchy rather than political” (Adam Ant, From Rock to Rock).  “Many rock performers grew up with country and western music, and its characteristic forms and sounds are close to the ensemble sound of rock—instrumental combinations and techniques are closely parallel. . . . The division between country-and-western and urban pop has now blurred almost to vanishing” (William J. Schafer, Rock Music).  “As a country artist, I’m not proud of a lot of things in my field. There is no doubt in my mind that we are contributing to the moral decline in America” (Jacob Aranza, More Rock Country).  “The overwhelming theme of country music is triangle relationships. In addition, lost loves, broken homes, and the glorification of liquor frequently pervade the lyrics of the songs” (David Cloud).  “The origin of the word ‘jazz’ is most often traced back to a vulgar term used for sexual acts. Some of the early sounds of jazz were associated with whore houses and ‘ladies of ill repute’” (http://www.jazzhistory/introduction).  “‘Jazz’ (also called ‘jass’ in its early days), like ‘rock and roll’ a couple of generations later, had its origins as a slang term for sex; the word's risqué roots no doubt boosted its popularity in that age-old search by hormonal, rebellious young people looking for edgy, exciting new ways to express themselves and, if at all possible, worry their parents as well” (Larry Nager, Memphis Beat).  For more information, and original sources for these quotations, see “The Character of Rock and Roll Music,” “Country Music,” “Is There a Connection Between Rock Music and Voodoo or African Paganism?” “Jazz,” and other articles on music in the database at, published by Way of Life Literature.  Quotes above are taken from the Fundamental Baptist CD-ROM Library, ed. David Cloud.  London, Ontario: Bethel Baptist Church/Way of Life Literature, 2003).


James Bronsveld said...

Brother Ross,


KJB1611 said...

Dear James,


JimCamp65 said...

Thanks for the good notes.
Used some of this in SS, as we are in a series on Scriptural Music.

KJB1611 said...

Glad it could help.