Volume. XXV, No. 11
Sunday, 12 September 2010


Worship Part 14


We have read arguments against the use of musical instruments from last week’s article. Hence we need to evaluate their point of view, as they object to musical instruments for worship out of their love for God. They are not enemies of the truth but are our brethren. If they believe musical instruments do not have place in their worship of God, they must have reasons why. By looking into their reasons, we may be edified. They have two kinds of reasoning: (1) biblical reasons and (2) other reasons (I simply call them “other reasons”, but I will specify them more in detail a bit later). The first argument is interesting, although not very convincing. Having read their articles and books, I must say that the most prominent biblical argument from their point of view is about the translation or interpretation of the Greek word, psallo, found in a few places in the New Testament such as Romans 15:9 (sing); 1 Corinthians 14:15 (sing); Ephesians 5:19 (making melody), or James 5:13 (sing). For example, Albert Barnes, a famous Bible scholar, says in his commentary, Notes on the New Testament, “Psallo … is used, in the New Testament only in Romans 15:9 and 1 Corinthians 14:15, where it is translated sing; in James 5:13, where it is rendered sing psalms, and in the place before us. The idea here is that of singing in the heart, or praising God from the heart” (comment on Ephesians 5:19). However, it is not so desirable to make a solid principle based on controversial translations. We have already seen that the KJV translators used “making melody” for the same Greek word, which is musical. Most lexicons will testify that the word means “pluck off, or put out.” In ancient Greek writings, the word means “to cause to vibrate by touching, or to twang.” More specifically, it was used to refer to touching or striking the chord, or twanging the strings (of a musical instrument so that they gently vibrate). It also means “to play on a stringed instrument,” or “to play the harp.” Psallo was used when the Septuagint translated a Hebrew word, zimmer, which means “to sing to the music of harp.” I have not given all these lexical meanings to defeat the arguments of the opponents of musical instruments. What I want to say is that quite often lexicons cannot offer the final answer to our serious questions. That’s why I feel that their biblical argument is rather weak. In fact, they do not want to consider the Old Testament part at all in their discussions, which is rather sad.

 
Now, I am going to talk about the other kind of reason. This study is more sombre and requires prayerful approach. It is because their reasons do reflect their sincerity and faithfulness to the Lord. If you understand their concerns, you will know what I mean. Let me list other reasons why they oppose the use of the musical instruments. (1) They are intimately associated with the sensual heathen cults. In fact, sensuality and false religions are issues brought into this argument. (2) They are associated with shameless performances for the degenerate theatre and circus. (3) They tickle only the ears. (4) Even the performers themselves do not understand their own music. (5) They have secularized the church.    Secularized music has been brought into Christian church worship. Having read every one of these reasons, I wonder how you feel about them. Personally, I consider them all to be very relevant issues to our churches today. All of them are the reasons why we oppose certain types of music and musical performances in worship services today. There are so many styles of church music these days, which prevents me from talking about every kind of church music. Thus, I will just choose one particular kind and find some relevant issues from it. Probably lots of contemporary church music is pure rock. They use hard beats and a back beat. It is amazing to see that lots of young people are attracted to Christian rock which is not different from worldly rock and roll. Their excuse is that the lyrics matter, not the beat or style of music. However, we have already seen that music matters even apart from lyrics. It has been a consistent teaching amongst God-fearing people that Christian music and rock should not go together.
 
Read the following excerpts and compare them with the list of the reasons why some groups have opposed the use of musical instruments in the previous paragraph. Irwin Sibler of Sing Out magazine said, “The great strength of rock & roll lies in its beat. It is a music which is basically sexual, unpuritan . . .” (May 1965, p. 63). Debra Harry of Blondie says, “The main ingredients in rock are sex and sass” (Hit Parader, Sept. 1979, p. 31). Chris Stein, lead guitarist for Blondie says, “Everyone takes it for granted that rock and roll is synonymous with sex” (People, May 21, 1979). Rocker Tom McSloy says: “Rock is visceral. It does disturbing things to your body. In spite of yourself, you find your body tingling, moving with the music” (“Music to Jangle Your Insides,” National Review, June 30, 1970, p. 681). Simon Frith, author of Sound effects, said, “We respond to the materiality of rock’s sounds, and the rock experience is essentially erotic” (New York: Pantheon Books, 1981, p. 164). Malcolm McLaren, punk rock manager, said: “Rock ‘n’ roll is pagan and primitive, and very jungle, and that’s how it should be! The moment it stops being those things, it’s dead … the true meaning of rock … is sex, subversion and style” (Rock, August 1983, p. 60). Bill Haley said, “I felt that if I could take a ... tune and drop the first and third beats and accentuate the second and fourth, and add a beat the listeners could clap to as well as dance this would be what they were after” (cited by Charlie Gillett, The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll, p. 14). “I dig that rock and roll music; it has a back beat; you can\'t lose it” (Chuck Berry). Even secular
Time magazine (March 11, 1985 p.60), in an article about Contemporary Christian Music titled the article, “New Lyrics for the DEVIL\'S MUSIC.”
 
All I need to say is that the music style itself can be unholy as we can see from above. When we put such music together with Christians, there is an unholy alliance. In 1997, Rolling Stone reviewed a sampling of 30 Christian rock songs and rendered this verdict: the Christian songs were no more insipid or derivative than 30 songs “randomly selected from the Billboard Hot 100 in a given week.” There is no more division between sacred and secular as far as contemporary music is concerned. Of course, many of CCM singers use rap, hip-hop, and R&B for their music. Joe Bob Briggs once defined CCM as “bad songs written about God by white people.” There is enough truth in this statement to get our attention except the last part as CCM is not confined only to a particular race or ethnic group. The queen-bee of Christian rock for a long time was Amy Grant. Amy\'s song, “Baby, Baby,” was unprecedented in Gospel Music history, topping the chart as the number-one spot on Billboard magazine. People magazine (July 15, 1991 p.71) says, “There\'s saintly Amy cuddling some hunky guy, crooning Baby, Babyinto his ear and looking pretty SLEEK AND SINFUL. . .” After all, Amy confesses, "I\'m trying to look SEXY to sell a record . . ." (Rolling Stone, June 6, 1985 p. 10). I see similar pictures on lots of cover sheets of CCM CDs.
 
Having said all these negative points on contemporary Christian or even worship music, I must make a few warnings: (1) CCM should not be despised simply because it is new and contemporary. There are lots of good things that are contemporary. There are good contemporary composers and good music pieces; (2) there must be differentiation between worship music and some Christian inspiring or entertaining music. Entertainment should not be brought into worship; (3) there is a connection between businesses and most CCM performers and their songs. We should not forget that CCM is a multi-billion dollar industry. The music is used to generate good financial returns; (4) there are unhealthy components in CCM such as triumphalism, commercialism and individualism, even apart from theological soundness. Interestingly, Mark Allan Powell, a professor of the New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, said that about 10 percent of current CCM might be in the “theologically mature” category; (5) the way of presenting music is equally important as the style of music. It includes not only the playing of music but also the use of vocals; and (6) we must be careful about the use of emotions in worship. Emotion is a divine gift. However, emotions also have their boundaries. Basically, CCM appeals to the emotions of the worshippers, while worship is given to God. All this points out one important lesson: we should cultivate our musical taste. I’ll continue next week.
 
Lovingly,
Your Senior Pastor Ki
 

More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

Announcements
*Kitchen Rosters: Team Leader: Bro Lucas Yiew. Next Lord’s Day: Team Leader: Bro Daniel Volvricht
*Please invite your family members, relatives & friends to come to this evening’s Gospel Rally.
*Tentative dates for Missions to Batam & Bintan: 20-23 Jan 2011. If interested, please see Dn David Yeo.
*Please note: Ps & Sis Ki will be leaving Adelaide for London after next Lord’s Day.
 
Looking Ahead
*BP National Youth Camp, 29 Nov - 3 Dec 2010
 
Praise & Thanksgiving
1. Journey mercies: Ps Ki (Melb/Adl); Ps David & Sis Susan Weng & family (S’pore); Bro Samuel Kwan & Sis Sophine Bai (Melb/Syd); Sis Sooi Chin Gong (Adl), & others who have travelled.
2. Church activities - over the past week.
3. God’s protection during the recent storm.
4. Daily mercies & guidance in our lives.
 
Prayer Items
1. Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow; Rev & Mrs James White; Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Colin Creaser, Makoto Kobayashi (JPN), Elton Law, Jonathan Liao (Melb), Len Pearson, & Simon Yeo; Mr Swee Liang Ng; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Auntie Oei; Sisters Lynette Booth, Mabella Booth, Annie D’Mello & her mother (Mumbai), Lydia Fan, Myung Ki, Choon Fong Lee (KL); Lehia Paauwe; Margaret Pearson, Susan Veradi, Irena Kurek-Braden; & others in affliction.
2. Cambodia Missions - Rev David Koo & ministry; Life University (Sihanoukville).
3. iSketch&Tell Studio - Pr H S Lim & his ministry.
4. IBPFM (USA) - Rev K Coleman, Board & missionaries around the world.
5. Ps & Sis Ki & ministry in Hope BPC.
6. Ps & Sis Weng - ministry in Hope BPC.
7. Hopefuls in S’pore; In Kuching: Teo family.
8. Journey mercies: Ps David & Susan Weng & family (Taiwan); Bro Ngie Joo & Sis Sooi Chin Gong (Europe); Bro Samuel Kwan & Sis Sophine Bai (S’pore); Bro Peter Ting (Adl) & Sis Joyce Gong (Europe) & all others who are travelling.
9. God’s comfort & strength: Sis Christabelle Selvanayagam, Bros Joseph & Christopher Selvanayagam & their families.
10. Job - Sisters Judy Li & Corinne Teng.
11. Good health in pregnancy - Sisters Myra Hornung & Demelza Ting. 
12. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.
13. Year 12 Students: Sisters Jillian Chia & Shilsha Ninian.
14. God’s guidance & protection - Sis Marion Chan (Myazaki, Japan).
15. Speaker: Dn Edwin D’Mello for this evening’s Gospel Sunday.
16. Next week’s Baptismal candidates: Bros Yick Ho Lam & You Wen Yeap.
 

 

 

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