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Correcting Categories, Part 10 – Conclusion

If the Church today is going to be able to rightly apply biblical principles to music and worship, it must recover important categories that are either assumed and implied or explicitly taught by biblical authors.

  1. Music communicates by means of emotional metaphor.
  2. Spiritual response of the affections is fundamentally distinct from and may exist apart from physical feeling.
  3. Dionysian forms of art target the physical feelings through emotional manipulation, while Appolonian forms communicate true spiritual affection.

The conclusion, then, for someone wanting to rightly express and teach pure, religious affections in worship should be the following:

  1. Refuse to define spiritual experience in terms of physical response.
  2. Strive to discern between music that modestly supports biblical truth with noble Christian affections and music that artificially stimulates physical feelings, and reject the manipulative music.
  3. Encourage true spiritual worship through the use of simple, rich hymns with strong texts and modest music.
Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

2 Responses to Correcting Categories, Part 10 – Conclusion

  1. I understand what you mean by "modest." Not self-asserting and not pretentious.

    I say that because I want the music we play to God to be greater—great is our LORD and greatly to be praised (Psalm 48:1). Something can be big and self-asserting and pretentious, but something can be big and God-glorifying. How would you describe the difference?

    And I am talking about something like this: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/BWV1.htm

    Being great praise.

    <abbr>Kent Brandenburg’s last blog post: Harvard Joins the Audience of Brandenburg and What Is Truth</abbr>

  2. A big part of this is musical development, and that takes time. In our day, if a song goes longer than 3 minutes, it's too long! My contention is that there is not enough time in a 3 minutes song to develop toward a climax in a modest way.

    I'm not against musical climax, but in order to work toward a climax without manipulation, the piece has to be long enough for a rising action and release after the climax.

    So if we're willing to get back to longer works, or multi-movement works in church services, I think we can do a lot more with modest musical climax. But my guess is we're not going to get back to that any time soon. So if we're stuck with 3 minutes songs, we'll probably have to be satisfied with less climactic kinds of things, in my opinion.

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