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Should differences over music philosophy hinder cooperation between Christians?

Recent kerfuffle over a Christian university changing its philosophy and practice of music has led to much discussion over whether disagreements over music and worship philosophy warrant separation between believers. Here’s my attempt at an answer.

What do you mean by separation?

I do not view separation as some kind of binary “on/off switch.” In other words, my answer to this question will involve evaluating specific people/churches and situations, not an automatic “separation” if so-and-so uses a particular song. Neither do I separate/cooperate based on whether one is in a particular “camp” or “circle.” Separation involves more nuanced thought and evaluation in my opinion.1
Of course, when it comes to those who deny truths essential to the gospel, separation in terms of Christian fellowship becomes more binary. But when a situation involves someone with whom I share agreement over the gospel, whether or not I will cooperate with him is based on numerous criteria, including what exactly the particular cooperation will involve.
Essentially, I view separation as withholding cooperation from a particular person or church in a particular situation for a particular reason. In other words, I might cooperate with someone in one situation and not in another. It all depends upon the relationship between the disagreement in question and the situation requiring cooperation. For example, I might be able to stand side-by-side with a conservative Presbyterian in order to preach the gospel, but I would not be able to plant a church with him given our disagreement regarding church polity and baptism, among other things.

misc-brick-wallI do not view separation as some kind of binary “on/off switch.” In other words, my answer to this question will involve evaluating specific people/churches and situations, not an automatic “separation” if so-and-so uses a particular song. Neither do I separate/cooperate based on whether one is in a particular “camp” or “circle.” Separation involves more nuanced thought and evaluation in my opinion.1

Of course, when it comes to those who deny truths essential to the gospel, separation in terms of Christian fellowship becomes more binary. But when a situation involves someone with whom I share agreement over the gospel, whether or not I will cooperate with him is based on numerous criteria, including what exactly the particular cooperation will involve.

Essentially, I view separation as withholding or limiting cooperation from a particular person or church in a particular situation for a particular reason. In other words, I might cooperate with someone in one situation and not in another. It all depends upon the relationship between the disagreement in question and the situation requiring cooperation. For example, I might be able to stand side-by-side with a conservative Presbyterian in order to preach the gospel, but I (as a Baptist) would not be able to plant a church with him given our disagreement regarding church polity and baptism, among other things.

So a very simple answer to the question would be that no, music philosophy is not a separation issue of the same kind of level as heterodoxy or flagrant, known sin.

But if we extend the definition of “separation” to include limiting cooperation over lesser issues, then the question becomes, Is music/worship philosophy a significant enough issue to warrant the limiting of cooperation?

We’re talking very practical situations here, like, will I encourage people to go to that church’s ministry conference, will I recommend a particular college or seminary, or will I link arms with that person or ministry?

I would argue that music/worship philosophy may limit cooperation in some circumstances because of the deeper philosophies of culture that lie beneath music/worship practice.

Philosophies of culture are significant

The difference between what I’ll call a Conservative philosophy of culture and a Progressive philosophy can be seen in the Fundamentalist/New Evangelical divide of the mid-Twentieth century.

Some will insist that a Fundamentalist was simply one who believes in the fundamentals of the faith. However, what is evident historically is that the divide between Fundamentalism and a New Evangelicalism was never over doctrine. As late as 1982, Harold Ockenga stated that when it came to doctrine he wished to always be classified as a Fundamentalist.

Others will add that a Fundamentalist is one who will separate from those who deny the fundamentals. While this is certainly true, and has come to be the hot issue of disagreement, separation itself is the not the primary issue of difference between Fundamentalism and today’s Evangelicalism. For example, several prominent modern Evangelicals do practice a form of separation. Whether or not they separate from what Kevin Bauder calls “indifferentists” is another matter, but they do seem to separate in some sense from those who deny the gospel.2

But the issue of separation was not the primary reason for the Fundamentalist/New Evangelical divide. Actually, separation was a secondary issue for the early New Evangelicals. It was a symptom of a greater agenda, and that agenda involved their philosophy of culture.

The Progressive Philosophy of Culture

The primary reason New Evangelicals split from Fundamentalists was their desire to engage their culture. Fundamentalists had been known to separate from the world, and the New Evangelicals saw that posture as extreme. They wanted to engage the world, and they had to get rid of separation to do so. In the words of Rolland McCune, they wanted “to make the truth-claims of Christianity intellectually respectable and to penetrate the culture for Christ.”3

It is in this agenda that the Christian progressive philosophy of culture rises to prominence. Whether it was a particular philosophy of culture that birthed their agenda, or an agenda that influenced their philosophy of culture is perhaps unclear, but the links between the agenda and the philosophy are unmistakable. The New Evangelicals, unlike their Fundamentalists brothers,4 saw culture as neutral — something to be assimilated into the Church in order to engage the world with the gospel. Relevance was key to gospel propagation. An emphasis on the doctrine of common grace gave them justification for their philosophy.

This philosophy led them to downplay passages like James 4.4 and 1 John 2.15:

Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Instead of viewing “the world” as significantly influencing the culture around them, New Evangelicals limited “worldliness” to only those vices explicitly condemned in Scripture. Therefore, culture around them was no longer critiqued with careful discernment; it was now welcomed with open arms as the best means to reach the world. Murray argues that this is a serious problem for Evangelicals:

Apostasy generally arises in the church just because this danger ceases to be observed. The consequence is that spiritual warfare gives way to spiritual pacifism, and, in the same spirit, the church devises ways to present the gospel which will neutralize any offense. The antithesis between regenerate and unregenerate is passed over and it is supposed that the interests and ambitions of the unconverted can somehow be harnessed to win their approval for Christ. Then when this approach achieves ‘results’ — as it will — no more justification is thought to be needed. The rule of Scripture has given place to pragmatism.5

This agenda can be still clearly seen in many Evangelical churches today. Murray notes,

That this has happened on a large scale in the later-twentieth century is to be seen in the way in which the interests and priorities of contemporary culture have come to be mirrored in the churches. The antipathy to authority and to discipline; the cry for entertainment by the visual image rather than by the words of Scripture; the appeal of the spectacular; the rise of feminism; the readiness to identify power with numbers; the unwillingness to make ‘beliefs’ a matter of controversy — all these features so evident in the world’s agenda are now also to be found in the Christian scene. Instead of churches revolutionizing the culture the reverse has happened. Churches have been converted to the world.6

I would also argue that this agenda and this philosophy of culture will inevitably lead to doctrinal compromise. One cannot assimilate the world without being influenced by the world. That this has happened in Evangelicalism is without question. One of first doctrines to go was inerrancy, followed soon by justification by faith alone in Christ alone (evidenced by statements by New Evangelicalism’s poster-boy, Billy Graham and the New Perspective on Paul) and the omniscience of God (evidenced by Open Theism).

Now what is certain is that many conservative Evangelicals today would not necessarily agree with the agenda of the early New Evangelicals, nor do they adopt the pragmatic assimilation of the world that the Mega-church Movement promotes. Many conservative Evangelicals are recovering and defending the doctrines mentioned above, are beginning to practice separation over cardinal doctrines, and even  preach on holiness and separation from the world. However, and this is the key point, the underlying philosophy of culture remains the same. Culture is still viewed, for the most part, as generally neutral.

Furthermore, while conservative Evangelicals are recovering the doctrinal orthodoxy that they lost, many seem to be unwilling to jettison what worldliness they have already assimilated (since their philosophy of culture does not see it as worldliness), and this is where the issue of music fits. Contemporary Christian Music as we know it rose out of the progressive cultural philosophy of New Evangelicalism, because they viewed pop culture as essentially neutral, and their agenda called for cultural assimilation in order to reach the culture.7 Conservative Evangelicalism has inherited the same philosophy and the same music. Paradoxically, many Evangelicals are Conservative theologically while Progressive culturally.

The Conservative Philosophy of Culture

Conservative Fundamentalism,8 on the other hand, has historically looked at the culture around it with an eye of suspicion. Not all culture is seen as necessarily evil, but the Conservative default is to distrust it. Conservatives have always been concerned to separate themselves from the world, and this includes pop culture.

Because of this philosophy, Conservative Fundamentalism has preserved doctrinal orthodoxy. This does not mean that error has not crept into the belief systems of many Fundamentalists. But by and large, important doctrines including the deity of Christ, the verbal inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, the exhaustive foreknowledge of God, and justification by faith alone are maintained by Fundamentalists.9 This cannot be said for the grandchildren of New Evangelicalism.

Ironically, some conservative Evangelicals are recognizing this philosophy of culture as a strength of Fundamentalism. Consider, for instance, a blog post by Rick Phillips, an Evangelical pastor in Greenville, SC. He is explaining his reasons for sending his children to Bob Jones Academy (a Fundamentalist institution), even though he may disagree with some of their standards and doctrine:

The fundamentalists get the idea of antithesis. . . .10 I find in general that the fundamentalists get the idea that the Bible really is the Word of God and that our only salvation is in the blood of Christ.  There is no talk about postmodern hermeneutics among the fundamentalists. They believe the Bible is the Word of God because it says so, and so do I.  They believe that men, women, and children are sinners who must believe in the cross in order to be saved.  There is no talk of alternative theories of the atonement with them.  They understand that the church must stand out against the world, that holiness is our calling, and that Christians are to witness to the lost.  Amen, amen, and amen.  They get the Christian antithesis, that light has shined in the darkness and that we are to walk in the light and shine the light into the darkness.

Frankly, because of the big idea of antithesis, I am more comfortable with the fundamentalists than I am with the broad evangelicals.  More and more, broad evangelicals do not get the idea of antithesis, and for this reason even when they have a pretty good formal doctrinal statement, they seldom really stand up for it.  In Psalm 1 terms, the broad evangelicals are to willing to “walk in the counsel of the ungodly”. Broad evangelicals want to be successful; fundamentalists want to be faithful.11

The “big idea of antithesis” is code for the Conservative philosophy of culture. It is a certain posture that assumes the world is in opposition to God, thus protecting biblical orthodoxy and orthopraxy from subtle attacks. Consider also comments by John Piper:

What I want to say about Fundamentalism is that its great gift to the church is precisely the backbone to resist compromise and to make standing for truth and principle a means of love rather than an alternative to it. I am helped by the call for biblical separation, because almost no evangelicals even think about the doctrine.12

Now, two quick points about the Conservative philosophy of culture with respect to those who call themselves “Fundamentalists.” First, it is my belief that the early Fundamentalists applied this philosophy of culture a little bit too late. Or to put it another way, they did not recognize the sinfulness of culture around them until it got so bad they could not help but notice. Early on (even before the Fundamentalist/Modernist controversy) churches assimilated forms of pop culture that seemed to be harmless (mostly Victorian sentimentalism). Later when pop culture slipped even further, Fundamentalists thankfully resisted. However, some Fundamental churches today are still using those same out-dated pop musical forms that do not really fit the weight of biblical truth. In this way, some Fundamentalists, too, seem to be unwilling to jettison what they have inherited, even if it is not demonstrably good.

Second, unfortunately Fundamentalism’s strong stance on separation from the world and strong militancy in defense of orthodoxy have often resulted in extremes. In the area of separation from the world, some Fundamentalists have attempted to prove that their extra-biblical standards are the word of God. That they set these standards for themselves in order to protect from worldliness is admirable, but to preach the standards as Gospel is deplorable. Instead, they should present the standards for what they are — boundaries to protect from worldliness.13

Furthermore, in the area of militancy in defense of orthodoxy, some Fundamentalists have defended the truth in an ungodly manner. This, too, is inexcusable. Both of these extremes must be carefully avoided by anyone convinced of a separatist philosophy.

But really, it is not “Fundamentalism” that is my concern here. As I said above, separation, or withholding cooperation, has little to do with whether or not a person or ministry calls themselves “Fundamentalist.” Actually, there are many who call themselves “Fundamentalists” who are not Conservative in their philosophy of culture. The question we are considering is whether or not a person or ministry with a Conservative philosophy of culture may have to limit cooperation with a person or ministry that holds to a more Progressive philosophy.

Difference of Philosophy Often Necessitates the Withholding of Cooperation

I would argue that even if two churches share exactly the same doctrinal convictions, their underlying philosophies of culture inherently affect their ability to cooperate. Why? Because one’s view of culture significantly affects the ways in which his doctrine is handled.

For instance, two churches may agree concerning the doctrine of God, but how they view culture will affect how that God is worshiped. Two churches may agree on the gospel, but how they view culture is going to affect how they present the gospel. Two churches may agree on polity, but how they view culture will affect how they plant churches. And this is just as true for the educational institutions we recommend.

Culture (or music) is not the most important thing. But culture is the dish in which precious cuisine is placed. So culture matters just like you would be concerned if some prime rib were served on a dirty paper plate.

READ
Discernment as spiritual wisdom and understanding (Part 3)

Culture is the dish in which the gospel is served to the world. The gospel is the most important thing, but the dish matters.

One’s philosophy of culture effects everything, because culture effects everything. Culture is the tangible expression of worldview, and some worldviews are incompatible with biblical doctrine. Therefore, differences in philosophy of culture will limit ability to cooperate in some circumstances. In the same way, agreement over a philosophy of culture will often make cooperation possible even when there are other minor differences of doctrine. Ironically, this is what Rick Phillips seems to realize by sending his children to BJA.

One additional point of consideration here. Significant doctrinal differences are certainly more serious than differences of cultural philosophy. But I would argue that differences of philosophy of culture are more dangerous because they are more subtle. Allow me to explain. If someone in my congregation is exposed to an argument for infant baptism or the continuation of sign gifts, I can fairly easily point him to exegetical and theological reasons I do not hold to such doctrines. But if someone in my congregation is exposed to sacred music that is fleshly, it is much more difficult to demonstrate why that music is fleshly because expression of abstract emotion (that’s what music is) is difficult to articulate.

It is for this reason that I view differences in philosophy of culture as more limiting to cooperation than differences in seconary doctrines within the realm of orthodoxy. This perspective is no longer limited to Evangelicalism — there are plenty of Fundamental churches that I could not cooperate with since we do not share this philosophy. But one’s philosophy of culture is important because culture affects everything, especially the gospel.

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.



Endnotes:

  1. I bring this up because unfortunately, many Fundamentalists do operate with a sort of binary separation. As long as one holds the “Fundamentalist ID Card,” some Fundamentalists will happily cooperate, regardless of doctrinal or practical agreement along many lines. We must be quick to admit, however, that many Evangelicals also operate the same way, choosing to cooperate with anyone who claims to be an Evangelical for the sake of the “greater movement.” []
  2. However, although some Evangelicals are willing to call out other Evangelicals for doctrinal error, there is some question as to whether they are actually willing to say, “Get out.” []
  3. McCune, “The New Evangelicalism and Apologetics,” DBSJ 6 (Fall 2001), 75. []
  4. I will note in a moment that I do not believe the Fundamentalists were above criticism in their adoption of some forms of culture. []
  5. Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, 255. []
  6. Ibid., 255-6. Emphasis added. []
  7. Actually, I would argue that its roots began much earlier. But it is only with a view of cultural neutrality that something like “Christian Rock” could have been born. []
  8. I do not believe that all who call themselves “Fundamentalists” are or have been Conservative. []
  9. Admittedly, some of these doctrines are denied implicitly within Fundamentalism in extreme forms of the King James Only Movement, easy-believism, and forms of Semi-Pelagianism. Furthermore, the gospel itself has often been weakened by Revivalism. Even so, most Fundamentalists have remained orthodox. []
  10. “Antithesis” refers to the view that culture is not neutral — it is at enmity with God. []
  11. Phillips, Reformation 21 Blog. []
  12. Piper, Desiring God Blog. []
  13. Many Fundamentalists have rightly treated standards in this way, but many (unfortunately, some of the most prominent) have not. []

21 Responses to Should differences over music philosophy hinder cooperation between Christians?

  1. Let's be consistent here: If we're going to talk about less cooperation (recommending and supporting) with a fundamentalist institution like NIU over music issues, we need to look long and hard at our willingness to do the same with BJU. BJU is also using music from Sovereign Grace, Gettys, and other well-known "CCM" sources. BJU students are also moonlighting in praise bands and posting videos full of rock music like the infamous "BJU Harlem Shake" Video from a few weeks ago.

    I agree with your points, but I would add that it's time to judge all men equally.

    https://www.facebook.com/TellTheTruthBJU/posts/32

    http://instagram.com/p/W5yaDrsOOt/#

    God bless,

    Sincere Fundamentalist

    P.S. I don't endorse the lifestyles of those who maintain the links provided above. I only share them for their informational value.

  2. Honestly, I am trying to understand your argument. I get it to some degree, however, the separated world you describe is terrifying to me. It is the same world that covers crimes and abuse to keep separated from the "world" and outside interference. I understand that you are focusing on music, etc., but I have only seen these things go hand in hand. I am terrified to go to a "separated" church with my children. The very culture that keeps them separated in music and other cultural influences, keeps secret crimes that should be legally prosecuted to protect children.

    I am not trying to cause any offense to your statements. This is merely my observations and fears about these "fundamentalist" churches. I am terrified of them.

  3. I'm in agreement with your main point, here, if not with some of your other positions you allude to. I just wanted to offer a couple peripheral clarifications, from my perspective:

    [1] The New Evangelical idea of "cultural engagement," which involves the presupposition of cultural neutrality, is not the only alternative to the Fundamentalist position. There are also aesthetic conservatives who "engage culture" precisely because they think that it has meaning, because they maintain the antithesis, because they think Christ's Lordship has implications for it. They are no happier with poor/bad culture than conservative Fundamentalists are, but they are more committed to its reform in light of their postmillennial hope that the nations will be discipled before Jesus' return, and that that will have cultural implications.

    [2] As much as I appreciate most of what you've said, I think it's a serious mistake to lump evangelical inclusivism together with NPP. I would suggest that inclusivism has more to do with postmodernity, and that some kinds and aspects of NPP (I put that carefully) have more to do with premodernity. That is another discussion, but in any case, I don't think it's helpful to lump these two things together just because both seem to you to strain in different ways at a certain formulation of justification.

    But these are beside your main point, which is well and carefully put. Thanks.

    P.S. I think that it's important to distinguish between disciplinary separation and practical separation. You do that, and I'm just saying that it may be helpful to systematize that distinction.

  4. To answer the question of your title – no. Molehills, wasted time and energy straining at the molehills of musical styles, pants and haircuts and so-called doctrines of separation while our neighbors, who Jesus commanded us to love as ourselves, second only to the first and greatest commandment to love God, have empty cupboards, empty bank accounts, fear, loneliness, and in many, empty hearts.

    If only the same amount of time spent wringing collective hands over these issues were spent using those same hands in loving care of others – our neighbors. God help us all to do so without worrying over who or what institution approves.

  5. Thought-provoking, Scott, and though I'd like to let this marinate for a while I believe I agree.

    One objection that came to mind is that your view would mean calling someone disobedient for failing to do something that is, from one perspective, arcane: recognizing that non-verbal cultural forms carry both intrinsic and conventional meaning which is capable of being moral or immoral, appropriate or inappropriate. Can we blame someone for failing to do this?

    However, the verses you mention—James 4:4 and 1 John 2:15—answer this objection quite well. God is willing to speak very generally in those verses, and that leaves us with the (Framean) duty of reading our situations accurately and looking for those meanings. Other texts are equally general: “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph. 5:11), “be not conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2), or “make not provision for the flesh” (Rom. 13:14).

    I agree with you, too, that broader evangelicalism seems to place in the "worldliness" category only vices mentioned explicitly mentioned in Scripture.

  6. Same false reiteration of Fundamentalist's crazy views about music in a different wrapper.

    Article starts alright but by the fifth paragraph divebombs.

    Who determines within your framework what is "fleshly music?" That is the question that will never be answered by those espousing this position.

    You can say God all you want, when in reality, musical notation is an amoral device used to convey moral or immoral meaning.

    I'll stop now…

  7. Hi Scott,

    Separation as presented in the bible reads more clear, more perspicuous, than what I read with you. When we're judged for the deeds done in our body, it will be because we could understand what we were going to be judged for. If we couldn't know, we couldn't know. But from a child, Timothy knew the holy scriptures.

    Alright. Is rock music offered to God false worship? Is false worship a separating issue? I believe there are many obvious scriptures that apply. Mind you, this is about God. If we can't determine that rock music is false worship, then it would seem that religious affections ministry is doing little more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I'm hoping that the leniency is not some type of strategic technique of persuasion. Jesus could cast out the moneychangers because He had that authority. Is the moneychanging worse than rock music offered as worship? Is it in one or both that Someone's house is being defiled?

  8. Who determines within your framework what is “fleshly music?”

    Every one of us gives account of himself to God, so there is some relativity to the answer, and that is what a local church is about—believers who agree on such things. However, what is espoused today is that since we cannot agree on what is “worldly,” anything goes. And anyone who doesn’t accept “anything goes” is crazy.

    The Bible is pretty clear that origins are important when it comes to the world (I John 2:15-16, “not of the Father”). For example, where did the rock music genre originate and what is its purpose? Were godly men and women led by the Holy Spirit to invent dominant rhythm in music and to use distortion with electric instruments? No. The genre was invented to assist the hippie and rebel subcultures of the 60s and 70s to convey their message of free love, drugs, and anarchy. It is entirely reasonable for that origin alone for Christians to turn their backs on that entire genre. Nothing crazy there.

    The world also invented Coke. Does that mean we shouldn't drink Coke? No, Coke has no inherent moral attributes like communication does, and music—even without lyrics—is a form of communication.

  9. Thank you, Scott, for an excellent article. The people we reach with the gospel today have a relationship with pop culture that seems as natural as the relationship between a fish and water. A response that runs no deeper than a simple declaration of worldliness will seldom (if ever) gain traction. Far from "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," you have framed the issues cogently and correctly. Thanks again.

  10. Sincere Fundamentalist:

    I believe I come to a different conclusion on this than the author, but I would not discard a SGM/Getty song simply based on the fact it came from them. I reject the style in which they perform it and sometimes I reject the accompaniment they provide as it leads to the worldly/rock style. But, if the music is good and the lyrics are sound and biblical, I have no problem with it. I believe BJU comes to the same conclusion. NIU supports any and all SGM/Getty music AND the style and manner in which it is performed.

    Secondly, surely you see a difference in the students making youtube vidoes singing CCM or doing the Harlem shake and the administration sanctioning such things. I'm sure that if BJU knew the names of those students, they would be confronted (In fact, know of a family member who was disciplined for dancing while at BJ). You can't completely judge a school (especially a very large school like BJ) based on what some of their students are doing. Sorry to say it, but basically every Christian college probably has a group of kids that either do not agree with the college's view (and do not submit to it) or are there simply because their parents demanded it and they could care less about following the rules.

    It is VASTLY different for a school-sponsored group to be representing the school in this manner. When BJ puts out a traveling Christian rock group, then certainly, we should be concerned.

    Oh, and by they way, I am a Northland grad, not a BJ grad and am normally critical of all things "Bojo", :) but in this, I have to agree that BJ appears to be holding the line while Northland has been washed away with the tide.

  11. Good post.

    I believe one's philosophy (in ministry or life in general) is not defined solely by what you have written on paper or have verbally disclosed to others but also by what you do and how you do it. As a former teacher and school president reminded us, "You will be defined, not by what what you say you believe, but by what you tolerate."

  12. Steve,

    I think Scott explains it about as well as anyone does. I've read his books. I like what he has to say. I'm talking merely about the cooperation or the separation issue. He says it is less serious than a doctrinal difference, and he says that it limits cooperation in certain instances without stating what those are. He says that the music issue is a lesser issue than flagrant, known sin. The article is talking about Northland and the rock music used in "worship" and fellowship. Can we have limited cooperation with false worship? Is that actually what the Bible teaches about separation?

    Scott,

    Rick Phillips, by the way, (and I don't know him) according to that quote in the article, is making the same point as David Wells in his trilogy about fundamentalists. If this is in fact true, then why is it that there seems to be, to go with the ship analogy again, a scurrying from fundamentalism like rats running from a sinking ship?

  13. Hail All,

    I appreciate the thought and effort that went into this post and I appreciate that most (if not all) of the comments and discussion that I see is respectful and full of true concern.

    Having said that, I think that most of the concerns that I had have been expressed already, except I would like to point out some of the historical issues with Music. The question of origin is something that many people point to in saying that this particular artist or this particular style should be excused out of hand. The interesting problem is that the source for most of the “old hymns of the faith” were drinking tunes that everyone knew. There were church splits and contentions over adding instruments because of who made the instrument in the case of the piano, and the guitar. Today we have the same issue with saxophones, trumpets, electric guitars etc. These aren’t new issues, and they are not a cultural deviant created mass of attacks that are overwhelming. The wrong approach is to look at the areas of life as “Don’ts” or “Thou Shalt Nots.” Christ had to slap Peter in a vision to allow him to see that it is the Lord and the individual who must establish what is pure, not the culture of fundamentalism or new evangelicalism or the culture of the world. All of these cultures (and yes, I just lumped them together), are part of what scripturally is referred to as “the world.” They are based on groups of people who promote how they think, and surround themselves with like. I do not believe the any culture is blameless, nor any person capable of getting everything right with regard to standards. I believe that scripturally the best standards that a person can set are between them and the Lord, however it is true that sometimes it is more difficult to associate or worship together with those who’s standards are different. The Truth however, is universal, because it is the relationship with Christ and the Spirit which judges a man’s actions. Individual soul liberty cannot be preached and discouraged at the same time within Baptist churches unless they intend to be hypocritical. Should a church have standards of practice for music and a doctrine of the way they approach culture? Yes, and I believe that the argument Scott presented addresses that. Should churches that associate with one another all look very similar? No, anymore than brothers and sisters in Christ have to be of one culture, creed, race, color, or gender. If you soft-separate (which is the best short term I could come up with for what was described above) based on a standard that you have set for your church, it is no different than if you were to soft-separate with a coworker because you believe in wearing collared shirts everyday to the Glory of the Lord, and he wears jeans on Fridays to the Glory of the Lord.

    That is my concern. When you go beyond scripture (ever) you have taught the doctrines of men, and as such, they cannot be even on the same court as the doctrines of God. Soft-separation based on standards is still separation, and scriptural separation is based on false doctrine (note also I said nothing about ever separating from lost people, as Christ did not separate from them, He separated from the Pharisees).

    Thank you for those of you who took the time to read this and please understand I wrote it from a desire to give warning, and not to cause strife.

    ~dan (independent fundamental Baptist preacher’s kid)

  14. In terms of the music argument. I always hear the same arguments. "Music is ammoral." "I feel better when I praise God with this music." "Music is personal and should be left to personal discretion."

    The truth is that the scripture never indicates that worship was created or designed for my enjoyment. Worship without sacrifice according to David was unthinkable. The arguments that I always hear have an underlying tone, and if the one presenting the argument were to be completely transparent, would say. "I just like it better." Perhaps the focus on worship is wrong or misplaced.

    In better terms, the object of worship is wrong. The heart is deceptive and it is easy to decieve oneself into thinking that worship is for me and how I feel and my needs and on and on. In reality, worship is to remind us of how Holy a God we serve. It is a sacrifice that is to please Him and not us. Jesus completed God's will. It was not pleasant for Jesus.

    In fact, I believe that most of the problems or challenges presented in this article could be solved if we actually spent time with the Lord asking Him to reveal how Holy He actually is. Then we would want to live our lives in a manner pleasing to Him, which might require some sacrifice on our part. Leaving parts of the world that would offend a Holy God.

    Then, we like David might be characterized by the Lord as being someone who is after God's own heart rather than our own.

  15. We must remember that music is not the crux of the problem here; music is simply the manifestation/fruit of a larger philosophical trajectory difference.

  16. not much time to really respond but many of us Americans are extremely vexed at Wash D.C. where leaders view our US Constitution as outdated so decide to interpret it as a "living–breathing document" meaning: use it to "my or our" own agenda!! More and more open discussions on Biblical issues seem to follow suit: use it (the Bible) to "my or our" own agenda(s)!!!

    How confused this generation is, how perplexed/lost the next generation will continue to be! U.n.t.i.l. we have men and women who will not pander to the Bible philosophers who promote their agenda with: "Hey guys, if they hang a cross from their neck…or ears…gifted with a probable money-making-beautiful-voice…own a cool looking jazzy two-colored leather Bible, they MUST have an equal say in today's discussion on what is Biblical".

    The ungodly KNOW what is godly and what is worldly (just listen to what they hate/attack) but Christian leaders today just can't seem to figure-out what is worldly yet. How the world laughs at us as we stand in their shadows! Is your Bible on your desk truly God's final Word to the human race or simply a "living-breathing, ever-changing–agenda used" document for your personal opinions. Acts 20:24

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