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Can a song that doesn’t mention Jesus be “Christian”?

I was recently made aware of an article on the Christianity Today web site about songwriter Melanie Penn. The following passage from the article is of particular note:

“All the songs [on her album] are ‘Christian’ in some way,” Penn said. “I’ve never written a song with Jesus’s name in it. But all of my songs are about Jesus, and they are all for his name.”

Penn says it’s a mantra she has learned at Redeemer [Presbyterian Church in New York City], from [Pastor Tim] Keller.

“There’s no distinction between ‘Christian’ and ‘non-Christian’ art,” she said. “If art is true and beautiful, then it has to point to Christ himself. Art makes us thankful. Art shows us there is more to life. Art awakens the soul.”

In other words, a song that makes no mention of Jesus, Scripture, the gospel, or anything explicitly Christian is still “Christian” music.

So this is Christian:

4 o’clock panic sets in
Thoughts don’t stop of us back then
I woke up forgetting you
Day flew by ‘til afternoon

And as the day’s growing late
Memories I thought had faded
Rush right back into my head
And they don’t stop
No they don’t stop

I step outside for some air
Chide myself for being here
Stuck within our history
Can’t hold on but won’t break free

You’re some new part of my brain
Stranded in my DNA
I thought I was over you
But I’m not I’m really not

How long, how long
Until love’s gone?

And this:

My love is buried underground
A hidden land mine
When you’re near a wire’s wound around
My heart tight
The weight of words as of yet unsaid
Guarded well and strong as death
I know I never know what to say
What to do or who to be
Or how to change
But this I know I’m up in flames
Oh I’ve gone up in flames

I can feel it flashin like a fire
Bright and jealous in desire
But I won’t wake, wake up love
I won’t wake, wake up love

My love is written in the sky
An airplane’s ramblings
The day’s clear, my love is spelled in white
Clouds of writing
And I know you may not be ready yet
Guarded well and strong as death
I know you never know what to think
Or why you feel how you do
And who’s to blame
But this I know
I won’t go away
Oh I’ll never go away

I don’t know a river that’ll drown
Or dry it up but when it’s sleepin’ sound
I won’t wake, wake up love
I won’t wake, wake up love

How do you wake, wake up love?
I won’t wake, wake up love.

This is nothing new. Amy Grant made the same argument when she crossed over to secular audiences in the 80s. Songs are “Christian,” she argued, simply because a Christian writes and/or performs them, regardless of their content.

This is also not unique. In fact, as Penn alludes to, it is very common to hear “missional” Neo-Kyperians like Tim Keller suggest that anything Christians do–especially art–is “Christian” simply because a Christian is doing it for God’s glory. It all stems back to unclear language in Abraham Kuyper’s theology, but that’s beside the point for now. What’s important is to address this question of whether a song can be “Christian” if it does not contain “Christian” content.

First, let me get a couple things out of the way. It is no secret that I believe that music embodies values. So if what Penn (and Keller and others) mean is that a song without explicitly “Christian” lyrics can embody values and beliefs and sentiments that are consistent with biblical Christianity, then I agree with them. If a song promotes strong family values without mentioning Christ, that’s still a good thing.However, as I’ll explain below, I don’t believe “Christian” is the right word to use to describe that.

But actually, I’m not sure that’s what they mean. Missional Neo-Kuyperians seem to imply that culture is neutral and that anything a Christian does–apart from maybe something explicitly sinful–is “Christian” if it is done by a Christian for God’s glory. That’s made clear when Penn says that there is no difference between Christian and non-Christian art.

There are many problems with this way of thinking, which I’ve addressed often here. The bottom line is that everything moral humans do is moral and an expression of worldview, values, and beliefs. Culture, understood as behavior, is an embodiment of values and can either be consistent with biblical Christianity or not.

So not everything a Christian does is necessarily “Christian” if it embodies values out of step with Scripture.

But that still does not fully answer the question. If a song, in both its lyrical and musical content, embodies values that are consistent with Christianity, but its content never explicitly mentions Christ, God, the Bible, the gospel, or anything clearly “Christian,” is that song “Christian”?

I would argue for a couple of reasons that “Christian” is the wrong word to describe a song like that. In fact, I would argue that the adjective “Christian” should be applied very narrowly to songs that have explicit Christian lyrical content.

Even then, I’m a little leery of using “Christian” as an adjective; it’s never used that way in Scripture. However, I am comfortable with using “Christian” as an adjective as long as it describes something that is explicitly Christian in its content.

“Christian” means something very narrow and specific; it refers to a particular body of knowledge that is centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, J. S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion is Christian music; Bach’s Brandenburg Concerti are not Christian music. Bach was a Christian, and the Brandenberg Concerti are very good music that embody values perfectly consistent with biblical Christianity, but that doesn’t make them Christian.

Now I hope I’ve been clear: I’m not at all saying that music without explicitly Christian lyrics is not good. It certainly can be! Nor am I saying that Christians shouldn’t write and perform good music that lacks Christian lyrics. They can, and they should! I fervently encourage Christians to be active in all spheres of culture-making, embodying their Christian values in all sorts of different forms.

I’m simply advocating care when using the adjective “Christian.” It’s a word that means something very specific, and there is a difference between a song with clearly Christian content and one that is good but is more general in subject matter.

What I’m advocating is a clear understanding that there are three categories of music:

  1. Music that embodies values that contradict biblical values.
  2. Music that embodies biblical values.
  3. Music that embodies biblical values and has explicitly Christian lyrics.

Only the last of these should rightly be called “Christian” 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 Cutlure, 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 three children.

25 Responses to Can a song that doesn’t mention Jesus be “Christian”?

  1. Interesting post. I would add at least two or three categories to the list. Also I would add a new parameter: is the song actually sung in a manner appropriate to the message of the song?

  2. This is a complicated topic. I’d like to restrict the term “Christian music” or “Christian art” to the utilitarian sphere, i.e. we can use it in everyday life (for example, to find what we want on ITunes) but it’s not a clear definition when it comes to more academic discussion.
    # For example, are the psalms “Christian”? They are our tradition but none of them mention the name, Jesus (though some refer to Him in prophetic terms). Are they then not Christian?
    # What about ‘Christian’ music made by a non-Christian (e.g., to make money)? Can that be Christian purely based on content?
    # Todd added appropriateness and performance in his comment above. It seems lyrics alone do not make a song Christian. Is rock music that mentions Jesus then Christian because it does? If not, who is to say – and where then is the boundary between Christian and non-Christian?
    # What if the song mentions Jesus but suggests a wrong understanding of Bible Truth (to whatever degree)?
    # Songs are not inspired holy writ, so does the element of sin and imperfection taint the song such that it cannot be called Christian?

    More questions could be added, and none seem to be easily resolved.

    So is it not better to say songs are either suitable or unsuitable as ‘sacred’ songs? This distinction is still imperfect and up to local interpretation but it considers all music as art that is either more or less (or not) suitable for Christian use (liturgical, private, or professional).

    It seems easy to say that Marylin Manson’s songs are NOT Christian songs. Yet, to say a song IS definitely Christian remains a challenge – maybe one we should not try to meet.

  3. I suppose that as we are observing the younger congregations of Churches and the younger generations of Christians, we are experiencing an ushering out of the old and an ushering in of the new. I observe this in regards to church worship services. The music of Matt Redman (if I spelled his name correctly) seems to have gained popularity with younger musicians and younger worshipers.

    However, I’ve also observed newer songs — including ones written and-or composed by Matt Redman — being played, sung, and welcomed by Christians in my age group (late 40’s and 50’s).

    Two songs that seem extremely popular with younger congregations (i.e., high school and college age) are “Blessed be your name” by Matt Redman and “Let Everything That Has Breath” by Matt Redman.

    One phenomenon observed in songs such as those is they can be difficult to follow, difficult to sing, and that when sung, accents are placed on syllables contrary to standard poetic forms.

    The following song is not Christian, but it is effective and obeys the rules of iambic pentameter:

    ====
    I never meant to be so bad to you —
    One thing I said that I would never do.
    A look from you, and I would fall from grace;
    And that would wipe the smile right from my face.
    Do you remember when we used to dance?
    And incidence arose from circumstance?
    One thing led to another; we were young.
    And we would scream together songs unsung.”
    ====

    The song is certainly not a Christian song; it is a secular song attributed to John Wetton and Geoff Downes for the first album of a secular group called “Asia”. The song may be an account of sentimentality, longing, or something like that — but not praise to Christ.

    In some contemporary Christian music, I scarcely can identify conformity to established poetic norms.

  4. I guess I’m just wondering….who cares? If I put a status on Facebook that says, “I have been blessed beyond my wildest imagination!” do we need to categorize that? Why do we care??? Do we just not like the type of music you wouldn’t call Christian and so we want to ostracize it? Neither Esther or Song of Solomon mention God…do we need to recategorize them as not actually part of Scripture? My point is that people look at arguments like this and wonder why we spend so much time fussing about what amounts to nothing more than semantics.

  5. I had more time to think about this, and so I think I would follow up with one question in particular: “How relevant to The Great Commission is this issue?” And then I would ask, “If this issue is not highly relevant to The Great Commission, how then shall we respond?”

    Matthew 28:16-20

    New International Version (NIV)
    The Great Commission

    16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    (Source: Biblegateway dot com)

    Case in point: suppose you meet a fellow believer who claims to find strength or hope in the music played on radio stations/channels that may broadcast cutting-edge Christian music, so-to-speak. Indeed, what if the person was led to Christ by so-called “cutting edge” Christian music? Cannot God use that which some think strange? Cannot God use that which some think isn’t conforming enough to certain norms? Isn’t The Great Commission (Matt 28:16-20) a prize which we should all hold up with prominence?

  6. Todd, I believe this question has been asked several times in past discussions on this site and elsewhere, and can be answered as follows:
    a) It is true that God can use imperfection for His purposes. Otherwise, nobody could ever be saved ‘by the hearing of the word’ since all our preaching and most notably, our personal testimony in this world, are fallible and marked by sin.
    b) It is a fallacy to argue that therefore, God’s working through imperfection implies we need to seek improvement. This is not implied at all. Rather, we should always seek the best and true so the best and lasting results can be achieved. We do not use pragmatism (whatever works) but principle (what does the Bible say we should do, and how?) to promote Christianity. I would argue that verses like 1.Cor 3:12 and Phil 4:8 clearly go in this direction.

  7. But Martin,

    You haven’t addressed the Great Commission, which Christians and Christian churches should aim to fulfill (with the Lord’s help, of course) perhaps above all things. Do you not think it is quite significant that was (is) the last thing Christ bid the Disciples to do upon Christ’s leaving earth and ascending unto Heaven? I think it’s important that it’s the last idea He leaves us with in the Gospel according to the Gospel of Matthew? Surely, last words — especially Christ’s last words — are of extreme importance and it is extremely important that spreading the Gospel to the four corners of the earth is something to be fulfilled by followers of Christ.

    I don’t see Christ (or the Apostle Paul, for that matter) urging any anti-pragmatism to such a degree as urging The Great Commission. Numerous times, the Apostle Paul exhorts Christian believers to spread the Good News and carry out salvation ministry across the world. What can be more important than The Great Commission of Christ?

  8. Again, I fail to see how the Great Commission means we should neglect everything else. It is a matter of ‘these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.’ Of course the Great Commission is the weightier matter, yet this does not mean we can neglect everything else – notably the question how the Great Commission should be implemented. You don’t say, building the house is the main thing; I don’t care about how it’s done – or do you?

  9. But Martin,

    First I would say to you thus: When we examine the passage in the Gospel of Matthew when Christ Jesus gave the Disciples the Great Commission — and in doing so gave all believers the same Great Commission — we don’t find Him setting any limits on the fulfillment of such. Not on its scope, not on its energy, not on its perseverance, not on its importance, not on its amounts or numbers, not on its instruments, not on its age groups, and He did not limit it to personality or ethnicity or number of hours per day or number of days per year. Surely you do not disagree?

    And Martin, you acknowledged: “Of course the Great Commission is the weightier matter”. You added: “yet this does not mean we can neglect everything else – notably the question how the Great Commission should be implemented.” I’m not sure why you are assuming there is somehow a “neglect(neglectfulness)” of “everything else”. I’m not sure what you mean by “everything else”.

    But again, I would close with the point that Christ did not set bounds or boundaries on fulfillment of The Great Commission to believers, Matthew 28:16-20. What say you?

  10. I’m afraid I’m not following you either. Are you saying Christ gave the Great Commission but never told His disciples how to accomplish it?
    I’d rather say, 3.5 years of following Christ would have made it plain to them as to how this commission would have to be carried out. That’s what I mean by ‘everything else’.
    Also, the Bible not only speaks on preaching (getting people into the Kingdom) but also about how the live right, making good choices in life, etc. – that also comes under ‘everything else’. The Great Commission at the end of Matthew is only a brief summary of what is spelled out elsewhere.

  11. If I may, I’d like to backtrack — by asking the following question: What exactly do we mean by “Christian”? I’m not even sure we’ve defined that yet!

  12. If I may, I’d like to backtrack — by asking the following question: What exactly do we mean by “Christian”? I’m not even sure we’ve defined that yet!

  13. Martin, you said:

    “Rather, we should always seek the best and true so the best and lasting results can be achieved. We do not use pragmatism (whatever works) but principle (what does the Bible say we should do, and how?) to promote Christianity.”

    Martin, with all due respect: Must whatever works for lives to be saved, changed, and transformed by the renewing of minds — and what the Bible says we should do, and how — be mutually exclusive? Are you saying that the two are necessarily mutually exclusive? Can you explain how, and can you explain why? May I submit to you that if we follow God’s plan, it *will* work. Therefore, the two go hand-in-hand. Are you saying that they are, instead, mutually exclusive? Kindly explain.
    – Todd

  14. Hi Todd – no, I don’t see them as mutually exclusive. Rather, they should be mutually reinforcing.
    When I wrote, ‘whatever works’ then I am talking about means people use to get people to come to church. As the numbers go up, people claim what they are doing is following the Great Commission.
    Whether people are truly converted and whether what you mention above = transformation and renewing of minds – actually happens, is quite another question. What I would submit is that the latter works best (maybe, only) if we follow the whole counsel of God.

    So if we consider all Scripture in order to implement the Great Commission, we will likely have most success doing so, and transformation of minds and even society as a whole will be the result.
    I guess the better we define the goal = transforming minds, the more we will need to ‘follow God’s plan’. Sadly, many just go for growth in numbers and this is not the right goal. Many unscriptural things will bring about growth in numbers but only scriptural methods (principles) will bring about transformation.

    Have you had any success in defining what is a Christian?

  15. As to what is “Christian”, I suppose one or more of various interpretations would be given. Maybe some might define “Christian” is “that which conforms to and refers to worship of, and obedience to, the Holy Bible and the Triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Or, perhaps some might define “Christian” as something different, such as “that which glorifies God”. As to what is *a* Christian, then I suppose God (and humans, too) would define it as he/she who has been saved (1 John 1:12 and Romans 10:9-10) and shows evidence of it (Book of James, Chapter 2, Verses 14-26).

    What I’d like to do here is be cautious in my criticism of someone, or something, or some belief or some activity with regards to that belief.

    You mentioned, “Sadly, many just go for growth in numbers and this is not the right goal.” But if we are criticising a certain church, for example — or if we are criticising a certain group — should we not consider: Have we actually visited that church? Have we actually conversed with and interacted with its members and those who have been saved and baptised within that church? Have we actually been there? In other words, shouldn’t we actually go there for a short — or perhaps an extended — period of time before we cast final judgment(s)? Yes, we are allowed to make a right judgment (John 7:24) but shouldn’t we also be cautious?

    I don’t know whom (or which church) you had in mind when you refer to doing things solely for numbers and numbers only, but if we cast such judgment, shouldn’t we visit there first? Let’s say, for a weekend?

    What if — and I’m not saying this happened — but what if someone heard of the Apostles (such as Peter or Paul) helping bring thousands daily to be saved and baptised, and simply dismissed it with the comment, “I’ll bet they’re acting solely because of numbers.” What if certain people in NT times heard of thousands being saved, wherever the location, and dismissed it: “It’s only for numbers, so it is wrong.”

    I’m not saying we must go to certain events for six full months, but I will reiterate the question:
    “Have We Been There?”

  16. What I meant by the illustration of the faithful acts of the Apostles, is that what if someone were to have said, “saving 1,000 (or 2,000 or 3,000) in a single day is just numbers.” When what was intended was, in truth, *not* just for numbers, but for God’s glory? When we hear about numbers, mustn’t we be cautious before dismissing them?

  17. Good comments, Todd. I guess I was mainly targeting megachurches with my comments, or any group that claims conversions due to the adoption of pop culture. Surely, numbers are not bad; it all comes back to the question as to whether real conversions and transformation is taking place or not. My comments do not express the condemnation of any particular church but are meant to question the validity of much Christian thinking today.

  18. Martin,

    “. . . any group that claims conversions due to the adoption of pop culture”.

    Not exactly sure what you mean by “claims conversions due to the adoption of pop culture.”

    Could you clarify and give examples?

  19. I am referring to a general trend to be ‘relevant’ by adopting the art and styles of secular culture, such as organizing rock concerts where people are said to be converted, or even simply sing soft rock at church in order to accommodate the tastes of the youth and to not let newcomers feel like they are coming to a different culture that is not already theirs. I don’t mean to say that pop culture itself brings about conversion but it is taken a means by many to make the gospel more acceptable.

  20. If I may, I’d like to sort of put forth a Christian instructional framework that assists Christians with their gifts and interests, and provides them assessments which are used to help determine suitable careers and suitable Christian ministry roles. And let us assume that the leader of the educational framework says, (and I’m paraphrasing) “When I test our application of contemporary Christian worship contents and participants, — when I test it alongside Scripture — I find nothing sinful or harmful about it. Therefore we will continue using these contents and applications, because I find nothing sinful about it.”

    And thus perhaps the debate returns to pragmatic views and pragmatism. And if pragmatism — a method to reach and bring an optimum number of people to the Gospel, — if that pragmatism isn’t sin, then my thoughts are, “Let us not condemn pragmatists, and let us not condemn pragmatism; and may sinless pragmatism continue in its current forms.”

    Coming into a church service barefoot? with medium-long hair, large handle-bar mustaches, torn jeans and tattoos of Jesus and the Cross on the arms and shoulders? Where is the sin, may I ask? Where is scripture that condemns barefoot attire with lots of tattoos?

    If I remember a quote from Christian Steven Baldwin, who has been labeled a “Jesus Freak”, he has pointed out that there are young people who — with their tattoos and weird-looking garb — who love a love for Christ Jesus which should be praised and commended.

  21. My mistake — I goofed there. His correctly-spelled name is Stephen Baldwin, and he’s one of the four Baldwin brothers that have made names for themselves in acting on TV and in movies. I can’t find his exact quote, but he has express happiness that despite what today’s generation wears (such as tattoos), they’re sold-out for Christ and we should therefore be happy.

    The Bible commands that we should love the Lord our God with all our body, mind, and strength. And unless there is sin among them, then where is the problem? And if we are being “pragmatists”, where’s the sin in that? Christ Jesus knew people’s hearts and their deeds. I’m not aware that He ever condemned “pragmatism”.

  22. My answer is (again), we should do one without neglecting the other. A good reply to your question about pragmatism has been provided recently on the Ponder Anew blog: http://www.theologyinworship.com/2015/01/14/but-contemporary-worship-brings-people-to-jesus/#respond

    A zeal for God and the Gospel is great, and should not be quenched. It is praised several times in the New Testament, but Paul also wrote: “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom 10:2).

    The other comment I have is that there is a connection between how you worship God and how this reflects on the (g)od you worship (lex credendi, lex orandi). Certainly I would not reject anyone who comes to our church with long hair etc., yet if you have been a Christian for a while and still think that ‘cool’ is the thing and that God thinks like a teenager (such as Lecrae or other Christian artists) then please re-read 1.Cor 13:11. As we mature, we should reflect God’s image more and more, including our speech, dress, behaviour, how we value money, relationships, honesty, truth, and so forth.

    I don’t think that because something is not actually sinful, it automatically does no harm and need not be avoided. As Paul said, all is permissible but not all is profitable. Almost a golden rule in this discussion.

  23. Wow! Didn’t know this thread was still going! I agree with Todd and believe he asks very valid questions. Martin, you reference Romans 10:2. Are you saying that those that Todd is describing are unsaved? That is what the context of Romans 10:2 is referring to.

    I’m confused on the second Scripture you quote, I Cor. 13:11. That passage isn’t speaking of giving up things we did in our youth. It is talking about our eyes being opened by revelation from God (progressively through history). We know in part and prophesy in part (vs. 10) and we see in a mirror dimly right now (vs. 12), but God revealed more to us in Scripture as He gave it to us. When we get to heaven, we will know even more fully. You are stretching the meaning of the text by going where you are going. To say that long hair is a sign of immaturity is quite the stretch. BTW, God does think like a teenager or perhaps I should say understands them quite a bit better than you or I. The way you talk about teens is the very reason they are running from traditional worship.

    You talk about a connection between how we worship God and how this reflects on the God we worship. I agree, but this cuts two ways. Hanging on to traditions that have no biblical support reflects terribly on God. In the fundamentalist orbit, we’ve taught a generation of people to be completely unemotional in church. We can be excited about sports and our kids playing them, but we can’t show excitement about worshiping the God that sent His Son for us. We can clap after our favorite opera, but we can’t clap after a song in church. What this does is teach our kids that we can be excited about everything except God! It’s ridiculous. I’ve seen people raise their hands in church and others reach up and pull them back down! How does that reflect on God?

    I took some college-aged kids last weekend to the Passion conference last weekend in Atlanta. Those kids sang more and louder than any church I’ve ever been in (yes, they sang hymns in addition to what you might call contemporary music). Some were weeping as they sang. When we listened to those speaking, I looked around and it had to have been 1/3 to 1/2 of the kids were taking notes. I prayed with them and saw a fervor for God that is rarely seen in the churches I’ve been in. If those skinny jean wearing, “cool”, long-haired, tattooed kids are your idea of immature Christians, I’ll take that any day over the lifeless Christianity in most of our churches. Their love for God showed and just oozed out of them…they couldn’t help but talk about God. That is what I see in the first church in Acts 2. God was blessing, they were in awe, and it was exhibited in their life by what they did in the church. They may not be wearing a suit, their hair may be over their ears, they may have a tattoo, but they put my zeal to shame!

    We focus so much on how we worship when Scripture is near silent on it. If we take the offering at the end of the service instead of in the middle (like we always do) then someone pitches a fit and can’t even listen to anything else done in the service. We scrutinize a song to death when someone is singing because we have to make sure that it was written by someone that hasn’t associated with anyone that associated with someone that associated with someone bad, or to make sure that it doesn’t have an emphasis on the wrong beat, or to make sure that we don’t repeat a lyric too many times, or to make sure the person isn’t swaying….! We are so concerned that the pastor reads out of my preferential translation and that he doesn’t hold the mic or wear one of those things around his ear because that is too cool and we don’t do cool….!! Goodness, do we even consider Who we are worshiping? Are we even thinking about Him or are we too busy trying to criticize someone else because they did it the wrong way (even though there is no Scripture backing or condemning our preferences).

    I don’t care what style of service (traditional or contemporary) you use. I’m more concerned about what we are singing (the lyrics), how that interacts with Scripture, and the fact that I am privileged and humbled to even be in God’s presence and sing to Him…be that “How Great Thou Art” or “How Great Is Our God.” I have a very good friend who despises contemporary worship. However, he knows it is a preference and certainly doesn’t criticize those that do it differently than him. Listen, these kids and those leading them at places like Passion are NOT the enemy, but I personally believe the enemy wants us to think that!!!

    I’m sorry…I got on a roll and covered way more than your post Martin, so don’t think all this is in reference to your words! Some of it is a reaction to the article you linked to as I read it the other day.

  24. Hi Rick,

    Let me clarify as best I can:
    # 1.Cor 13:11 means what it says. The context is about the eschaton, not progressive historical revelation. But the context does not change the meaning of what Paul says about maturing – it is a parallelism with the other verses, yet that does not negate the statement made. You can take parallel verses that state the same if you don’t like this one (Heb 5:13; 1.Pet 2:2; 1.Cor 14:20).
    # On Rom 10:2, I wasn’t inferring anything. The verse simply speaks of people who are zealous but without knowledge; this may well happen to anyone – saved or not.
    # No problem with your justified comment about showing excitement.
    # “Their love for God showed and just oozed out of them…” I thought I had dealt with that by my previous comment above. Anyways, no suit prescribed, and I would think twice before removing a tattoo – but thrice before getting one!
    # “Are we even thinking about Him or are we too busy trying to criticize someone else…” Good comment. What I had in mind is churches where the opposite is the case = cool is put on intentionally to be ‘relevant’ etc. That, neither, is authentic.
    # “he knows it is a preference” – that comment is a surprise, however, since you say you read the article. It was taking that argument head-on. As long as we talk about musical choices as about preferences, we will never get anywhere. No, it’s not about preferences. It’s not neutral with respect to what is communicated, either – that is what Scott and others are trying to show on this blog, and there are hundreds if not thousands of pages now that do so – I think successfully. I certainly disagree with some of what they say but really, musical style is NOT neutral. This should be a truism, not a subject of contention. Then let’s talk about how style affects meaning, and finally we might be getting somewhere…

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