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Discussion about Christian rap with Shai Linne: Example of Holy Music

Shai Linne and I are having a conversation between Christian brothers about Christian rap. This post will not make sense unless you start at the beginning of this discussion and read through all the posts. You can find the other posts in this discussion on this page or on the right hand side of this post. This is Shai’s third question to me.

Shai_Bio-300x300Scott, you have said that music can or cannot be holy since human behavior can or cannot be holy. Can you please give an example of holy music and explain what makes it holy?

Scott-thumb-300x300This is an outstanding question, because as I’ve said previously, the burden of proof is always on the Christian to prove the good and perfect will of God (Rom 12:2), prove things that are excellent (Phil 1:9-11), test everything and hold fast to what is good (1 Thess 5:21), and train powers of discernment to distinguish good from evil (Heb 5:14). I do not simply assume everything people create is good until proven otherwise. Rather, I have a robust enough understanding of human depravity to distrust human expression until I have evaluated whether it is profitable (1 Cor 10:23), godly (Titus 2:12), and praiseworthy (Phil 4:8). That process of evaluation is fallible, and I always welcome correction, but I’m happy to take you through the thought process I employ when evaluating music.

Let me first prepare this by noting that I evaluate two layers with all musical communication:

  1. The natural meaning of the music.
  2. The meaning derived from “cultural conditioning,” conventional associations, or specific contexts.

What I will do below is to consider the first layer, but assessing the second layer is also important, and it is certainly possible that something that is naturally good could be used for evil or otherwise take on sinful associations in a given context.

Second, it is important to define “holy” in this context. There is of course the declaration of God that one who is forgiven in Christ is holy (e.g., 1 Cor 6:11). This state cannot be lost or diminished, no matter what a Christian does. Furthermore, nothing a person does can make him holy in this sense. So I want to be clear that I do not believe that any music can make someone holy or improve or diminish one’s standing before God in this use of the word.

But there is also a secondary idea of holiness that involves how we live in response to that declaration, and that is what I’m referring to when I say “holy behavior.” That is what Peter refers to, for example, when he says, “be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15). This doesn’t refer to the standing of a Christian before God, but rather one’s actions. A Christian’s actions are to be holy, like God is holy. They are to conform to God’s righteousness and be a reflection of God’s character and attributes.

So what does that look like?

Scripture is filled with lists and examples of qualities of a kind of behavior that is holy, honorable (1 Thess 4:4), and worthy of God (1 Thess 2:12). I’ll just give a sample: holy behavior manifests the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22)–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Holy behavior manifests compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience (Col 3:12). Holy behavior is worthy of the gospel of Christ (Phil 1:27). It accords sound doctrine (Titus 2:1); it is sober, dignified, marked by integrity, and self-controlled. Holy behavior speaks the truth in love (Eph 4:15).

Since music is part of our conduct, we should discern what music expresses these things just as we evaluate tone of voice, attitude, body language, etc.

You asked for a specific example, and of course, there are many, many varieties of examples of music that are holy in this sense. I’ll supply just one here as requested; I selected something that is not part of my normal listening, and even something outside my culture, to demonstrate that this kind of evaluation is fairly universal since we all share what I call a “culture of humanity.” When evaluating conventional meaning, it is usually necessary to be a part of the particular culture or at least well-studied in it, but natural meaning can be discerned by all.

This music is not my preference, but it is naturally peaceful, gentle, and self-controlled in some places, modestly vivacious and joyful in others. It exhibits dignity and sobriety; it is honorable, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise (Phil 4:8).1

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Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is on faculty at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He has written two books, dozens of articles, 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 two children.



Endnotes:

  1. Interestingly, this is an eighteenth-century Chinese folk tune that Christians have used in their hymnody since it expresses sentiments quite fitting for worship. []

191 Responses to Discussion about Christian rap with Shai Linne: Example of Holy Music

  1. Martin says:

    “Since music is part of our conduct” – if only there could be an acknowledgement that this can be contested! More correctly, I would word this, ‘since music-making and the enjoyment of music are conduct’… then we can conclude that music that expresses self-control, modesty, etc. is in line with holiness.

    Yet, we’re of course still stuck with our dilemma: is music that expresses (represents) holiness (or whatever is biblically compatible with that), holy in itself? Just think of Jesus getting angry with the traders in the temple – was His behaviour less holy then than at other occasions when He was more the ‘gentle Jesus meek and mild’? What about other verses, such as ‘be ye angry and sin not’?

    So when music is NOT in line with the verses Scott mentioned above, does that then mean it is NOT holy in the sense of enabling God-pleasing behaviour when consuming such music?

    Really, it would make this discussion a lot easier if we could let music be what it is (a thing) and then look at its COMPATIBILITY with specific uses. If I want to communicate Gospel truth, which music should I choose? Certainly, the Chinese music does not communicate any such truth per se, but maybe it can be used with Christian lyrics to express such truth? But then, if I use different music to express a different truth or emotions, such as fear, tension, discord – I really can’t see how artists doing that demonstrate unholy behaviour.

    Mind you, I am talking about ART (such as soundtracks), not a culture. If the entire (sub-)culture were focused on the expression of feelings that run counter the Christian worldview then the culture could be qualified as sinful (and really, that includes pretty much ALL culture, since we’re all born sinners). Yet, I have trouble doing that with any given song. Inappropriate, yes – depraved, yes – bad art, yes – an expression of worldviews, yes – and representation of emotions, yes. But none of these are sin.

    Everything Scott mentions above applies WHEN WE WANT TO EXPRESS THE CHRISTIAN IDEAL, and should be applied when selecting worship music. But there are many other areas where music is used and these verses won’t all be applicable in each situation – otherwise, music could NEVER be used by Christians to express anything contrary to holy behaviour, excluding Christian artists from dealing with pretty much 90% of what’s going on in this world. So I conclude the above is too simplistic and does not deal with the variety of uses of art. If it were true, please nobody go to the movies anymore, since you would be sinning listening to music that does not express those ideals.

  2. paul says:

    It would be interesting to listen to and see analysis of rap music without the words.

  3. David says:

    So, Chinese Zither music is holy. Glad to know it. Wow.

  4. Nick says:

    David, I think by “holy” Scott simply means “acceptable” or “not inherently sinful”. It seems like Scott has two categories of music (without lyrics): those that are by default sinful, and those that could be good depending on usage (but are not necessarily so, see his “second layer” on cultural conditioning above). Many of us only have the last category.

    Furthermore, it seems like Scott’s first layer of argumentation heavily relies on the concept of whether some music, intrinsically, communicates sinful emotions. It has really nothing to do with whether there are absolute standards of beauty, or any of the other stuff being thrown about. Scott may believe all of that, but that doesn’t seem to be his main point.

    What I find interesting with Scott’s argument, is that his first layer makes his second layer superfluous for music he thinks is inherently sinful. That is, if the music is already inherently sinful, there is no need to look at cultural conditioning, is there? Hence the whole argument about origins is really irrelevant with respect to rap or rock, isn’t it? If the music is already inherently sinful, what need is there to look at the way culture looks at it?

    I think both layers as expressed above have some debatable issues.

    The first layer has the concept of music inherently being able to communicate sinful emotions, without regard to lyrics or context. That perhaps is the core of this debate.

    But the second layer, the way Scott and others have argued before, seems to assume that the associations of the general culture are normative for everyone in that culture, which of course denies the whole existence (or legitimacy) of counter-cultures and sub-cultures. That’s the only way I could explain why Scott likes to quote unbelievers with regards to what rock or rap means.

    I’m trying to be fair in my assessment — hopefully I got Scott’s arguments correct.

  5. John C, says:

    I think we are now completely off the rails. I agree completely with you Martin. Once we start labeling, in a broad sense, what music is “holy” and what’s not we have crossed over into the role of the Holy Spirit, in my opinion. Are we to “prove things that are excellent (Phil 1:9-11), test everything and hold fast to what is good (1 Thess 5:21),” absolutely, but it seems to me that there is a lot of “gray area” in that. In my experience sin is usually much more personal than can be handled by broad brush strokes. A picture, piece of art, commercial on TV, movie, song, etc might make my heart and mind move into a sinful state, but not someone else. When you say that Chinese harp music (or whatever that was) with no lyrics is holy, and the rap music by Shai and others that drive me to stand in awe of God’s beauty, to come to angst over my sin, and to marvel at what Jesus accomplished on the cross is not, is a crazy statement to make, and again cross over into the role of the Holy Spirit. Once you make statements like that someone becomes the governor of what sinful to everyone. Who take on that role? Do we need a committee for it? Who gets to say, “it doesn’t matter that this harp music makes you want to stab someone in the eye, we’ve deemed it holy and you are gonna listen to it.”

  6. LJ says:

    That is the most pathetic attempt to use a completely random offbrand genre of music to prove ultimately what he is trying to say – ANYTHING but rap (with the exclusion of the metal previously mentioned) is acceptable if it doesn’t somehow jar the listener into any action that is somewhat aggressive. Sounds that seem quiet and aesthetic has never been the only blueprint God used to create the winds, waves, mountains, and separate light from darkness, so why is music restricted to this small range of creation?

  7. Isaac says:

    That’s all Scott has to offer as an answer to Shai Linne’s question? This last entry proves simply one thing: Scott can’t prove his own “Christian” music theory. It’s all snake oil. SMH.

  8. Sean says:

    Can’t stop laughing about the last post where Scott informed Shai that he was not really singing rap music. How do you even recover from that? I give credit to Scott for posting that though since it completely must have made him feel like an idiot.

  9. Philip E says:

    Dear Scott, your argument still has not got past, a prejudgement about certain musicality or a judgement that perceives that all cultures value music in one way or that The Lord does, Does he exalt only certain forms of culture? We are making the judgements here, the scriptures you use could be used for anything even the piece you use as an example – I could say it moves me negatively and does not promot
    is he not the one that judges the heart, He is the one to look at what precedes out your mouth. Scott you have to apply your own measure to the pronouncements you have made, particularly how it shows the fruits of the Spirit
    The example is no different to many European classical music. I did not get from it what propose, not very joyful for me I am afraid
    I wonder what the cultural view of that tune was before we co-opted it for The LORD?

  10. Wayne says:

    The unique feature of the guzheng is its sound, which can reflect a scenic mountain village, cascading waterfall, rain, breeze, and even thunder,” says Yang Wanting, a music teacher from the Capital Normal University in Beijing. Many people pick the guzheng not only because it can express emotions and feelings but also because of the intrinsic natural beauty it exudes when played. The fascination derived from guzheng includes a “graceful artistic conception and magnificent timbre” unique in the traditional music field.

    The guzheng’s string arrangement allows it to produce extremely fine phrases so that audiences hear the “sound” of natural landscapes. These are expressed through various hand techniques such as sliding, skimming, kneading and slight vibrating, to pick out the delicate changes of human feelings. Many Chinese people also believe that the guzheng can play an integral part in Chinese religious outlook. Composing and arranging Buddhist melodies brings out the instrument’s ethereal and serene beauty, and can help listeners gather more insight into the mysteries and wisdom of Zen.

    Acclaimed Chinese musician Chang Jing thinks that the guzheng, an ancient Chinese instrument, can be sexy. “It’s not old world at all,” she insists. “I’ve played guzheng next to some of the hottest club DJs in the world.” The Chinese beauty is considered to be one of China’s hottest guzheng players. She gamely admits she does not mind playing up her sex appeal in her performances.

    Sources: Yin Yin (China Daily) & Daily Chilli

  11. Wayne says:

    “Heaven’s Melody: Celebration of Buddhist Culture” presents the essence of Buddhist culture by playing famous hymns that enable listeners to explore deep feelings. Musical pieces like Precepts Concentration and Wisdom In Incense, Purifying Body of Budda and Temple’s Bell Sound have been played for thousands of years and were recently arranged by famous modern composers including Wenjin Liu and Fuquan Zhang. Characterized by being soft, but not weak; pure, but not dry; still, but not sluggish; these tunes are said to be able to purify listeners’ minds.

    In addition to Buddhist music, the concert encapsulates the finest Chinese folk music including Here Comes Spring, Never-ending Swirling Dance and Spring River. Some works describe the fieriest ethnic dances while others depict translucent rivers and beautiful country scenes.

    The concert consists of solos, concertos and ensembles performed by 30 traditional Chinese instruments including guzheng, pipa, erhu and dizi

    source:http://houston.culturemap.com/eventdetail/houston-chinese-traditional-music-group-presents-h/

  12. Ronnie says:

    Oh brother, I keep wondering in amazement as to how someone at Scott’s level of education and responsibility can continue to argue as he does? This whole inherently sinful music is ridiculous and the concept of emotions that are inherently sinful is ridiculous. There is no emotion, whether the ones we typically regard as sinful (e.g. anger, coveting) or those that we typically regard as virtues (e.g. love, peace) that are inherently sinful or virtuous. There is a basic teaching in the Scriptures: sin is not in the thing itself, but in the heart, mind, and intents of the human. There are numerous examples that prove this:

    • Eating meat sacrificed to idols in the NT, may or may not be sinful
    • Receiving circumcision in NT, may or may not be sinful
    • Old covenant dietary laws in NT, may or may not be sinful

    The reason these things may or may not be sinful is simple. It depends on their usage, because the things themselves are not inherently sinful. Scott is such a captive of his own culture and presuppositions that they are axioms for truth.

  13. Ronnie says:

    Nick,

    You stated the following in trying communicate Scott’s argument:

    “Furthermore, it seems like Scott’s first layer of argumentation heavily relies on the concept of whether some music, intrinsically, communicates sinful emotions.”

    I not saying this is your argument, but do you have any example of an intrinsically sinful emotion?

    Ronnie

  14. David Oestreich says:

    Ronnie, Is an emotion “thing itself” or it “in the heart, mind, and intetnts” of a person?

    By extension, aren’t expressions, be they verbal or musical, artifacts of those emotions, of the conditions of the heart mind intent? An invisible thing made visible?

  15. Ronnie says:

    Hey David,

    You stated:
    “Ronnie, Is an emotion “thing itself” or it “in the heart, mind, and intetnts” of a person?

    “By extension, aren’t expressions, be they verbal or musical, artifacts of those emotions, of the conditions of the heart mind intent? An invisible thing made visible?”

    I would say emotions are subjective inner feelings that are normally, but not always communicated externally. I wouldn’t say that all verbal or musical expressions are “artifacts of those emotions, of the conditions of the heart mind intent”. For example, I could produce some very cheerful sounding music when I’m actually feeling very melancholy.

  16. Nick says:

    Ronnie,

    Actually no, that’s not my argument. If you search my comments throughout, you will see I don’t believe either rap or rock are intrinsically evil.

    But I do want to restate Scott’s argument in a way he would recognize it — I don’t want to misrepresent him. He did intend to use the word “holy” for music, but it seems to me what he means is not much different that what some mean by “neutral” — since he did not mean it is intrinsically holy.

    Having said that, are there intrinsically sinful emotions? Perhaps… it depends what you mean by that exactly. Lust and covetousness in Scriptures are always sinful — as long as you define them the way the Scriptures do (e.g., I don’t believe attraction to my wife is what the Scriptures define as lust). So in that sense I would disagree with your statements that there are not inherently sinful emotions.

    Does that contradict my view? No, because I don’t believe music conveys emotions without a context, but only “moods” (something far more ambiguous than what Scott seems to have in mind). I have a hard time thinking of how can music, without a context, can convey anything anywhere as specific as Scott claims. To put it another way, if we treated music as a language, I would say every musical note has a very large range of meanings, so that context is even more important in music than in Biblical exegesis, where language can have a far smaller range of meaning in isolation.

    For the record, I do believe the Bible does talk about absolutes. Eating food may depend on the culture as to whether it acquires a sinful character or not, but rape does not. While my comments in other threads may have come across to some as if I were a post-modern, I am definitely not. I suspect I would side with Scott in many other subjects relating to post-modernity. For that matter, I suspect Shai may as well. After all, Shai and Scott both claim to be conservative Reformed Christians (and so do I).

    So I would agree with Scott there are intrinsically evil actions or emotions (depending on how those are defined) — i.e., those “things” (for lack of a better term) of which the Bible talks about as always evil (moral absolutes). I would also agree with Scott there are other “things” that can be good or bad depending on the context. I agree those two categories are biblical. I just don’t agree music falls into the first category, and I have some disagreements on the way he applies culture to music in the second category.

    God bless,

    Nick

  17. drfiddledd says:

    Scott’s tenuous response leaves Christians in an all too familiar position; that of having to rely on our leaders to tell us what is holy and sinful. Personally i may have found his example of acceptable music sinful because it was born in a godless culture and society.

  18. Wayne says:

    The guqin is not to be confused with the guzheng, another Chinese long zither also without frets, but with moveable bridges under each string. The guqin; literally “ancient stringed instrument”) is a plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument of the zither family. It has been played since ancient times, and has traditionally been favored by scholars and literati as an instrument of great subtlety and refinement, as highlighted by the quote “a gentleman does not part with his qin or se without good reason,”[1] as well as being associated with the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius. It is sometimes referred to by the Chinese as “the father of Chinese music” or “the instrument of the sages”.

    It was not until the Song dynasty (960-1027) that there was a renaissance of qin music. An ideological system for the qin was developed by fusing Confucian philosophy with Daoist (Taoist) and Buddhist mystical symbolism. According to this ideology, the playing of the qin is an act of contemplation, self-purification, and self-regulation; hence, it should be played in private, amid charming scenery, under pine trees and beside running creeks, in the privacy of one’s garden, or in the cloister of one’s own library with incense burning.

    “As to the performance itself, the fingering and the intonation have to be good enough . . . the position of your heart should be in a line with the fifth stud on the instrument. . . . Now you are ready, bodily, and spiritually.”

    Wikepedia and The Music of CHINA by Isabel K. F. Wong

  19. Steven says:

    I am disappointed with the responses of those who oppose Scott. As Christians, when we disagree with an interpretation of scripture, you should offer your interpretation in love so we can get to the heart of the disagreement. Scott keeps bringing up the same verses if you read his past post:

    “the burden of proof is always on the Christian to prove the good and perfect will of God (Rom 12:2), prove things that are excellent (Phil 1:9-11), test everything and hold fast to what is good (1 Thess 5:21), and train powers of discernment to distinguish good from evil (Heb 5:14).”

    Along with a few others.

    If you want to properly respond to Scott, instead of resorting to ad hominems prove he is using scripture wrong.

  20. Wayne says:

    “the burden of proof is always on the Christian to prove the good and perfect will of God (Rom 12:2), prove things that are excellent (Phil 1:9-11), test everything and hold fast to what is good (1 Thess 5:21), and train powers of discernment to distinguish good from evil (Heb 5:14).”

    Is compassion good, excellent, and worth holding on to?
    Sharing?
    Readiness to give comfort?
    Sympathy?
    Concern?
    Caring?
    Understanding others?
    Understand ourselves?
    Wisdom?

    How about all those put together like this? Compassion includes qualities of sharing, readiness to give comfort, sympathy, concern, caring. In Buddhism, we can really understand others, when we can really understand ourselves, through wisdom. (Buddhanet)

    Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

  21. Wayne says:

    From the description on the video below: Imagining that you are walking towards a beautiful Buddhist mountain in China. You hear the drum echoes from a distance. You also smell the fragrance of the incenses burning in the temple, carrying our wishes and hopes…

  22. Philip E says:

    Reply to Steven, I think there are plenty of scripture being used as well as illustrations about the origin of the music that Scott uses as a example of holy that has deep roots elsewhere. Scott’s use of scripture is in error, i do not agree with him about the. Burden of proof, the challenge is to be set apart for service; to be obedient; not to prove it to others. We are called not to use our freedom to make another stumble. We are called to be set apart for Him
    Quoting scripture is not proof,

  23. Ronnie says:

    Hey Nick,

    I understood you were clarifying Scott’s argument and not your own. Sorry for any confusion on that. I think you and I are pretty much in agreement. However, I would make some distinctions in regard to emotions.

    I don’t believe any emotion is inherently evil, but all emotions can be evil, even love! So for example you mentioned lust. Lust is not an emotion in and of itself, but instead it is a distortion/misuse of the God given emotion of sexual desire. All emotions were given by God, but have become perverted because of sin. So to desire your lawful spouse is not sin, but to desire one that is not your lawful spouse is sin. The same is true for the desire of things. Covetousness is a sinful desire of a thing, but the desiring of things is not itself sinful. For example, it is not a sin to desire a wife or desire to be an Elder, but it is a sin to desire someone else’s wife or desire to be an Elder for the sake of having power.

    Scott is trying to argue that rap encourages sinful emotions/actions. But any music can encourage sinful emotions/actions because of the heart of man. For example a beautiful love song could encourage loving thoughts of your wife, but likewise the same song could encourage sinful thoughts of one that is not your wife.

    Scott is simply wrong and embarrassingly so if you ask me.

  24. Ronnie says:

    Hey Steven,

    I would think you should be more disappointed with Scott. He is the one who has publicly accused an entire group of Christians of committing sin and yet has not offered any sound biblical proof. If you are going to make that kind of blanket condemnation of others then you need to have sound biblical arguments.

    You stated:
    Scott keeps bringing up the same verses if you read his past post:
    “the burden of proof is always on the Christian to prove the good and perfect will of God (Rom 12:2), prove things that are excellent (Phil 1:9-11), test everything and hold fast to what is good (1 Thess 5:21), and train powers of discernment to distinguish good from evil (Heb 5:14).”

    This is part of the problem with Scott’s argument. He seems to think everything is good or evil, but that is not the case. Things are not inherently good or evil, but the way they are used and the intent of the user is what determines if they are good, evil, or neutral. The Scripture are clear about this. A classic example is circumcision. Is it good, evil, or neutral? The answer is all three, depending on the circumstances and intent.

  25. Rajesh says:

    To my knowledge, all sacred and secular historical sources show that no one has ever claimed that music was neutral until the CCM crowd came along and had to invent a justification for their views. God used the music of the Church for centuries to bring about powerful, genuine movements of His Spirit to bring multitudes of sinners to true repentance and faith and to build up His people in true holiness—without any use of rock music or rap. Those believers who wish to show that everyone in history was wrong about the morality of music have the burden of proof of showing to us from Scripture why everyone has been wrong until they came along and taught otherwise. Until such proof from Scripture is convincingly provided, believers have full justification of believing what both secular and sacred authorities have always believed about the morality of music.

    The Scriptures that Shai has offered have not provided any proof that music without lyrics is inherently neutral or moral (such as when he claimed that 1 Tim. 4:4-5 and Rom. 14:14 refute the view that music without lyrics can be sinful). He has offered that he thinks that certain music does what Scripture teaches (such as his use of Col. 3:16 in an earlier post), but does that make it any more so than what Scott says certain music does or does not do?

    What Shai has done with his use of Scripture has not provided me with any justification for either rap or rock—he has claimed that rap does thus and so for them, and many believers concur with him, but does that make it so?

    I have not seen any Scriptural grounds from anyone else either so far that shows that your experience with rock and rap is objectively valid and our rejection of them is not because it is subjective.

  26. William says:

    What’s really ironic is how people here ridicule Dr. Aniol for the method he employs, when Shai has followed the same basic method. Both of these gentlemen have applied Scripture to their interpretation of musical form. You may disagree with Dr. Aniol’s conclusions, but you cannot denounce his method.

    It’s very common, when one doesn’t like a conclusion and doesn’t know how to argue against that conclusion, to simply ridicule the opponent and call him names. That’s pretty much what has happened in this comment thread.

    Furthermore, Rajesh is absolutely correct. Dr. Aniol’s position may not be convincing to someone who doesn’t share his presuppositions or worldview (just as Shai’s is not convincing to those who don’t share his), but what Dr. Aniol is arguing has very long historic precedent with philosophers, theorists, musicians, composers, and church leaders.

    Rajesh is right: it wasn’t until Christians wanted to use rock music in church that Christians began to uniquely argue that music is neutral.

  27. Wayne says:

    Rajesh’s argument above is the best example of Pragmatism I have seen in a while. What is pragmatism? Pragmatism is the only philosophy native to America. Pragmatism eschews any hope of discovering ultimate truth. It is skeptical with respect to objective principles of righteousness and defines truth as “that which works.” In this philosophy, the end always justifies the means. The driving force behind decisions within the scope of pragmatism is the force of expediency (RC Sproul).

    If we were going to measure the holiness of music based on “powerful, genuine movements of His Spirit to bring multitudes of sinners to true repentance and faith and to build up His people in true holiness”, we would look no further than Acts 2. The Church has never grown faster than the first few chapters in Acts. And we know they had psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.

    Scott arguments are based on Moralism. Moralism seeks to achieve perfection through behavior modification… This kind of religion risks self-righteously looking down on unbelievers by putting our supposed morality in a comparison with theirs (Hendryx).

    Shai asked Scott a very simple question. “Can you please give me an example of holy music…” Scott’s example was moral. In my limited research of Chinese Zither music, there is no doubt in my mind that the music (without words) glorifies Buddhism and other Eastern Religious. All this is very moral, but not in any way Christian.

    I agree with Ronnie above: “He (Aniol) is the one who has publicly accused an entire group of Christians of committing sin and yet has not offered any sound biblical proof. If you are going to make that kind of blanket condemnation of others then you need to have sound biblical arguments.”

    I do not consider Pragmatism and Moralism sound biblical arguments.

  28. Maurice says:

    Rajesh: Hello brother. Please try to imagine me responding to you in a calm, respectable, brotherly love kind of tone. I know that can get lost in forums like this.

    You stated that

    “God used the music of the Church for centuries to bring about powerful, genuine movements of His Spirit to bring multitudes of sinners to true repentance and faith and to build up His people in true holiness—without any use of rock music or rap.”

    I agree. God has used music FROM the Church (not sure I can classify it as music OF the Church) to bring about “powerful, genuine movements of His Spirit to bring multitudes of sinners to true repentance and faith and to build up His people in true holiness—without any use of rock music or rap.”

    However, tradition does not necessarily disqualify innovation. If rap is used by God’s people and brings about the same “powerful, genuine movements of His Spirit to bring multitudes of sinners to true repentance and faith and to build up His people in true holiness,” does it now qualify as Holy and acceptable? If not, then the burden of proof is on the accusers, not the accused. These questions, along with biblical support must be answered:

    1. What type of music did the church use during these centuries you speak of.
    2. What made that music Holy and acceptable (biblically)?
    3. At what point in history (during these centuries) did the creation of other music forms become unacceptable for church use?
    4. What is it that made this music unacceptable and the former good? (scriptural support)

    Instead of answering those, maybe someone can just answer the main the question with some solid biblical backing.

    Is music apart from lyrics inherently good or evil?

    No one has been able to do that yet without using their own subjective biases and cultural presuppositions.

    *Please note brother that I repeatedly used your quote with the intention to not misquote you, and for emphasis. I read my response and thought it could of possibly come across negatively. Truly not my intent.

    Grace and peace.

  29. Ronnie says:

    Hey William,

    You stated:
    “What’s really ironic is how people here ridicule Dr. Aniol for the method he employs, when Shai has followed the same basic method. Both of these gentlemen have applied Scripture to their interpretation of musical form. You may disagree with Dr. Aniol’s conclusions, but you cannot denounce his method.”

    Of course I can denounce his method, because it is illogical and unbiblical. The Scriptures are clear that evil is not in things. A sound or beat is not inherently evil, that is just silly. Dr. Aniol has publicly charged all rappers of committing sin, therefore the onus is on him to clearly show how this is so. The biblical principle of things not being sinful is against his assertion from the get-go. So he needs come up with cogent biblical arguments to prove his case. So far he has only provided question begging arguments and proof texting. Did you read the analogy he made in post about his daughter and her being rude? It clearly demonstrated he is assuming what he needs to prove.

    Shai Linne is not in the same boat. Shai’s main point is that sin is not in things, which is clearly biblical. Shai is also on strong biblical grounds when he acknowledges that it is the content and intent of the human that makes rap, or any other music, or in fact, any other thing, sinful. It is from within that sin springs( Matt. 15:16-20). Shai has pointed out that His words are sound theologically, great for teaching, and God glorifying, which is clearly biblical.

    I don’t know why we are struggling to understand these basic things.

    You stated:
    “Rajesh is right: it wasn’t until Christians wanted to use rock music in church that Christians began to uniquely argue that music is neutral.”

    No Rajesh is not right, the principal of things being neutral has been a struggle in the church since the time of the Apostles. The Jews struggled with this mightily in regard to food and circumcision. Today’s fundamentalist Christian continues in the same vein as the Pharisees. This argument about some music being inherently sinful is just another incarnation of the same argument.

    But let me ask you this: Is it wrong for Christians to use Facebook and Google to promote the Gospel as Dr Anoil does? Why is this not inherently sinful, because the things were not created by the church and for the church, but instead for the secular world to make money and use it to promote their godless agenda?

  30. Rajesh says:

    Wayne,

    I think you have wrongly assessed my referring to God’s use of the Church’s music in the past as pragmatism. I am passionately against pragmatism (“the ends justify the means”) when the means are ungodly.

    As I see it, pragmatism is precisely what took place when the innovators who originated CCM told the Church that we need to borrow the world’s new music styles to reach people and that music was specifically designed for evil. Even though many objected strongly that music was evil, the originators of CCM said we have to use it to reach people.

    To justify their pragmatism. they developed the new view that music without lyrics is neutral. This view was contrary to what had been believed throughout history before that point.

    God’s people were not lacking godly music that they had assessed to be godly. They had studied that music and believed that it was acceptable to God. They were right to object to allowing rock music into the church that was created by evil people for evil purposes.

    Please explain to me Scripturally why it is that all music people had been wrong about the morality of music until the CCM crowd came along.

  31. Rajesh says:

    HI Maurice,

    Thanks for your desire that I receive your remarks with the tone that you intend them to have.

    To keep the discussion in this thread focused, I will refer you to the many things that I have written about what Scripture teaches about the morality of music and related issues. You can find them here: http://apeopleforhisname.org/2013/05/resources-that-provide-answers-to-key-issues-concerning-ccm/

  32. Martin says:

    It would be nice if we could remember a few things:
    1) Whenever you post something, make sure you’ve read previous threads of this discussion. I frankly am flabbergasted to read that Rajesh wants to restrict us to ‘showing from the Bible’ when we already concluded early on that the Bible is silent on musical styles and that we must therefore look for assistance from extrabiblical sources.
    2) I think there is agreement (at least among many here from both sides) that music is NOT neutral. The question is, is it MORALLY neutral? I believe so, based on the fact that uses for music can be both morally good and bad, depending on the situation. But that does not make music NEUTRAL in terms of how lyrics are communicated through various styles. So I would not say it is ‘neutral’ without a qualifier (morally neutral but not neutral in terms of communication and musicology/semiotics).
    3) The question as of when music became a problem (at least, in the West) has also been answered in previous threads: since the Enlightenment, we have seen the emergence of a secular culture, whereas before that, we can hardly speak of separate Christian and non-Christian cultures. Since many new styles were created outside the Christian worldview and to represent views that are unbiblical, this created the problem of evaluating such music as to whether it is appropriate for Christians to use (our discussion).

    Anyways, trying to keep this discussion focused if possible.

  33. Rajesh says:

    Ronnie,

    You say, “Of course I can denounce his method, because it is illogical and unbiblical. The Scriptures are clear that evil is not in things. A sound or beat is not inherently evil, that is just silly.”

    I am not aware that anyone has ever said that an individual sound is inherently evil. What we are talking about are distinctive manmade ways of arranging sounds in patterns intentionally arranged to influence humans in specific ways. The creators of rock music repeatedly say that they made the music modifications that they did so as to influence people towards evil. They would not agree with you that it was just their lyrics that were evil. But, according to your thinking, they were all clueless in what they were doing to try to affect humans for ill through the music itself.

    Where does the Scripture teach that humans are incapable of combining sounds in any way that makes the resulting combination sinful? The passages that Shai cited only speak about what God created as He created them and do not teach that manmade combinations of them are also inherently good.

  34. Steven says:

    Ronnie and Philip E,

    I agree with you that Scott is in error, however he has been consistent in saying why. He quotes those same verses for the reason he believes that the communication of the Beat is not in agreement with what scripture teaches. Instead of addressing the heart of his argument all I’m seeing are arguments that doesn’t correct his eisegesis. Is somebody to be persuaded outside of the final authority of scripture? Deal with one’s understanding of scripture if you desire to see change.

  35. Rajesh says:

    Martin,

    If what you mean by “the Bible is silent about musical styles” is that the Bible does not speak or “rock music” or “country music” explicitly, that is one thing. But if what you mean is that the Bible has nothing that speaks to the issues of musical styles, I disagree strongly: http://apeopleforhisname.org/2013/06/is-scripture-silent-about-musical-styles-that-are-inherently-unacceptable-to-god/

  36. Ronnie says:

    Hey Steven,

    You said:
    “I agree with you that Scott is in error, however he has been consistent in saying why. He quotes those same verses for the reason he believes that the communication of the Beat is not in agreement with what scripture teaches. Instead of addressing the heart of his argument all I’m seeing are arguments that doesn’t correct his eisegesis. Is somebody to be persuaded outside of the final authority of scripture? Deal with one’s understanding of scripture if you desire to see change.”

    Scott’s presupposition is wrong so it is not a matter of correcting his exegesis. For example, he states a Christian must prove how all things he does or create is part of God’s good and perfect will. Well that is easy in one sense, whatever you do, whether you eat or drink do it to the glory of God. That is God’s good and perfect will for all that we do. I’m sure Shai is rapping to the glory of God. But lets turn the tables here. Ask Scott to prove when he plays sports or fixes a car how does he prove that that is God’s good and perfect will? What about if he paints his house or builds a toy for a child? You see it is not exegesis that is Scott’s problem, but his presupposition that evil is in things. Until he can free himself from that trap he will continue to proof text his beliefs

  37. Martin says:

    REALLY, Rajesh – we’ve discussed all of this two or three weeks ago…
    The Bible does not speak about smoking; we need to use PRINCIPLES in the Bible to deal with such issues and apply them intelligently (and logically, please), using extrabiblical information as a help. It also does not deal with rock or rap, obviously – same applies. And AGAIN, whereas the ‘song of the harlot’ is obviously the expression of sinful activity, it is quite appropriate if an actress would sing such a song to impersonate a harlot – that would not be morally wrong. It always depends on the situation. I have read fifty times now that you disagree with this but since you didn’t engage the arguments already made against your manner of seeing things, we might as well leave it at that.

  38. Chip says:

    I think an argument can be made that everything is either good or evil (Gen 1:31, Luke 11:23). God did not create anything neutral – everything that God made was good – including man and his/her emotion. The fall and subsequent curse impacted a lot – but did it make anything neutral?
    The fall notwithstanding, I’m not willing to agree with Scott’s argument that some forms of music are now inherently evil and other genres of music are inherently good for a number of reasons including:
    1) The Scriptures do not state that music or any forms of music are evil. (even after reviewing the verses listed by Scott and Shai).
    2) As opposed to other areas of our lives, God did not reveal in His Word the means of determining inherently “good” music genres from inherently “evil” music genres. He did provide us with His Word, intellect, and the responsibility to judge good from evil, but using Scriptural principles in areas not intended is a confusing path (at best) to go down.
    3) The examples that we have in the Scriptures regarding the use of music and dancing are not clear enough to provide a clear guide [assuming I’m not trying to proof-text my opinions.]
    4) Going outside of Scriptures and appealing to my own intellect – I can’t separate myself from my preferences and my cultural bias to determine a universal truth to which Shai or Scott or anyone else should be held accountable.
    5) Appealing to authority gets me nowhere either – do I ask my pastor or do I ask Scott or Shai to help me determine what music is “good” – because I would get three different answers.
    So, while I would agree with Scott that we should test everything and determine good from evil, from a study of Scriptures, I would lean toward categorizing everything that God created as good including all music. However, depending on any specific message being communicated, various forms of music are more appropriate – other may be less appropriate. I would argue that the Rap form of music may not appropriately support a message of comfort or peace in my culture (I can’t speak to whether it would support the message in other cultures). I would also argue (as I think Scott would as well) that many worship chorus’ may be used inappropriately on Sunday mornings..

  39. Ronnie says:

    Hey Rajesh
    You stated:
    “I am not aware that anyone has ever said that an individual sound is inherently evil. What we are talking about are distinctive manmade ways of arranging sounds in patterns intentionally arranged to influence humans in specific ways.”

    So why is one sound or beat not inherently evil( they are manmade ), but many are? One can create a rap from one beat. Who determines the exact number? What if I create a rap with no beats? Is the rap still evil? You also mention that the “patterns are arranged to influence humans in specific ways”, but don’t think the Christian rappers are arranging the patterns the influence in good ways?

    You state:
    “The creators of rock music repeatedly say that they made the music modifications that they did so as to influence people towards evil. They would not agree with you that it was just their lyrics that were evil. But, according to your thinking, they were all clueless in what they were doing to try to affect humans for ill through the music itself.”

    If one creats any song, whether rap, rock, r&b, pop, or a hymn with the intent to influence people to evil then they are being sinful. However, it doesn’t follow that everyone who therefore creates one of song of that genre is guilty of sin. I willing to bet I could play you or Scott a bunch of tunes without lyrics that you never heard before, and you couldn’t identify which ones were created to influence evil? What you would do is judge each tune based on your own culture and experiences. You would have no objective idea of the intent of the author in creating that tune, because only God knows the heart.

    You stated:
    “Where does the Scripture teach that humans are incapable of combining sounds in any way that makes the resulting combination sinful? The passages that Shai cited only speak about what God created as He created them and do not teach that manmade combinations of them are also inherently good.

    Where does the Scripture state the tone of your voice is not inherently evil? I believe low tone voices are inherently evil because they sound dark and brooding. Where does the Scripture teach the way you comb your hair is not inherently evil? I believe those who come their hair to one side is sinful, because the first person that combed their hair that way did for the evil purpose of seduction. We could play that silly game all day about all kinds of things.

    The problem with Scott and many that think he is making a valid argument is that they ultimately believe sin is inherently in things. Until you are freed from that biblical thinking you will drive yourself mad trying to distinguish between what is good and evil.

  40. Rajesh says:

    Martin,

    I’ll respond to your view by saying that a pastor once told a young relative of mine to pretend like he was one of the people who were cursing Christ. Immediately, my relative and I and others were horrified and would not go along with the request. We did not believe that pretending to curse Christ for the sake of a sermon illustration was righteous behavior.

    You may see that an actress impersonating a harlot is not doing anything wrong. Some of us would choose not to listen to such singing whether it is the real thing or an artistic or imaginative depiction of such evil. We also would choose not to sing in that manner even for the sake of a play, etc.

    In any case, anyone who would sing Christian words with a sensual style that even remotely resembles the style with which a harlot sings her words is not producing music that pleases God. In my life before conversion, I heard plenty of rock and other music where the sensuality was not just through the words but also through many other aspects of the music.

    When Herodias’ daughter danced sensually for Herod, the Spirit did not need to give us details about what specific movements she made and how they were choreographed so that we would know that her dancing was sensual. In fact, the Bible did not even have to say anything about her dancing being sensual because we are able to know from what the Spirit said that it was sensual without anything explicitly being said in Scripture to that effect.

    Similarly, many of us believe that there are plenty of Scripture passages that speak of evil instrumental music without any need for the passage to have to say that the instrumental music was sinful. For example, the instrumental music played in worship of the idol in Daniel 3.

    It is ok for you to disagree with how I view what actors and actresses might do, but unless you have Scripture to say that what they do is right, it is debatable whether it is right or not.

  41. Josh says:

    No, most of you are mischaracterizing Dr. Aniol’s argument. This is what I appreciate about Martin; he disagrees with Aniol, but at least he appears to understand the argument. Most of the rest of you are setting up your own straw men, blowing them down, and then looking proudly at yourselves. Good for you.

    Dr. Aniol has never said that things are inherently sinful.

    His argument has been two-fold:

    1. Human action (esp. human communication) is always either good or evil. Scripture bears this out.

    2. Music is a form of human communication. You can disagree with him on this point, but you have to offer something more than “Scripture doesn’t say this” or “I don’t think this,” especially since he has hundreds of years of philosophy and musicology on his side.

    I agree with Stephen, Martin, and William. Disagree with Dr. Aniol (I do on many points), but offer a counter-argument. Of course, after establishing these two foundational points (which I agree with), he has to take a third step to prove that rap or rock or some other form is evil communication (which I’m not convinced of yet). But you at least have to acknowledge his argument and deal with him on that level.

    Arguments from silence and name-calling don’t accomplish anything more than making yourself feel good. And unfortunately, Mr. Linne has fallen into this trap as well. Maybe he feels like he’s losing this debate.

  42. Steven says:

    I would just like to point out that even Scott deleted his post linking to Rajesh blog after realizing how eisegetical it was.

  43. Rajesh says:

    Hmmm. Steven, did Scott tell you directly that was his reason for doing so?

  44. William says:

    He deleted it after several commenters complained that he wasn’t playing fair in the midst of the debate.

  45. POJ says:

    “Arguments from silence and name-calling don’t accomplish anything more than making yourself feel good. And unfortunately, Mr. Linne has fallen into this trap as well. Maybe he feels like he’s losing this debate.”

    I am not certain about this. Perhaps Mr. Linne has a view of Scripture that holds that anything not written in it is not binding on us? Perhaps Shai Linne would say that just because someone thinks something unworthy of a particular song style does not mean he should condemn it as sinful or wrong. The Verses that Scott uses do not speak on Music at all. So what Scott does is that he takes certain verses and then adds them up to build his argument that rap music is not a good venue.

    Again we should not go beyond what has been written says the Apostle. Scripture has not revealed to us what is holy music or well sinful music.

  46. William says:

    But this is exactly the point I made earlier. Shai was more than willing in earlier posts to go beyond Scripture to talk about how various kinds of rap flavor their content, and he even admitted that some kinds of rap are more suited to specific content than others. He didn’t use Scripture; he used reason, and Scott called him out on that, not to argue it’s wrong, but to demonstrate that they are both using the exact same methodology.

  47. Jonathan says:

    Rajesh,

    It seems from your posts that you genuinely want to honor God, and for that, I am thankful. However, I am concerned (like others) that you hold church tradition in too high of esteem. In Matthew 15:1-9, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for honoring man’s traditions while voiding God’s word. He further emphasizes this by quoting prophecy from Isaiah which points to people honoring with their lips (outward sign) while their hearts are far from Him (inward and held as most important in Jesus’ eyes).

    Is it too simple to say Jesus wants our hearts and desires to burn for him? I think not. What if you are teaching as doctrines the commandments of men?

  48. Rajesh says:

    Jonathan,

    Thanks for your generous assessment of my work. My utmost desire is to bring everything in the Bible that bears on a subject to bear on it. Please specify what church tradition you think I hold in too high of esteem.

    If you are referring to how the Church uniformly (and all secular sources as well) throughout history have believed that music is not neutral, it is important to keep in mind that many of the believers did so based on their interpretation of Scripture. The passage in Matthew 15 is Jesus’ rebuking the Pharisees about those specific points where their tradition did not accord with Scripture because they specifically sought to disregard the Scripture.

    It is also important to note that Jesus was able to do something that none of us are able to do–infallibly assess the evil motives of a person. If you think that the Church has historically intentionally disregarded what Scripture teaches about music with the same evil intent that the Pharisees did in those points where they disregarded Scripture to uphold their manmade traditions, what evidence do you have that was the case?

    It is also important to note that I have written many things about the music debates that are strictly from the Bible itself and do not refer to any human views. What I have consistently found is that many people do not attempt to engage with such material other than to dismiss it. What would be really helpful would be specific points from the passages that show how I’m teaching as doctrines the commandments of man.

    For example, have you considered all the passages related to David’s use of the harp in his musical ministry to Saul? Interacting with those texts reveals truths about music that have clear bearing on the music debates that arise directly from the text: http://apeopleforhisname.org/2012/03/davids-instrumental-music-was-not-amoral/

    http://apeopleforhisname.org/2013/01/correcting-a-wrong-handling-of-the-accounts-of-davids-music-ministry-to-saul/

  49. Rajesh says:

    Ronnie,

    I appreciate that you engaged me concerning specific things that I say.

    God created man with the ability to produce individual musical sounds with his God-given vocal apparatus. Those sounds are therefore inherently good.

    He did not, however, pre-program men to produce specific patterns of musical sounds. When a human combines musical sounds to create actual music, we are no longer dealing only with the individual sounds that God created as individual sounds but with man-made combinations and patterns of those sounds.

    If someone evil creates something with evil intent, the proper presumption is to hold that other things that are made with close similarities are also evil unless proven otherwise by objective evidence. When an inventor of a musical style says that he created not just individual songs, but the style of those songs for evil purposes, it is valid for me to take him at his word. As I see it, I have no business fooling around with something created for evil purposes to try to “redeem” it; I need to shun it as evil and I need to disregard the claims of those who say otherwise (Ps. 1:1).

  50. Ronnie says:

    Hi Josh,

    Maybe you are new to the conversation, but in the very first exchange of this discussion Shai Linne posed this question to Scott:

    “My first question to you is this: Are you saying that music, apart from lyrics, can be sinful in and of itself? If so, what is your Scriptural basis for such a claim?”

    Scott’s answer was as follows:
    “This is an excellent question, and I’m glad we’re starting here; it reveals our shared commitment to the authority and sufficiency of the Word of God. Yes, I believe that music, apart from lyrics, can be sinful in and of itself. “

    Saying music(i.e. Rap music in this case ) can be sinful in and of itself is saying that it is inherently sinful.

  51. Brian says:

    rajesh is bringing up something scott argued in one of the earlier posts about “spoiled meat” and it’s pretty weak. romans 14 clearly says that meat isn’t evil if your conscience allows and you eat it with thanks. but now we’re saying it depends how you cook it and whether the person who invented the seasoning intended it for evil? listen, if someone invents an delicious dry rub laced with poison so he can kill a dude at a bbq, i’m definitely gonna take that recipe, omit the poison, and make an awesome steak.

  52. Ronnie says:

    Hey Chip,

    You stated:
    “I think an argument can be made that everything is either good or evil (Gen 1:31,Luke 11:23). God did not create anything neutral – everything that God made was good – including man and his/her emotion. The fall and subsequent curse impacted a lot – but did it make anything neutral?”

    You are right that God created all things good. But this is not talking about good in a moral sense. In other words God did not create trees that were amoral vs moral. Things are neither. So when I speak of neutral I’m talking about in the moral sense. For example the Apostle Paul says, “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing.” What does he mean? Well, it counts for nothing in moral sense in reference to God. It is not moral or amoral.

  53. Ronnie says:

    Hey Rajesh,

    Thanks for the feedback.
    Here is the gist of your response:

    “If someone evil creates something with evil intent, the proper presumption is to hold that other things that are made with close similarities are also evil unless proven otherwise by objective evidence. When an inventor of a musical style says that he created not just individual songs, but the style of those songs for evil purposes, it is valid for me to take him at his word. As I see it, I have no business fooling around with something created for evil purposes to try to “redeem” it; I need to shun it as evil and I need to disregard the claims of those who say otherwise (Ps. 1:1).”

    I’m sorry, but that is not a sound argument. First of all, music was ordained by God for His praise and our enjoyment of it. So that is the starting place, not some sinful person proclaiming this type of music is only for evil purposes. He can say that until he is blue in the face, he has no authority to make a style of music inherently evil. Do you have any idea of the intentions of the inventor of the things you use every day? If your arguments are true you had better start doing a lot more research in everything you use or do. What do you think about Facebook and Google and all the other things that are invented by sinful men? Do you think they are creating them for good purposes or with sinful intentions? I think I can prove it very easily that other similar things are not evil, because evil is not in things. Like I said that is the fundamental problem here, people truly believe that evil is in things.

    Here is an example from Scripture. Someone kills an animal as a sacrifice to an idol. Is it sinful for you to eat that animal if it is sold to you later? As the Scriptures teach the intent of the one killing the animal for that purpose is wrong, but the meat itself carries no inherent sin and therefore you are free to eat.

  54. Josh says:

    No, I’m not new to the conversation. I’ve been following all along.

    I’m fully aware that Dr. Aniol is arguing that music can be inherently evil, but he does so on the basis of the fact that music is behavior. Music is not a thing.

    So music and meat are not in the same category. Meat is a thing; music is human communication.

    Next, when Paul says circumcision is “nothing,” he clearly means in context that it does not have any salvific significance. He doesn’t mean that even that is morally neutral.

    Finally, if “good” does not mean moral goodness, then what in the world does it mean? Of course it refers to morality.

  55. Rajesh says:

    Jonathan,

    It is too simple to say that Jesus wants our hearts to burn for him. In Matthew 7, Jesus issues a profound warning that many who preached in His name are going to be condemned on judgment day. Many who did many wonderful works in His name will likewise suffer the same fearful fate because their lifestyles did not match what they preached.

    You can apply that to many who sing with a passion about Jesus, but right content is not enough according to Jesus. A lifestyle that matches what one professes to experience subjectively is essential. Many who are themselves in broader evangelicalism decry the ungodly lifestyles of the masses who worship in their churches that practice various elements of contemporary worship. (I do not say this to assert that fundamentalist churches do not have any such people; I am merely relating what various leaders in evangelicalism are themselves saying about their own people.)

    Scripture teaches that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, and his ministers specialize in posing themselves as ministers of Christ while their lifestyles belie what they say. Peter and Jude say that sensuality is a leading characteristic of such false teachers.

    Had you talked with Jeroboam, who made two golden calves and instituted false feasts, he would undoubtedly have professed how his heart burned while he was engaged in his false worship of Yahweh. Similarly, ecstatic feelings in worship today do not by themselves necessarily validate one’s practice.

  56. POJ says:

    William, you ever spoke with someone who had a monotone voice? He never emphasized anything. You probably would not say he is in pride for not showing forth emotion in his words. Of course over time you might even get tired of his dryness. So to although the rhythm has nothing to do with anything important the sound of music does help make the presentation seem listenable. As Shai Linne does say different rhythms makes for different circumstances. This is far from arguing from silence. Shai Linne is not saying that certain music is sinful in certain circumstances, albeit, could be wrong but it is not sinful.

    Rajesh, the point of Matthew 7 is that many men will come up to Jesus calling him Lord, Lord but He will say unto them depart from me for I never knew you. These men had good deeds. They were probably legalistic in all that they did. So it is not what you had said “A lifestyle that matches what one professes to experience subjectively is essential.” They had the right conduct but not the right content i.e. beliefs. James 2 says the same.

  57. Rajesh says:

    Sorry, POJ, you have not understood Matt. 7:22-23 correctly. Jesus says, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

    Prophesying in Jesus name precludes their having right conduct but wrong content. If you study how the phrase “in Jesus name” is used throughout the book of Acts, you will see that it is shorthand for preaching that is sound and done with an understanding of Jesus’ authorizing that preaching (for example, Acts 4:18; 5:28).

    What Jesus specifically identifies was wrong with these people was they were those “who work iniquity” (KJV). The NAS has “you who practice lawlessness” here; the NIV has “away from me, you evildoers!” They were lawless people who did not live godly despite what they preached and did in the way of miraculous works.

  58. Rajesh says:

    Oops, I left out a key word in my quote of Matt. 7:24: “And then will I profess unto them . . .” Sorry about that.

  59. Ronnie says:

    Hi Josh,
    You stated:
    “I’m fully aware that Dr. Aniol is arguing that music can be inherently evil, but he does so on the basis of the fact that music is behavior. Music is not a thing.”

    Of course music is a thing. It is inanimate and not living thing, a sound. Do you think sound is a behavior? Now human beings playing music are engaged in the action of creating music/sound, but the music/sound itself is not doing anything. Behavior is how human acts, music is not acting.

    You stated:
    “So music and meat are not in the same category. Meat is a thing; music is human communication.”

    Communication is an action that uses things. Words and sounds are things that are used to communicate. Eyes( by winking), mouth( by smiling ), hands( by waving ) are all analogous to music. Just because these things are used in the action of communicating that doesn’t mean they are not things.

    You stated:
    “Next, when Paul says circumcision is “nothing,” he clearly means in context that it does not have any salvific significance. He doesn’t mean that even that is morally neutral.”

    OK, so answer this: Is getting circumcised morally wrong or right?

    You stated:
    “Finally, if “good” does not mean moral goodness, then what in the world does it mean? Of course it refers to morality.

    Good has multiple meanings and it is not restricted to morality. For example in Genesis 2:9 it says:

    “And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”

    Notice it says the tree is good for food. This doesn’t’ mean moral, but the tree is good in the sense that it serves its intended purpose. If you look at a Lexicon you will see there are myriad of ways in which good is used and most are not moral.

  60. Josh says:

    Now it is you who clearly has not been following the discussion. This matter of whether music is a thing or behavior has been discussed to the death, and while it is certainly not settled, it’s clearly not illegitimate to believe that music is behavior (not to mention the fact that this way of thinking has long historic precedent).

    And how you argue against it reveals the deficiency in your own thinking. Of course sound is a thing, but music is not sound. Music is the organization of sounds by a moral human agent. It is communication. It is behavior. It is moral.

    I repeat, no one has denied this until Christians wanted to use rock in church.

    Circumcision is morally good in itself.

  61. Rajesh says:

    Ronnie,

    I disagree with your analysis of music. To say that God created music for His glory and our enjoyment does not show that God created all the styles that humans have ever invented with “the building blocks” of music. To say what you are saying is to beg the question by starting with the presumption that God created all musical styles and therefore all musical styles have been created for His glory and our enjoyment. God did not create all musical styles any more than He created all styles of photography, painting, literature, etc.

    God created all the raw materials with which men have created many wicked things, including idols. God most certainly did not create any of the idols that man has made, whether wooden ones, stone ones, or metal ones. In the same way, God did not create the Egyptian style of idols, nor did he create the style of idols found in any other system of human worship.

    Concerning your reference to meat offered to idols, some solid exegetical commentators dispute your interpretation of that passage. I do not believe that Paul teaches that Christians are justified in knowingly eating meat offered idols.

    Furthermore, meat is not analogous to music for the reason that I gave above: God created the animal; He did not create the music in the sense of the finished product or musical style.

  62. Ronnie says:

    Hey Josh,

    You stated:
    “Now it is you who clearly has not been following the discussion. This matter of whether music is a thing or behavior has been discussed to the death, and while it is certainly not settled, it’s clearly not illegitimate to believe that music is behavior (not to mention the fact that this way of thinking has long historic precedent).”

    So do you believe music is the action which produces the sound or the sound coming from the action? If the former, then how do you distinguish the action of producing rap from producing other music that makes it sinful? If the latter then it is a thing, a sound. I will comment further on this in reference to your next comment

    You stated:
    “And how you argue against it reveals the deficiency in your own thinking. Of course sound is a thing, but music is not sound. Music is the organization of sounds by a moral human agent. It is communication. It is behavior. It is moral.”

    Music is not sound???? Can you hear it? Or can you only see it? It seems you are trying to argue that music is the action of producing sound, but not the sound itself. If that is what Scott is arguing then his case is weaker. Like I asked above, how is the action of putting together a rap song different from other styles of music.

    This whole conversation is getting more and more weird if you ask me.

    You stated:
    “I repeat, no one has denied this until Christians wanted to use rock in church.
    Circumcision is morally good in itself.”

    Can you provide me with evidence that Christians have argued that music is inherently sinful? Oh so circumcision is morally good in itself? So why does it count for nothing? Good will judge all our actions done in the flesh whether good or bad, regardless if they are not for our justification. They are part of our sanctification and therefore they do count. Could you imagine the Apostle Paul saying, “Being loving or unloving counts for nothing”, because we don’t believe our love is salvific either.

  63. Martin says:

    Ronnie – I’m a fan!
    Didn’t we already address the meat question with the example of a meal prepared with such meat? I don’t think Paul thought they ate raw meat…

    Music-making is behaviour, as well as music consumption – that was our mantra. And it goes on saying that music cannot be moral since it can be used both ways, for good or evil (like a tool).

    As an artifact, music is neutral. Once performed, e.g. a life concert, we go directly to music as communication. Yet, I would submit, music by itself is never clear communication since it does not convey propositionally, which is a prerequisite for morality. So even when people use music to convey something, it is merely emotions or fuzzy imagery that can be interpreted different ways. Music is something that accompanies propositional communication and then changes its meaning, by emphasis or by giving it a certain meaning it would otherwise not have.

    As Josh wrote, we’ve been through this to death, and all of this has already been written in this discussion. So can you please point me to where the above was successfully addressed in order to accept the surprising repeated claim that music is moral communication without lyrics? If it remains unaddressed I would submit we cannot use it as a premise in this discussion, can we?

  64. Josh says:

    Music is not JUST sound. Music is the product of a moral human agent organizing sounds together resulting in communication.

    I don’t have the time just now to do the research you can do just as easily yourself, but look at what anyone from Plato to John Chrysostom to Luther, to Calvin to Edwards have said about music, and you’ll find them condemning some kinds of music as evil and praising others as good.

    Yes, morally good things and actions can be non-salvific. That’s the whole point of salvation by grace.

    And yes, if the situation Paul was dealing with was that some people were arguing that loving others earned them merit with God, then I can certainly imagine him saying, “Loving others counts for nothing” in that context.

  65. POJ says:

    Rajesh,

    “Sorry, POJ, you have not understood Matt. 7:22-23 correctly. Jesus says, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

    Matthew 7 is in connection with the previous verses. The point Jesus is making is that a true Prophet will bare good fruit. The context in this is in regards to correct gospel Doctrine.

    Exactly they are workers of iniquity. But again iniquity is not just referring to Sins that are blatantly bad. Paul says else where in Titus 1 that men deny the Grace of God by their works. No one is saved by doing works. This is the point at hand in Matthew. Yes I am aware Jesus says that these men would come to Him on the last day. Even the Pharisees believed they were teaching the truth. But at the end of the day these men who ‘professed’ Christ will be in turn denied by Him because they did not believe in HIm nor were they KNOWN by Him. So it is you who has not understood Matthew 7.

    “Prophesying in Jesus name precludes their having right conduct but wrong content. If you study how the phrase “in Jesus name” is used throughout the book of Acts, you will see that it is shorthand for preaching that is sound and done with an understanding of Jesus’ authorizing that preaching (for example, Acts 4:18; 5:28).”

    OK. Perhaps maybe you are correct I don’t know. We know a lot of people who perhaps claim to teach or do various kinds of miracles. But the issue aside from whether they taught or prophesied (which is something we must define here) correct doctrine is that these men boasted in their good works. They Prophesied. Perhaps they did it well!

    “What Jesus specifically identifies was wrong with these people was they were those “who work iniquity” (KJV). The NAS has “you who practice lawlessness” here; the NIV has “away from me, you evildoers!” They were lawless people who did not live godly despite what they preached and did in the way of miraculous works.”

    Those who work iniquity are those whose sins have not been dealt with. So it is rightly understood that they are those who will be thrown into the lake of fire. All people who are thrown in hell are lawless people. IN fact they are the AntiChrist. These men are evildoers because though they have sinned (perhaps once) they tried to reconcile themselves to God by their works (Romans 10 demonstrates this and shows us how to really be saved). God will not glorify someone not in Christ.

    But again this is besides the main issue here.

  66. POJ says:

    “Music is the product of a moral human agent organizing sounds together resulting in communication.”

    I think the better word here is entice and not communication. Music can be entice someone to sin. For music on its own has no words. Music can effect our ‘emotions’ whatever they are which if we are emotional people might lure us to do many things that are seemingly good or perhaps evil.

  67. Ronnie says:

    Hey Josh,

    You stated:
    “Music is not JUST sound. Music is the product of a moral human agent organizing sounds together resulting in communication.”

    I grant we can speak of music in different ways. One way is just the sound, but let’s stick with your definition. So what is the distinctive of rap music that make it inherently sinful? One could organize the sound for a rap just like you order sound for many other genre of music. As a matter of fact rap can/is created without any sound at all. So it can’t be the organization of the sound that makes it inherently sinful. What about the communication? Rap can communicate just about anything you can communicate with words so it can’t be the communication that is inherently sinful. What is Scott’s point? He really doesn’t have one. He is searching and scraping trying to defend the defenseless.

    You stated:
    “Yes, morally good things and actions can be non-salvific. That’s the whole point of salvation by grace.
    And yes, if the situation Paul was dealing with was that some people were arguing that loving others earned them merit with God, then I can certainly imagine him saying, “Loving others counts for nothing” in that context.”

    Actually, the Apostle would not have said that, because here is what he says:

    1 Cor. 7:19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts.

    So right after he says circumcision counts for nothing he says keeping the commands counts. Love is a commandment. Doing good is a commandment. So if circumcision is a moral good as you claim the Apostle statement makes no sense.

  68. Jonathan says:

    Rajesh,

    You and I have very different understandings of Matthew 7. Those in that chapter plead their case to God by what they have done, instead of the right response of “woe is me!” like the prophet in Isaiah 6. Paul is willing to count all his righteous acts as rubbish for the righteousness based on faith in Christ (Philippians 3:9). Even if we figure out this music debate and offer to God a completely “holy” life in conduct (which we can’t), it is still seen as rubbish in God’s eyes (Isaiah 64:6). Christ is our righteousness and our only hope before a righteous God.

  69. Ronnie says:

    Hey Martin

    You stated:
    “Didn’t we already address the meat question with the example of a meal prepared with such meat? I don’t think Paul thought they ate raw meat…”

    Maybe, but I wasn’t following the conversation. However, I don’t think the Apostle’s principled point was about the preparation of the meat or even eating it. His point is broader than that, even though in this specific case it is about eating meat that was sacrificed to idols. Elsewhere he makes the same point about meat, but in those cases it wasn’t meat sacrificed to idols, but meat from animals that the Jews considered unclean. So for example, if you used the meat for some other purpose( e.g. fish bait ) the same principle would follow, because evil is not in things. That is the point and he makes this point in other places.

    You stated:
    “Music-making is behaviour, as well as music consumption – that was our mantra. And it goes on saying that music cannot be moral since it can be used both ways, for good or evil (like a tool).”

    Yes. So if music-making, music consumption, and the music artifact cannot be inherently evil then I think we are in agreement.

    You stated:
    “As an artifact, music is neutral. Once performed, e.g. a life concert, we go directly to music as communication. Yet, I would submit, music by itself is never clear communication since it does not convey propositionally, which is a prerequisite for morality. So even when people use music to convey something, it is merely emotions or fuzzy imagery that can be interpreted different ways. Music is something that accompanies propositional communication and then changes its meaning, by emphasis or by giving it a certain meaning it would otherwise not have.”

    Ok, I don’t have any major quibbles with that.

    You stated:
    As Josh wrote, we’ve been through this to death, and all of this has already been written in this discussion. So can you please point me to where the above was successfully addressed in order to accept the surprising repeated claim that music is moral communication without lyrics? If it remains unaddressed I would submit we cannot use it as a premise in this discussion, can we?

    I’m not sure what you are asking. Scott stated that music without lyrics can be inherently evil, didn’t he?

  70. Martin says:

    Thanks Ronnie. This was not really directed to you only – especially the last question was meant for those(including Scott) who hold that musical styles are morally determined.

    Also, on circumcision: this an action, not a thing – and therefore has moral relevance. So I think the meat example is still better than this one to compare it to music and challenge whether a thing has moral qualities.

    Good points about the meat issue, however; the analogy does indeed break down. A meal is a preparation of God-given ingredients, whereas Paul really was talking about meat that had been dedicated to idols in a ritual. Music is an application of God-given laws of sound and harmony and in some way parallel to preparing a meal but since Paul’s point was not meal preparation but religious association, it’s hard to get more out of this passage to further our discussion.

  71. Martin says:

    Trying to distill some of the salient points from our discussion over the past weeks, those who claim that
    A) Communication is human action and thus, moral or immoral;
    B) Music (without the lyrics) is communication, and
    C) therefore it is moral or immoral,

    must still prove their case. The contested point is B = whether a) music is action or a thing and b) whether it is capable of communication that can be judged moral or immoral. Music definitely exists as a thing (an artifact) but also as an action in terms of writing, performing, and listening to music.

    Yet, we might agree that music changes or enhances the meaning of lyrics, and combined with the lyrics, it DOES communicate morally, albeit not on its own. So in combination with lyrics (or maybe with other activity, such as acting), there CAN (will?) be moral relevance to music since it will affect how the lyrics are received. This was shown in the analogous examples related to speech discussed earlier, such as how I say something to my wife (tone, loudness, facial expression, etc.). So I’d allow for the moral relevance of music (which can even impact otherwise morally good lyrics negatively – possibly even invert or distort their meaning) even though I think that artistic astuteness (appropriateness, rather than sin) should be the main focus.

    Musical performance or listening to music is action. I hesitate to call it communication, since it does not clearly communicate more than emotion, tension, etc. Something is definitely conveyed but it cannot be morally evaluated without lyrics. A bit like a billboard (a canvas) without anything written on it, yet the canvas/medium idea is too simplistic (see http://religiousaffections.org/articles/articles-on-culture/is-rap-really-a-canvas/). The music SHAPES the lyrics; it does not only convey them as air waves do. Rather than a medium neutrally conveying a message, music is PART OF the message (the HOW, not the WHAT) since it directly impacts on how the message is perceived by the listener. As such, we need to examine BOTH music (and manner of speaking) and lyrics; declaring that good lyrics sanctify the music or that music is completely neutral with regards to the lyrics would be a mistake.

    Also, there is a continuum we need to recognize. First, speaking, then rapping (a speech style that is part of poetry and usually – though not always, as has been shown by some examples that were posted – has some edgy, self-asserting element), then using a beat, and then more or less instrumentation all represent a gradual scale between normal speech and lyrics that are heavily influenced (sometimes drowned) by the music which goes along with them. This, of course, does not exactly make our discussion easier. But that’s how I’d summarize what has been written so far (not sure how many will concur).

    If we can agree that music (on a scale from manner of speech through a beat towards fuller instrumentation) is very relevant to how the message of the lyrics are communicated then the next steps should be to investigate:

    # How music shapes lyrics semiotically, i.e. can we attach specific meanings such as anger, awe, fear, condescendence, love, friendliness, rebuke or whatever it may be to a) specific ways of singing or speaking (such as rap) and b) to the musical elements, such as rhythm, melody, instrumentation, etc. I believe some useful work has already been done in this area but am not sure whether we have enough to drill down to the level we need. It is clear that such work must be based on culturally robust perceptions, i.e. they should be either shared by all cultures (innate) or at least be clear as per cultural convention in any given culture we are discussing (not a sub-culture).

    # Whether we can generalize such findings for entire styles. Previous discussion and examples posted have shown that associating rap with aggression is difficult once you get to examining specific songs: there are rap songs that do not (at least, to me) sound aggressive. This means if we want to generalize perception across genres we would have to exclude some songs from the genre even if they are generally (and by their creators) considered part of a genre. This would be difficult to defend and make things even more complicated, so I’d advocate that we need to evaluate music on a song-by-song basis (also noting there are often sub-sections of a song where music interacts in more than one way with the lyrics). Tendencies about the music within a particular genre can help evaluating songs within a genre but we need to be aware of the exceptions and cannot paint with a brush too broad.

    # How association of musical styles with lifestyles and worldviews impact perception. This aspect must not be neglected in a Christian evaluation of music. For example, if we are to take Scott’s Chinese example for real, we are here confronted with music that has grown from a non-Christian worldview and culture but might nevertheless be acceptable for shaping Christian messaging. Now this might be negated on close examination, i.e. it could be fine for North Americans but lead to syncretism within the Chinese culture; yet, to say music that was home-grown outside the Christian culture can never be used seems to go too far on the side of caution. Syncretism is of great concern whenever we want to communicate Christian truth and make it intelligible to our and other cultures.

    Merry Christmas again to all who read this over the holidays…

  72. Jesse says:

    I doubt anyone will read this far along, but Josh is making an important point. Music is not a thing. It is an activity that moral agents (humans) engage in. Only in the era of mass communication (cassettes, CDs, MP3s, DVDs) has music become a thing in which we are not necessarily involved. These have allowed it to be “muzak.” Background noise. A thing that happens outside of even our true awareness. In the past, you were either making the music or listening to it in a special event. This would align nicely with Josef Pieper’s “philosophical act.”

    This may explain why, only in the age of Popular Art, can it be argued that music is a thing utterly neutral. Hence the ridiculous rhetorical question, “If rap is playing in a forest and nobody hears it, who is sinning?” Before mass communication and the rapid implementation of pop-music in the church, there really was no question. Music ennobles or it debases. Simple as that.

    Why are we so quick to toss 3,000 years of philosophy and biblical tradition in to the trash? Did the first 1800 years of the church mean nothing? Have we evolved past the barbarism of the Fathers through the Reformers?

  73. Josh says:

    Martin, decent summary, as long as you acknowledge the following:

    Those who claim that
    A) Communication is NOT human action and thus, moral or immoral;
    B) Music (without the lyrics) is NOT communication, and
    C) therefore it is NOT moral or immoral,

    must still prove their case.

  74. drfiddledd says:

    In an attempt to focus the discussion, can anyone provide a simple example of clearly moral music (without the lyrics) and clearly immoral music (without the lyrics)?

  75. Martin says:

    You may have misunderstood the issues. As said, I think there is little disagreement on A, so I’m not sure anyone claims it in the way you wrote it.

    On proving the case, I think we have a good case stating with examples that a) the same music can be used for good and for evil, showing it is a thing just like a tool, and b) when PART OF communication, the music is then moral action as any communication is, as per A. Yet, do I really need to still prove beyond the examples given in past weeks that music does not make propositional claims? If you cannot evaluate non-propositional communication by itself morally (e.g., an angry-sounding rap in a language you don’t understand) then why do I still have to prove my case? You can say it sounds angry but I don’t know how you could say it’s sinful, given you don’t know what the rapper is saying. Admittedly, there is a fair chance in this example the rapper is sinning as he probably does use lewd lyrics with an unbiblical attitude but you just can’t prove that unless you know what he’s saying. So by showing you can’t prove B as I earlier worded it, can I not assume your premise is wrong?

  76. Wayne says:

    I’m with drfiddledd. The question is simple. Give us an example of holy music please! Anyone agree or disagree with Scott’s selection???

  77. Ronnie says:

    Hey Martin,

    You stated:
    “Thanks Ronnie. This was not really directed to you only – especially the last question was meant for those(including Scott) who hold that musical styles are morally determined.”

    Oh ok. I agree :)

    You stated:
    “Also, on circumcision: this an action, not a thing – and therefore has moral relevance. So I think the meat example is still better than this one to compare it to music and challenge whether a thing has moral qualities.”

    But it is not the act of performing the circumcision that is the point, but the sign itself that is the point. Those who performed the circumcision didn’t boast in their action as making them morally superiors, but instead those who carried the sign. So when the Apostle says, circumcision or uncircumcision counts for nothing, he doesn’t mean performing the action or not performing the action, but whether you have the sign of circumcision or not it counts for nothing. Ultimately, I think the same point is being made in both. Evil is not found in thing, but in breaking God’s command, whether in thought, word, or deed.

    You stated:
    “Good points about the meat issue, however; the analogy does indeed break down. A meal is a preparation of God-given ingredients, whereas Paul really was talking about meat that had been dedicated to idols in a ritual. Music is an application of God-given laws of sound and harmony and in some way parallel to preparing a meal but since Paul’s point was not meal preparation but religious association, it’s hard to get more out of this passage to further our discussion.

    Yeah, analogies are never meant to adhere at every single point. I think in this case we are attempting to push the analogy too far and missing the main point. I don’t believe Paul’s point is religious association, which was the scenario he was addressing. So you could come up with a hundred different scenarios and his response would have been the same. So in this case I’m speaking more about the thing; that is the meat.

    If we address the action ( i.e.the eating or preparation) or in the case of music( i.e. the making or performing ) it is still pretty amazing me that Scott would be trying to argue that the action is inherently evil. Music making was ordained by God for His worship so we know the action itself is not inherently evil. Therefore, Scott would have to be arguing there is something unique about the way rap is performed that makes it inherently evil. That means he will have to first identity the inherently evil act, and then prove that without this act there is no such thing as rap music.

    Thanks for the stimulating posts.

  78. Wayne says:

    It has been said that Scott’s example was an example of “acceptable” and not an example of “holy”. If that is the case, then Scott did not answer Shai’s question.

    Again, the question is very simple: “Scott, you have said that music can or cannot be holy since human behavior can or cannot be holy. Can you please give an example of holy music and explain what makes it holy?”

    And in explaining his selection, Scott describes it by saying that it “expresses sentiments quite fitting for worship.”

    Either Scott answered the question directly, or he did not. Either the question was a good one and deserved an answer, or not.

  79. Alan says:

    People have asked for music that is immoral and music that is not immoral. I’m not guessing this will be a clincher to many, if not most, because this is not an intellectual issue, but a volitional one. I’m saying the problem here isn’t knowledge. People here know there is moral music and immoral music already. They won’t admit it, but they know it.

    Example to shoot down.

    Same song.

    My singing Happy Birthday to my brother. Moral.

    Marilyn Monroe singing Happy Birthday to JFK. Immoral.

    Words fine in both. Still one moral and one immoral.

  80. Martin says:

    Wonderful. If that’s the answer, I think we are all in agreement.

    Now think about singing Happy Birthday in rap style. Does anything change or do we still have moral and immoral, based on the situation? Are there any songs or styles that are always immoral and never moral?

  81. Wayne says:

    We all know in that example why it was immoral. The immorality did not have anything to do with the merits of the song. I think we are still short on an example of holy music. And to my understanding, the holy/unholy test was apart from words.

    People have asked for an example of music that is holy or unholy because Scott has said that music can or cannot be holy.

    Again, wondering if any agree or disagree with Scott on the holiness of his example.

  82. Wayne says:

    Good question Martin, thanks!

  83. Josh says:

    But here’s exactly the point: the two examples Alan gives are two different pieces of music. Music includes performance style; Dr. Aniol has made that point several times.

    The issue is not a bare melody. The issue is the whole package, including instrumentation, performance style, etc.

    So, for example, if someone took Shai’s lyrics, spoke them in a calm tone, and accompanied them over Bach, (a) that wouldn’t be rap, and (b) I don’t think anyone would object. That was Dr. Aniol’s whole point when he said that Shai didn’t really defend rap as rap.

  84. Ronnie says:

    Alan,
    You stated:
    “Example to shoot down.
    Same song.
    My singing Happy Birthday to my brother. Moral.
    Marilyn Monroe singing Happy Birthday to JFK. Immoral.
    Words fine in both. Still one moral and one immoral.”

    I’m not following. How do I know one of these is moral and the other isn’t? Maybe you are singing to your brother to spite your sister. Maybe you are singing to your brother, but inwardly you are thinking how much you despise him. Maybe Marilyn Monroe is singing, just because it is JFK’s birthday.

  85. Wayne says:

    Shai rapping with Bach is a pretty small niche

  86. Wayne says:

    Oh yeah…. Shai NOT rapping to Bach…

  87. CR says:

    My mind is boggled by the logic used to make rap sinful. Also, when someone objects to something, that does not make it sin. King David’s wife objected with he nearly danced out of his clothes in worship. I guess a fast beat in worship is not sinful?

  88. Wayne says:

    Also, Scott’s says that his example is something in and of itself. Not based on unmeasurable qualities, but that his example “exhibits dignity and sobriety; it is honorable, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise”

  89. Alan says:

    MM singing to JFK.

  90. William says:

    I think this may be part of the problem: No one, including Dr. Aniol, is saying that some notes written down on a sheet of paper just lying around is moral or immoral. Music becomes music when it is performed, and that performance IS the music. Since it is human communication, it is moral or immoral.

  91. Martin says:

    William, amen to that! Yet, it seems that Scott things that some musical styles are not moral or immoral (which seems obvious) but ALWAYS are immoral. This is where we are parting ways on this thread?

  92. Ronnie says:

    Alan,

    OK. On what basis do you know it is immoral?

    Ronnie

  93. Nick says:

    OK, let’s cut to the chase. Not sure why Scott didn’t do this before, but he has expressed elsewhere what he thinks makes rap evil. Assuming he still agrees with what he wrote several years ago (I don’t know if he does, but he hasn’t taken it down either), Scott followed 3 lines of argumentation in the following article http://religiousaffections.org/articles/articles-on-music/can-rap-be-christian-evaluating-hip-hop/

    The first one was the origins of the genre. I think Wayne has done a good job showing what’s wrong with that line of argumentation.

    The second one was the “culture” of rap. Of course, Scott restricted himself to non-Christian rappers, and some of the worst ones at that. So it is no wonder the culture of rap is evil — I don’t think anyone would deny the examples he gave.

    The third one was the “meaning” of rap. Here I find that Scott gives more information than in the current debate with Shai. He quotes approvingly the following as a summary of his point:

    “As a style, rap music is dominated by rhythm and specifically the backbeat; harmony and melody take a back seat. The sound of the backbeat inherently signifies the motion of the body during the act of sexual intercourse, as any rock musician will readily attest. The relative durations of the spoken rhythms are highly syncopated against the pulse, suggesting agitation and in louder instances, anger. Phrase structures (in terms of the groupings of spoken rhythms) are frequently irregular as well, again suggesting instability and a lack of respite. What harmony there is is extremely minimalistic and repetitive… So basically, as a rhythmic art form, rap is dominated at all levels by syncopation, which is on the emotional spectrum between surprise, through agitation, toward anger/rebellion. The syncopation indicates varying levels (according to dynamic and other contexts) of aggression by virtue of its purpose of conflict against the principal pulse.”

    When I first read that, I was thinking to myself … wow, I didn’t know it was humanly possible to move as fast as the beat of hardcore metal… wouldn’t that hurt? Honestly, such non-sense has never gone through my head while listening to rap/rock… and I used to have a pretty sicko head more than 10 yrs ago, so it is not like I’m immune to sexual temptations.

    I don’t want my freedom to be a stumbling block to other believers, so I will gladly stop commenting on this… It is clear that if that’s what rap means to you, then it must definitely be evil to you. No two ways about it.

  94. Wayne says:

    Ok. We have an example of a song that can be good or bad given context and an example of Shai with Bach (music that exist in theory but not actually)

    We still don’t have an example of holy music. What is obvious is that no one is backing Scott on his example. And, seriously, I know I’m coming across arrogantly. I know that we are missing all nonverbal clues in our communications here. My natural style is dry humor and that doesn’t work well in the blog environment.

    I’m with Nick on the fact that we may have to call this a draw to keep each other from stumbling. Of course, that would require one group to stop calling the other group out as being in sin. That, so far, is still only going in one direction…

  95. Martin says:

    Nick, of course you have every right to withdraw. It is at this point, however, that things get interesting. Rather than running off in a huff, it would have more value to see whether what Scott is alluding to has any basis. Surely, music signifies something, even if we (do we?) agree it is not as clear-cut as one might like.

    For example, I’ve been looking for something to confirm the backbeat-sex connection for a while but never found anything apart from the usual claims of rock musicians saying that it does indeed mean that. Now I don’t think Scott is trying to say that the backbeat will ‘make us do something’ such as jumping a girl at a party, claiming that ‘the music made me do it’. So if you thought that is where this is going, it’s not.

    It is well possible that specific musical elements such as the backbeat have been assigned specific meanings intentionally. Scott wrote this is inherent but I am not so sure, at least with respect to the sex connection. So there are two dimensions to this, i.e. convention and natural association or affinity. I would say if I wanted to write a sexual song (not that I’d want to), maybe using a rock song with a backbeat would make a good musical choice to represent the sexual act. It is quite another thing to claim that people hearing such music (without explicit lyrics) will automatically associate that with sexual intercourse! As in the Beethoven’s Fifth example, we may hear the music and be somehow impressed without knowing its intended meaning. Yet, when someone tells us that those four knocks are Death asking to enter, we say ‘Ah!’ since that really is a fitting musical metaphor. Now it may be similar with the backbeat and sex; I have never heard anyone say they are turned on by the music (possibly, this happens in combination with lyrics and especially in a crowd environment at concerts – maybe that is what Woodstock was all about, but it takes something more than just rock music to bring that about) but if someone wanted to seduce a person, they may well choose some softrock as fitting even thought they won’t expect that the music will arrange things all by itself. Yet, it creates a mood that may be conducive (but really, you want that Bryan Adams voice as well).

    So when Scott writes that “syncopation … is on the emotional spectrum between surprise, through agitation, toward anger/rebellion” he may well be onto something. This does not mean syncopation IS these feelings. Maybe it can cause them but certainly any listener has a say in that, too. What MAY be true, and is the subject of semiotics research, is that syncopation is intended to REPRESENT these feelings and ideas. This simply means that if you want to complain, nag, and bitch about something in your song, using the rap medium is an artistically very fitting choice since rap lends itself very well to these expressions, and emphasizes them in a way that is culturally well understood.

    Now my question is, what happens if we turn that around: if we use e.g. strong and varied syncopation and a rap way of speaking and rhyming, does this impose the same meanings on the lyrics that go so naturally with the secular forms of rap where aggressive condescendence is common? I think this is really the core of our task: are the musical elements in a style so determinative and rigid that we should not use the same style for lyrics that express Christian values, or do the lyrics and their intended meaning remain intact and the accompanying music and manner of speaking are no longer emphasizing and shaping the words in the way they do in secular songs?

    This really is the crux of our dilemma, isn’t it? If we go by association, we get back to that father who was quoted in some thread who came to church and said he would not go to church to hear ‘that kind of music’. Then there is the semiotic dimension of this question, i.e. how exactly does music emphasize or change the meaning of the lyrics? I was looking quickly but it seems there is very little specifically on rap in the literature. But if someone has read something or can recommend sources that could help us here, that would be great.

  96. Wayne says:

    7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
    8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.
    9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.
    10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.
    11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.
    12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

    We are not debating what the law says. We are debating the purpose of the law.

  97. Wayne says:

    Martin, thank you for all your hard work on this,

    W

  98. Lotus says:

    Martin said: “Now my question is, what happens if we turn that around: if we use e.g. strong and varied syncopation and a rap way of speaking and rhyming, does this impose the same meanings on the lyrics that go so naturally with the secular forms of rap where aggressive condescendence is common? I think this is really the core of our task: are the musical elements in a style so determinative and rigid that we should not use the same style for lyrics that express Christian values, or do the lyrics and their intended meaning remain intact and the accompanying music and manner of speaking are no longer emphasizing and shaping the words in the way they do in secular songs?”

    It sounds a lot to me like you are asking same question as was stated in John 1:46 “Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’”

    I present Shai Linne’s catalog as Philip’s response to come and see. Do the song by song evaluation as was mention in a previous comment. At the core of this discussion is the assertion that it is impossible for this genre to produce holy or acceptable music (holy or acceptable human communication) unless it is stripped away from its form (the rhythmic syncopation that communicates sexually – please correct me if I am getting this wrong).

    The tone of Nathaniel’s question seems to be the same as is found here.

  99. Lotus says:

    I am not trying to equate Christians expressing their worldview through hip hop to the incarnation. What I am saying is that tone of those who are opposed to Christians using rap music to express their worldview align with Nathaniel. I do not think it is wrong for people to do so, I believe that it is actually natural. I find it odd that we insist on using such broad strokes to color the entire genre, sub-genre, subculture or whatever you choose to categorize it knowing that God has a history of using such things to accomplish His will.

  100. POJ says:

    Martin you said,”Yet, do I really need to still prove beyond the examples given in past weeks that music does not make propositional claims? If you cannot evaluate non-propositional communication by itself morally (e.g., an angry-sounding rap in a language you don’t understand) then why do I still have to prove my case? You can say it sounds angry but I don’t know how you could say it’s sinful, given you don’t know what the rapper is saying.”

    I think I would agree with your assessment here. Music in itself is not sinful nor can it. I was reminded of perhaps money when I read your statement above. Money certainly is a thing that can be used to provide the things one desires or needs. Our we going to say that when in cases that Money is not used properly therefore all money is immoral? No of course not. Rap can be taken in the same way. Just because certain men have taken this form of song and have acted upon their sinful emotions does not mean that it is wrong in and of itself. Usually there are two other things involved when making a thing a tool for sinful purposes.

  101. Martin says:

    POJ: “Just because certain men have taken this form of song and have acted upon their sinful emotions does not mean that it is wrong in and of itself.”

    Yes and no. We can oversimplify on both sides of the argument. If you say that some men have used it that way then you ignore that rap was CREATED to reflect this kind of attitudes. This certainly weighs heavily on the ‘association’ side, i.e. it can create a stigma on the style such that people may perceive all rap as aggressive (Christian or not) since they are used to the aggressiveness that is typical of the genre, or misunderstand the message due to syncretism. Also, on the artistic side, if rap goes well with aggressive lyrics, we need to ask why this is so and if we can join this style with biblical messaging without losing something, or even distorting what we want to communicate.

    On the other hand, claiming that the entire style is aggressive seems too simplistic, given songs were posted in earlier threads that I for one can’t really designate as aggressive or entirely unsuitable (the broad brush stroke criticism). Then we need to either admit that some rap may be acceptable or explain what other elements in the style make it unsuitable as HHH etc.

    Whereas I don’t understand that a style can be ‘evil’, I do see limitations to a style’s uses by Christians (and all artists, really). Even though Shai has shown in his music that it is possible to take the aggressiveness out of rap, I also understand those who would prefer to shun it altogether for caution’s sake, to avoid wrong associations etc.

    Overall, I would not focus this discussion so much on what the worst rap and associated lifestyles are all about but on how rap/hip-hop that is conventionally associated with not-so-Christlike attitudes impacts musical communication and whether that impact can be mediated enough within the style or whether we need to go outside the style entirely to produce artistic excellence.

    (Wow – 100 comments on this thread, and that over Christmas!!)

  102. Alan says:

    Ronnie,

    You don’t know? You don’t know what is immoral about MM’s song to JFK? Are you married? You think it’s OK for a woman to sing like that to another woman’s husband? Would you be OK with your wife singing to another man that way? You can’t find any traits to how she was singing that themselves were immoral?

    Your unwillingness just to admit this illustrates what I was talking about with intellect and will.

  103. Lotus says:

    Alan, MM’s performance is clearly and intentional sensual. Is Shai Linne’s performance as sensual or is it immoral because it is “angry?” what does rap music do wrong that puts it in the same light the video you posted? Does this apply to all rap regardless of content, context or artist’s intent?

  104. Alan,

    Scripture speaks of singing like a harlot (Isaiah 24:15) and expects the reader to know what that is without giving an extensive discourse about what comprises such ungodly singing. Solomon warns about “a woman with the attire of an harlot” (Prov. 6:10), again without feeling compelled to detail what exactly makes that style of dressing sinful. Matthew 14:6-7 even communicates clearly that Herodias’ daughter’s dancing was sensual to the core without having to say anything directly to that effect. The reader does not need detailed information about what body movements she made and how her dancing was choreographed to know that how she danced was sinful. These passages show that people are able to make assessments about the sensuality of music, dress, and dancing without having to be given a detailed explanation of what specifics make these things sinful. Singing “O How I Love Jesus” with the same style that MM used would be ungodly, as her singing of “Happy Birthday” was.

  105. Rajesh says:

    Sorry, the reference about singing as a harlot is Isaiah 23:15, not 24:15.

  106. Rajesh says:

    Jonathan,

    Your understanding of Matthew 7 does not fit the context of the passage. The flow of thought for verses 21-23 begins in verse 15 with teaching about false prophets who do not bear good fruit in their lives (consider how Balaam preached only what God said but was a perverse man). Good fruit in this context does not refer to what a person trusts in to get to heaven; it refers to how the person lives in relation to the will of the Father. The passage continues with teaching that calling Jesus “Lord” and doing even many good works is worthless when the person’s life is filled with iniquity otherwise. A profession of Jesus as Lord and a life of religious service to Jesus mixed with iniquitous living falsifies that profession and makes that service of no profit to the doer.

    I see nothing in the passage that supports holding that the problem with these people is that they were trying to justify themselves before God by doing all these works.

  107. Wayne says:

    Martin, I got the feeling while reading your last post that you believe the aggressiveness of rap is a shortcoming to the genre. I would not be able to argue that rap does not have inherent qualities of aggressiveness. This may be a combination of the music (beats) itself (apart from the words) and/or the manner in which the words are spoken (sung), and/or other factors.

    I realize that I am in the minority, but I feel that this is a strength and not a weakness in reflecting the attributes of God, describing the Christian walk, etc. Much like a presuppositional apologetic naturally presents his position in a different way/tone than a classical apologetic would.

  108. Ronnie says:

    Hey Alan,

    You stated:
    You don’t know? You don’t know what is immoral about MM’s song to JFK? Are you married? You think it’s OK for a woman to sing like that to another woman’s husband? Would you be OK with your wife singing to another man that way? You can’t find any traits to how she was singing that themselves were immoral?

    I’m glad you have the ability to know the hearts and mind of people, but God hasn’t gifted me with that ability. So no, I don’t what is immoral about it, but maybe you can tell exactly what is?

    You stated:
    Your unwillingness just to admit this illustrates what I was talking about with intellect and will.

    My unwillingness to judge someone else’s is biblical. We judge on outward appearances, God judges the heart. That is exactly why I can’t be sure that your singing to your brother is moral.

  109. Martin says:

    Wayne, I’d say the aggressiveness of the genre is a shortcoming if the lyrics you are trying to convey are not meant to be conveyed in that manner. Like the crass (but unrealistic) example of rapping a lullaby – it seems out of place; rap is not a style that lends itself to being sung to lull a baby to sleep. It may be artistically appropriate in other situations, though – so it’s not an inherent shortcoming but a limitation, or rather, a quality that needs to be taken into account when marrying lyrics and music.

    I didn’t quite get the analogy with apologetics but rap is probably in the advantage if you want to sing about social critique, with anti-establishment lyrics etc. As Christians, we also need to think about whether the attitude coming with this combination of critique and music is biblical or not.

  110. Wayne says:

    Martin, no problems there. I don’t see how any of that is unique to rap verses any other genre of music. I play bluegrass gospel. Even within bluegrass, we can play with a wide range of emotions. Of course, bluegrass is part of my culture, so I am more comfortable working within it.

    Are you familiar with apologetic debates? If you have seen the Great Debate between Greg Bahnsen vs Gordon Stein, Bahnsen come across at points in the debate as aggressive and at other times, arrogant, dogmatic and/or absolutistic.

    Bahnsen says, “The fool must be answered by showing him his foolishness and the necessity of Christianity as the precondition of intelligibility.”

    There is no doubt an attitude that is not the normal soft and turn the other check type of attitude we would normally think of when a believer “talks” with an unbeliever.

    I just see some parallels there. May or may not be.

  111. Martin says:

    OK, yes, I understand now. There is a time for everything, I guess. As long as we understand which messaging can be combined with what music, or how the music should change to enhance the lyrics, then we are producing good art. Some additional considerations come in whenever we work with explicitly Christian material, although again I find the idea that it must all be beautiful and sweet is too simplistic.

    I have a Bahnsen CD somewhere where he also quotes that verse but maybe I didn’t listen to the specific debate you refer to. Would love to read more of his stuff – if there was only more time! (says the guy who’s not in prison :-)

  112. Ronnie says:

    For those who are convinced that Marilyn Monroe’s singing of Happy Birthday is immoral? If so, could you tell what specific immoral act she is guilty of?

  113. Martin says:

    Trying to seduct a married man (JFK)?

  114. Ronnie says:

    Hey Martin,

    How exactly do you know her intent in singing that way was to seduce( to sex?) JFK?

  115. Josh says:

    Nothing to do with intent. Her behavior WAS inherently seductive.

  116. Martin says:

    It’s history?

  117. Ronnie says:

    Josh,

    How is she guilty of seduction if her intent is not to seduce? So what makes the behavior inherently seductive? If that behavior is inherently seductive and immoral then it would be seductive no matter who was singing, right?

  118. Ronnie says:

    Martin,

    I know the relationship is history, but it doesn’t logically follow that the singing was an act of seduction because of the their relationship, right?

  119. Josh says:

    Ronnie, honestly, if you believe that intent is the only thing that makes a behavior wrong, then I think we have entirely different worldviews.

  120. Ronnie says:

    Josh,

    No, I don’t believe intent is the only thing that makes a behavior wrong, but intent is very important as God judges the heart and instructs us that evil springs forth from the heart.

    However, when we are dealing with some behavior that God has not ordained as evil then intent becomes much more paramount. So what about her behavior makes it *inherently evil*( sounds like an argument Scott Anoili would make)? Her voice, her dress, the words?

  121. Martin says:

    Ronnie, aren’t you pushing this too far? Any behaviour is either moral or immoral. We have eyewitness accounts of Monroe’s singing in front of JFK; it was obvious to those present she was singing to the president, so this was all part and parcel of their illicit relationship. What else do you need to know this was immoral? Everybody present at the time knew it.

    More generally, are you denying that there is such a thing as seductive singing? Like, if someone sings with a voice you would normally use only in an intimate situation with your wife (thinking of Enrique Iglesias or Monroe in this instance), would the intention of such singing be to ‘seduce’ without actually seducing anyone physically? Surely this sells CDs and gets the fans excited! What about the moral implications of making the fans ‘fall in love’ with the performer by suggestive singing that gives the impression (albeit knowing it’s not real) the performer sings that love song to you personally?

    I may be exposing myself to attack here but isn’t this quite different from acting in a movie? Just wondering what others think but maybe this comes closes to Rajesh’s ‘song of a harlot’ example?

  122. Ronnie says:

    Hey Martin,

    I don’t subscribe to the principle that behavior is always moral or immoral. I believe God defines what is moral or immoral and a lot of the stuff we do does not fall in either category specifically. For example, if I sing Happy Birthday to someone does it always have to be wrong or right when I sing it or can it be indifferent?

    I agree Ms. Monroe was singing to the President and know of their supposed affairs, but does this therefore mean that her singing Happy Birthday had to be an attempt to seduce the President? I just don’t get how we are so confidently making these kinds of dogmatic judgments about the intents and minds of people. Could it have been a publicity stunt for marketing reasons or a number of other things that we are not aware of?

    I don’t deny one can use singing for seduction, I’m just not sure I can always determine when they are for seduction or other reasons. This is even truer when it is a star singing Happy Birthday to another famous person in public. I’m a bit cautious about making judgments when I’m not sure it is a righteous judgment, but instead a judgment based on hearsay and subjective feelings(i.e. I know it is seduction, because it seems like seduction to me or I know it is sinful music, because it sounds sinful to me ).

    Ronnie

  123. Alan says:

    This is a classic illustration of “the emperor has no clothes.” Someone can’t admit the obvious because it contradicts a preferred and necessary position of neutrality. It’s absurd.

  124. Ronnie says:

    Hey Alan,

    All I’m saying is that it is not so subjectively obvious to me. Maybe that says something about me, I dunno, but that is the problem with subjectivity. What is obviously clear to one(i.e. rap music is sinful ), is not obviously clear to another(i.e. rap music is not sinful ).

    So if we could dispense with the subjective judgments and you could provide me something objective that makes this obvious that would be better.

    Ronnie

  125. Josh says:

    I was just thinking the same thing, Alan. This shows the absolute absurdity and inconsistency of the neutrality position.

  126. Ronnie says:

    Hey Josh,

    I’m not neutral on all things. As a matter of fact I’m very dogmatic on things that I believe there are clear biblical warrant to be dogmatic on. But I try not to go beyond Scripture based on my own subjective feelings or culture.

  127. Wayne says:

    “This shows the absolute absurdity and inconsistency of the neutrality position.”

    I will quickly concede that I can not defend the neutrality of Monroe’s song. But the idea of a inherent good position is equally absurd. Well over a 100 post and yet Shai’s simple question remains open. The same question that Scott says is an excellent question. Over 100 post and not a single defense of Scott’s answer.

    To arrive at a morally good or evil judgement on art (music included), we have to tie it to man. A blank sheet of paper and a pencil is morally neutral.

    Now man can take the morally neutral paper and pencil and make something morally good or evil. Maybe he draws a portrait of Jesus. Some say when I look at that picture, I think of how Jesus took on flesh and came to redeem us. It is good. Some would say that this violates the 2nd commandment. It is bad. When we test this back to scripture, we cannot say this is my interpretation and that is yours and leave it at that. One opinion may be wrong or they are both wrong. Both both positions cannot be right.

    I get this line of argumentation. I don’t get how after making this argument someone then says, but we can’t talk of redeeming art (including music) because the bible does not talk of redeeming things, only people.

    Either we marry the art to people or keep them separated. We cannot have it both ways. I believe it is right to put them together. So, our problem is not the art, but what the art is tied to. Man!

    I believe that it is as difficult to find a good man apart from the redeeming work of God as it is to find good art apart from the redeeming work of God.

    I have read and followed Shai for a couple of years now. I have watched interviews and round tables. I think he gets this. I think what he and his brothers are doing on the black community is a big big deal. In a great way and to the Glory of God. And I see this other group and their collection of filthy rags saying my filthy tags are cleaner than yours.

    I could be wrong. And I’m ok with that. But the simple question remains.

  128. Nick says:

    Ronnie, The answer is of course context, which includes intent, history, etc. My wife signing that to me with the same intent wouldn’t be sinful, so this example is not really an example of inherently sinful music.

    And don’t expect much in terms of responses beyond dogmatic statements based on something that is presumably self-evident. It is inconceivable to some people that the meaning of music is only self-evident to them because of their upbringing, cultural background, etc.

  129. Josh says:

    Once again, if you honestly think you can be dogmatic only about things about which you have biblical chapter and verse, we have drastically different worldviews. This kind of reductionism cannot be defended by Scripture, is never consistently practiced by those who attempt to defend it, and has wreaked havoc on evangelicalism.

  130. Josh says:

    Wayne, no one had defended Dr. Aniol because he needs no defense. A defense is needed only against something that has been successfully attacked. His logic is sound.

  131. Nick says:

    @ Josh, You can be dogmatic about whatever you want. Just don’t deceive yourself into thinking fellow believers will be convinced simply because you say it is self evident.

  132. Cheryl says:

    If it is true that we have to aggressively love God to get through hard times and remain faithful, I think that hip hop that sounds passionate to some, and aggressive to others, serves a purpose. Sometimes loving God is hard, painful, gritty, enduring rejection and persecution. Pure theology about the worth of our sovereign King, the passion of martyrs, etc, sung in rhythm can help flickering flames (like it has mine in the past.)

    Sometimes the sound of hip hop fits the Gospel message perfectly because of the offense of the cross, the passion of our Lord and the endurance of the saints.

  133. Wayne says:

    I believe Chinese Zither was birth from a pagan land and everything from the way the instruments are designed, to how you hold your hands to the instrument, to the sounds the instruments makes is inherently evil.

    Josh, what is your opinion of Christian Yoga? If I remember correctly, there was a debate about this a few years back?

    Cheryl, I think you are right on!

  134. Josh says:

    Sure, Wayne, but the difference between your assertions and Dr. Aniol’s assertions is that he drew comparisons between the music and actual real life experience, whereas yours have no foundation.

  135. Rajesh says:

    Ronnie,

    You said to Josh, “I’m not neutral on all things. As a matter of fact I’m very dogmatic on things that I believe there are clear biblical warrant to be dogmatic on. But I try not to go beyond Scripture based on my own subjective feelings or culture.”

    Scripture itself tells us that God has not given us an exhaustive list of what things are evil. When Paul lists the works of the flesh in Galatians 5, he ends by saying, “and such like” (Gal. 5:21). God expects you and all the rest of us who name the name of Christ to recognize that there are other evil things that Scripture does not specify and that we must shun them as evil.

    For example, Scripture repeatedly warns believers about contact with sorcery and other occult practices. God intentionally has not given us details about the evil practices of sorcery. He wants us to shun all contact with such practices. He does not want us to study them to determine what specific aspects of specific practices or things makes them evil. He does not want any Christian to dabble in the least bit with any such practices.

    Based on what God has said about contact with the occult, Christians should know that things such as Ouija boards and tarot cards are evil. A dedicated believer has no business having any contact with such evil items nor any of the practices that go along with them.

    If God had to specify every practice and thing that was evil and explain in detail what makes them evil, the Bible would have to have thousands of additional books in it just to list all the evil practices of man, not to mention explaining what it is specifically evil about each one. If God were to have done so, people would invent new evil things and practices that would not have been listed and then argue that the Bible does not say that thus and so is evil so it must be good.

    God expects you to learn from how He has informed us about evil things so that you will not demand an explanation of the specifics of what makes them evil, Solomon did not specify what articles of “the attire of the harlot” made her dress evil. God did not specify what made the singing of the harlot evil. Moses knew from a distance that the singing of the people in the Golden Calf incident was evil without hearing any of the words.

  136. Ronnie says:

    Hey Nick,

    You stated:

    “Ronnie, The answer is of course context, which includes intent, history, etc. My wife signing that to me with the same intent wouldn’t be sinful, so this example is not really an example of inherently sinful music.

    And don’t expect much in terms of responses beyond dogmatic statements based on something that is presumably self-evident. It is inconceivable to some people that the meaning of music is only self-evident to them because of their upbringing, cultural background, etc.”

    Yeah, you are right.

  137. Wayne says:

    Josh, sorry, not following you…

  138. Ronnie says:

    Hey Wayne,

    You stated:
    “Once again, if you honestly think you can be dogmatic only about things about which you have biblical chapter and verse, we have drastically different worldviews.”

    I never said I can only be dogmatic about things that have biblical chapter and verse, but instead things have biblical warrant. In other words I believe biblical warrant are the principles the Scriptures teach(e.g. for example evil is not in things, I pretty dogmatic about that ) or things that can be arrived at by good and necessary consequence(e.g. the Truine nature of God, and the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ).

    You stated:
    “This kind of reductionism cannot be defended by Scripture, is never consistently practiced by those who attempt to defend it, and has wreaked havoc on evangelicalism.

    Actually I agree. However, I think you are the one captive to American Evangelicalism. You judge things based on the American Evangelicalism culture and you are such a slave to it that you equate it norms with word of God. That is why you offer no real Scriptural proof or rational argument for your self-righteous judgments and condemnations of others than, “it is inherently seductive” and if you can’t see how right I am then you must have a different worldview.

  139. Ronnie says:

    Hey Rajesh,

    Thanks for your comments. I actually agree with just about all of it. When I said “…clear biblical warrant to be dogmatic …” I didn’t mean chapter and verse listing of everything. I am a confessional Presbyterian and hold to the Westminster Standards, which teaches the concept of “good and necessary consequence” when deriving our doctrine. I also believe the bible teaches principles that can be applied to many things that are not explicitly mentioned in the Scriptures. In my response to Josh, I gave a few examples of when this hermeneutic is used. Another is infant baptism, you won’t find a chapter and verse for that, but I believe it is a teaching of the Scriptures. So if someone disagrees with me, I will show them from Scripture using rational arguments as to why I believe it is so and not just pound my fist and say it is self-evidentially true. And by rational I mean the argument must be consistent and comport with the Scriptures.

  140. Ronnie says:

    Sorry, my post above directed to Wayne was meant for Josh.

  141. Rajesh says:

    Thanks for clarifying, Ronnie. It helps to know better exactly where you are coming from.

    As has already been discussed at length, I believe that Scripture does teach that evil can be in things. Satan and his demons have access to much knowledge about good and evil that humans beings have never had and never will. Scripture shows that they can influence humans to do things without the humans ever knowing anything about that influence. I have no doubt that they have led humans to create things used specifically for evil occult practices that God never intended for any human to ever practice. Such evil paraphernalia of the occult are inherently evil objects that are irredeemably evil. God never desired that those objects would have ever existed, and someday He will once and for all destroy all of them from the earth.

    The fact that Scripture does not tell us much about such objects does not prove that they do not exist. As I commented earlier, God has intentionally not given us detailed information about the occult because He does not want us to have any contact with it. A suggestion that we can and should “redeem” occult paraphernalia and practices would be tantamount to suggesting that we can and should “redeem” unspeakably evil pictures of children . . . and the practice of making such pictures.

  142. Ronnie says:

    Hey Rajesh,

    You stated:
    As has already been discussed at length, I believe that Scripture does teach that evil can be in things. Satan and his demons have access to much knowledge about good and evil that humans beings have never had and never will. Scripture shows that they can influence humans to do things without the humans ever knowing anything about that influence. I have no doubt that they have led humans to create things used specifically for evil occult practices that God never intended for any human to ever practice. Such evil paraphernalia of the occult are inherently evil objects that are irredeemably evil. God never desired that those objects would have ever existed, and someday He will once and for all destroy all of them from the earth.

    I don’t believe evil is in things and I think the Scriptures are clear on this. In your above example you didn’t demonstrate that the thing was inherently evil, but using it for the reason in which it was created, occult practices, is where the evil resides. So for example, if I need to start a fire and I use an Ouija board for some wood am I sinning by using it? But here is biblical example of that same principle. Food sacrificed to idols. Wouldn’t you say that is evil and can have occult tendencies associated with it? The idol was created for an evil purpose. The animal was killed and prepared in a certain way I’m sure for the same evil purpose. Yet the Scriptures tell us that the idol is nothing ( 1 Cor. 8:4 ) and the food sacrificed to the idol can be eaten, because these things count for nothing in to God( 1 Cor. 8:8 ).

    You stated:
    The fact that Scripture does not tell us much about such objects does not prove that they do not exist. As I commented earlier, God has intentionally not given us detailed information about the occult because He does not want us to have any contact with it. A suggestion that we can and should “redeem” occult paraphernalia and practices would be tantamount to suggesting that we can and should “redeem” unspeakably evil pictures of children . . . and the practice of making such pictures.

    I’m not speaking of redeeming anything, I’m just saying the whole concept of evil in things is not biblical and I don’t think no one has come close to presenting a cogent biblical case that is biblical. So if one cannot present a biblical case then they shouldn’t so quickly condemn others for committing sin, because the log maybe in their eye.

  143. Wayne says:

    Ronnie, thanks for working that thru. I agree with you.

  144. Wayne says:

    “Sure, Wayne, but the difference between your assertions and Dr. Aniol’s assertions is that he drew comparisons between the music and actual real life experience, whereas yours have no foundation.”

    Do you mean that Dr. Aniol’s assertions were subjective based on how he felt about Chinese Zither music and my research was objective?

  145. POJ says:

    Rajesh

    “Scripture itself tells us that God has not given us an exhaustive list of what things are evil. When Paul lists the works of the flesh in Galatians 5, he ends by saying, “and such like” (Gal. 5:21). God expects you and all the rest of us who name the name of Christ to recognize that there are other evil things that Scripture does not specify and that we must shun them as evil.”

    You are putting all your eggs in one basket which is not good here. Galatians 5:21 perhaps maybe not a complete listing of works of the flesh is still nevertheless a list by which Paul demonstrates in this listing the works of the flesh. Perhaps we might still look “IN SCRIPTURE ALONE” to see what other works are involved in the works of the Flesh.

  146. POJ says:

    Rajesh says,
    “Moses knew from a distance that the singing of the people in the Golden Calf incident was evil without hearing any of the words.”

    You do know that God is not fashioned out of calf and is not to be worshiped like other gods. You are bringing up Scripture and yet you apply them to ways that do not apply. The Bible alone is the Word of God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). This seems to be the whole issue here that we have men and women here who deny that the Word of God alone is our only authority for Christian living. The issue here is clear: Most (if not all) speak as if the Bible is just our Supreme authority – hence something else can or is our authority.
    What are good works? Good works are only those which God commands in Scripture. Nothing else is to be sin or good that is not spoken against in Scripture. This means that Certain music, or certain things in which we may be bad at though perhaps influenced by Sin is not to be said to be Sin in itself.

  147. Rajesh says:

    No, POJ, I am not putting all my eggs in one basket. I am allowing all of Scripture to understand what God wants us to believe. Galatians 5:21 categorically shows that God has not given us an exhaustive list of evil practices that humans practice as works of the flesh. Other passages teach the same thing by giving us whole categories of sinful practices that we are not to have anything to do with (such as sorcery) without exhaustively listing all the evil practices that they follow.

    Sorry, but I am not following your second comment to me. The fact is it is that very passage of Scripture that shows that Moses made that assessment of their singing.

  148. Rajesh says:

    Ronnie,

    I see several problems with your latest comments in response to what I wrote.

    I’m sure that the Israelites could have used the idols that they destroyed to meet many legitimate needs that the people had, but God wanted the idols destroyed. Using a Ouija board to make a fire because it is made of wood and I need wood does not show that it was not evil anymore than Moses’ melting the Golden Calf and remaking earrings out of the gold would have (to replace the earrings that the people gave up to make the calf in the first place) shown that the calf was not evil.

    God wanted the idols destroyed; He did not want them used for other purposes no matter how innocent or legitimate those other purposes might be.

    Furthermore, Scripture consistently separates sorcery and other occult practices from idolatry. It is not legitimate to try to conflate the two to make your example about meat offered to idols relevant to the discussion about evil items made specifically for occult purposes.

    Moreover, when the Scripture tells us that an idol is nothing, it is not saying that there is no problem with making the idol to worship it. It is saying that the so-called deity that the idol is supposed to be has no real existence.

    In his discussion about meat offered to idols, when Paul says that eating the meat is ok (if one does not know that it has been offered to an idol), he is not thereby saying that the making of the idol to which the meat was sacrificed was no problem.

  149. POJ says:

    “No, POJ, I am not putting all my eggs in one basket. I am allowing all of Scripture to understand what God wants us to believe.”

    You would say that… But you are saying just because one verse says and the like means that we must go above and beyond Scripture alone to detest the things of the flesh. Your point is false.

    “Other passages teach the same thing by giving us whole categories of sinful practices that we are not to have anything to do with (such as sorcery) without exhaustively listing all the evil practices that they follow.”

    Study Scripture.

    “Sorry, but I am not following your second comment to me. The fact is it is that very passage of Scripture that shows that Moses made that assessment of their singing.”

    Dude just read the passage. Exodus 32. It does not say Moses was merely listening to their singing. God has already said in verse 7 they have turned aside. Again this is IDOLATEROUS worship not true Worship. God is not as he said in Exodus 20 made out of human hands.

  150. Rajesh says:

    How many times does God have to say something before it becomes true? Galatians 5:21 is in a NT epistle written by the apostle Paul. It is authoritative teaching of Scripture that is profitable for doctrine. The plain teaching of the Bible here (and elsewhere) is that God has not given us an exhaustive listing of the works of the flesh. Just because you do not like what a text says does not mean that you get to set it aside and insist that what you believe is true in spite of what the Bible says.

    Yes, they had turned aside from worshiping Him properly in what was a “a feast to the Lord” (Ex. 32:5). The point is that they were worshiping Yahweh incorrectly and their worship including singing that had a distinctive sound to it that Moses was able to assess from a distance without knowing the words.

  151. Ronnie says:

    Hey Rajesh,

    You stated:
    “I’m sure that the Israelites could have used the idols that they destroyed to meet many legitimate needs that the people had, but God wanted the idols destroyed. Using a Ouija board to make a fire because it is made of wood and I need wood does not show that it was not evil anymore than Moses’ melting the Golden Calf and remaking earrings out of the gold would have (to replace the earrings that the people gave up to make the calf in the first place) shown that the calf was not evil.”

    Using the Ouija board for any purpose *is* evil, if as you contend the thing itself is evil, so it doesn’t matter for what purpose it is used. That is the point of inherently evil, it is the thing itself not your usage. So likewise it follows if someone makes a golden calf today for any purpose(e.g. a piece of jewelry or an ornament) it is evil and sinful, because it is the thing itself and not the purpose for which it is created that makes it evil.

    Also I’m not sure I’m following your argument, because above you seem to be arguing that using something that was used in idol worship for another purpose is wrong(i.e. golden calf for earrings), but below you state there is distinction between things used for occult practices and things used in idolatry. I will respond to that below, but I’m not sure what your official position on idolatry is.

    You stated:
    “God wanted the idols destroyed; He did not want them used for other purposes no matter how innocent or legitimate those other purposes might be.”

    You are reading a lot into the Scriptures that are not stated. First of all, the Scriptures never stated God instructed Moses he wanted the idol destroyed and not use for any other purpose. God only told Moses of His anger against the people for what they were doing and His intention to destroy them. Second, Moses did not just destroy the calf. Ex. 32:20, he burned it, ground it, sprinkled it on water, and he instructed the people to drink it.

    You stated:
    “Furthermore, Scripture consistently separates sorcery and other occult practices from idolatry. It is not legitimate to try to conflate the two to make your example about meat offered to idols relevant to the discussion about evil items made specifically for occult purposes.”

    You have just asserted the Scriptures separates sorcery, occult, and idolatry, but you have not shown in what way they are separated in the Scriptures and how this separation invalidates the principle I pointed out in reference to something used for evil(i.e. meat sacrificed to idols ), but now being used for a good purpose(i.e. food ). Assertions are not arguments.

    You stated:
    “Moreover, when the Scripture tells us that an idol is nothing, it is not saying that there is no problem with making the idol to worship it. It is saying that the so-called deity that the idol is supposed to be has no real existence.”

    Of course no one is arguing that there is no problem with making an idol to worship it. The practice of idolatry is evil! The point being made is that the thing itself is not evil.

    You stated:
    “In his discussion about meat offered to idols, when Paul says that eating the meat is ok (if one does not know that it has been offered to an idol), he is not thereby saying that the making of the idol to which the meat was sacrificed was no problem.

    You are attacking a straw man. Idolatry is wrong. Sacrificing meat to idols is wrong. Praying to idols is wrong. Trusting in idols is wrong. The physical things that are used in these regards are not inherently evil, but evil when used for these evil purposes.

  152. Cheryl says:

    I think I understand what you mean Ronnie. I can idolize my children, my car or a TV show. My idolatry is evil, but that does not make any of those inherently evil.

  153. Cheryl says:

    Also, my understanding is that the Israelites had created a graven image, whom they called “Yahweh,” and worshipped. They were incorrectly worshipping God. The chaotic noise they were making might have been frightful (I can imagine), but it’s their hearts that were the root of the issue.

    Some people do not understand the words of hip hop. You might hear hip hop and think it is a jumble of sounds, and feel right comparing it to chaotic worship. However, it is rhythmic and organized, it takes skill to create, it to me shows enormous discipline, because I could never speak so quickly, while making sense and sounding good, rhyming and telling the gospel.

    Worshipping God, worshiping Christ Jesus, in Spirit and Truth, is what matters. The style and culture is secondary.

    If people worshiping a graven image with hip hop (or hymns, classical, jazz, zither, etc), then you have a problem. But it’s not the music that is the root of the sin here. It’s still the heart that is the real problem.

  154. drfiddledd says:

    According to Exodus 32:18, Moses didn’t hear people celebrating victory or sorrowing over defeat, but people singing. And God didn’t say anything about the people’s music but specifically addressed their worship of the golden calf.

  155. Ronnie says:

    Hey Cheryl,

    You are exactly right! Creating or using something/someone for an evil purpose does not thereby make that thing/person inherently evil from that point on.

    Drfiddledd,

    You are right, There have been a few posts reading things into the Scriptures that are never stated.

    Ronnie

  156. Wayne says:

    drfiddledd,

    Is there an example anywhere in scripture where the misuse of music is addressed? I can’t think of one.

  157. Wayne says:

    David is bringing in the Ark to Jerusalem and poor Uzzah is struck down. It seems God had some pretty specific rules about carrying the Ark on poles instead of carts and who could carry them. Then he turns to the musicians and tells them to “play LOUD”!!!

    To the best of my understanding there was music going on when David moved the Ark incorrectly and music going on when he moved the Ark correctly. Nothing on what or how the musicians played.

  158. drfiddledd says:

    Wayne,

    I can’t think of one but I know that Exodus 32 doesn’t. There are some like Amos 6:4-6 that address the hearts of those singing, but none establishing objective standards.

  159. Wayne says:

    Yeah, I take that passage to be about the heart of the people and not about the objective standards. Otherwise, we would have to rule out ivory beds, stretching out on the couch and eating lamb. And even if it was a probity on of idle songs, there is nothing about what an idle song looks like. Nothing!

    I may be reading too much into this, but I find it quite remarkable that the bible never addresses any of the standards of music that we are debating. Thousands of laws describing many different areas, but no comments or objective standards of music… And music is there from pretty early on and takes center stage on more than a few stories.

    And, is there any reason to think all the surrounding heathens did not have music. Do we really think their music sounded like the music of God’s people?

  160. Martin says:

    Wayne, hasn’t this point been answered already? I mean, if we only had one common culture until the Enlightenment then I have no reason to believe it was any different a few thousand years earlier. There must have been folk music (whatever that was) and then the psalms (supposedly a higher form of music than what they would have used to celebrate at weddings etc.). Certainly there was also sensual music used in pagan rituals but popular music and highly specialized sub-cultural music as we know it today would not have been a problem at the time, just as they didn’t have cigarettes :-)

  161. Wayne says:

    Martin, maybe it has. So, does the bible address the sinfulness of sensual music or music in pagan rituals? Not trying to beat a dead horse here. But we have lots of examples in the bible about how what we do is less than God’s standard. I find it odd that music is never addressed this way.

  162. Wayne says:

    Not following you on having one culture until the enlightment. You mean western culture?

  163. Rajesh says:

    Ronnie,

    Concerning idolatry versus sorcery, the two are listed as separate sins in Paul’s partial list of the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:20). John distinguishes between these two categories of sins three times (Rev. 9:20-21; 21:8; 22:15); the latter two concern those who will end up in the lake of fire and will not enter the heavenly city and will not have the right to the tree of life. There are more, but four explicit weighty NT passages should be enough. Conflating idolatry and sorcery into one sin is not legitimate.

    Let me clarify my point about things used in idolatry versus things used for sorcery: there is a difference between meat that is used for idolatrous worship versus things specifically created for occult practices. Paul’s discussion in 1 Cor. 8:1-11:1 does not apply at all to things specifically created for occult practices because there is no question about any of those objects ever having been legitimate originally and then being misused, as the meat was before it was sacrificed to an idol.

    Concerning Moses destroying the idol, God has already revealed His mind decisively through Moses to the people before the Golden Calf incident: Exodus 23:24 “Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.” When Moses destroyed the calf, he was doing what God had already commanded to be done with idols. So, no, I am not reading a lot into the passage.

    Furthermore, many similar passages show that God’s mind has always been the destruction of idols: (Deut. 12:3; 2 Kings 10:26-27; 2 Chron. 14:3; 23:17; 31:1; 34:7). In the NT, when God’s people were no longer a national entity and could no longer legitimately destroy idols of other people, young believers still burned their magic books, which were very valuable (Acts 19:19).

    I think that I have produced Bible to answer all your most recent points. How about you answer biblically exactly how the Bible is so overwhelmingly clear that things cannot be evil? I am not interested in philosophical reasonings; please give me specific Bible statements that support your view.

  164. Rajesh says:

    Clarification: young believers still burned their own magic books after they were saved, not the books of other people involved in sorcery.

  165. Wayne says:

    Are you saying cigarettes are evil too? You putting fried chicken in there as well, right? But seriously, are we saying that for thousands of years, no one played any sinful music??? Or, that it was not important enough for God to address?

  166. Martin says:

    Yes, in the West – but I guess in most cultures; it would maybe have taken even longer in cultures that were only later affected by Western thought. The idea is the separate creation of a secular culture that could only start once people started to become agnostic or atheist and left the previous church-dominated culture in droves. In OT Israel, they made violently sure that everyone had the same culture :-)

    If you ask me about the sinfulness of music, I’m afraid I can’t help you there since I’m on the other side of the fence. Yet, I think the Bible may address music as part of sinful behaviour. Rajesh’s example of the ‘song of the harlot’ may be an example of that. What I draw from that is that there is music and probably also a style of singing that we can easily identify as the lure of a prostitute – doesn’t seem we’d need to study semiotics in music to get that one. This may be all we can get from the Bible directly. The rest is common sense: if music is typical for certain sinful behaviour then we need to consider if we can rededicate it to holy behaviour or if that turns out to be a complete misfit, like two horses pulling in opposite directions. Without saying the music itself is sinful, we can still say that it is more fitting for one kind of occasion or lyrics than for another. That has been what I wrote all along: leave the sin issue and concentrate on good art and aligning the music semiotically with the lyrics so you communicate well and effectively with your composition.

  167. Wayne says:

    The big difference is that Abraham was a pagan. He came from a pagan culture. Israel was the smallest of all nations. They had no influence on their neighbor’s culture. Lots of direction from God about the surrounding cultures. Nothing on music.

  168. Martin says:

    Not sure what else to say… if the music of the day was similar to what we know as folk music today (including Scott’s Chinese example) then I don’t think it needed heeding against. It seems to me that Israel had their own musical culture as exemplified in the psalms (even though we don’t know what that sounded like).
    The Bible does not tell us how to build houses (architecture), how to paint paintings, or how do do sculpture either. So it presumes art but does not specify how it should be (apart from instructions on the temple but I don’t think that can be extended to other buildings).
    To me, that the Bible may not speak specifically to a topic does not mean that I should not think about it and that there are no biblical principles that can be applied, or common sense or extrabiblical sources used to find the best way of dealing with it.
    If I want to build a good car, I study engineering. If I want to be a good artist, I study art – and theology, in case I want to do Christian art. Does that make sense or am I still missing the point?

  169. Wayne says:

    Martin, I think it is just something that I need to roll around in my head for a while. Your assumption above is logical to me: “The rest is common sense: if music is typical for certain sinful behavior…” But I try not to base my theology on logic.

    The fact that we know that the cultures around Israel in the OT and the Church in the NT were just as sinful as our worst today. It just seems like a given to me that they would have abused music as bad as we have today. No comment in the OT or NT on it.

    It is just feeling like a big deal to me at the moment. But, I try not to base my theology on feelings either…

    Just not doing a very good job articulating at the moment!

  170. Ronnie says:

    Hey Rajesh,

    You stated:
    “Concerning idolatry versus sorcery, the two are listed as separate sins in Paul’s partial list of the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:20). John distinguishes between these two categories of sins three times (Rev. 9:20-21; 21:8; 22:15); the latter two concern those who will end up in the lake of fire and will not enter the heavenly city and will not have the right to the tree of life. There are more, but four explicit weighty NT passages should be enough. Conflating idolatry and sorcery into one sin is not legitimate.”

    You are missing the point. I’m not arguing that the two things are the same. Here is what I previously asked you:

    “…you have not shown in what way they are separated in the Scriptures and how this separation invalidates the principle I pointed out in reference to something used for evil(i.e. meat sacrificed to idols ), but now being used for a good purpose(i.e. food ). “

    I’m asking you to explain the distinction between the two in that both( idolatry, sorcery ) are evil acts, but a thing used for one is not inherently evil(i.e. animal sacrificed for idol ) but a thing used for the other(i.e. Ouija board ) is. That is what you have not done and just providing verses where they are listed separately is not answering the question, as I agree that idolatry and sorcery are not the exact same thing.

    You stated:
    “Let me clarify my point about things used in idolatry versus things used for sorcery: there is a difference between meat that is used for idolatrous worship versus things specifically created for occult practices. Paul’s discussion in 1 Cor. 8:1-11:1 does not apply at all to things specifically created for occult practices because there is no question about any of those objects ever having been legitimate originally and then being misused, as the meat was before it was sacrificed to an idol.

    Once again you are not providing an argument, but instead just stating meat and things used for the occult are different and Paul never encountered the issue with occult things. Of course a sacrificial animal and a created Ouija Board are different. A sheep and a pig are different also, but stating that is not making an argument as to why the principle doesn’t apply to both. Of course Paul never dealt with things created for the occult, because that wasn’t a prevalent problem the New Covenant church was struggling with. However, I’m making an argument based on a *principle* gleamed from the issue of idols. A principle is something that one can apply in many different scenarios. So here is the principle:

    Things (whether carved wood or slaughtered animals prepared in specific way ) used specifically for an sinful practice( whether occult practices or worshipping idols ) are not in themselves inherently evil, but the practice is.
    So what I’m asking you to do is provide an argument as to why this principle is valid for food prepared and used for idol worship, but not for a created thing used in occult practices? Also another question, what if the occult practice/sorcery required the use of a sacrificial animal, would the animal be inherently evil like the wood? If not, explain why?

    You stated:
    “Concerning Moses destroying the idol, God has already revealed His mind decisively through Moses to the people before the Golden Calf incident: Exodus 23:24 “Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.” When Moses destroyed the calf, he was doing what God had already commanded to be done with idols. So, no, I am not reading a lot into the passage.”

    You are correct on the point that God had already told them to destroy break down the images. So I grant you that. However, Moses did do other things with the idol besides break it. He burned it, he ground it, he sprinkled it on water, and he had the people drank it. That is not a big point, but contrary to your claim that all they are to do with it is destroy it. However, I hope you would agree the destruction of the idol does not prove that the thing was inherently sinful, but instead God wanted it destroyed because it was used for a sinful purpose and would always be a temptation for that purpose as the history of Old Covenant people demonstrated. As a matter of fact this point is supported in that God instructed the Old Covenant people to destroy the pagan people in very similar language in the same context as He commanded them to destroy the idols and His reason was not because the pagans were inherently evil, but that pagan ways would be a temptation and corruption to His people.

    You stated:
    I think that I have produced Bible to answer all your most recent points. How about you answer biblically exactly how the Bible is so overwhelmingly clear that things cannot be evil? I am not interested in philosophical reasonings; please give me specific Bible statements that support your view.

    I grant you gave answers, but just giving an answer is not the same as providing a cogent argument. I have already answered biblically when I provided the principle derived from Scripture, specifically 1 Cor. 8. I mentioned to you previously that I didn’t practice a chapter and verse hermeneutic  I answered biblically by showing from Scripture that something prepared and used for an evil purpose, sacrifice in this case, does not make the thing itself evil. So whether the thing was created from wood, gold, or a prepared animal the principle is still the same.

    However, here are other example of this principle. In Mark 7:18-23 Jesus instructs the disciples that they are contributing evil to external things and not the heart and intentions of man. Under the Old Covenant regulations God had commanded the people not to eat certain things unless they would become ceremonially unclean. The Old Covenant people struggled mightily with this all throughout the New Testament writings. They were convinced that because God said these things would make then unclean the things themselves were inherently evil. We will not get bogged down into why God made this stipulation under the Old Covenant, but in Mark 7:20-23 Jesus states the principle sin is not in external things, but what comes out of the heart. Also notice here Jesus is apply this principle to much more than just idolatry as he gives a list of other sins that are not based on external things, but what comes from the heart.

    Mark 7:20-23:
    What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

    The Apostle Paul confirms this again in Romans 14:14 when he states:

    14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself.”

    “Nothing is unclean in itself” seems to strike at the heart of your contention that some things are unclean in and of themselves. The Apostle is talking primarily about food, because that was the Jewish struggle and the thing they wanted to attribute inherent evil to. But the principle is still made clear the same as Our Lord made clear. Evil is not in things. There are other examples and allusions to this principle that I could use from Titus 1:15, 1 Cor. 7:19, 1 Timothy 4:4, Colossians 2:21. Etc.

  171. Ronnie says:

    Hey Wayne,

    You stated:
    “The fact that we know that the cultures around Israel in the OT and the Church in the NT were just as sinful as our worst today. It just seems like a given to me that they would have abused music as bad as we have today. No comment in the OT or NT on it.”

    I think that is good point. Under the Old Covenant Israel didn’t invent all new musical instruments and I would assume their skills and crafts were based on what they had learned during their bondage in Egypt. The pagan cultures around Israel played music and sung to their gods. God gave Israel the content of their songs that was acceptable (i.e. Psalms) for worship, he didn’t give them specific tunes that was acceptable.

    Now I’m not saying all tunes are acceptable for worship as I think practically the tune needs to fit the song, but that is different from saying some tunes are inherently sinful because they are used by pagans.

  172. Rajesh says:

    Ronnie,

    No, all of Israel’s skills and crafts were not learned during their bondage in Egypt. Godly people had music in the time of Job, which was well before the time that the Israelites went to Egypt: http://apeopleforhisname.org/2013/10/learning-from-a-biblical-chronology-of-early-music-part-i/

    Furthermore, your broad statement about Israelite musical instruments in the Old Covenant is not biblically verifiable and therefore a mere assertion. We do not know who invented many of the instruments mentioned in Scripture.

    Several passages in Scripture leave open the possibility that David invented many instruments (1 Chron. 23:5; 2 Chron. 7:6; 29:26-27; Neh. 12:36). Arguing from silence does not prove that Israel did not invent any instruments and that God did not give Israel the tunes that were acceptable. Many scholars believe that the inspired superscriptions on many of the Psalms actually refer to musical tunes and/or other musical terms.

  173. Martin says:

    Thanks Ronnie. I wonder whether the (previously mentioned) brazen serpent adds to what you wrote: here we have an inherently good (according to Rajesh?) object that was ALSO destroyed (2.Ki 18:4). This is where things are getting fairly complicated for someone who holds things are good or evil: was the serpent first good (when God told Moses to make it) and then turned evil? Or if it wasn’t evil, why did it have to be destroyed like all ‘evil’ things, such as the calf?

  174. Ronnie says:

    Hey Rajesh,

    I wasn’t claiming *all of Israel’s skills and crafts* were learned in their bondage to Egypt. Of course they had skills, but before going into Egypt they were a small group of nomadic people who were primarily agrarian. Exodus 1:1-5 tells us only 70 of them went to Egypt and it was in the Egyptian culture that they multiplied and without a doubt learned many skills in building, crafts, and entertainment for the Pharaoh and the authorities. Playing musical instruments, building things, and other crafts were not a concern for a small group of nomadic shepherds and farmers. Also in Genesis 4:21 we are told the father of those who played string instruments and pipes was Jubal who was from the line of Cain. The verses you quoted in reference to David making/prescribing instruments does not mean he *invented* the instrument. You can make/prescribe a guitar today for some event, but that doesn’t mean you invented the instrument, right?

  175. Ronnie says:

    Hey Martin,

    You stated:
    I wonder whether the (previously mentioned) brazen serpent adds to what you wrote: here we have an inherently good (according to Rajesh?) object that was ALSO destroyed (2.Ki 18:4). This is where things are getting fairly complicated for someone who holds things are good or evil: was the serpent first good (when God told Moses to make it) and then turned evil? Or if it wasn’t evil, why did it have to be destroyed like all ‘evil’ things, such as the calf?

    Yes. Excellent example that makes the point. Rajesh argument is a non sequitur. It doesn’t follow that because God calls his people to destroy something that was used in a sinful way the thing must be inherently evil. There could be a number of other reasons why God wanted them to destroy thing.

  176. Wayne says:

    Ronnie,

    Along those same lines is the law itself. In Romans 7, Paul had to address the question – is the law sin? Right after verse 6 (But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code).

    (10-12) The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

    Following the law produces death, not life – because the Jews followed it without faith. The law (which is holy and righteous and good) became a stumbling block. (Like the brazen serpent)

    The law without faith in the work of the Christ only brings death.

  177. Wayne says:

    The curtain of the temple was torn in two which was the end of the ceremonial law of the Jews. (This end was finalized when the Temple was destroyed in/around 70 AD) So, like the brazen serpent, some of the law of God given to his people was destroyed.

  178. Ronnie says:

    Hey Wayne,

    Your post on the Law in Romans 7 was very good and it is causing my mind to race with what that tells us in reference to this current debate. For example, the Law itself which is good and holy, could be used for sin and produce death. Therefore is the corollary , is true that something which was created for evil by man, could be used for a good purpose? it seems those in Scott’s camp would say no.

    Thanks!

  179. Wayne says:

    Ronnie, I agree.

    Verse 8 – But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.

    Paul is saying that the law produced in me all kinds of covetousness. I think the same is true with music. If i have lust in my heart and a HHH song brings thoughts of lust to my mind, then the same is true of HHH as the law. It produces in me all kinds of lust.

    If I struggle with Eastern thoughts and am drawn to emptying my mind in meditation, then the Chinese Zither music produces evil thoughts in me. We have seen that authentic Christian meditation is not the emptying of one’s mind, nor does it pursue the goal of losing one’s personal identity in an undifferentiated union with the divine. Instead, Scripture tells us time and again that the practice of meditation involves not forgetting the Word of God (Josh. 1:8), reading it, and contemplating it so that it might penetrate our hearts and sanctify us by the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16–17; Heb. 4: 12–13). (From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: http://www.ligonier.org)

  180. Wayne says:

    BTW – the last paragraph, the first sentence is mine and the rest is from Ligonier (just to be clear).

    And Ronnie, I am also “a confessional Presbyterian and hold to the Westminster Standards, which teaches the concept of “good and necessary consequence” when deriving our doctrine.”

  181. Ronnie says:

    Hey Wayne,

    Good stuff. Drop me an email would like to hear more about you :)

    r o n d e l d o n @ h o t m a i l . c o m

    removes the spaces.

    Ronnie

  182. Rajesh says:

    Ronnie,

    You are missing the point, Ronnie. You are paralleling the Ouija board to the meat. I’m saying that it is not parallel to the meat; it is parallel to the idol. God was the source of the meat, but Scripture provides no basis for making either the idol or the Ouija board.

    If the meat is no different from the idol (or the Ouija board), then why does the Scripture never show that the idol could be reused for other purposes? According to your rationale, the idol had to be destroyed simply because as an idol it would be a constant temptation. Why then could the idol not be molten so that it would no longer bear any resemblance to the idol and be used for many other useful purposes?

    About Mark 7, you have mishandled the passage because Jesus does not teach that nothing external of any form can defile a man. He explains what He says in verse 18 by stating in verse 19 that things that only enter the stomach but do not enter the heart cannot defile a man. This passage does not apply at all to external things such as music that do enter the heart of man and affect it.

    You merely assert that the other passages you cite support the principle that you hold. As you have said to me, mere assertion does not show validity. You have to show how these passages specifically support what you believe.

  183. Rajesh says:

    Ronnie,

    You also missed my point about godly people already knowing about and having developed music at the time of Job. Just because the Israelites were a small number of people does not mean that they were not fully capable of making musical instruments and playing them for divine worship. Where is the biblical evidence to support your assertion that the Israelites got their instruments from the Egyptians and assimilated their music into the worship of Yahweh?

    I’m not following your comment about Jubal. So what if he invented those two specific instruments. Are you asserting that proves that he invented all the other instruments that Scripture speaks of as well? Furthermore, the fact that he invented those instruments has no bearing on what other people did or could do with those instruments themselves.

  184. Ronnie says:

    Hey Rajesh,

    You stated:
    “You are missing the point, Ronnie. You are paralleling the Ouija board to the meat. I’m saying that it is not parallel to the meat; it is parallel to the idol. God was the source of the meat, but Scripture provides no basis for making either the idol or the Ouija board.”

    Rajesh, I’m paralleling things used in evil acts. It is an ad hoc argument to say only the idol or Ouija board counts as inherently evil when there are other things that are used in the evil act. Why do they get excluded? Because you say so? Your distinction that God was the source of the meat, but not the idol isn’t accurate. It both cases the material was created by God at initial creation and is maintained and created by His providence after that. So whether you cut down a tree and carve it into some shape or you raise/buy/capture an animal and slaughtered it as prescribed by the ceremony is really an arbitrary distinction you are trying to make. In both cases the human prepares things that God created as good for an evil purpose and used them for that purpose. Why is it that one of things become inherently sinful, but the others don’t? Furthermore, the Apostle Paul describes both the meat and idol in the same way in that same context when he says both are nothing:

    1 Corinthians 10
    19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, …”

    So here we see the Apostle gives them both the same meaning in the same act. Both are nothing, and that is the reason neither is inherently evil.
    The Jews thought just like you. They thought the evil was inherently in things, and that is why they thought certain meat couldn’t be eaten under the Old or New Covenant. That is why they thought eating with dirty hands defiled you under both covenants. That is why coming in contact with lepers defiled you, etc. Since God commanded them not to do these things under the Old Covenant they assumed the things were inherently evil. The Scriptures corrected that thinking and established the principle that evil is not in things, but you seem to want the Scriptures to say it for every single thing that the people considered evil. The Scriptures are not written like that as we discussed earlier. The Scriptures gives us principles to be applied in different circumstances and does not attempt to say the same thing for every scenario that we could come up with.

    You stated:
    If the meat is no different from the idol (or the Ouija board), then why does the Scripture never show that the idol could be reused for other purposes?

    First we have to acknowledge under the New Covenant there was radical shift in God’s dealing with these things. God had commanded many laws and practices for the nation of Israel, not because the things were inherently evil, but because he was setting them apart from the nations around them. So the Jews would have never used the meat sacrificed to an idol or the idol for another purpose. This situation arose because the church was being established in Gentile lands where there were different practices. The Gentiles would re-sale the meat that was used for sacrifices in the markets. Many who bought the meat had no idea if it had been used for sacrificial purpose, and if it wasn’t for the Corinthian situation the Scriptures would have never mentioned it. So the only reason the reuse of the meat was mentioned was because of the specific scenario with the Corinthians. It is not the intent of the Scriptures to show you alternative uses for things, furthermore even if the things were reused it is not the purpose of the Scriptures to document it for you.

    You stated:
    “According to your rationale, the idol had to be destroyed simply because as an idol it would be a constant temptation. Why then could the idol not be molten so that it would no longer bear any resemblance to the idol and be used for many other useful purposes?”

    Simple, God told them to destroy it. God also told them why, because they would become corrupted by it and worship it, which they did anyway.

    You stated:
    About Mark 7, you have mishandled the passage because Jesus does not teach that nothing external of any form can defile a man. He explains what He says in verse 18 by stating in verse 19 that things that only enter the stomach but do not enter the heart cannot defile a man. This passage does not apply at all to external things such as music that do enter the heart of man and affect it.

    You should have kept reading verses 20-23
    20 He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

    Evil always has its origination in the heart and the external is a manifestation of that evil. This is fairly basic Christian teaching. The book of James says it even more explicitly:

    James 1:14
    but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin;
    So here again we see that sin originates from within. In your effort to defend your position it seems you are going farther then Scott. You are literally arguing that those who listen to the music becomes defiled because the music enters their heart.

    You stated:
    You merely assert that the other passages you cite support the principle that you hold. As you have said to me, mere assertion does not show validity. You have to show how these passages specifically support what you believe.

    It was not an assertion, they were Scriptural proofs that things are not evil. Did you read them?

  185. Ronnie says:

    Hey Rajesh,

    You stated:
    You also missed my point about godly people already knowing about and having developed music at the time of Job. Just because the Israelites were a small number of people does not mean that they were not fully capable of making musical instruments and playing them for divine worship. Where is the biblical evidence to support your assertion that the Israelites got their instruments from the Egyptians and assimilated their music into the worship of Yahweh?

    Rajesh, my point was not only that the Israelites were a small number, but that they were a nomadic, agrarian people. They were not craftsmen and musicians, but farmers and shepherds. The 70 were all descendants of Abraham who himself was a pagan. So where did they get this knowledge so quickly to not only re-event the instruments, but also learn how to skillfully play them in their spare time 

    You stated:
    I’m not following your comment about Jubal. So what if he invented those two specific instruments. Are you asserting that proves that he invented all the other instruments that Scripture speaks of as well? Furthermore, the fact that he invented those instruments has no bearing on what other people did or could do with those instruments themselves.

    It wasn’t two specific instruments it was types of instruments, string and pipe instruments. What type of instruments do you think David used?

  186. Rajesh says:

    I’m taking a day off from discussing this subject further. Hope everyone has a blessed beginning to 2014 that finds you walking blameless in love before God.

  187. Ronnie says:

    Hey Rajesh,

    The same to you and Lord Be With You!

    Ronnie

  188. Rajesh says:

    Ronnie,

    Hope the new year has begun well for you.

    As often happens in discussions of this type, the introduction of many different threads into one conversation makes it very hard to stay focused on what the main point under discussion is. I asserted and still assert that both idols and objects specifically made for occult practices are evil objects. You counter by arguing that that what God did with Old Covenant Israel just made it seem to them like those objects were evil and that God “straightened out” that wrong thinking with Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor. 8-10 and related teaching elsewhere.

    You further assert that Paul’s saying in 1 Cor. 10:19 that both the idol and the meat offered to it are “nothing” means that they are both not inherently evil. Your interpretation of what Paul means by “nothing” in this statement is not supported by what Paul says in 1 Cor. 10:20: “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.” What Paul means when he says that an idol is nothing is that the deity that it supposedly is does not exist. A sacrifice to a nonexistent deity is also of no consequence from the standpoint of sacrificing to a nonexistent entity. This is the sense in which Paul parallels the idol and the meat sacrificed to it by saying that both are nothing.

    (Confirmation that this is what Paul was teaching is seen by pagan complaints about his ministry recorded in Acts 19:26. Silversmiths in Ephesus testified that “Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands.” These silversmiths would not be complaining if they believed that Paul was saying that there was not anything inherently wrong with idols. They attest to his teaching that the gods that the idols were supposed to be were in reality nonexistent.)

    Paul further explains in 1 Cor. 10:20 that the reality to what takes place when meat is offered to an idol is that people sacrifice to demons and they come into fellowship with demons. So, whereas the deity that the idol supposedly is in reality does not exist, there is a profoundly dangerous reality to what takes place through offering a sacrifice to that idol—sacrificing to demons and fellowship with demons! Paul is not commenting about the morality of the idol when he says it is nothing; of course, it is sinful because it is being used (unknowingly) by humans for what is in reality the worship of demons.

    There is a real contrast between the idol and the meat offered to it because God never intended the wood or metal that He created to be shaped into an idol for human worship. By contrast, God created the animals and later gave them as food to mankind. When the meat (however it may have been cut, shaped, etc. for sacrifice to the idol) is later consumed just as meat (not as meat offered to an idol), it is legitimate for people to do so because the meat is being used again for its God-authorized purpose.

    When I point out, by contrast, that God has never allowed an idol, once it has been shaped from good materials into an evil object, to be reused, you assert that it was different in the Old Covenant than it is now in the New Covenant. Yet you are arguing from silence in the NT to establish this point.

    Your argument of a change in this respect from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant is flawed and the NT shows that it is flawed by recording an explicit instance of Christian dealing with objects of the occult. God wanted the Israelites to have no contact with the occult and any of its objects. We see new Christians having the same viewpoint as OT Israelites concerning objects of the occult—the Christians burned their own books (used in their magic practices) after they were saved (Acts 19:19). (These books were very valuable and could have been sold to others to make other books out of them.)

    Your argument about a major change between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant in this respect is thus explicitly refuted by the NT itself concerning objects of the occult. Objects of the occult always have been and still are evil objects that God does not want His people to have any contact with.

    This passage shows that regardless of whatever you think 1 Cor. 8-10 shows about idols and meat offered to idols, the NT does not allow you to have the same viewpoint concerning things specifically made for the occult.

    The flow of thought in Acts 19:19 to Acts 19:20 shows that what these believers did with those magic books was pleasing to God and led to the mighty advance of the cause of God: “So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed” (Acts 19:20). The word “so” in the Greek text is a word that directly ties what these believers did with the resulting mighty growth of the word of God and its prevailing. It also shows that what they did was in keeping with what the word of God has always prescribed concerning evil objects used for the occult.

    As I see it, the bottom line is this: even if you could legitimately argue from silence that God wants Christians to have a different viewpoint and approach to idols than the Israelites did, the NT still explicitly refutes the notion that Christians are supposed to have a different viewpoint than the Israelites did about objects of the occult. Both Testaments unite in saying that such objects are wicked. The NT thus shows that objects can be evil.

  189. Ronnie says:

    Hey Rajesh,
    I started reading your response and go to your first paragraph and threw my hands up in despair. Here is what you stated:

    “I asserted and still assert that both idols and objects specifically made for occult practices are evil objects. You counter by arguing that that what God did with Old Covenant Israel just made it seem to them like those objects were evil and that God “straightened out” that wrong thinking with Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor. 8-10 and related teaching elsewhere.”

    What??? I never said anything like that. I never said God made it seems like the objects were evil. I never said he “straightened out that wrong”. Do you have a concept in your theology for the discontinuity between the covenants? If so, you should know no one states “God made things seem like they were evil” … “straightened out that wrong”. I’m comfortable with what I stated previously, and your current post doesn’t even get the points accurate. I don’t have the desire to go back through and correct all the misunderstandings. So you can have the last word.

    Until we meet again in another thread.

    Ronnie

  190. Rajesh says:

    Ronnie,

    If I mischaracterized what you wrote, it was not intentional. What I wrote is the sense that I came away with based on what I understood you were arguing most recently.

    I agree that it’s probably best for us to end this discussion at this point. Maybe some other time when you are not so flustered, you can read the rest of what I wrote to see if there is anything profitable there.

    Thanks for the interaction.

    Rajesh

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