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Harold Best vs. Ken Myers on Musical Meaning

This is an excellent illustration of where Evangelicalism is on issues related to music and worship. I’m thankful to 9Marks for doing this. It’s very instructive.

The folks at 9Marks asked three questions to two individuals who have written and spoken on the subject of musical meaning:

  • Can God employ any musical form for redemptive purposes?
  • Even if God can employ any musical form redemptively, are some musical forms spiritually or morally “better” than others?
  • Are some musical forms “better” for the sake of the gathered church?

They asked both Harold Best and Ken Myers to respond and then posted their answers in two separate posts. Best’s answer is here, and Myers’s answer is here. Both are worth reading in their entirety, but I’d like to summarize and highlight what I believe to be the most pertinent points.

BI_PrimeTime_HaroldBestHarold Best represents the majority of evangelical opinions on this matter, which is fitting since his writings and teachings have significantly contributed to perpetuating this thinking among evangelicals. You’ll find that most evangelical leaders who defend musical relativism–everyone from John Piper to Bob Kauflin to Matt Cosper and others–quote Harold Best’s classic Music Through the Eyes of Faith as support for their views. By the way, we posted an excellent review of Best’s book and its philosophy here.

Best’s basic view is that music carries no meaning of its own, it is therefore neutral, and thus no music is better than another, and no music is more or less appropriate for the gathered church. Pretty much the default evangelical view.

There are many problems with Best’s position, but I would summarize his root problem this way: Best’s position mistakenly categorizes music as a neutral “thing” and insists that God only judges people for how they act, God only redeemed people, and that only people’s motives and actions matter.

The problem is that music is not just a “thing” like a rock or a shoe or a donut.

Must is human communication; it is human action. Music is produced by moral human agents, and I’m not just talking about how a particular song or style is used by humans; the song itself is human action. This powerful form of communication, like all human forms of communication, expresses values, sentiments and moods that are part of what must be judged for their moral worth.

So I agree with Best that God judges people for how they act, and this includes the music they produce. God redeems people to be sure, but when he redeems them, their actions change. It is true that motives and values produce actions, and these are what matter, but music falls squarely in that category.

Ken-studioAnd this is where Ken Myers’s outstanding reply comes in. Myers correctly notes that the kind of relativism Best articulates fails to recognize that there exists far more levels of meaning and significance than what is merely communicated through propositions. He astutely observes that “theologically conservative Christians adept at defending propositional truths often neglect the task of learning to discern non-propositional meaning.” How true. He points out that so much value (good or bad) is expressed through imaginative forms such as music. This meaning is carried, not discursively like with propositional statements, but metaphorically through various gestures, timbres, textures, and other musical qualities that relate to universal human experience.

This means that some kinds of music are certainly better than others depending upon the values they embody. And even more important, some kinds of music are certainly better for corporate gatherings of the church since some kinds of musical meaning are simply not fitting for what goes on there.

I so appreciate Myers’s thoughtful explanation of these matters, and I wish that more Evangelicals would read and adopt his class book on culture, All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes rather than the musical pluralism of Best’s Music Through the Eyes of Faith.

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.

46 Responses to Harold Best vs. Ken Myers on Musical Meaning

  1. Martin says:

    Thanks for posting this. I was rather surprised to see that Best’s contribution remains at least two levels below that of Myers. They are not equals.
    Sunsets are artifacts? Comparing pine trees and birds to music styles? There is no good or bad taste? Best appears lost in space and like someone who hasn’t yet thought through the issues in his reply.
    I had Best’s book on my to-read list but am not longer sure it’s worth the time…

  2. Kaitlyn says:

    Thank you for including Meyer’s quotation “theologically conservative Christians adept at defending propositional truths often neglect the task of learning to discern non-propositional meaning.” I found this to be an incredibly insightful summary statement. Perhaps this is a contributing factor to why the conservative Christian world is often criticized for its poor production of art and literature. A people that has neglected the discerning of non-propositional meaning results in failing to produce works of exceptional non-propositional meaning.

  3. Jared Longoria says:

    “Music is human communication; it is human action . . . the song itself is human action.” What a strong statement—it shed new light on the subject for me. However, what I always feel is lurking behind these posts is the idea that pop-related forms are obviously not worthy of use in corporate worship. But, I still fail to be convinced of this idea based on the elements of the music itself. I’m not talking about the history or motivations that might have led to a pop-style’s creation, but the elements of the music itself as we see them today. I see simple duple and triple meters, a mixture of syncopated and isometric rhythms, melodies with ranges spanning anywhere from a 5th to a 12th, use of primary, secondary, ternary chords, and some altered chords, normal cadences (though with a penchant for plagal nowadays), and mostly strong-beat rhythmic feels. The instrumentation is biblically allowable (drums, stringed instruments [including guitars and keyboards], and, depending on the style, woodwind and brass instruments). Singing is still the emphasis. Some texts are better than others, but many still are direct paraphrases and quotations of Scripture. Simple rhyme schemes are used. The V-C-B-C form could be compared to a Rondo. So, what is lacking in the music? What makes unfit for the church?

  4. Jared Longoria says:

    *The rondo comment would have made more sense if I wrote it this way: the Verse-Chorus-Verse-[Chorus-Bridge]-Verse-Chorus-Verse song form parallels an A-B-A-C-A-B-A Rondo.

  5. ai-chin says:

    I agree with Jared. Since music is human communication, and Christians create music is to reflect God, then the use of pop-style music in corporate worship is not even a problem; as long as it is created to reflect God’s beauty. Also, I like what Jared said, the history of pop-style should not even be an issue to reject pop-style in corporate worship.
    In his book, Popolpgetics, Ted Turnau argues that when Christians determine classical music or traditional music are high culture, and popular music (include Jazz) is low culture, this is a bias and races statement. He gives a great example. He points out that jazz used to be defined as low culture because it is a slave-music; only slaves would listen to it. However, today, Jazz is performed in Carnegie Hall. My point of telling this is that there is no absolute and forever good and band things. Things are good will not be good forever. Things are bad will not forever be bad. Just like us, sinners, we are saved and forgiven by God grace, and is transforming slowly to become more like Jesus. In deed the starting point of popular music was to stimulate emotion and it was shallow; in deed it is still the same today. But this does not mean that it can’t be changed and become better.
    Keith and Kristyn Getty, modern hymn composers, their style is very much the same with popular style, who can argue that they have no impact. “Thousands of voices singing ‘Holy, Holy, Holy,’ A Capella, at the end of the conference, with scarcely a dry eye in the place”
    http://thegospelcoalition.org/liveworship2013/

  6. Martin says:

    Ai-chin, but you are generalizing something here: maybe Jazz is in Carnegie Hall but I have trouble imagining trash metal there as well (though one never knows…). When you say, things are not forever good or bad, you are going too far. Of course associations can change over time but poison will always be poison and excrement remains excrement; it cannot be ‘redeemed’ or improved. Pop style itself was never created to glorify God. Of course, we do this now with specific songs written in those styles but still need to address the question is this is appropriate or not.

    BTW, if anyone can comment on rock music, that would be great: it used to be associated with rebellion and sex but today, is accepted throughout society and has lost the bad rap. Yet, is this
    a) because it really no longer signifies these things or
    b) because the generations that have grown up with this rebellious attitude are now adults and so, the attitude is now simply the standard?

    In other words, the ‘rebellion’ against former values and standards may still be there but it no longer appears simply because only those about to die still hold to them, whereas mainstream society has now fully adopted the values and attitudes of the rock era. I’m not exactly sure how to answer this, so if others have some intelligence, feel free…

  7. Martin says:

    Jared, I guess the easy answer to your question would be, read as much as you can on this website and you will see.
    But I wanted to take the challenge since it’s a question that is likely to come up in any conversation around church music. So here’s my attempt:
    # Personally, I prefer a case-by-case evaluation over a general rejection of a style. Of course, as styles become more and more depraved (e.g., death metal), a wholesale rejection of a style can be more easily justified.
    # Analyzing each element of a style may not be of much assistance; it is the general ‘sound’ of a song that needs to be taken into account. Of course, if the song is part of a style, it will tend to sound like many others of the same style.
    # Popular music was note created for worship. Much popular music was created ‘for fun’ or to express certain attitudes that often go against biblical values (or against extremes also often held by Christians, but then they throw out the baby with the bathwater and also reject what good should be retained).
    # Certainly, God is not against ‘fun’ and there may be room for fun in worship as well. What I dread is imbalance; if we ONLY have short, shallow ‘fun’ songs or even songs that may be more sentimental or emotional but still do not reach the depth of the majority of psalms, we tilt out worship towards an unhealthy margin that no longer represents a biblical understanding of reality.
    # Also, we need to take care that our worship music properly instructs the congregation about how to feel about propositional content (the lyrics we sing). Many popular songs fall short on that issue and will combine weighty lyrics to trite melodies and dancing rhythms when it would be better to use a more serene melody etc. This creates an erroneous theology; often, the tendency is to present an overly triumphant gospel or to emphasize the promises over the trials, or a failure to represent other complexities in conflicts in the life of a Christian or a biblical statement.
    # There is also the clear and present danger of syncretism. Using popular music in church says that ‘it’s ok’ to use such music. Now I don’t mean to say that Christians should not listen to popular music (I myself do) but Christians should do so with more discernment than non-Christians. Adopting popular culture wholesale is sending a wrong message to the congregation. Worship in church should be different from what we do at home or listening to the radio in our cars. It should project a noble and holy attitude towards God, and should express biblical thoughts and values. The latter is achieved by a COMBINATION of lyrics and music. You can deny the lyrics by adding inappropriate music to it. So we should not shay away from, but actually purposely design our worship to be different than what surrounds us during the rest of the week. Christianity differs from society at large, and as such, should be a light in the darkness. This necessarily means we need to be different in our ways as well, including our cultural choices and expressions.

    With you, I hesitate to say music is human communication. I have to agree with Best that music (without lyrics) cannot communicate propositionally. Yet, I disagree with him that it is therefore neutral. Music heavily shapes emotions and can change the meaning of lyrics, just as different tones of speech can. As such, we need to pick and choose the music for worship carefully.

  8. Jared Longoria says:

    Martin, I appreciate the response. I think the “case-by-case” tactic is very wise. However, I want to make clear that I agree with the majority of Myers (and Aniol’s) philosophy regarding musical communication (in case that wasn’t clear), I just disagree with some of the application. And, while I appreciate many of Best’s insights, I disagree with the idea that music is neutral.

  9. Jessica Wan says:

    I firmly believe music is NOT neutral.

    From our studies in class, we agree that culture is not neutral, since culture is biblically defined as behavior externalized, where behavior could either be good or bad. Hence music, as a product and reflection of culture, could also be good and bad. We need to adhere closely to the Word to properly judge whether or not the music is appropriate.

  10. Ben Little says:

    As of this point in philosophical formation, I am in agreement with Jared. There are a lot of philosophical points I agree with, but some application I’m not sure is accurate. A case by case study should be applied as new songs continue to be produced; there are forms that do not promote worship; but not every text or melody is shallow.

  11. ai-chin says:

    Martin, my the only point is that we should not nail something down with absolute. I am not saying that we all should use pop style in worship now or starting today. All I mean is that we should give chance to things, they can change over time; maybe 10 years later, popular style will not be what every think it is today.

  12. Jessie W. says:

    I would agree that music is not just some “thing” that can be used in anyway we see fit. Music is a creation by man using the laws of physics that God put into place just as Cocaine is a creation by man that comes from opium, a plant created by God. Obviously using cocaine would be out of line with the biblical principles God has put into place. In the same respect, certain music is better suited for congregational worship. However, the type of music used will greatly depend on the surrounding culture of worshipers.

  13. Jessie W. says:

    Ben makes good points as well because new music is constantly being produced. As music is produced we should judge the music on its appropriateness for corporate worship. The following factors may be considered: Is the text doctrinally true, does the music fit the text, and is the music accessible to the congregation. Related to my earlier comment, accessibility with greatly depend upon the surrounding culture.

  14. Martin says:

    Jared, would you mind to quickly explain what convinced you that music is indeed morally relevant communication, if that is what you meant above?
    When we say music is not neutral, we also should specify in what respect, i.e. morally, propositionally, emotionally, or whatever.

  15. Yangji Choi says:

    Human being can communicate through music as do through language.

    We cannot say one language is better or superior than other languages. However, within one language we can compare a word is nobler than another word.

    So we cannot say this country’s music is superior or better than the other country. However within country or one cultural area we can say this music is superior or more advanced than the other music.

  16. Bora Kim says:

    I disagree that music is neutral.
    Can you imagine that the bar owners use hymnal for his customers? No way. They are not using hymnal. Instead of that, they are playing sensuous music.
    In addition, if music is neutral, why background music is used commercially?
    I think music is a kind of language. Music has both good and bad abilities. Because of the contaminated Satan, there is the contaminated music. Also, Paul said, “speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). Therefore, music is not neutral at all.

  17. Wendy Ku says:

    I appreciate Myers on stating that music carries meaning metaphorically and expresses value. I think this is true to other art forms: painting, sculpture, literature, dance, etc. All these forms convey meaning whether discursively or metaphorically, and the meaning is not just on the level of association. If a provocative gesture is used in any of these forms, the observers/readers/audiences would have no difficulty identifying it; it’s obvious because it’s provocative in nature. I believe that the Evangelical in general would agree this notion and prohibit any “provocative use” of these forms at church. I’ve even heard some evangelical Christians argue that dance should not be used at church at all because it’s subject to pagan culture and easily yields to sexual connotations, which I don’t agree personally. This might be en extreme example, but two questions stem from here:
    1. If we as Evangelicals recognize that art forms like these communicate meaning, then we can’t we admit that music carries meaning?
    2. If we scrutinize art forms like dance or sculpture,which are least used at church, with such a high standard (almost unreasonable and picky!), then why don’t we evaluate music, an art form which is mostly used at church, in a similar fashion?

  18. Vaden says:

    I agree that motives behind music are different and that languages and music styles are different. The part that I don’t agree with is that certain styles are more superior than others. It boils down to a preferance.
    The thing that is superior is someone’s heart when singing if it’s for God or themselves and this is something we cannot determine only God can. When we start talking what is superior ad what is not; it is nothing more than making yourself a mini God and stating that this is only appropriate and that is a scary line to mess with. I know that I have preferences for worship but I am not going to turn someone away from worshiping God when it aligns theologically with the Bible in content.

  19. Vaden says:

    Jessie I am not likening the comparrison to an addicting substance with music. I see where you are going but stating that you are going into the category that we shouldn’t have music. The question I ask for you is do we ban preaching because preaching is man made as well.

  20. John says:

    Such great discussion on this topic. I think one of the main points here is the appropriateness of certain musical forms for the gathered church. I believe that there are some popular musical forms that can be used effectively in a worship setting and some that cannot be used. I also agree, along with many others in the class, that we must always examine not only the content but our motivations behind the use of a style or musical form.

  21. Jacqueline Choi says:

    Music is an action. Therefore, the kind of music that is produced should be carefully selected. I agree with such statement.

  22. Daniel La Nu says:

    I am not quite convinced when Martin said, ” Pop style itself was never created to glorify God. It is a strong statement.Then, my question, simply out of my own curiosity, is “What specific style or styles are biblically approved to glorify God?” Just for the sake of clarification, I am not advocating popular music for congregational songs. As far as application of pop-related forms in corporate worship concerns, I am convinced of what Jared is trying to say about common pop-related elements in the music they are being used in ‘contemporary worship music’ today, and his emphasis on applications of simple rhythms, the use of accessible and congregationally friendly melodies, biblically approved instrumentations. Of course, I understand there are some pop music that are not appropriate for worship. Christians, I believe, are sensible enough to use appropriate music for appropriate occasions. We don’t use techno or club music for communion service, do we? I hope we are not trying to be puritans, and condemn everything that has “pop” influence.

  23. Keji L. says:

    I agree with what Martin mentioned earlier “a case-by-case evaluation over a general rejection of a style.” I think that is very important. We can’t reject a certain style, because we simply can’t judge it as we are so limited. However, we can choose not to use a song in worship, because it is not appropriate.

  24. Grace Chang says:

    I think it is very true that “some kinds of music are certainly better than others depending upon the values they embody”. And “some kinds of music are certainly better for corporate gatherings of the church”. I believe there are good and bad music. And there are some kinds of music that are not suitable for corporate worship. The notes, lyrics, instrumentation, performing style… I think all these constitute as a whole message that the music convey. Each element has influence on what and how the message is conveyed. When we analyse the music, we will know better if the music is good or bad for the use in church or corporate worship.

  25. Jared Longoria says:

    Martin, I really like Susan Langer’s quote of a quote, “music sounds the way emotions feel.” I think music is universally perceived due to humanity’s common physiology and that our physiology is indeed common due to its being a part of God’s created order. So, I believe music, beyond simple associative meaning, has intrinsic meaning that affects our bodies and souls. This intrinsic meaning could be compared to the meaning of physical facial expressions (Stephen Davie’s “emotion characteristics in kind”). A smile universally communicates happiness regardless of whether the smiler or the person(s) perceiving the smile are happy … it is a symbol/expression of happiness. Music communicates in a similar, though auditory, way. A major/ionian mode tune with simple diatonic melody with dotted rhythms and quick tempo will, like a smile, almost universally be perceived as happy. Not all music is that simple (just like facial expressions aren’t that simple), but just because something is complex doesn’t mean its unintelligible or ineffectual (in a least a biological sense).

    So, long story short, I believe music can communicate “morally, propositionally, emotionally, or whatever,” but doesn’t necessarily communicate in all those ways in every situation and should be treated, like you said, in a case by case fashion. Every act has three ethical dimensions: the act itself, the context, and the motive . . . sometimes the act is inherently evil and the other two factors can’t do anything to change that. With music, however, I find that the music itself is rarely so intrinsically good or bad as to merit use (or disuse) regardless of the other two factors . . . so, I find motive and context to be very important to the final judgment on a song’s, musical piece’s, etc communication.

  26. Rick says:

    There have been a lot of “I believe…” “I think…” type statements in all of the comments, and I can’t help but notice the lack of Scripture. If we are attempting to develop a biblical philosophy of music then shouldn’t Scripture be involved? I had a hermeneutics professor that drilled into our heads, “I don’t care what you think, believe, or perceive…what does Scripture say?” Go to Scripture and allow it to speak to the matter. What does it say about the meaning of music and which styles are appropriate? What does it say is important about the use of music?

  27. Sze Wing Ho says:

    I agree that “value (good or bad) is expressed through imaginative forms such as music…but metaphorically through various gestures, timbres, textures, and other musical qualities that relate to universal human experience.” I also believe that “some kinds of music are certainly better than others depending upon the values they embody.” But how can we know the value of music? Does every piece of music carry explicit meaning or value? It is easier to make judgment based on words but it is much more difficult to make judgment based on some abstract means. In my opinion, we should definitely avoid to use or to listen to some music that carries bad values explicitly. However, we should not hinder people’s creativity and imagination that is given by God.

  28. Martin says:

    Jared – yes, the emotional communication in music is fairly obvious, and agreed upon by many in the field. You didn’t explain how you get from there to moral communication, however, actually admitting you fin it hard to say if it’s good or bad without also adding context and intent. I wholeheartedly agree, but that is nothing like the claim that music is human communication and therefore always morally relevant. Emotions aren’t propositional, and I am not sure how a song communicating ‘happy’ or any other feeling can be morally determined. As you wrote, it may differ with context, but if so, I don’t see how people still claim the music itself is morally determined. If it varies by context, does that not show that the music itself is reduced to a tool that can be used for good or bad = it’s not the music but how it is used where morality comes in?
    Anyways, I didn’t mean to stretch this out further but simply was curious why you said you were agreeing with Scott’s claim. Thanks for explaining your position.

  29. Jessica Wan says:

    In answering the questions posed on 9Marks, “can God employ any musical form for redemptive purposes?” I believe God can. Even music with profanity and explicitly sexual text, I believe God can use this music to steer people towards him; as people recognize how fallen, sinful, and corrupted this world is and how much they need the grace of God. Next, “even if God can employ any musical form redemptively, are some musical forms spiritually or morally “better” than others?” Relating to my previous comment that music is not neutral, I strongly believe that there are some musical forms which are spiritually or morally “better” than others. Lastly, “Are some musical forms “better” for the sake of the gathered church?” I agree that some musical forms are better. For examples, hymns stanzas are the same, which means it is easy for the congregation to grasp the melody and sing along. While, a through-composed song may be hard for congregation to sing and better suited for personal listening.

  30. Ben Little says:

    Great discussion! Like most of you, I believe that music is not necessarily neutral. Jared’s quote from Langer puts a perspective for me (“Music sounds the way emotions feel”). While some emotions are not suitable for worship, is feeling emotion a bad thing in and of itself? I can feel happy or sad, but is that inherently good or evil? Is it not the actions out of the emotion that are considered for worth?

  31. Yangji Choi says:

    Ben’s question makes me think of another aspect I’ve never considered seriously….

    Your question can be a challgenge to those who have ngative attitude against contemporary music in worship service with thereason that contemporary music is too focusing on human emotion…. I think the balance is important…. what am I talking … Even I don’t know what my position is…. anyway at least your question hits some part I’ve ignored ….

  32. Keji L. says:

    I agree with the point that “some kinds of music are certainly better than others depending upon the values they embody….some kinds of music are certainly better for corporate gatherings of the church since some kinds of musical meaning are simply not fitting for what goes on there.” However, the thing is: it is easy to judge the musical meaning based on the texts, however, it is hard to judge the musical meaning based on absolute music. Thus, I believe that the “some kinds of music” is not a boarder view of music, it should contains the lyrics.

  33. Kaitlyn says:

    Wow! What a discussion this week! Thanks Jared, Martin and others for the time you’ve both put into your thoughts and responses. Rather than comment directly on any of the specifics, I would just like to note in general the benefit that I know I receive as each of us seeks to discuss these things with each other. I am challenged to think hard and think well because of the varrying opinions that are brought up. May we continue to hear each other well and be willing to disagree thoughtfully with each other at times, while always seeking to keep Scripture at the center of our discussion. I appreciate how often it seems like many of us come to the discussion with that in mind.

  34. Daniel La Nu says:

    Ben, it is indeed a thought provoking question: Is feeling emotion a bad thing in or of itself? Put it other ways, is it inherently good or evil. Never have I given that question serious thought. At this point of semester, through all the readings and classroom discussions, I am now quite convinced that music is not necessarily neutral. Motive and context are to be taken into consideration when it comes to final judgment of the appropriateness of certain music for corporate worship.

  35. Brandon H. says:

    Best states in his book “Music Through the Eyes of Faith” that while music does communicate emotion and affect biological changes, these biological changes, “are not the same as moral changes nor can they be said to cause them.” This brings up an interesting point. Like others have said, emotion is not a bad thing. Feeling happy,sad,and even angry (all emotions that music can create) are not necessarily right or wrong. There are certain emotions that are more appropriate for worship, but using the argument that because music can affect emotions thus it is moral is a faulty argument. I do disagree with Best’s assertion that music is amoral, but he does bring up some interesting points to think about.

  36. Bora Kim says:

    This topic is really debatable. Depends on music, people’s emotions can be changed. Music is abstract and subjective; it is not easy to discern the value of music (good or bad) at first glance. Therefore, finding the biblical meaning of music is significant. Since God is the creator of everything, He has the right keys. These are questions that Christians must solve.

  37. John says:

    This idea of music stirring emotions in worship is an interesting topic. People want to feel God and so many times worship services are designed to hype the emotions. Emotions, however, are not inherently good or bad, but associating an emotional experience with a spiritual one can be dangerous.

  38. Wendy Ku says:

    In Myers’ response to these three questions, he said, “Insisting that music is inherently meaningless, that all meaning in music is arbitrarily assigned, that only the words in songs provide meaning, and that true words can be suitably attached to any musical expression, is very close to saying that the universe itself is meaningless. Defenders of such claims are unwitting allies of nihilism, not its adversaries.” This quote should push us to think about musical meaning in terms of Creation. God filled the earth with his creation and so the earth was NOT formless and empty (Gen. 1-2). God gives the earth forms, purposes, and meanings trough his Creation; God’s act of Creation and the Creation itself are meaningful and NOT nihilistic. Nihilism rejects any meaning or value and so it proves itself a product of human depravity. Since we are the image bearers of God, we create and give meaning to what we create. So denying there is meaning in the music we create is a form (trap) of nihilism. Church leaders really need to grow “in the wisdom necessary for recognizing the forms our nihilism takes.”

  39. Emily Ham says:

    I think we all agree that music is part of art. If music is neutral, then all other arts should be neutral as well. Art is an human activity that represent an outlet of human expression, usually influenced by culture, and driven by human creativity. Therefore music also can communicate emotion, or other qualities. We should aware that there is common law that classifies what is good and evil. We can also apply this common law in order to evaluate the message or any reflection from the music we use.

  40. Bradley says:

    I agree with Jared…a case by case approach is best. I too also feel the opinion that lurking behind discussions like this is that pop-culture forms are not “worthy” in a corporate setting. I agree with Myers on many of his points and disagree with Best on his assertion that music is neutral. But I, like Jared, have yet to be convinced that all pop forms are not acceptable in corporate worship. I know growing up some of the older members of my family had a hard time hearing Christian lyrics accompanied with “rock” bands. To them that style had a very powerful associative meaning. However, I don’t think our generation struggles with that association anymore. So if a pop-culture form of music has lost it’s associative meaning or if it’s associative meaning irrelevant, does that still render that expression of pop-culture unworthy?

  41. John Gray says:

    As Vaden Said, preference is around most of the musical battle. If a piece carries truth, and is led by the Spirit (the spirits movement on the inner man)Then it is worship. I do believe that we in resent years have lost the ideas of reverence, and we need to be reverent in every aspect of worship. If any music can be proven to be intrinsically wrong, then we must not use it. The issue then becomes what music is intrinsically wrong, and how can we prove it without running it through ourselves. Music that does not contain Biblical text and a heart surrendered to the Spirits movement is wrong because it is sin. My question also becomes if music can be intrinsically evil where do we draw the line. The line of the reformers were in different places, and the Catholic church drew different lines as well. There are many questions when it comes to leading worship through music.

  42. Youjin Lee says:

    I totally agree with Bora’s comment above. Music itself is not spiritual. Rather, it could be an instrument to introduce people to God. Through music, people hear the Word of God or message of the Gospel. Without any relation, music itself cannot contain any of spiritual formation.

  43. Sze Wing Ho says:

    I agree that “music is produced by moral human agents” and therefore we should use a moral filter to judge music. In my opinion, good music is capable of shaping culture that is consistent with biblical values. While people are arguing whether pop music is allowed in corporate worship, music minister or worship leader should look for some better music which can convey biblical values more effectively.

  44. Boyoung Lee says:

    I think music is not neutral. In article, “music sounds the way emotions feel”. I agree that. We express our emotion by various ways. Music also can help to express our emotion. Also music touches our emotion. So we use the music in order to the worshiping God. Music is in the subjective aspect. So I don’t think it can say that music could be good and bad. I think it depends on which motivation and emotion are contained in the music.

  45. Grace Chang says:

    As I have been learning the Western philosophy of music in the course, I would somehow think about the Chinese philosophy of music and draw a comparison. I have been interested in comparative study since I took a course of comparative study on music and musicology when I was an undergraduate. I believe there is, at least one common point for Greek philosophers, church fathers and Confucianism about Music. That is music has influence on ethics. There are good and bad music and they can affect the characters, emotion and actions of people. I do agree with Meyers that there are “so much value (good or bad) is expressed through imaginative forms such as music”. Music is an effective tool/media to express message or value. So I believe music education is important in schools and in churches. People, including Christians need to know how to discern what is good music.

  46. Jacqueline Choi says:

    observing music case by case is essential. But most importantly following the biblical principle should be the priority of worship.

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