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Noisy and Uncouth

This entry is part 3 of 14 in the series

"The Tozer Collection: Worship Music"

Read more posts by using the Table of Contents in the right sidebar.

Religious music has long ago fallen victim to this weak and twisted philosophy of godliness. Good hymnody has been betrayed and subverted by noisy, uncouth persons who have too long operated under the immunity afforded them by the timidity of the saints. The tragic result is that for one entire generation we have been rearing Christians who are in complete ignorance of the golden treasury of songs and hymns left us by the ages. The tin horn has been substituted for the silver trumpet, and our religious leaders have been afraid to protest.
It is ironic that the modernistic churches which deny the theology of the great hymns nevertheless sing them, and regenerated Christians who believe them are yet not singing them; in their stead are songs without theological content set to music without beauty.
Not our religious literature only and our hymnody have suffered from the notion that love to be true to itself must be silent in the presence of any and every abomination, but almost every phase of our church life has suffered also. Once a Bible and a hymnbook were enough to allow gospel Christians to express their joy in the public assembly, but now it requires tons of gadgets to satisfy the pagan appetites of persons who call themselves Christians.

— The Size of the Soul

Gospel ballad singing is now quite the rage in the lower echelon of the entertainment world. Many of the shows beamed toward the paying masses are made acceptable to the religiously inclined by the introduction of a bit of tongue-in-cheek religion, usually expressed in these highly spiced gospel ballads, whose theology is a mixture of paganism and old wives’ tales and whose prevailing mood is one of weak self-pity. Such holy men as Elijah, Daniel, Ezekiel and John are turned into burnt-cork minstrels who are made to preach and prophesy for laughs…. Every word of Christ, every act, was simple, sincere and dignified. The entire New Testament breathes the same spirit…. It is significant that the two greatest movements within the church since Pentecost, the sixteenth century Reformation and the Wesley revival, were characterized by sobriety and sincerity. They both reached the roots of society and touched the masses, yet they never descended to be common or to pander to carnal flesh. The quality of their preaching was lofty, serious and dignified, and their singing the same.

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The Hymnbook and the Devotional Life

— The Quotable Tozer

Many of our popular songs and choruses in praise of Christ are hollow and unconvincing. Some are even shocking in their amorous endearments, and strike a reverent soul as being a kind of flattery offered to One with whom neither composer nor singer is acquainted. The whole thing is in the mood of the love ditty, the only difference being the substitution of the name of Christ for that of the earthly lover.
How different and how utterly wonderful are the emotions aroused by a true and Spirit-incited love for Christ. Such a love may rise to a degree of adoration almost beyond the power of the heart to endure, yet at the same time it will be serious, elevated, chaste and reverent.

— That Incredible Christian

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David de Bruyn

About David de Bruyn

David de Bruyn currently pastors New Covenant Baptist Church in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since 1999, he has presented a weekly radio program that is heard throughout much of central South Africa. He also blogs at Churches Without Chests.

9 Responses to Noisy and Uncouth

  1. David,

    If I may be so bold as to ask:

    What, then? Are you prepared to doubt the hearts of such worshipers? Are you prepared to judge their hearts and their attitudes? Are you prepared to judge the hearts and attitudes of such worship leaders?

    You quote "That Incredible Christian" (heretofore an unknown to me): "The whole thing is in the mood of the love ditty, the only difference being the substitution of the name of Christ for that of the earthly lover."

    Suppose that's the way you perceive it. Are you prepared to judge the heart of the person singing it?

    in Christ,

    Todd

  2. Todd,

    I'm sure you know this, but in case it was missed, these are all quotes, of someone who has been dead since 1963.

    I'm sure you don't expect me to answer these questions on behalf of Tozer, do you? Or do you wish to know why I am quoting him? (If so, please read part 1 of this series.)

  3. Hi David: thank you for the clarification. I went back and I read part 1 in the series. I believe I know why you're quoting him, — having read part 1 — but, for the record, could you please state here why you are quoting him?

  4. It might be rather immodest of David dB to respond further, given he has generously volunteered to transcribe "the collected written words of Tozer on worship music," which writings exhibit "penetrating clarity that . . . resonate[s] with people of very different theological leanings."

    Isn't this reason enough on its face?

  5. Yes, Todd, I'm not sure I can say more than I did in part 1. That's my extended explanation for listening to Tozer on the matters of music and worship, where I tried to exhaust the reasons for hearing Tozer. As I said, the quotes are not cherry-picked, I am simply copying out every one in which Tozer spoke directly to the matter of worship music.

  6. David dB,

    Please forgive me if it seems I wish to be led by the hand, but could I kindly get a response to my question as to whether your views are in line with those quotes — as I presume, for I think that's all I can do is presume it? For I realize that the man is deceased and I cannot ask him. You said:

    "Yes, Todd, I’m not sure I can say more than I did in part 1. That’s my extended explanation for listening to Tozer on the matters of music and worship, where I tried to exhaust the reasons for hearing Tozer. As I said, the quotes are not cherry-picked, I am simply copying out every one in which Tozer spoke directly to the matter of worship music."

    Yes, I understand that. I realize that. Please forgive me for wanting to be led by the hand — for I've been criticised as such in the past by Christians and they may indeed be correct — but can I kindly get an answer to my original question?

    I'm not trying to be sarcastic here; I'm trying in all sincerity to get answers. Thank you.

  7. Todd,

    No offense is taken on my part, so no need to apologize. As I said in the first article, I do sympathize with the essence of much of what Tozer is saying. To answer your original question then, I must preface my answer by asking you a question or two, if you'll allow me to – for it will make for more understanding.

    First, biblically speaking, are Christians ever supposed to judge? Second, if so, what are they supposed to judge and when?

  8. Thanks David. I wish I understood things better. At any rate, to your questions:

    First, biblically speaking, are Christians ever supposed to judge?

    I don't know. (I probably don't really know the definition[s] of judgment.) I know that there are verses, "Judge ye not, lest ye be judged" and I recall that Jesus said of a woman and her accusers: "Whosoever hath not sinned, let him cast the first stone." On the other hand, I am aware of a different-sounding verse: "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment" (John 7:24). I suppose that means that although Christians must not let the sun go down on their anger, they can have a righteous anger. I read that there are references for that: Ex 11:8; 32:19; Numbers 16:12-15; 1 Samuel 20:34; Nehemiah 5:6; and 2 Samuel 12:1-6.

    Second, if so, what are they supposed to judge and when?

    I suppose that if they judge, they can only judge if someone (or some group or organization) has sinned. And if so, I suppose they are indeed judging the sinner in addition to judging the sin. As to when they can judge, I'm not sure of the answer.

    Looking forward to your reply. -Todd

  9. Todd,

    Thanks for your reply. This is worth thinking about, and a definition of judgment is imperative. On the most basic level, judgment is to weigh, to value, to distinguish, to discriminate, to order. This is very often done through comparison or through analogy. To be able to do so is in fact commended by Scripture as a mark of maturity (Heb 5:14).

    Our problem is that we seem to have one set of Scriptures that commend judging (1 Cor 5:12, 6:5, John 7:24, 1 Thes 5:21, Eph 5:10, Phil 1:10, 1 Cor 2:15), and another set that seem to condemn it (Matt 7:1, Ro 14:13, 1 Co 4:5, Jas 4:12). Since we hold to the inerrancy of Scripture, these Scriptures are to be harmonized.

    Perhaps the starting point is to agree on the things Scripture does want us to pass judgment on. Given the Scriptures I've listed, (or any others you can think of) what are the things we ought to judge?

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