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What “moves” you in worship?

Which of the following scenario is a more meaningful worship experience?

The 100 member choir and 50 piece orchestra combine in a rousing performance of Bach’s Cantata No. 182, a piece composed for Palm Sunday.

The stage is full with a professional band, complete with drums, electric guitars, and a praise team. As the music soars and rages, they sing, “Jesus is Lord!”

Children stream down the aisles in beautiful white dresses and suits waiving palm branches and streaming banners and shouting “Hosanna! Hosanna!” as the choir follows singing a triumphant “Hail, to the Lord’s Anointed!”

The congregation sings five hymns accompanied by organ, interspersed with a lengthy Scripture reading, affirmation of a doctrinal confession, and an intercessory prayer. Not one mention is made of Palm Sunday.

Depending on your background and personal preferences, you may view one or more of these scenarios as a better experience of worship to celebrate Palm Sunday than the others. Assuming that the doctrinal content of each scenario is similar, and assuming that the Word of God is faithfully preached in each service, what really distinguishes these services from one another? Why would someone who is used to one of the first three scenarios find the fourth to be a spiritual disappointment?

Again, assuming the doctrinal content is the same among the services, the difference between them has to do with the way art is used in each service, and how it affects people. Of course, art includes music, drama, visual, and literature. So is one use of art more “worshipful” or “meaningful” than the others? Is any one of these uses of art inappropriate for congregational worship?

Art affects us, and that effect creates an experience that is often interpreted as meaningful worship. Yet in each of these scenarios, the experience is quite different from the others. In other words, the experiences created in these services are so different from one another that they cannot be the same kinds of experiences. So which is more meaningful? Which use of art in worship best creates a biblical experience of worship?

Understanding of how people are affected

In order to properly understand how art affect us, we need to first understand how people are affected.

Man is made of two parts — material and immaterial, body and spirit.1 We know this is the case because of the reality of life after death — the body remains, while the spirit is with God. Ecclesiastes 12:7 says, “and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”

The body and spirit, however, are not without relation. Scripture teaches a kind of “holistic dualism.” Unlike Plato, who argued that the body is the inferior, undesirable “shell” of the true person, the Bible teaches that the physical body is a good, God-given part of human nature. In fact, believers will be given new, physical bodies after the resurrection. Even during the intermediate state, souls seem to have some kind of bodily form. In other words, “persons” are complete only as a uniting of body and soul, which are still distinct one from the other. Animals are only body; God is only spirit.2 But man was created out of the dust of the earth (material) and infused with the very breath of God (spirit). Thus man is a living soul.

The following diagram will be helpful as we further discuss this body/soul distinction and interaction:

Humannature

Although the body and spirit do interact and affect one another as the totality of the human person, each part can be affected apart from the other. Just like animals operate completely on the basis of biological reactions to stimuli, so man can react on that basis alone. For example, if a child rounds the corner and his brother shouts “Boo!” in order to scare him, the reaction the child has is purely physical — nothing had occurred in his spirit to cause him to jump. His brain gathered the data of a suddenly loud sound that produced a physical passion of fear accompanied by certain feelings that created the impulse to jump.

This kind of purely physical, chemical process of causation is part of the biological nature of man. Appetite, fear, anger, sexual drive, sentimentality, and many other passions that produce feelings such as tears, increased heart rate, goosebumps, or exhilaration can be formed without thought by pure, physical stimuli. The physical response of laughing when tickled is an example of this purely physical causation. Adults, infants, and animals like can experience this kind of response.

On the other hand, these kinds of physical reactions can also be created as a result of thought. This reveals the interaction between spirit and body. As the mind (a component of the spiritual nature) comprehends an insult, it produces the passion of anger accompanied by various feelings that move the person to action. Likewise, when a person laughs because he understands a joke, the same physical response occurs as when he is tickled, but it began in his mind, a component of spirit.

But just like the physical part of man can be affected apart from the spirit, so can the spirit operate apart from any influence upon the body. A man may have love for his wife because of his knowledge of her, but that love is not always accompanied by physical feelings. Love is an affection — something purely spiritual. It can, and often does, produce feelings, but it does not have to. Often those feelings are mistaken for the love itself, but if love were a feeling, then God would not be able to experience love, for He has no body.

The affections are part of man’s spiritual nature. They are products of thought and may or may not be accompanied by feelings. Furthermore, different people experience different levels of feeling as a result of possessing certain affections. Two people may both possess the affection of courage but may exhibit it through different physical feelings.3

Jonathan Edwards explains this important distinction between the passions and the affections:

The affections and passions are frequently spoken of as the same, and yet in the more common use of speech, there is in some respect a difference. Affection is a word that in the ordinary signification, seems to be something more extensive than passion, being used for all vigorous lively actings of the will or inclination, but passion for those that are more sudden, and whose effects on the animal spirits are more violent, and the mind more over powered, and less in its own command.4

Both affections and passions can drive a person to action. The affections are the inclination of the will (the moral component of the spirit), while the passions/feelings drive physical impulses.

What is important to remember is that a Christian must never be governed by his passions. The Bible calls this part of man his “belly” — his “gut,” and reveals an unbeliever to be a slave to it (Phil 3:19). A Christian should never allow his gut to control him. These passions and feelings are not evil; they are simply part of the physical makeup of mankind. To assign morality to them would be like assigning morality to hunger. Jesus Himself experienced the passion anger, and yet without sin.

The physical passions are not evil in themselves, but they must always be kept under control. Left unchecked by the spirit, passions always lead to sin. This is why the Bible must warn, “Be angry, and yet do not sin” (Eph 4:26). Anger is not wrong, but it will lead to sin if not controlled. Likewise, appetite is a good thing, but left unchecked it results in gluttony. Sexuality is a wonderful gift from God, but uncontrolled it turns to lust. Fear is a necessary part of the survival instinct of man, but if it controls a person, he can not operate properly. You can distinguish between affections and passions because you can never have too much affection, but it is possible to have too much passion.

The problem is that when the passions are set in conflict with the mind, the passions will always win. A man may know that it is wrong to hit another man, but if he is angry, that knowledge alone will not stop him from reacting wrongly. It is only when his knowledge is supported by noble affections that he can overcome his passions. As Lewis says, “The head rules the belly through the chest.” This is true for faith. Faith is not mere belief in facts. That alone would not move a person to a righteous life. Faith is belief combined with the affection of trust. When belief is supported by trust, a person will be able to overcome his sinful passions.

Christians, therefore, should strive to gain more right knowledge and nurture more right affections so that they act rightly. They must also beat their bodies and make them their slaves (1 Cor 9:27).

In summary, when people talk about emotion, they are speaking of a category that may include the affections, passions, or the resultant feelings. This is why we must be more specific when discussing these things — “emotion” is just too broad a term. Most people are thinking of “feelings” when they say “emotion,” but not always. Joy, fear, and “butterflies” are all “emotions,” but they are very different from one another. Therefore, the emotional experiences created by various uses of art are consequently very different from one another.

Dionysian vs. Apollonarian art

With this understanding of how people are affected, we move now to a discussion of how art affects people.

Art, and especially music, is emotional by its very nature. But remember, emotion is a broad category. To say that art affects the “emotions” is to say that it can affect either the affections (which may then produce feelings), or that it can affect the passions (which always produce feelings). With the first kind of art (what aestheticians call Apollonarian art), the whole of man is involved — spirit and body. A certain level of intellectual involvement is necessary, and the affections are targeted. This, in turn, may produce feelings, but the feelings are not the central focus of the experience. The latter kind of art (what aestheticians call Dionysian art) targets the feelings themselves. Devoid of spiritual involvement, this kind of art moves the participant into an experience of the senses alone. Animals can experience the effects of this kind of art no different than humans.

Both Dionysus and Apollo were mythological Greek gods associated with art. Apollo was the god of reason and logic, and was considered the god of music since the Greeks thought of good music as a great expression of order and patterns (a la Pythagorus and Plato). Dionysus, on the other hand, was the god of wine and revelry, and was worshiped with loud, raucous music accompanied by pipes and drums.

These names are used to distinguish art that targets the whole person (spirit and body) through the mind and affections (Apollonarian) from art that targets the body and encourages enjoyment of feelings for their own sake (Dionysian). Daniel Reuning explains:

Music that communicates emotions with a Dionysian force is that kind which excites us to enjoy our emotions by being thoroughly involved or engrossed in them with our entire person. Our enjoyment of the emotion then becomes ego-directed, driven by the desire for self-gratification. This direction often shows itself in keen physical involvement; people become emotionally involved through stomping of the feet, swaying of the body, clapping of the hands, and waving oft he arms. Music that solicits from us this kind of emotional response allows us to enjoy our emotions from the inside and very experientially. This kind of music is clearly anthropocentric in nature, because it turns man to himself, rather than away from himself, with the result that he becomes the appreciating center of his own emotions and experiences. Herein lies the goal of all entertainment and popular music, which must please or gratify the self if it is going to sell.5

All art has both components to one degree or another, but various forms of art, by their very nature, communicate either primarily with a Dionysian force or an Apollonarian force. Literature, because it essentially targets the person through the mind, usually communicates to the whole of man with an Apollonarian force. It requires at least a moderate level of comprehension and reflection to be enjoyed. Readers can experience the same feelings as the characters, but they do so in a way that allows for evaluation of those feelings and the motivations that lie beneath them. Cheap literature does exist, however, filled with cliches and thinly veiled sentiment, which simply stir up the passions.

Music can communicate in both ways. Well-crafted, “modest” music involves the whole of man — mind, affections, then feelings. In Heinrich Schenker’s terms, it is true to nature — every component of this music fits within the whole of the piece. Other musical forms, however, simply rouse the feelings through spectacle, sentimentality, or the simply sensuous6 experience of loud amplitude and timbres.

On the other end of the art spectrum is dramatic art. By its very nature, drama communicates directly to the passions with a Dionysian force. Drama invites the participants to actually experience the feelings of the characters in a sensory way, providing little possibility for reflection. Participants are almost involuntarily drawn into a vicariously shared experience of passions that gives no time for detached reflection or evaluation. Theologians and philosophers throughout the centuries have questioned the wisdom of using drama, particularly for sacred purposes, because of these reasons.

In summary, different art forms affect humans in very different ways, and sub-forms within a broader category of art may affect humans differently. Therefore, when evaluating the use of art in worship, one must determine whether such uses are really affecting the spiritual nature of man or simply the physical passions.

What Does This Mean for the Christian?

What does this mean, then for believers? What does this mean for the use of various art forms for sacred purposes?

If as Christians we are striving to rule our bellies by our heads — if we rightly do not want to be controlled by passions or their resultant feelings — then we must embrace Apollonarian art and be wary of Dionysian. I am not prepared at this point to say that all art with a Dionysian force is wrong for a Christian, but it is at least potentially dangerous if consumed regularly or in large quantities.

But I am prepared to say that art that simply engages the passions and fuels physical feelings is inappropriate and quite dangerous for sacred use. This would rule out some forms of music and all dramatic art for sacred use. Reuning discusses this in his treatment of Martin Luther’s music:

His music and that of the Lutheran heritage communicates a message with an Apollonian force, which allows our emotions to be enjoyed, while at the same time retaining control and mental freedom. We are relieved of the urgent requirements of our inner drives. Under Apollonian influence our emotions are viewed empathically or contemplatively in a more detached fashion, so that they might always be subject to our discretionand judgment. Since the major point of the Reformation, as of Scripture itself, was to turn man away from everything within himself as the source of hope and assurance of salvation — to the grace of God alone, earned for us by Christ Himself — it was logical for Lutherans to use Apollonian music. Man-directed Dionysian music would only confuse or contradict the message through its anthropocentric emotional forces. Just as hymns and spiritual songs with words full of Dionysian content, doting upon human experience and feelings, are incongruent with the biblical proclamation of the Gospel, so also is music that revels in Dionysian emotionalism. Thus, because music has so much influence on one’s understanding of the Gospel, Apollonian reinforcement was the obvious choice. Furthermore, this choice is just as relevant to us today, since the emotional forces in music keep on conveying their unique messages, remaining uneffected by changes in time or environment — a truly universal expression!7

Is it any wonder why the Christian faith is based exclusively in words — in literature? Is it any wonder that the second commandment forbids the use of visual art in worship? Is it any wonder that the only drama sanctioned for worship is baptism and the Lord’s Supper, relatively safe forms of symbolism?

Art that communicates directly to the feelings through spectacle is inappropriate for worship because people are always in danger of interpreting those feelings as the essential experience of worship. Feelings are not wrong; they are sometimes the natural production of right affection. But when feelings are roused through a primarily sensuous experience, there is always the danger of attaching a spiritual significance to those feelings apart from any connection to the truly spiritual.

This takes a number of forms today. For instance, some people refuse to be part of a church that centers on biblical teaching with little else because it doesn’t “feel” like worship. They consider such churches “boring” or “a let-down” because they relate their experience of worship to certain forms of music or drama or ritual that create an experience of the senses. Others don’t think they have had a religious experience unless there have been high levels of feelings — tears or exhilaration. Others enjoy biblical lyrics set to certain forms of music (whether pop or Romantic) because they interpret the feelings they get from listening to the music as spiritual when they are merely a chemical response to a stimulus.

Yet this is not simply a conservative vs. contemporary issue. Most forms of pop art are Dionysian in nature, but some so-called “Classical” art is as well, including “reverent,” “meaningful” ritual. Many such “conservative,” religious ceremonies — in that they are essentially drama — are intrinsically Dionysian — they create an experience of the senses that targets the feelings directly. This can be anything from the children waving banners to candle-lighting to elaborate processionals. Many people view simple services of hymns and preaching as boring compared to such ceremony. Liturgical churches are filled with this kind of thing — service elements that directly target the senses in order to create the “feelings” of worship.

Conversely, the biblical picture of worship is simple — no flash, no ritual, no drama. Yet unfortunately, many people are dissatisfied with simple, Word-centered worship supported by modest music and the symbolism of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. On the one hand, some want pop music and drama that excite the passions and invigorate feelings. On the other hand, some want elaborate rituals and ceremonies (especially at Christmas and Easter) that, again, are just sense experiences — they do not really involve the spirit. Both are unbiblical.

This is also becoming a problem as churches become more technologically savvy. Churches are adding visual elements to their services — pictures and video on screens accompanying music or preaching — to “enhance” the worship. I am convinced that they have good motives behind it, but I am also convinced that these practices are rooted in a lack of understanding the nature of emotion and art.

The modern church has become so confused on these issues because it has forgotten biblical, anthropological, and aesthetic distinctions that have been understood for centuries. It is my burden to recover some of these things as we seek to worship our holy God as He wants to be worshiped.

So I ask you, reader, to what to you attach spiritual significance in worship? Rousing music (whether “conservative” or “contemporary”)? Dramatic rituals? Elaborate ceremonies? Or the Word?

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. There is some debate about whether man is two or three parts, but for the sake of this post, only the distinction between material and immaterial is necessary to grasp. []
  2. Except, of course, in the person of Jesus Christ since His incarnation. []
  3. Keep in mind that whenever we attempt to assign terms to things that happen internally, we will always be imprecise. The Bible itself uses the same terms to describe different parts of man, such as “heart” or “soul.” It is very possible to disagree with the terms I chose to designate various affections, passions, or feelings. The important thing is to understand the basic concepts. []
  4. Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2001), 26-27. []
  5. Daniel Reuning, “Luther and Music,” Concordia Theological Quarterly, 48:1, 18. []
  6. Meaning, “of the senses.” []
  7. Reuning, 18-19. []

66 Responses to What “moves” you in worship?

  1. Martin says:

    Thanks Scott – you laid out the issues very well. The next question would then be, what exactly makes music Dionysian or Apollonian, and how can we tell? I guess it is often a matter of degrees. For example, when I hear a Chris Tomlin song as played in one of his concerts, it sounds very ‘rocky’ and very much like any other rock group. On the other hand, when it is played in church, it may be much toned down. Once you leave out the drums and bass and simply sing it with a guitar and piano, it may even sound quite nice and ‘Apollonian’ (though one would usually wish for deeper or more pointed lyrics than the lowest-common-denominator-texts he usually provides).
    Thinking about hymns, should we then also reject any hymn that has a waltz rhythm, since that also makes you sway with the song?
    This is to say, I really appreciate the theory you provide but still have trouble applying it rightly.

  2. Jessica Wan says:

    During chapel today, I was analyzing how I express, experience, and respond to worship—how fitting for our discussion this week to be on what moves us in worship! I found my body starting to sway when the music began playing in the background and by the time the congregation started to sing, I can feel my hands lifted by my side. The songs that were sung are “One Things Remains,” “Whom Shall I Fear,” and “Cornerstone.” I am familiar with each of these songs as the lyrics had spoke to me at certain moments in my life. Although my body’s reaction may be attributed to the physical surrounding (Dionysian), I believe there can be merit for my thoughts (Apollonarian), as I was reminded through these songs on the truth about God and His work in my life, to be the leading reasoning behind my physical response. In short, I think it is important for everyone to examine why one responds the way one does in worship.

    (I notice I did not really respond to the questions posed at the end of this article but these are my thoughts!)

  3. Leyi Ling says:

    When I read this following part, I say to myself, finally I find a way to define the things that I was wondering weather it is right or wrong in modern churches:

    To say that art affects the “emotions” is to say that it can affect either the affections (which may then produce feelings), or that it can affect the passions (which always produce feelings). With the first kind of art (what aestheticians call Apollonarian art), the whole of man is involved — spirit and body. A certain level of intellectual involvement is necessary…… (under the subtitle Dionysian vs. Apollonarian art, para. 2).

    I saw many churches in China trying to use rock music to attract young Christians to get involved in church, serving as a worship team member. One of my good friends told me that many young people get closer to God through the process of learning drums, bass guitars and attending worship team fellowship. They found their passion to Christ and wanted to love Jesus more than before. One time, I attended one of their worship team fellowship, I was disappointed and heart breaking, because I saw those young Christians trying to worship God with their passions. They tried to play their instruments as loud as it can be, and learned the gestures from singers on TV shows. I could not see the depth of their worship and when I talked with them, I found out that they do not even understand the content of the lyrics. Many modern worship teams are trying to use music to touch people’s feeling (passions) instead of their “affections”. This kind of worship may bring a danger to young Christians that every time they worship God, they are seeking some kind of feeling, instead of God himself and His truth. When they cannot “feel” the Spirit, they may get discouraged and walk away from God. They may not be able to understand how God could speak to them in silence, in devotion and in peace, instead of emotionally “high”.

  4. Brian says:

    Martin raises a good question – by what criteria do we distinguish between Apollonarian and Dionysian art? Is music’s ability to target the whole person or simply the feelings an intrinsic quality of music, part of its essential nature, or an extrinsic quality, originating from an external source? I believe that this quality is contingent on the performance practice of music, which is dependent upon human interaction with the music, and is not a part of its nature. For instance, the article describes Apollonarian forms of music as “well crafted” and “modest” and Dionysian forms of music as rousing feelings via “spectacles” or “loud amplitude and timbres.” All these examples depict how the music is performed rather than something inherent in its form. With this in mind, perhaps it would be more constructive to focus on the way we perform music for congregational worship.

  5. Krystle Natividad says:

    After talking to a friend about how we worship. He brought to my attention John 4:24. We must worship God in spirit and in truth. Personally I do not need music alone to worship the Lord. I think that a lot of people rely on the music aspect of worship alone because they are using the music to try and get closer to God or they are having a stimulus response to the music or art that they have just seen. This is a “Dionysian” way of worship because what they are experiencing in a large part is feeling (passions). For me, music is that extra component that mixes with what’s already going on in my mind (my thoughts and prayers). A lot of times I do find myself swaying and tapping my foot to the music, but I am listening and reflecting on the truth of the lyrics.

  6. ai-chin says:

    I used to be an extremely emotional person. Worshiping with Dionysian form of music would make me cry easily. However, after sometimes, I forgot when it happened, my personality matured and spiritual life deepened as I drew closer to God. I no longer let my emotion or passion (Passion makes me think of flesh) to control me.
    Often time, when I go to church, when the congregations applaud after each song, I hesitate to applaud with them. I often ask myself, whom am I applaud for. The musicians? My Creator?
    This reminds me of the story behind the song “The heart of worship” by Hillsong. They wrote this after their pastor decided to get rid of their sound system and band for a season. I found this quote from crosswalk.com. “There was a dynamic missing, so the pastor did a pretty brave thing,” he recalls. “He decided to get rid of the sound system and band for a season, and we gathered together with just our voices. His point was that we’d lost our way in worship, and the way to get back to the heart would be to strip everything away…. Before long, we reintroduced the musicians and sound system, as we’d gained a new perspective that worship is all about Jesus, and He commands a response in the depths of our souls no matter what the circumstance and setting. ‘The Heart of Worship’ simply describes what occurred.” The moral of the story not only reminds us that worship is about King Jesus, but it also reminds us anything that distracts our worship should be eliminated.

  7. ai-chin says:

    When I was reading the definition of Apollonarian art, a question popped up in my mind. What is Apollonarian music? Brian, thank you for your explanation. Apollonarian music is “well crafted” and “modest” or in another word, simple and modest. After understood the meaning, another question popped in my mind. How can we fully use hymns in a worship service? I have an idea!!! ☺ During a worship service, first, we will sing a hymn together. After the singing, musicians will play the music softly, and congregations will meditate the lyric. Then we will again sing the hymn. Finally, the musicians will play the music softly again, and congregations will respond to God with prayer. This is just my silly suggestion. But I do like Apollonarian form of music. A simple music often brings peace to people’s hearts. When we have a peaceful mind, we can easily focus on God.

  8. Malena Torres Martin says:

    Last Wednesday, I visited a Hispanic Church during their prayer´s service. Curiously they started to sing around five or more Hymns, which I used to sing during my childhood in Cuba. Memories became to my head and my feelings were inmediately involved. The significance of those melodies and lyrics in my subconscious and conscious and my reaction to hear and sing in my own language, were an unforgattable experience. I merely can describe this moment just as an Apollonarian response, because I only know how deep my love for God can be expressed through worship without physical manifestations. However, I do not like to limited other manifestations of worship ( Dyonisian way), if these are presented in an appropiate and decent way. For instances, God created our bodies to glorify Him as well in worship. In this case Dr Aniol relates worship inside the Temple and he quotes many examples such as worship with full band and electric guitars or one hundred voices and fifty musicians in the orchestra. Both, can be acceptable to God, because even here at Southwestern there are two kind of ensembles at Chapel service, one with orchestra and traditional Hymns and another one with band and contemporary worship. There is a narrow line to can judge adequately which ensemble it is appropiate or not in matters of worship God,but there are some biblical references about how Christians should worship God. These Greek theories of art are crucial to understand the attitude of people toward worship, but with the Bible and the aid of the Holy spirit (parakletos), it will be enough to help belivers to worship God according to God´s ordinances.

  9. Danielle Davidson says:

    Brian brought up a great point on performance. Our goal should be to target these points of worship in our churches and analyze them to be sure that they do not target emotional stimulus. This article hits home for me and really centered on the heart of the problem of where worship is headed in the majority of American churches today. This is precisely why i left the church i was attending to find a more Apollonarian based church. These concepts are so hidden in todays churches for the purpose of hiding these biblical truths. If they did shed light on these theories they would be required to completely change their entire form of worship. People have become comfortable with the form of Christianity they see best fit for the type of lifestyle they prefer. Basically a non-biblical Christianity.

  10. Ben says:

    I really enjoyed this post! These questions have been floating around my mind for a long time now. The following made me sound an “AMEN!” before I really thought through the statement…

    “Art that communicates directly to the feelings through spectacle is inappropriate for worship because people are always in danger of interpreting those feelings as the essential experience of worship.”

    In a day of nothing being absolute and different people interpreting words in different ways, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what constitutes as spectacle. In other words, at what point does an activity become “spectacle”?

    On another thought, I’ve tried to pinpoint what moves me in worship. It is very hard to place at the moment as I hate getting stuck in a rut when it comes to worship practices. Keeping things fresh is important to me (new music, different styles, mixing up the location of Scripture in the service and how it’s used etc.). I’ll keep thinking on this and hopefully have a better answer by the time Monday’s comment rolls around.

  11. Aeil Park says:

    The purpose of worship is drawing near to God, but there are a lot of obstacle in the contemporary worship. Contemporary worship is too showy and focused on emotions. It’s dangerous because it will confuse us our faith. Faith never comes from emotion or feeling. these day Christian people don’t like the traditional worship style, but I think our worship style should be simple. We should have a time to share and hear word of God more than the other things. Rushing music or dramatic rituals or elaborate ceremonies gives Christian understading, but it can make them dispersal form the purpose for worship. Instead of praising God, people are looking at the lights or the video. Recently, Hymn is little by little disappear in the Church. If I can be leader in worship in the church, I will sing a lot of Hymns in the Church so that people can focus on God and His word.

  12. Sze Wing Ho says:

    I enjoyed reading the above discussion very much. I agree with Dr. Aniol that “art that simply engages the passions and fuels physical feelings is inappropriate and quite dangerous for sacred use.” In the context of Christian worship, I am a strong supporter of Apollonarian art. As a musician, I consider music making (composing, performing) or music appreciation (listening, analyzing) are intellectual experiences. I agree that music has a natural power to move one’s “emotion”, yet the enjoyment of music can only be enhanced through the understanding of music. One have to learn the musical features and to study them in order to fully enjoy the music. Thus, I consider making music is an intellectual experience.

    In my opinion, worship is also an intellectual experience. One may argue that we worship God in spirit, but we should notice that we have to worship God in truth. Worship in truth involves the understanding of the nature and the attributes of God. We can worship God wholeheartedly because we know Him. Our knowledge of God help us to build up relationship with Him, therefore we are able to worship Him genuinely.

    For me, I prefer hymns than pop style Christian music. The music organizations (forms, harmonization) and the lyrics of hymns are the products of intellectual creativity. I consider hymns are treasures for Christians that help us to draw near to God.

  13. Jin Young Park says:

    When worship finds spiritual significance, I would like to say the Word. As a church music student, I was supposed to say rousing music as the spiritual significance. However, I believe that music is nothing without the Word. I believe that music becomes a spiritual power in worship when it delievers the Word. Also, as music, other elements of worship that make worship important spiritually need the Word as well suuch as rituals and ceremonies. Without the Word, those elements can be the same as secular arts. 
    Moreover, I agree that “feelings are not wrong, they are sometimes the natural production of right affection.” I agree this statement because I believe that feelings help congregations to focus on worship and connect the Spirit. 

  14. Laura Baskin says:

    Wow. This article was packed full of info.

    Dr. Aniol said, “The problem is that when the passions are set in conflict with the mind, the passions will always win. A man may know that it is wrong to hit another man, but if he is angry, that knowledge alone will not stop him from reacting wrongly. It is only when his knowledge is supported by noble affections that he can overcome his passions.”

    Honestly, I am not sure I fully agree with this statement. I do agree that it makes it easier to keep from letting the passions get out of control when knowledge is accompanied by noble affections. However, I do not believe the passions will “always win.” A child may be angry and on the verge of hitting his brother, but then remember that he will get his butt tore up if he does. I am not quite sure I would equate that with a noble affection… Also, I would like to point out that the Greek word for repentance (metanoia) literally means “a change of MIND.” Just a couple thoughts.

  15. Daniel L Nu says:

    It think it would be more appropriate to say that the a lot of Christians today are being manipulated by both Christian and non-Christian composers as far as worship music concerns. Rather than making general accusation by saying that it’s because of the lack of understanding of the nature of emotion and art, we should seriously think about the case that it is even the composers who have ample knowledge of the nature of emotion and art manipulate people’s emotion. The fact is they do know, and they intentionally manipulate emotion. The congregation might not understand the nature of emotion and art, so it’s important they are nurtured spiritually and focused more on the word-centered side of worship.

  16. Laura Baskin says:

    Dr. Aniol said, “The problem is that when the passions are set in conflict with the mind, the passions will always win. A man may know that it is wrong to hit another man, but if he is angry, that knowledge alone will not stop him from reacting wrongly. It is only when his knowledge is supported by noble affections that he can overcome his passions.”

    I’m not sure I really agree with this statement. Although it’s true that passions are probably easier controlled by “noble affections,” I do not think passions always win in conflict with the mind. I remember when I was a child, and I got mad about something and wanted to slam my door. However, I knew that if I did it, my parents would take the door off the hinges or get a belt to my butt. That being said, I don’t think my motivation for not slamming the door can be equated with “noble” affections… Also, I know this is a little much, but consider brain washing, or just something that has been ingrained in someone for so long. Like…if someone raised me to always choose M&Ms over Snickers. One day, I might really be craving a Snickers. But, my mind says, “Nope. M&Ms are always the way to go. You know that.” And I choose the M&Ms. Silly, I know, but perhaps it will help make my point clearer. Moreover, I would like to point out that the Greek word for repentance (metanoia) literally means “a change of mind.” Just something for thought.

  17. Laura Baskin says:

    Good grief. The internet drives me crazy sometimes. Sorry about the two comments that are along the same lines. My computer was messing up…

  18. Laura Baskin says:

    Great thoughts on art. I very much agree that one should never let the passions overrule the worship. Worship must be a healthy balance of the mind and the emotions. However, I feel that the categories of the mind, passions, affections, etc. have been placed in neat little boxes, which I do not think leaves room for some of the mystery that is present. I believe it is a little more difficult to completely divide the mind and emotions than one thinks.

    Yes, like I said earlier, I do agree that the passions should not be let out of hand. For instance, the sexual, completely ungodly junk we saw in class the other day was a very good example of letting the passions run wild. However, who are we to draw lines on some art forms that may be leading people to true worship? I still cannot comprehend the myriad of debates on which instruments we should use in our music. I think this has actually become quite ridiculous. To focus more on what types of instruments we use than to focus on the text and other important things is quite sad. And using visual aids in worship. Think about the movie “Passion of the Christ.” Why should the believer not be stirred in emotion when he sees how his Savior was treated? Like Bryan and Martin were saying, where is the line between Apollonarian and Dionysian art? Who decides what is what?

    And on the comments regarding “simple” worship, one must remember the Old Testament. It cannot be denied that God liked a type of “fancy” worship in the tabernacle/temple. These worship “places” were decked out with special stuff and the priests wore special clothes, etc. I just think we keep hitting the “extremes” mark, and we need to keep going back to balance.

    Also, it was said, “Is it any wonder that the second commandment forbids the use of visual art in worship? Is it any wonder that the only drama sanctioned for worship is baptism and the Lord’s Supper, relatively safe forms of symbolism?”
    I think this is a very bold statement. Although visual art can potentially be worshipped, it has many other uses in the worship place… Hmmm. And drama…this can be a very effective teaching tool and spur people to think and to reflect. I am just shocked that these things are viewed as forbidden…

  19. Keji Lu says:

    It is a real problem in today’s church: some of the conservative Christian think only singing traditional hymns is to worship God, and they think contemporary worship is satisfied one’s own soul instead of truly worshipping God, and the lyrics they sing are not depth enough. On the country, young people feel they have been spiritually touched through contemporary worship, and they think as the new generation they should have their own way to worship God instead of follow “old-fashion”. We do not have the right to judge neither side of them, but we do have the right and responsibility to let them know the true meaning of worship. I like what says in this article: “The biblical picture of worship is simple — no flash, no ritual, no drama.” We should always check ourselves: no matter we doing traditional or contemporary worship, God is always the center. We do have emotions and feelings when we worship Him, but is it from our affections or passions? We must always remind ourselves of what says in 1 Cor 9:27:”(we) must also beat our bodies and make them our slaves.“ Do not let our passions to over-control us when we worship Him.

  20. Boyoung Lee says:

    When I read this article, I just thought again that we are the spiritual being. Through many worship services, we have had a spiritual experience of the God’s presence.
    My experience was that my mind had opened to God and I changed my emotion from sorrow to joyfulness and gracefulness at that moment. I felt God touched my heart and my emotion. I think that God’ spiritual presence is very related with the emotional component. I believe that God has spiritually worked through the emotional part. However, sometime I felt that the man who plan and lead the worship seem to make the intended worship or visualized worship to stimulate congregation’s emotions. I thought those equipments obstruct God’s purely work and purpose for the worship at the time.

  21. Sarah Teichler says:

    Dr. Aniol, I think your question is loaded. Of course, we should say, “The Word is what should rightly have spiritual significance in worship,” but saying it and doing it are two different things. I don’t think a single person would disagree that the Word is the primary thing that deserves our affections, but what we love to love is those moving songs. If you watch in chapel or your church service, you can predict the exact moment when the hands will go up and the fists will pound – the Pavlovian response of the manipulated passions. It doesn’t even matter if the clever, rhyming clips of Christianese make theological sense. Far fewer people are so moved by the reading of the Word. There is a disconnect between what we say we value and what we show we value. I agree with you that the church is confused. I myself have struggled much with what I grew up with in the worship service – all passion and very little intellect – to finding a balance between the passions and the affections.

  22. Jae Won Baek says:

    Thank you so much Dr. Aniol. I got a great impression from that article. I learned a lot about the nature of Man, especially about affect of ‘Art’. For me, more and more, under the grace of God, ‘the Word of God’ and ‘the holy Spirit’ lead me to the true worship. Personally, when I wake up, I am on my knees and keep the quiet time before the Lord. Then I begin to praise the Lord with my voice only, usually that song texts focuse on the Jesus Christ, His name, giving thanks to Him, and what He has done for me. Always, praising of the blood of Jesus is very powerful, indeed, His name is power! And then, I pray and meditate the Word of God. More I lay down my will in the Holy Spirit, more the Word of God reigns me through Holy Spirit. For the congregational worship in the Lord day, I am serving as a worship leader. The Lord draw near to Him with Hymn which contain totally gospel in text. Frankly, when I was young (youth to early twenty) my first concern for worship was beatiful music. So when I heard the music not my preference, I could not worship deeply. However, so far, God have been teaching and training me by His Scripture. True worship is just obey to God’s will, His word. The Old testament, although worship was incomplete, The Lord God Almight spoke to them by His prophet, and then Israelity repented, and then they returned to their God and finally praise the Lord. Um… this point can be merely off the point; in fact, I received very helpful point of view about “Art” for worship, still we are standing under the Greek views. In this reason, as dividing two part “Dionysian vs. Apollonarian art” , named in Greek… I need to think about that more to find better naming and catergories.

  23. Sarah Teichler says:

    Leyi, I completely agree with you! Many of our churches (my childhood church included) are teaching (not so much by their words, but by their practices) that our relationship with God is a feeling, or at least that it brings on feelings. Those who don’t “feel” God’s love (aka warm fuzzies or goosebumps or happiness) think either that God has abandoned them or that they lost their love for God. I have seen many people “lose” their faith or lose hope because it was misplaced. I have attended countless “worship services” that were really pep rallies to help us “get back to our first love” or “keep our love burning” for the Lord – which really meant keep those passions ignited, but there was no real feeding on the Word, no roots growing deep, just surface foliage which cannot weather the slightest storm.

    Daniel, I agree with you as well, that composers (especially those of contemporary Christian music) knowingly and intentionally manipulate the passions of the people, and that the congregation as a whole does not recognize when they are being manipulated. Therefore, the position of music director/pastor takes on much more responsibility, because he must guard his congregation from such dangers.

  24. Malena Torres Martin says:

    Was the worship of David when he danced almost without cloth in front of God Dyonisian art? How can we judge this attitude?. I really don´t want to judge David dance or movements. The Great King David dancing with exceedengly body expressions to worship God, and the Lord was pleased with this worship, And I remember what happened to his wife when she rejected David as an unworthy person for doing such kind of act. O Lord God Almigthy, men are very far to understand your thoughts. Another thing to comment it is about drama issue, why it can not be possible to dramatize biblical histories?. It does not necessarly to be performed at Church alone, but outside of the walls of Church can be a powerful evangelistic weapon. I am not saying drama can be considered worship but it does not have to be banned in Christianity because it can be a very useful tool for didactic purposes. Why it is not possible to use this art to evangelize and teach, I do not understand this? Is worship just encapsulated inside of the walls of church, I don´t think so. Do we need to be at church to worship God?,I think yes, but what about individual worship? what about Daniel and his friends that could not speak about their God and could not go freely to weekly services in Babylon. They were without worship, of course not because worship is more than a simple style, preference, or place. Daniel whorshipped God three times a day through his constant prayers.They could not go to the Temple to worship and partake of the daily sacrifice. Probably many of them could not either go to the Synagogue to worship. Another thing I don´t understand Dr Aniol is why do we use the pagan Greek terminology and their deities to describe the kind of worship that is more appropiate to honor God (Apollonian and Dyonisian), it looks like Syncretism to me. How it is possible to be influenced by these pagan terms?

  25. Megan says:

    This article definitely makes a person think through the motivation behind the artistic arrangement of the music. Somehow I cannot truthfully say I agree with Dionysian or Apollonarian art. I am definitely in favor of using music, instruments and singing during worship because I think that the Bible is full of examples of worship that uses these tools to praise God. However, from what I read in the article, both types of art are based on Greek gods associated with art. One is a “god of reason and logic,” the other “wine and revelry” with “loud, raucous music accompanied by pipes and drums.” One form of art seems to exalt emotionalism. The other form of art exalts intellectualism. Neither one of those Greek gods were trying to bring glory to Almighty God.

    God did give us our minds, which He commanded to be renewed by His word. I believe He wants us to use our minds and understanding when worshiping. He also does give explicit instructions about things being done in decency and in order. However, knowledge alone puffs up a person. Even though worship might appear to be logical and in order does not necessarily mean that the worshiper’s heart is in the right place. In the same way, the Psalms give examples of shouting for joy and clapping your hands. King David danced before the Lord when bringing the Ark back to Jerusalem. It was a coronation ceremony; perhaps not in the Temple, but still worship to the Almighty God. Just because there is swaying or outward expression does not mean a person’s heart is not engaging in true meaningful worship.

    I Samuel 16:7 (NET) – “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Don’t be impressed by his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

    John 7:24 (NET) – “Do not judge according to external appearance, but judge with proper judgment.”

    I think of the four example of worship given at the beginning, perhaps every single one of them could potentially be pleasing to the Lord and every single one of them could be displeasing to the Lord. I think it is the heart attitudes of the people worshiping more than the style.

  26. Scott Aniol Scott Aniol says:

    Good discussion. A little clarification: the use of the terms Dionysian and Apollonian is not an adoption of Greek gods or syncretism. It is actually simply the use of those terms as analogies of categories that were always in use prior to the Enlightenment. Luther, for example, distinguished between carnal music and spiritual music, which were his terms for the same things.

    So don’t let the terms themselves scare you away from careful consideration of the categories, again, categories that everyone accepted until after Enlightenment. If you don’t like those terms, that’s fine; choose others. I actually prefer to talk about “modest” and “immodest” music. That is, music that modestly nurtures the noble affections, and music that immodestly draws attention to itself and artificially stimulates the passions.

    Additionally, use of Greek ideas for affections and passions is likewise not syncretism, but simply use of terms that were available to the NT authors to describe the reality of human nature.

    Carry on!

  27. John Gray says:

    I think the question here is not question of “conservative” or “contemporary,” but of whether traditional or contemporary. I would define true conservatism as being Biblically accurate (trusting every word of Scripture to be fully true). For worship to occur it must be done in “spirit and in truth” (John 4). To say that some music because it makes one want to clap and stomp there feet is not proper worship is questionable based on the aforementioned scripture. Emotion should be bred by the scriptural content and the spirits work within, but how can I say that this is an issue of musical genre (genre is preference). There is doctrinally sound music that is found in many genres, and when this is led by the spirit (even if it is loud and includes clapping) it is worship. I also believe that any tool that accurately presents the gospel message can be used for God’s glory. How can we totally discredit the use of drama if it makes one consider the saving grace of Christ. Though I think these can be used they must be done with scriptural accuracy, and with the intent of the Body’s edification (not to breed emotion). All this to say, that it is a issue of the heart and doctrine, not of preference.

  28. “…genre is preference…”

    Hi John, why should anyone accept this? It’s basically one of over 6 billion opinions on the matter.

    “I also believe that any tool that accurately presents the gospel message can be used for God’s glory.”

    And how do you determine what is or is not an accurate presentation?

  29. Martin says:

    Scott tried to deal with the David (dancing) argument here: http://religiousaffections.org/articles/articles-on-worship/shall-we-dance/
    I find it a rather plausible idea that David was not ‘worshiping’ here but simply he (and maybe others not mentioned) danced for joy – more as a civil celebration than an act of worship. In any case, dancing does not occur in the New Testament, so I would hesitate to make it a regular part of corporate worship. It was, however, and expression of joy at the time which may be much less in use in our culture today.
    As to the question whether drama can be used – I’d certainly say it can be used by Christians (always depends on the situation). It also seems useful in teaching – apparently, Mao used drama to create the Chinese revolution; it really resonated with people at the time. Yet again, this is not corporate worship. Maybe Scott will clarify this in a reply or a post some other day…

  30. Keji Lu says:

    People do have their personal preference type of worship, but we should check if it is from God or from our own flesh. Never let passions overrule us. We should ask ourselves if we just enjoy a certain type of music by our soul, or that music can let us spiritually worship God. God do give us free will, we can do whatever we want, but “not everything is beneficial.” God do have His way and terms of worship, we should follow His own heart in worship. We should always remind ourselves of the world’s influence, we should not follow the world’s popular or fashion ways in our worship. Congregational need to be lead to a right way of worship, it is so easy for people to have a wrong passion rather than a right affection to worship Him in today’s world. Worship leaders, music pastors, ministers should not follow the world’s popular things or what other churches’ do in there worship, but only to find light in His Word and heart, based on tradition to worship Him.

  31. Daniel La Nu says:

    Something popped up in my mind after reading Sarah’s comment. Finding a balance between passion and affection in our worship experience is a hard thing to do. As mentioned above in the article, assuming the doctrinal content is the same in all those styles of worship, why should we bother ourselves checking the balance during worship? As long as we are being fed adequate spiritual food in a Word-centered worship, the aspects of the nature of art and emotion become less significant. What I mean is they become secondary or they are simply aid or tool to assist the worship service. We already know what the primary is.

  32. Daniel La Nu says:

    After reading Sarah’s comment, something popped up in my mind. Finding a balance between the passion and affection during worship service is a hard thing to do. There is also a vague line between Apollonarian type and Dionysian. As mentioned above in the article, assuming that the doctrinal content is the same among all those worship services, why bother checking the balance between the passion and affection for different worship services that we might come across? As long as we are being fed adequate spiritual food, and make sure that it is a Word-centered service, the aspects of the nature of art and emotion become secondary agents. They are just accessories, the primary being the Word-centered worship service. Concerning the application of visual aid, I would say there are a lot of advantages, although my great disappointment being the congregation become musically-illiterate. People don’t read music anymore.

  33. Ryan Thiessen says:

            I don’t think my dog is a Christian; it must be because he just doesn’t appreciate Wesley and Watts.  Reading this piece I am struck by one of the more ludicrous statements I’ve seen in a while, “Animals can experience the effects of this kind of art no different than humans”.  The notion here is that “Dionysian” forms are so basic and so primal that even the animals get it.  This should be seen as an oversimplification of the issue.  It is further intended to equate this sort of worship with animals incapable of receiving Christ.  Therefore, if you prefer “Dionysian” worship styles, you are possibly not a Christian.  This too is an oversimplification of the issue employed to illustrate the absurd nature of the above statement. 
            The argument here is a familiar one.  “Dionysian” worship is largely equated with contemporary music and its associated art forms and Apollonarian worship is equated with traditional art forms.  This argument is a common one employed by those who feel that contemporary forms are inappropriate for corporate worship use.  Typically this argument will include a marked disdain of any notion that music choice is a matter of opinion.  The remainder of the argument is invariably a dissertation of the author’s opinion regarding worship.  
            The argument centers around the idea that “Well-crafted, modest music” is the appropriate music form as it applies to the affections first and then the feelings as a natural by-product.  Ironically, here lies our first matter of opinion.  What does “Well-crafted, modest music” mean?  Do Wesley and Watts automatically satisfy this criteria.  Do Tomlin and Baloche automatically fail?
            Two things must be understood in this context.  First, it is true that in the 1980′s and 1990′s a great deal of poor worship music came to be briefly popular in American churches.  We all regret this, but mercifully, those days are largely past.  Of course there continues to be music produced today that should not be employed for corporate worship just we do not, and have not, used every hymn that Wesley and Watts composed.
            Second, we must dispel the notion that people are being “targeted”, as if Christian musicians and the companies that produce their music have some agenda to prevent us from spreading Christianity and building churches that glorify God, save the lost, and edify the body of believers.  The idea suggests their exists some anti-Christian agenda perpetuated by contemporary worship forms.  This is a ridiculous and wholly disingenuous position.  Chris Tomlin is not the Anti-Christ.
            The illustration is made regarding a man’s love for his wife.  This states correctly that this is more than a matter of primal emotions.  The analogy (also correct) is that our love for Christ is to be the same.  My question is what man (outside of arranged marriages) did not have an emotional reaction that first attracted him to the woman that would become his wife; an attraction or feeling that developed into the affections he has for her that developed into a lasting relationship.  Is our coming to Christ all that different?
            I am struck by some of my peers comments regarding their appreciation of traditional music styles.  You will notice in many cases that they speak of their “feelings” when hearing this music.  Is that not what we should be guarding against?  Unless of course feelings (at least initially) are not actually such a terrible thing.  Is this not also, ultimately their opinion?
            This discussion like so many in the church suffer from a poor focus.  We are continually concerned about the “what” of worship and not the “why” and how they relate.  
    The church has three purposes:
            1.  Glorify God
            2.  Save the lost
            3.  Edify the body of believers
    Additionally, these purposes must be pursued in the context of the local congregation.  What achieves these purposes for a 25 person congregation in Lampasas, TX will not do the same for a 2,500 person congregation in Los Angeles.  Everything the church does must satisfy all three purposes.  Those activities that do not contribute to even one must be considered for modification or elimination.  Without careful attention contemporary music tends to support saving the lost to the general exclusion glorifying God and edifying the body.  Traditional music tends to have the opposite issue.  Those given charge of church music must be keenly aware of this.
            That said, if Wesley and Watts support all three purposes for your congregation, that is appropriate music for your church.  If Tomlin and Baloche achieve this in your congregation then that is appropriate music for your church.  Music leaders may (and often do) find that a combination better supports these purpose.
            Lastly I am saddened by a comment I read from another student.  He or she was lamenting that a Christian worship service in China was using music that they felt too emotional or otherwise not suitable (at least by our standards).  Are we really missing the point that the gospel is being spread in China … IN CHINA! …  and our response is be indignant about the music!?
            
    Ryan Thiessen
    October 27, 2013

  34. Scott Aniol Scott Aniol says:

    Ryan, if you’re going to call something ludicrous, you’d better back it up with more than your own personal opinion, especially when you’re disagreeing with hundreds of years of Christian consensus.

  35. Ryan Thiessen says:

    Scott, Touché Sir. But then it is opinion isn’t it. I found it all a bit Darwinist

  36. Martin says:

    Ryan, thanks for your input… I wonder if some of your objections would be dealt with if you read more of the material on this site. At least, I think you misunderstand that using Dionysian music (whatever exactly qualifies as that) has anything to do with being saved or not. I find Scott’s ministry rather important as there is little teaching out there on musical choices. It’s a complex and difficult subject, so there is a lot of material here that tries to establish principles to deal with this matter. I agree with you that there is still a lack of concrete detail as to how to make decisions about specific musical material in the corporate worship context. This is of course where the rubber hits the road, and the most controversial. Clearly, there are extremes and a lot of in-between cases that are not always easily dealt with. I’d hope that these issues will become clearer as work on this site progresses.
    On the other hand, I found your three criteria for selecting worship intriguing on the one hand but also dangerous on the other: they smack of pragmatism! If we only measure our practices by the outcome, we have thrown out any scrutiny of our methods. Taken to an extreme, we could then put on sexually charged teen parties at church only to attract the youth. This may increase church membership but not necessarily the number of truly saved people. Also, it would be most incongruent with the Gospel message. With music, things can be similar (though not as crass), with certain styles being used to attract a specific age group and it is then hoped that many of them will stay and become members. I am not sure that this is really success – if there is a real change in peoples’ lives when they come to Christ, should there not also be a change in their tastes and preferences? Surely, these tastes will have been affected by sin in the years prior to conversion? So to use music in evangelization is already a practice that is questionable. I think Scott and the others posting here want to highlight these issues, help others think them through as well, and create some exchange to find truth in these matters.
    Personally, I don’t think there is an ‘agenda’ but we can’t escape the pressure of popular culture around us, which in turn is very much subjected to marketing principles which are usually not in line with biblical values. So Chris Tomlin is not automatically wrong but certainly, his music can be compared to Wesley’s hymns and we will find clear differences in terms of content, teaching value, theological clarity, and artistic value. Maybe some of Chris’ work could be used in worship but probably the percentage is much lower than when we look as Wesley. Yet, ALL of this material should be subjected to the same type of scrutiny. This does not mean we bring damnation over the congregation if we sing a song that has little worship value but it shows how much we have considered these issues in how we conduct our worship. The idea of this site, as I understand it, is to help people think more deeply about these questions, and make better choices – choices that go beyond mere opinion but are based on biblically informed evaluation methods.

  37. Vaden says:

    Whoo…I don’t even know where to start after reading the article and some of the comments. I would say after reading this article and good read it is still apparent that we are on a preference than that of what is biblical and non-biblical.
    After going to a church today that is completely off the path I realized that as we sit and state that Dionyism and Apollonarian worship; one is right and one is wrong; we are completely in the wrong direction. We are missing the boat with articles that just get both sides messed up. If we want to point the finger at the church or the congregation or pop culture lets look and see three fingers pointing at the future worship/ music ministers. We are missing the a huge generation gaps because the worship leaders are theologically wise. Which is one reason why i made the switch from MM to MDIV. Because I would like to be theologically sound not a music educator.

    So you are probably sitting and going oh he is going to say we need to be Apollonarian. Well you are wrong we shouldn’t be either category. We should be Christ centered or not. To say contemporary/drums and guitar worship is non biblical is just a chuckle. Because once again this article states a preference and you can tell in the four examples by which one is nicely explained and the others are like an overcast summary. To state an organ lead service is any more spiritual than a service that has a worship band with scripture reading and affirmation of the doctrine as well is non factual. It’s a preference. To go to the church I went to today where it was a people pleased and the sermon was fit to an Olsteen calendar is….

    I have been to the organ churches am loved the worship but the sermon wasn’t anywhere close to the actual Word. So does that mean it’s still A Christ Centered Church?? No because the church isn’t focused on God it’s focused on itself and that is why churches are tanking because instead of worship being wrong the whole church’s view is wrong.

    I know this is going to tick some off but until we wake up and notice that people are leaving and going to more liturgical churches because they want actual religion not this fake services that are being produced because most worship leaders don’t know where Galatians is in the Bible if you just gave them the NT.. I think we are wasting our time and arguing about the wrong thing and not saving souls. We are letting Satan win.

  38. Megan says:

    I would have to agree that worship should be in order and logical. It should be based on Scripture. I still cannot call one style of worship “right” or “more holy” than another. I grew up in a very traditional church where we sang from hymnals every Sunday. Then we changed churches when I was entering middle school to a church that had a worship service that swung to the opposite extreme. I now attend a church that incorporates both contemporary and traditional music as a part of the service. In every one of these settings I have had true worshipful, life-changing moments with the Lord. I accepted Jesus as my Savior in a very traditional type of setting. I made life decisions to serve the Lord in ministry in more contemporary services.

    Personally, I have seen the negative affects of Dionysian music where “everything goes” and three verse/choruses build into a big bridge with a very emotionally charged response. In some of those situations I do not think God was pleased because the music was very manipulative of emotions. I know it was emotional because there was no lasting change or fruit. No one came to salvation, little spiritual growth resulted in the believers. However, I have also had moments, singing the exact same songs from a sincere heart, where I truly encountered God’s presence and received life-impacting, clear direction. We learned in the first part of this class that God draws near to people when they worship Him the way He prescribes. If this worship was simply emotional, manipulative and displeasing to God, why would He show up? Like Ryan said, if God is being glorified, people are getting saved, and the body of Christ is being edified, why is it wrong? Jesus said that we would know true believers by their fruit. If there is godly fruit from a contemporary service, I would have to draw the conclusion that God is in their midst.

    Likewise, I have experienced many beautiful moments with the Lord worshiping in a traditional style of music. I accepted Jesus as my Savior as a result of a church that worshiped in this traditional sense. I also learned how to sing harmony and gained a rich knowledge of music during worship services. However, I also went to school with a guy who is a minister of music at a church in my home town. From the outside, the liturgy appears to be Apollonian. It is very aesthetic, logical and reverent. However, this man has chosen to openly practice homosexuality as his lifestyle. Obviously, his doctrine has been severely confused, but if a person did not know his personal lifestyle, he might easily think God is pleased by this minister’s weekly worship. I would have to conclude that his church most likely values the Romantic period of music in a historic or aesthetic way, but their hearts are far from the Lord.

    As I am writing this, I remembered some comments that Ken Myers made during the colloquium on Wednesday that relate to this discussion. He talked specifically about honoring the previous generation of a community by preserving the traditions of their worship instead of creating something entirely new. He said worship without the memory of previous generations creates a gathering or crowd of people, but not a community. He brought up the point that when we worship we have a cloud of witnesses that we join with (Hebrew 11). These are hundreds of years worth of believers who will worship Almighty God together for all of eternity. I think perhaps it is important to remember and incorporate the traditions of the heritage of believers who have gone before us. It is obvious through a study of music history that style does change, but this colloquium made me realize how vital it is that we do not forget the worship heritage that we have as the body of Christ.

  39. Ryan Thiessen says:

    Martin, I like where you’re going here and I am interested in more of what the site has to offer, but we need to clarify a couple of things.  I think I was a bit unclear in regard to the church’s purposes.  The activities of our church must support all three purposes and be mutually supportive.  Sure, the teen parties you mentioned may draw people into the church but they would hardly satisfy even one purpose.  This activity is certainly not glorifying God, I scarcely think that there a sense of saving the lost, and as the teens may or may not be saved, they are not yet of body of believers of which we are to edify. Viewing this activity in light of the church’s purposes determines that this activity is clearly not appropriate.
            You also mentioned that a church may use a certain type of music to attract people and then to hope that they would stay and become members.  This is not about church membership or hope.  This is about the purpose(s) of the church.  The point is presenting the Gospel, demonstrating a changed life in Christ, and helping people to understand what His sacrifice truly means for each of us.  It is also to guide that new believer in a conscious, deliberate, and mentoring effort to understand what his / her new relationship and life in Christ means.  No Sir this is has nothing to do with hope.
            Well I’ve never been associated with pragmatism before.  The purposes of the church are not a means to influence outcomes but rather a guide to inputs.  Understanding our purpose is precisely the means by which we scrutinize our efforts.  These inputs are those practices that serve to achieve the purposes of the church.  Take saving the lost for example.  The efforts of the church to present the Gospel, show the need for salvation, and demonstrate the love of Christ through relationships with one another are among the church’s input in regards to this purpose, the actual saving, the “outcome”, is work of Christ alone.
            This is not a means to generate numbers of church members, salvation, baptisms, etc., but rather a means to execute the Great Commission.  Oh, the SBC loves these numbers, so much that they drive what happens in many of our churches.  This is pragmatism or at least a influence of it.  I would rather not be concerned with these numbers if meant that we kept our purpose clear. Without going into a long dissertation here, you will find all three purposes inculcated within Matthew 28:19-20.  This is what Jesus Himself told us to to do; seems to me we should be doing that.  We tend to get so wrapped up in areas that are not clearly defined that we overlook those that are.
            Martin, you mentioned that perhaps I misunderstood whether music choices have anything to do with being saved or not.  Is that not what we are ultimately saying here?  If one kind of music or practice is right and another is wrong, what do we mean by wrong?  If we do not have our purpose clearly in mind we do not and cannot know the answer to that question.  If we are saying that contemporary music is wrong, are we not saying that it is wrong because it somehow fails to worship God and therefore something or someone else?  Would that not be false worship, and grounds to question salvation?  However, if we are not saying that contemporary music calls salvation and worship into question, … then how is it wrong?  Thank you for your time.

  40. Ryan Thiessen says:

    I forgot to mention, I did Watts AND Tomlin yesterday.

  41. Ryan Thiessen says:

    I forgot to mention, I did Watts AND Tomlin yesterday at church.

  42. Ryan Thiessen says:

    In regards to feelings, I happened across this yesterday.  “Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:9-10)(ESV)).  The NIV translates the latter portion of verse 10 as “so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive”.
            Paul is talking to bondservants or slaves here and is using the same word (doulos) that he used to describe himself and his role (our role) as a slave of Christ.  The risk here is of course a discussion reading an isolated portion of scripture.  That said, is it possible that Paul is encouraging the very thing that some here are discouraging as inappropriate for the church.

  43. Martin says:

    Ryan, do you mean by your last post that we should embellish the Gospel with popular music? Just trying to understand – the context of the verse is obviously completely different = it speaks about the personal walks of the servants, not of preaching or evangelization (although we are all living letters that evangelize one or the other way, of course). In any case, the context is not corporate worship.
    As to the other points, I quite agree that Mt 28 is a clear description of what the church should do. Yet, you wrote earlier that “If Tomlin and Baloche achieve this [the three purposes] in your congregation then that is appropriate music for your church.” Purpose #2 was ‘save the lost’, so I can’t help reading this as ‘if you are using this kind of music and you are growing, then that is fine and you are in line with what Jesus has commanded’. This means you are judging the means by their outcome (pragmatism). I believe the biblical way is to work by principle, not by outcome. This may mean that even though we do everything ‘right’ in the sense of using appropriate worship styles, orthodox preaching, etc., we may not necessarily see a lot of people saved. On the other hand, we may not care about the above and still see a lot of people joining the church (whether they are really saved is an issue I would like to keep separate as it would be another dissertation, as you mentioned above as well). I would certainly advocate that a congregation should examine WHY there may be little growth. Yet, Paul even left Asia behind because they did not accept his preaching – he did not look for an alternate approach to ‘reach the culture’ but concluded that not all regions are ready to follow Christ. We may find ourselves in a similar situation, or a time where God is not willing to bring more people – if we then try to ‘force’ things by adopting methods that are more or less similar to Willow Creek, we risk going against God’s will (and work in the flesh, rather than through the Spirit). Generally, I am very concerned that many who ‘give their hearts to Christ’ actually don’t know what they are getting into, and never weighed the costs of living as a Christian. So there is a tendency to make this decision very easy (maybe along the ‘easy believism’ lines of Billy Graham’s latest book, which I have not read yet) and the use of cultural forms that are very similar to what people would have been used to before conversion is part of this strategy (I would not call it an agenda, though). You will have churches that maintain orthodox preaching while using mainly Dionysian music, but I think many that do also weaken their preaching to avoid talking about sin and being critical of mass culture. The use of the simpler lyrics in most modern worship music itself also leads to a ‘softer’ Gospel that is based on common denominator lyrics which offend nobody (mainly for commercial reasons, since controversy does not sell well) and will teach the congregation that Christianity is essentially an inoffensive ‘feel good’ religion mainly linked to God blessing Christians and keeping them out of trouble. Thinking this through, maybe there is a ‘package deal’ including the excessive use of (Dionysian) CCM that may impact on whether people are saved or not – I cannot answer that question, and again, it would go far beyond our topic.
    Really, I see the music issue as one of orthodoxy – along the lines of Apollos in Acts 18:26. Noone said Apollos’ preaching was wrong or led to false conversions. What they DID say is that he needed to preach the Gospel more perfectly. Jesus wants His bride to be perfect, and that is what we should be striving for. If by ignorance we do not do everything right (and NONE of us do, of course!) then there is grace enough to cover that. Yet, we should strive to serve God with understanding. The more orthodox we are, the more we can be sure our work will not be burned in the fire (1.Cor 3:15).
    Noone is saying contemporary music is wrong, as you know. It’s not about when it was written but how it creates affections and enhances the lyrics in worship (just to get the terminology right). Finally, you seem to be onto something with your evaluation of how well the church does! Of course, it is easy to measure numbers and that is why many currently count membership and evaluate their success that way. Other areas you mention, such as relationships with one another, are much more difficult to quantify. Do you have any recommendations as to how a church community should evaluate whether they are being successful in terms of the Great Commission, other than counting membership?

  44. Vaden says:

    Martin I read your comments and you strictly contradict yourself. You state that churches use Dionysian music weakens the Preaching. So what are you stating as Dionysian music. I know the definition but what are YOU referring to it. Because you are attacking tomlin. Which I agree tomlin stinks lol but once again when you think him you put contemporary in there.
    Then you go on to state that being more orthodox is good I agree but once again lets read the surrounding text you are making another reference that less contemporary is good. I don’t see the point you make. All I see is how you have talked your self into a side. If from my tone of the message you think I am contemporary. I am not. But I am also not a condemner. I think we once again are helping Satan by not focusing on the lost souls but instead as Christians(Baptist, Methodist, etc) are fighting about childish things. Do I think some churches are off the mark yes. I do but how is that going to be fixed by preparing the next generation by teaching them theology not the fact that guitars and drums are on the path to a church spiraling into sin.(T David Gordon). I think you can view yourself on the Path of the Great Commission by singing songs of the correct doctrine. Hymns and newer music, preaching the Word , and going into the community and evangelizing and being good stewards.

  45. Martin says:

    I’ve tried to define what I mean some time ago at the example of one Tomlin song: http://correctmaple.blogspot.ca/2013/06/worship-song-evaluation-1.html
    This is to say, I am as much a learner on this blog as you (may be). I do not consider myself an expert on this but am trying to become one over time, so feel free to criticize whatever I thought I could come up with in my evaluation. I am not so much focused on the difference between Dionysian and Apollonian (though that’s in there somehow) but rather, on whether the music fits the lyrics. I believe that can be assessed fairly objectively, even while recognizing that art evaluation will always remain an inexact science. I have no other definition for Dionysian than that it affects the body more than the spirit. Some music may give you shivers or other bodily effects but still tries to bring you to a higher plane. I generally agree with what wrote in this series (http://religiousaffections.org/articles/articles-on-aesthetics/sentimentality-and-increasing-boredom/) but would also agree that not all music or art has to come to such a high standard. Yet, when I leave a church service without having being challenged at all towards living a more godly life, I leave somewhat disappointed. This can be brought about by the music, by preaching, or maybe other means. Yet I feel it hardly ever happens through most of the modern music. I don’t want to use contemporary/traditional in this discussion because there is bad stuff on both sides that should be filtered out, as well as good stuff that should be retained for worship.
    Specifically, when I say Dionysian music weakens the preaching, I meant that a) it is often accompanied by weak preaching (not necessarily a causal relationship) and b) that the music itself is also preaching/teaching the congregation. If the lyrics are shallow then the congregation (who pick up a lot of their theology from the music they sing) will also be taught a weak gospel through that music. Hope that makes sense.
    I am neither contemporary nor traditional. I think we need to sort through both our heritage and what’s being done today and then keep whatever is good. My impression is there is a lot less out of the contemporary category that is as good as many of the older stuff – which may partly be due to the commercialization of worship music, which presses it into certain moulds that are rather limiting. But there may be Tomlin songs that are just fine, at least if the instrumentation allows the singing to be heard and emphasizes the lyrics appropriately. It is this last comment that needs more elaboration (what is appropriate), and my link above is really just a start to get there.
    There are some concepts and terms I may have taken for granted in my comments. Maybe this will become clearer as you read more of Scott’s blogs, and hopefully some of the misunderstandings/contradictions will then disappear.

  46. John Gray says:

    David, I believe it must center on what is scriptural or not. If someone sings an anthem that is not based on scripture, or has serious flaws, that goes against the idea of biblical worship found in John 4. It also must be led by the Holy spirit. If a praise band is leading for self glorification, in their own power, then it goes against Biblical worship. We must not forget the issue of the heart. I do have preferences of musical genres, but I must be willing to go against my preference to declare the word of God through the art and tool of music. I hope this provides clarity to your question of “how do you determine what is or is not an accurate presentation?” Here is a cool quote from Johann Walter “for that reason music is not an art, as some believe, which may be used only to entice carnal desires, pleasures and frivolity, just as some people use all gifts of God for carnal and foolish purposes, but it is an art [that] has been given us for the purpose of praising and glorifying God’s grace and mercy, that through it the spirit may be made cheerful in God and also that through it men’s lazy and indolent flesh may be made happy and alert , ready and willing to praise and serve God.” I think this is a cool quote by Walter (even though i don’t agree with Walter on everything) because it show’s the purpose of music is to praise and glorify God. In summery, all music is designed to be used for God’s glory, it is carnal man that is the problem.

  47. d4v34x says:

    Hi John,

    Thanks for the response. So content can be judged but not form, you seem to say .

    Have you ever read poetry that seemed poorly done? Was that merely a preferential perception on your part, or is there an objective standard of quality by which we can judge poetry?

    Also, just to make sure I understand you, is it your reading of Johann Walter that all music does glorify God, or that it should/may?

  48. John Gray says:

    David, all music should glorify God. Man in their depravity cause the problem. Excellence implies subjectivity. I can say that Lacrae does excellent Christian rap (rap is not my preference), but a rapper may say he is just okay. A non subjective way of saying whether it is good or not is by looking at the text and seeing if it lines up with scripture. I do believe that we should give our best to the Godhead. If the heart is totally surrendered to God and the text is biblical who am I to say that worship does not occur (I believe it does occur by looking at John 4). With your example of poetry, I would have to say that it is excellent when it is scriptural, and written with a heart totally surrendered to Christ (A basis of objectivity not subjectivity). Does this answer your question?

  49. Ryan Thiessen says:

         Martin, no the Titus bit really wasn’t in regards to music, I just saw it as another way to look at these feelings that we are talking about.  The Gospel certainly needs no embellishment.  
            I am consistently failing to make my point, this is not about numbers, this is not about church growth, this is not about the metrics that we keep.  This is about a deliberate effort by a church, led by its pastor to biblically and prayerfully execute the tasks assigned to us in the Great Commission.  When done properly the church may grow, it may have more decisions, baptisms etc., and them again it may not.
            I am most certainly not talking about changing directions simply because the numbers aren’t there. Numbers are not our purpose.  I am also not talking about some program or business model or trying something that worked at another church.  That is another congregation and likely another town, demographic, etc.
            I don’t go to a “feel good” church and have fortunately visited very few.  We don’t stray away from sin and judgement.  In fact we realize fully that without the wrath and judgement of God, salvation is not all that necessary.  There is not weakening of the sermon to complement the lyrics of the songs chosen.  In fact I think I’ve chosen Watts more times that I have Tomlin, but I choose them both.  The Pastor and I feel that use of the gamut of church music supports the purpose of this particular church and the people that attend.  The Pastor and I make this determination together with his decision being final.
            Take a look at the lyrics of some of the more traditional songs.  As great as they are, when was the last time you used “bulwark”, “vouchsafe”, or “fetters” in a conversation.  How much less do lost people or even church goers use this kind of language in 2013?  We are (rightly) concerned about the language of modern songs and yet some of our older songs are speaking a different language. Trained musicians often lament the fact that people either don’t read music or appreciate the older songs.  Well, … they don’t, but they still need a saving relationship with the Savior and to be part of the body of Christ.
            Determining the success of the enterprise is the hardest part.  As the old saying goes, “if was easy everybody would be doing it”.  Numbers are how this is typically done.  We both know this can be misleading.  Some of the great missionaries went years before seeing a single conversion but later went on to have tremendous impact.  So how do we know if we are doing it right?  We carefully and deliberately examine our efforts to achieve our purpose.  This involves everything the church does, from the preaching of the Word, to the music, to nursery, to the greeters.  We approach this prayerfully and with a keen eye on scripture at all times.  We preach the Word and we don’t take shortcuts, we don’t avoid sin or judgement.  We get to know our congregations, their demographics, their backgrounds, their needs, their hurts, etc.  Led by the Pastor we apply the church’s practices combined with the knowledge of our unique congregation in pursuit of our purpose.  No two congregations will look the same when done correctly.  We leave the outcome to God.
            Oh and the Tomlin song you mentioned in reply to Vaden … never heard of it.  Maybe someday it will rate alongside that great (not so old) hymn “God of Earth and Outer Space” … This is why I don’t write songs.

    Thank you again for your time

  50. Ben says:

    I definitely see an agenda within a contingent of contemporary worship music. It is the exact same agenda of all of pop culture: sell as many CDs as possible and pack out the auditorium/arena with screaming fans (no matter how outrageous the price tickets are sold for). It’s made me sick for a long time how some “worship artists” market their concerts as worship events, and charge $75 a pop for admission (for cheapest, nose-bleed seats).

    I’m not sure if there is a particular style of music or worship that pushes my buttons. What generates worship in my heart is when you can sense a harmony and unity between brothers and sisters gathered in a place. Style is just not as important to me as unity. This can be a problem when the music is not biblicaly based and Christ focused.

    Interesting conversation going on above. I’m enjoying seeing it unfold.

  51. David Oestreich says:

    Hi John,

    Thanks for the answers. Yes, you’ve answered me, but your answers beg me to ask more! :)

    To your first statement about the should/man’s depravity– can you give me an example of some music that should glorify God but doesn’t because of man’s depravity? I’m talking music- no words.

  52. Aeil Park says:

    Yes, there are bad areas on both sides that should be filtered out, as well as good ones that should be retained for worship between contemporary and traditional worship. The true dangers of worship are those that are false in regards to God and his word. Feelings are important but worshiping God is not about our feelings about God. Worship services help us to draw near to God and celebrate the reconciliation between God and us. Therefore God’s word should be in our worship. If there is Scripture and a right heart for God it doesn’t matter contemporary or traditional worship style.

  53. John Gray says:

    Hey David, I would say music is a gift and art to be used for God’s glory. Any music used with the wrong heart does not glorify God. Two organist can play the same exact organ piece by Bach. One doing it for self glorification, the other doing it to the glory of God. The music is then affected by the depravity of the player doing it for self-glorification. An easy example would be a piece of music sung by Michael Jackson. He took music and instead of using it for God’s glory he used it for a paycheck. He placed provocative dance (and text) with it to produce fame for himself instead of fame for Christ. Michael Jackson had a hard heart, and it was seen in every aspect of his music. The music was not right or wrong (the text was wrong, to prevent confusion) it was the depravity of Michael Jackson that made his songs flawed. When we sing or play for any reason other then the glorification of Christ we are imposing our fleshly desires onto the song. All music is a tool to glorify God it is the hard heart of composers, performers, and congregations that cause the problem. Without using the obvious answer of text, there are still many ways to see man’s depravity in music. Does this answer your question.

  54. David Oestreich says:

    John,

    Yes, much appreciated. And you’ve been very patient with my interrogation. So I hope I’m not pressing my luck. I should say, I’m not trying to trip you up or prove you wrong; I do think, however, there are some cracks in your philosophy and I’m trying to drive down to them. Not that you owe me any answers. :)

    You stated, “Michael Jackson had a hard heart, and it was seen in every aspect of his music. The music was not right or wrong . . .”

    Do you see any possible contradiction between those two statements? Or did you not really mean every aspect. Let’s say MJ never wrote “Thriller”; if someone else had made the music behind that song but written Christian words instead of . . . pop horror to it, that would have been appropriate?

  55. Leyi Ling says:

    While reading through this article again and all the posts above, what exactly is it that “moves” us when we attend a worship service? Is the music, the atmosphere, the stage setting, or the beautiful lighting? If something “moves” us, does it “move” our heart or soul? One of Billy Graham’s testimonies was recalled to my mind, when I was thinking about the questions above. In the 90s, Billy Graham’s crusades draw so many people to Christ. One day, a newspaper reporter published an article saying that it was because of the moving music that touched people’s emotion so that they were willing to follow Jesus in the crusades. Billy Graham saw the news and prayed about for several days. Then he went to his music minister to tell him that he did not want God’s glory to be taken away, so there will be no more music in their crusades until God tell them to start again. Then for the first time, their crusade went without any kind of music, but still thousands of people came to Christ. Several crusades later the same news reporter wrote that please brought back the music, because the silence was killing them.
    This testimony really reminds me the same question that this article asked “ what ‘moves’ us in worship?” If any kinds of forms of worship draw our attention out of God Himself, we should stop and correct our way of worship. In addition, if the music on stage became something that draw people’s attention to his or her own passion enjoyment, not pointing the attention to God, then it should be taken away. God should always be the center of worship and gain all the attention. We should follow how God had commanded us to worship Him, because worship is only for God, not for people’s pleasure.

  56. John Gray says:

    David, good question, music was created to glorify God, but because of Micheal Jackson’s hard heart it was secular. If the heart had been right and the text right, then it would have been glorifying to God. I have no issue with the music (though it is not my preference) I have a issue with what it say’s, and with the heart in which it was done (His fruits show A life of self glorification). “The music was not right or wrong (the text was wrong, to prevent confusion) it was the depravity of Michael Jackson that made his songs flawed.” Without the second part of my quote it does seem contradictory, but with it I hope it does not. To clarify It was not his music that made up his songs that were wrong, but it was the song itself that was flawed because of the text and purpose for performing it (as well as provocative dance). Does that clear up the question of the quote?

  57. Sze Wing Ho says:

    God is the audience for our worship. I consider our enjoyment of music a by-product of worship. A genuine worship involves both emotional expressions and logical understanding of God. Therefore, the feelings of the congregation may not be able to reflect the effectiveness of worship. Our goal of worship is to please God. Music that appeals to people may not appeals to God. Thus, any form of sacred art should go parallel with biblical teaching. It is very dangerous to merely depend on our passions and feelings to worship God. Sacred music should not only satisfy our emotional needs, but also our intellectual understanding of God.

  58. Krystle Natividad says:

    I agree with Megan when she said, “I still cannot call one style of worship “right” or “more holy” than another. We should follow the Word in our services. I to have had transcending moments in both extremes of worship. I do agree with most here in saying that a lot of churches I have been to have put an a show to attract new members/believers and it is definitely the wrong way to go about worship.

  59. John Gray says:

    One more further clarification “every aspect of his music.” When one is totally depraved everything shows of that depravity: composition, performance, purpose of performing or composing music. It is all the human characteristics, not the creation of music itself.

  60. Boyoung Lee says:

    I agree with John’s mention. God gave us the music for worshiping him. God entrusted the music part to the angels, but they became corrupt due to using the music for glorify themselves. I thought the music is related with the spiritual parts. There are two things, one of them is the music from God, another is from evil.
    We need to be careful using the music and need to consider to the mind and heart of the person who are even worshipping God. Even as we are the worshipper in Christ, we should check up ourselves about the purpose and direction. The secular music already became the slave of the evil. We need to keep form the depravity. We should protect purely the sacred music for God.

  61. Brian says:

    Wow, there sure are a lot of interesting discussions going on. One common theme that I noticed was that both Laura and Ryan found the oversimplification of the discussion about the interaction between the spirit (mind) and the body, as displayed in THE NATURE OF MAN chart, to be problematic. I too share this opinion. Now, I realize that a certain level of succinctness had to be maintained due to the nature of the venue in which it was presented. In fact, the chart conveys many beneficial ideas. Unfortunately, its analysis of the Spirit-Body distinctions and interactions is too concise for it to properly serve as a foundational argument for the rest of the article.

    For instance, not all people process information in the same exact way, ex. Myers-Briggs personality types or Gregorc’s model of mind styles, but the article seemingly posits the proper order as being “mind, affections, then feelings.” While I don’t necessarily believe that we should specifically cater to the different personality types or thinking styles in corporate worship I do believe that these factors have a very real effect on the way different people relate to the various expressions of corporate worship (music, song texts, scripture reading, etc.).

    Another thought that occurred to me was if such a thing as corrupt affections could exist; the chart only lists the noble affections. For example, on a list from Mark 7:21-22 detailing some of the corrupting attitudes of the human heart (“For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.”) not all are mindless passions but some are cognitively oriented (mind). This would be the difference between killing a person in a fit of rage vs. premeditated murder. While this line of thinking may not have direct relevance to the article as a whole it is, none the less, an example of the chart’s simplicity.

    Finally, returning back to the topic of how people engage in worship, there is an interesting passage in 1 Corinthians that seems to be relevant to this discussion. In 1 Cor. 14:14-15 Paul states “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.” This seems to demonstrate that worship does not always begin with the intellect. The ESV Study Bible Note on verse 14 confirms this: “The comparison between my spirit and my mind shows that Paul is not speaking of the Holy Spirit but of his own human spirit. When Paul uses the term “spirit” of human beings, he means an inner, invisible faculty that can be especially attuned to the things of God (see 2:10–15; 5:3–5; Rom. 1:9; 8:16). “Mind” refers to the human faculty connected with intellectual understanding (1 Cor. 14:19; 1:10).” Admittedly, I realize that the context of this passage is discussing the use of the spiritual gifts of tongues and prophecy in corporate worship in relation to orderly worship but it is interesting that Paul makes distinction between spirit and mind. Now, in verse 5 Paul gives priority to intellectual understanding in worship while still affirming the value of that which is incompressible. Thus, those that are more in touch with this “inner, invisible faculty,” whatever it may be, need to make an intentional effort to understand the truths which are proclaimed and those who are more intellectually grounded need to remember to allow their affections and even emotions to be engaged in worship.

  62. Jae Won Baek says:

    Megan, thank you for sharing worship experience in your whole life! Thanks to your comment and others, it is possible for me to recall my worship to the Lord so far. I think maybe this last question, “So I ask you, reader, to what to you attach spiritual significance in worship?” is very crucial point for our all discussions; very heated discussions in here are really good lession for me.

    Before conversion, although I went to church and worship, that was not true worship because my heart was far from Jesus Christ. Before knowing Jesus, I was just churchgoer, but still I sang praise songs. Once again, I believe that under amazing grace, the Word of God is revealed by the Holy Spirit, then we are drawing near to God by faith through Jesus Christ little by little, more and more. Through these process, we are able to discriminate what is the true worship (obedience based on the Scripture) and just passion based on our preference have nothing to do with God’s will.

    South Korea’s worship is very ardent. Certainly these worship is bearing the fruits of life. God gave the Korean special Spirit for Worship! However, I cannot deny that young generation is easy to engrossed in powerful music than the Word driven; I was also. As time went by, with walking the Holy Spirit, I became escaping from my preference. Surely I learned ‘Scripture centered worship’ at here, where is traditional American baptist church. Now I am serving at Korean baptist church with only my vouce and guitar alone, all church member is around 30 people. Nevertheless Jesus Christ is first centered in Hymn and contemporary songs, and also I am trying to sing very carefully not only to be glorify God and to be penetrated lyrics of songs into congregation as well.

  63. Jessica Wan says:

    I like what Brian said: “thus, those that are more in touch with this “inner, invisible faculty,” whatever it may be, need to make an intentional effort to understand the truths which are proclaimed and those who are more intellectually grounded need to remember to allow their affections and even emotions to be engaged in worship.” I agree that there can be two extremes (not exactly an extreme, more like two sides) when we worship, where one side is focused on affections while the other is absorbed intellectually. There needs to be a fine balance between the two during worshipping. When one is centered only on their affections in worship, there’s no understanding of the text except for a response to the lovely music. Although one can intellectually understand the text without expressing or experiencing it, the worship then becomes hallow and meaningless. I guess that may be what Jesus meant when He called us to in Spirit (affection) and Truth (intellect).

  64. David Oestreich says:

    John, I really appreciate this dialogue and your willingness to let me pry into your thinking. You made an interesting statement in your last comment. That composition itself manifests depravity. Are you talking about the composition process? Or the end result? If the latter, can you point to a specific compositional element in any of MJ’s music that might indicate the heart behind it?

  65. Scott Aniol Scott Aniol says:

    Great conversation! A couple thoughts:

    1. I should once again reiterate that this is not a debate between “mind” on the one hand and “affections” or “spirit” on the other hand. On the contrary, biblically speaking (and this was the belief of premoderns as well), both mind and affections are part of the spiritual part of man, and the spiritual affections are clearly central to worship. “Spirit” in John 4 and 1 Corinthians 14 refers to the affections of man, which work together with the mind to form a whole person.

    2. With that in mind, however, it is important to recognize that “spirit” in these texts does NOT refer to the physical passions, yet that is what many of you are interpreting them to be. I am absolutely insistent that worship is more than just an intellectual exercise; rather, it is a dialogue with God in which our spirits respond to his truth. But again, we must be clear what we are talking about. “Spirit” is not “body” or “passions” or “feelings.” “Spirit” is the affections, that “inner, invisible faculty” Brian was searching for.

    3. I also want to reiterate that passions are not evil, yet the Scripture is clear that they must be kept under control–they cannot be allowed to govern us. There is a reason “sober-mindedness” is an often repeated virtue in Scripture. Physical response in worship may very well be the result of mind directed affections, but physical response must never be the target of the kind of music or acts that are chosen.

    4. I also want to remind us that this is not necessarily a “contemporary vs. traditional” issue. As I’ve illustrated above, liturgical churches have fallen into the same trap as many contemporary church by erecting elaborate human means to artificially create a stimulating atmosphere like rituals, candles, icons, vestments, ceremonies, and the like. Sacramentalism, revivalism, and Pentecostalism are kissing cousins.

    5. Finally, I also want to remind us that this way of thinking about man and worship and music in worship was the dominant belief from Greek thought all the way until the Enlightenment. This does not in itself prove anything, but I urge us to understand WHY this belief changed before simply rejecting it. You need to have a good reason for rejecting something God’s people have believed for hundreds of years until there were significant philosophical and theological shifts that are clearly anti-God.

    Keep thinking!

  66. Martin says:

    Brian, aren’t the corrupt affections and actions all included in the chart? The heart is really the same as the mind, i.e. what we think. It is from out thoughts that evil deeds emanate, i.e. adultery, theft, murder, etc. Since there is an arrow from the mind/heart to the passions on the right side, and all is connected to action at the bottom, isn’t the chart really complete?
    As to the ESV note, I find it dubious. 1.Cor 14:16 (see also v.19) puts praying ‘in/with the spirit’ in context with unintelligible speech and contrasts it with praying with the understanding. Also, other versions than the ESV translate these passages as ‘pray with THE spirit’, not ‘my’ spirit. As such, I prefer the view that Paul is using ‘in the spirit’ as synonymous to ‘in tongues’. If that is so, this passage has no bearing on our discussion.

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