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"CCM's theology of music should be ranked among the theological aberrations of modern evangelicalism…"

I just listened to three lectures given by John Makujina at the William R. Rice Lecture Series at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary in 2005. They are outstanding. A must-listen, especially if you question whether. You can download them here.

Here’s a critical highlight:

Traditionally, this controversy has been contested under the rubrics of orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy. My closing challenge, however, is that CCM’s theology of music should be ranked among the theological aberrations of modern evangelicalism and be confronted from a doctrinal standpoint (what we’re here for today). CCM’s Pelagianist aesthetic autonomy, its pop Jesus, are desecrations of God majestic, and its error needs to be re-categorized as theology miscarriage – even heresy – rather than just aesthetic immaturity.

Before we engage in musical questions of consonance, dissonance, beat, and melody, we must establish a biblical worldview that permits criticism of these elements to begin with. And this is the responsibility of every Christian, but especially of those who are called to preach and teach the Word of God.

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, 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 four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

11 Responses to "CCM's theology of music should be ranked among the theological aberrations of modern evangelicalism…"

  1. Well, I think Makujina is right. Traditionally, we've made this an issue about morality only or even just differences in practice when perhaps we should raise the bar and make it a serious, theological issue.

  2. I agree with Scott. These are strong words from Makujina, but I think he's right, also. Is it not of extraordinary consequence how our affections are taught to respond to the Gospel? The world scoffs at the Gospel of Christ set to the music of sex and rebellion. How can we claim to be conforming to the image of Christ when we knowingly and belligerently ignore the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:8, claiming there are no absolutes for beauty, that our feelings should govern our desires for worship, that music is exempt from the effects of the Fall, and subsequently worshiping the performers rather than the Creator?

  3. I wonder how representative of contemporary evangelicalism Makujina's opinions are. My feeling is that only a tiny minority takes his view. In which case, it's a fringe belief that is not shared by the mainstream, so it's not an orthodox position. (I'm going to put my fireproof suit on!).

  4. Orthodoxy is defined by Scripture, not popularity. Athanasius stood alone in the Arian controversy of the fourth century regarding the doctrine of the Trinity to defend what is the orthodox view of the Godhead. Though he was alone, he was not the one who was unorthodox. Realize also that the CCM view and defense rational of its position is new (1960's forward).

  5. TimPSh, I basically agree with your view on orthodoxy, however, the issue is that Scripture needs to be interpreted. When different Christians (and I'm talking about people who are mature, learned, and devout) disagree on what the Bible says, it is proud and arrogant to claim that one view is correct and all others are wrong. Witness the calvinist/arminian debate – whatever side of this your are on, it is an undeniable fact that vast numbers of bible-believing christians are on the other side, and dismissing them as misguided (or worse) is completely inappropriate. We have to accept that there is a diversity of opinion. But in areas where there is widespread agreement amongst christians, the orthodox interpretation has to the mainstream or majority position. Moving back to music, it is undoubtedly the case that the majority of evangelicals do not have a problem with CCM or CWM (and I'm talking about the middle-of-the-road stuff here, not extreme forms), and do not see it as incompatible with the Bible. So that is the orthodox position. Also, whilst CCM is relatively new, we also need to note that styles of music have changed considerably over the last 2,000 years. Traditional hymnody only goes back a few hundred of these, so there is by no means a continuous style of christian music running all the way to biblical times. Christian music has changed over the years and continues to do so. I'm by no means rejecting the old, in fact I like many hymns (both old and new), but equally many others are best consigned to the history books. I'm simply saying that there is scope for a wide range of musical styles to be used to express both faith in general and for congregational worship.

  6. Anastasis,

    The issue is not that some people like certain kinds of music and others do not. Of course there is going to be disagreement there.

    The problem is that some people deny that people's likes can ever be wrong. That's Pelagianism.

    Read my post for today for further explanation, and perhaps we can continue this conversation on that post?

  7. Scott, I only used the word "like" once in my comment, simply to show that I'm not prejudiced against traditional music position. Likes and dislikes don't enter into the equation as to whether something is biblical or not. There are styles of music I dislike, and consider to be inappropriate for use in church today, but they are still compatible with the Bible. Conversely, there is also music that I like (and is biblical) but I wouldn't want to impose it on a congregation. My point is simply that the majority of evangelical christians today do consider that many forms of CCM and CWM are compatible with the Bible, and so the alternative position is not the mainstream one.

    We could, of course, be wrong in this view, just as you could be wrong in yours…

    I would also add that I do have major issues with the commercialisation of christian music and the low quality of much CWM and CCM.

  8. Another word should be added to our Christian vocabulary that describes any such heterodoxy in Practice, like what the "Pelagianist aesthetic autonomy" does in CCM music that he reveals here, which is a Practical "heresy" even while orthodox Doctrine is otherwise claimed in profession. That word is HETEROPRAXY.

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