Recent Posts
"The unexamined life is not worth living", said Socrates. Socrates was teaching the need to [more]
We find three accounts of Paul’s conversion in the book of Acts—Acts 9:1–19a, 22:1–21, [more]
The words of Jesus in Acts 1:8 announce where the witnesses of Jesus and His [more]
For a couple weeks I have been developing the idea that in order to disciple [more]
For a while, it seemed chic to be able to say the word postmodern in [more]

Chris Tomlin Wore Out Another Keyboard…

Via the Babylon Bee, news that Chris Tomlin wore out the Ctrl, C, and V keys on his laptop again. I can think of other songwriters who go through copies of Roget’s Thesaurus at a similar clip.


I’m waiting for the responses that go something like this:


Picture this article where updated revivalist repetition is compared favorably with “For His lovingkindness is everlasting” (Ps. 136).


About Christopher Ames

Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Boyceville, Wisconsin. Bicycle owner and operator. I used to play in a Campus Crusade band.

22 Responses to Chris Tomlin Wore Out Another Keyboard…

  1. Todd:

    Yes, contemporary music advocates have been saying this in defense of trite, repetitive songs since the 1870’s or so. They’ve been citing Psalm 136 for just as long.

    I wonder why they don’t ever cite Psalm 119 in defense of form, coherent structure, and breadth of vision.

  2. I reference this debate and the appeal to repetition in the psalms in Worship in Song (p. 188). Peter Masters also does a good job with this in Worship in the Melting Pot (p. 53).

    I think we should point out, however, that repetition is not really the issue. The problem is undeveloped repetition–saying the same thing over and over again without any progression of thought whatsoever, as well as the undeveloped musical development–trite musical ideas repeated over and over again without any progression forward. This leads to a mantra-like, trance-inducing vain repetition resembling pagan worship (think, prophets of Baal) more than biblical psalms.

    Where repetition exists in the psalms (and as I and Peter masters, as well as Chris above, point out is relatively little in the entirety of the collection), it is not this kind of repetition; it is repeating a refrain within a highly developed, structured poem that develops theological ideas in a logical and cohesive progression.

  3. Mostly SA. Supposed to be the El Nino phenomenon. I’m sure it’s actually your fault, Chris, with your massive carbon footprint. Thanks a lot.

  4. Pastor Scott,

    Have you empirically observed “mantra-like, trance-inducing” repetition within Christian church worship/praise services?

  5. Pastors,

    Are there any songs among the CCLI Top 100, any songs in particular within the CCLI Top 100, that you approve of? Any songs which you wouldn’t mind having played on loudspeakers in your church settings?

  6. Todd,

    We don’t play music on the loudspeakers in our church settings. We talk to each other.

    Ever stop to wonder why a CCLI Top 100 list exists? Why it must exist in a church climate such as evangelicalism?

  7. Chris, I don’t know why playing music on loudspeakers is sinful. I don’t know why pragmatism and evangelicalism are pejorative terms. I reckon the CCLI is a tool used as a popularity-meter in order to help individual churches decide what to play/sing. I’m sure it is also referred to as a “marketing-based” or “market-driven” entity.

  8. Todd,

    Who told you that playing music on loudspeakers is sinful?

    If you’re saying that I told you playing music on loudspeakers is sinful, that would be ‘bearing false witness,’ which you can find on a rather important list of sinful activities. Because, as you will discover if you scan my remarks, I never did say that; and if you have seen my home or my office, I never would say that.

    I understand why you want to use “sinful” and “everything else” as your categories. It makes everything easy: if there’s not a direct command against it in Scripture, I can do whatever I want. But the Bible tells us to pursue wisdom, which is the skill of differentiating things. Not everything is going to fall neatly into “sinful” or “not sinful,” and so we need to exercise wisdom.

  9. Pastor Chris,

    Please forgive me for any confusion or any sinful action.

    I didn’t intend to say anything false about you. I didn’t knowingly say anything false. Thank you for pointing this out to me. If I said anything false about you or your comment(s), please forgive me. I didn’t mean to do so.

    Again, please forgive me.

    I suppose I was only trying to use a sort of convention in discourse which might be something like hyperbole. I do this with my younger brother very often.

    I do it with my younger brother often. He will criticize something, and I will respond to him, “I don’t see that as sinful.” And then he will say, “I didn’t say that it was sinful.” And then I’ll reply, “Okay, then can you clarify why you’re criticizing it?” He will then say to me, “The Apostle Paul criticized people all of the time!” And then I’ll say, “The only time he criticized something — or someone — was when that thing was sinful, or when that person (or group of people) was sinful.” And then that seems to appease my brother.

  10. Simply asking a follow-up question here.

    I’m revisiting the assertion: “This leads to a mantra-like, trance-inducing vain repetition resembling pagan worship (think, prophets of Baal) more than biblical psalms.” I asked: “Have you empirically observed ‘mantra-like, trance-inducing’ repetition within Christian church worship/praise services?” It was then confirmed that Yes, it has been empirically observed. Now, is that not an outright assertion that, in fact, trances have been induced and mantras have been created, and we have seen them — in person, as firsthand eyewitnesses — in Christian gatherings? If they were not observed in person, then how were they observed?

  11. Todd,

    You like that word “empirical.” You like to use it because you think it is a force field against anyone questioning other things that you like. You ask for evidence so that you can say “that’s not evidence.” You really don’t believe that any evidence exists that could refute your firm conviction that artistic expressions are absolutely relative. You argue exactly like an atheist because you’re defending the same thing that an atheist needs to defend: relativism.

    Ask yourself: do you really want evidence? Or are you convinced that no evidence exists? Because that will determine how you interpret anything I would present as evidence.

    If you want “evidence,” Google “evangelical worship” and look at the images that appear. Empirically observe them for yourself. Then you have options: You can empirically come up with some excuse for the fact that they all look alike. Or you can say “why do they all look alike?” and ask the follow up question whether they should all look alike, or whether Christian worship should look like that in the first place.

Leave a reply