Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Sounds of Acceptable Worship: Part 6—If Music Were REALLY Neutral…

Before I begin my brief study of scriptural principles of godly worship, I feel I need to deliver just one more blow (at least for now) at the unbiblical, unscientific, illogical philosophy that music is “neutral”.

In one debate I had a while back with a brother and proponent of the neutrality of music, he made a curious statement. He asserted that we are not to judge a musician by his music. Rather, we are to judge the musician by the lyrics of his songs and the fruits produced in his life. His point, of course, was that the style of music one uses is irrelevant because musical sounds are subjective to one’s tastes and preferences, and communicate different things to different people. Therefore, it is not valid to say that one type of  music is any more wrong than another, or that any artist is wrong based on his music style.

I have no doubt whatsoever that having God-glorifying lyrics in a song are crucial and bearing good fruit in one’s life and ministry is essential. But let’s examine this brother’s logic for a moment. His statement seems right and reasonable at first glance, but if we actually stop to think, we will come to realize that this philosophy doesn't work in the slightest bit.

By his rationale, if the evil death metal band Cannibal Corpse gets saved, they can continue to perform life shows together and make albums. They would have to change the utterly wicked and abominable lyrics of their songs and substitute them with God-glorifying lyrics, but they could keep every other aspect of their music the same. As long as they simply changed their lyrics, they could present their frenzied, maniacal sounds and growling screams as a fragrant offering of worship to a holy God.

Next case in point: Voodoo priests are converted. They continue partaking in their demon-invoking voodoo ceremonies, dancing to the rhythms and beats of loud pounding drums—but in their chants, they substitute the name of the various spiritual entities usually called forth with “Jesus” and quote Scripture verses. According to the aforementioned brother’s point of view, this would be perfectly acceptable.

Or take this hypothetical situation: members of the Church of Satan receive Christ. They abandon their sins, but seemingly continue to perform Luciferian rituals. Only now, Satan is not the object of their worship—the Lord is. Rather than draw an upside-down pentagram on the ground, they draw a cross inside a circle. Then they begin to sing and chant along to the exact same dark tunes that they used as Satanists, but now their chants and songs are jam-packed with amazingly theological “Reformed” lyrics. All of this is heavenly worship and a pleasing aroma to the Lord, if music is really neutral and the only thing that matters are the lyrics of a song.

Finally, please watch the following video of The Doors’ vocalist Jim Morrison. Watch beginning at 7:37 minutes, where Morrison, while performing live, begins speaking in different voices, whilst eerie sounds are coming from the keyboard and guitar. He is apparently demonized. How, I ask, could it possibly be okay to praise the Lord with such demonic and strange melodies? How could simply changing the words he says possibly make this evil song good?

Was not the slave girl with the spirit of divination preaching truth? (Acts 16:16-18). And yet she grieved and annoyed the apostle Paul. She was declaring something completely true ("These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation."), and yet she was doing it in a way that was offensive and blasphemous. She was of a different spirit. So, applying this to music, we see that lyrical content alone is not the standard for what is pleasing to God. One can sing about deep theological truths, but sing in such an irreverent manner as to make a mockery of those truths, and of Christ.

If you profess to be a Christian, and all of the above information still can’t convince you of the non-neutrality of music, and you insist that I’m wrong and that only changing the lyrics to death metal, voodoo rituals, Satanic ceremonies, and the songs of demoniacs will “redeem” the music and make it perfectly appropriate for the worship of God…then I would have to say, in all honesty, that I seriously question whether you are really even saved.

If you are relentlessly propounding the point of view that I am refuting, and in complete disagreement with everything I've said, you need to examine yourself.  Examine yourself as to the motives of why you are irrationally defending an indefensible and unreasonable point of view. Are you unwilling to give up a certain lifestyle and/or music preference? Are you unwilling to surrender it to Christ? Does it have a special place in your heart, a firm hold on your affections? If so, and you are not willing to give it up for the sake of the Gospel and the glory of God, then it is an idol in your life. You are an idolater. You are loving something more than the Lord Himself. You must repent of your idolatry.

Examine yourself as to your profession of faith. Is it genuine? How do you know you are truly saved?  I would refer you to the following sermon:

Does my position on music sound radical yet? To someone steeped in, and desensitized by, modern Western worldly culture, it might. However, my position is not any more radical than the Word of God. In the next post we will take a look at how God desires for us to approach Him through worship. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much. I can tell you have thought through this issue. I have believed this for a long time, but was never able to expess exactly why I believed what I did in a gracious manner. May God bless you as you worship for His glory!