Editor’s Introduction -- By: Editor
RAR 4:4 (Fall 1995) p. 9
I have observed many church divisions in my travels. Some surround doctrinal concerns. Others have to do with the ministry of the pastor. But few areas of ministry within the life of the Christian church create as many questions and divisions as music. It seems everyone, extremely talented or otherwise, has a decided opinion about church music. Most seem certain, at times to the point of decided dogmatism, what music is spiritual and what music is not. And nothing more plainly divides Christian believers on an emotional level than music, both its substance and its style. But why?
Perhaps it is because music speaks so directly to the emotions of human beings. Here the reason is sometimes bypassed and the heart is moved in a profoundly direct way. And personal tastes clearly vary, especially in cultures that have strong traditions regarding the music they like. Our choice of a local church will often be based more upon the music sung and played than upon anything else. We may not actually articulate this but it is nonetheless true. Consequently conflict over music is almost inevitable when personal choices and opinions are given a high level of authority in decision making.
The question the thinking Christian must ask is this: Is there any objective criteria in the Word of God that will help me regarding my preferences in music? Or, is all music permitted to me as a Christian? Is some music sacred while other music is secular? What makes the difference? What is permitted musically in the public worship of God? Is there a place for instrumentation in public worship? If so, of what kind? Should we sing contemporary music? If so, what is the basis for our choice? Is there music which God accepts and approves that glorifies Him? Can music have harmful effects, especially upon the life of a congregation? These, and a host of related questions, demand the attention of serious believers who pray and labor for reformation.
Though this issue of the Journal will not directly address all
RAR 4:4 (Fall 1995) p. 10
of these questions it will seek to provide helpful starting points and explore possible paths that may be profitable for the thinking Christian. I have asked several theologians and musicians to address what I believe are important themes related to this subject.
As you read please realize that I have planned this issue with the assumption that God has given us an extensive and comprehensive philosophy of music that is revealed in the sacred Scripture. I believe this philosophy is flexible enough to allow for both cultural diversity and appropriate individuality, yet at the same time it is comprehensive enough to give solid pri...
Click here to subscribe